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Zenfolio offers a great all-in-one solution for photographers, with clever tools to help you display your photos, get booked for sessions, sell products, and receive payments. However, it’s not the most flexible website builder, and if you have a large image bank, you’ll probably require more storage space.
Zenfolio Has So Much to Offer, But a Few Issues Too
Zenfolio was born with a simple mission in mind – to give photographers an easy, all-in-one solution for displaying, sharing, and selling images online. This zeroed-in approach makes it a go-to website builder for many professional photographers, designers, and artists.
But is this just a case of clever marketing? Is Zenfolio really the best website builder for photographers? Or does it just offer a slim selection of tools that you could easily find elsewhere – perhaps for cheaper or with more features included?
Testing Zenfolio on everything from templates and ease of use to features and pricing, I discovered that it has a lot of potential. It has a good selection of baked-in features for photographers, including all-in-one solutions for getting bookings, selling, and creating client galleries, as well as some great photo organization and protection tools.
But the selection of templates is not the best – nor does Zenfolio offer the most flexible customization tools. Crucially, the storage on the lower-tier plans isn’t very generous either.
You can try Zenfolio for free for 14 days, but before you take the plunge on a paid plan, you might want to read on to discover whether this website builder is the right choice for you.
Zenfolio’s Designs Look Good – All 11 of Them
Zenfolio offers a grand total of 11 templates – most of which you can use for either single-page or multi-page sites – and 8 preset gallery layouts. For the most part, they are well-designed, with tasteful color combinations, clean lines, and animations that enhance (rather than distract from) your photos.
This lack of variety is emphasized because the Zenfolio point-and-click editor only provides relatively basic tools for customizing your templates. You’ll see what I mean in a minute.
Still, the fact remains that these templates look good and have the advantage of being explicitly designed with photography in mind. You can rest assured that your photos are in safe hands here.
Designed by Photographers, for Photographers – And It Shows
Zenfolio wouldn’t be doing its job if it didn’t come with plenty of useful tools for photographers baked-in. Alongside standard features you’d expect from a photography website builder, like photo storage, display, and security tools, social media integrations, and plenty of sharing options, Zenfolio comes with a few pleasant surprises.
You’d expect any photography website builder to have photo upload and management tools. But Zenfolio takes it to the next level with a whole variety of useful, well-thought-out features to help you keep your work organized – and even maximize sales.
From your Zenfolio dashboard, you can upload and organize your photos and videos (you get up to 1TB storage, depending on which Zenfolio plan you choose), create new galleries, add tags to photos, and set permissions:
Galleries: You can set up new galleries by genre, theme, or event.
Permissions: You have full control over who gets to see what’s on your website. For instance, you can create open galleries to entice new customers and showcase your work, and password-protected galleries for customers to proof and order. Clients can even add comments to individual photos.
Tags: You can easily organize your work using tags, which let you search for specific image types and even create new galleries containing only certain types of images.
Watermarks: This easy-to-use tool lets you add custom, protective watermarks to all your photos.
People filter: Using face recognition, the People Filter tool lets you sort through all of your photos looking for specific people – great for weddings and events.
Control downloads: You can set downloads on and off for different galleries or even individual images, as well as restrict sizes for free and prepaid downloads.
You can also track client gallery interactions from your Zenfolio dashboard – seeing which photos are client favorites, monitor sharing, and enable proofing and downloading. It’s a great way to step up your business practices and profit from your popular photos.
Rather than just helping display and manage your photos, Zenfolio helps you sell them with a selection of integrated e-commerce tools and partnerships with print labs around the world. Just keep in mind that you need to have a PortfolioPlus or ProSuite plan to get access to e-commerce tools.
Once your online store is set up, Zenfolio’s system takes care of managing orders and collecting payments, while the partner lab handles the order fulfillment and ships directly to your client. All you have to do is focus on getting gigs and taking great pics.
