Best Website Providers for Photographers (Head-to-Head Test)

As modern photographers, an absolute necessity is an online presence.  Professionals rely on an online portfolio to gain new business.  Anyone that is hoping to earn a bit of money from their photography is hoping to generate sales, and the way to do that in the 21st century includes a website and/or apps.  Even the casual family photographer probably has (or wants) some online mechanism to share images with friends and family.  This article is going to explore a wide variety of the web authoring tools, photo gallery proofing/delivery apps, and sales tools available for photographers.

Just for clarification and disclosure, I want to share out what services I have personally used in the past, along with what I have been offered by the various companies by virtue of reaching out to them for information pertaining to this article.  My first photography website was hosted by SmugMug.  After a few years, I decided to investigate other options, and I moved to Zenfolio, where my main website currently is hosted.  My SmugMug account is still live, and both of them will expire this Spring.  As a result of this research, I am definitely making another move.  I'll keep you in suspense, and share my decision at the end of the article.

In conjunction with my research, both SquareSpace and Wix have offered me a free year subscription to their services.  I accepted both offers (why not!) but I also made it clear to each of them that the generosity is much appreciated, but will not impact my comments or analysis for the article.  Also, Fundy Designer offered a free copy of their album design software for a previous article.  I am including their gallery proofing software here, but that is a separate service, for which I have paid the regular subscription price.  In short, NOTHING in this article should be considered any sort of an “Ad.”  My loyalty is to my own pocketbook, and to my business.  I want to find the absolute best option for my photography website needs, and in doing some very extensive research, I think I have some great information to share out with all of the readers.

I will outline each one separately, in alphabetical order, so you can see what the “pros” and “cons” are for that service, then at the end, I will offer my recommendations on which of these services make the most sense.  Here are the items that I am most interested in determining from each vendor:

  1. Storage capacity
  2. eCommerce options (and a breakdown of fees/commissions)
  3. Print Lab integration(s)
  4. Proofing/Gallery delivery
  5. Integrated email marketing options
  6. Integration with Lightroom (do they have a plug-in for easy uploading?)
  7. Customer Service
  8. Is there an Improve Photography discount code?

22slides.com

This is a small company that focuses on a straight-forward approach to business.  They have just one plan, which costs $10.00 per month.  They don't upsell, which is fantastic, as long as what they offer actually fits your needs as a photographer.  They offer integration with DropBox as their mechanism for file sharing to clients and customers.  This isn't exactly a polished and professional means to share and proof images, but it is a delivery method that will work, especially if you are focused more on friends and family, and not trying to impress clients.  Obviously integrating with DropBox for your gallery delivery means that you will need to purchase adequate storage from DropBox.  Their website notes that DropBox is free, but that has its limits, and then it is decidedly NOT free.

22slides allows you to upload 1000 images.  If you require more, they recommend a Flickr integration app.  I remember the days of Flickr fondly, but I think it's safe to say that the vast majority of photographers have moved on to other platforms.  If you are considering 22slides, you will probably need to consider Flickr as well.

There is an online store available within the product, but it is very limited.  Their website outlines recommendations for outsourcing your online store if you have any intention of building in that direction.

22slides offers a flat number of photos that you may upload (1000).  They suggest using a Flickr plug-in if you want to have more than the 1000 images available on your website.

Pros: Hands down, the biggest pro is the fixed nature of 22slides.  They aren't looking to scale you up.  What you see, is what you get.

Cons: Hands down, the biggest con is the fixed nature of 22slides.  It is VERY easy to envision even a hobbyist photographer outgrowing this platform.  The other great shortcoming that I sense is an over-reliance on outside services.  Flickr and DropBox may or may not be of interest to a photographer.  They seem to be extremely reliant on outsourcing basically every aspect of your site, which means that you could end up getting “nickled and dimed” as each of those other services will likely come with a monthly fee.


Format.com

Format offers four different plans that scale your number of images that you may store, and the number of products that you may offer for sale in your store.  The bottom three plans have image storage limits ($6/mo = 100 images, $12/mo = 1,000, $24/mo = 10,000 and $22/mo is unlimited storage.

Format does have an integrated shopping cart, and you the four plans scale up through 3, 15, 50 and unlimited items in your cart.

