When it comes to selling your photos online there are two main contenders out there Zenfolio and Smugmug and like any good competition they each have their positives and negatives. Today I’m not really going to focus too much on all the differences between the two, but instead I’m going to share with you the one glaring negative that Smugmug has which forced me to pick Zenfolio (even after I fell in love with Smugmug’s recent redesign).
Don’t Get Me Wrong Smugmug IS Great
Before I get full on into the reason why I went with Zenfolio over Smugmug let me just say that I actually prefer Smugmug. The new design that they’ve come up with is fantastic and the tools that they provide for customizing it are amazing. I wish Zenfolio had this much freedom, but alas there are some things I can live with and there are some things I can’t live without and I’m afraid Smugmug is leaving out one important item from their Portfolio plan.
So What Is It That Can’t I Live Without?
Simple – It’s the ability to offer you fine folks discounts from time to time. Every holiday season I like to do a site wide promotion allowing everyone to save a bit of money on my photography so you can have a nice gift for a co-worker or something. More than that I offer a weekly coupon code to those who subscribe to the weekly newsletter which saves them 20% on print purchases.
Completely shocked when I saw this I wanted an answer from Smugmug themselves as to why this feature (which in my eyes would cost them nothing to add) costs me $150/year more – so I sent them an email.
So I noticed that within your feature list I saw that custom coupons are only available on the business account for 300/year. Why have you chosen to do this?
Coupon codes are a great way to for us ‘non-pros’ to market our photography around the holidays which in turn will drive more sales to not only ourselves, but to you as well. SmugMug does make a profit per print right sold right? That base cost can’t only be material costs.
Either way, even if you don’t make a profit off each sale, I still think that this is a deal breaker for me. I absolutely love the new look and the design of the site, but there is no way I can make it work for 300 dollars and no way I can make it work without the ability to have this marketing tool.
Thanks for reading,
And their response
Thanks for contacting SmugMug. We’re sorry that you feel this way. We listened to our users last year and introduced the Portfolio account level, between our Business and Power accounts. The folks that wanted the intermediate account wanted an ability to price photos without the full Professional set of tools that our Business account offers. Coupons, Packages, Pro branding, and so on are all available to our Business account holders.
So Was it A Business Decision or a Marketing Tool?
I understand business choices, after all I’m trying to run my own business here as well, and I recently even announced my own subscription plans which allow subscribers free prints through my store. However to me it seems like they forgot to do one thing – check their competition! Zenfolio offers custom coupons in their Premium plan which is actually cheaper than Smugmug’s Portfolio plan at only $120/year.
Moreover they really didn’t answer the question at hand which was ‘why does having the ability to discount my products cost $150/year’ I can wrap my head around the other Business benefits like Pro branding, special packaging and so forth, but anyone who’s selling products knows that discounts play a huge roll in marketing – especially during the holiday season. So in my eyes this custom coupon code option was left to be a ‘Up Sell’ for their business tier – which is fine I suppose – but they lost at least one customer because of it.
Okay So Who Should You Choose – Zenfolio Or Smugmug?
If you are debating which of the two platforms to use here’s my honest opinion. If coupon codes don’t matter to you and you want a great platform to sell your prints through both Smugmug and Zenfolio will get the job done. Smugmug has an edge in the design capabilities, but Zenfolio is a little more affordable and provides a great service.
However, if being able to market and promote your business is valuable to you, Zenfolio is probably your best bet.
Please take a minute and check out my Zenfolio store if you’d like to see one in action. Oh and just because I can, for reading this article, you can save 10% on anything you like with the coupon code - SORRY-SMUGMUG – just apply it on checkout works for USD and EUROS.
Okay Tell Me I’m Crazy
Am I the only one who feels this way? Leave a comment below and let me know what your stance on this is. Do you feel that coupons should be a premium option that is equatable to custom branding, special packaging and other fancy features or should coupons be made available to anyone who’s selling their products?
Do you agree with me? Help change Smugmug’s policy – share this article and get more people involved!