How to Make an Online Photo Album

I am moving my photography portfolio to SmugMug! You may be wondering — Why?

With over tens of million of views on Flickr, I do not make decisions like this lightly.  I’m not giving you that stat to show off… just to let you know that I really know what I’m talking about when it comes to online photo portfolios.  I only want the best. You guys know this by now, right?  After looking (and using) many other options, I think SmugMug is the best, and the guide/feature list below talks all about it.

Getting Started

If, after reading this, you’re interested in getting started with SmugMug you can try it FREE for 14 days and you will save 20% off ANY of their packages.

What package to get? I recommend the Business plan (that’s what I use, click here to save $60!). It will enable you to sell your work at 85% markup.  Besides just prints, you can also sell digital downloads.  I think it’s the cheapest way to turn your hobby into something that might make a bit of cash!  Anyway, more on that later…

Full SmugMug Review

Please visit my full review of SmugMug for details. That’s easier than repeating it all here. Below are my thoughts from my initial switch from Flickr to SmugMug.

Click here to try SmugMug FREE for 14 days and SAVE 20% on a new account!

Easy to Use

As with everything, nothing is perfect. The strong points outweigh the weak ones for me. I outline the negative points down towards the bottom. Many of these may be important to you, but they are not to me. As you know, social networking and a pretty portfolio are very important to me, so I think we have a good balance of both with SmugMug. Your opinion may differ – but I went through a long decision-making process for this.

A Pretty Interface

If you make quick decisions based on “Oh, that’s pretty!”, then simply go see my portfolio at You will see exactly what I mean. Here is a screenshot of my portfolio on SmugMug. Pretty sweet, eh?

An online portfolio is a tricky thing! While it doesn’t need to be all things to all people, it should allow for the most common “viewer behaviors”. First, many people simply just want to sit back and see something pretty flowing into their world. Second, other more “clicky” people will want the power to quickly move around and surf throughout the portfolio on their own.

Whilst the user is navigating on their own, it’s also very pretty! I really like the HUGE images. It is simple and nice. Of course, the view is customizable to the gallery owner, so you may choose something different. Learn more about how I customized SmugMug.

Easy to Use

I am a very advanced “computer and internet user”. However, that does NOT mean that I prefer to use clunky interfaces and badly designed websites! I want things to be easy and obvious. I don’t have time to read manuals, help pages, and go back and forth on forums to figure out how to do something.

Creating an account on SmugMug was very simple, and getting my photos up was a piece of cake. There are SO many ways to get your photos online — it’s crazy. I imported all of my Flickr photos right into SmugMug with just a few different clicks. Of course, you can also upload right from your computer in the usual way, or by using iPhoto, Lightroom, Aperture, or any other major program.

After you have your files up, navigating and arranging is very simple as well. SmugMug was designed by people that know what they are doing. You can have multiple galleries and everything you would need is there waiting for you.

My Images are Safe

I think of SmugMug as a “Digital Lockbox” for my images. I can store the max-resolution versions of all my images there and not worry about them. They have another option, if you so choose, where they use Amazon S3 to store your RAW or TIFF files permanently as well. That’s great! I do think it is smart, nowadays, to store your images in multiple locations.

To be frank, whenever I get a new online backup solution of my world, I feel pretty awesome about myself. That niggling “worry” evaporates, and I can once again relax and have a cappuccino in peace.

Also, SmugMug is incredibly “Open”. What does that mean? It means that, while they store the images, they do not “own” them and make them difficult to access in the future. There are all sorts of services I can use to copy my images down to my computer or move them to another online service. There is a powerful API that is open to developers, and they have created a myriad of programs to ensure my images are easily movable, should the need ever arise.

Click here to try SmugMug FREE for 14 days and SAVE 20% on a new account!

You can Make Money with SmugMug!

Yes! Now all of your photos can make millions of dollars! Hehe, well, not really… BUT, you can make some extra money on the side by turning on various options.

  • You can charge people to download digital versions of your photos and set different prices for professional and personal use.
  • You can set pricing for Prints.  Pick the size offerings and the costs.  You can get up to 85% markup.  That’s a great profit margin!
  • You can also sell merchandise.  Smart!

Maybe you are a soccer mom (or whateva) that takes good pictures at the games and then wants to put them up on SmugMug, email the team, and then let parents buy photos. Easy! BTW, that’s not a bad idea is it? You know you already take pretty good pics (better than those other parents), so why not make a little money off it!

