Chris & Don MacAskill answer questions about SmugMug’s pro price increase

We’ve read thousands of your emails, tweets, and posts this week and planned on making a blog post with answers to your most common questions.

Baldy, our President and co-founder, recently spent some time with Frederick Van Johnson from TWiP (This Week in Photography) addressing a lot of questions that the community has been asking about our pro price increase.  Frederick suggested that, rather than a blog post, we do a follow-up video answering your most important questions.

So that’s exactly what we did:

288 thoughts on “Chris & Don MacAskill answer questions about SmugMug’s pro price increase”

  1. Tough pill to swallow. That’s for sure. Customers will leave, but hopefully the ones that stay will continue to be loyal to SM and keep you guys moving forward…

  2. Seriously? The best you can come up with is, “Well, there were some bugs in the **FEATURE** to raise your rates. So we couldn’t ship until Friday night..” Do you think we’re idiots?

    You could have “shipped” the “new feature” Tuesday morning instead. Wednesday morning. But, no. You shipping on FRIDAY NIGHT!

    Additionally, you could EASILY limit space by restricting per-file sizes; but you choose not to. 50MB files are insane. 20minute 1080P HD video anyone? Unlimited storage doesn’t also mean unlimited FILE SIZE storage.

    No, what this is is pure GREED. You wanted this to FLY UNDER THE RADAR. You didn’t want ANYONE TO NOTICE! Pathetic.

    1. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to call this pure GREED. I think that it’s true that SM screwed up in not making smaller incremental pricing increases every couple of years.That said, I would imagine they are taking a big risk with this huge hike and may loose a lot of customers and raving fans. So in the end, they might not make much more money (ironically enough).

      1. No, it’s GREED. Don posted on his twitter feed that they were VERY profitable. There’s NO reason to raise it this much, this quickly. Also, to only give 45 days notice?

        He wanted the money NOW. Monthly subscribers will get their increase on Oct 15. Yearly subscribers, why renew Oct 15, will pay the higher price almost immediately.

        I call ’em as I see ’em. Greed.

    2. Smug Mugged: I think you’re thinking only about YOUR needs here. I personally find the 20 minute HD video allowance very important. And I know there are pros who use and need a good part of that 50 MB photo limit.

      And I think it’s silly to think that there was any thought that this would FLY UNDER THE RADAR. With a price increase this significant I’m sure no one at SmugMug was simply hoping no one would notice. That’s silly.

    3. SmugMug Ships all their new Features at the end of the week and it is not as if it was ever going to be under the radar as they make a lot of effort to notify these changes.
      7 years ago 10mb files were insane too.

      1. So, a price increase is now a feature? Wow.. Put another check-mark on the ol’ feature page!

        “New!!! IMPROVED PRICING!! Only $150/year more, for exactly the same service as before.”

    4. Actually the bugs were in things like Business and Portfolio accounts not getting some of the features they were paying for. Or the new downgrade process not properly crediting you when moving from Business to Portfolio. So no, we couldn’t have shipped Tuesday or Wednesday morning, even though we wanted to… QA was still finding bugs Friday morning.

    5. Sounds like you’re not very smart. The sooner they announce this, the more days notice we get. If they had announced it later on Tuesday or Wednesday we would have had five fewer days of notice.

      Then you want our sites to be less capable? That’s just dumb.

      1. We would have given 45 days regardless of when we announced it. There’s no way we would have shrunk the window for something that was *our fault* because we had bugs.

    6. If we wanted to fly under the radar, we wouldn’t have directly emailed *every single one* of our customers simultaneously. We absolutely *were not* trying to fly under the radar.

  3. Pingback: Disappointed
  4. The most important question: How can I get one of those cool SmugMug hats? 😉

    I love SmugMug and have for many years. If you need to raise prices to stay in business, by all means raise prices. I would like to think that everything I have stored on SmugMug will still be viewable in 30 years. As you’ve said, you’ve learned your lesson and will do things more gradually in the future, which should help alleviate the backlash.

  5. thanks a lot SmugMug for all the new Features that regularly arrive.
    I am one of the users affected by the price rise and Support it Wholeheartedly.
    Four things attracted me to SmugMug and they are still what keep me here,
    Unlimited Storage
    Secure Storage
    Unquestionably Great Customer Service,
    and it is a Profit Making Business like we all aspire to,
    As long as these core values remain I will be with SmugMug.

  6. “We Die inside every time we hear this.” No. Sorry, I’m not buying it. Speaking of not buying it, I’m not renewing. This video has shown to me that you DIDN’T listen to your customers — before, or NOW. Seriously. You’re not only game in town, and not the only ones who offer “unlimted” space. I’m sick of the “we haven’t raised prices in 7 years” argument. Get a new tag line. At least I have until June to move away from you.

    1. I’ve met them, actually. They’re very sincere about loving photography. I work in a similar industry (tech, online gaming) and the issues they bring up are real. It sucks hard, and I may be not be renewing my smugmug account over this price increase, but I believe their sincerity over their claims.

      That said, I’m not at all happy about it. $20/month, I can afford readily. Moving to $35/month really impacts this for me. Here’s why: I’m a small time shooter, somewhere between amateur and pro, and I occasionally manage to sell prints, or a set of prints to a customer. Having the business portal makes this really easy for me. But another $180/yr pretty much would move my smugmug account from slightly cash positive to cash negative.

      Don and Chris: You /do/ have lots of customers who are small storage consumers. I only have a couple thousand images up. Maybe 3-4GB of content. You should really consider making this price increase tied to unlimited customers only, or offering a lower capacity tier for those of us who are pro shooters, but don’t upload all that much stuff.

      I don’t know what I’m going to do about this right now. I guess I’ve got about a month to decide.

      1. I agree with this comment. Makes it difficult for the little guys to take such a hit in the pocket. Plus having a 15% per transaction charge takes a toll on the bottom line. You have tiers but nothing that helps the little guy sell online now. Sorry to say that come renue time I’ll be forced to reduce/cancel my service

      2. Absolutely nailed it Gabe. I love the pro features, but don’t consume the storage nor the bandwidth that ACTUAL pros do (which SM says is driving this decision).

        I hate to do it, but unless there is a change, I will not be renewing.

        They could easily scale the pro price based on storage/sales, but obviously have chosen to invest in something other than their installed base.

        I’d love some suggestions for a replacement …

    2. Why don’t you post your Smugmug site so we (pro/semi-pro) photographers can take a look at it and figure out what you could improve to make more sales? I bet we could wring at least another $100/yr out of it in less than thirty minutes of your work.

      That would be a lot more productive than complaining!

  7. Even if you’re ok with a $100 increase THIS year, how about next year’s $100 increase? Maybe the year after that and THAT $100 increase?

    You know what? They learned their lesson.. No more fixed pricing. No more grandfathered pricing. Ever increasing fees, ever increasing costs.

    Digital downloads never used to cost money PER DOWNLOAD.. Now, they do.

    The features they talked about in the video? They have been working on them for YEARS! What makes you think they’ll actually do anything now? I can’t even upload an entire wedding without something breaking. Every.Single.Time.

    And, if I’m not mistaken, Chris said in the previous video that the REAL reason was to increase the engineering budget. Why has the REAL reason now become storage costs? Can’t they at least get their lies straight? I’m not buying what they are selling.

    This is all to do with the fact that Chris and Don want to stop tightening their belts, and make more money. Fine. Just say it with me.. GREED!

    1. I’m not sure why you’re so outraged. You decided to pay them for use for some time period and that’s what you got. Now if you want to continue on for another time block they’re saying, “Here’s the price.” If you don’t like it, don’t pay it and go somewhere else. Why raise your blood pressure and get so irate? Even if they were doing this purely for greed (which I don’t believe), why does that matter? It’s a simple business arrangement: you give us this much money and we’ll provide this. You essentially renegotiate that contract each time you renew. If Costco decided they wanted $500 for my membership renewal I’d say, “No thanks” and shop elsewhere when my membership ran out. I wouldn’t go ballistic in the comments section of a blog post about it.

      1. Steve Crooks – the sensible voice of reason, trying to reason with someone hellbent on bitching and moaning because, my guess, he doesn’t make enough money selling photos to cover the cost.

      2. It’s not as simple as “just move on if you don’t like the membership.” I have YEARS worth of images stored. The PITA it will be to download and transfer doesn’t make it easy to just move on. To double the price all at once is pretty drastic. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE smug and the people, but I’m torn. As a part time tog that doesn’t make a lot to begin with it is hard to swallow.

    2. Agreed Steve. This is America. “SmugMugged” You are free to shop around and find a service that fits your needs at your price point, just like SmugMug is free to run their business the way they see fit. The 5 minutes it took to write your rant you could have worked on finding new business to make the e-commerce option with SmugMug more viable.

  8. This video only served to upset me more. I am one of the hobbiests who kills you inside a little bit. Would have happily endured a modest price increase every other year. Glad that is a lesson learned, but that just means more increases are coming. I have been loyal, recommended friends, and am still pondering my decision, but very displeased with you, SmugMug. It’s just too much all at once. I’m going shopping for sure.

    1. A huge price increase like this all at once IS upsetting, I agree. But good luck finding another provider offering the same features, and in my opinion the best customer service anywhere (similar to the ones at Paul C. Buff) for less than the price including the increase.

      1. That would be zenfolio, Scott. They offer EVERYTHING smugmug offered me that mattered in any way, AND both their professional tiers — the $250 one and the $120 one — allow for unlimited storage and custom pricing. Their staff was very helpful, and the options are more easily customizable.

    2. I agree with Lisa’s sentiments. The sad truth, however, is that if you really want something with approximately the same features as Smugmug Pro, you’ll have to pay at least $250/yr (sorry, but look closely at the Zenfolio 120/yr and you’ll see–no pro lab among other things). When I was upset about the price increase, I spent a lot of time looking into other options. My decision, however, is to stick with Smugmug and make up for the price increase by dumping my regular website and its hosting costs and customizing Smugmug as my only site instead. I also plan to upload WAY more stuff so I feel like I’m getting my money’s worth from their unlimited storage. I’m certainly not happy with the price increase, and I think they should have done it at all levels so the pro increase could be a little less, but I have been incredibly impressed by SM’s customer service, so I’m sticking with them.

      1. JDA-HKH-VCV Here a Discount Code for experts that will change to Zenfolio.
        Ps> You can transfer (FREE) all your Photos and Videos with Categories and Descriptions from SM to Zenfolio in Minutes.

  9. I’d just as soon not have the new feature “price increase”. Really, what are you people thinking or should I say not thinking? The new videp you posted just made it worse. Where is the value? You sound just like Obama, promise anything and then make excuses.

    I contacted you about problems uploading from Picasa and even though it used to work fine, your new improvements caused problems and you never could figure out what to to to fix it. You asked me to use another uploader.

    Is that part of the new improved Smug mug? If it is, I don’t want it.

  10. It’s good to hear some explanations on all of this, but it doesn’t change the fact that as a hobbyist photographer I was previously willing to pay for the pro account, but am not going to continue with the new pricing. I made some money selling my stuff through smugmug, but not nearly enough to stick with it at this higher pricing. I reduced my account to basic, which really does suit my hobbyist needs.Thing is – I can still very easily sell my stuff to people who want it, I just won’t be using the pro account on smugmug to do it.

  11. What a shame. I really enjoyed having a smugmug account this past year. I am one of the amateur photographers that will be left in the cold. I will be cancelling my account once my current year is up.

    1. I’m very much an amateur as well and was looming to open a Pro account in the next week or two…now I need to find another place to sell/market my photos…bummed

  12. Love your service and can’t complain there. I do believe you have made a big misstep in the PR department. If the delay in announcing is as you say, then it was a huge mistake to not take a time-out and say to yourself “how will announcing this on the Friday evening of Labor Day weekend play out?”. It seems pretty elementary to me that it could be perceived as trying to be sneaky and reduce the ripples. So to avoid that perception, you should have then waited until Tuesday. If you didn’t take time to think how the timing of the announcement would play out, then that tells me there is a big lapse in judgement from a customer relations standpoint. I would recommend involving your marketing department next time.

  13. I for one am tired of all the outrage. SmugMug has been very forthright with both a realization that their predictions were wrong, that this price increase was not a light decision and with plans for an even better future. Bottom line is, you don’t like it, make your decision known with your wallet. SmugMug realizes this is going to happen in some cases, and all they can do is try to win your business again as they move forward. Too many people think if they cry foul loudest, they will force SmugMug to change their mind. Though I get that this will price some away from using the SmugMug service, perhaps it’s just a time to evaluate if you really need the pro level service. If so, shop around, make a business choice and go with it. Quit acting like this is the end of the world as we know it.

    1. Jeremy, people have built their business’s around smugmug. They are worried. You are being too dismissive of peoples comments. Most people are just expressing their concerns.

      1. Mark, that is a really good point. There are people like myself who have been using this site for YEARS, building their customer base and business using this site. But I can’t see the justification of spending that much money SOLELY for the purpose of being able to set prices on my own, and especially not when I can get the same thing for a little bit cheaper somewhere else. The fact is, if you’re going to be competitive in this market, you need to look at what the competition is offering and then BEAT IT! In this case, they’re aren’t even matching it.

  14. First off, I absolutely love SmugMug, and am find it to be incredibly easy to use.

    I have just the basic account right now, but I had been planning to get the pro account soon.

    At $300, I can’t justify buying it when I’m not a full-time still photographer.

  15. I died a little bit inside last Friday. Bottom line for me is I *want* to stay and have been a huge proponent, but now that I’ve seen the other side I’m less than sold. I wish SM no ill, but can’t say definitively I’ll stay. Odds are I won’t, but I’m still not completely gone.

  16. These “greed” comments are way off base. You have no idea what it’s like to run a business. You run around spouting greed, greed, and you are clueless. This is an excellent explanation in the video by smugmug. They admit they should have raised prices incrementally over the years, and explain that they have to increase prices now to keep competitive. And what’s actually very encouraging is that they say they are debt free, with cash reserves, meaning that going forward, they are in a good position.

    Your video does inspire confidence, However Smugmug, I do think you are overestimating the customer need to have unlimited uploads. Of course customers are going to say they want unlimited everything but that doesn’t mean they need it, or that Smugmug can afford it. And still, a one-time price increase does not address the fact that file sizes are still dramatically increasing. The cost of storage could go up for all you know. This is the achilles heel, and it appears you are completely set on the unlimited uploads thing.

    But file size and cost of storage is just one issue, you say, that contributed to your price increase. Fair enough. Everything costs more these days.

    You are an excellent company. And all companies live and learn. I’m sure there are many other business considerations that customers never hear about. But from here on out, you guys have a serious challenge in front of you. Make it better. Make it the best. Good luck, and God Bless America. Go Romney.

      1. Ditto tuggnet — zenfolio currently offers the same set of features as smugmug in their pro accounts — and for $30 cheaper than the “portfolio” price smugmug is now offering.

      2. Tuggnet, I joined Zenfolio and their customization tool is very limited. It gives you only very basic control. There is no custom css, javascript or html. It is difficult to make something that looks professional. Other than that they are pretty much the same service but Zen costs less.

  17. I saw a ton of people asking for tired pricing for the Business level. This was not answered in this video. I wish I could stay with SM but I can’t…

  18. This reminds me of the Netflix debacle. Been a member for many years but won’t be renewing now… looking for a reasonably priced alternative.

