Zenfolio Review

Zenfolio is a website builder specifically targetted at photographers. It comes with certain perks and features only useable for photographers.

About this review

fstop314.com reviews website builders for a photography business. I started this website because I really wanted to make money with my photography. But a lack of knowledge of the business besides photography and lack of tools made me quit. Nevertheless, I decided to make this website to help other succeed. Finding opportunities and the tools to move forward. I use 18 criteria points and 30 sub-criteria to test a website builder. The criteria are Website Builder: Content Blocks, Canvas, Templates, Themes, Custom templates

What is Zenfolio?

Zenfolio is a website builder aimed at photographers. It uses a layout canvas with fixed content blocks. You cannot drag and drop content blocks. It only allows you to change the content "within" the blocks, such as text, menu, and images. Zenfolio does mention "Custom free-form Web pages editor", which is unclear what it means, but it's definitely not a website builder.

Because of the layout canvas, there're no templates. Furthermore, you cannot buy templates or hire an external developer to make you a template. Zenfolio does have themes, meaning you can change the colors and fonts. You can choose between 32 themes.

Decisive factors

Zenfolio offers 3 plans, Starter $7, Advanced $28 and Pro $42. The jump between the Starter and Advanced is a whopping $21. The starter package is really for personal usage, as it contains Zenfolio branding. When in pursuit of a photography business, it's important to build your own brand. This also means you should not put up with forced branding. The very first plan suitable for a photography business is the Advanced plan. But not entirely, as we will see later in the review.


Zenfolio has some features other website builders are lacking:

  1. iOS and Android apps
  2. Photo Moments app
  3. Lightroom Plug-in
  4. Video hosting

Video hosting is a non-issue in general. YouTube and Vimeo are far more superior. Video processing and streaming demand a lot of resources. Zenfolio is not and offers a very simple video solution. The result is often non-loading videos. Zenfolio does allow embedding videos as most website builders and it's highly recommended to upload your video to YouTube/Vimeo and embed it.


  1. 50 soundtracks (value $3000)
  2. Order from integrated labs
  3. Listing Photographer Central Directory (value $100)

50 soundtrack cost a license fee of $60 per soundtrack at triplescoopmusic.com. As of 2018, Triple Scoop Music offers membership plans for $50 a month. If you have a subscription at Zenfolio you can enjoy access to 17000+ songs for your videos for $10 a month extra. You can essentially purchase a Starter plan for $7/month + $10/month for Triple Scoop Music and still save $33 a month on royalty free music.

Ordering from integrated labs means you can order products without leaving the Zenfolio dashboard. You can order at Miller's Professional Imaging labs, Mpix and MpixPro, which essentially are one and the same company. The biggest upside of Miller's is that it's a true fulfillment company for photographers. The downside? You're stuck with their pricing and location. If you really need ordering within the dashboard, you're far better off with photoshelter.com, which has a staggering 195 connected labs.

Discounted listing in Photographers Directory is something of value. Normally a listing will set you back $300/year but with Zenfolio you get $100/year off. Here again, if this is something you really need, you can consider going for a starter plan, saving $16/year. $200 for the listing + $84 for Starter = $284 ($16 less than listing without Zenfolio on Photographers Central Directory).


Zenfolio has serval purposes, of which will be discussed at length. We will discuss portfolio, store (selling digital & physical), client proofing....


The foundation of a photography website is the portfolio. It allows us to showcase our work using gallery grids, text and video. Zenfolio can be used as a portfolio site with limitations. A lack of templates forced to use just 8 layouts, 25 variations of those layouts and 36 themes. You also have no way to hire a developer to make you a custom template. When it comes to gallery grids, you only have 2 to choose from.


While at first site Zenfolio appears limiting, consider the amount of time it takes to make a website on a grid or blank canvas. Zenfolio will just do fine as a portfolio site.


After a portfolio, we need a store in order to be in business. Zenfolio offers 2 plans for selling products. Selling can be done in 2 ways:

  1. digital sale
  2. physical sale

Digital sale

Starting with an Advanced plan for $28/month, you can sell digital products with license agreements. The shopping experience is end-to-end. This means a customer never leaves your website, for example, to check out on a page from a bank. Also called white-label integrated shopping cart. At this price point, it's expected to have this standard. In comparison, weebly.com doesn't an offer white label integrated shopping cart, except with a plan starting at $21/month and up.


