PhotoShelter or SmugMug?

A question that people about is if they should use PhotoShelter or SmugMug, two popular photo storage platforms that have built in e-commerce systems with major photo printers in America. Sadly, 500px (my weapon of choice) discontinued the e-commerce option about a year ago.

As expected, there are some big names that support both platforms. I know that Joe McNally that is like the prophet Elijah of photography uses Photo Shelter and that popular people like Trey Ratliff use Smugmug. As I said, this is expected in the world of marketing. These are businesses that support the community but they are just that: businesses.

So which is better: PhotoShelter or SmugMug?

I am going to say it depends what you do, what you want and how you pay for the service.

They both are limiting in their themes that they offer but if you just want a cheap place to show your work and store it online; either could be better. However, for this purpose, I would suggest SmugMug because of the unlimited feature!

If you want to actually sell prints, SmugMug would be a smarter move as they only take a profit from what you make as your profit. PhotoShelter ask for the commission on the whole sale. This would depend on how much you are making in sales and the markup but I would think the numbers would work better for Smugmug!

However, one thing to think about is how you will pay. If you are like me and only like to pay month to month (photo companies have a history of going to crap overnight); Smugmug is almost twice the price of PhotoShelter. That is something to factor into the mix if a small time photographer and not making money from it to speak of!

What about having your own website?

I think you could do better just having someone build you a custom WordPress website and you can take the orders yourself, have them printed and dropshipped straight from BayPhoto or White House Custom Colour. I have done that before and the good thing about that is you get 100% of the profit.

The bad side is you have to do all the ordering, checking things out and making sure the orders arrive in a timely fashion. It is more work, no question about that.

The option is yours!

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