  19. As much as I am also not really happy about the sudden price increase, and I wish it had been handled differently, I will not be leaving SmugMug; just not sure yet if I’ll stick with the Portfolio or go with the Business option.

    For all those who are so angry……..GET OVER IT. I mean……seriously? Especially the Pros……what…you can’t invest an extra $8.33 per month in your primary website/business platform? Sure, go ahead and leave: pay for a new platform, spend the time to re-customize it, re-do all your optimization, etc etc etc……you’ll spend WAY more than this. I can not believe everyone is getting so pissy about the equivalent of 2 drinks at Starbucks per month.

    Hell, in my business, a company just came out with a major equipment upgrade that will cost me $40,000 if I want it. Fortunately, I don’t need to upgrade for a couple more years, but eventually I will.

    Just can’t believe the anger over this minimal amount. You’ve been getting a great bargain for all these years, while other sites raised their fees. It had to happen…….could have been handled better, but I’m guessing all of you have made some PR mistakes along the way, too. I know I have, and a lot more expensive than this!

    Anyway, just want to voice my support for SmugMug – you guys are AWESOME, your platform is awesome, and no way in hell I’ll leave unless you do something a lot worse than this. 🙂

    1. I so said this on the first forum. So so so true. If you have 8 sessions, pass a $1.00 to each of them and eat the other .33cents. If this impacts your business so negatively, the $8.33 increase is the least of your worries.

      1. that is a great idea, but what about those just starting out or hobbyists? We don’t have the ability to pass the cost on. At least not yet.

    2. Again, as the Portfolio option doesn’t even allow for ANY profit to the pros paying so much for it, why bother even using it? The point in using a webhost like this is to FURTHER your business, not shut it down. Since there are other options (which aren’t any more expensive, by the way, I don’t know where you figure people are going to have to “spend WAY more than this”) it doesn’t make sense to use the Porfolio at all. For me, it’s really more the principle of the thing. You are hurting a lot of people this way, small and fledgling businesses who are already struggling to compete in a very volatile market. There were better ways to handle this and smugmug chose to flat-out ignore them. For all that they said they were listening to the complaints, they have still done nothing about them. And since there are other sites that CAN meet those needs, I’m not sure smugmug really has a valid excuse. If other websites can do it, why can’t they?

  20. I’m a hobbyist as well. I’m slowly building a business. I signed up for the Pro account with SM at high recommendations I received at a photography forum I’m a member of. I was never disappointed with SM’s customer service, the quality of their prints, or the way my pictures looked on their site. I was continually frustrated at trying to find answers to questions on their site, though, but that’s another story altogether!!!

    I can’t afford this price increase. I have limited dollars coming in from my slowly growing business, and I’m just not going to have it sucked up by this large price increase. I didn’t love SM’s website that much. There is great competition in this field, and I already am doing a trial with ShootProof. So far, I love it. But I’m going to look at a couple others as well.

    Goodbye, SmugMug. You’re not loyal to me — I’m not loyal to you. Free enterprise, baby!

    1. “You’re not loyal to me — I’m not loyal to you.”

      Seriously, that’s what you’re going to go with? You have an extremely messed up sense of what loyalty is. If your dollars are so limited you can’t afford an extra $8+ per month, you need to 1: do better work 2: charge more for your time or prints 3: find different customers. And when you do eventually raise your prices, don’t feel too bad when your customer goes somewhere else saying, “you’re not loyal to me, I’m not loyal to you.”

    2. Like ’em and leave ’em, eh? Free enterprise, yes, but Sandy, if you are a hobbyist, you can just stay at the $150 price. Or you could even downgrade and save money. You don’t need the eCommerce features. Why the panic? Stay awhile. Relax.

      We got this Facebook, twitter world where people have 5-second attention spans. They come and go like the wind. Sandy, spend your time finding and booking clients, and shooting jobs. Then you will make a lot of money. stay put, because you will just be back after some other site ticks you off. Your customers need stability. THINK, Sandy. THINK.
      Hello, McFly….. McFLY!

      1. Yes, Bif, but the point is, HOW can a business grow anymore using smugmug portfolio if they can’t set their own prices?! The only way to keep a business going is to be making money at it, and Portfolio no longer gives them the option to do so. “No profit” equals “no business.” You’re asking Sandy to keep using a website option that will ensure she makes no money whatsoever, and that the webhost takes the entirety of her profit. If she’s trying to build a business, she can’t use this website anymore.

    3. Laura, people want their cake and want to eat it too. Smugmug has declared with the price change that you have to decide if you want to be a hobbyist or a business pro. The eCommerce features are pro features that have been too cheap up til this point. You have to look at it like this. You were getting a deal, and now you have to pay more.

      1. No, Bif, people want to pay for a service commensurate with the level that they use. Your standard hobbyist/emerging pro is, by definition, are not the ones hogging up huge amounts of bandwidth and huge amounts of storage space.

        Your post reflects what undoubtedly many pros are thinking. SmugMug made it possible for hobbyists and emerging pros to look professional. Many pros (and I do read the posts all the time) believe that the reason that they can no longer make a good living is because of the hobbyists. It is true that hobbyists, weekend shooters, and stay-at-home parents looking for extra income have killed your profit margins. Today’s technology has put professional or near professional level gear in the hands of amateurs. Software can cure/soften many amateur mistakes. And you can get a print in line with lab quality at Sam’s Club if you know what you’re doing and take control of the process.

        It was these hobbyists, occasional shooters, stay-at-home parents, and low volume/high quality nature photographers that padded SmugMug’s bottom line all these years. And based on what they have described as the problem, these low-volume shooters are not the problem.

        But they are the ones who will be leaving in droves. And when they do, SmugMug will have the same or worse problems with storage and bandwidth. Fewer shooters with bigger images and more images (because they have the latest/greatest high-density sensors) and fewer dollars going into the coffers at renewal time because the low volume folks have left. Eventually the photog to hero ration will be 10:1 because only the pros doing the most business will be able to pay the fee and SM will have moved to making most of their money off the commissions that they charging on each sale (which will go up again, too).

  21. Too bad. Just as I was about to sign up for a pro account you do this. Really, and I mean really, bad move. After putting it off for a long time, I was finally satisfied that SmugMug was the best thing going and decided the small investment would be well worth it. Then this, and then the lame explanation. I know this was a business decision, and you’re only doing what you think you have to do. After all, we now know that you’re in it for the money, not the photography. But you probably don’t really care what I think since I never gave you any money anyway.

    1. I’m sure they are heartbroken that you won’t be giving them any of your money, from YOUR business, that you are entitled to run any way you see fit. How many people do you know that have gone into business for the sheer love of the business and not to make money? What a stupid statement. I bet the folks at SmugMug have more passion for and talent for photography than you will ever begin to have. I’m so sick of seeing all these people whining like spoiled children. It’s apparent who they’ll be voting for for President in November.

      1. Great personal attack, Scott. Way to keep up the level of debate.

        Chances are that even at $150 they would be making plenty of profit from Randy when compared to the level of service, bandwidth, storage, and engineering services (depending on which excuse is being used today) they would have to provide when compared to the folks using Terabytes of SM’s storage and bandwidth.

        I have been with SmugMug for 3 years. I am not immediately affected by the raise in rates–I renew right before the new rates go into effect. But out of principal I will not. ZF gives me everything I’m using now at SM with a lower price at the Premium level.

    2. Wow. Just.. wow. I’m just starting out, not making a profit at this yet, and you know what? My Pro account was up for renewal on September 18, and I left SmugMug for PhotoShelter. Yeah, that’s right. A service that was actually MORE expensive. And do you know WHY? Because Photoshelter actually has better, more mature, features, and is about 37,000,000 times easier to customize. The customization ability on SmugMug may be infinite, but the process of getting there is a nightmarish joke.

      I really loved SM when I signed up, and continue to have great appreciation for the Dgrin community, but I finally just became weary of waiting for the promised fabulous features always just over the horizon. I started reluctantly researching alternatives the week before the price increase was announced. When the announcement came, I was stunned. Not stunned that SM would raise prices, but that they would be so ham handed as to do it – and do it that drastically – before rolling out the kind of improvements that would justify it. The only feature I’m missing at PS is smart galleries, but I’ve found other ways to pretty much accomplish the same thing without actually duplicating images (an issue that made Zenfolio unworkable for me, incidentally).

      I do not believe SM’s move was motivated by greed, not for a minute. But I do think it was extremely foolish, and that their adherence to the unlimited storage mantra is not only spectacularly blindered, bit thoroughly unsustainable.

      As for you, Scott, you accomplished one thing for me. Until I read your comment just now, I was still very sad about my decision to leave. But now I am overjoyed at no longer belonging to a community that includes such a jerk as you.

  22. Whats’s more important to you smugmug – promising unlimited uploads (which may be unsustainable) or giving your customers confidence that the tiers are fair and that you get it by charging for the amount of storage you use?

  23. Honestly…….you guys think less than $9.00 more per month suddenly makes SmugMug unaffordable? Wow. And you think that suddenly SmugMug is greedy and all the (formerly wonderful) people are just money-grubbers because they ask you to pay a bit more so they can keep improving it?

    Wow……….that’s all I can say. If $8.33 per month breaks your bank that easily, you really couldn’t afford it before the price increase anyway.

      1. Boy with all those who are ready to leave SmugMug, they should be able to go back to the old pricing in no time… Oh wait… that won’t work…. they may have to jump pricing again very soon.

    1. Look, it’s been beaten to death already in the last few weeks. Not every photographer is able to afford it – $ 150 was a stretch for me, $ 250 is undoable. The only reason I got smugmug Pro is to have a nicer looking web presence than flickr, and to sell the occasional print. In 3 years, I sold $ 500 worth of prints. My main income comes through the direct sale of digital files to my clients – who find me through flickr. I know I won’t sell $ 250 worth of images through smugmug per year to just break even so it makes no financial sense to me to keep going on.

      Photography is a sideline for me. I have a full-time job that pays little, with no raise in six years while paycheck deductions keep going up. Sure, it’s only $ 10 here and there but it adds up quickly. Times are tougher for some of us than for others. For me, something has got to give or I won’t be able to eat. I can’t ditch my health insurance, but I can ditch smugmug, and so I do.

    2. The problem is that most people don’t pay per month, they pay in a large chunk for the year. And not everyone is going to be able to do that right away. There was not a lot of notice for this, and there are going to be many people who just can’t get the money together that fast based on what they’re currently making as a photographer.

      1. This is a good point Laura. Sticker shock for sure. Smugmug: why not set up a monthly deduction plan. Costs money to implement for sure though

  24. The video shows nothing new, those answers were out there already You heard us, but you didn’t listen. It would have been nice to have a tierd option for the photographers with less storage/traffic/sales volume. In the absence of this option, I will have to leave.

  25. I think what people are upset about is an over 60% price increase What other business’s do that? When I ask about some features that other sites already have I am told to post on user-voice I would but all of my votes have been tied up for over two years waiting for features I voted for? I am not totally happy with How Smug mug does thing with features(I would think ones with the highest votes would be worked on first) and this price jump. As far as the great support lately I have been told to post on Dgrin for my answers? Will I leave probably not I have too much time invested.

    1. This is actually a really good point, and one that hasn’t much been focused on. The fact is, smugmug is notoriously slow at putting out much-asked-for features. There are things they’ve claimed they’re “working on” that have been in the works for two or three years, and nothing more has been done with them. There are things lots of people have been BEGGING for that have only been met with empty promises. Smugmug may be quick to respond to individual questions — they’re great at that — but I wouldn’t call everything they do good customer service.

  26. I can understand a business needing to move forward which unfortunately means price increases, product offerings/functionality changes, etc… That said, I also think there is a place for tiered increases especially when you state the cost of storage is a main reason for the increase”. I’m an active Pro account holder who hopes to sell a photograph from time to time. I’m NOT a Pro Photographer who is depending on sales as a primary source of income. I would venture a guess that my storage use pales in comparison to the true Pro Users who do this for a living or at least depend on this as some sort of additional income flow. Therefore, why should i be taxed/charged the same rate as someone who uses 5, 10, 100 times the storage that I utilize. I have no problems with you charging more for storage to those individuals/businesses that actually USE a lot of storage (esp. those storing Video)
    I just find it totally unacceptable (and quite frankly.. outrageous) that you want me to pay an additional $150 for my 5-10G storage when somebody else is using 50, 100G or more. Why can’t you implement a Tiered Level for Pro accounts like: small-storage use $150 (same current rate or even raise it by $5 or $10), medium storage.. say $50 increase.. and large storage accounts get the $100 increase. Now, i cannot define what small, medium, and large means.. only you have statistical numbers that could be used to define these terms/levels.. but it should be extremely ease to accomplish. Heck, you could even tack on a special $10, $25, or $50 additional fee for large video storage/users. I “get” inflation.. i “get” cost of business increases.. I “get” cost of feature enhancements.. What I “don’t” get is your one-sided flat across the board increase. With a LITTLE extra thought and planning, I think you could’ve implemented a tiered price increase based on account usage without pissing off your customer base. It’s a shame you didn’t learn from what happened to Netfilx.

  27. I’ve been a pro since 2009, sold a few thousand dollars off the site. I wonder why you would charge a yearly fee and also 15% for sales. I would think that a yearly minimum in website photo sales should off set the yearly fee. The photographers with a large volume would be more compelled to use the service.

    My photography has been moved to a more personal ordering model and won’t be renewing at the new price.

  28. Sorry, the PR play just didn’t help. You handled the announcement of the price increase poorly and also did it on a holiday weekend. The announcement could have been released a few days later and you should have had some advanced warning as to what was about to happen to soften the impact.

  29. I agree raise prices for the unlimited storage!!! and give the other pros a section with limited storage with a price !!!!! Please do so we can keep our pro account. I dont have alot stored on the site. Really I dont. I erase stuff that I dont need up.

  30. I use the website for reorders of T&I and special events, I don’t make that much but at this rate I am hoping to break even annually!! I have a ton of photos on the website that I have not bothered to remove, stuff I will never sell anything on. But if I was part of a 150.00 a year plan that limited my space I sure as heck would be deleting the old stuff. Most likely once I find an alternative that costs me less I will move on, but for now I will have to lose money on this.

  31. We were a bit peeved about the price increase, but it’s not worth it to switch to another platform unless the SM product doesn’t continuously deliver top-quality services as they have for years (a trend I sincerely enjoy, and hope they continue). We are fortunate to say we renewed at the lower rate recently, which will give us almost a year to look at the benefits and make a solid, thoughtful judgement regarding possibly making a switch to another site, but to tell you the truth, we’re pretty happy with the additional options and functionality SM offers (and continuously improves!).

    I am never happy about paying more for something (especially this much of an increase) but hopefully SM will continue to improve and grow as much as it has over the last year, which will only help my business do the same. My only concern is now that they have realized that they should have been increasing prices a little every year, what will the yearly price increases be going forward??

    Keep up the good work SM, and we will keep doing business with you!

  32. Smug Mugged :
    No, it’s GREED. Don posted on his twitter feed that they were VERY profitable. There’s NO reason to raise it this much, this quickly. Also, to only give 45 days notice?
    He wanted the money NOW. Monthly subscribers will get their increase on Oct 15. Yearly subscribers, why renew Oct 15, will pay the higher price almost immediately.
    I call ‘em as I see ‘em. Greed.