If you wish to sell digitally, then you need to make a jump from the Starter package to Advanced plan, a $19/month price jump! There're far better alternatives out there, especially when it comes to pricing. Even if you don't need to sell a lot of products.

Physical sale

As mention in The Ultimate Guide to Website Builders for Photographers, a store for selling physical products is far more complex. While it all happens behind the scenes, it's good to know about it. It will reveal what you can actually sell and how the day to day operation works.

Also starting with the Advanced plan for $28/month, you can sell physical products. Over 2000+ products to be exact. These products are offered by the integrated labs, such as Mpix, MpixPro, fotoflot, PictureItPostage, OneVision, Picto, Pikto, NuShots, and NuLab. This allows a worldwide coverage. Besides those external labs, Zenfolio offers fulfillment as well, in the United States and Europe.

Zenfolio allows selling packages of physical products, including products from multiple vendors. When a customer orders a package, the order goes directly to any of fulfillment companies and they process the order. All orders are white-label, so there will be no mention of who produced the product. That way, you can keep your brand consistency.

You can accept major credit cards and PayPal as payment methods. This is also a white-label integrated shopping cart, with an end-to-end shopping experience. Your customer never leaves your website. Your profits payout via Direct Deposit (ACH) or PayPal.

Zenfolio does a great job when it comes to physical sale. It's a complete end-to-end shopping experience for your customers and end-to-end fully automated fulfillment. But the reality of online retails is much harsher and harder to pull off. 75% of shopping carts are abandoned!

A customer can visit your shop, and add products to cart. And then start the check out process. This is the moment, they abandon the cart to never return. There're a number of marketing tactics to get them back. One of the most effective ones is abandoned cart emails. A customer will get an email, mentioning that they still have a cart somewhere. Sometimes you can add a discount code to make a sale.

Zenfolio lacks the abandon cart emails. There's nowhere a mention of this crucial need for online commerce. But that's not all. At some point Zenfolio decided to jump into fulfillment world, powered by the trend in Print on Demand. POD allows for personalized products to be produced at low cost in very small quantities. You see this rise, especially in the T-shirt industry. And it's definitely possible with photographic works as well.

In order to push this opportunity, Zenfolio decided to indulge in dark patterns. Dark patterns are obscure methods of confusing the user oblige to whatever the company wants. If you need to know more, watch this excellent easy to understand video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxkrdLI6e6M

Zenfolio used a dark pattern to push it's new endeavor onto its customer base, essentially stealing orders from people. Here is an example: https://www.reddit.com/r/photography/comments/4v98gr/a_friendly_warning_to_zenfolio_users/

Practicing dark pattern may not matter much on Amazon or Facebook, but when you have a store with a yearly cost of $240, you don't want to lose a single dime.

Zenfolio offers 2 plans for having a store, Advanced and Pro. The difference is:

  1. Complete control over pending orders
  2. Add promotional prints or products to pending orders
  3. Offer free product as part of your package
  4. Offer Boutique Packaging (Miller's only)
  5. Ship orders directly to your studio first
  6. Manage events with mini sites and participant lists
  7. Define your own shipping method and shipping charge
  8. Export list of ordered photos to Adobe Lightroom

But there's no real value to be found in any. Complete control over pending orders is difficult since you're not the one who manufactures the product.

Adding promotional material to orders can be done by yourself since you have the customers address, you can send it.

Offering boutique packaging is only when you order is fulfilled by Miller's, which we already stated that you're bound by their pricing.

Shipping orders to your studio can also be done with the Started package of $7.

Minisites and participants list are basically a landing page with an email opt-in. There're entire dedicated platforms which only do landing pages (landinglion.com, mailchimp.com, unbounce.com). MailChimp is even free!

Define your shipping methods and the charge is irrelevant. Unless you're a fine-art photographer whose work needs to be shipped insured, all fulfillment companies are fully aware of shipping damages and will take care of it.

The only real difference between a $28 Advanced and $42 Pro plan is "Set order minimums per price list". In eCommerce, this is called upselling. Upsell is done by various sales tactics, such as offering free shipping when a minimum is reached or suggesting other products when the customer is checking out. Like abandoned cart emails, upselling is vital to the success of a webshop. In the case of Zenfolio, you need to make the jump of $28/month to $42/month, just for this necessity!

Besides the lack of abandoned cart emails, usage of dark patterns, the high cost of having upselling, there's a final consideration. How online shop providers work is that you pay a fixed monthly fee for using the platform + fees for each sale. This is not out of the ordinary. Example:

  • Shopify charges $29/month + $0.30 and 2.9%
  • Weebly.com charges $33/month + 0%.
  • Zenfolio charges $28 + 7% on both physical and digital sale!

Let's say you have a plan for just one month and you make a sale of $100. You then get:

  • Shopify: $67.80 formula: ((100 - 0.30) - 2.9%) - $29
  • Weebly: $67 ((100 - 0) - $33
  • Zenfolio: $65 ((100 - 7%) - $28

Let's say you have a plan for 1 year and you sell for $1000 a month in 5 orders. You then get:

  • Shopify: 11286
  • Weebly: 11604
  • Zenfolio: 10824

That's $500-750/year less with Zenfolio. In the case of Shopify, you also get a discounted shipping of 64%.


In a sense, over an entire year of selling for a $1000/month, you lose 1 month of a nice income. Photography is a hard business without all this technology, let alone with Zenfolio with the lack of crucial features, such as upselling, abandoned cart emails, using dark patterns to divert income from you to them AND 7% fees on orders.

Domain name

Zenfolio does not offer domain names. Website builders who do, do it purely for convenience. It's not recommended to buy a domain directly from a builder. They tend to have a very limited selection and very expensive. Zenfolio does allow connecting a custom domain you purchase elsewhere. View here a list of domain names for photographers.


Zenfolio does not offer bookings. A client cannot book you using a calendar. They can pay for a session but pay much like how you buy a digital product. After buying a session, the client gets an invoice. See also Invoice below.


Clients can do proofing by getting access to a private gallery from Advanced plan $28/month. You can import there favorite back in Adobe Lightroom for retouching. However, this requires the most expensive Pro plan of $42/month.

Client Delivery

Zenfolio has a client delivery system in place. You can give clients access to download their photo. Online Client Delivery is meant to replace the delivery by CD/USB or by mail.


There's no way to produce an invoice. It can happen that you sell something, perhaps a very specific custom package that is not listed on your website. You still need to get paid by sending an invoice. Such an invoice cannot be made within Zenfolio.


Zenfolio also lacks signing contracts. When you work with models, brides or whomever, there's need for signing model releases. Some website builders can do this online. In the case of Zenfolio, you need to do this in-person.

Behind the Scenes

So far we have discussed what Zenfolio has to offer and how this fits within our needs as photographers. There're also aspects which we cannot directly see, but does matter. And that is which technical solution has chosen to build the platform.


Zenfolio offers unlimited storage. This appeals to many whom seeking a secondary online backup for their most valuable assets, photographs. You can upload all image and video files. Video files are limited at 2GB/20 min. Image files are limited at RAW files, which cost $0.85/GB/month! Again, this is also a dark pattern, as on the list of pricing they mention unlimited storage for RAW files, but when you check the Fees and Labs section, the pricing is revealed.

Consider the average size of photo collection in RAW, for sake of this example, 1TB = 1000GB x $0.85 = $850 a month! There're far cheaper alternatives available for online storage. Dropbox.com $3/1TB, SugarSync.com $55/1TB and Box.net $14/Unlimited. Even SugarSync is 15x cheaper!

Page Speed

Builders use a selection of hard and software to archive certain standards for their user base. While we will never see this part, we do notice it in speed. How fast does our website load? Page Speed is measured using 2 criteria, Time to First Byte and Full Load Time. For Zenfolio, the numbers are not promising. Time to the first Byte is 1 sec. and Full Load Time is 6 sec.

In comparison, ideally, a website should load under 1 sec. But we're dealing with a photography website, so maybe 5 sec. is expected. Even then the demo page of Zenfolio loads 1 sec. slower. One thing is to be said about the reason of slow loading times. It can be lowered if the users optimize their images. But, yet again, this is not the user's ability or concern. Zenfolio, a website builder for photographers, should be experts at image optimization.

Page Speed for Zenfolio is Medium at best.


In order for a business to succeed, there's also the aspect of marketing. The term, ‘marketing’, comes from the Latin, ‘Mercatus’, meaning a marketplace. In very simple wording, it’s how we put our product ‘on the market’. For this, we need marketing tools. When it comes to marketing tools, Zenfolio offers SEO, Social, and Email. SEO and Social are done excellently by all website builders. Email, on the other hand, is not.

Often a builder has done half job, or better, allowing integration with a third party. But Zenfolio excels at this! It offers ways to capture your visitor's email, send them newsletters AND email automation! For example, a visitor can get an email when they visit your website again. While it's not as sophisticated as MailChimp or SendInBlue, it's nice to have a simple working email automation.


One perk of some builders is the ability to advertise on Facebook. Zenfolio doesn't offer this. It's definitely a missed opportunity. Furthermore, Zenfolio doesn't offer any advertising vouchers for Google Ads or Bing Ads.


Zenfolio has no integration, at least not in the most obvious understanding. The idea behind integrations is that no platform can be good at everything. Most allow you to integrate 3rd party services. For example, maybe you start using Zenfolio's email automation and you have a lot of conversions. You want to expand this and push it more. A good replacement would be a platform that is dedicated to newsletters, such as MailChimp. Unfortunately, you cannot integrate MailChimp directly on your website. You can link to a sign-up page provided to you by MailChimp, but it will not look as good as your website.

Payment Terms

When you don't have enough cash around to go all-in, it's a good option to pay monthly. Not all platforms offer this. Zenfolio luckily does. You can pay monthly or annually. This is as extreme as the jump between plans, from $7 to $28 for example. There's no middle in case of Zenfolio.

Beyond the Website

While a website is the first and last touchpoint of your brand, it doesn’t stop there. Behind the scenes, you also need to use tools to complete the experience a user started on your website.


Customer Relations Management is vital when dealing with clients. CRM is a special type of platform. Its focus is on customer retention and driving sales (growth). This is what mid- and large size businesses use to gain competitive advantages. CRM gathers data from various channels, such as a website, telephone and, email. You can understand your clients’ needs and cater to their needs.

Zenfolio doesn't have a proper CRM. You cannot follow a clients journey from awareness to a sale. But, almost no builder offers this. It's best to seek a third party service for this.

Should I use Zenfolio?

Not as a website builder. It lacks the sophistication of many other builders. Zenfolio is the only builder using a layout canvas. The store also lacks many very crucial features, such as abandon cart emails and upselling. Without these two you will have a hard time succeeding in online commerce. Even if you do, you pay 7% fees on sales. More than any other builder and that without any visible value. Some builders are used for their storage, but also here Zenfolio fails with $0.85/GB/month. Dropbox does it for $0.003/GB/month!

The basics are lacking. When it comes to specific needs, Zenfolio underperforms aswell. Bookings cannot be done with a calendar, but it's more like buying a digital product, which is charged with a 7% fee as well! Proofing lacks the complete cycle of your client proofing, then you importing the pictures in Lightroom for retouching and reuploading it. Unless you opt-in for the Pro plan for $42/month. Client Delivery is in place, but if this is the only feature you want, pixpa.com offers it for $6/month. You also have no option for generating an invoice and there's no online signing of the contract.

Behind the scenes, the page speed is far behind. While most builders have moved on to much faster networks, such as Amazon AWS, Zenfolio is still hosted at a somewhat upscaled posh company (akamai.com). Akamai is underperforming for the type of content Zenfolio userbase needs to show. This is not the fault of Akamai. The more Zenfolio needs to find the right partner for the job in this age.

Why you should use Zenfolio

If you need access to 17000+ royalty free music for your video's, then having the Starter plan for $7 + $10 for access to triplescoopmusic.com is a bargain deal! A normal monthly membership at Triple Scoop Music will cost you $50 a month. With Zenfolio you save $33 a month/$396 a year.

Another perk could be ordering high-quality products at a base price at Miller's lab.

Overall, as you can see, subscribing for Zenfolio is not recommended as a website builder. It is recommended for access to its discounts and benefits from Zenfolio partners.

Zenfolio Coupon



SmugMug Review

What is SmugMug?

