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Does SmugMug’s Focused Focus Make It a Good Match or Simply Restricted?

Whether or not you’re snapping photos for play or revenue, as a photographer you’ll want a web-based portfolio. SmugMug has centered completely on this area of interest, providing an all-in-one resolution loaded with options for photographers and together with e-commerce instruments.

So it have to be the plain selection for you, proper?

The factor is, all main web site builders take note of the images area of interest, they usually’re typically fairly good at it. They provide slick portfolio templates and intuitive web site editors. So do you actually need a builder that’s solely for photographers?

I examined SmugMug with that concern in thoughts, and I’ve to say – it positively challenged my preliminary skepticism. I found that despite the fact that SmugMug struggles within the templates division, it has quite a lot of distinctive and sensible options for photographers that different builders don’t.

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For instance – SmugMug provides limitless picture storage and companions instantly with print outlets to make promoting your work hassle-free.

However whereas I’m positively impressed by SmugMug, it’s not excellent: not solely does it have comparatively few templates, however web site customization is a bit restricted too. So learn on to seek out out who I like to recommend SmugMug for, and whether or not it is best to look elsewhere.

Remember that SmugMug is on the market everywhere in the world (although solely in English), and comes with a 14-day free trial for the hesitant.

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SmugMug Has Good-Wanting Templates – Simply Not Many Of Them

SmugMug provides 26 well-designed, mobile-responsive templates (that it refers to as “designs”). They give the impression of being good, with a minimalist vibe that places photographs front-and-center. As portfolio templates, all of them fulfill the aim of constructing your images look nearly as good as attainable.

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Most SmugMug templates are equally good. Hover over to see one in all my favorites.

A library of 26 designs would possibly sound small in comparison with the template alternatives of bigger rivals (Wix, for instance, has a whole bunch of templates), however that’s as a result of SmugMug is simply concentrating on a particular area of interest.

So whereas it’s not an infinite template choice, there are sufficient choices to swimsuit most areas of images – from meals and life-style images to household portraits, and lots in-between. You can too freely change between completely different templates with out shedding your edits.

Nonetheless, there’s a draw back to SmugMug’s template providing: 25 of those layouts are solely accessible on the three highest-tier plans. In the event you go for the most cost effective plan (Fundamental), you’re caught with the Traditional template as your solely selection.

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SmugMug’s Traditional template is okay, however appears a bit like a Fb profile.

It’s the identical story in terms of customization. You may make some edits to your Traditional design on the Fundamental plan, however for the total vary of choices – together with the power to add customized fonts, make HTML or CSS edits, and extra superior coloration choice – you must improve to a better tier.

With that stated, the total vary of customization choices isn’t big, even on the costlier plans.

You’ll be able to add content material blocks (like textual content blocks, galleries, or movies), and transfer them round with the drag-and-drop editor, however you may’t resize them or reposition images inside content material blocks. Most customization settings are for site-wide adjustments, somewhat than particular person web page parts.

The excellent news is that all SmugMug templates are mechanically optimized for various display sizes, so your images will look good on any gadget. SmugMug’s editor lacks a cellular preview choice, however as a result of the templates are already optimized for cellular, it’s not such an enormous deal.

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SmugMug Provides a Lot to Make Life Simple for Photographers

The choice of content material blocks you may add to your web site is a bit fundamental. Apart from photographs, you may add: movies, textual content blocks, customer feedback, varieties, HTML/CSS, search packing containers, key phrase clouds, maps, and Google calendars.

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Different options on supply embody:

  • web optimization instruments: You may make fundamental web optimization edits to issues like web page titles and meta tags.
  • Constructed-in stats and analytics: So that you get tons of knowledge in your web site’s guests.
  • In-app modifying instruments: Enables you to to make tweaks to your images within the SmugMug app.
  • Password safety: You’ll be able to limit entry to delicate galleries so solely sure shoppers can view them.

However in terms of photographer-specific options, SmugMug has quite a bit to boast about. Let’s take a look at a few of these in larger element.

Picture Storage Galore (Plus Safety)

Not like most competing web site builders, SmugMug offers actually limitless picture and video storage (with zero picture compression). You’ll be able to add images as much as 200MB every and 1080p movies as much as 20 minutes in size.

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SmugMug guarantees some superb picture storage options – and for probably the most half, it delivers.

In the event you use RAW information to your photoshoots, SmugMug has an non-obligatory RAW file administration instrument. It begins at just some {dollars} a month for 512 GB (which is sufficient to host roughly 12,000 RAW information). It’s safer than counting on a tough drive, which might fail, and likewise streamlines the method of publishing RAW images in your web site.

Greater-tier plans allow you to defend your photographs by including customized watermarks and disabling picture downloads.

For added safety, SmugMug solely ever shows a lower-resolution preview of photographs, with the full-size picture saved securely on the server for when a customer makes a purchase order. (You’ll be able to disable this, should you want to show full photographs.)

