I’ve always enjoyed my Smugmug website for hosting my photos, but recently I made a change to Fine-Art America. Here’s why:
The Pros and Cons of Two Photography Web Hosts – Smugmug vs. Fine-Art America
I compared both sites whose primary jobs are to host and sell my photos. I also compared other like Zenfolio, Photoshelter, and others. I narrowed it down to one. Fine-Art America. Here below is a comparison between Smugmug and Fine-Art America on the points that I believe matter:
- Cost per year. Smugmug = $250. Fine-Art America = $0 to $30. I chose the $30 to have some added features, but wow, what a difference in price for what you get.
- Products offered. Smugmug offers prints, Thinwrap canvas, canvas, and metal. Fine-Art America offers these plus acrylic, mattes, several different high-quality papers, and framing with several options for the buyer. Way better. Who wants to buy and frame their own? Nobody. Fine-Art America wins, hands down.
- Quality of product. Smugmug prints through print houses. I used Bay Photo for mine. Smugmug shipped two wrong photos to my customers. They received photos that were not even my own. What a mix up, and it cost me reputation and future business. Not o.k. Fine-Art America prints themselves, on more media than Smugmug, with more options, and they get it right every time. A priceless option if you ask me.
- Delivery time. Smugmug ships from the west coast of the U.S. and not very well to locations outside of the U.S. Fine-Art America ships worldwide and from the central-Eastern U.S. Faster service and shorter delivery times. Winner.
- Ease of set-up. Applying pricing based on the aspect ratio of the photo is a nightmare with Smugmug. With Fine-Art America, it is easy – just enter how much you want to make on each size print and the correct size is chosen as salable options for each photo. Your customer does not have to try to crop their own photo as they would on Smugmug. Really? Do you want your customer trying to cut your photo to size on the screen? Smugmug really loses on this one.
- User experience. Smugmug does have a nice, customizable interface for the customer. But, on Smugmug, it takes more clicks to get to a salable print. For example, you have to click on the gallery, then the photo, then find a small buy button. With Fine-Art America, it is one fewer click and there is no doubt that your prints are for sale as the options are shown immediately. People don’t buy if they don’t know you’re selling, Smugmug. Fine-Art America wins here too.
- Site availability. Smugmug is a standard photo hosting site. Fine-Art America hosts photos, but also provides integration with Facebook so that a sales page is available right in the Facebook fan page. In addition, promoted posts are placed by Fine-Art America within Facebook fan pages and personal pages, with each post formatted to show that a new piece of art is for sale. Nothing like this exists on Smugmug.
- Mobile sales. Smugmug does not support mobile sales. Fine-Art America does. Enough said.
Fine-Art America also offers a few items that are non-existent on Smugmug. Here are just a few:
- Sales through Disney and ABC. Huge. Disney will call me if they want to use my images in their productions. How cool is that?
- #1 in search results for photography on Google. Now I don’t have to try so hard at SEO and can concentrate more on photography.
- Integrated blog. I use this as a jumping off point to lead viewers to my other blogs and sites.
- Email list handler with targeted promotion through email. I had used Mailchimp separately when I was using Smugmug.
- Worldwide site presence. It is not just an “American” site system even though it is in their name. They also own domains for multiple other countries and I am automatically available to these domains through my Fine-Art America site. For example, my first experience of uploading an image had viewers in Germany before any in the U.S. This never would happen with Smugmug as they are not promoting me in other country domains.
- Google Analytics. Easy set-up of Google Analytics so you can see where your visitors come from and what they are viewing. This is in addition to FAA’s normal statistics that show you each visitor also.
- Costs for prints are lower – giving you more room for profit and/or giving your customers a lower price.
I highly-recommend Fine-Art America for any serious photographers who want to sell their work without much effort so they can concentrate on photography and not websites.
Thank you for reading what I wrote — I hope you enjoyed it!