Zenfolio began when four friends, all with backgrounds in tech and a love for photography, got together to launch an online platform for photographers to display, share, and sell their images with ease.
Zenfolio: Websites for Professional Photographers
Since Zenfolio’s launch in 2006, over 100,000 photographers around the world have used the service to build their websites and online stores, share their work, and manage their communications with their clients.
If you’re the owner of a photography-related small business, read on to see if Zenfolio is the website builder for you.
Find What You’re Looking For
Overview of What Zenfolio Offers
Like most other website builders, the first thing you do when setting up your website is choosing a template. Zenfolio offers about a dozen well-designed templates from which you can choose, and all have abundant space for you to showcase your work.
Because all of the work has been done for you, you can have a fully functional site in just minutes.
However, a website is more than just the template with your photos shown on the homepage. Here are some of Zenfolio’s other features:
Images and videos are large, but because you have unlimited uploads, you don’t have to decide what gets shared on your website and what doesn’t.
You are not limited to one or two but have the luxury of creating unlimited amounts of galleries. This is great for those with a diverse portfolio.
Easily create an unlimited number of galleries to share with your clients. You can secure access to each gallery, add custom watermarks to protect your copyrights, and enable the list functionality so that your clients can save their favorite images.
By default, all galleries are mobile-friendly, so your site looks good no matter what device your users are browsing on.
Grow Your Business with Marketing Tools
Zenfolio’s marketing tools help you get the word out about your business and your website. The following marketing features are at your disposal:
- You can ask visitors to sign-in or hint them to
- Capturing their contact information
- Take advantage of the pre-built email and marketing templates
- Create an SEO-optimized blog
- Launch marketing campaigns
- Free directory listing
- Social media sharing available
- Automated email marketing
- Coupons and discount certificates
Video above: Zenfolio has an active online community which includes tutorials and weekly live streams from their YouTube channel.
Custom Domain Support
Support for custom domain names is included, though you’re certainly welcome to use the free subdomain that comes with all Zenfolio accounts.
Zenfolio also offers a mobile app for iOS and Android so that you can manage your site on the go.
In-Depth: Website Features
In addition to the photo galleries, you get additional pages to round out your website. You can opt for built-in, pre-configured pages, or you can customize your own.
All website templates come with the following 10 built-in pages:
- Client Access
- Login or Register
You’re free to customize or delete any of these pages.
Custom Pages and Posts
Create a Blog to Grow Traffic
Zenfolio also comes with built-in support for blogging. You can easily create new posts, and if you already have an existing blog, you can import all of your old posts over to Zenfolio so that all of your content is in one place.
Finally, Zenfolio also offers robust features for file sharing, especially PDFs. This is useful for sharing things like contracts, agreements, and so on.
Social Media Integration
If you look at Zenfolio’s plan descriptions, you will see that its product comes with social media integration. Essentially, this means that you can share stuff to the following platforms with just one click:
Integrate with Google Analytics for Actionable Data
If you are interested in gathering information about your visitors’ behavior, what they are interested in, how much time they spend on various parts of your site, and so on, you can use Google Analytics for this.
Zenfolio ships with support for Google Analytics, so all you have to do is provide your Google tracking number. Zenfolio will take care of the rest, and within a day or so, your data will begin appearing in your Google dashboard.
Prints and Private Galleries
As you can probably tell, there is an emphasis on photography when it comes to Zenfolio.
If you want private galleries for the purpose of photo sharing that are accessible only to select users, you can do so (but note that this feature is one that comes only with the top-tier package). This allows you to share pictures only with only a select few, not everyone who navigates to your website.
Open New Revenue Streams with E-Commerce Tools
Zenfolio allows you to integrate your site with leading print labs so that your customers can purchase downloads of your files, custom image packages, physical copies of your images, or other customized items featuring your work.
Some of the customized items you can offer include albums and photobooks, stationary, photo gifts, and home decor items. During the checkout process, Zenfolio allows you to accept payments via PayPal or credit cards.
To help you manage your product pages, you can easily edit pre-filled price lists. You’ll also get support for coupons and gift certificates. You have full control over what you offer, and when your clients place orders, you can review and approve them if you’d like.
To help you with your accounting-related tasks, Zenfolio helps you track your sales and profits, as well as depositing your earnings to your bank accounts.
Zenfolio ships with a shopping cart that allows your customers to purchase:
- Digital copies of your media
- Physical goods with images printed on them (stationary, photo gifts, home decor)
- Printed copies of media you display
Customers, after selecting an image in which they are interested, will see all the information they need about the products they can purchase. The information, which can include things like price lists and sizing choices, displays in a design that mirrors the theme you chose for your site.
Note that Zenfolio does not handle the printing and creation of physical goods purchased — these services are provided by third-party partners.
Zenfolio partners with several labs when it comes to providing you (and your customers) with printed product, including photos, custom postage, and so on. These include:
- Mpix and Mpix Pro
- Zenfolio Photo Products US
Outside US Customers
For those living and working outside the US, you have the following options:
- One Vision Imaging
- Zenfolio Photo Products Europe
School and Sports Photographers
If you’re a school or sports photographer, you may want to check out the optional subscription plans that come with additional tools to help you manage and track a large number of photos and orders.