Or maybe you take photos that are a bit different than everyone else in the world, but you have never quite found the perfect place to both host your portfolio and your storefront.  This is a perfect solution, and it is so inexpensive to get started.

You can set the prices for printing, downloading, or merchandizing options.

If you want some of these services, you will have to get the SmugMug Business account. You get so many other features, it is totally worth it. Just think — you basically get to start an online photography business for really cheap! This sort of thing just was not possible a few years ago in an easy and simple way.

If, on the other hand, you want to take things to the “fine art” sales level, that is possible too. There are many print options that you will find available.

Starting an Online Photography Business (or Art Business!)

I can’t tell you how many emails I get from people asking me how to start an online photo business.  Or, an art business – to SmugMug, it’s the same thing, really.  The solution of starting an online business has always been a hit-and-miss mish mash of technologies that I’ve had to recommend before.

For $300 a year (click here to save $60!), you have all the tools and infrastructure you need to start out!

In years past, you might have been forced to spend thousands of dollars on a website and integrate a clunky e-commerce solution that was more trouble than it was worth.  Putting together a payment mechanism for your customers is no small task. There are already a lot of Pros on SmugMug that have helped to shape the photographer and client experience so everything is perfect.

If you are a wedding photographer, then this is an amazing way to get quality work to your clients. I know many wedding photographers that swear by SmugMug — and they are right to do so!

And..being optimistic… you really don’t have to sell THAT much to make up for the yearly fee, do you?

If you do not want to sell your photos, then you can choose one of the other options on SmugMug, which are very well priced.  I’ve been paying Flickr for years and years… and I can’t believe how much more value I get out of SmugMug for a comparable price.

SmugMug is a good company!

I visited the SmugMug headquarters out in California, just south of San Francisco. I was able to spend time with some of the owners and founders. I was surprised that it was a family-run company! Several of the people at the company are blood relatives, but they treat everyone there like a member of the family. They even had an in-house chef who made us a homemade meal that would knock your socks off. The last time I had that much organic food, I was feeding off the land in Patagonia.  It was more than enough roughage to clean me out.  Thanks SmugMug!

But, honestly, these people at SmugMug are top notch.  I was impressed by the whole experience, and there is no doubt in my mind that the team at SmugMug will continue to innovate and make the best possible experience available to their users.

A great community – smaller than Flickr, but different

People on SmugMug are true photo-lovers. Already, I think that photographers are some of the kindest people in the world, and you will find this is also the case at SmugMug. I lament, personally, that I am often too busy to engage in the community, but it is nice to know they are there.

I notice that Photography is a bit of a “talkin-sport” where people enjoy talking about photography as much as they enjoy doing it! There are ample opportunities for this around SmugMug.

Even better, there are often real-life meetup events! I’ve been to a few of these with their Community Organizer Candice Cunningham. I find that people really like to get together and hear about, engage in, and practice photography. These events have always been great fun, and I’ve met wonderful people at them. In this digital-internet-world, it’s nice that people like Candice are running around creating a fun sense around the sport!

Flickr also has a good community, but it can also be a strange community.  People “game” the system by submitting to strange groups just to get views.  It all seems a little forced to me sometimes and unnatural.  Just like with Flickr, you will get out of SmugMug what you put into it.

Click here to try SmugMug FREE for 14 days and SAVE 20% on a new account!

A New Way of Thinking: Flickr vs. SmugMug

I got some interesting comments below, so I wanted to talk about new ways to think about your photography audience.  I have been thinking this for a while but have never communicated it.

Flickr is great, and I have obviously loved it for many years.  But, there is a serious “bubble” limitation.

Here on, we have an interesting demographic.  Of the 500K pageviews, half are photographers and half are just “fans”.  The thing is with Flickr, that you just get 100% “photographers”.

So, if you make the center of your digital world Flickr, then it is “All photographers, all the time.”  This is fine — but in that world, only photographers see your work.  It’s a bit like being an oil painter in a museum that only oil painters go to.  Does that make sense?

If you want to make an impressive “presence” on the web, you need a pretty “center” for your vision.  This can either be a blog or a nice portfolio page that doubles as a business.