That is, so long as you don’t mind paying a service fee of 9.9% on sales for order processing.
Not only can you sell digital and print images, but also more than 100 photo products, including gifts like canvas prints and wall art. That said, your options will depend on which partner print labs are operating in your area. In mine, for instance, the variety was limited.
You can create your own price list or use Zenfolio’s suggested pricing structure, based on what other photography businesses are charging for the same kinds of shoots.
To help grow your business, Zenfolio also offers a range of marketing tools, including email sign-up blocks to help grow your marketing list, email templates for creating killer campaigns, coupons, and social media integrations.
Another of Zenfolio’s standout tools is the BookMe integration. Designed by photographers, BookMe automates booking, scheduling, gallery creation, and even commerce for professional photographers – saving you up to 40 hours a month.
You can add BookMe to your website to automate a number of functions:
Booking and payments: BookMe syncs with your calendar to show your availability, session types, and packages. Clients can book and pay for everything instantly.
Client galleries: When a client books a package, BookMe automatically creates a client gallery, ready to upload their photos. After the shoot, the client can log in, and proof and select photos to order.
Fulfillment: When a client makes an order, BookMe instantly redeems, processes, and dropships the products to the client’s door, without you having to lift a finger.
You can alter the BookMe widget’s brand and colors and add it to any website. The easy user interface works well on all devices so that clients can book packages with you on their computers or mobile phones.
Zenfolio offers easy uploading from Adobe Lightroom Classic via the Lightroom plugin. Once downloaded, you can use this plugin to upload photos to your Zenfolio account directly from Lightroom on your computer, streamlining your edit and upload processes.
Even better, if you make any additional edits on Lightroom to photos you’ve already uploaded, you can publish these changes, and they will sync automatically on your Zenfolio website.
Ease of use
So Easy It’s a Beginner’s Dream
I really can’t fault Zenfolio on ease of use. It perseveres every step of the way to make things as easy as possible for you, the photographer. Every aspect of creating your website is quick and simple, even for someone with no prior website building experience.
After you sign up for the free trial, the setup wizard helps you build an outline of your website by choosing a template and then adding images to your first gallery.
You’re then taken to the Zenfolio dashboard, where you control every element of your site. A quick tour gives you an overview of how everything works. Overall, this introduction left me feeling confident I knew what I was doing.
Good to know: Zenfolio separates your site content between “Galleries” – where you upload and sort photos and choose how to display them – and “Website builder” – where you customize the overall look of your site and add other pages. Simple enough, but it can take some getting used to.
This feeling of ease and confidence continues as you start customizing your site. When you load up the website builder, you are greeted with a short introductory video – no getting lost here!
The point-and-click editor is relatively simplistic. There are enough tools to customize your website adequately, but you’re never going to get lost in all these features – this isn’t Wix.
Rather than endlessly tweaking individual elements, the design aspect is more about making site-wide changes. So you can pick a background color, an accent color, a font pairing, a button style, and then rearrange and reorder elements.
I felt I could do enough to make my site look like my own, but given the limited overall number of templates, it’s not going to be radically different from all the other Zenfolio websites out there.
As you’d expect from a website builder for photographers, Zenfolio makes it super simple to create new galleries, organize your work, and set permissions.
From the “Galleries” tab in your dashboard, you can see and manage the galleries you have created and edit gallery presets – which are settings you can apply to all galleries automatically. There’s also a useful graphic at the bottom that tells you how much storage you have left.
Adding new folders (which is how you store photos on Zenfolio) or galleries (how they display on your website) is as simple as clicking a few buttons. Should anything be unclear, Zenfolio adds little explainers (hover over the ? to see more).
Once your photos are uploaded, more pop-ups explain the process of giving access to clients and guests, and creating collections. It really couldn’t be more simple.
Setting Up E-commerce
Getting your photography shop set up is – you guessed it – easy. There’s a handy three-step list to guide you through the whole process.
