I Gave SmugMug a Try

When I purchased a copy of ON1’s Photo Raw 2020 at the end of 2019, I also received a free one-year SmugMug Portfolio Membership. It took me a while to get around to it, but I gave SmugMug a try.

I’ve been a long-time user of Squarespace for my photography portfolio after testing their offering with a free trial account. I see and hear Squarespace advertisements everywhere, but most of them are on YouTube. They either sponsor or run pre-roll adverts on many of the channels I subscribe to. Squarespace was incredibly easy to set up and I could get it looking exactly as I wanted it to quickly.

The only issue I have with Squarespace was the cost for a plan that allowed me to sell prints. Compared with the personal site, it seems expensive as I don’t currently sell prints and I wouldn’t envisage making that much money initially. The personal plan is $96 billed annually; the business plan jumps to $216 billed annually. A smugmug portfolio plan, which is the equivalent of the Squarespace business plan, for me would be $200 at the end of my free year. This is normally $240 billed annually, so roughly comparable.

I am just getting to a point where I want to test the waters of print sales, and get a feel if it’s something that’s worth investing in. As I had been gifted a free year of SmugMug, I thought this was an ideal opportunity.

Getting Started With SmugMug

The signup process was nice and simple, as was redeeming my code for a free year of the portfolio plan. Unfortunately, that turned out to be the easiest part. I chose a template and set about customizing it to look and feel the same as my Squarespace site. This was a lot more difficult that it should have been. It was so difficult, that after a few hours of struggling with the customisation tools, I gave up.

I revisited the setup process on and off over the next few weeks but I still struggled with their site design tools and couldn’t get it to look and feel the same as my Squarespace site. Eventually, after a considerable amount of time I did start to get somewhere close to what I was trying to achieve but it was much too difficult and time consuming.

Setting Up For Selling

The backend of SmugMug looks slick. The business and commerce integration is extremely easy to set up. Pricing is as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. You can have a standard markup across all products, or you can mark-up individual items on their own. Registering your business details was easy. If you’re outside the US, which I am, you only have the option of having your sales revenue payed out by Paypal. Again, this was easy to connect to SmugMug. I’m not sure of what other options are available for payment for people in the US.

SmugMug also has integration with Adobe Lightroom and you can upload images directly from collections. This also appealed to me as I use Lightroom for almost all of my editing. When I went to install the SmugMug publish plugin however, I received an error stating it failed to install through the creative cloud app. I tried to download and install the plugin manually I was told the file could not be downloaded. This was frustrating, so again I gave up.

Image of the error trying to install the SmugMug publish plugin
SmugMug Fail
My Verdict

While Squarespace may seem expensive, it’s on a par with the other portfolio sites out there. The Squarespace site designer is far ahead of the competition in terms of ease of use and customisation.

I’m happy I have a free one-year trial of the SmugMug portfolio plan to test with. I have been thinking of taking out a subscription recently to dip my toe in the waters of print sales. If I paid for the year, I would be disappointed. I’m still happy I gave SmugMug a try.

I won’t be moving my portfolio site from Squarespace, although I still need to find a way to integrate print sales into my business model. It just won’t be with SmugMug.

I hope you found this article useful, thanks for stopping by. Have a good one.

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