Whatever the center of your photography world is, make the images big and beautiful.  You want your photos to look their best as soon as you get someone’s attention, right?  So why do you want their first experience to be a 400 pixel wide blip on a page filled with noisy comments that have ugly badges to advertise one group versus another.

Many of you may disagree with me — that is fine.  This is how I see the world.  I think that everyone in the world loves photography, so it’s good to get out of the “bubble”.

News Alert – Photographers don’t want to buy your Prints!

Hehe, I don’t mean that to be as sensational as it sounds….

But, 98% of the time, photographers don’t want to buy your stuff. Most of the time, I find that Photographers only market to other Photographers!!  They generally don’t want to buy your photo of a leaf floating in a pond!  There are millions of people in the world that DO want to buy THAT picture, but they do not hang out on Flickr!

So, when you only build your social network with other photographers and try to sell your work, you will notice it is very hard.

Have some of you had trouble selling prints?  Is most of your social network not a likely demo to buy your stuff?  Again, this is why I suggest making the center of your photography world a pretty place for the typical consumer.  When you send a potential customer to Flickr, they just get confused and it’s not a good user-experience.

Now, simply moving to SmugMug will not solve your problems… you’ll still need to market to get people to come to your portfolio site.  That is a whole different topic…

Make your Online Portfolio Totally Unique –  Customize it

For details, see my “Customize SmugMug” page. Even though the default themes are very good, I wanted a few special things. The process was super simple, point-n-click, drag-n-drop.

Click here to try SmugMug FREE for 14 days and

  • casusan

    Great review Trey – SmugMug sounds cool – I like the family kind of atmosphere there you describe!

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  • Justin

    Honestly I have been a huge fan of your work for a while, in fact you’re the reason I’ve taken my first amateurish steps into HDR, and your reviews have been great, but this is just way too much of a commercial for me. It’s not like this is new, more like the tip of the iceberg, but when I start reading phrases like “Thanks, SmugMug!”, I have a flashback to infomercials, and that’s not why I come here.

    Not that I think for a moment that you care, or even that you’ll read this. Now SmugMug may be a great product, but honestly I can’t tell from this. We need pros and cons, and personally I need it to be less over-the-top. I’ll probably be flamed to hell and back for saying this, but I felt you deserved an honest opinion.

  • WOW!! You are really blowing me away with your Rave of Smugmug. I’ve been a very zealous fan of flickr, and I’ve tried most of those other sites, but I always found flickr to be the best. Now I will have to take a serious look at smugmug. But I do have 2 questions:

    1) Do you agree that flickr is the best from a social networking standpoint for photographers? I still find it hard to believe that smugmug could offer the same blog style and community feel that flickr excels at, what do you think of that point? I’ve made so many REAL friends directly through flickr!

    2) I want to share my photos in extra-large view like you. But if I want to sell them also, it almost doesn’t seem right to make them available large for free but then to charge people also. How in the world do you do that?

    (I’m ms4jah on flickr, the balloon pilot, hehe)

  • I love checking out stuff you like, and it’s even better when you check out stuff I like. Smugmug has been rocking my world for well over a year now. Welcome to the family!

  • stuart

    hmm I think I kinda agree with Justin.. Trey man, this just sounds like you’ve sold out.. way over the top..

  • Marcel

    I use both flickr and smugmug but I wouldn’t even compare them because for me they are 2 very different things.

    With Smugmug I can create a private gallery, email the client directly from smugmug with a link to their gallery and then later see if they read my email,how many photos they clicked on, etc.
    As Trey says, on SM you can create a complete photo website, sell prints, etc. I would never send a client to my flickr acct.

    If you like flickr for all the “cool shot” comments, glittery icons and “interestingness” then smugmug is not for you…If you want a great place to show your photos in slick slideshows, create private galleries for clients, potentially sell prints, etc…it is a great tool. No reason you can’t have both. I just dont pay for flickr pro because I don’t see the point.

  • Ralph Thomas

    Everyone has a right to make a living but to try to hide an obvious commercial is not right.
    The idea that any product is perfect is not believable. You do not show any of the negative side.

  • Been a member since 2005 and I love it

  • Scott Rodenburg

    Hi Trey, I have been using Smugmug for several years and I highly recommend it. So simple, yet so flexible, best on the web for sure.