First, you need to create a price list. You can create multiple ones for different shoot types. If you’re not sure, Zenfolio can auto-fill your price list based on what other photographers are charging for similar shoot types and products.
Otherwise, you can fill in your price list from scratch. The automated options will create prices for packages and individual products.
You can then assign your price lists to different galleries. For instance, you may want to link your “Portraits” price list to that family photo shoot you did the other week and your “Weddings” price list to the wedding the week before.
Finally, you can connect to Stripe to ensure you get paid. It’s as simple as a few clicks, and then you’re open for business.
Zenfolio’s “Award-Winning” Support Is Helpful, But Not Always There
Zenfolio describes its customer support as “award-winning,” so I expected great things when reaching out to them. The result was so-and-so.
On top of the how-to videos scattered across the Zenfolio interface, there are several different avenues of support, including live chat, email support, and a range of self-help resources.
Agents are available 24/7, in theory, but the live chat is only “live” between the hours of 6am and 6pm, Pacific Time. Any time outside of that window, you submit an email ticket and have to wait for a reply.
I’m not on Pacific Time, so when I loaded up the chat screen to fire off a query, all agents were offline. I sent off my email anyway, not expecting a speedy response. A good six hours later, I received a helpful response (with a useful screenshot) resolving my query.
This isn’t what I’d call a 24/7 service (what if I was having a midnight emergency?), but in the interests of fairness, I decided to hang around a bit to see how responsive the live chat was during the online time window.
At 8.06am PT exactly, I fired off a message about bulk-importing my website content. Less than 1 second later, an agent called Stephanie was writing me a friendly and helpful reply.
I tried again an hour or so later and received a response within 30 seconds. When they’re online, they seem to be pretty on the ball.
My verdict? If you’re on Pacific Time, you’ll most likely have quick and reliable support whenever you need it. Those living elsewhere in the world will have to contend with longer wait times. It’s not ideal – especially in emergency situations – but it’s not bad.
No Free Plan, but Competitive Prices
Rather than a free plan, Zenfolio offers a 14-day free trial and three competitively-priced paid plans: Portfolio, PortfolioPlus, and ProSuite. The main differences between the three are the amount of photo storage offered and the e-commerce tools
Note that these plans are currently available in the US and the UK only. If you’re based elsewhere in the world, you might find that the plans differ slightly in the names and features included.
The cheapest Portfolio plan comes with 15GB of photo storage (the maximum file size for individual photos across all three plans is 100MB). You get access to all basic tools like website templates, SEO tools, galleries and image finding, the People Filter, security, and social media integrations.
However, if you want to sell your work via Zenfolio, you’ll want to upgrade, as the Portfolio plan has no e-commerce features.
PortfolioPlus includes all of the above, 100GB storage, and some basic e-commerce tools, including prints ordering from OVI in various sizes and frames.
The highest-tier ProSuite plan ups the storage again to 1TB, gives you advance ordering capabilities with print labs, and lets you extend your product range by linking with additional labs. This is the plan for you if you want to make a thriving business from your photography, with a wide variety of product types.
If you want to use the BookMe tool, it comes free with the ProSuite plan. You have to pay extra to use it on the PortfolioPlus and Portfolio plans, making the ProSuite plan an obvious choice if you want to automate business activities.
Given the features on offer, Zenfolio’s prices seem remarkably reasonable. However, the major stumbling block is limited storage on all three plans.
SmugMug, for instance, offers fewer features on its lower-tier plans, but all of them come with unlimited storage.
It may be super easy to take out a subscription and get your Zenfolio website up and running, but cancelling your membership is not quite so simple. That’s because – unlike some website builders – Zenfolio doesn’t have a dedicated button for doing this buried in your account details.
Instead, you have to fire off an email to customer service so they can trigger the cancellation for you. Or you can find the Cancelling your account article in the support center and click the “Cancellation Request” button.
