I’m interested in hearing your opinions on the various choices for hosting images. Currently I’m considering Smugbug and Squarespace but I would be interested in others. I did find something better than these two but they were in the $35 per month price range and I can’t justify that cost given how much traffic I’m likely to get.
My intention is to display multiple galleries and a blog. The blog should have the ability to contain verbiage interspersed with multiple images.
Igor, I have some recent experience with websites, but it isn’t directly related to your specific question on blog integration. I had a portfolio website with Zenfolio for many years. During the pandemic lockdown, I decided to totally revamp my website, which was long overdue. This is still a work in progress. But at the suggestion of David Kingham I switched from Zenfolio to Smugmug. To me the primary benefits were better image quality of large size images (limited to 1550px at Zen, up to 4,000px at Smug, makes a very noticeable difference on high res monitors), and the Smugmug plugin for Lightroom, which makes ongoing management of images on the site a breeze, from LR Publish you can easily manage image adds/deletes/edits on Smug from directly in LR. Zen has no plugin, there is a third party Zen plugin, but I found it very confusing to use.
The downside is Smug has no direct blog integration, Zen does, but it is not very robust, and I found it such a pain to use that I gave up. You can have your portfolio on Smug, and have a linked blog elsewhere, but it is not easy to get the the look and feel the same across both. If a blog is very important to you, then Smug is probably not a good choice, despite the advantages I discussed.
My website is on SmugMug and I have been happy with it for years. The only downside is that (at least seven years ago or so when I started with them) they did not have any website templates that I liked, so I had to design my own. I know nothing about how to do this, but they have a very robust help site and I was able to get a layout that I liked. It took at least twenty emails to the help people, but they always responsed quickly, usually in less than a couple hours, and told me how to do what I wanted.
Excellent summary David! I’ve used Zenfolio for about 10 years now (MarkAliPhotos.com). I’m just a hobbyist, so print sales aren’t critical for me. So I just have the $60/year plan, with no sales links available, but unlimited storage. I do allow for sales through Fine Art America (with a sales site under their “pixels .com” domain), and I provide links from my Zenfolio site captions to the sales site, with both sites using the same basic color scheme to provide a little visual continuity.
The Zenfolio blogging feature is actually what keeps me around, because I enjoy writing a weekly blog post, and I don’t want the hassle of maintaining a separate blog site. But I’m always looking for something better, because I know Zenfolio has a lot of room for improvement. So thanks for the great article!