SmugMug is a website builder aimed at photographers.  It uses a grid canvas where content blocks can "stick" to. You can drag a block of content and drop it in a certain area of the canvas.
Content Blocks

SmugMug has the following content blocks:

  • Galleries
  • Photos
  • Navigation
  • Video
  • Design
  • Text
  • Social
  • Discovery (Search Box, Keyword Cloud, Map)
  • Services (Google Calendar, Google Translate, AdSense)

Other than the above content blocks, you can add HTML & CSS content blocks. This, however, requires knowledge of coding. It is limited to a content block, as it will not change your website layout.
SmugMug is a grid canvas website builder. It means a block of content "sticks" to a certain area. Unlike a blank canvas website builder, where you can drag & drop content blocks anywhere you like.
With a basic plan, you have access to just one template. SmugMug does offer 21+ templates, but this requires an upgrade to the Power plan.
A basic plan does have 20+ themes. You basically have access to just one layout, but 20+ color & font variations.
Custom Templates
SmugMug claims you can have custom templates. You can not buy off the shelf templates and install them. This requires hiring a developer who will log in and adjust the layout to your liking. Or getting dirty coding, if that's your thing.
SmugMug offers 4 plans
SmugMug offers 4 monthly plans, Basic $6, Power $9, Portfolio $14, Business $42. The jump between the first 3 plans are reasonable, but the jump from Portfolio and Business is a whopping $28!

Basic $6

The basic package not suitable for a portfolio. It lacks brand building capabilities. While you get an unbranded website, you cannot connect a custom domain. Either one you purchase elsewhere or via SmugMug.

You also cannot use SmugMug as a safe cloud storage for your photographs. It does allow unlimited uploading of JPEG, GIF, and PNG files but not RAW files.

When it comes to personalizing your website, a Basic plan is also very limited. You can choose themes but no templates. This is just one layout with fixed content blocks and you can change colors and fonts. But the layout remains the same.

Power $9

The power plan is not a very big jump from the Basic. It allows you to connect a custom domain. And you get access to 21+ Templates. SmugMug claims you can make custom templates, but this requires hand coding or hiring a developer (see custom templates above)
- portfolio
Using SmugMug as your online portfolio requires the Power plan, which is $9/month. The Basic plan does not allow connecting your own domain. You do get an unbranded website, but the biggest brand asset you have is a domain name.

- store

A store starts at $24/month. It lacks a lot of much-needed component for running a successful e-commerce store. You can sell both digital and physical products.

-- Digital Sale

A digital sale is very easy. A visitor adds pictures to the cart, checks out, pays and downloads the image. You can sell digital pictures along with license agreements in various sizes. From 1MP to Full Resolution.

All selling happens within your shop, called white-label checkout. Your visitor never leaves your webpage, for example to a banks website, to pay. At a price point of $24/month, this is not a feature, but an expectation.

On top of the monthly fee, you pay 15% for each order! For selling digital! This is the highest sales fee with any website builder. On top of that, if the order is less than $10, you're also charged with $0.50.

  • Order less than $10: 15% + $0.50
  • Order more than $10: 15%

To put it in comparison: Shopify charges: 2.9% + $0.30, Weebly charges: 0%. Let's say you sell a digital image at $1.00. This is what you earn:

  • SmugMug: ($1 - 15%) - $0.50 = $0.35
  • Shopify: ($1 - 2.9%) - $0.30 = $0.68
  • Weebly: ($1 - 0%) - $0.00 = $1.00

When you want to sell (specialized) stock photography, as we all know, the competition is so fierce, you might need to compete on price. While we don't recommend stock photography platforms, such as gettyimages.com, you're still better off than going with anything than SmugMug.

On top of all that, the monthly fee and sales fees, you also lack access to coupons and custom pricing, both require the business plan for $48/month. Coupons and custom pricing are upselling.

And to make it even worse, 75% of customers leave their cart behind. This is just the reality of e-commerce. One marketing tactic to get them back is Abandon Cart mails, which is sent out after a few days, reminding them about a cart they left behind.

-- Physical Sale

It's possible to sell physical photographic products with SmugMug. Like digital sale, you get a white-label checkout and pay the 15% sales fee on each order. Plus $0.50 if the order is below $10.
--- Products

1000+ products from selected companies. The companies are Bay Photo, WHCC, EZPrints, and Loxley (UK). With those companies, you cover North America and European markets.