    So you are saying that THEY should pay for what YOU want? Where is the greed? I will be raising my prices at some point in my business. Some of my prior clients will not be able to afford me. I will feel bad but I will have to stick with my revised pricelist. Truth is, not every one is my customer. Not every is SM’s customer, either. Simple, really.

    1. How are THEY paying for anything, Natalie? WE pay smugmug…ergo, WE are their business. That means, ultimately WE pay for what WE want.

      And the thing is, I’d rather be able to keep ALL my clientele and move myself to a site that offers the same thing for a better price. THAT is worth it to me, so I don’t have to screw over any of my clients the way smugmug is screwing theirs. No sense raising their prices and risking losing them because I didn’t want to bother finding another option for them. I run my business better than that.

  33. This video did nothing to make me want to stay.
    I have a pro account but don’t sell all that many photos. Having the pro account just made things easier for me.
    I like the service and my customers are happy with the product but I don’t take up a lot of space and don’t feel that I should be put in the same category as the folks who do. Unfortunately I don’t make a ton of money selling pictures so it will be back to the old way of doing things for me.

  34. Here is my use case and how I am (and you are) impacted by your new cost structure. My smug account earned $800 net last year, not a lot but enough to cover costs. However, as my sales grow year over year, the 15% cut Smug takes hurts more and more compared to competitors who take less, in some cases only 8%. It has been a math game, Smug’s lower fixed costs offsite their much higher transaction fees. If I continue to break out, and keep doubling sales year over year, it will be a no brainer to move to Photoshelter and save much more than the entire fixed cost in reduced transaction fees. So, while I am staying now, if I am successful by March 2013 (My renewal date), I’ll be gone because you take too much from each sale.

    I also had planned on opening two additional Smug accounts to launch specific branded off-shoots from my primary brand (and site). However, with the new pricing structure, I no longer plan to take this step but rather just keep one account. Not optimal for me, but adding $600 doesn’t make sense. So, you lost there, so did I but you lost more.

    I only had 10G of storage as I only posted by best work. However, now that it has been made clear that Smug will never charge for storage, as a Business customer it only makes sense to store every single image I have. That’s 6T, but there is no cost to me, so to take full advantage why would I not put every single image on the site as one of the means of backup for my entire collection. Beside they have raised my costs by $100, I should take every advantage right? So, you lost there, kinda big time.

    It is sad to see the Smug brand take such a huge hit and that potentially this one bad business decision may be so big that you never really recover. Free advice is usually worth what you pay for it, but here goes: CHARGE for storage and keep your fixed price down. CHARGE for storage and reduce your transaction fee to be in line with competitors. STOP making videos where you come off as arrogant blowhards with whiney voices (seriously). HIRE a public relations firm to repair the damage you did so that you don’t lose the scale of economy you currently have. RETURN to the Smug we all fell in love with and want to stay with because right now the magic is gone.

  35. Hi guys.

    I’ve had a few days to think about the price increase. Originally I posted some snarky comments on FB/Twitter.

    I’ve been a Pro member since 2004. I don’t sell tons but I like to be able to price my product and make a profit. I’ve always had steller support from SM. My pics have always been safe, secure, and displayed wonderfully for my friends and clients. I appreciate not having any data storage caps – SM would not be nearly valuable to me if I had to constantly cull my photos to fit limits.

    Even with my meager profit from sales, the increase doesn’t really matter that much – measured against the service level you guys have delivered. If I’m that concerned, I need to just sell a couple more prints . . . problem solved.

  36. I am a small “weekend” photographer and sell through Smugmug. have been a Smugmug Pro customer since the very beginning (now being upgraded to Business), now I see that you are raising your prices above Zenfolio’s highest package (premium business) and yet offering less features (in the aspect of having more than one user access the same account with different permissions). Are you planning to add similar features? Also, they don’t charge as much commissions on sales filled through them to their pro labs.

    Don’t get me wrong, I agree you need to raise your prices to cover costs, but the price jump is huge! Now you are more expensive than your closest competitor.

  37. I’ve been a happy customer since 2006. I’ve been blown away by Smugmug’s service and products since day one. The features that have been added in the 6 years I’ve been a customer have been incredible for my business. Although, I’m bummed that I’ll have to pay more, I understand why it has to be done. Even at the new rates, you won’t find a better place for your images. Also, honestly, I’m surprised that it took this long to raise the prices. I expected smaller increases years ago. Well anyway, I’m one customer that will stick around. Count on it.

  38. Scott Keeler (@Airsport) :
    I’ve been a pro since 2009, sold a few thousand dollars off the site. I wonder why you would charge a yearly fee and also 15% for sales. I would think that a yearly minimum in website photo sales should off set the yearly fee. The photographers with a large volume would be more compelled to use the service.
    My photography has been moved to a more personal ordering model and won’t be renewing at the new price.

    Totally agree. 15% is highest amongst the competitors, I’ve found. ZF is only 12% and they charge less per year for their top package.

    For someone like me (small part-time photographer), I don’t sell enough to really make a profit from Smugmug (after their 15% and the annual membership fee) because a lot of my photography jobs requires I deliver digital images on a disc. I was thinking of using Smugmug to let them download only a set number of images out of the entire batch so I don’t have to mail discs out, but now Smugmug wants to charge per digital image, making that option moot.

  39. What many people don’t realize and what I don’t think Chris and Don have thought too much about is that many of us amateurs/hobbyist/semi-pros are having to re-think our entire approach to our photo side-business. As has been pointed out, there really isn’t another company that provides the same level of features/quality/service that SmugMug does. So if we can’t justify paying double annually, we’re having to consider to selling altogether. And that’s hard to swallow and is very demoralizing. We have other jobs that drag us down; this photo stuff is supposed to be fun and enjoyable. When I get the Cha-ching email I get really excited, not because I made a buck, but because someone valued what I created. I don’t want that to go away.

    I’m a big fan of SmugMug. Have been for years. I wear my camera strap with pride. I feel sorry for them right now. They kinda stepped in it, and it’s going to take some time for the stink to wear off. I want them to be successful, and I wish things were not changing, but I understand this is a business and I can’t fault them for trying to do what they think is right.

    Thing is, for us hobbyists we really felt like we were part of something special. SmugMug has enabled us to do something we couldn’t do otherwise. For those of us that have been around for a while we felt like part of the family, that we belonged. But this change kind of broke up that fantasy. Many of us feel excluded, and the attitude of “if you can’t run with the bulls, then get out” leaves a nasty taste in our mouth.

    I have two pro accounts. With the increase, I’ll cancel one and consolidate. I’ll live. Others won’t be as forgiving or willing to pay for it. I wish there was some middle ground offering that would meet the hobbyist needs, because I hate to see that part of the community fall apart.

    Also – I predict that average storage per account to increase sharply along with the price increase. Folks will want to feel like they’re getting the value out of their account, with the resulting behavior being “store it all on SmugMug, that’s what I’m paying for.”

    1. As has also been pointed out to most people who keep pointing out that there aren’t any other companies the provide the same levels of features/quality/service…once again, zenfolio DOES offer just that! And at a slightly lesser price. I’ve been working with them and their free trial since the announcement came out and have so far been VERY impressed.

  40. Struggling pro Photographer in the UK. Thought SM was a good idea, local lab I can trust, files safe, liked the idea of remote customer ordering. pricey at 15% but OK..Then just another kick..big price rise…will really have to think hard before I renew………

  41. Okay, my 2 cents to those pros who think the 70% price increase isn’t such a big deal to those of us who have a pro license for the features but aren’t in the business of selling thousands of photos. I can see why you don’t think it a big deal because it is $9 bucks a month more for a bargain from your perspective. You are getting a great deal on storage and hosting. Count your blessings, pay up and leave the rest of us alone – go sell some photos and stop socializing on something you say is just dandy with you.

    SmugMug gave me a choice to buy a pro license for the features and didn’t ever say anything about having to produce in order to keep it. I wanted the ability to store my photos offline (25k photos) and to have my own domain name and to set a price for something of mine that did sell and have a custom banner and all the rest of the stuff and I thought that is what I paid for. I could dumb down my license and I’d still have the 25k photos sitting out there but not the customization I desire. If storage and large files are a big part of the issue (I’m not uploading 30mb files or videos), that issue doesn’t go away with me buying a lower cost license. As for the service, the only time I have ever had to contact their heroes is to confirm my credit card information for renewal, reset my password, or ask once again why I have to log out of one of my smugmug accounts (paid for 2 separate pro accounts) to open up the other in the same browser session – all stuff you could answer in a FAQ.

    I can and have found another service provider to give me pretty much the same thing I had with SmugMug, so there is no problem with me speaking with my cash and saying goodbye. But it isn’t convenient to move 25k photos or set up the new site with my domain name, banner, et al. And it ISN”T proper for a vendor to raise prices by 70% with 45 days notice (mine are October renewals). Just curious, does anyone out there have any other service or software they buy that went up 70% recently? People really think this is acceptable? Maybe SmugMug is ahead of the curve and my new vendor will clobber me with a 70% increase next year. I’ll apologize when that happens, but for now I am not liking the change.

    Finally, I find the videos to be quite smug – you guys come off as arrogant. Who comes out with a response to just re-iterate the original message? Like we didn’t hear you the first time. Just take your lumps and move on as that is what you are doing anyways. I for one do not believe any of this came as a surprise to you as you’ve told us through your PR how savvy Baldy is at starting and running a business. This is still true, right?

    I wish SmugMug no ill will, but it really does piss me off to be part of the fringe group that doesn’t fit the new profitable profile. After 8 years as a loyal customer, the inconvenience is all mine.

    1. Bob :
      I wanted the ability to store my photos offline (25k photos) and to have my own domain name and to set a price for something of mine that did sell and have a custom banner and all the rest of the stuff and I thought that is what I paid for. I could dumb down my license and I’d still have the 25k photos sitting out there but not the customization I desire.

      You get all that with a Power account, except for the ability to sell with a markup. That’s $60/year.

      I used to have a Pro account for a few years, but didn’t have enough time to make my hobby worthwhile and dropped back to a Power account (long before this price raise). I’ve been quite happy with it. I love the unlimited storage, 20 minute HD videos, and using my own domain name. It’s perfect, and easily worth $60 a year. If they raised it to $120 a year I’d have to rethink things, of course, but I would just make a decision; not complain bitterly in blog comments. 🙂

      1. Steve, is this thread really your interest or do you work for SmugMug? I see you commenting on a number of post and you seem to have the sales persons comeback to any and all objections. Hard to take you seriously.

        Also I think it is cool how if you were in my shoes you’d ‘d just make a decision to move and not complain in a comment BUT then you do comment on my comments? If you have time, can you write up a few more life tips for me to consider?

        Finally, if I had a choice of my own domain name and being able to mark up the few photos I sell to cover the cost of website, equipment, time, et al, I’d chose the ability to set my own price. I suspect you wouldn’t disagree with this, but then again if you are shilling for SmugMug, you’ll find a way. With my pro accounts I got all of that which made me quite happy, but alas that isn’t the deal anymore and so I am unhappy. SmugMug sent me the link to this video asking me to view it and I did. They also provided a forum for me to comment on their video response, and I did that.

        I doubt SmugMug will be sending me a hat for my complaints, but maybe they will grant your wish and send one out for being the good patriot.

        1. Bob :
          Steve, is this thread really your interest or do you work for SmugMug? I see you commenting on a number of post and you seem to have the sales persons comeback to any and all objections. Hard to take you seriously.

          Ha, that’s funny! No, I don’t work for Smugmug or anything even remotely like that. I have no relation to them other than using their service for several years.

          I responded to your comment because it was factually wrong and I thought you and others might be interested that the Power account does offer those things you said you’d be losing (other than setting sales prices). I know this because, as I said, I personally used to have a Pro account and moved down to a Power account precisely because it still offered these features.

          Note that what I’m not doing is complaining. I’ve offered up some facts and I’ve offered up that I’m confused by the general response to this change. Yes, it’s a big price increase, but I don’t understand what purpose it serves to complain bitterly about it instead of just deciding to move your business elsewhere. Honestly, I don’t understand that. I’ll go back to my Costco comparison, which I think is valid. If Costco raised it’s renewal rate too much for my taste, I just wouldn’t renew. Period. I find it fascinating that so many people will vigorously argue about how this price increase is wrong, immoral, stupid, etc. It’s a business; if you don’t like their offer, go elsewhere.

          Personally, I think the new price level is fair. I work in IT and am aware of how much hosting costs. Getting someone to host your business for only $250/year is a steal. But it’s a ton of money for simply a personal site. There’s a difference in expectations and demands. I think SmugMug was smart to not raise Personal and Power account prices. On the other hand, you’ve seen here that pros who are making a living are saying that the increase is really negligible in the overall scheme of their business. Clearly that’s who SmugMug is targeting with this, and they know they’ll lose the in-betweeners, the people who are doing it on the side and not making a full income through photography. They made that decision and now they will see if it pays off or not. I’m sure it stings, but sometimes changes have to happen and there’s collateral damage.

          I suspect that there’s simply a vocal minority here that doesn’t like the change and that in a few months this will all be history and SmugMug will live on. The people using SmugMug for personal use aren’t even affected, so they don’t care. The vast majority of the pros who do photography full time are saying, “That’s still a steal for essentially hosting my entire business.” And then it sucks for that small group who fall in-between those two groups. If this had happened back when I had a Pro account I would have been one of those for whom it sucked, and I would have dropped back to a Power account or gone elsewhere. I would not have wasted time trying to convince everyone that the MacAskills are terrible people in some way or trying to change their mind.

          That said, I can see merit in possibly offering tiered Pro plans. But I clearly don’t know the business like the SmugMug people do, and if they decide that tiered plans aren’t something they want to offer then that’s the way it is.

      2. Steve, you keep minimizing the in-betweeners here, and yet there are a LOT more of those on smugmug than high-profile professionals. How is this a good business move, to alienate the majority of your client base? You’re also minimizing the importance of setting your own prices — “They offer everything EXCEPT the ability to sell with a mark-up.” Like that’s just no big deal??? Selling is hugely important to a fledgling business, to those “in-betweeners” you so flippantly reference. They need to be able to make that money, and now smugmug is no longer offering them an affordable way to do so.

      3. Laura,

        I don’t know what portion of the business is taken by each type of client. I only assume that the people in the Personal and Power categories plus the full-time Pros far outnumber the others in-between. Maybe I’m wrong. I also assume that SmugMug has done some financial analysis of all these people before they came to the conclusion they did. I don’t know any of this, I’m just guessing.

        Offering everything but markup is terrific for lots of people, I assure you. I take a lot of pictures and want to share them with people, but I don’t fool myself that I have time to try to make a business of it. So I, like many others, just don’t need markup. But I still want to customize things and use my own domain to match the other Internet services I have set up.

        My point, if I really have one, is that maybe SmugMug has become a place that’s not so great for those “Prosumer” or “Advanced Amateur” or “Beginning Professional” people. There appear to be other places that may now be friendlier to that level of person, so instead of berating SmugMug for their decision, why not just move your fledgling business there?

        If you don’t want to live at the whim of someone else’s business changes, you’ll have to pony up a hell of a lot more money to manage everything on your own. It’s the tradeoff you make. $300/year for a professional website is nothing these days. There are people who try to make a go of it using a website with a shared hosting plan and are shocked when that $100/year website doesn’t serve them well. If you want professional level web service you’re going to pay for it, and pay a lot. You’re paying for stability, support, and features, and if you’re not getting those for your money you move on and find someone better.