  • Suzi

    I think some of the comments here must be from newer followers of yours, Trey. Speaking as a relatively-longtime fan, one of the things that has always charmed me the most is your excited enthusiasm for new (to you) stuff. You’re like a kid with a new toy – “Oh man, this is the greatest thing EVER!!!” After you’ve worked with something a bit, you’ll post about the cons you’ve encountered and how you deal with them. It’s REAL, in real time, and makes you feel like a friend rather than a columnist.

    That is exactly how this article came across to me. I had a huge grin on my face reading it, and never once thought it sounded like a commercial. It’s just Trey sharing his happiness with something that has enriched his life.

    And to a commenter above: I have used many products and services which I do in fact consider PERFECT, for my needs. It’s all subjective, isn’t it?

  • (I added three new sections above “Negatives of SmugMug” and “Flickr vs. SmugMug” and a bit about Selling Prints to Photographers! hehe

    Thanks all for the good comments:

    Justin – Good points – I added some negatives up there, and also used that as an opportunity to talk about overall theories of Flickr vs. SmugMug.

    Michael – Yes – I think Flickr is GREAT for Social Networking BUT, it only connects you to other photographers. Do you know what I mean? I think your network should move beyond “singing to the choir” — you may disagree with this.

    As for your second point, I do my prints a bit different. I only sell limited edition prints through another company… I find that allowing people to download big digital files does not hurt that… most people do not have good printers at home.

    Ralph – I added a bit of negative stuff up there… but obviously, I do believe in SmugMug – I don’t make any decisions with my photography world lightly ! 🙂

    Suzi – Yes – I am excited by SmugMug – I feel like a kid with a new toy!

  • You have hit the nail on the head about marketing channels. Flickr is great when you wish to have people sign up for photo workshops since they are photography buffs. But for selling prints, you do need to have to be visible to the art buyers. I’m using Zenfolio right now but I’m going to check out Smugmug, especially since it is local to me, like Flickr,Google.. and well.. almost everything high-tech is here.

    I had the same thought as you. I’m already on Flickr and get mega-millions of views, but your logic is SO correct. I have a similar high-tech background and I appreciate your points of view.



  • I used flickr for several years, and switched over to smugmug two years ago for many of the reasons you’ve mentioned. Mainly I loved that my photos look awesome on smug. But two things that are really important that you didn’t mention, is how wonderful the support staff at smugmug are. If you have a question, you can email, and they will answer you quickly, and they are so friendly and helpful. Just try getting an answer from flickr! And two, when you or your customers order prints – you will be amazed. There printing is incredible. Try the metalic. Trust me. No place else even comes close to the quality they deliver. For great prices. Smugmug rocks.

  • I have used SmugMug for my portfolio for over a year and I am very happy with the whole thing! Welcome to the SmugMug family!

  • Trey Like the review but come on who really introduced you to smugmug…hehe just kidding! So you mention you will keep both your FLickr and SMUGMUG site up but do you see yourself eventually phasing out your FLickr account? If so that statement alone would prove to me you truly believe in this product base on what Flickr has done for your photography. I have been on SMUGMUG for several years and got started based on the idea trey mentioned about the Soccer Mom, while not a mom I found it the best and easiest host to sell sports photographs to parents. I now have expanded my site to include my art and unlike Trey my smugmug site is my home landing site and my blog is an offshoot to my SmugMug site.

    One negative I have written to SmugMug about is their Gallery Community settings. This is where Flickr has them beat. Smug Mug has a community set up and encourages users to comment and when they do you actually improve your SEO. The problem though is the only way to include photos into a community is by gallery and it can only belong to 1 community. For example I have my Landscape Gallery in a Landscape Community so any viewer who looks at this community will see my photos and when clicked on they link back to my site but if I wanted one of these landscape photos to also be in a Texas community I can’t do this. I would have to create a whole new gallery of Texas Photos. If they improve on this I think my Flickr days may also be numbered.


  • Hello Trey,

    Read your info about SMUGMUG. The big problem with it is > FLASH! <. The gallery is built around Flash. With Apple not supporting Flash on any of their new products, iPhone, iTouch, iPad, the word is that Flash is on it's way out.

    Another thing is that, I hate waiting for the Flash "movie" to load. I personally think they need to move to the next step (?) html-5 (?). There are many, many people that hate/avoid site that are flash based. You must hate the wait time on these sites.

    Love your HDR images, bought Photomatix through you.