--- Shopping Cart

White-label, meaning an end-to-end customer experience. Your client never leaves your website.
--- Check Out

Checkout is also white-label. One thing that is missing is the requirement for Abandon Cart Emails and that is requesting a potential customers email, right at the beginning of the checkout process.
--- Payment Gateways

Customers can pay with PayPal and Credit Cards. This doesn't necessarily mean it's limiting. It depends on the market you're serving.
--- Currency

As usual, customers can pay in currencies supported by PayPal. It's unclear which payment gateway is used for processing credit cards. However, SmugMug mentions USD, CAD, GBP, EUR, AUD, JPY, CHF, NZD, SEK, and HKD. That should give you an idea of the markets you can serve.
--- Fulfillment

Order fulfillment can only be done with the connected labs. It's not possible to do self-fulfillment. Even if it would be possible, you still pay the 15% sales fees.
--- Shipping

The choice to choose a shipment company is very limited to US Postal Service. The odd thing about this is when a customer is located in Europe, and they offer Loxley (UK) as a fulfillment company, your customer still can only use US Postal Service.

This is because when you sell pictures, you need to choose which company has to fulfill it. In a way, if you want to cover both North America and Europe, you need to make 2 price lists. This is just confusing for your potential clients.
- Domain name

SmugMug has subdomains like most website builders. You get a YOURNAME.smugmug.com. They do not offer Free Domains, which is an incentive some builders offer if you purchase annually. SmugMug does offer paid domains, essentially reselling GoDaddy domains. Connecting your custom domain, purchased else is possible, starting with the Pro plan for $9/month.

Buying a domain at SmugMug is not recommended. They resell domains from GoDaddy. This is not a bad thing necessarily. It's purely done form convenience. You do pay for that comfort. Furthermore, the selection for vanity domains for photographers is either limited and expensive.


SmugMug does mention perks, but it remains unclear what exactly those are. I assume it's just one-time discounts you could get anywhere. In comparison, Zenfolio is clear about the perks and even purchasing the Basic plan of Zenfolio could save you $404/year on Royalty free music.

- Bookings

SmugMug does not offer any ways to do bookings. One way around it is to offer your sessions as a "digital download" and have customers book and pay that way. Keep in mind the 15% sales fee applies while you're out there doing your job.

- Proofing

SmugMug lacks proofing. In fact, they do use the word "proof" and "proof delay", but this is definitely not client proofing. It's a very subtle way of SmugMug to fool potential customers to get them in the door.
- Client Delivery

SmugMug does have client delivery. By making a gallery private and password protected you can do client delivery.
- Invoice

Sometimes you need to charge a customer for work that is not within your most used services. An invoice generator comes in handy in those cases. SmugMug doesn't offer this.
- Contracts

With the lack of booking, client proofing, an invoice, it's obvious that SmugMug is not for freelance photographers and studios. So it also doesn't have contract capabilities.
Behind the Scene
- Storage

Some builders (in the past) were glorified online storage. SmugMug is not different, as it allows unlimited uploads. But it is limited to standard web images, such as JPEG, PNG and GIF. You cannot upload RAW or TIFF.

They also allow uploading video's to be used on your website. However, this is a very simple system. YouTube and Vimeo are far more superior in this regard. SmugMug does allow embedding, much like any website builder.
- Pagespeed

Page speed reveals the expertise that goes into making a platform for us photographers to showcase our work. While all this is very technical and not worth our time to learn, page speed is very important for SEO and our brand building. Nobody likes to wait for a slow loading website.

Page Speed is measured using two factors: Time to First Byte which is how fast does a user see something when visiting your website without any interaction. And Full Load Time, when the user starts to scroll, swipe and click.

For SmugMug the page speed is:

  • Time to first Byte: 0.7 sec
  • Full Load Time: 9.2 sec

The user experience this type of Page Speed as a crashed website. They get to see something quickly, but then it takes forever before they can scroll the page. Usually, the user is gone within 3 sec. thinking it's a non-working website.

Much of the Full Load Time can be fixed by optimizing the images. This can be done by the user, but considering SmugMug is made for photographers, they should take the blame and fix it.