        If you are just starting a company these costs are painful. But anyone who has started a company can tell you its not cheap and there’s no free lunch. You generally get what you pay for. You have to make careful decisions about what risk you accept to save money. The risk here was that SmugMug would not raise their prices by a large amount. Sometimes you lose in your risk assessment and you have to change tactics. In this case that may mean moving to a different service. It may mean reassessing things and deciding you can sell enough to make the price increase something you can swallow. In any case you make your decision and move on. There’s no point beating things to death in a blog post discussion because things have gone poorly with one of your risks.

    2. adding my 2 cents to your comments which i agree with

      To increase revenue you could have capped video storage at xgb and offered a paid extra for video storage ala the existing smugvault – a pro-video extra.

      if it’s a storage cost issue why didnt you increase the lower price points as well and add things like custom watermarking (the most useful feature of my pro account).

      if you’d launched some new features, addressed the bugs your family (customers) have been complaining about for a long long time then while many would have complained, the family would have understood…

      instead your approach has alienated many of your existing customers and left many wondering why they have been singing smugmugs praises to their friends.

      no amount of marketing/pr spend could have been as effective as existing customers recommending and enthusing over their smugmug accounts to non-users, sadly i think your approach has forever damaged the smugmug family/community.

      smugmug just leveled the playing field for its competitors and i think you’ll find that was a costly mistake to make

  42. It’s clear this new strategy is a gamble. SM is hoping the number who accept the increase will outweigh the losses from those who leave. It is unconscionable that they would drop a 100% increase onto existing customers with only 45 days notice. I understand NEW subscribers and phasing in the old even, but across the board? Existing customers should have been given some grace period. My sub is up in mid-november, so I’m hosed. That’s a terribly uneducated business model. Especially since they claim to have comfortable cash reserves. This shows their loyalty is and will always be to their own bottom line and not to their customers which is why your seeing all the “greed” comments.

    I haven’t noticed many revolutionary changes to the system myself. Yes, some enhancements here and there but there’s no shortage of coders around the world who could code this site from the ground up within the existing budget. There are clearly WAY too many “engineers” on staff for a company like this. It doesn’t make sense. Storage is NOT the issue. It’s staffing, BANDWIDTH, and the fact that they have decided to go to cloud based storage. Their model should be based on bandwidth, (just like your cellphone data plan) and/or storage volume. They could easily throttle the bandwidth.

    They are certainly free to charge what they want, and we’re free to leave. Sorry SM, it was fun while it lasted.

  43. Rsqdivr :
    It’s clear this new strategy is a gamble. SM is hoping the number who accept the increase will outweigh the losses from those who leave. It is unconscionable that they would drop a 100% increase onto existing customers with only 45 days notice. I understand NEW subscribers and phasing in the old even, but across the board? Existing customers should have been given some grace period. My sub is up in mid-november, so I’m hosed. That’s a terribly uneducated business model. Especially since they claim to have comfortable cash reserves. This shows their loyalty is and will always be to their own bottom line and not to their customers which is why your seeing all the “greed” comments.
    I haven’t noticed many revolutionary changes to the system myself. Yes, some enhancements here and there but there’s no shortage of coders around the world who could code this site from the ground up within the existing budget. There are clearly WAY too many “engineers” on staff for a company like this. It doesn’t make sense. Storage is NOT the issue. It’s staffing, BANDWIDTH, and the fact that they have decided to go to cloud based storage. Their model should be based on bandwidth, (just like your cellphone data plan) and/or storage volume. They could easily throttle the bandwidth.
    They are certainly free to charge what they want, and we’re free to leave. Sorry SM, it was fun while it lasted.

    As a person whose primary job is in IT infrastructure, I have to say, their move to use Amazon S3 for their cloud storage was a smart move. It is cheaper and comes with less “hardware headaches” of owning your own storage data center. I have a strong feeling their bandwidth charges have gone through the roof in recent years because Internet providers charge content serving customers a boat load more per Mbps upstream than they charge residential customers.

    All this said and done, I do personally think the increase is too large of a jump in one shot. I really hope they rethink some of these new price plans and make something more pleasing to the photographer who is trying to go pro.

  44. Can you recommend other sites similar to Smugmug that charge less than your new outrageous rates? Just askin’

    1. David — try zenfolio! I’ve been doing my trial with them and so far been hugely impressed. Lots of others who aren’t renewing with smugmug have been going the same route.

      1. I second Zenfolio. I left SmugMug two years ago for Zenfolio and have never looked back. For $120 you can sell/license your photos for profit, and ZF takes a 12% commission on prints, 8% on digital downloads. Plus you can request a payout via PayPal at any time and receive funds within 24 hours. The $250 tier gives more bells and whistles but isn’t necessary or required for e-commerce.

  45. Interesting. The issue and the comments. Those pros who have their businesses booming and thriving should bite the bullet, stay and benefit from SM. Those of us who thought we would “try SM” for a year or two but who do not really make money at this should definitely bale out and find a site that suits our needs. Let’s not pollute the Pro Pool, or offend the Pros with our petty concerns and lets not keep their costs down by our support of SM. As you pros say, “Let the market do it’s thing.” With fewer of us shoring up SM-Pro and SM in general, your Pro account costs can rise even more… but then you can afford it! Best of luck to all!

    1. Well this is pretty much what I was referring to in my post, wish I would of seen this earlier instead of making a new post. I also mentioned at how photographers are now turning upon each other with insulting the “little guy” by calling them lazy complainers. The community is no more with stuff like that going on. Let’s ignore the “little guy” and than insult them on top of it all.

  46. I’m happy to support SmugMug and use their platform. The idea of a debt-free and self-reliant company is what draws me the most. I want this business to be around in 20 years with a legacy run by the original founders or other capable persons.

    That said I can’t justify the cost of a Pro Business account. I’d like to offer friends and family ability to purchase through the site, but I’m merely an enthusiast and don’t have plans to make a living out of this. I would not make profits to even cover the cost of a Pro Business account. The Portfolio account seems almost worthless if I understand it correctly – the only difference above Power is watermarking and access to Pro photo labs for prints. However, I do like the idea of printing from those labs – but is that worth $90/year? Or would it be better for me to go to those (or other) labs directly? Between myself and friends/family I’ll have maybe 10 to 20 prints/year.

  47. I believe SmugMug was a heck of a deal at the previous prices levels of $40 to $150 per year. I also think SmugMug is a heck of a deal at the new pricing of $40 to $300 per year. It was and it still is amazing to me that you could store unlimited photos for $40 per year. I am not a full time professional photographer, but if I was the $300 per year plan appears to be a pretty good deal as well. My issue is not the price itself, it is how SmugMug is handling this entire process.

    So I believe SmugMug decided to take a gamble. They want some of us to leave. This decreases storage, bandwidth, and support costs hopefully at a greater rate than the decrease in revenue. New customer’s will signup at the higher price point and they start out with lower storage or bandwidth needs. Sure they will add photos, but not equivalent to those that have been a SmugMug customer for years. Those that don’t leave SmugMug will hopefully just pay the $250 per year. This will be an instant revenue increase without any cost increases. The gamble for SmugMug is customer’s will move to the Portfolio plan or even worse simply downgrade. If too many professional account holders do this, SmugMug will need to make further prices adjustments. Basic and Power level accounts will see large price increases to compensate. SmugMug should have bumped up these plans at least a little anyway. By not bumping these up some degree they look pretty hypocritical when they talk about storage costs increasing.

    My full post on this topic:

  48. They says for the last seven years they havent raised the prices, well i havent been here for seven years. So for me it its a 67% increase in the year Ive been using them. shame on you

  49. Well, I guess I’m staying with SmugMug. Since the announcement of the price increase last Friday, I have set up and tried either 3 or 4 other image hosting/ecommerce sites using their free trials. You definitely get what you pay for! None of these other companies were as easy to set up, customize, or upload images into as SM. A couple of them were the same price, with not as much bang for the buck and the other one was cheaper and it really showed. There is a reason SmugMug is rated as one of the top companies the pros work with…they truly are the best! And as far as their customer service team, biz development team, and Dgrinners (support forum)…very helpful and always professional. SmugMug, you have me as a customer for at least another year! I can’t wait to see what new features you’ll be introducing!

  50. I originally thought I might eat the new cost because of the fact that the time and effort to set up with a new provider would be a PITA, but having spoken to some other photographers (including the ones that put me onto SM in the first place) it seems that a move away might in fact be the best thing business wise right now. The ease of transferring all of you galleries over to ZF for example is doable in a couple of clicks through “upload junction” and you then save $50/yr and are offered a reduction in commission taken as well, even going with their top hosting option. I have heard only good things from the people that have decided to move so far and their only gripe being that it took ages to delete there SM galleries afterwards.

    How about a bit of a meet in the middle SM? If you want to listen to people then why not reduce the proposed increase by $50 and knock you’re commission cost on sales down to the competitors level? Or how about reducing commission down to 0% and keep the new rate. I’ve got to say that slice of the pie you take bothered me before the new price hike, but now it’s feeling a little harder to swallow. And it does seem a little crazy a hike, but hey business is business and it this free world we are all able to go where we please and do as we please with our own business (both sides of the coin here) and I hope that those who stay aren’t going to end up worse off for paying more because of those that jump ship and take their investment elsewhere.

    Out of interest, what were the numbers that were crunched for those who’d stay and pay more and those who’d leave and you’d lose out on? I hope you have you maths right!

  51. I really feel sorry for SmugMug having to tolerate and cater to all these whining, entitled freeloaders. GREED does not even enter into this equation. The situation is the REALITY of running a quality business that gives Americans jobs. Pay to play. Or don’t. Either way, get over it, it is nothing personal. If you truly *need* to sell online, then $250 or $300 a year should not be an issue. If you don’t, the “Power” service level is ready and waiting for you at $60/yr and unlimited storage.

    1. It has been stated by many SmugMug users that they like SmugMug because of it’s unlimited disc space policy. In fact yesterday someone stated that they were going to to go down to a lower level than the “portfolio” account because it gave them unlimited disc space at a lower price.

      SmugMug is basically encouraging unlimited disc space usage because “this is what our customers want”. Well you know what… they are about to pay the price for this business decision. SmugMug needs to learn how to control their costs better. I’m moving onto to a solution that is less expensive, and less prone to these types of irresponsible price increases. Farewell SmugMug!

  52. I still don’t understand why the ability to mark up prices is affected. Wouldn’t you want users to be able to charge more for their photos so that they can afford to renew at the increased price? I don’t see why being able to set prices means users will upload more photos and use more of your expensive storage. Why can’t every level of user have this feature?

    1. This is a fair question. *Just* the ability to set prices and make profit by itself presents some cost to SmugMug because they have to deal with the accounting and paying you as a 1099 employee. However they also make more off you from commission. So I’m not sure if the commission offsets the cost, but I would think so. That sort of begs the question why can’t everyone set prices.

      1. Exactly they already take 15% of your sale to cover those costs and make a profit on your transactions. If you charge a markup, the 15% applies to the total price and they make more.

  53. etuggle :
    If you’re trying to defend SmugMug, you’re doing a poor job.

    I think he’s reacting to the attitude more than defending SmugMug and he’s right on target. Some people have had an attitude that the prices went up purely because someone decided to they wanted more cash in their pocket and label the move as “greed”. That’s an immature attitude that isn’t much better than when a customer complains about having to pay more than the lab cost for an 8×12 print.

  54. I use smugmug for personal use, keeping family pictures safe is very important to me and having it online to be able to display it is worth $60 or $150. But since the rate increace, I have two main concerns/questions:

    – Why keep pro account level if I dont sell anything (I had it just in case I sell something), downgrading makes more sense and already have.
    – The wave of complaints and notes of how many people are leaving. Even thou I have backups of the photos, I know I dont have 100% of them and I don’t want to wake up one day and see Smugmug went away.

    Now I have to keep very close backups just in case, it’s very disappointing the way things where handled, I kinda lost “faith” in their service.

  55. Well I was hoping for some support for the non-pro photographers instead of driving a wedge further between the pros and non-pros. I thought we were all photographers and now non-pros are single outed, accused of being lazy complainers. Photographers turning on other photographers is saddening to see. It’s a shame as to what is happening to the smugmug community. I never ever drempt such behavior would happen here.

    How does smugmug not see that there is other sites offering fantastic services at lesser prices with professional labs, unlimited and e-commerce. Smugmug isn’t the only company with great customer service, they are not elite by any means. Other sites do compete and are doing just fine at the same level if not better.

    I’m a photographer and since I won’t be going pro any time soon I will have to seek a new home before my renewal is up. I do hope my new home won’t dis me for the amount of my sales.

  56. Based alone on the customer service I have received in the past year and a half I can accept the price increase. I am tired of the complaining, there is not a comparable service in the country at SmugMug’s price point that can complete.

    1. Once again, not true. Don’t get me wrong, by all means stay at smugmug — it is a good site for many things and I really hate to leave it. However, other webhosts offer the same thing that smugmug does at equal or lesser cost. Zenfolio has been one of smug’s biggest competitors for years, and just recently started getting better reviews than smugmug — and they’re cheaper. That’s what frustrates me SO much about this whole thing — smugmug should have BEATEN their competitors, and this time they didn’t.

  57. Just listened to the TWiP podcast on this topic and the interview with Baldy. It is a balanced podcast, and I’d highly recommend folks take a listen. Baldy believes Photoshop pricing is more than justified and see them as good model for Smug to follow.

    I really do hope SmugMug survives but the more I hear and learn about their thinking, the more I think I need to find a new trusted partner.

  58. The cost of business goes up. Get over it. $350/year is still cheap for what SmugMug offers. For a business an expense of $350/year is cheap. That is about $30/year. I know you pay more for Internet and your cell phone. So get over it guys.

  59. why not roll out the price increase over the next 3 years, as you said you should have done the last 3, after all you have a cash cushion and how much of a cash cushion do you really need hmm? Do this for existing customers. News customers give them a 6 month intro price set storage which will automagically go to the new plans after 6 months (just like the cable companies do). Then evaluate on a bi-annual basis and adjust accordingly. Soft blow for you loyal customers who made the service what it is today, and still a good deal for those who start out knowing the full cost of doing business with ya.

    btw: Former customer here. Moving to greener pastures. Sorry, can’t afford it.

    also just a fyi since I work as a QA Engineer (funny enough, I applied when I was laid off to you and never heard anything after multiple attempts, guess that circle bin only saw my resume) No engineering team in their right minds releases on a Friday! Why? Because if there is a problem either there is no one around to fix the solution, or everyone has to come in on the weekends to fix the issue(s) and then you’re just taking advantage of your workforce, not to mention killing morale. People need to recharge after a long work week especially engineers who work typically 10hr days. Monday-Thursday is the days for release.

    Also I’m pretty sure the whole news release was put out on Friday WAS to hope people wouldn’t notice, regardless of direct emails or what not, especially considering the long weekend. This is pretty much common practice in washington and pr agency’s for releasing bad news. Bad news = friday afternoon. If it wasn’t, which I can’t believe you’re that naive, then you’re being advised by poor thinkers.

    my two cents…

  60. i think the price increase is good, I was amazed for what they charged because i have more features than I did with the other company I had my website with, and I was paying 30 dls a month with no features like Smugmug has.