    I design and maintain our own gallery website. Link above.

    Ron O. Vermeulen

  • Thelonious Gonzo

    Trey –
    I am not on SmugMug yet, but I have already been considering the jump. I do trust a referal from a trusted sourse, and you are someone I trust. I have met you (Driskell Photowalk) and chatted you up at Flickr for a few years (Mostly regarding my entirely solopsic loathing of you) and I have never found you in anyway to be anything but 100% honest and giving of what you see and find.

    I also find the extreme preoccupation with attempting to pat yourself on the back through bartering for praise by others that is a constant at Flickr to be distasteful.

    Thanks for the feedback on SmugMug. As always I will take your thoughts under advisement.

    Cheers mate.

  • Hey Trey – I appreciate your thoughts on Flickr v. SmugMug… very helpful!
    How do the 2 sites compare with SEO, finding images that are key worded?
    Any other thoughts on using SEO to attract buyers to your work would also be greatly appreciated…


  • Reading the comments, this has become a classic case of change management. I think Smugmug is just another tool to accomplish a slightly different goal. I will check it out when I am ready to step into selling prints. Until then all my pictures in the cloud will be held at Flickr. I will still drop by Stuck in Customs for my daily picture. Thanks Trey!

  • I had tried SmugMug about a year ago after hearing that it was “the place to go” and just didn’t get it. But your review does a great job of shedding light on its advantages.

    Plus I know that moving is Very Big Deal for you and wouldn’t be done lightly — that speaks louder than the review itself! Thanks for sharing the story behind it.

  • Facebook User

    Trey… back in June of 09, I had considered moving over to SmugMug just because there was a way to backup my photos that Flickr really didn’t offer (see I decided against it at the time, but after your review and actually meeting Candice (in Tampa last month), I think I am ready to make my move.

    I am at the point now where people (not just fellow photographers) are starting to take notice that I am producing some pretty good stuff. I appreciate your review and glad you have a 20% off coupon for SmugMug – might do it tonight!

  • Thanks all!

    Ron – Yes the Flash is a bit concerning… I would not be surprised if they went to HTML 5 — that would consider some re-work of the themes, but it’s not insurmountable.

    Andrew – This SEO thing is a good question! I asked them the same thing. They said that google crawls their site and links to the photos appropriately. BUT, not being Google, I can’t really confirm this!

  • Trey and Ron, SmugMug is not based on flash. Check out my SmugMug portfolio at and you will not be able to find any flash there. The only place you would find flash is in the optional slideshow feature.

  • To help with the flash question. SmugMug counters this by letting you embed text in your BIO that is not visible on your flash slideshow. More info on how to maximize SEO here

  • jacy joypals

    I have been a user-fan of SmugMug for four years for my photography site and galleries and love all of the capabilities it offers as well as so many choices for design, customization, safety and the ability to offer my work for sale. I also have a large pro domain where I house separate private client galleries, etc. and a Flickr account. IMHO, SmugMug offers the best for photographers, videographers and those who work in photography/photojournalism field. It was pure joy to see Trey’s new site and work here. SmugMug offers just about everything one needs to showcase their work beautifully whether pro or novice and allows the visitors to oogle/purchase and share. The forums and individual communities are another excellent tool! Thank you Trey for your review and as always, your wonderful talent, work and helps! jacy

  • Michael LeBarron

    Ron and Trey,

    The gallery is not at all Flash, the only thing that is flash is the slideshow. Everything else is html/javscript. If you don’t want Flash, don’t use the slideshow (or create your own if you have the skill).

  • Trey,
    As always, a great review. I have been a happy SmugMug user for a couple of years, but I only have been using it for online previews of portraits etc. vs. my HDR, & stock work. After your review I will have to rethink using it to display my ‘art’ as well. One concern I would have about giving up Flickr is the amazing SEO they have going for them. Although I have my images posted on my blog & Flickr, Google always finds the Flickr image. I then have a link from the Flickr post back to my ‘real’ site so folks can contact me for licensing or prints.

  • You mentioned that you, “imported all of my Flickr photos right into SmugMug with just a few different clicks”…how/where? Is this a SmugMug feature/option, or another tool you used? I’ve been an extremely happy SmugMug Pro user for a few years now and would love to get my Flickr photos over there…but I only see how to import from Picasa. What’s the trick?

