F2 photography by lexi wordpress hosting

SmugMug vs. WordPress – Which is Better?

SmugMug vs. WordPress – Which is Better?

A while ago I wrote a long blog about my full digital workflow – we thought it was time to break things down a little and just look at the online sections, which currently include a blend of WordPress (the self install .org version ) & a business account of SmugMug .

When you’re looking for a photography website, two options always make the top of the list. SmugMug and WordPress. So which one is better for a fellow photography and why?

F2 photography by lexi wordpress hosting have some HTML options

Below I go over the benefits and downsides to each so you can help to determine which is right for you, your business and current needs.

A little note about my WordPress account. Currently I am using the Go-Daddy WordPress hosting service. It works very well – but does cost money + having my own domain name costs money. This means that I can use the Self-Install version of WordPress over the WordPress ‘hosted’ version that can be found at WordPress.com. Both are pretty straight forward to use & Go Daddy look after the install, but as I said – it costs more money, but you have more flexibility.

WordPress is an amazing content management systems which allows you to add plugins and widgets for almost anything. There are also no shortages on templates and themes. You can optimize your content to bring in new customers, create great forms for people to reach out to you and even add ecommerce aspects to it. One extra benefit is the flexibility of javascripts so that you can use lightboxes and other tools for your marketing. Currently I am using a theme from Flothemes called called Matte – I love the look of it & the amount of customisation is endless.

The biggest mistake people make is assuming WordPress is free. You have to pay for quality hosting if you’re serious, you’ll need to buy a template if you want something that is good and as the software updates, you may need to pay for a new version of the template (that is assuming the designer is willing to update it). The theme I am using cost me $200 or maybe a little more when I bought it. The same goes for Plugins and other things that make WordPress great.

Keeping sure you are using the latest updates is vital. WordPress is quite buggy from time to time and make sure you are only using trusted plugins.

There is little to no direct support if you are looking to ring up someone, you will need to look after much of this yourself.

Depending on the templates, hosts and what you’re willing to spend, chances are your site won’t be able to securely store and display high res images safely, quickly and in a way that you would be proud to show off. That’s where SmugMug comes in.

F2 photography by lexi wordpress hosting the online-client proofing system

SmugMug will let you create a stunning photo website that quickly loads your images, enables secure storage and easy sharing options. The templates are continuously updated to meet current standards (so that you don’t have new fees like you do with WordPress) and they’re designed by photographers for photographers.

Because everything is specifically done for photographers, you’ll find themes that meet your business’s needs and also can display your work how you feel it should look. Your high res images will load quickly and you also have full ecommerce solutions to sell prints on multiple types of products. One of the biggest benefits of having a SmugMug site is that they have trusted and vetted printing partners all over the world.

SmugMug is the backbone of my client / web-proofing workflow. Using such things as the Client Login and private sharing options help give my clients fast & secure access to high-res images at the click of a button. If you want to sell prints on canvas as wall art, mugs or keychains for clients, etc… through WordPress, you may be limited to the country the print shop is in, or your clients will pay excessive shipping fees. SmugMug’s partners are all over the world so your fans can shop from a printer closer to home and save on shipping. This can help you drive more sales. In short, if your client is in the USA, prints are produced in the USA, if you are in the UK, they get printed in the UK.

The Phone App gives me access to all the images online – everywhere.

And to save the last till least – the Lightroom App is the engine that makes everything tick along. I use the unlimited online storage to back up images when I shoot on location using the Lightroom App. When I have edited ready, I just up date the images online. This is also part of the online-client proofing system.

You don’t have all of the plugins and apps like you do with WordPress. You also have to stay within the boundaries set by SmugMug. The templates will not allow you to use Javascripts, but you do have some HTML options.

Cost is factor if you are looking to set up something on a budget

Quick Summary

So Which Should You Choose?

If you’re just looking for a blog and aren’t worried about high res images or being serious about selling prints, go with WordPress. If you want a proven system to have a professional portfolio with no hidden fees, a solid network of printers around the world and drag and drop ecommerce solution, you cannot go wrong with SmugMug. WooCommerce is your WordPress option that I have seen other people use and what I used to use – personally – I am glad to see the back of it.

Me personally, I use both. I build an audience and following with my wordpress blog, but when it’s time to funnel the traffic to sell prints, book clients and show off my portfolio; I drive everyone to my SmugMug website ( see my site here ). The combination has proven valuable time and time again. If you’re serious about having and growing a photography business, you need SmugMug for your portfolio, bookings and sales and WordPress for your blog to bring in traffic, build a fan base and give them a way to interact with you through the comments and even plugins to take polls, run surveys and use marketing tools like lightboxes.

At the end of the day – you are reading this on a WordPress blog yet, as I said, my online buisness is backed up by a SmugMug Account. Another thing to think about is that, if for some reason one of my servers went down, I still have a live online working system.

Read more about my full digital workflow here:

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