Monday, May 12, 2008

Q and A: Image Hosting Services

"I was looking at your site, and I was wondering how you got a website through Smugmug with all that information and what not. I really need to redo my website, and I've been using Zenfolio, but I haven't really tried Smugmug. How does that work?"

ANSWER: Smugmug is the digital photo hosting service I currently use for posting galleries and selling prints to clients. Feel free to take a look at my business website here. Everything you see on that page was created thanks to the wonderful Customization Support team available through Smugmug's forum at

I didn't know a thing about HTML or customizing my page with slideshows, navigational bars or links. But all I had to do was post a question on the Smugmug Support thread, and by days end, I had help from gurus like Denise and Allen (I love you guys!) who created code to help me cut and paste designs onto my webpage. As a matter of fact, Denise helped me design the code that put a slideshow on my Blogger page, and helped me link photos directly from my blog back to my business website! Whenever I get a crazy idea I want to try out on my website, I just post a message: "I want to try putting my slideshow BENEATH my nav bar instead of having my slideshow on top of it. Can someone please explain to me how to do this?" I swear, the Customization Gods at Smugmug are up for any challenge.

Having the courage to customize my own page took some time. Until then, Smugmug had numerous templates I could use until I grew more accustomed to the site and had a better understanding of what services I wanted to offer. Smugmug also allows members to use registered domain names for their site address if a domain has been purchased. And clients who have ordered prints directly from the site said the images they received were beautiful and of great quality, which is one less worry I have to contend with.

Not only do I get to customize my site as a Pro user, but I can create custom watermarks for all of my uploaded images. And I can mark up my prints for sale where I get 85 percent of the markup over the base photo price. I'm still working on developing packages for my clients, since I've been told that offering them is a good business service. But many of my clients like the ala carte ease in being able to pick whatever sizes and prints they want, as well. And Smugmug is always coming out with new features, such as the recently added "digital downloads," of my images that are also available for sale.

Given all that and the ability to upload an unlimited number of photos, I think the $150 annual membership I pay is well worth it. But if that's more clams than you can afford right now, opt for the Standard membership to get you going. I get tons of compliments from clients about how professional my website looks, and I think that speaks highly of my product as well.

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