Shutterbug Storefront Review

Shutterbug (the magazine) now features a service ‘Shutterbug Storefront’ which allows photographers of all types to host images and galleries to share with friends, family, or clients.  Not only can you host your images there, you can sell them as well.  I signed up for an account to see how it works.

  • Sign Up – It was very simple to create my account.  It took all of three minutes and my account was ready to go.  I entered my desired username (as well as sub domain), desired account type (Art or Event), basic details, credit card info., and that was it.  I received my confirmation e-mail promptly that included login details and direct links to my site.  New accounts receive a 15-day trial period and they don’t charge your credit card until those 15 days expire.  They do preauthorize $1.00 to ensure your card is valid which isn’t a big deal.  You can either choose to pay on a month to month basis or yearly no matter which account type you choose.  You get a decent discount for paying by the year too.  It works out to about a 22 percent savings.
  • Interface – The user interface is simple, although maybe a little TOO simple.  I am quite computer and web savvy but still had a little trouble finding things without really poking around.  Once you figure out where everything is you have complete control over how your site looks.  You can leave the Shutterbug branding or make it disappear.  You also have the option of using custom headers and footers if you know HTML.  For my purposes, I used the standard layout and just left text at the top of my site.  This isn’t intended to by my primary web presence so there isn’t a need for anything else but a simple interface for potential clients to view and order photos.
  • Features – I could go on and on here, so I’ll keep it limited to my favorites.  1st: My absolute favorite feature is the fact that you can upload low-resolution files for viewing and when an order is placed you can upload the high resolution version.  That’s incredible!  I really dig this because it still allows me to upload a lot of images and not use a lot of space.  I love that!  2nd: I think it’s great that you can use your own branding.  Since you are paying for the service you shouldn’t have to put up with ads or links to Shutterbug or Shutterbug Storefront.  The only way someone would know it wasn’t a site that you were hosting would be the domain name.  Now, if you use the domain mapping feature you can use your own domain and then no one would know (without some pretty extensive research) that your site was from Shutterbug Storefront.  3rd: Copyright protection.  This is something that is big to most photographers and Shutterbug Storefront provides you a lot of it.  The site is in HTML and not Flash so it would be easy for someone to right-click (or CTRL-click for Mac) on one of your photos and save it right?  Guess again.  You can choose to disable the right-click/CTRL-click feature on your site which prevents them from doing just that.  You can also embed an image or text watermark to add a little more protection and save yourself some time by not having to do it in Photoshop.  All in all, you get a lot of great features for a comparatively small amount of money.
  • Order Fulfillment – SBSF provides you a very nice choice when providing prints to your clients.  They can provide them or if you have a favorite lab you can use them as well.  The other main option is to have SBSF provide the prints which also opens up a whole host of other products that your clients can order.  These include mugs, keychains, puzzles, statuettes, t-shirts, canvas, and more.  Prints can be glossy, matte, or luster printed on Fujicolor Crystal Archive paper using Fuji Frontier Printers with Fuji Hunt Chemicals.  This is the REAL DEAL with regards to prints.  No inkjets here!  Clients can also order metallic prints that are printed on Kodak Professional Endura paper.  One of the huge benefits of the “Pro Lab” (SBSF) fulfillment option is that you do not have to collect sales tax from your customers.  This can save some serious time and trouble.  You even have white label options when using the ‘Pro Lab’ which allows orders shipped to your customers appear to be shipped by you.
  • Pricing – The ‘Art’ account is $6.95 per month or $64.95 for the year.  With this account you get 1GB of storage and 5GB/Month of Bandwidth.  The ‘Event’ account costs $12.95 per month or $99.95 per year.  With this account you get Unlimited storage and 20GB/Month of Bandwidth.  That bandwidth is only counted when customers view your images.  Bandwidth is not deducted when you are uploading images.  SBSF takes a flat 10 percent commission on all sales after subtracting sales tax and shipping.  This includes credit card processing fees!  You don’t even have to hassle with accepting credit cards which is a HUGE plus.  All in all, the pricing seems very fair and reasonable to me.

In summary, the Shutterbug Storefront seems to be an awesome service for amateur and pro photographers alike.  There are a lot of really great features that don’t cost you a whole lot of cash.  And who doesn’t appreciate saving some dough and getting a great product or service?

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16 thoughts on “Shutterbug Storefront Review

  1. You can customize your storefront using basic colors and formatting selections on their website and at the time you could also use html as well. It’s been awhile, so I’m not sure if html can still be used or not. You can also upload your own logo as well.

    • Hi Rich,

      I haven’t been able to find a Lightroom export plugin for Shutterbug Storefront. To add to that, I also haven’t seen any place on SBSF that advertises that they are looking for developers to create software that interfaces with SBSF, much like Zenfolio and SmugMug do.

  2. Which is better: Shutterbugstorefront or Smugmug (the pro level service)? I am presently about 4 months into my Smugmug (pro) subscription, but did not know about SBSF when I checked out both Smugmug and Zenfolio for online storage, displaying and offering my photos for sale–I chose to go with Smugmug because of a lot more customization capabilities, which has turned out to be both a blessing and a curse, and because some of the subscriber sites I looked at are gorgeous. When my Smugmug subscription comes up for renewal, I would seriously consider switching over to SBSF depending on what you and other users have to say about it.

    Another question aside from look and feel is whether SBSF provides any help with marketing or promoting their subscribers’ sites–that is really the most important issue because it doesn’t matter how good your site looks, if no one sees it, you are not going to generate any sales. Thanks, Lou

    • Lou,

      I would have to go with SmugMug on this one as far as features and customization go. However, SmugMug is a lot more expensive. To my knowledge, SBSF doesn’t include any type of marketing or promotion in any of their packages. Zenfolio at least gets you going in the right direction with Google Analytics, which can help users discover where their traffic is coming from and decide how to push new and more traffic to their site. The only downside to SBSF and SmugMug for me is their lab choices. Zenfolio uses Mpix, which is one of the best labs out there in my opinion.