They offer a Lightroom plug-in for uploading to your site.  I am personally a HUGE fan of having this functionality.  If anyone has not had this available for their website in the past, I can't stress strongly enough how wonderful it is to have this functionality.

Format added an eCommerce page in 2016.  It is available with each Format plan, you simply need to turn it on in the settings.  The eCommerce site doesn't take a cut or commission, but your transaction will need to go through PayPal, and you will incur the PayPal fee.

Format includes a client proofing tool, which allows you to send password protected galleries to your clients, and they can communicate back with you by “favoriting” their preferred images.

Pros: commission free eCommerce, at $22/mo the unlimited plan is extremely affordable.

Cons: No integrated workflow system, or integration with 17hats.

Discount code: use this link for your first month free!


Fundysoftware.com 

The online album proofer tool offered by Fundy is an absolutely wonderful sales tool.  If you aren't already familiar with Fundy, let me just refer you to the article I did about their product previously.   It is located here.

Once your album is created in Fundy, you can utilize their online proofer to send the proposed album out to your client.  I used this proofing tool this week, with a real wedding client.  From my side of things, it was exceptionally easy to use.  From the client side, she loved it, too.  I asked her for feedback, and she is definitely NOT a tech savvy individual.  She was very happy with how easy it is to offer comments to the photographer, who can then go in and modify the wedding album, and upload changes.

The same functionality is available for wall art.  You can show a client what a 30×40″ image would look like on a picture of their own wall, so that they can envision that size artwork in their home.  They can also see how tiny an 8×10 print will look in the same space.  It's an outstanding way to help your customers understand why to purchase larger prints.

This is definitely a specific use-case type of software, but if these use cases fit your needs, it is an awesome addition to your “tool bag” as a photographer in the digital world.

Pros: This tool is intended as an in-person sales tool (even if that selling is over skype.)  The album and wall proofing tools are outstanding tools for exactly that job.

Cons: You will need a separate proofing tool, and portfolio website.  This is a single tool intended to be in a large tool box, by no means a “one stop shop.”

Discount Code: IMPROVE25 for 25% off!


Imagely (NextGen & Photocrati)

This is the first offering for a WordPress plug-in.  It is time for me to insert the fact that I have rather minimal experience with WordPress.  I use the blog side of it to generate these articles for Improve Photography.  I also have used it for one other organization which had a WordPress based website.  I would, however, be absolutely lying if I said I was a WordPress expert.  As Jim Harmer pointed out in a recent podcast, WordPress is generally an option that you should consider if you are happy to spend time sorting things out with technical glitches, and if you have long-term aspirations for an absolutely enormous site.

Imagely, however seems to have take these concerns to heart, and they have a suite of different products that are aimed specifically at photographers.  They set as their goal a method very similar to a Squarespace or Zenfolio type account, where you use a basic template as a jumping off point, and within a few minutes you have a functional website, which you can then dig in to customize and tailor to your personal needs.

All designs from NextGen and Photocrati are mobile responsive, with the ability to ‘override' with an additional app if you chose.  The representative from Imagely made the point that it wouldn't make a lot of sense to override that automatic mobile responsive system, because they have invested a great amount of effort in ensuring that your branding and the “look” and “feel” of your site will be uniform, regardless of the means by which it is accessed.  But – you can do whatever you want to do.

This is a suite of different tools, so let me break down the pricing for each:

 

Nextgen Plus: $69 (plug-in only)

Nextgen Pro: $99 (plug-in only)

Hosting: 3 Plans, $25, $50 and $100/month (includes everything above.)

Moving forward, I am going to be referring to the full website option.  The NextGen Pro and Gallery apps are available as WordPress plug-ins, but they are also included with the full hosting option.  If you go with a hosting plan, you do not pay the $69 or $99 price for the separate plug-ins.

NextGen Pro is the eCommerce module.  It is a comprehensive eCommerce utility, but it doesn't have integrated print labs (yet.)  Direct print-lab integration is targeted to roll out before the end of the year.  The store does not charge any additional commissions on products sold.  NextGen Pro is for image sales only, not for other items (such as wedding packages, portrait sessions, workshops, etc.)  If you want to sell those sorts of things on your website, you will need a plug-in that handles that separately.