  61. The bottom line is it’s only a win-win for smugmug. Your going to loose customers, which means less storage space for your accounting department to pay for. Your heros will have less work to do so you will ultimately improve your bottom line with less payroll. And on top of that you get to double your profits with the increase to the customers who actuly stay.

    My biggest complaint all along has been lack of marketing to help me as a customer sell photos. You can find my photos at please take a look. I don’t consider myself a professional photographer however feel my photos are pretty good. I hardly sell anything and can’t justify the increase. Now I realize it’s mostly my responsibility to market myself, but how about a little help.

    Needless to say I have determined if I don’t sell double what the price increase is (meaning $500) by the time my renewal is up in April next year I will be leaving and assisting to the win for smugmug.

    My question to smugmug what are you going to do for me and many other customers like me to keep our business?

    1. Brad. Your math is off a bit. If SM were to lose 1/3 of their customers due to the price increase and a portion of what was left were to stay with the portfolio option, that would leave them with less money than they are making now with keeping the prices the same. Just my two cents.

  62. I have read about half of the comments. My reaction is “what is wrong with these complainers?” If you are in the “basic” category, the price is cheap for the quality and back-up. If you are in the “business” category, in my opinion, $300 is a very low price for what you get. You can sell a few photos to pay for the service and this is “sooo” cheap compared to hiring someone to write software for you. Of course you can go to competitors, but who would want to when you compare the quality of the site and the engineering, especially the upload capabilities.

    Congratulations to Smugmug for creating such a fantastic company. Let the complainers go away and find another alternative. Meanwhile, continue to provide new features. My own personal request is that I would love it if you let us talk on the phone to your support staff. I know that this is expensive, but I would pay extra for that service.

    1. I’m willing to bet that the “complainers” as you call them make up a huge chunk of SM’s business.

      The new features to which you refer have traditionally taken SM years to roll out.

      This price increase may be well received by you; however, it could spell the demise of SM.

      1. Depending on how you price your photos and how much effort you put into getting customers to go to your smugmug site, I would think most photographers (if they are good) could sell 5 to 10 photos per year and this would pay the $300… so if that happens, the site is free to this customer.

        I am curious if people are actually selling their photos through smugmug. If not, they should go back to the basic membership, just to have a nice place to display their work and off-site back-up.

        Customers, who do not sell their photos on smugmug, should drop the “business” membership and go to the “basic.”

        I guess why I think complaining about $300 doesn’t make sense to me is because most photographers whom I know spend thoursands of dollars on cameras, lens, bags, straps, ipads etc., but complain about spending $300 per year on a very sophisticated web-site which they can customize.

        To set up a gallery exhibit is expensive when you have to print your photos and frame them. Most art shows charge for a booth. Publishing books is expensive. I still think $300 is a bargain if a photographer wants to sell on the internet.

  63. I like many really like smugmug but have not sold enough pictures to justify that kind of price increase so as of Oct 2 I will be leaving your site!!! Im leaving very unhappy but wish nothing but the best for you!!!

  64. The undeniable bottom line, whichever way you rationalize it to yourself, is plain and simple customer abuse. Accept it, make your decision to stay or go, so be it, you decide for yourself. For the apologist amongst you, damn I wish you where my customers, we could have great fun together…….Caveat Emptor.

  65. Well, they gave their answers to some of the most popular questions. And I don’t like those answers. This was an engineering project? Announcing a price increase? I have never ever heard of a price increase framed like that, ridiculous. What kind of engineering was required to create the announcement? Was it done in Java? C++? Fortran? COBOL? What ?? Wow !

    They haven’t figured out how else to do this? If your mind is closed I can agree with that. You’ve heard the answer, offer unlimited storage plans and ones with tiers and let your clients vote with their wallets. Don’t lump us all together, but that’s what’s easiest for you to do, not the smartest thing.

    Can’t talk about new features coming? Either they’re playing the game like Apple, who’s earned some trust (but not complete) to do that or it’s total crap. I think it’s crap. That means you don’t have a plan, you don’t know what’s going on, you’re spit-balling your engineering efforts instead of using a structured and methodical approach.

    This is not a company that I’m comfortable doing business with anymore, this is a company who’s management I don’t think is up to the task. If they survive, great for those that stay. I don’t want to place that bet. ZenFolio is my # 1 option now, even though I renew before the increase goes into effect. Adios. Oh, yeah, you don’t really care, never mind…

  66. I loved your service but with this change you no longer have a plan that meets my needs so I moved to a competitor. I used, at my maximum, 800gb of space. I don’t need unlimited storage and don’t feel that I should have to subsidize those that do. I do need to be able to set my own prices which is the only reason portfolio doesn’t work for me. I need more than the portfolio plan offers and much less than the Pro plan offers. I’ve signed up with a competitor that I’m happy with but would consider switching back if there were a place for me at SmugMug.

    1. Do you mean 800Mb? 800Gb would be a lot! Otherwise I’m in the same boat and definitely switching when my year subscription is up.

  67. Increasing storage costs: An alternative solution nobody seems to have raised is to tier your storage. You don’t need to put everything “live”. Some people use large quantities of storage because the images are a backup. So it is not something they need immediate access to. You could create a category of albums called “archives” which are inexpensive but slower to access. This could ride off Amazon’s new Glacier service which allows very inexpensive bulk storage. Or you could just store them on hard disks in-house. So people could put their most important images on your expensive storage (maybe with a quota based on account type), leaving the remainder in “archive” form as a just-in-case backup.

    This will solve your storage cost problems without really affecting the quality and level of service.

    As a long-time smugmug customer and one who has recommended many others to sign up, I am disappointed with the way this has all worked out. I hope you will consider this and other more imaginative solutions

  68. Ok for anyone who hasn’t seen it I’m going to add a little more fuel to the fire! This will be my last post because I’m fed up with the inconsistencies of why the prices are going up.

    Does anyone else see an issue on smugmug’s facebook page just a little down from the top of the page Smugmug is promoting their fancy lunch room? You are doubling your prices so maybe promoting your lunchroom with “BLING” is not a good decision! I have never worked anywhere that has as nice a “lunchroom” maybe shame on me, however you are obviously not struggling so bad that you need to double prices! This is a bad economy, how much did all that “BLING” cost us the smugmug customers?

    1. YES! You can see the real reasons for the cost increase there. They are a Mountain View, CA based company trying to create a work environment like Google or something. Most people can’t afford to live or operate a business in California for a reason. Their extravagant office is patently offensive to the users they are clearly disconnected from. I can imagine Baldy playing the violin right about now (a la Nero).

      I can’t believe that 1yr ago don’t have to be Amazon S3 cloud hosted. Just really crazy planning on their part. The audacity of how they are spinning this is doing WAY more damage to their cause, I think. So many good ideas in these threads that would fairly balance the load and costs. Will SM listen? Judging by the office space, I doubt it.

  69. Dear Smugmug,

    I have been with you for years now, and kept the pro account even though my sales have been nearly nothing. While I love Bay for their great photo quality, I can find alternatives closer to home. Watermarks too, are not worth $90, so I will be downgrading to power and you will have screwed yourself out of $90. You’ll see many others like me, since not all your pros use your site for sales.

  70. My only real comment is this. You have encouraged us to overload you with storage.

    As a “free service” it’s appreciated. Double our rates over it, no thanks.

    I’d rather flag about 9/10s for near-line storage (ie: only retrieve if my hard disk fails) than pay double.

  71. Smugmug has the right to increase their prices, just like any photographer has the right to increase their prices … that said I will be shopping around to see what else is out there, everybody needs to keep their cost down!

  72. I do like Smug and do have a pro account and I have not used it for what it is worth. My plans have been to make it my my main online site for albums I shoot for others. I do have my own web site and was doing online sales at it but the cost of all the processing and shipping and the time messing with the orders what a pain. Was and still am intending to move all the online sales to smug. But I do have a couple questions #1 Since they are storing our pictures in multiple locations what is the possibility that we can recover our photo’s in the event that smug should ever close? #2 How safe are our pictures at smug if we lock them and send the link to a customer what are the odds of anyone else being able to see them?

    On another topic I do not want Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media tied in anyway to my smug account have already fought the battle of having a person coming in on facebook link and coping pictures. This was on another site not smug-mug. I shoot sports action shots as a hobby and nothing worse then to see crappy home prints of your pics showing up on e-bay.

    As for the price increase 7 years ago I was shooting with a DSLR that cost just over 500 dollars and some lens worth another grand had made the step from 35MM SLR . Today we are using camera bodies around 4 grand and another 10 grand or so in glass for them. The point I am making is 15 dollars more a month is not going to kill me. Just need to work with smug and the pro’s to get more out of my site.

  73. Ill be staying around the price raise is a small amount out of my pocket that smugmug is helping me with gaining more sales each month.

  74. For 250.00 a year I want better quality Camera straps 🙂 Seriously though, I don’t like the price increase or the promise of features, which most won’t use because the features we ask for take forever. Smart Galleries….took how many years to develop? I would like to see improvements on the back end…less css knowledge needed. Greeting cards took how long? Even then you had to use an outside service.
    Most of my photos are tied to others websites, etc. and to re-link would be a royal PITA.

    You have to ask yourself, is it work the time, etc. to move everything to a new company or pay the extra fees? I am sure others will up their prices too once people hop on board.

  75. I am posting not to complain but to give SmugMug feedback and a chance to keep my business. If not, then I will indeed choose to go elsewhere despite, of course, preferring to stay (inertia, etc.). What I still don’t understand is why there isn’t some sort of tiered pricing offered for storage limits. If “droves” of customers have expressed a desire for unlimited storage, let them pay for it. For those of us who don’t use a lot of storage, why not find a lower price point for us, even if some price increase is required to contribute toward the engineering costs mentioned. Of course it is SmugMug’s choice, but why not offer a lower priced tier with a storage cap and keep more business. I hope that option is being considered.

  76. When I first read the email notification and watched the video explanation I went straight to the blog. I wasn’t surprised to see a TON of disappointed people. I was one of them, I’m still a bit disappointed but I am coming to grips with the Price Hike. I look at it like this: I pay $80.00 a month for my cell phone service and I rarely use it for talking, $80 x 12 mo = $960 a year for something that earns me ZILCH. Smug Mug subscription is raising to $300 per year, this breaks down to $25 per month. $25 a month isn’t that much to run a website / business.

    Not to push people away but there are cheaper services out there, but you get what you pay for. I also sell my photos on Fine Art America, $35 per year, no customization, no pretty website, just an about me page and gallery pages. I like their service very much, some features a little more than Smug Mug. They have a Face Book app the puts a TAB on your Face Book Professional Page that allows Face Book users to purchase your work. They don’t print standard sizes, they print the aspect ratio of the image that is uploaded. They offer different print media, matting, framing. So if you just want to sell a few of your images look the other services up.

    I’ll likely stay with Smug Mug even with the price increase. I’ll also keep my FAA site as you can never have to many access points to your work.

    1. Well said, but my work is for charitable causes and I can’t justify such a huge price increase. Plus, they pulled a bait-and-switcj when they incouraged us to pull in ALL our Flickr galleries with a click of a button.

      Now they say they can’t handle the volume of uploads. Hmmm.

  77. Chris and Don,

    I was always taught that if you want to put out a fire you do it with water, not gasoline. Thank you for helping to solidify my choice. I could renew under the old price. I will instead be working to put my Zenfolio trial through it’s paces.

  78. I sent two email’s to customer service with a list of concerns about the cost increase. I got a “Form Letter” for a response. I’m very disappointed with how SmugMug has handled this. Shame on you.

    Listen to Frederick Van Johnsons TWIP podcast. The commentators can’t understand this unfair increase either.

  79. I agree with the comments that there are a lot of us that are in between the hobbyist and the pros. However, with this new pricing set up, smug (much as I love them) doesn’t have anything in between basic for free and you can’t sell on it and now the very expensive pro set up, which like Gabe, would put me from selling a little (very little) to being definitely in the negative after paying it. Like so many of us in the gray area, I am not sure what I will do. I love smug, but I don’t think I can swing that much extra. Maybe I will cut back to the basic account and just not sell from smug. I really think they should come up with a tiered solution and not just the two ends of the spectrum.

  80. I was astounded to discover on DGrin the other day users bragging about having 11-22 TB (terabytes!) of data uploaded. Yeah, for those guys $300 is a freaking STEAL!

    Clearly though, it is SmugMug’s intent to force the small-time / hobbyist to subsidize the data-hogs by charging $150(Portfolio) or $250-$300(Biz) knowing they’re only going to be using 50GB or less. (I use <10GB). Well, I am most certainly not going to do so!

    Here's what I am contemplating: Downgrade to $40 basic (hidden) and upload my whole 900GB archive, migrate my 10GB of sell-option photos to Zenflio for $120 a year.

    Sure I'll pay an extra $10 a year but I'll gain an off-site storage center. Smugmug will lose $110 a year from me while simultaneously increasing their storage 10X.

    A little passive-aggressive maybe, but maybe it'll force them to re-open their minds to the insanity of forcing a 10GB guy to subsidize storage costs of the 22TB guy.

    1. Please don’t do that! I am one of the hobbyists who will be driven out of Pro, but I still plan to use SmugMug as my display/sharing site because I think it’s great for that. Anyone who takes steps to harm SM is making it more likely that they will fold, forcing all of us to find a new option. (Plus, it’s kinda mean).

    2. This is a great idea!
      And for those worried about SM suddenly folding and losing everything you’ve stored, you need to realize that one online storage site is not enough. Something WILL go wrong if you depend on only one method for backup. Buy a physical external drive and don’t count on any other business to back up yours.

  81. This doesn’t make any sense to me, you want me to pay 2x as much for the feature (selling prints) that you get a commission off of ? i’m going to go to a lower package and do self fulfillment. Seems like a poorly thought out move to me.

  82. Smugmug has provided a great service to me these past six years – and I’ve had some very good sales over the yeas – i’m attributing that to allowing me to upload many images of events I take photos of, my customers being able to view big large images and make decisions about what images they want to buy – I’m sticking with Smugmug – not gonna take a chance on any other service – I see no reason to move.

    All you haters – move and on stop whining – I think there are alot more people threatening to move than will actually move.

    1. And you may be right. I don’t like the price increase, but as I look around for another service, I’m finding it’s inline with others at the same level.

  83. This whole episode has been a wake-up call to me that I am overpaying for both my personal and non-profit business account. Inertia and the “option value” of selling had kept us at the Pro level, even though Power is probably where we should have been all along.

    OK, so hobbyists and small business accounts like mine drop down to Power at renewal (silly to do it beforehand out of anger), taking our storage with us and just not planning to make money off prints. That costs SmugMug $90/account in revenue, with no change in overall storage levels.

    If 1 pro account upgrades to Business (+$100) for every Pro account that downgrades (-$90), they are better off, but only a little. Probably not worth all the agita.

    I know that serious pros are where the MacAskills’ hearts are. I just hope they’ve done the math and determined that the little guys aren’t actually the majority of their current Pro base.

    PS, do I have to exchange my camera strap for a non-pro version when I renew? 😉

  84. ZF – Everyone should keep in mind that next to SmugMug, Zenfolio is relatively new. They are at a place where SmugMug was several years ago. They can afford to be a little freewheeling and to buy business with cut rates. They will experience growing pains like this too, and then watch their prices rise right in line with SmugMug’s.