      I noticed your comment about Zenfolio’s customer service and while I haven’t needed to use it, I know that they are still a smaller and newer operation than SmugMug. However, they are growing quickly and starting to hire more staff members.

      I would stick with SmugMug over SBSF if it were me. Just my 2 cents.

      Stephen

      • Hi Stephen,

        Thanks for your response to my Aug. 6th post. I appreciate your comments. Maybe I should revisit Zenfolio and look into the Google Analytics you mentioned, which I was not aware of when I was doing my trial earlier this year — in fact when I asked them about marketing issues, they just kind of blew me off, but maybe if they are adding more support staff, they will be more responsive to other than technical questions.

        Besides overall look, one thing I did like about ZF was their at-cost pricing and ability to use coupons, which SmugMug does not have (SmugMug keeps saying that coupons are on their to-add list, but no target date and that still hasn’t happened since I asked them about that several months ago). I don’t know if SBSF has those features–do you?

        Other than for the objections to ZF that I noted in my previous post, the only other thing that I did not like about ZF as compared to SM was that when you wanted to display a large image along with thumbnails of other images in the gallery, the thumbs were small and that type of display did not look nearly as nice as SM. By the same token, one of the things I preferred with ZF over SM is that their thumbs are much larger, 200p x 200p vs. 150p x 150p (again SM says they’re working on increasing thumb size, but haven’t done it yet). On the flip side, SM has a nice feature in that if you use square thumbs, you can edit what portion of the image is displayed, which you cannot do in ZF, so heads, mountains, trees, etc. don’t get chopped off.

        Thanks again, Lou

  3. Dear Mr. Zeller:

    I have looked at your site and have to say good job. You have captured some great photos.

    I have just opened a trial version with Shutterbug Storefront and have to say that I was disappointed with the way it was set up. I am a photographer and not a web designer, there interface is not friendly at all. Before learning how to use there system I could receive an order, print it, pack it and mail it before learning how to use there interface. I closed the account the same day.

    If any one knowes if there is another provider with a user friendly interface please let me know. I am looking to build a site and allow customers buy from the site with a lab that will do they work. Givenmyself more time behind the camera. Thank you.

    Jay

    • Hi Jay,

      Thanks for your comments and concerns about Shutterbug Storefront. I will admit, that they SBSF interface does take some basic knowledge of layout. I’m sorry to hear that it didn’t work out that well for you. However, I do have some good news for you.

      I found a much better and friendlier alternative with Zenfolio. I checked out their trial account and I was immediately hooked. Their interface required a lot less interaction on my part and while it’s not as customizable as some services are, they are still very, very nice. I currently use Zenfolio and I have since I signed up for my trial account. One of my other favorite features is that they use my favorite lab in the world for prints: Mpix.

      You can view my Zenfolio site at: http://clients.stephenzellerphotography.com .

      Please let me know if you have questions and if you decide to get a premium account, use the button on the right side of my blog to sign up and save yourself a few bucks too. By Saturday you can save $10.00 off a premium account and after Saturday you can save $5.00 off a premium account. No credit card is required for their trial account either.

      All the best,

      Stephen

  4. Hi Stephen,

    If you ask Zenfolio for a discount for moving over from another service, they will give you a 20% discount, which is better than the $10 or $5 you mentioned, at least that’s what they did for me when I asked and did a trial subscription, but you have to ask. I agree that Zen’s look is really great, but I did have some problems with getting timely responses to my questions to them about set up and functionality, and then they got very testy with me with I asked for some follow-up help. So that’s the main reason I went with SmugMug (I was doing a trial with them at the same time) instead because SM’s support is far superior, much friendlier, and more importantly, response time is much quicker–often w/in an hour or two–and there is a lot more opportunity for customization, although as I said in my previous post, that can be both a blessing and a curse.

    Contrary to Jay’s experience, as part of my research into Shutterbug (after I had already signed up for a year w/SmugMug to see if I wanted to switch now or later) I emailed 25 different Shutterbug subscribers asking them about their experience with the service, and everyone of them said that they had no (or very little) problem setting up their sites, and most said it was very easy and functioned very well.

    Having said all that, could you please respond to my Aug. 6th post and include Zenfolio along with Shutterbug and SmugMug in my question.

    Thanks, Lou

  5. I thought I would share another storefront that I have that I have found to work great. The price is really great….nothing. It is called Photoreflect. They do not charge you for there web sites. They make there profit after you sell. You can use there lab or even pic one from a list that you may know of. I have a web site then linked the store front to it. On top of that photoreflect also provides you with a great program called Express Digital Web. Great for cataloing you photos and editing. You publish straight from the program. Check the store front at http://www.priceless-moments-photography.com and then click on store front.

    Jay

  6. Hi Stephen, we have a fully stocked site @ shutterbug. We got our 1st order and they notified us that the image has to be resized in order to fullfill the order. Simple problem, only I’m not sure how to do this. We have originally stored and enhanced them on Snapfish, send them back to ‘My Pictures’ and then load onto the site. I understand the need for sizing to save room but is there a quick and easy way to upsize my entire site without a major overhaul?

  7. As far as I know, there is no way to do perform a site-wide upload all in one shot. It’s likely that you will have to upload each picture as required – based on the information I have.

    Wish I had a better answer.

    Thanks for reading!

    All the best,

    Stephen

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