On top of very slow load times, a research reveals SmugMug is using Amazon AWS network to serve user website. Considering Amazon AWS is one of the fastest networks out there for developers, it doesn't make sense to have website taking almost 10 sec. to load.

SEO and Social are in working order, much like any other website builder. Email, on the other hand, is lacking. You can use an HTML & CSS content block and add the code any mailing-list platform gives you, such as MailChimp.

One complaint is that this should be done as easy as possible, without digging in code. Much like the way you can add Google Analytics and StatCounter to your SmugMug website.

SmugMug doesn't offer ways to advertise on Facebook. It also doesn't offer any incentive to advertise on Google or Bing.

Google Analytics and StatCounter can both be used by just adding the Web Property ID they give you. Other integration, if possible, can be added by using an HTML & CSS content blocks.
Payment Terms

You can pay monthly and annually. When choosing annually, you save around 30%.

Beyond the website

While a website is the first and last touchpoint of your brand, it doesn’t stop there. Behind the scenes, you also need to use tools to complete the experience a user started on your website.


Customer Relations Management is vital when dealing with clients. CRM is a special type of platform. Its focus is on customer retention and driving sales (growth). This is what mid- and large size businesses use to gain competitive advantages. CRM gathers data from various channels, such as a website, telephone and, email. You can understand your clients’ needs and cater to their needs.

Zenfolio doesn't have a proper CRM. You cannot follow a clients journey from awareness to a sale. But, almost no builder offers this. It's best to seek a third party service for this.

Should I use SmugMug?

No. SmugMug fails at every fundamental need for us photographers:

Personal storage: RAW and TIFF are not allowed.

Portfolio: starts at $9/month

Store: starts at $24/month, 15% sales fees, limited fulfillment companies and to cover the majority of the markets you need to duplicate your products /pricing causing confusion for your visitors.

Behind the scenes are not great either, of which page speed is seriously worrying. Almost 10 sec. loading time and no image optimization reveals a lack of expertise needed for online image processing. This is something SmugMug should be good at, considering their market is photographers.

Why should you use SmugMug for?

While as a website builder SmugMug underperforms, you can still use it for some other features: SmugMug App for both iOS and Android. But our recommendation is for iOS because of Apple TV.

If you need a way to showcase your pictures on a large screen, like you often see in a window store of fortune 500 company lobby, you can use SmugMug iOS app for that! At a price point of just $6/month or $4/month, if you pay annually, you can have a professional grade showcase piece in your gallery or home. (TV not included!)

Much like Zenfolio, where the builder seriously underperforms, you can still purchase a subscription to get access to 17000+ royalty free music for just $17/month, instead of $50, saving you $404/year!

Domain Names for Photographers

All new domain names for photography (business) website. Besides the classic .com domain names you can choose the new vanity domains, such as .photography, .photo, .pictures, and .studio. Here is a list of photography domain names.

fstop314.com may earn advertising/referral fees if you buy through the affiliate link(s), without any extra cost to you. Thank you for your support.


RegistrarPrice/YearDomain PrivacyTotal
Google Domains
Domain Discount 24$44.00$3.50$47.50

swipe over the table to see all the information

Average price: $32/year (.PHOTO DOMAIN DEALS)


RegistrarPrice/YearDomain PrivacyTotal
Google Domains$22.00$0.00$22.00
Domain Discount 24$26.00$3.50$29.50

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Average price: $25/year  (.PHOTOS DOMAIN DEALS)


RegistrarPrice/YearDomain PrivacyTotal
Google Domains$22.00$0.00$22.00
Domain Discount 24$25.00$3.50$27.50

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Average price: $25/year (.PHOTOGRAPHY DOMAIN DEALS)


RegistrarPrice/YearDomain PrivacyTotal
Google Domains$44.00$0.00$44.00
Domain Discount 24$92.00$3.50$95.50

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Average price: $60/year (.CAMERA DOMAIN NAME DEALS)


RegistrarPrice/YearDomain PrivacyTotal
Google Domains$22.00$0.00$22.00
Domain Discount 24$26.50$3.50$29.50

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Average price: $26/year (.GALLERY DOMAIN NAME DEALS)


RegistrarPrice/YearDomain PrivacyTotal
Google Domains$22.00$0.00$22.00
Domain Discount 24$39.00$3.50$42.50

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Average price: $30/year (.STUDIO DOMAIN NAME DEALS)

Get a Domain Name for your photography business. Protect it using Domain Privacy. Do you need an SSL certificate?

icon of a globe with internet address bar representing the internet and domain names

Domain Names

A domain name is your address on the internet. It consists of two parts: yourbrand.extension. For example, Google (name) and .com (extension).