Note that Zenfolio only offers refunds on annual plans and only within 30 days of signing up or renewing your subscription. If you cancel a monthly subscription, you won’t get your money back. Make sure you cancel your third-party apps, too, and back up your content, as there’s no guarantee you can recover it after you go.
If you’ve only signed up for the free trial and have decided Zenfolio isn’t for you, there’s no need to worry as your free membership will automatically expire at the end of the 14 days. Once your trial ends, your account and photos will remain online for an additional 14 days before being deleted.
In many ways, Zenfolio is a great all-in-one solution for photographers. It provides neat templates to display your images in their best light, top-notch e-commerce and photo organization tools, and a handy app for automating bookings, payments, and client galleries.
However, it stumbles on customization tools – which could be more plentiful – and photo storage – which could be more generous. If you want a tool for getting booked and getting paid, this could be it, but if you want somewhere to store and display your photos in perpetuity, you might find they don’t look the way you want or that you end up running out of space.
Is Zenfolio a good website builder for photographers?Zenfolio is a great website builder for photographers, offering useful photo organization and management tools, well-designed website templates, and an all-in-one solution to help you automate bookings, client galleries, and payments.
However, its major drawback is that it doesn’t provide unlimited storage, so if you want to display a large number of high-quality images, you could soon run out of space. If you’re looking for unlimited storage, check out SmugMug instead.How do I log in to Zenfolio?Once you’ve created your Zenfolio account, navigate to the Zenfolio homepage and click the Log In button in the top right-hand corner. Enter your credentials, and it’ll take you to your Zenfolio dashboard. If you’ve forgotten your password, you can request to change it.Which Zenfolio plan should I choose?The right Zenfolio plan for you depends on what you want out of your photography website. The main difference between the three plans is how much storage they offer and whether they come with e-commerce tools.
If you want the full range of e-commerce tools, including partnerships with multiple print labs across the world, or the maximum amount of photo storage (1TB), you should opt for the top-tier plan. There are often sales or discounts available to make paid plans cheaper.Does Zenfolio have a free trial?Alongside its three paid plans, Zenfolio comes with a free 14-day trial. Once your trial is up, you can opt to subscribe to a paid plan or simply let it expire. If you decide to upgrade, there are usually lots of special offers you can take advantage of.Which is better for photographers, SmugMug or Zenfolio?SmugMug and Zenfolio both have pros and cons. While Zenfolio has some great all-in-one tools, including the BookMe integration that automates bookings, client galleries, and payments for photographers, it limits your storage space.
On the other hand, all SmugMug plans come with unlimited storage and a wider variety of photo products that you can sell to clients. Overall, SmugMug is my favorite option.
If you’re looking for something different, check how SmugMug and Zenfolio stack up against our other top website builders in 2022.
Abi has worked as a writer, editor, and content marketeer for more than five years. When not glued to her laptop, she whips up calorific baked goods, writes terrible short stories, and searches for new dogs to follow on Instagram.
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They get you with auto-renew
Created an account but hardly used it. A year later they auto-renew and I did not realize until I saw a transaction on my CC. Contacted them and they disabled auto-renew for next year but refused to give credit of $60 they just charged.
Very bad customer support. I will not recommend this site at all.
Simply put, Zenfolio gets in the way of doing business. The Chat Support plays games, will not give you straight answers, etc. Uploading is extremely slow and they are anything but intuitive to use. There must be a photo hosting business out there that understands that if you are successful, they will be successful, Zenfolio is NOT that kind of business.
I’ve been a customer of Zenfolio for several years and during most of that time, my web site has performed sluggishly, with photos and videos taking an age to load. If I was a first time visitor to the site, I would pass after 5 seconds. Fortunately, I am not a professional photographer, bit if my livelihood depended on it, I would starve. I made several complaints about performance and things improve for a few days, but then it goes back to rubbish. I pay several hundred euros a year for what, 90% of the time, is a really mediocre service. If you’re thinking about a serious web site, or even if you are not, move on.