TPF Noob!
Aug 23, 2010
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I'm wondering what people think of SmugMug for a site to sell pictures on. I'm building my portfolio and would like to start earning $ from the shoots! Any suggestions?? Thanks!
The two contenders I am considering is Smugmug the other Zenfolio.
Both are pretty close. But each may have something important to the user that the other doesn't have.
Smug and all the other online service providers make their money by targeting hobby shooters, amateurs and all around low-volume shooters. I would guess that 99.9% of the photographers who actually operate on a pro level with a steady flow of clients do not use any of these services. From a photographers point of view this type of sales strategy is the weakest and generates very low sales. People will spend way more money in person during a 1 hour purchasing appointment than they will sitting at home in their underwear on the computer looking at their bills on the table and thinking things over day after day after day.
Photography sales has very little to do with your photography and doing it online vs offline is like asking yourself if you want them to spend $200 vs $2000
I use Smugmug and I'm very happy with it. Then again, I don't make my money by selling prints. Since my site focuses on headshots, the sale of prints isn't important to me. Actors take the shots and have them printed at any number of labs in LA, which put a template around the image with a name, agent info and whatever else they want. The time versus profit isn't worth it for me to do that part of the service, so all I need is a site that offers flexibility, reliability and affordability. My customers compliment me on my site, which is pretty bare bones, all the time.

If you're going to live and die on print sales, don't leave it to your website.
I agree with newimage. If you are truly looking toward making money, the better strategy is in-person, face to face sales. Project the images onto a big screen (or use a big TV) and play a slideshow with emotional music.

As for on-line gallery/sales...I have an application that resides on my own website. So rather than sending clients off to Smugmug or some other site, I keep them on mine. And I paid for it once and don't have to pay commissions or monthly fees etc. I do have to send the orders to the lab myself and deliver/ship them though.
While a nice sales presentation can be a hugely effective sales tool, it's good to remember that based on the type of photography you're doing, that might not be enough.

For a wedding, sit down with the bride and mom to present your photos, sure. But if you have an online proofing and sales option as well, you might get orders from Aunt Eloise in Idaho or the chick that caught the bouquet. Think about widening your customer base. You can share a link to an online photo gallery via email or Facebook (the bride will do this the second she returns from the honeymoon) and you've got every bridesmaid who looks skinny in her dress ordering a print.

Also, for photographers in markets such as sports photography, school photos, or any venue where you don't just have one clear client, you need to get your photos out there to your audience and hopefully generate some sales.

Attack from all angles!

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