  85. Needless to say, as a brand new SmugMug customer earlier this summer I am disappointed. I chose SmugMug because I felt is was better than other options that I looked at and I paid a little more because I felt SmugMug was better. While I am not new to Photography, I am new to selling my photos. I have not even finished building my website and I have yet to sell a single photo and now I am confronted with a whopping price increase. I certainly understand the need for a price increase after not having one since 2005, but this is too much too fast. I will have to look at the other options again and make a decision on whether to stay with SmugMug.

    I have two questions:

    1. Since the price increase is largely related to providing unlimited storage, will Pro user be allow to store RAW or DNG files for the Standard $250/year price? i.e. we won’t need to pay for SmugVault as an extra service.

    2. I am an annual subscriber. Can I prepare for another year, even though my renewal date is not until summer of 2013?

  86. Thanks for the video, but I honestly didn’t buy any of it and I really don’t know how you people sleep at night. $150 per year was already expensive, certainly head and shoulders above all other photo hosting sites. I will not be renewing my business account with smugmug but will leave it active at the basic level in hopes that SOMEONE in your company realizes that it would be MUCH better to have a subset of accounts for hobbyists who don’t NEED 3 terabytes of storage per month, but who could use all of your other features. All you have done here is create a specific need for the THOUSANDS of smugmug users who will leave you en masse and look for a better alternative. And if we find one….we won’t be back.

  87. People, they have 7 Petabytes of photographs. You don’t just go down to Best Buy and pick up a few Lacies and daisy chain them. That type of storage with throughput requires dedicated storage, EMC, Netapp, and others. It’s not cheap.

    The folks at Smug Mug should publish their monthly bandwidth usage. Then you could take that number and start looking at hosting locations and see what they’d charge you for that amount of bandwidth use.

    Now put in on the internet and give the ability to upload and download fast. Now make it reliable and redundant, add to that things like the 20+ mp cameras and apps that will upload thousands of photos at the click of the button. I’m impressed they’ve hung on the last few years without an increase.

    I’m already at Photoshelter, one of the reasons I chose them over SM was the fact that I thought they charged more realistic prices than SM. Realistic in that I thought they’d be likely to cover their costs and keep them in business long term, which was an important consideration to me. I’m glad SM is raising prices if they need to.

  88. Unsatisfying video – was really hoping for a) just text and b) just meaningful text. You guys sound like politicians and I for one have had plenty of that already. “If you say it enough times, it will be true.” Sorry, but that isn’t working for you.

    a) no solution to pricing debacle
    b) no credible explanation / justification for 66%-100% increase
    c) dwelling on past 7 years – ya know, some of us haven’t been with SM 7 yrs and that history is not especially relevant.
    d) though storage keeps being offered as an issue, no plan solves the problem in a meaningful fair way – it is a broad stroke and arbitrary price increase. Customers are being penalized and asked to subsidize others’ extreme storage needs.
    e) charging for features before they are delivered or even announced – ridiculous
    f) the “engineering” of a price increase as a feature that is rolled out – late – wow – wow – wow – unreal.

    You may as well have simply said “tough $#!*, the price increase stands as is” and let it go at that – would have been much faster and honest.

    It is not so much about the money . It is the principle of it – a company that needs to nearly double their prices has some sort of problem – even if you are not willing to share it . You claim to be neither “in trouble nor getting rich” – so what gives? Cost of doing business has nearly doubled for you overnight as well? But you really didn’t say that did you, so what then?

    Our goal is to migrate away as soon as we can – as soon as current subscriptions expire. I just don’t care for the “spin” on these videos – like we’re being “handled” versus given frank answers that make sense. Now that I have had to look behind the curtain, I just don’t like the company anymore. I certainly hope one of the competitive services works well for us, as I would loathe staying with SM – you have lost my trust and I still have no idea what you are up to with this price increase.

    We can suck it up and pay another $100 or more if we have to – and we may indeed do that, but it will be to ZF or Pictage or someone else.

    1. “a company that needs to nearly double their prices has some sort of problem…”

      This is what worries me. I agree 100%. I like SmugMug. They have always been very helpful when I needed help with my site or a problem photo or anything really.

      My spidey business sense is telling me that something may be amiss in financeville.

  89. Joe DiBenedetto :
    Tuggnet, I joined Zenfolio and their customization tool is very limited. It gives you only very basic control. There is no custom css, javascript or html. It is difficult to make something that looks professional. Other than that they are pretty much the same service but Zen costs less.

    Joe DiBenedetto :
    Tuggnet, I joined Zenfolio and their customization tool is very limited. It gives you only very basic control. There is no custom css, javascript or html. It is difficult to make something that looks professional. Other than that they are pretty much the same service but Zen costs less.

    That’s good to know. I’ve been with smugmug for a long time, and they’ve treated me very well. Always there to help when I needed it. I’m not saying I’m going to change, but I will do my research. I have until April of next year.

  90. Joe DiBenedetto :
    Tuggnet, I joined Zenfolio and their customization tool is very limited. It gives you only very basic control. There is no custom css, javascript or html. It is difficult to make something that looks professional. Other than that they are pretty much the same service but Zen costs less.

    That’s good information to have. Thanks for letting me know. I’ve been with SmugMug for quite a while. I’m not saying I’ll change, but I will do my research. I have until next April. the $250 price point seems to be inline with others. I’ll just make sure I’m getting the best bang for my buck.

  91. Phillip :
    This doesn’t make any sense to me, you want me to pay 2x as much for the feature (selling prints) that you get a commission off of ? i’m going to go to a lower package and do self fulfillment. Seems like a poorly thought out move to me.

    Crystal clear on the absurdity of this – there’s just no making sense of what they are doing.

  92. I really don’t think my beef is with the fact that prices have gone up. It happens… BUT I do think the way it was presented STUNK. PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) could have sent you to a barnload of qualified consultants who could have helped smooth things over before the doo-doo ever hit the fans.

    My personal beef is that you seem to have a problem with the concept of talking to us directly – -on the telephone. There’s a LOT to be said about personal connections.

    When I have difficulties with my site, I honestly try to solve them on my own. Still . . . wading and waiting through a series of ongoing e-mails when a 3 to 5 minute conversation would have taken care o fthe problem is both inefficient and TOTALLY frustrating. Your chat tool has kicked me off as well, sending me back to the start. Perhaps phone support could be offered as a special service for your pros. With price SHOULD come some privilege. Don’t you think?

  93. The video and the interview with Frederick Van Johnson talked about the increase in storage costs, but they also talked about the cost of engineers. Smugmug went from 4 engineers to 40! Top IT talent in silcon valley is expensive. I still think $300 per year is a good deal and complainers should just go elsewhere. Hobbiests should go back to the basic membership.

    Smugmug customers who feel like they are getting value will stay and the rest will go. My guess is that a lot of analysis was done around the pricing decision and Smugmug is prepared to deal with fewer customers, who actually do a profitable business on the Smugmug website.

  94. Bye smugmug, already pointed my domain name to zenfolio. Much cheaper, much easier to use and customize. Luckily I was only using smugmug for secure client access for under a year.

  95. wjmcintosh :
    Thanks for the video, but I honestly didn’t buy any of it and I really don’t know how you people sleep at night. $150 per year was already expensive,

    I pay $150/yr just for web hosting on And they don’t sell anything for me and then cut me a check.

  96. Joe DiBenedetto :
    Tuggnet, I joined Zenfolio and their customization tool is very limited. It gives you only very basic control. There is no custom css, javascript or html. It is difficult to make something that looks professional. Other than that they are pretty much the same service but Zen costs less.

    Actually I’ve been playing with it this weekend and it has improved dramatically since the last time I tried (i.e. when I went to SM). Less than what I’m paying right now for the features that I use. Sold.

    1. This video is a pretty nice ZF customization tutorial:

      and this for custom pages and adding your own code if you like to:

      A lot of what I had to do on SM with little “widgets” of code can be done on ZF through the design interface.

      I do imagine that coding gives more granular customization, but many people do not want to have to code – and without it, the customization on SM is very limited. The appeal of one over the other will depend on the customer.

      I liked that I could tweak many fine points with code – what I hated was having to dig through all the random posts on Dgrin to find the code that worked. Some tips are well-organized and documented, but others are like finding a needle in a haystack. I cannot believe the average person enjoys that “feature” of SM. The documentation of the UI elements and properties could be much better – even then, coding the site, and maintaining that code is a chore.

  97. So their “heart aches” when they hear comments about leaving behind the “non-pros” who would like to sell a photo or two, but offered no alternative. Maybe I missed it. I can spend a lot less for just a “portfolio” site … a lot less. My goal was to sell a few images and reinvest in equipment.

    If storage costs and mega-pixel size increases are truly to “blame” for this increase (and I understand it) but I would suggest there are more appropriate pricing tiers for the various users of storage.

    I do not shoot video and have no plans too; therefore, maybe a creative solution is to offer a price point to non-video shooters.

    I am not particularly interested in a bunch of features that are confusing, difficult to navigate and buggy after release. I want features that insure when our customers visit the site to purchase an image – that it is simple process for even the “non-IT” person. Currently it is not.

    I was actually considering other alternatives to SM because the image ordering interface and process is far too cumbersome and “techie”‘; plus, if you are a parent or reside in a household who has a very limited knowledge of computers but see a image of their child they want to order – they cant – they don’t have the knowledge and SM processes are at their level of knowledge.

    SM needs to make sure their features and processes work to service all clients. I have lost numerous sales because of the lack of focus on the customer / client ordering experience.

    I also think the price increase is another way to separate the professionals from the serious amateur hobbyist. A “weeding out process”. SM absolutely knows the professional can better afford the price increase vs the part-time serious hobbyist. Professionals will generate more traffic and sales to SM than the serious amateur. To me – the price increase reflects less of an understanding regarding part-time hobbyist struggles to make a small profit and their real focus now it service the professional industry. That’s fine, just say it. Its reality and not a slam against the professionals (whom I have learned a lot from).

    But, conversely, in some ways SM is helping out the DWAC in the stands or the sidelines by offering great features and services that enhances their photography skills; therefore, reducing the need for a professional service to hire someone to capture images.

    The prices increase is just another example how the photography industry overall is changing and how increasing difficult it is for one to survive as photographer. Many do and thats awesome. Many don’t and thats sad .. and is where SM could help.

    While the response was “nice” and certainly warranted – did nothing to change my stance or feeling about SM. They may not be a slave to investors, but certainly aren’t as client and customer centric as I once thought they were. Bottom-line dollar always rules .. always will.

  98. SmugMug isn’t offering tiers because the mainly “light” users finance the few really “heavy” ones. The goal is to sell the unlimited feature and expect that most won’t consume heavily. Think of a buffet — they never sell by the plate. The truth is they waited seven years to raise prices — not because they were trying to help people out — but because it made business sense. They know that people get complacent. They set up shop and customize things exactly like they want them. They store thousands of photos over the years and have settings for tons of galleries. Even if they’ve never sold much they have evolved their store into something that works well for them. THEN, when they raise prices drastically, it hurts so much more to move. This is nothing like Netflix, which required very little time investment on the customer’s part.

    I’ve only been with SmugMug a few months and it hurts to move — but I am moving. Not to save money, but to something that fits my business better. Thanks to SmugMug’s price jump, I looked around a little harder. I don’t want to be around for the next jump.

  99. The fact is that photography no longer sells. Period. Nobody wants to buy your photographs as there are hundreds, no billions, of digital photographs on the Internets. Millions of photos spread all over the globe in every photo website.there is…including stock photography sites. I tried selling stock photography and my art photographs.. I finally gave up. Most people will go to their local “5&Dime” WallyWorld to buy their wall photos. SmugMug faces what all of us face that are in the “minor leagues” Photography just does not sell anymore. Disappointing for me as I love photography (as well as others), but I do not have a prestigious degree to add to more portfolio nor do I have marketing gurus to help me sell. And, local galleries, forget about it…It costs money to frame, etc.., and Nobody still buys your work! So, I have given up…and I have lost many, many dollars to boot over it. So, my advice, everyone, cut your losses now before it gets any worse. This is the same loss of market that photo journalism and regular Writing journalism.

    1. Photography sells big-time. But you need to be willing to take the sort of photos that sell well. Event photos, photos of kids, other photos of people. Millions of people have already taken great photos of Half Dome. Few have taken pictures of your kid playing soccer.

  100. I am a SM user for a couple of years, and had converted quite a number of friends over to this service. However, the handing of this issue by the SM management disappoints me alot.

    While we understand a need for price increase, what we taken issues with, are the way the issue is communicated, the HUGE amount of increase, and the response we got back from the mgmt.

    The personal impression I perceived, sadly is, “We need to increase the price drastically, live with it !! Else sorry, and goodbye!!”

    Doing a video to explain your position is WAY BETTER than a blog post.
    A blog post is cold, impersonal, and will alienate your users further.
    So instead of blaming Frederick to make you do this video, you should instead thank him!!

    Sadly, after watching the video, my faith in the SM mgmt hit rock bottom.
    The impression is that there is no room for any suggestions or negotiation.

    I work for an ISP, and do understand the cost / technical issues of a running distributed cloud storage. Although I agree that the cost of enterprise grade storage had not come down fast enough, consumer harddisk can be used, provided you provide sufficient redundancy, and backup.

    What I would suggest is
    1) Spread the increase over 2-3 yrs. It will make the bitter pill slightly easier to swallow.
    2) Different Tiered of Storage.
    Eg. Business package, can be allocated to the SAS storage, which has high IOPS, the basic package, can be allocated to the array, with normal consumer harddisk, which has lower IOPS. This may be difficult, as I believe SM outsource to EC2 for storage, but you may want to consider building your own cloud.

    3) Allocate each tier a generous data amount, then pay as you go when exceeded, with an maximum price cap. (Think of it as mobile data plans)

    Yes, I love the smugmug heroes, they done a superb work on support so far.
    But the mgmt need to do better in communication.

    Your users are your assets. Treasure & listen to them.
    If the users are pissed off, they leave in doves.
    What happened to a major domain registar, (G*D***y) is a very good example.

    Gmail has moved from an unlimited model to a pay as you go model successfully.
    SM may wish to study how they did it smoothly.

    Just my two cents.

  101. SM has slowly change everything on the look and feel to their EULA over the past five years I’ve been with them.

    – Now this is no longer a good option for pros as SM like to show their LOGOs everywhere they can. This is not very professional for us pro.

    – SM might have these big name photogs use them for presentations but if you really go to any of these big name photogs they don’t use SM as the main site. It’s called marketing.

    – Portfolio option or Business Option? I can go to other sites to do a portfolio (like WP). IMO I rarely sell photos through my site but it is a nice value but not worth the business pricing for me. I can easily sign up with these pro labs directly.

    – Since I renew prior to the October 15 deadline. I will have a year to decide and maybe start building my own personal website somewhere and pay someone $150yr or less.

    My only opinion is that SM is getting ready to go public and/or raising funds to increase it’s valuation to sell off to other investors.

    Get ready for ads and/or limits in the near future.

  102. I will just stay for another year and give them a chance, I would really like some “wow’ themes and layouts like flowing pictures, and so with this engineering investment SM told us, I will watch what comes out… but this time I will not be renewing next year if nothing substantial is presented to us, customers. I do not really need the selling option but I would like to have some wordpress kinda themes in SM, that is important because it is how one presents his work. I did take a look at Zenfolio, but on the stylising and theme side it is in fact just about the same thing, BUT they ARE cheaper than Smugmug now and so if it’s basically the same thing, I DO count on Smugmug to come up with some significant improvements on the theme side (just other colors and some nice background won’t be enough) so, I hope that they (SM) WILL make the price increase WORTHY, because if they distantiate themselves from the rest by being higher quality level then maybe customers who are leaving now will come back.
    I decided to give them the positive edge and see what happens next!

