PROS / This site is a master of metadata. Even the cheapest plan uses SEO to boost your visibility.
CONS / Effective photo protection only comes with the most expensive account.
VERDICT / SmugMug covers the essentials of a photo sharing service. The outstanding SEO, marketing and eCommerce tools make this site worth the extra cash to boost your photography business.
Professional photographers know how important it is to have an online presence. Photo sharing services upload and store albums full of images that you can share through email and social media. The best photo sites like SmugMug also offer photo editing, printing and even the ability to sell your photos.
Our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award winner provides all of these services in four account types. Plans fit different levels of photographers with different needs, but each has unlimited storage, publishing, editing and SEO assistance. The two highest plans include marketing and eCommerce capabilities to drive users to your page and allows them to purchase your work.
Sharing & Storage
Storage options for the subscription plans are all the same. Regardless of which subscription you choose, SmugMug provides members with unlimited storage for photos and images. You can upload images up to 50MB each and videos 3GB each. That's enough space to accommodate 20-minute videos and large photographs from DSLRs. When it comes to uploading, SmugMug took 29 seconds for the site to upload 65MB. Part of that speed is due to the drag and drop uploading method.
One of the features that sets SmugMug apart from other photo sharing services is online backup. The SmugVault is an extra service that you can add to any kind of account. This feature gives RAW, TIFF, PDF, PSD and even Word and Excel documents a safe home. Use the Vault to store originals of edited photos in a safe online location in case any of your devices crash.
SmugMug is the best site we reviewed for boosting visibility. SEO, search engine optimization, is a tool that helps users find your site easily using search engines and popular keywords. SmugMug offers adjustable SEO settings for meta descriptions, titles, galleries and file name keywords. For newcomers to SEO, the help section has tips for wrangling more traffic to your page.
As you gain more traffic, you'll want to protect your photos. It's easy for other people to find your photos online and claim them as their own. And while SmugMug has effective protection for their users' photos, only the most expensive plans give you right-click protection and custom watermarks.
If you already own a business, SmugMug's higher-priced plans have eCommerce options with an automatic storefront and branding. You can sell your images as digital downloads or physical copies at your own price and use customized packaging for your orders. The storefront from SmugMug offers an impressive range of ways you can print your images. Customers can order your work on museum-quality canvas, photo cards, mugs and stickers to name a few items.
Most photographers know their way around Photoshop or Lightroom. But if you want to make the finishing cropping or metadata touches to a photo, the standard editor within
SmugMug's organizational or display section can get the job done. For more exciting edits and tweaks, the PicMonkey editor has cosmetic tools to brighten eyes, teeth, reduce shine and even add makeup. If you prefer to use programs like Lightroom, you can download a plugin from SmugMug to work directly with the program.
Displaying your work online is important, but wearing it is more fun. You can purchase and sell wearable merchandise like aprons and T-shirts through your SmugMug portfolio. From basic glossy prints or 36 x 36 metal prints of your work, there is a staggering variety of sizes, finishes and frames for producing prints. This is where the more expensive accounts pay off. You can still purchase your own merchandise with the lower-tiered subscriptions, but only the Portfolio and Business plans have extensive marketing options like custom coupons and package options.
Help & Support
The support options for this photo sharing site are top notch with a FAQs page, user and support forums, email address, popup tips and live chat available for site and photography help. The site itself is easy to navigate and use, but if you want artistic or business support, SmugMug can help. The website is simple and fits mobile devices and tablets as well as it does on a desktop. SmugMug is even formatted for Google Glass.
The unlimited storage is great for keeping photos online and the capacity for uploading large photos is a good fit for DSLR users. The most comprehensive plans are too expensive for casual users, but this photo sharing site offers help with SEO, marketing, eCommerce and branding. SmugMug is perfect for professionals who want more visibility and an attractive marketplace to sell their work.