NextGen Pro includes gallery delivery and proofing options.  It is very simple, the photographer's client would receive the photos and they can “star” the images that they approve.  When they are finished, the photographer receives a comma separated list which can be pulled up in Lightroom to sort and then proceed with whatever you need to do.

The Imagely suite does not include email integration.  On a WordPress site, you would simply opt for the plug-in to integrate whatever email service you are using.

One of the big advantages to Imagely is that you have the ability through one paid fee, to host multiple sites.  This is an exceptional option for a photographer that wants to present themselves as different brands.  For example, you want a wedding photography website that is all weddings, and nothing else, but you also want to have a landscape site, and perhaps a sports photography site, etc.   The $25 tier gives you 2 sites, $50 = 5 sites, and $100 = 10 sites.  The larger package would really be designed for very large commercial operations, not really the independent individual photographer.

One topic that came up from a few different companies is the issue of the various scaled images that are created.  Depending on their back-end setup, many of the hosting sites will generate multiple copies of an image after you upload it.  This is done to ensure that your website operates as quickly as possible.  It's pointless to send an absolutely massive image to a 4″ cell phone screen.  Very commonly, these images are pre-generated, then just housed.  When someone pings your website, it knows what device is viewing the content, and it offers up the appropriate image size automatically.  It is important to realize that your redundant images are all assessed to your storage limits.

Pros: Great flexibility and customization power.  WordPress Genesis – fast, great for SEO, top notch hosting.

Cons: The larger plans get pricey.  Intended more for a larger studio/company.

Discount Code: improve (3 months free hosting on any plan!)


Pass

It is very difficult to report exactly what the status is for PASS.  I have used pass primarily as an archival tool for wedding clients.  By far the most valuable asset from my perspective is the fact that it provides a 10-year archival copy of a clients' photos, for a flat rate of $29.00 per use.  There is also an annual fee option, if you have enough volume for that option to make sense.

Recently, Pass offered a detailed survey, and expressed a sincere desire to improve the value and capabilities of Pass.  There is an impending “PASS 2.0” update that will be coming soon; but the details of that release are not public.

I reached out to customer service over a week ago, and they assured me that I would hear from someone soon.  In spite of following up with customer service, I was never contacted by anyone for this article.  The update may provide something exciting to consider.  For the current version, the one reason I could see using it is the archival feature.

Pros: 10-year archival service for a one-time fee.

Cons: The proofing/delivery options of the current app have left some of my clients confused.  We do not know what is coming in the new version.


Pixieset

Pixieset is a gallery delivery solution.  It is not intended to be a portfolio website hosting option.  While this is not a “catch-all” type option, it is an absolutely phenomenal tool to deliver photos to a client, and for them to order prints of those images.

Pixieset offers four levels of service:

1: Free, but they take a 15% commission for each sale.

2: $8/mo = 10GB storage, no commissions, no Pixieset branding

3: $24/mo = 200GB

4: $40/mo = 1000GB

Pixieset allows you to sell digital downloads as well as prints.  They are intigrated with ProDPI.  you can set your prices.  On everything except the free plan, you receive 100% of the profit from your sales (minus the credit card processing fee, which is ubiquitous.)

There is some wonderful “favoriting” capabilities built in.  Each recipient can create their own favorites list, and you can access that information via download.

Social sharing is available (and can be turned on/off by the photographer.)  It's a great way to provide a gallery that the client can then share out images via Facebook or Instagram.

A Lightroom plug-in is available.

I signed up for a free account, and tested out this app with a real-life client.  The same client actually received the gallery a few different ways, and I asked her which seemed the most professional, and had the best user interface on the client side.  She very emphatically preferred PixieSet.  This is huge for me, because not only is it about the ease of use on my end, but it's all about client experience.  Delivering something that looks polished, professional, and well-done, is extremely important to me.  Pixieset was definitely a winner.

Pro: My test client adored it.  It lets me sell digital files (in several different resolutions, individually, and as a full gallery.)  It lets my client order prints to be fulfilled by a great photo lab, or I can set it up to be self-fulfilled if I want to use a different lab.

Con: This is just a tiny “con.”  I'm a Miller's guy.  I would absolutely love to have Miller's as an option for the integrated lab.  There is nothing at all wrong with ProDPI, I just don't know their product line-up.  I can either use self-fulfillment, or just use the ProDPI prints, and I know tons of amazing photographers that swear by ProDPI, so I am inclined to go that route when using this app.