  103. Maybe I’m missing something, but so many SM supporters have talked about how many more great features they have over their competitors. I just don’t see it. Surely you’re not talking about the ready-made themes they stole from Geocities or only being able to upload JPGs… All they have that maybe nobody else does is unlimited storage (which it seems only a few of us need) and javascript customization (which we wouldn’t need if their pre-made themes were acceptable). I don’t get it. I definitely made a mistake signing up with them in the first place.

  104. Hobbyists tend to be the ones who tend to overshoot, spray and pray, and have poor selection abilities, with an “everything is a keeper” mentality. They have not yet discovered that 20 great images are far far better than 1000 images of varying quality.

    I know because I’m a hobbyist, and I went through that phase.

    The quality of photos between pros and skilled hobbyists do not vary much. What makes the difference is that pros are willing to put the time into the non-fun parts of photography, the parts that actually bring in money: dealing with clients, building better websites, making prints and packages, selling, advertising, and so on.

    1. G Andrews :
      Hobbyists tend to be the ones who tend to overshoot, spray and pray, and have poor selection abilities, with an “everything is a keeper” mentality. They have not yet discovered that 20 great images are far far better than 1000 images of varying quality.

      Please don’t make sweeping generalizations – everyone uses Smugmug in a different way. When I shoot an event – bar/restaurant opening, a concert, sporting event I shoot the people at the event. Now i’m not saying that every photo I take is wonderful, but each features different people and everyone (well almost everyone) wants to see their photo at that event. And people remember i took their photo, so they go looking for it. At a bar opening I may shoot 400 photos, at a three day sporting event a few thousand… and people do go look at their photos (which introduces them to and acts as a free advert for smugmug), and they do remember me when they see me at a different event and want their photo taken. I give the digital photos away with a custom watermark because i think it benefits my company to do so. I sell the very odd print, so smugmug is all expense to me. It’s the way the whole process has been handled (or not) that has me wondering about my continued use of smugmug.

  105. I was disappointed by the Chris and Don’s recent comments about non-commercial photographers. They seem to have said “wow, we are just like you and we know what you mean” but never really addressed the issue. WHAT ABOUT those of us with custom galleries, personal work that’s not used as a primary means of income for hobbyists?

    I can’t really change horses mid stream since my investment in customizing my gallery has been substantial and I would prefer not to start over somewhere else. I will stay at the lower price point… for now. But now I don’t trust them. I won’t invest in the major upgrade to my gallery I had planned. If I did, I would never know when they change their mind again about pricing or policies.

    I admire a company that has grown successful without VC money, it’s somewhat rare to do that these days. Sometimes having board of directors with smart money means you get wise folks to help you make decisions. I don’t believe this was a “wise” move, it appears to have been done out of desperation. And as I mentioned above, I’ve lost trust in my future with this company, with YOUR company Chris and Don if you are reading this.

    It’s a betrayal on one level, of your client’s trust in you to “do the right thing” which is hard when facing fiscal emergency status, which you claim is not the case. It shows poor planning. I counted on YOU to perpetuate my own investment in a wonderful place to host and show my work.

    Now that my trust is gone, I will hang around for a while, while I figure out what to do next.

    BTW, for me it’s not the money. It’s what you did, how you did it.

  106. I renew on Sept 19th for the old pricing and count myself lucky on that point alone. In the upcoming year I planned to be working my galleries into a backup plan of my own making, as well as looking for options. I say planned to, because I cannot access my site today. Thankfully I have not just been hit with a doubling of dues along with not being able to access my site, I may have gone on a rant campaign through EVERY social site and forum that exists. Really is screwed up that I am trying to access my site and cannot, even for the original cost. Of course there will be replies from apologists saying “well, they aren’t really down much” Blah blah, you tell me what happens when someone is trying to take a look at your work and cannot even access your site?

    1. Hi Tim,
      Really sorry that you aren’t able to access your site. You must have a custom domain name through GoDaddy. It’s them that is down, and accessing your SmugMug site via your SmugMug user name will work.

      GoDaddy is updating their Twitter feed.

      You’ll find plenty of news stories about the outage.

  107. I think from now on I’ll view the photo hosting sites like anything else I use when running my business. What do you do if a bank increases rates to more than you want to pay? You weigh up options and move. Same with utilities. This is no different.

    I think Smugmug is probably a great company and I believe they’d prefer not to do this – I mean, of course they knew what storm this would create. But it was a business decision to raise prices and it’s a business decision I have made to move all my photos. (All done, already).

    If the new host I use becomes more expensive or the features there are better elsewhere I may move again eventually. And it will be a business decision then too.

    Head not heart, right Chris & Don?

  108. Here’s my 2 cents.

    I’ve been a Smugmug user now for about a year. I signed up because it was highly recommended by many other people. I’ve always had a few issues with how SmugMug operates but the price was right and I do enjoy the customization. Having said that, here’s my issues:

    1. “SmugMug has great customer service”. While I am in no way aiming this at the folks who work in SM’s customer service, my only experience with them is when I would ask page customization questions and they would reply with something like “Go to DGrin and find the answer”. This always bothered me and is the opposite of what I would consider great customer service. I understand folks can’t be answering every question in regards to customization but SM has set up this feature so you either know how to do it already or you spend HOURS searching for the answer. SM needs to make customization easier for everyone who aren’t JAVA/CSS masters.

    2. Uploading photos is so. Painfully. Slow. Photos I upload to Facebook go faster that the upload screen on SmugMug and that’s sad.

    3. 15% cut of downloaded images. I almost shat myself when I discovered that of the $1200 my customer spent on her wedding photo downloads, approxamately $180 of it went to SmugMug for basically doing nothing. I have been looking elsewhere since then and then I got the infamous “Rate Increase Email”.

    I know ZenFolio isn’t as snazzy as SmugMug (nor does it have a lavish company lunchroom and charge 15% for digital downloads) but I’m about 90% sure I’m switching to ZenFolio and 100% done with SmugMug. I understand both sides of the argument and agree, we’re going to let the market decide on this one. I can’t continue paying for the compulsive storage habits of a few “Pros” who upload TBs of data, when I’m just starting out in the business and continually get less money from sales than I would with any other company out there.

  109. Hmm…

    Originally wrote a long response to this, but a brief thought, I’m concerned about the long term sustainability of SmugMug’s business model. Of greater concern is SmugMug’s approach to addressing this in the short term.

    I’m paid up till next year. I’m from the $99.95/year group. The new price represents incentive to consider alternatives.

  110. No problem with the price increase. If you are a pro and this bothers you… you need to look at doing something else for a living. If you are semi-pro and can’t cover the cost of your site, I’d take up another hobby.

    1. It’s always so entertaining when people talk in absolutes, no middle ground, no understanding, no options, no empathy. FD, raise your rates on your customers 67% and tell them to get lost if they don’t like it – I dare you. Heck raise your rates 200% and if they bitch tell them they’re too ugly to photograph anyways. Go ahead !

      1. Rick,

        After reading KR’s comments I just moved my account to zen.
        Transferred 3200 photos in about 30 minutes and closed my smug mug account.

        I’m never too proud to admit I was wrong.



  111. I think the worst thing is the fact you can’t trust this company any longer – well, I couldn’t anyway. This sort of radical change to my subscription is madness – I’ve only been a member for a few months and there’s absolutely no way I would have subscribed at the new cost – it’s quite an inconvenience having to re-do my galleries to host them back on my dedicated server but at least I hadn’t been on too long and put toooooo much time into this mistake.

  112. I’m a semi-pro photog who has been using smugmug for a couple of years, I don’t make really make money from sales, but it’s nice to have that option when the need arises by having a pro account.

    I also don’t have huge amounts of data stored on smugmugs servers, I only upload what’s needed, I use an offsite backup service that backs up everything.

    With that said, I’m one of those photogs that are caught in a situation where I can keep the same price point and lose the ability to set my own prices, or pay twice the money for the privilege of doing so. For me that’s just not worth it.

    The video above still doesn’t really answer the following question;
    If the big driving force behind the price increase was the cost of storage, why continue offering unlimited storage at the portfolio rate?

    1) You’re not making extra money to cover the storage costs for people who choose that option.
    2) Many people like myself are going to leave. We’re the folks that don’t make much if anything from sales and don’t use a large amount of storage. The people that will stay are likely those that use a large amount of storage and don’t care about sales. From an outsiders perspective the level of revenue lost will be greater than the saving on storage gain from those that leave.
    3) People that stay on the pro plan will subsidize storage costs the heavy storage users on the portfolio plan

    With those things in mind it seems to me that the price increase MAY just cover the increased storage costs but leave little left over for developing the forthcoming feature additions.

    What I really don’t understand however is this: That offsite backup I mentioned ( earlier costs me $59/yr for unlimited storage. I currently have 1.5TB (yes, 1.5 terabytes) backed up there. How on earth can they (and other offsite backup services that are similarly priced) offer that (using the same redundant storage solutions Smugmug uses), when Smugmug can’t afford to offer me the storage I need (9GB currently) and the ability to set prices for $150/year? It just doesn’t add up.

  113. Bottom line is this – as with anything else the value of the money spent is only measured by the person who is spending the money. I for one have no problem “sucking it up ” as some of you “pros” like to put it. By the way my personal option of your stance is that your a disgrace to our profession. You started somewhere, you worried about every penny at some time. Now your simply threatened by your old self, worried some of those “hobbyists” might threaten your livelihood. Your comment of suck it up speaks volumes to me as to your own business management skills. As a business person you don’t blindly “suck it up”, you analyze the change and determine if it is compatible with your business model. But I digress.

    I have no problem paying $300 dollars a year for a service that suites my needs. I have seen a few pointers to other services but have yet to see anyone actually justify the increase against another option charging similarly. I am no fanboy I championed Smug quite heavily and am making my move based purely on the feature for dollar value presented. To that end I would like to point out some points between the two and as they pertain to my model you will see why I will leave smug now and go to Zen.

    Assume top tier plans for both services.

    1. Customer Service – Orders and processing. (SMUG)
    as of now I have yet to need Zens customer service so this is a default win. I will say that my experience with Smug has been nothing short of exemplary and you should be proud of that.

    2. Customer Service – site customization (Zen)
    While the zen customization is not as deep as smug, the ability to customize to my needs to achieve a professional site is there. Their CS has been very helpful in explaining how things work and where to find them. As mentioned before Smug simply says see the dgrin forums. Even as a developer its not simple and it takes time, time is money. I would rather be editing or shooting then working on my site.

    3. Storage/Bandwidth (Draw)
    Both are unlimited in both areas, both use secure geo location distributed services I believe both are on Amazons S3

    4. Organizational model (ZEN)
    By a land slide the storage organizational model decoupled from the presentation side trumps the very rigid structure in smug

    5. Mobile Support (ZEN)
    The mobile experience on zenfolio is far superior as if the sites were designed with mobile in mind. Compared to that of smugmug where it is almost an afterthought.

    6. Integrated Blog (Zen)
    While both are not full blow blogs the Zenfolio implementation is the closest to an honest to goodness blog integrated into your site. Smugs use of a Journal formatted gallery is lacking significantly.

    7. Self fulfillment (Zen)
    Zen has it Smug doesnt – cant say much more there

    8. Brand removal for your site (Zen)
    Can be taken out everywhere on Zen and in most place with smug but not all

    9. Coupons (ZEN)
    Zen’s coupons are very similar to smug however they are much stronger due to the link to the way the photos are managed, able to be applied to any level of storage and not just a collection of galleries or the entire site. They also allow you to specify the products applied as well splitting prints/products, digital, and packages as well as other items into select-able options for the coupon.

    10. Gift Certs. (ZEN)
    They are separate from coupons at zen meaning you can use a gift cert and a coupon on the same transaction rather than as I was instructed to do – build a bunch of packages to apply a coupon like discount so a client can use a gift cert.

    11. Service fees (Zen)
    12% vs 15% and Zen only charges 8% on digital downloads, 0% on self fulfilled orders

    12. Profit payout (Smug)
    Bank transfers for free at smug, zen charges $3 for a check or you can get it free if you let them transfer thru paypal

    13. Post order, order management (ZEN)
    Having processed a couple orders through Zen they are light years ahead of smug. You can replace individual images (ie client buys 8×10 and wallets of same image you can replace just the wallets with a more appropriately cropped version without affecting the 8×10) you can also make changes to the order, adding overnight shipping or other products to the order as gifts without changing the client price. I could go on and on about this but its far and away the better cart.

    14. Gallery Management – expiration (ZEN)
    Self-expiring with automatic notifications to clients. Again saving time and effort on your part.

    15. Gallery Management – client access (ZEN)
    Built in client access pages for clients to enter a code to be taken to their gallery and nice names for gallery direct access in addition to password protection and visibility management options.

    16. Reporting (ZEN)
    hands down superior due to the wide array of reports and flexibility of time frames. I struggled with smug here, as the content was available you had to mine it

    17. Ordering process (ZEN)
    Overall I appreciate the ordering model in zen over smug. In additon the featured products option is a nice touch too.

    18. Social media integration (Zen)
    Pinterest, Twitter, google+, facebook all covered and implemented seamlessly.

    19. SEO integration (ZEN)
    A pronounced focus on SEO optimization with little tags on fields that affect your SEO score to remind you as your populating content to fill out certain fields.

    20. Price Lists (Zen)
    The price list management in zen is similar to smugs new price list feature but much much more intuitive and user friendly. I spent two hours with baldy on the new price lists at smug. was up and running at zen in minutes. But it goes deeper. Packages are part of the price lists not separate entities which is nice for me (you may disagree). You can apply order minimums per price list and some other little features that go a long way to making life easier for you.

    21. Site customization (Draw)
    I saved this for last because this is a touchy subject. If you are a code monkey as I am then smugs customization is really nice and very flexible. If your interested in getting a site polished and professional looking up quickly then zens is more your style. If I had to characterize them I would say Smug is very flexible and powerful but steep learning curve to get there. ZEN has some predefined templates that you can customize to your liking quickly and ahve a solid site up in minutes to a couple hours. You can also create whole new template theme if you so desire.

    So there you have it, I hope this helps anyone else trying to justify staying with a service that is so far behind the competition for the cost. At $150 smug was a no brainer as I could overlook the issues and limitations and really enjoyed the customer service they provided. However now, as a smart “pro”, I will not blindly go forth into the dark night. I simply looked at the competition, dollar for dollar and have decided that its a marter move to move to zen. A smart “pro” wont simply “suck it up” they will watch every penny like a hawk to improve their overall bottom line. As a matter of fact ever time I have to pay my reup fee I will evaluate the competition to decide if I am still spending my pesos wisely.

    For those of you that have lamented the volume of content you have in smug there are transfer services available for free to move your content from smug to zen. It was painless and took only a few hours to move 19gig ~6000+ files.

    Hope this helps those of you struggling with your decisions, I really hope that our smug friends look at this list and deploy some new features inline to move some of those zens to smug. As soon as the value is close I may go back simply because the service is so good but its not enough to keep me for now.

    Again I chose not because I was pissed over the amount. I think the amount is more than acceptable IF, and its a big IF, the services are commensurate with the cost. And thus I will not renew when its time.

