Wednesday, September 5, 2012

5 Smugmug Pro Alternatives

I recently renewed my Smugmug account, so I've got months to think about whether it's worth it to jump ship. Here are five alternatives to Smugmug that are popping up in discussions among the disgruntled:

1. Zenfolio

Advantages: A "Premium Account" is only $120/yr. That includes way better templates than Smugmug, unlimited storage, reasonable lab fees (12% for partner labs as compared to 15% on Smugmug), and most of the features a pro would need. See their pricing for details.
Disadvantages: You only get access to the pro labs with the "Premium Business" plan, which at $250/yr, is comparable to Smugmug. Some say the customization is more limited, but from what I see the templates would be sufficient for me.

2. Photoshelter
Advantages: Nice templates, SEO and marketing tools built in, a large network of labs for worldwide print sales, takes RAW, PSD, and all the other file formats you could want, and many other features you can see on their site tour.
Disadvantages: Price. A Pro account is $549.99/yr. It's just the kind of thing that makes Smugmug's price increase seem reasonable.

3. Photoswarm
Advantages: Unlimited photos, customization, your own domain name, commission-free Paypal sales. $99/yr for Pro account
Disadvantages: Frankly, I find their site confusing and their sample galleries uninspiring. Compared to the sites above, it seems to be lacking in features.

4. Exposure Manager
Advantages: Unlimited storage/uploads, packages, automated email campaigns, only 10% commission fee (compared to 15% on Smugmug), pro lab or self-fulfillment, etc. See more features on their site.
Disadvantages: Premium account is $25/month, customization is apparently limited to simple changes like headers/footers, colors.

5. Pictage
Advantages: Full spectrum of service, from scheduling and contracts to print fulfillment. Album design service, packaging, and many others you can see by scrolling down on their plans page.
Disadvantages: Price. The cheapest plan is $29/month. The Pro plan is $99/mo.

Disclaimer: I haven't used any of the above. However, these are alternatives that I see mentioned in discussions on forums, facebook, etc. All of the above offer sales and galleries. I have chosen to ignore standard website options or photo sharing sites (such as Flickr), because I am interested in exploring comparable alternatives to the Pro Smugmug plan.

My conclusion:
As much as I hope the Smugug caves to the pressure and cuts the price hike, the proposed price point does not seem unreasonable compared to what I've found elsewhere. The plan I would most likely choose would be the Zenfolio "Premium Business" plan.

Please add to the list in the comments if you have other suggestions. If you've used any of the above sites, what was your impression?


Julie Cortens said...

I have used zenfolio Premium for three years now and have zero complaints. Works very well for me. I pay a little extra for more triple scoop options for slideshows - although I am not sure how any people look at their photos in slideshow mode. Most of my clients order directly from me and I do the printing at my local printer - much better profit margin for me.

marc said...

Thanks for your comment! Good to know.

riche rich said...

Im using which is a similar site offering the ability to create your own photo albums and also gives you your own subdomain or you can connect your own domain straight to your photo album. And the best part is that its free!