ProPhoto

So here is another WordPress theme that looks like it is probably a very decent option as a theme.  I have taken some notes from their website:

No monthly fee, but it's a $200 one-time cost.  You then have the option of using either free templates, or paying more for a premium paid design.

All designs are 100% mobile responsive, and you have the option to fine-tune things yourself.

The theme includes galleries, slideshows, grids, social media integration, form building, and typography control.

Now here is where I get concerned.  This is a rather “big money” solution to a photography website.  My inquiry to chat with someone in their PR department or Customer Service was sent five days ago.  That inquiry included the fact that I was writing an article for a website with nearly ONE MILLION readers monthly.  The readers are virtually all photographers.  I received the automated response to inform me that they did receive my inquiry, but I have heard nothing else at all.

Customer service, and the ability to reach someone in a timely manner if/when there is a problem is a fair expectation.  This expectation has not been met, and for me, with all these amazing options available in the marketplace, that's a deal-breaker.

Pro: Looks like it could be cool.

Con: No response from the company to provide information.  With a full week to reply to my press inquiry, they never responded.  Does not bode well if there is a problem for a user of the theme.


ShootProof

This is another gallery proofing option.  It is very similar to Pixieset in the manner in which it allows the photographer to send a gallery to a client, then they can purchase downloads, or prints, or “favorite” items.  This app is also commission-free.  There are multiple plans to chose from:

$10/mo = 73GB (estimated 1,500 images)

$20/mo = 244GB (estimated 5,000 images)

$30/mo = 1220GB (estimated 25,000 images)

$60/mo = unlimited plan

My test client chose this as her second favorite gallery proofing app.  She felt that the Pixieset gallery just looked a bit more “polished” than the Shootproof gallery.  That of course could be easily explained by an aesthetic preference for the “look” of a gallery, versus the function of it.  She did say that it worked wonderfully, and that it was simple, easy to use, and very straight forward.

On my side of things, I am a Miller's guy, like I mentioned above, and this app does offer integration with Miller's.  So the real comparison here comes down to the money.  Of course their pricing structures don't even make that as easy as I wish it could be!  The unlimited plan for Pixieset is $40 per month, compared to $60 per month to go with ShootProof.  Is it worth $240 a year to me to use Miller's over ProDPI?  No, I think not.

I'm covering a LOT of tools in this article, but the head-to-head competition for ShootProof is Pixieset.  They offer essentially the same thing, with just very slight variations.  If this were going to be my choice for photo gallery delivery, I would probably make my buying decision based on the unlimited plan, even if I was going to use a smaller amount of data right now.  If I think about my November/December deliveries of family portrait photos, plus a November wedding thrown in the mix, I could VERY easily see me needing over 200Gigs.  Of these two head-to-head competitors, I would go with Pixieset for that $40/month unlimited plan.

However… there is a better option ahead!

Pros: Superb print lab integration.  Great tool for gallery proofing with clients.  Great tool for encouraging/facilitating print sales.

Cons: As you move up through their plans, it becomes much more expensive than Pixieset, which offers nearly identical functionality at 2/3 the price for unlimited storage/photos.  I was told by a receptionist that I would have a call back very soon to set up an interview.  A week later, no returned phone call, and no interview.  It's always a concern when a company doesn't respond.


ShowIt 5

ShowIt 5 is the website creation tool that was mentioned by Brian McGuckin on the podcast.  It is a highly customizable solution, but there is a fairly steep learning curve.  In speaking with their representative, he offered up the analogy of Photoshop.  If you want absolute control over your creativity, you need to take some time to learn the tools.  This is very similar.  If you want the advantage of the incredible flexibility, you need to learn how to make things work.

Showit has three pricing options:

$24/mo = the authoring tool alone

$29/mo = the authoring tool plus WordPress hosting

$39/mo = same as above plus FTP and database access, blog migration

I absolutely loved chatting with Nate at Showit.  As a matter of fact, at the end of our conversation, I was all set to build out my “ultimate dream website” on the Showit platform.  I spent the three-day weekend investing a fairly substantial amount of time designing a website.  I figured out many of the ways to make things work in their interface.  There are MANY MANY others that I was unable to figure out.  Like I mentioned above, there is a steep learning curve.

