One of my most popular blog posts was my review of Smugmug vs 500px back in 2013. Back then Smugmug came out the winner but will it still hold it’s own today? Here’s an update on the review for 2017!
Free: The great thing about 500px is there’s still this free option, giving you 20 uploads per week and now the ability to sell your images in their marketplace, which wasn’t there 3 years ago.
Plus ($25 p/y): If you want unlimited uploads, statistics, google analytics
Awesome ($75 p/y): A big jump up with 3000GB storage, showcase your photos with a personalised portfolio and the ability to change the URL to your own custom domain
Awesome + Adobe ($200 p/y): A new addition since my last review gives you the Awesome account with a membership to the Adobe Photography Plan (Photoshop & Lightroom). However, currently the Adobe Photography Plan alone is $120, so you’ll save $5 if you buy it separately!
- The free option with no time limits
- Great looking portfolios and responsive design for mobile and tablets
- The Awesome account is pretty good value and the ability to have your own domain is very useful
- A big plus with 500px is the connection to the community. Like Instagram, once you upload your photos, you can get comments and feedback, ratings and statistics
- New! The ability to promote yourself and sell your work through the Marketplace. I was once contacted by 500px when a client was interested in one of my photos for Commercial use, but nothing came of this, but I’m sure other photographers are making some money here.
- A deal breaker for me: still no option to include videos
- I tested out the personalised portfolios and they are so slow to load on both desktop and mobile
- Not much customisation of the portfolios and not a great deal of template choices
- 500px controls the Marketplace pricing, so you have no flexibility pricing your own work
- No blog integration but can link to your blog on About Me page
- The app doesn’t let you display images offline
Basic ($40 p/y): unlimited uploads but no personal domain and less template options
Power ($60 p/y): huge variety of templates but no extra commerce options
Portfolio ($150 p/y): more commerce options and watermarking
Business ($300 p/y): the whole package with pro features for licensing your images
- A large selection of templates to choose from and almost endless customisation
- You can display your website under your own domain, so you can basically create a full portfolio website with Smugmug, displaying all your images and videos
- A huge variety of commerce options, so you can set your own prices
- Allows you to link and embed your images externally (the main advantage being able to show an image on an external website or blog and if people click on the photo it takes them to your Smugmug page where they can buy it)
- Multiple galleries with privacy options, allowing you to do a shoot and send the images privately to a client, with options to download the files
- New! Since my last review, they now have a Smugmug app that also allows you to display your images offline on your mobile device
- Still no free option, which might put a lot of people off
- No community like 500px has
- No blog integration but can link to your own blog on homepage
Not much has changed in the past three years since my last review. Pricing on both sites is the same and not too many new features have been added. 500px now has the Marketplace and Smugmug has their app.
If you’re a photographer and need a website and portfolio that’s backed up by a fantastic community, then 500px is your best bet. However, again for me, Smugmug is the winner. For a professional photographer and videographer, it has many more useful features. You can create a website that shows off both your photos and videos. There are many more templates to choose from. You can send people private galleries. You can display your media offline on their new app. You can license and sell your images at prices that you set.
For full transparency, I personally have the Smugmug Power plan and the 500px Awesome plan.
I use Smugmug to create my website where I display only my best work. I license my images through a couple of agencies, so I don’t need the commerce options that the Smugmug Portfolio and Business plans offer.
I upload more images to 500px and enjoy being part of the community there. The Awesome account is a bit of an overkill for me, so I am considering downgrading to the Plus account next year. I also have the full Adobe CC subscription, so I don’t need the 500px Awesome + Adobe plan.
If you enjoyed this review and want to help me out, sign up to Smugmug with this referral link!
I’d love to hear your experiences with portfolio websites, let me know what you use!