  • Sorry, just found the “trick” on the DGRIN site…a Firefox plugin to move the Flickr Albums to SmugMug Galleries. Thanks for highlighting this and saving me a ton of time vs. finding the originals sent to Flickr and re-uploading them to SmugMug.

  • Thanks everyone!

    Brian – I think we used one called “Smugglr” – I don’t think it was a plugin – perhaps a standalone program

    I did find one other flaw — I hope they can fix it — whenever I link now to Facebook, it will not show me a thumbnail on FB. Maybe because FB does not know how to make the Smug image smaller?

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  • I guess my view on Flickr, is that I joined to provide a gallery for friends, and learn more. I think it is a great site for photographers. After a certain point, you kind of run out of steam “learning to take photographs” and need to get critiques and views of other photographers to move on to the next level. You can’t live in a vacuum. I have also had some passing luck of getting my photographs picked up for projects and sold for stock.

    I can definitely see the value of Smugmug, though. Especially if more “non-photographers” go there.

  • Trey — Glad to see you promoting Smugmug, which I also consider the best site for storing and presenting photos & video. I’ve been using Smugmug for over 3 years. Signed up after heavy research — Flickr, Zenfolio, Photobucket, etc. To me, Smugmug is far superior to them all — much easier to navigate, less cluttered interface, simple to upload and arrange photos. And above all else, Smugmug’s appearance is so much more elegant and attractive than the others. I especially like the way I can easily create a nice, password-protected, easy-to-navigate photo gallery for a client after shooting a wedding. And the bride and her guests can easily download high-res pix from the wedding gallery. Also, viewers never have to be pestered by any obnoxious advertising. All these features (and many more) for a very low annual fee. What’s not to like?

  • Yup, Smugmug is just the best. Been using Smugmug for over 3 years. Like the way I can create a password-protected, easy-to-navigate wedding gallery for clients (and guests can easily download high-res pix from the gallery). Love Smugmug’s clutter-free, user-friendly interface (with no obnoxious ads), all for a low annual fee. What’s not to like?

  • Hey, Thanks for the review… even if I don’t switch from Flickr there are many good points you have brought up. Much to think about and consider.
    Question: If you lived out of the US would that impact your decision to use Smugmug?

  • Hey, Thanks for the review! Even if I do not switch from Flickr you have made many good points to think about and consider.
    Question: If you lived outside of the US, would you still go with SmugMug?

  • Bryan Scott

    Big fan, but sorry, this is gross.

  • Well said Trey. I decided a while back that when it comes time, I would have my website on Zenfolio. But after reading your review, I may change my mind.

  • Luca

    Love your blog and pictures, but I’m kinda disappointed with this post. I was expecting generic, neutral advice when this seems to be a one page ad for SmugMug. They may be good… but I’ll bet there is more to making an online portfolio than just … “SmugMug”. Maybe you should rename this page SmugMug review.

  • Thanks all –

    Luca – sorry you feel that way… I do have 3 or 4 negative things about SmugMug up there… You know, I do love SmugMug still though… I use them, so obviously I think they are great. Actually – I am just as glowing in my review of Nikon products… I love them – they don’t pay me a thing. I only recommend and review stuff I actually use.

    Robyn – Yes I have seen a lot of people on Zenfolio too – people seem very happy with that as well.

  • Rob V – I use Zenfolio now and have for a couple years and been happy with it. It does all the things Trey says here – what did you find was the difference to make you choose SmugMug? My renewal comes up soon and I’d love to know what you based your decision on between those two.

  • Trey

    Great site and love the customisation. I’ve been a Smuggler for 2 1/2 years ( and find the service great. Agreed they do make it possible to customize. My main negative is that the printing services are US based which can be off putting for purchasers.

    Nice to be in your company


  • smugmug>flickr

    Was a 2 year user of flickr, then switched to smugmug to have a more professional site. Trey’s post looks like an infomercial because smugmug is that much better. If you want a professional presentation of your work smugmug is amazing. Trey is spot on with the review.

  • Hi Trey,

    Nice to hear your experience with Smugmug. I’m wondering if anyone viewing this has any experience with Photoshelter and has any comparisons to offer. I have been at another photo sharing site for a few years, and it really doesn’t offer me much return even when I was a paid member! I’m looking to expand my horizons and would appreciate any information!