    1. Excellent breakdown. If SmugMug had any brains, they’d look at this and make changes before the October 15th increase. It’s so incredibly obvious that they are pricing themselves out of the sweet spot in comparison to what they offer. Agree with you on the customization, it’s maddening.

      I was 90% sure in regards to moving to Zenfolio, now it’s about 99.9%.

    2. Thank you KR for clarifying all this about ZENFOLIO vs smug, now more than ever will be moving to the ZENFOLIO.
      Shame on you Smugmug.
      For years I defended and called friends to Join smugmug, as friends who left the Pictage for Smugmug. Now I just have to say, good lucky for those who remain behind!

  114. Just one comment : after listening to the interview on This Week in Photo, smugmug is happy to loose the little guy/gal photographer and keep the pro market photog. Just business nothing personal go about your business.

    1. I really do hope SmugMug is reading this thread now because there are indeed some interesting things in here. I would really like to see a schedule with upcoming improvements to smugmug AND what they are going to be… Just increasing the price so much without any “better value” and with the “are going to invest in engineering” doesn’t say a thing about WHAT IS TO COME… make our lives better… well a price increase of that level isn’t a really good way of showing it (without XTRA service for it), so please SM, tell us, what is up your sleeve for us? (I hope some easy way of customising the site that we can show of to our friends and then they should react like wow how did you do that? And we should be able to grin and answer, well SmugMug, not cheap but brilliant… (sorry was dreaming))
      Nog I get the feeling it’s just the old fashion thumbs left or so with an image on a colourful background, nothing very exciting…

  115. This whole thread is interesting. Other than the obnoxious folks who say things like “Well you should get a new hobby” or “Suck it up”, every comment on here is very valuable for SmugMug’s “Shot Callers” and should be considered before upping the price. I think from now until October 15th, they have an opportunity to listen to and implement some of the suggestions. They always talk about how awesome their subscribers are, if they really mean it, they’ll make changes (limited vs unlimited storage price tier would make me reconsider moving to Zenfolio).

    I really want to love SmugMug but unfortunately, the reason for upping the charge still doesn’t make sense to me. I can’t help but think that someone high up screwed up and now we’re all paying for it. I understand that cloud storage is expensive but it doesn’t explain the increase. Nor does saying “We’re going to put more money into engineering.” This thing reeks of incompetence and I’m sorry to say, I’m out.

  116. As a current Pro customer, I will not be upgrading to the business account unfortunately. SmugMug, it’s been great, but as an aspiring photographer that’s short on cash, and has little to no sales, I’m going to have to downgrade until I figure out what to do in the future. Please consider an option for a midrange business/portfolio membership. Cap the storage limits for us low bandwidth pro users at an acceptable level, which would encourage users to maintain their portfolio. Or maybe set quarterly limits on sales (5-10), and if they exceed, offer the option to upgrade to a full-on business plan or pay a larger percentage to SM for every sale over X (like a cell phone plan). Another idea, increase the percentage for all sales in the midrange plan – 20-25% of the profits? Some people would balk at the idea, but I’d rather pay for it more on the sales side of things. The people that use the more expensive services like e-commerce features would help pay for some of the fees for those transactions! You still make the little guy happy, while still making money from them in a subscription AND limited sales commissions. *sigh*

  117. HathaPhotography :
    This whole thread is interesting. Other than the obnoxious folks who say things like “Well you should get a new hobby”

    Sorry you’re offended.

    As I mentioned in another post… after reading KR’s detailed comparison between zen and smug, I moved to zen and closed my smug acct. I spent all day yesterday working on my new site and I have to say I’m pleased. Much easier to work with. I like the presentation better and i think it will be a better user experience.

    I’ve made decent money with smug, rarely used their support though, so that adds no value to me. The biggest problem for me has always been the interface…. for me it’s just wasn’t easy to work with… cumbersome so to speak…. when I first got the email on the price raise I though no big deal, but after reading KR’s email and actually thinking about my user experience with Smug, I made a pretty quick decision to move…

    Now back to my “obnoxious comment”. If you are a pro and can’t cover $300 per year for a web site… then really you should at least have another job. If you are semi like me and $300 is too much then in fact you should just post to picasa or something free cause it’s not money well spent, unless of course you derive other satisfaction from pay sites like smug mug.

  118. Price increase. Absolutely ridiculous.
    doubling the price.. definitely not just a “little increase”.
    You doubled your profit, I think if you are “doubling the profit for accounts then you shouldn’t be taking ANY % of markup!

    You are losing so many customers because of this. It actually will probably hurt you more than help you with that big bonus! By all the comments I have seen about 1 out of every 5 customers is angry, and dissatisfied.

  119. I completely understand why a lot of photographers are pissed because of this price increase, but I also undertand the need for Smugmug to increase their prices. it’s just business.

    I for one, will not be affected by this change. It’s never in business plan to sell photos and I use smugmug just purely for storage. Other than smugmug, I also have my own website, and zenfolio. It’s either I let smugmug go, or downgrade to portfolio.

  120. I don’t care if you increase your price;I’m sure your reasons are valid. However, I had a Pro account, and dropped down to Basic after your announcement, and now have an $81.00 credit. Why can I not have that amount refunded? You have my $81.00 that I can’t do anything with except to use towards more of your service which I no longer want. I can cancel my account, but was told I would just lose the $81.00.

    I emailed Scott Stanowski about it, and was basically told that the credit issued to me was done as a “courtesy”. He also said, “This is good towards renewal fees only, as in the past you would not have even received a credit to the account. So the only change made was in favor of the customer at this time.” So I should be grateful? I used to be such a big supporter of you guys, but not so much now. I hate the thought of losing money if I cancel my account, but I think the message it sends is worth it.

  121. I just auto-renewed a few weeks before the price increase was announced, so it means that I have about a year before the new prices kick in. But that may be a problem as I think I would now like to move my site somewhere else. If I move will I be refunded for the unused 11 months? I would really like to get refunded as an opt-out clause for the price increase.

  122. Well it’s decided. I’ve move my business website to another site and am downgrading my Smugmug account for the next year (have an existing blog that will take a while to update all the photo links) and then will terminate.

    This video crystallized my decision. The messages were clear, SM was tone deaf and was focused on themselves rather than the customer.

    As a serious hobbyist, I want many of the features of a business account, but don’t generate the revenue to make the increase worthwhile. I watched & listened to the initial fury. In several other forums there were more calm discussions and reasonable ideas proposed.

    I sat and waited for SM’s response. I assumed that the vocal ticked off customers represented a fraction of the customers that were feeling the same way. I expected that Smugmug would digest, understand and respond. If the response had been, “We’ve heard you. This wasn’t our greatest plan. You had some good suggestions. We’re going back to the drawing board & will get back to you.” I would have waited. If they had come up with something say a middle-ground, tiered plan, I would have paid the money & stayed.

    Instead listening to this response, they’ve gone all in on the current plan. The messages are really all about SM’s needs. SM seems to forget that the customer’s have needs too. From this I understood they don’t care about me. Well, I care about me & so I made my decision.

    A wise business man once told me. “The customer may be right. The customer may be wrong. But in the end, they are the customer. Without them you don’t have a business.”

    I hope SM’s analysis was well crafted and the reality matches their plan resulting in the benefits they hope to accrue. It just seems counter-intuitive. Sometimes “addition by subtraction” is a good plan. Sometimes it turns into “subtraction by subtraction”. Good Luck.

  123. KD :
    I just auto-renewed a few weeks before the price increase was announced, so it means that I have about a year before the new prices kick in. But that may be a problem as I think I would now like to move my site somewhere else. If I move will I be refunded for the unused 11 months? I would really like to get refunded as an opt-out clause for the price increase.

    KD – Regarding the refund, I was told “We can only refund your credit card within the first 30 days of your account renewal payment. This is due to the agreements of service that we have with the credit card companies.”

  124. How do I make sure Smugmug doesn’t automatically renew with the price hike? As you can see, I barely call customer service so that hasn’t been a draw for me. The price hike isn’t worth it. I’ve been a customer since before 2005. Smugmug used to feel like a small grass roots family site, now I can’t help think they just stick it to those who have been there from the beginning.

    I was considering uploading all 4+ terabytes of photos for online storage since Smugmug is “unlimited” but I’m just risking all that time and effort with another potential huge price hike. Who says they aren’t going to do it again? For the price hike, I could buy my own storage and host it offsite for backup.

    There are other competing sites that offer more value if I simply want to “resell” images or DIY with Square, etc.

    I used to enjoy the Smugmug letters saying, thank you for being a valued customer, we haven’t hiked up your grandfathered price. My iPhone has unlimited data with AT&T and they didn’t anticipate all the bandwidth these new apps would use with photos and videos so I would expect these types of letters from them, not from Smugmug.

  125. @Gary do you have any used visa debit cards? If not go get a $10 card and spend the money. Then use that visa number on your smugmug account. They just need a valid number. They will not know there is a zero balance until they try to renew your account.

  126. I’ll guess SmugMug is either in finical trouble or preparing for a sale. You don’t just wake up one day and say “hey, I’ve been forgetting to raise my prices. I’m going to do that today… $100 sounds like a good increase.”

  127. I’m shocked that with all the clearly brilliant people replying on here that $100 isn’t just pocket change for you.

  128. It is so incredible hearing so many so called “pros” crying for an $8 a month increase. Some even go as far as saying that their business cannot afford it. Wow. If your business cannot afford an $8 a month increase your problem is not Smugmug Pro but you as a businessman or Smugmug Pro wasn’t really the right tool for you. Yes, I much rather pat $150 a year, no doubt about it. And yes, $100 a year is not pocket change. But this is a business and business have costs. Boy, I pay twice as much a month in electricity for my business that I will pay for Smugmug Pro for a year. Just the cost of doing business. But I use to pay $1200 a year for a similar service and I did not get the same level of customer service, lab choices and customization and flexibility I get with Smugmug. So Smugmug Pro at $250 a year still the best deal in town for a wedding photographer. Smugmug pays by itself many times over over the year. Smugmug Pro makes me money. And with Smugmug I keep more money than with my old service. Now, let stop the bickering and lets move on to the new features.

    1. I have no problems with a company raising prices based on their reasons whatever they may be. As a consumer I have to see all my options and go with the best for the price. Example, a Gas station on my road to my studio just remodeled and put in a fancy electric vehicle station, and a bright canopy, but at the same time raised the prices to say $6/gal. Now a slightly decent gas station on the other side of the road is selling the gas at say $3/gal, I am going to make the extra effort to go across the road. As I feel I am getting a better value. There may still be loyal customers who will fill their cars up with the $6 gas and love the remodeled station, but not me. We all make choices everyday. I am not saying Smugmug is wrong in raising their prices, maybe they had to, but I have a right to move my dollars to a company that serves me better for the future. The new company may do the same and raise their prices, who knows. Everyone will have their own reasons to quit/stay.

  129. They are removing the benefits that we as PRO Account, this is absurd!
    I accept the SmugMug was adding some new benefits, or new look, features and who would have wanted, should to pay more for it, but only those who were willing. Now increase the amount so that way is unacceptable.

    Time to move to ZENFOLIO.

  130. I just wanted to weigh in on the new SM camera app. I felt a little shocked that you’d put something like that out while your Pro customers were dealing with pressing issues with the site… Ironically one of them was mobile browsing of galleries. If that’s what our money paid for, what will more of our money pay for exactly? Another product your selling? I’ve lost trust in your company. Your graphical data was insulting to intelligent people… What it read was a huge yearly increase in profit. I’m super disenchanted by Smugmug after my experiences this year, and will be packing up shop.

    1. Okay, so I’m not happy with the price increase, but I have to say, Camera Awesome is one of the best apps I have on my iPhone.

  131. David Medina :
    It is so incredible hearing so many so called “pros” crying for an $8 a month increase. Some even go as far as saying that their business cannot afford it. Wow.

    Why pay for something that’s not worth it? Are you on something mate? I have to work to earn money – the service was just about worth the money to me, but now not at all. It’s $10 a month to me(was), not $8 – talk in years if you mean an annual sub.

    Someone asked me today where my galleries had gone – I told them the tale and they said they were looking to start an account after seeing my galleries, but now wouldn’t bother. I accidentally stopped someone subscribing – I feel reet bad about it.

    If this company were a person walking down the street, I’d feel like shouting some obscene stuff at them and speeding away with a feeling of ‘win’ about me. I’m not really that bothered, I just think they are wankers the lot of them.

    adj smugger, smuggest
    1. excessively self-satisfied or complacent

    The warning signs were there all along – lol.

  132. if anyone’s interested (please reply yes) we’re planning on a comparison between Smug, PhotoDeck, and Zenfolio. Please reply with any specific requests. Timeframe will be over the coming 3 or so weeks. It will be similar to KR’s excellent post above, but we’ll probably put it in a spreadsheet and upload to a public dropbox.

    1. Here are my requests:

      ## geotagging supported? which map? max number of pics per map?

      ## upload stability from remote continents like…uh…Europe

      ## video codec details

      ## any automatic picture improvements (selectable) during upload? quality of these?

      ## quality of password protection

      ## who is behind these brands? why is it impossible to get ANY information about such a comparatively big player like ZF? no wikipedia, the ‘about’ on their site is totally pointless, like a random default marketing dummy with some buzzwords.

  133. I agree with many others on here. I am a small-time portrait photographer. I feel more complete with my camera in hand and am very passionate about all of my photo shoots. However, I only shoot outdoors and certain seasons work better than others (I live in Wisconsin), plus I still have young children at home so my time as a photographer is limited. I do not make thousands of dollars a year and could use an option between portfolio and business. $250 is a lot of money and there are some other options out there that are still quite a bit less than that. I have been with SmugMug a long time and I love them, but I am in a position where I may have to leave and find something with a middle option.

    So Sorry, smuggies!

  134. I am also one of the small time photographers, somewhere between pro and hobbyist. I don’t upload a lot of photos (just the occasional event set and portfolio piece) but do need the ability to set my own prices. I had a decent photography business but the recession hit me very hard. Despite these circumstances I kept my Smugmug account because I had hope of reviving my business and the price was (just barely) tolerable.

    This price increase is hard for me to justify when I was on the edge already. People are saying it’s only 8.33 a month extra. But actually, if I drop my account it’s an extra $30 a month that I can add back into my household budget. That may not be a lot to some but it’s a weeks worth of food to me. I am definitely reconsidering my Smugmug account. I really liked you guys. Thanks for the service. Good luck with your business. I know this is probably the last straw for mine.

  135. I joined less than a year ago on recommendation of my favorite photo podcast, and now, before selling a single photo or uploading more than a few 100 MB to get started with layout and to play with price lists, in other words, getting comfortable with my Pro account, you raise the price nearly 80%! Well, thanks but no thanks. Another semi- going to look elsewhere because you penalize me for the few big users. Just like the datacoms and their bandwidth caps. See ya!

  136. I’m happy to say that today I’ve closed my account on smugmug even if I still had several weeks of service.

    Raising the price form $100 to $250 is outrageous and I can only interpret it as you not wanting me here. I bitterly regret the time I’ve spent uploading and personalizing my website because I trusted in a company that don’t deserve any trust, be it on this site or at another business.

    Those that stay be aware that you are not immune to future unpredictable and random actions from the people owning smugmug, so I would be planning a plan B right now.

    I’m leaving and not regretting.

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