Yeah it starts at $40 to $100 I think but there does not seem to be much different between their basic and premium memberships. I think with premium you can completely create what you page looks like (colours everything) and not just use their templates.
Before I joined FAA, I did a lot of research. I had narrowed it down to Smugmug, Zenfolio, and FAA. The thing that made my decision, for the most part, was that on FAA everything is a custom size. You don't have to crop your images to fit in some predetermined "boxes." I love to shoot panoramas, and the other two just couldn't reasonably accommodate that for me. This was a few years ago, and I have heard that they recently revamped Smugmug, so maybe things have changed. I'm happy here, so I haven't bothered to check into it. I did suggest a friend of mine look at it though. She shoots local high school sporting events and I believe it might be the better option for her to sell images to other parents, since they offer "sheet prints" and stuff like key chains, etc. Much like the school portrait packages, which I believe her market would like because of the familiarity.
I have a basic SmugMug account. I have been there for at least 6 years or so. It has a lot of advantages. I really like the customization options, the ease of setting up hidden galleries, and the overall presentation of my work. Its also a photo sharing site so they make it really easy to link a photo without violating the rules of a lot of forums. I considered the professional account for a time, but its pretty expensive. However, the professional account allows full customization of your web site. They use decent printing services from 3rd parties, but in the end I use FAA for fulfillment. FAA handles the business end, the printing, framing, etc. All I do is upload my work and promote myself. Also, FAA allows you to keep your crop. That's a big issue with me to be able to keep the 2x3 format of my photos and not force "accepted" crops for larger prints.
I still maintain my Smugmug account. The price I pay never goes up because that was part of the deal at the time, $30 a year for the basic account. Anything I have for sale has a link back to my FAA Artist's web page with the shopping cart. Its easy to do because they allow HTML tags in the descriptions. I also keep it because I can hide galleries and keep personal stuff out there for friends and family.
Larysa, FAA does all the printing and framing. That's where the term fulfillment comes in. Smugmug has a 3rd party do the printing, so again, you don't have to deal with it. To set your own prices though, you need one of thier professional accounts, starting at $150 a year. FAA is only $30 and you make that back with one sale. Plus with FAA you get 10% of the materials cost.
I've had SmugMug for almost 6 yrs now. I was a pro user for the first few years and after becoming a member here I decided to bring it down to power user. I liked the site because it allowed me to place my links from FAA in my galleries for when I sponser pages.
In August they changed the entire site so that you are supposedly able to customize your pages much better. They do have a lot more options and templets that you van use as well. They are giving users 2 years to switch over to their new platform.
My main concern was that when I switched, would I lose all the links to sponsered pages from FAA.? I emailed support and they confirmed that I would lose all my links....that they would not be carried over to the new platform. Now I have well over 200 sponsered links to FAA, so I'm not taking this very well, but I really don't have a choice. Support told me that I can switch over to their preview mode and create my "new" website with them, adding all my old links, all the while maintaining the "old" website. Customers will not see the new website until I decide I want to make it live. They say I have up to 2 years to do this before they switch everyone over permanently. It's going to be a lot of work.
Has anyone here with a SmugMug site switched over to the new platform yet and how o you like it compared to the old one? Do you use the sponsered page links here on FAA on your SmugMug site?
How do they handle the administrative side? Do they take care of the entire exchange of money process? Do they have a 30 day return policy? And what happens if there is a return, do they handle the entire return process and also just eat their own cost portion of the print?
Wings, they operate through PayPal and take care of everything...printing, shipping, etc.. But you have to become a premium member or the one just under it to take advantage of their selling options. When I used to be a premium member I used to mark up as much as I wanted, same as here. Not sure if anything has changed now.
Thanks Joann. I will have to revisit smug, I tried it for free a year ago, forgot why I didn't stick with it, maybe it was the cost, don't know. I revisited zenfolio recently and though it's gotten a little easier to use, the interface is still a little clunky. Hope to see smug with better offerings. -W
Both Smug and Zen are definitely a BYOC (Bring Your Own Clients). I don't think there is a global search for user images in the Smug site proper, it's not intended for that purpose, it's intended for the user to take complete control for success or failure. -W
I sold a few things when I was a pro user but have not uploaded there for a while and it's basically there now for sponsoring pages for FAA. I will be working on getting the new format working for me over the next couple of years and improving on the overall look of my SM site. I mostly want to use it for directing customers to FAA, and it's far from that right now. I've ignored it since joining FAA.
I used to be with Smugmug but switched to Zenfolio because of price difference and I liked the end result that Zenfolio gave me. One big advantage with Zenfolio over FAA is the ability to create discount codes that better be clearer to the buyer (giving % discounts off final price rather than off markup) and creating different price lists - (you can create a sub-set of images and give them a new price for a fixed time for promotions ) and the ability to sale downloads.
I tend to get quite a few visitors to my galleries but not a lot of sales, whether its worth the £80/year? - probably not
If anyone wants to look its here http://www.ipgphotography.com/
It's the $150/yr level so prints can be sold at a markup. In about 18 months there not one thing has sold. Not sure if I'll keep it or not. Also haven't updated it much lately. FAA sells more than enough to pay for the FAA account and the Smug account.
My thing is customization. I want to make a site look the way I want, and I hate clutter. So the FAA 'artist' web site definitely does not meet my needs.
The reason I have it is purely as a portfolio site. I love the customization and look and when I have had clients purchase work from me there (I use Bay Photo Lab), the results have been consistently good.
That said, I make more sales here on FAA (yes, really!) than I do over there on a yearly basis and I do make pretty decent sales there but it really comes down to showcase vs. practical marketplace when you compare the two. I think FAA is more successful due to their customer base and their marketing/marketplace.