  • I haven’t read all the comments so forgive me if this has already been mentioned. I just signed up for a trial offer. What I didn’t realize is that Smug Mug charges 15% on top of whatever it costs to print or make the merchandise. They also charge 15% for any downloads that you sell so your profit is 85% minus the cost of producing whatever merchandise you happen to sell. That’s on top of paying $150 (or $120 with coupon) for the pro account. Doesn’t this 15% seem a bit steep or is it just my n00by-ness to how business works?

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  • I am in the process of deciding between Smug Mug and Zenfolio. I have read that Smug Mug does not offer pricing in Euros nor do they use metric for sizing. Can anyone confirm this is the case? If it is and anyone plans on selling photos, that is a pretty big negative for sales.

  • Domain name from GoDaddy (~$15), Smugmug Pro ($150), professional hosted website with my own domain name for less than $200 per year that is uber simple to use and maintain? Priceless!

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  • Trey, I was so very lucky to have found your website. Not only do you provide good advice and tutorials, but the info you are giving here regarding SmugMug have saved me TONS of search and research now that I am thinking in redoing my own gallery.
    For the record, I found your information balanced, and I can see you like the product/service. Thanks and keep it up!

  • So concise and well thought out! Awesome review. Will definitely have to check it out. Thanks for doing the work on this and sharing!

  • Questions… I like what you’ve done with your gallery presentation very much, but it appears that it’s flash-based effects and transitions. I’ve been using jalbum skins for a few years and am ready to redesign I think.

    I don’t really have any issue with my current photo site other than it’s using flash elements and is useless for view on the iPad or iPhone. Is SmugMug working on a html5 solution? Does your site convert to something compatible on the iPad/iPhone as well?

    I’ve been personally looking into squarespace because it looks like they use more javascript instead of being so flash heavy. But, it doesn’t look like they offer as many of the tools SmugMug offers specifically for the photographers market. Is SmugMug a good choice if you want your work viewable on Apple mobile devices?

  • ps. enjoyed some of your most recent video montages, ie. the cherry blossoms. However, noticed you’re mostly using Vimeo instead of SmugMug for video. I figured it was because Vimeo is now supporting html5 instead of just flash for Apple mobile compatibility, but it looks like SmugMug is using H.264 for the same compatibility. Why Vimeo over SmugMug for video? Is one better for web sharing than the other?

  • Thanks for the comments!

    I WILL upload my video to SmugMug too – just have not had time to do it yet! 🙂

  • Corey

    Stuck In Customs is brilliant thank you so much.

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  • Would I have loved to have had this information 5 weeks ago. It would have saved me hours and hours (literally) trying to make a decision. I made the right one. I went with Smugmug and I’m so glad that I did.
    Now I can spend hours & hours jazzing up my website !

  • You can stitch photos together, remove red-eye, crop, and tag photos on your PC with Windows Live Photo Gallery, then upload your albums to your Windows Live Photos page to share online with others. You can also add your favorite photos on your profile so your “What’s New” feed updates to keep friends and family up to date on your latest adventures.

  • Denni Harbaugh

    Thank you so much for your comments! I am just dipping my toe into photography, and I am currently going over a ton of photo sites, finding out what their deal is and comparing/contrasting them. I hit SmugMug as part of my research, and am really digging what they’re saying. THEN I saw that you have moved all your stuff here, and it’s reinforcing my first inclinations to go with these guys. I appreciate your insight because of the experience that comes with it and I’m SURE you did not make the decision lightly! Thanks again!

  • I have been using smugmug for a few years but not at the pro level, and have not been upgrading it as much as I should. Your article has inspired me to take another look at upgrading. I have also been considering using Photoshelter. Have you looked at them in your quest for a photo portal? They seem to have very strong SEO features but their prices are quite high. Any thoughts anybody?

  • Lena Banks

    Hi, stunning!!! When I clicked on the daisy picture it opened up a rocks in river pic instead. I was trying to see it big as you mentioned you liked that feature in smugmug that you could click on a pic and it would open in a larger view. Best always, Lena (PS Who made your website? Was it Pearl-soft?)

  • Allison

    Yay! I’ve used smugmug for years, love them!

  • I was just seeing all these comments complaining about this being “over the top” and I had to jump in to say that SmugMug is everything Trey says it is. When you find something worthwhile in photography, or whatever it is that you do in this life, why would you not want to share it with the world. Obviously you are going to be enthusiastic about it and I suppose there are always a few people who will consider that “a shameless sellout or over the top.”