As I kept building that site, I started to recognize some things that I felt were just missing:

  1. The best themes are “paid” designs.  And the paid designs are NOT cheap!  There are a few in the $150 and $175 range, the “norm” feels like it's in the $300-$500 range, and you can spend well over $1000 for your theme for some of them.
  2. The biggest thing that piqued my interest on the podcast was the mention of a lifetime membership.  That is not available, and it is not something that they intend to make available again in the future.  Brian got in on something very special, but moving forward, Showit 5 will follow a subscription model.
  3. There is no integrated eCommerce solution.  Of course you can embed whatever you want, but as the list of things that are not included add up, I started to really question: “Well, what am I actually paying for???”
  4. There is no built in SEO optimization help.  I have deliberately stayed away from SEO in this article, because there was a lively discussion among the article writers about this topic.  I'm not an expert in SEO, and there is going to be a separate article forthcoming on the topic.  But, again, my line of thought eventually turned to the fact that almost everyone else offers some sort of SEO tool(s).
  5. There is no built-in gallery/proofing utility.
  6. There is no built-in email automation capability.

There is one VERY cool technological capability within ShowIt.  They pride themselves in showing fantastic quality images to your clients.  This is clearly a huge thing for photographers.  When they process your images and make the smaller iterations for mobile devices, they only “charge” you for the large original image.  I haven't found too many places that do that.  It's a nice feature, but not one that is going to drive my purchasing decision.

Pros: Great flexibility, the ability to integrate a WordPress blog

Cons: VERY expensive premium designs.  Many elements are not actually built in, but require embedding or finding other solutions.  If those other solutions are paid items, the cost just continues to climb.


SmugMug

My very first “home” for a Photography website was on SmugMug.  That site is actually still active here.  It has not been my main sight since shortly after I renewed for 2016.  Before I go any further with my explanation, I will share that the reason for that is entirely due to the amount of commission they charged when I was selling my own work.

Here are a couple of real examples of why I left SmugMug:

Print sale to client: $200.00

Actual cost of print lab: $28.11

Profit: 171.89

SmugMug commission: $25.78

Yep… FIFTEEN PERCENT of everything I made on my site went directly back to SmugMug.

That is not just on print products, either.  My digital download sales were also subjected to the 15% commission rate.

So I made the decision to switch over to Zenfolio.  Their commission rate is far less onerous than SmugMug, but they still charge one.  I'll delve into the details of my opinions on Zenfolio when I get to them alphabetically.

So, with all of that bias being put right out there, let me just break down what SmugMug offers.

$3.34/mo = basic site.  You can't use a custom domain, very simple, but a starter.  No eCommerce, no store, no watermarking, no access to templates, no branding.

$5.00/mo = add your own domain, can watermark, templates, no eCommerce

$12.00/m0 = add watermark capability, add eCommerce to your site, but only ONE price list that applies to everything on your site.

$25/mo = add custom price lists, authorize access for assistants to work on your site with you.

Initially I had started out with one of the middle plans.  Honestly, I don't remember which.  But then as I moved toward doing more business as a photographer, I very quickly realized that I needed the ability to have different price lists.  The best example is this:  I often shoot a school sport event, and share out the link.  People didn't hire me to shoot those photos.  I don't charge much for them.  A few dollars, and I view it as a way to get my name out there.  However, I also shoot weddings, where the individual prints are not cheap!  So if I wanted to set up my price for a high school sports event, my wedding photos would all change prices!!

In order to solve that problem, you have to upgrade to their top package.  I did that upgrade without seriously looking at the other options in the marketplace.  I made a bad business decision.  I gave them 15% of everything I sold online for several years.  Live and learn.

Pros: Easy integration with lightroom, good looking templates, simple to set up and use.

Cons: After paying $25 a month to them, they STILL take 15% of everything else  you generate.  Not an option worth considering for sales, but it would be fine if you are sharing work with your friends and family for free.


