Monday, September 3, 2012

Smugmug Pro Price Increase

Smugmug's recent announcement of a massive price increase for pro accounts is making some unhappy customers compare the move to the Netflix fiasco. That's a bit harsh, given Smugmug's incredible customer service, but judge for yourself:

No customer is happy with a price increase, but some objections are more substantive than others. For example:

  • Why not introduce some killer new features along with your announcement (or at least give specifics about future improvements)? Wouldn't major improvements mitigate the price increase?
  • Wouldn't incremental price increases be less painful, or was this a ripping-off-the-band-aid philosophy? (note: Baldy says in a forum that he regrets not doing it incrementally over the last 7 years)
  • If all that storage is costing so much, why are only the pros seeing a price increase? My wife, who has a basic account, probably uploads more than I do with my pro account, and I doubt this comparison is unique to my home.
  • If Smugmug is in such urgent need of new revenue, it hardly builds confidence.
  • The new "portfolio" level doesn't offer enough features for hobbyists who need to sell prints. Why not bump up the price once a certain level of sales is reached?
I have been nothing less than blown away by Smugmug's customer service. I love that I can let Bay Photo fullfil customers' orders online—saves me a lot of hassle and the quality is excellent.

While many customers claim they will downgrade or take their business elsewhere (Zenfolio is the most likely competitor), I have decided to see if I can get my money's worth out of Smugmug. My goal: customize my site to the point where I can dump my website and run everything through Smugmug. I've spent all weekend finding tutorials about advanced customization (CSS, Javascript, etc.) and I am nowhere near my goal. If you want to pay hundreds for someone to do the coding for you, Smugmug gives a list of "certified customizers," but if you want to do it yourself, you have to cobble together what you can from their forums and this post. Why oh why can't Smugmug give pros some good advanced templates? And while we're griping, what about giving pros the ability to upload RAW files at no extra cost? If those two things happened, I'd stick with Smugmug. As it stands, I don't have to renew until next April, so we'll see what happens between now and then.

What about you? Any Smugmug users out there? What about Zenfolio or other alternatives? Do you think this is a disaster à la Netflix or will it all blow over in a week?


Matt McGuire said...

I don't believe it will blow over. I think in the long run it will hurt SM. I think SM wanted to dump the little guy that did not generate revenue beyond their yearly fees. SM did not anticipate the social media backlash.