    I first heard about SmugMug about 4 years ago when my daughter in high school told me that a friend in her photo class was using it. I checked it out and have been on it ever since. It’s fantastic and beats Flickr all to heck with how elegant it displays your photos. Looking good online it what it’s all about for me and SumugMug gives that to me better than any other site that I know of.

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  • I became a SmugMug user over the summer. Migrating over has been a slow process, especially as I’m quite particular about how I set up the new website. I find that I agree with many of Trey’s comments. One particular need on my part was that the pictures be protected since they are students playing sports. Smugmug offers the right kinds of options for me, and also makes it possible for me to have special private galleries for the parents of the students which offer more features and a lower cost for pictures of just their student.

    I’m also pretty thrilled about the chance to sell pictures.

  • Thanks for this post Trey – you’ve done a great job putting together your Smugmug site and it really does show the value of custom theming for a portfolio, especially one like yours which has a theme and an already-defined aesthetic.

    For anyone reading this who may be looking for an alternative to Smugmug, I thought to post a link to a new service I’ve just made live at which is a very very simple way to create an online portfolio for creatives using images, video and audio.

  • The one negative that’s not mentioned here (and for me, it was the deal breaker) is that SmugMug’s hierarchy structure is extremely limited! You can only go two levels deep. I loved the way the albums looked on SmugMug (and honestly, I haven’t seen anyone else handle the aesthetics better), but I do both photography and art and I like to have a top level to separate those two. So at a minimum, I needed three levels of organization. It’s always seemed sort of silly that such a great service would have such a restriction.

  • Paul

    Great move going to smugmug it looks excellent! I never liked flikr it looks terrible though its a great social network it suffers from the same fate as myspace and some other music networks where 80% of the users are other professionals.

    Having pro platforms to host and sell our art is a great starting point.

    Better integration into social networks is the next logical step.

  • How’s that WordPress plugin coming along?

  • I do agree with all of the ideas you have presented in your post. They’re really convincing and will definitely work. Still, the posts are very short for novices. Could you please extend them a bit from next time? Thanks for the post.

  • This design is spectacular! You definitely know how to keep a reader amused. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Excellent job. I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool!

  • Seth Shotwell

    Great stuff Trey! I just discovered you through my sister and wonder what I’ve been  issing. Nothing from now on, that’s what. Thank you for your sharing.

  • Very cool site – came here from SmugMug to look at examples of super-customization. What is the status of the WordPress plugin that you mentioned?

  • Excellent review  – thanks for sharing this & your collection!

  • I looked at Smugmug earlier this year an they do look good but I’m already with Zenfolio and there didn’t seem to be that many differences. Interesting article though and thanks for a great website and brilliant pics x

  • Larry J Schaefer

    There is a quality base to smugmug but I still seem to have major logic or intuitive meltdowns trying to manage, modify, rename and get back to “categories”.  I’t’s a constant mind frazzle.  I am at a point where I need to the site loaded as I interest in my work begins to increase.  I I can’t get some advise I’ll cancel for my sanity.

  • Trey, good page but I suspect it needs an update.  You mention Google Buzz, which is obviously dead.  You mention on this page that you are working on a WordPress Plugin for SmugMug.  I looked, there is nothing good out there.  Are you still hoping to do this or did it go the way of Buzz?

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  • If you need an online portfolio visible offline too, go to start one on

  • danielgrant

    Give them enough factors to remain by including top quality pictures, appropriate video clips and useful articles or by starting a study or a study. The main idea is to increase the potential of your web page through SEO and useful material. cool training

  • danielgrant

    Besides, you will also be able to tell them particularly what exactly you’re looking for. her response

  • marc
  • Here’s a nice video tutorial on how to create a portfolio website 🙂

  • SMUGMUG is a great site… I would like pitch another portfolio Website builder is PIXPA, Pixpa offers the coolest way to edit your website content and theme layout. You can review your changes in real time while you are editing your site

  • If you are looking for an hybrid solution between just photo album and a great website like features too, then I would recommend I just created mine on justfolio. Best part is…its free. All features included in free account. Hosting, Editor, Support, Custom domain linking,etc. No hassles of credit card or trial period. Just create and relax .

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