Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Your Total Website Solution
For conducting business on the web and giving you the ability to “make money while you sleep,” there are a number of excellent options for pros
SmugMug (www.smugmug.com) deserves credit for offering some of the best customization options we found for pro photography sites, allowing you to brand your site with your own custom colors and look and feel. It’s also one of the few pro sites that supports video hosting, which is a boon for photographers who want to create a video slideshow of their work or shoot HD video with newer cameras, such as the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and the Nikon D300S, and host the files. Videos aren’t downsampled and are hosted in full 1080p HD format. Videos are formatted for mobile access as well, so they work on smartphones.
SmugMug works with a variety of fulfillment labs, such as Bay Photo and WHCC, and isn’t locked into just one or two labs for ordering prints. This provides extra flexibility because you can set up your e-commerce site so that a client can choose to print on, say, a metal backing or in multiple sizes. Unlike PhotoShelter, which provides call-in customer support, SmugMug supports clients entirely by e-mail, but it has experts located in different parts of the country and responds quickly to all requests.
...the theme that emerges is one of flexibility—you can use deep features, customize the look of galleries, change pricing to meet market demands and, essentially, conduct your entire photography business online.
Sites on SmugMug use a combination of Flash and HTML. For example, the site uses Flash for animated thumbnails where clients can select and buy a photo, but the basic site layout and structure is all created using HTML. SmugMug offers 20 templates that can be customized for a look that matches your photo business logo and design. For uploading options, SmugMug doesn’t support as many pro formats as PhotoShelter, such as RAW or PSD, but it does allow you to upload large files of up to 24 MB each.
The Pro account costs $150 per year for unlimited storage, and there’s a 15% commission on orders. (Unlike some pro sites, the commission is on the markup for the photo, not the total price.) SmugMug offers guest access to your portfolio so clients can log in and view photos—and even make basic color edits. You can embed photos and slideshows on other sites, use geotagging on Google Maps to show the location of photos and create backups of full-res images using the SmugVault service.
Overall, SmugMug doesn’t offer quite the same richly designed look and feel of a liveBooks site, or the extensive e-commerce customization of FolioLink, but it does provide the best pricing, plus customizable templates, and it offers a way to host both photos and HD videos at the same site.
Page 4 of 5