SquareSpace

SquareSpace is one of the “big players” in the website creation marketplace.  They offer very simple operation, and nice, easy templates.  Our own Nick Page has often referred to the fact that he really enjoys using SquareSpace, because he wouldn't be inclined to work on a website that was confusing or complicated to update.  I think this is an incredibly important point for MANY photographers.  Every minute you spend on your website is a minute that you are not shooting photography, or post-processing it.  Some folks will enjoy the website creation experience, and others just endure it to get to a usable end result.   Universal opinion seems to be that SquareSpace is a fantastic place for that “endure it” kind of person.   You get a great looking presence on the web, lots of integration and tools, but not so much in the “customization” side of things.

The monthly rates are as follows:

$16.00/month for a personal site, 20 page max, 3% commission on sales, limited to 2 contributors.

$26.00/month for a business site, unlimited size, 2% commission on sales, unlimited contributors.

$30.00/month for a basic online store,

$46.00/month for an advanced online store

The first two plans have a commission in addition to the credit card processing fees.  The top two plans remove the commission.  There are extensive accounting, email automation, blogging, etc.

Of the “Big Three,” SmugMug, Zenfolio and SquareSpace, this is the best deal financially.

One thing that is not in place, however, is the ability to have an integrated print lab with your site.  I'm here to tell you that it is VERY nice to wake up in the morning, and see that someone has ordered a bunch of prints from your print lab, and that money is sitting in your account, waiting for you to cash it out.

With both my SmugMug and Zenfolio accounts, I have had some very nice surprises when I get up some morning, and there is an email sitting in my inbox telling me that I had a sale, the prints will be shipped out automatically, and I earned $xxx.00 on the sale.  Lab integration is very important to me, having gotten used to having it.

Pros: Beautiful themes, fast set-up, extensive capabilities, plans that do not charge commission.  Easy to use!

Cons: No print lab integration.

Discount Code:  IMPROVE 10% off your first plan (use when upgrading from the trial version)


SwiftGalleries

This app has a very specific use case.  The goal of this tool is to help a photographer sell wall art.  The main purpose is to help a client envision the larger sizes of prints on their walls.  For a photographer that is devoted to self-fulfilling their print orders, this is a very affordable and useful tool.  The standard price is $150.00 per year, although the link in this article leads to a $25 discount.  Clients will see their own photos on their own walls, and the photographer can propose different sizes, and layouts.

Pros: An exceptional visualization tool for wall art sales

Cons: No print lab integration, very narrow use cases.

Discount Code: linked here


Zenfolio

For the most part, my concerns with Zenfolio are identical to my concerns with SmugMug, only the intensity is reduced by about half.  The reason is that their commission is only about half.  Here's where I have to confess to not having done enough research when I made the decision to leave SmugMug.  I left the host that appears to charge the highest commission out of all of these options, and yep… switched to the second highest!

Zenfolio charges a flat 7% commission on everything that you sell.  This includes your services as well as your physical products, so if you use their store to sell a deposit on a $3,000 wedding package, be prepared to hand them $210 for doing their part.

I want an online store where I can sell prints directly from a print lab, but I ALSO want to be able to set up photography workshops, or take payments for weddings and portrait sessions… and I have NO desire to deliver a percentage of my revenue to the hosting service for the privilege of charging me $360 a year to host a site.

In my view, both Zenfolio and SmugMug are going to need to change their commission models in order to continue to compete in a marketplace that has someone who is clearly aiming to provide photographers with exactly what they want and need.  There is someone in the marketplace that I feel has positioned themselves in a place where the non-coder photographer has a rather easy choice.

I spend a TON of time online.  I have seen ads for this website company before virtually every youtube video I have ever seen.  They are EVERYWHERE!  But I didn't realize how seriously they were intending to compete specifically in the photography website space.  And if you hadn't guessed that company already, let me share why my new home will be with the good folks at Wix.com.

Pros: Nice looking websites, relatively easy to set up.  Nice mechanism to deliver private galleries.

Cons: The commission on everything you sell in the store is completely prohibitive.  Not a viable option if your goal is to sell online.