We all are familiar with classic .com and country-specific domains. For a photography business website, you can register the new vanity domains. New vanity domains for the genre of photography inform your clients of your specialty. While still allowing you to personalize it with your brand.

Classic extensions are .com, .net, and .org. Country-specific extensions, such as .us, .uk, .aus, and .de. Vanity extensions are from recent times, such as .photo, .photos, gallery, .pic, .pics, .pictures, and .photographer.

Domain Privacy

Each registered domain has your information. You can hide it with Domain Privacy. Some registrars offer this service free of charge. Hiding your personal information protects you from digital threats. Spam, unsolicited offers, domain hijacking are a few examples of digital threats.

RegistrarDomain Privacy1st Year2nd Year
Namecheapyes, WhoisGuard™$0$0
Uniregistryyes, Privacy.Link™$0$0
GoDaddyyes, Private Registration$8.00$10
NameSiloyes, WHOIS Privacy$0$0

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SSL certificate

SSL secures the communication between your website and a visitor’s browser. Google will warn users about the insecurity of a website.
You can recognize SSL by the green lock, or green address bar as pictured below.

But when you register a domain name, you don't need an SSL certificate!

SSL certificate is often taken care of by the platform you use. If you buy a certificate by accident, it doesn't affect your domain or your platform.

Registrar1st Year2nd Year

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Platforms offering domain names

Having your domain in the same place as the platform is definitely convenient. But there are also downsides.
  • Difficult to transfer your domain between platform.
  • It's a hassle to connect your domain to another platform.
  • Also known as lock-in, your platform can hold your domain hostage. Out of fear of losing your domain, you keep paying.
  • Platforms offer a limited choice.
  • Limited selection domains at very high prices.

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Wix.com offers domain, but the prices are revealed when you make a buy. Smugmug resells domains from GoDaddy, hence the high price.

Connecting your domain

You can buy a domain name at any respectable registry and connect it to any platform you wish. A lot of platforms have a simple how-to on connecting your domain to their platform.

Why vanity?

Original extensions are getting very hard to come by. Furthermore, the prices have also risen because of this shortage. Some registrars labeled classic extensions “premium” and charge first-year registrations starting at $750. The same is true for country extensions. Vanity extensions are much more interesting for photographers.

Due to the rise of AI, a search engine no longer prefers the classic extensions over any other extension. Instead, AI focuses on content and rewards quality content over a .com with spam content.

The technical term for Domain Extensions is TLD. There’re over 1000+ TLD’s available.


You can register a domain name via a registrar. It doesn’t matter where you decide to register. Some hosting companies offer registering domain names on the side.

Domain names and hosting are two separate services. You can connect your domain to any hosting or platform. Separating your domain will save you a lot of money and headaches.

Long-term cost

As a business, it's important to know how much you spend in the long-term. First-year purchases are always cheaper. Domain Privacy is not always included. Sometimes you need to buy multiple years at once to be eligible for a discount.


Uniregistry vs Others

Uniregistery is a little more expensive. But there's a legal argument you need to consider.

Your domain name is a very valuable brand asset. If a problem arises with your brand, a judicial system can force you to give up the name. Unless the registration is somewhere where they don't have judicial power.

For example, if your domain was registered by an American company, then an American judge has the power to the verdict. Sometimes in your disfavor.

Uniregistery is in The Cayman Island, an autonomous British Overseas Territory. Thus, an American judge has no power over the Cayman Islands. This principle counts for any other location you operate and registry location combination.

This is not an legal advice. It's worth registering your domain outside the country where you operate. A few dollars more for preventing legal headache is not so expensive anymore. Consult legal advice to be sure.

GoDaddy vs Others

Vanity domains for photographers, offered by GoDaddy, are very expensive. On the other hand, Classic and Country domains can be very cheap. GoDaddy relies on upsells and hidden fees. GoDaddy charges fees for otherwise free services other registrars offer.