Getting Started and Managing Your Site
Getting started with Zenfolio is easy and takes just four steps. You simply provide your contact information, your areas of photography (for example, weddings or portraiture), select a template and upload a minimum of five images to populate your site. At this point, your site is fully functional, though of course, you’ll want to flesh it out.
To help you determine what you’ll need to do next, you can opt to book a free, 1-on-1 session to set up your site with a Zenfolio team member.
Management via Zenfolio’s Dashboard
Everything about your site can be managed within the Zenfolio dashboard, which is divided into four areas: photos, selling, website, and communications.
You can certainly access the more advanced features using the provided navigation bars, but the homepage of the dashboard has links to the features Zenfolio thinks you’ll be using most often.
If at any point, you need help, you can launch a Live Chat window to speak to a Zenfolio staff member.
Video above: Zenfolio has an active YouTube channel featuring tutorials, like this one on how to update your metadata in bulk.
Pricing and Billing
Zenfolio offers all new users a free, fourteen-day trial of their product. In the end, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid subscription, and there are currently three different plans from which you can choose.
The three plans under a brief comparison look like this:
|Features||Homepage and gallery templates
Unlimited photo and video uploads
Use your domain name
Social media integration
Drag and drop
24/7 Support all year
|Starter features along with:
Built-in cart with credit card and PayPal
Sell digital downloads online
Dedicated live chat
Photographer central listing
| Starter + Pro features long with:
Additional tools for marketing and production
Custom shipping methods
Dedicated phone support
The entry-level Starter option allows you to create a photography website in under an hour. You’ll get a homepage, gallery templates, and the ability to upload an unlimited number of photos and videos.
Custom Domains and Resources
You can easily integrate your site with all of your social media profiles, as well as use a custom domain name that you own. You can order print copies of your images, as well as custom gifts, at wholesale prices, and if you ever run into issues, you can take advantage of 24/7 support.
In terms of resource allocation, the Starter plan comes with:
- Unlimited storage
- 36 MB limit for images
- 2 GB or 2 minute limit for videos
- 2 GB limit for raw files
Do note, however, that the ability to brand your website is relatively limited at this level — this is in lieu of overt advertisements for Zenfolio.
Pro Option with Zenfolio
The mid-range Pro option (which is the most popular plan), gets you everything in the Starter plan. You’ll also get:
- Additional site customization options
- Custom watermarks
- Photo sharing
- Client proofing tools
- E-commerce features (such as a shopping cart and payment processing)
- Ability to sell digital downloads
- Commercial contracts with leading labs
- Ability to offer self-fulfilled products
- Custom packages
- Extended marketing tools
- Premium photo album service
The Pro option gets you a bump in limits for images — you can now upload files that are up to 64 MB in size. You will also get increased rights to brand your website as you see fit.
The most expensive Advanced plan is all-inclusive. In addition to the features that come with the two plans we described above, you’ll get support for:
- User accounts
- Mini-sites for events management
- Advanced e-commerce features
- Support for boutique packaging and promotional items
- Integration with Adobe Lightroom
- Dedicated Live Chat and phone support
If you’re a school or sports photographers, you’ll also get additional management features specific to your area of photography. The biggest perk to the Advanced plan is the addition of multi-user accounts, each of which can be assigned a different security level.
Regardless of which plan you choose, you can pay on a monthly basis, or you can pay upfront for an annual contract. Those opting for annual contracts receive discounts on their subscription fees.
Technical Support and Customer Service
Zenfolio prides itself on its industry-leading customer support.
To help you get up and running with Zenfolio, you can take advantage of a free 1-on-1 session with a team member to set up your site. While you can get started by yourself in just four easy steps, this session helps you further customize your site to maximize your conversion rates.
If you have questions for the Zenfolio team, you can get in touch 24/7 via:
- Live Chat
Additional Resources and Tools
As a subscriber to Zenfolio, you’ll get access to a host of additional resources and tools.
First, as a subscriber, you can take advantage of the partnerships Zenfolio has set up, getting you discounted or free services on products like Photographer’s Edit, Triple Scoop Music, Plywerk, Canon, ProShow WEb, Tether Tools, and more.
Second, Zenfolio offers a list of tools created by its partners that make the following tasks much easier:
- Photo transfers
- Photo uploads
- On-the-go account management
- Website Management
How Does Zenfolio Compare to Its Competitors?
If you are in the market for digital photography solutions aimed at professional photographers, SmugMug is probably on your radar. SmugMug is comparable to Zenfolio, and from our brief review of its product, it seems to offer more, be easier to use, and cost less.
Alternatively, you can build a website using Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, or even hosted WordPress. However, since these solutions are general ones, you will have to do a bit of legwork on your own to get the features you want (private galleries, galleries in general, product ordering, and so on).
If you own a photography business and you’re looking for a solid, industry-specific website building tool that includes everything you need to get up and running in no time, Zenfolio is a great option for you.
In addition to all of the features you expect from a typical website building tool, you get specialty features geared toward photographers, such as e-commerce tools, support for unlimited uploads and galleries, and the ability to secure access to parts of your webpage to facilitate client proofing and approvals.
By opting for Zenfolio over a traditional website builder, you can save yourself a bit of work when it comes time to implement the features you need for your business.