E-commerce Options for Promoting Photographs

SmugMug additionally makes promoting your artwork straightforward, with only a 15-minute on-line retailer set-up course of. SmugMug companions with print labs around the globe, so you may promote a wide range of objects – not solely prints, however albums, mugs, aprons, enjoying playing cards, and extra.

As a result of SmugMug connects you on to suppliers, you may keep away from the overhead prices of protecting a big stock, and keep away from the stress of constructing the prints your self or sending all of the packages.

A 15 p.c markup is added to your gross sales, however SmugMug could be very clear about this.

You can begin promoting from the primary tier, which is a comparatively low worth level in comparison with different builders’ e-commerce plans. Nonetheless, you get extra instruments on the 2 highest tiers (Portfolio and Professional), like an even bigger choice of print merchandise, customized purchasing carts, and separate shopper galleries.

With the Fundamental plan, you may solely set one pricing construction throughout your complete web site, whereas the Professional plan allows you to assign completely different tariffs to completely different galleries – which is helpful should you determine to cost a better margin for marriage ceremony shoots, or supply discounted prints to a pal.

Apps for Engaged on the Go

SmugMug’s cellular apps allow you to view, set up, edit, and safe your images on the go. It’s helpful should you’ve had a protracted day trip taking pictures, and don’t have time to edit all the pieces in your laptop earlier than it goes in your web site.

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No matter gadget you’re utilizing, SmugMug has an app for it.

You can too use the cellular and desktop apps to mechanically add images out of your telephone or laptop to your SmugMug account. Even should you don’t have any sign, your images will mechanically proceed importing when your connection resumes.

Lightroom Plugin

In the event you typically use Adobe Lightroom, SmugMug’s Lightroom plugin might prevent quite a lot of time. As soon as the plugin is put in, you may create and handle your SmugMug galleries from inside Lightroom itself – even should you’re offline.

Plus, you may be sure that any gallery you create inside Lightroom is mechanically uploaded to SmugMug. Even higher, should you determine to tweak a photograph, these edits will mechanically sync along with your SmugMug gallery.

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Simple Picture Uploads and E-commerce, however Modifying Can Be Clunky

Most main web site builders prioritize ease of use, and that is the place SmugMug struggles a bit subsequent to the competitors. Some duties I discovered to be tremendous easy, whereas others have been more durable than they wanted to be. Right here’s how I bought on:

Importing Photographs

Importing your images to SmugMug is easy and straightforward, and a setup wizard walks you thru the method. Anytime you wish to add extra images, you merely navigate to the “Photographs” tab in your dashboard and click on the inexperienced add button.

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Importing images to SmugMug is as straightforward as you’d count on it to be.

After that, you’re offered with a number of add choices. You’ll be able to select to add information individually or in bulk out of your laptop, or to import straight from on-line photo-hosting providers like Dropbox, Flickr, Google Photographs, and Amazon Drive.

You can too import images out of your telephone or pill utilizing the SmugMug app, as described earlier. You’ll be able to then use SmugMug’s built-in file supervisor to prepare them into galleries and folders, and even apply fundamental crops and edits.

As soon as your images are uploaded, you’re offered with an inventory of choices to your new gallery. I’ve to say, the primary time round, the array of decisions was a bit overwhelming: I needed to make selections on all the pieces from album viewing settings and picture sharing to purchasing settings.

Nonetheless, I quickly realized that the settings might be simply returned to and up to date at a later date. So whereas it’s a bit intense at first look, the general course of could be very straightforward.

Customizations and Edits

Customizing my web site design took a bit bit extra getting used to. At instances, I felt like issues didn’t work the best way I anticipated them to, and sure settings weren’t the place I wished them to be.

For example: my preliminary web site template included a menu with hyperlinks to “Contact” and “About” pages, however it turned out these pages didn’t exist but. So after I clicked on them, I used to be taken to a 404 error web page.

The answer was to exit the positioning editor and use the dashboard to create the pages, which felt counterintuitive.

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Making edits with the positioning editor isn’t so simple as I’d have favored.

Fortunately, nevertheless, SmugMug does have an preliminary setup wizard that guides you thru the fundamentals of the modifying display with hints and prompts, and there’s a super-useful Assist Middle to unravel any lasting troubles. It wasn’t lengthy earlier than I bought my head round all the pieces.

Setting Up E-commerce

Organising your web site to promote picture prints and merchandise is rather more easy. As a result of e-commerce performance is built-in, you don’t want so as to add a web-based retailer part to your web site. As a substitute, should you’ve enabled it, your guests can click on any image in your web site to see buy choices.

To arrange promoting, you must navigate to “Promoting instruments” out of your dashboard and create a worth listing to your images. In the event you’re new to this, SmugMug will helpfully recommend a pricing construction that balances aggressive margins with revenue.

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In the event you’re not sure about your worth listing, you may let SmugMug deal with it.

