As a professional photographer, or someone who aspires to be, you likely already know a robust online presence is required if you want to land clients, sell your work, and build your business beyond local word of mouth.
Luckily, there are dozens of website builders that will allow even the less tech-savvy to get a beautiful site up in a single afternoon.
The downside? With all the choices, it’s hard to know which portfolio site to use for your photography business.
The best way to get started with researching your options is to ask yourself a series of questions:
- What’s your budget?
- What marketing features and functionality do you need? Online booking? Email signup forms? Payment forms for print sales?
- Do you plan to do content marketing as a form of lead generation and therefore need a blog?
- Will your website be your main marketing vehicle, or will it simply support the offline marketing you do? (If your site is meant to be your main marketing vehicle, be sure to choose a robust portfolio site builder that offers email, blogging, SEO, and other marketing functionality so you can generate leads and nurture potential clients.)
- How tech-savvy are you — beginner or more advanced?
- How much time do you have to spend on building your portfolio site?
- How much customization do you need?
- How complex is your current photography business — do you simply need a few basic features to get up and running or the whole nine yards because you’re established and ready to scale?
Once you’ve answered those questions, you’ll be able to choose the best portfolio site builder for your specific needs.
6 photography portfolio site builders to consider
Designed for photographers, PhotoShelter allows you to build a good-looking website where you can sell prints, back up photos, and do client proofing, among other photographer-specific features. PhotoShelter also includes cloud storage, and you’re not restricted by file size limitations the way you are with all-in-one website builders.
The downside? Currently there’s no email marketing functionality built in, so if that’s one of your must-haves, you’ll need to go with another site builder.
Plans start at $10 per month; if you want access to client proofing and more storage, you’ll need a more robust plan at $25 per month. If you require unlimited storage, that’ll set you back $45 per month.
SmugMug is a website builder geared specifically to photographers — amateur, enthusiast, and professional. Their two biggest advantages are their photography-specific features, including comprehensive security options, digital watermarks, and the Adobe Lightroom plug-in, and their monetization capability. You’ll be able to sell directly from your site the moment you set it up. You can create price lists for clients, sell prints and gifts, and even charge per photo download.
In the negative column, SmugMug doesn’t offer a built-in blogging option, you can’t use your own domain name unless you upgrade to the second-tier paid plan, and the template selection is fairly limited. All in all, SmugMug is not as versatile as Squarespace or Wix.
But if making your photos look great and having the ability to sell them are your two most important criteria, then SmugMug could be the right choice for you.
SmugMug offers a 14-day free trial, after which you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan. The Power plan is available for $13 per month, but you’ll be stuck with a SmugMug branded URL. Portfolio plan, which is $28 per month, allows you to sell digital downloads and framed prints. If you want to maximize profit by offering marketing promotions and utilize personalized pricing options for photos, the Pro plan is your best bet, for $45 per month.
Squarespace is an all-in-one website platform that offers lots of design options, multiple social integrations, and 24-7 customer support. You’ve likely seen some gorgeous photography sites that use Squarespace. It’s no surprise that Squarespace is considered one of the best options out there for professional photographers to showcase and sell their work.
Squarespace uses a WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) editor, meaning there’s no need to learn code. That said, there are several customization options, which creates a steeper learning curve, so Squarespace is a better option for those with more tech know-how.
The Personal plan start at $16 per month, with a free trial available. The Business plan is the most popular at $23 per month and offers advanced website analytics, fully integrated e-commerce functionality, the ability to sell unlimited products, and other robust features. The Basic Commerce plan costs $27 per month that offers tools to grow your business, and the Advanced Commerce plan costs $49 per month providing all the essential advanced functions.
Weebly’s advantages as a website builder are low cost and accessibility for beginners and the less tech-savvy. They don’t offer boatloads of template options, but what’s available is clean and polished.
While Weebly may not allow you to replicate the sophisticated look of a Squarespace site, if your tech skills are lacking, this might be your best option for quickly getting a site up so you can begin establishing an online presence for your photography business.
Weebly also offers built-in blogging tools, and if you upgrade to a premium plan, you’ll get advanced site statistics.
Weebly offers a free Basic Use plan, a Personal plan for $10 per month, a Professional plan for $12 a month and a Performance plan for $26 a month.
Like Squarespace, Wix is also a WYSIWYG site builder, making it simple to use. Its ease of use and budget-friendly cost makes Wix one of the best all-around site builders for photographers, especially when you factor in a few photographer-specific features the platform offers: online booking, email marketing, print sales, and client albums.
Wix is a great option for beginners because it’s considered one of the easiest platforms to get started on, and it offers a generous template library.
The Light plan is $16 per month; you can upgrade to a Core plan for $27 per month or the Business plan for $32 per month. There are also Business Elite and Enterprise plans available.
Zenfolio is another site builder created especially for photographers. The platform offers unlimited cloud storage, custom photo products, and the ability to sell prints online. Their website builder features an array of template options and even includes SEO tools.
Basic plans start at $4.50 per month with the Portfolio plan; at $11.25 per month, you get additional site customization options, photo sharing, client proofing, a built-in shopping cart with credit card and PayPal processing, and other key features to help your photography business thrive. There’s also a $22.50 per month ProSuite plan.
The six site builders here are just the tip of the iceberg. If you know the most important requirement for your portfolio site — pricing, ease-of-use, abundant features, marketing and social media integration, template selection, or all of the above — you’ll be able to review the available options and make the best choice according to your specific needs.
And if you love having a long list of options and you’ve got time for more research, here are a few other site builders to check out: