July 23, 2011

Ask Dave, July 23rd - Photography Websites

Ask Dave, July 23rd
I get tons of questions each week, I respond as quickly as possible, and I might just answer them here too. If you have questions you can email me at Learn@DaveShumway.com.

From... Rob
I want to make a photo website; but the options confuse me. Do you have any suggestions?

Typically I suggest that folks pay someone like SmugMug/LiveBooks/PhotoShelter to host their site and to help provide the technical end of the site. This takes most of the technical aspects out of making a photo site. If you go this route all you will need to do on the side is to find a domain registrar and choose the perfect domain name for you.

I'll address the three companies I have experience with and really the three best options available for photographers today.

I think that LiveBooks offers the best (most SEO friendly) portfolio site available (I love mine, and they do a great job).

SmugMug is the most affordable, and easiest to use option; but they have their limits, and they don't do a good job of handling stock image sales. (Their SEO is okay). They host unlimited images/videos for a very fair rate, and that is why I use them to host all of my trip images. Get their "Pro" account. (http://FragilePlaces.com)

I think the best all in one solution is PhotoShelter, and I am working with them to build my new stock sales site. The problem is that they are expensive, as you are forced to pay (big bucks) for data storage. They have solid SEO; but their "portfolio" / "blogs" are only okay compared to LiveBooks.

Whenever I finish my new stock site I will be using each of those companies for what they do best; but I don't really suggest that for most folks. (Choose the one that does what you really need/want)

If you don't plan to have a ton of images and want to print/ship yourself I think LiveBooks is your best bet.
If you want lots of images at a great rate, and are happy with the long list of services that SmugMug offers I think they are a great option.
If money is no object and you want lots of images with solid SEO and lots of printing options; but you don't mind if you sacrifice a bit on your portfolio then PhotoShelter is the way to go.

If you go the SmugMug route use this link to save both of us a bit ($5 I think):

I really like the look of what PhotoShelter is doing for a one stop solution; but they cost more if you have lots of images:

LiveBooks sites are beautiful and have SEO dialed to perfection:
And I really like their mobile sites.

SEO = Search Engine Optimization, and it is a big deal.


  1. I will echo Dave's statement on Smugmug. It is affordable and quite easy for a basic site. Those that are a bit more technical can customize things quite a bit. You can check mine out in my signature.

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