The value listing set-up has quite a lot of choices, which might be intimidating at first, however they’re principally self-explanatory. You primarily want to decide on what sorts of merchandise you wish to promote, set your revenue margin and foreign money, and then you definitely’re good to go.

When you’re finished with that, it’s like I stated earlier: your web site’s guests can click on on any of the images lined by your pricing construction and select to purchase it. Relying in your plan, you may determine whether or not you need this pricing construction to use sitewide or solely to a particular gallery.

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Extremely Responsive Electronic mail and Stay Chat Assist

As I discussed above, I bumped into a few factors of confusion throughout my testing, so on a number of events I turned to the assist heart for assist. And I’m happy to say SmugMug truly provides fairly reliable buyer assist, in my expertise.

First off, probably the most fundamental degree of assist is a searchable database of assist articles, which cowl all the pieces from safety points to recommendation on promoting prints. SmugMug additionally has a set of video tutorials and the SmugMug College, which offers recommendation on working a images enterprise.

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I discovered the articles on SmugMug’s Assist Middle to be complete and helpful. 

In the event you can’t discover a solution with these sources – or should you simply don’t like sifting by articles – you may flip to both e mail or dwell chat assist for assist. The dwell chat hours fluctuate, however emails are picked up 24 hours a day, 7 days per week, 364 days a yr (you’ve bought to present them Christmas off, bless them).

I do know – subsequent to on the spot messaging, e mail assist sounds a bit lame. What when you have a shopper emergency at 5 AM? Filling in a contact kind, crossing your fingers, and ready for a reply doesn’t sound reassuring.

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Contact varieties fill me with dread. They scream, “You’ll wait eternally for a response.

Effectively, it wasn’t 5 AM, however I despatched off an e mail and sat again, ready for my prejudices to be confirmed proper. 10 minutes later, a response landed in my inbox! John’s first e mail didn’t totally reply my query, however when he responded to my follow-up query inside one other 10 minutes, he put my doubts to relaxation.

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Bless you, John, for placing my doubts about e mail assist to relaxation.

After that, I wished to see if the dwell chat was equally responsive. On my first attempt testing the dwell chat, I used to be related instantly to a “Assist Hero” referred to as Jen. She answered my query about SmugMug’s cancellation coverage rapidly and actually, and didn’t in any respect sound like a bot.

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I used to be impressed with Jen’s honesty. No gross sales discuss right here.

Since all the pieces appeared too good to be true, I attempted once more within the title of analysis. This time, I used to be number one in a queue, with an estimated wait time of two minutes.

However lower than 30 seconds later, Josh joined the chat. It took a bit longer for me to get a solution to my query, however to be honest, it was a extra sophisticated question, and he was affected person when replying to my follow-up questions. No complaints right here.

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No Free Plan, however Loads of Selections In any other case

As a substitute of a free plan, SmugMug offers a 14-day free trial, and thereafter 4 completely different paid plans. Whereas among the competitors, like Wix and Weebly, supply restricted free plans, SmugMug is healthier should you’re prepared to put money into your web site – and planning to make cash from it.

As well as, it can save you fairly a bit by signing up for an annual plan prematurely. All main bank cards are accepted, together with Visa, MasterCard, American Categorical, and Uncover.

As for what you get when you’ve subscribed – all plans include limitless picture storage, web optimization instruments, stats and analytics, and fundamental e-commerce instruments.

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SmugMug helps you select a plan by having you choose your prime options.

Nonetheless, the Energy plan (the second tier) is the naked minimal for an expert web site, as a result of it allows you to join a customized area title. It additionally has extra superior customization choices, and permits entry to the total choice of templates.

If you would like extra highly effective e-commerce instruments, you’ll must improve to the Portfolio plan (third tier). It permits you to promote 1000’s of prints, merchandise, and digital downloads. Plus, you may customise your purchasing cart and the backprints in your bodily merchandise.

Solely the most costly plan, Professional, allows you to take full benefit of SmugMug’s suite of e-commerce instruments. With it, you may add customizable tariffs for particular galleries or photographs, picture packages and coupons, and even ship your merchandise with branded packaging and thank-you playing cards.

Cancellations & Refunds

In the event you change your thoughts about your subscription, canceling your SmugMug account is a fast and easy course of. Merely navigate to your account settings by clicking your profile icon within the prime right-hand nook, click on the Subscription tab and click on “Proceed” beneath “Shut Account.”

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Closing your SmugMug account is simple – however watch out earlier than you cancel.

A phrase of warning although: SmugMug doesn’t allow you to cancel your auto-renewal forward of time. You merely shut down your account there after which, and should you’ve nonetheless bought time left to run in your present subscription, that’s simply unhealthy luck.

For example, if I paid for an annual subscription on January 1, 2021, after which determined to cancel on March 1, I’d not be capable of use my account for the rest of the yr; it might simply disappear instantly. And a refund wouldn’t be provided for the unused time.

It’s an uncommon coverage, however you may at all times set a reminder to cancel your subscription later within the yr – or pay on a month-to-month foundation.

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