Wix

  1. Automatic mobile responsiveness.  This is more-or-less standard, but it is VERY important.
  2. Five available plans, based on storage space & bandwidth:
    1. $5/mo = 50MB + 1GB bandwidth
    2. $10/mo = 3GB storage + 2GB bandwidth
    3. $14/mo = 10GB storage + unlimited bandwidth
    4. $17/mo = 20GB storage + 20GB bandwidth
    5. $25/mo = 20GB storage + unlimited bandwidth
  3. eCommerce is included – ZERO fees from Wix.  Just your Stripe, Square or Paypal fees.
  4. Photo Album is an app that already exists for Wix to which there is an expansion in the very near future, to include client image proofing.
  5. Your Photo Album can be assigned to its own subdomain, so you can create special websites for your wedding clients, and you can host it under your Wix website plan, and have the subdomain pointed to the album… no extra charge.
  6. Social Media sharing integration is built in, and the image shared is low resolution, so folks can't run off and print it.
  7. Email automation options are built in.
  8. The “Booking” app allows you to take bookings online.  It also facilitates group vs. private options (i.e. a photo workshop or clinic could be offered with a set number of available spots for clients.)
  9. Wix has invoicing and workflow solutions built right into their structure.  It doesn't interface with 17hats, but it does offer similar utilities, built in, at no additional charge.
  10. You are NOT restricted to using templates.  You have the ability to build a custom site from the ground up.  They suggest starting out with a pre-made theme.  You can get yourself up and running very quickly, then start work on your custom site.  Build it exactly the way you envision it, from the ground up, and replace the theme with your own creation when you are ready for that custom creation to “go live.”

Here are a couple of sample Wix based photography websites:

Tony Salvagio

Max Montgomery

Nichols La

Pros: Zero commission. Huge array of apps available.  All themes and utilities (except booking) are at no additional fee.

Cons: I would like to see a client proofing app, and print lab integration for the eCommerce store.  This would essentially complete the package.

Discount codeWixPhotography for 25% off the annual price of a premium plan.


The Final Overview:

In the words of Jim Harmer, if you're planning to build an empire, then a WordPress based website with a great photography theme is very likely a good candidate for you.  I have not used their tool, but based on the looks, and the responsiveness of their company to my questions, I would hands down go with the Imagely option if I were going to go that route.  I am not technologically patient nor devoted enough to want to go this route.  Large photography studios and folks with a lot of tech background might really want to do this.

My recommendation for everyone else:

  1. Wix for your online presence, portfolio, and store.
  2. Wix Booking to schedule clients, invoice customers, etc.
  3. Pixieset to send galleries to clients for proofing and automated print ordering
  4. Fundy Designer for album and wall art presentation, and album proofing.

This set-up gives you a phenomenal suite of utilities to manage workflow, client interaction, process payments, handle proofing, and to manage in-person print sales.  You will be able to automate print sales, integrate your album design with a huge number of the very finest album companies… you will be ready to conquer the world!  (And you wont pay someone a commission to do it!)

 


About the Author

Mark Morris

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Mark lives and works in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA. While not in Pennsylvania, there is a very good chance he is shooting in their adopted state of North Carolina. Mark lives with his wonderful wife Alexis, and their English Bulldog, Lily. Follow him on Instagram @markcmorrisphotography.

Comments

  1. I am very happy for your success. I enjoy listening to your podcasts. I thought about going pro when I retire from the military. However, I do not want photography to become drudgery if I do. Maybe if saw some of my photos, you tell me to find another occupation. I know I have much to learn, but I still love it right now.

  2. This has been a very informative break-down of some of the many options out there. I am currently a Smugmug user and have been for about five years and considering other options. Was pro level and now 2nd tier. I hadn’t done a lot of business online but I’m sure it’s because I wasn’t doing something right with my site. It all just seems a bit confusing to me. Currently I am not offering purchases due to level.

    Have you checked out Photoshelter or have any feedback about it?

    Thanks

  3. Thank you so much for writing this article, I have worked in Internet marketing for the last 6 years and am starting to pursue my photography full time. I wanted to incoroporate a resource for photographers that has tips for their website and online presence.

    Looking now though, shootproof is still cheaper up to 1220 GB for $30/month
    Pixieset is $40/month for 1000GB and doesn’t offer an unlimited plan

    A couple of years ago, I wanted to use pixieset because the gallery is beautiful but shootproof has made a lot of changes and now they are just as pretty, cheaper and include a lot of studio management tools like email collection and contracts.

    There are just so many options out there! Thank you for sharing some new ones with me that are awesome 🙂

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