If you’re looking for a place to show and sell your photography but don’t have time to get into the weeds of coding and web design, one of the following photography portfolio website builders might be just what you need.
While I use and would recommend WordPress for building your own photography blog like My Favourite Lens, it can be overkill if you don’t need all the functions it offers, and can actually be trickier to set up much of what the sites in this article give you.
These all offer an easy way to create and sell from your own site, various price plans that get you more features the higher you go, and all offer a free trial so you can play before you pay.
You’ll have to read up and decide which is the right one for you – or just sign up for all the free trials – but here are 5 of the best photography portfolio sites out there today.
- from $7/month or $57/year billed annually
- 14-day free trial
If you’ve been following the world of online photo sharing for a while, you may recognise SmugMug as the people who bought Flickr in 2018. They’ve been one of the leading photography portfolio platforms since long before that though, having launched in 2002.
SmugMug is a platform based purely on storing, sharing, and selling your work. There are four price plans, with most of the features available on each. These include your own customisable, mobile responsive website, unlimited photo and video uploads, Lightroom integration, and an app that lets you edit, archive, and share work on your phone.
The three higher price plans allow a bit more customisation of your site, while you’ll need to sign up for one of the top two if you want to market and sell your work to clients. This seems fair enough if you’re using the platform for commercial rather than personal reasons.
SmugMug runs on the industry-leading Amazon Web Services, keeping your images as safe as realistically possible. At the website level, you can also control who can see them, set passwords, have right-click protection, and watermark your work depending on your price plan.
There is a 15% transaction fee on everything you sell through SmugMug, although you can enjoy discounts with a number of their partners and offset this somewhat.
- from $9/month or $72/year billed annually
- 15-day free trial
- save 10% by using this link here
While most other portfolio website platforms are geared towards photographers only, Pixpa is used by a wide range of creatives; from fashion designers and artists to interior designers and architects.
It’s a fully-featured option that lets you create a blog as well as an online store to go along with your portfolio site. With these, you can use your personal stories to sell your physical products, digital downloads, and your services through your Pixpa site.
There’s a whole list of 3rd party services you can integrate with too, including Stripe and PayPal for easy transactions, MailChimp and MailerLite for email marketing, SimplyBook and BookingBug for easy booking of your time, and many more that you can see here.
You can also set up a unique mobile app for each client, which allows them to view their photographs straight from their device home screen. This is a great selling point for your services and helps get your name out too with all your branding right there when people share your work with their friends or colleagues.
Pixpa is similarly priced to most of the other options here and operates similarly to PhotoShelter, with the main benefit of the higher tiers being more storage. They also offer a 50% discount for photography, art, and creative design students and have zero transaction fees on any sales you make.
- from $7/month or $60/year billed annually
- 14-day free trial
- save 40% by using this link here
On first glance, Zenfolio appears similar to SmugMug, as it gives you the ability to create and sell from your own photography portfolio website. These sites are again based on templates that are mobile responsive and allow unlimited uploads.
It offers three plans, with the lowest limiting you to creating your website and being able to order prints and gifts at base price. The middle plan allows you to sell your work and gives more marketing tools, while the highest offers more of what a professional might need, such as dedicated features for school and sports photography.
If you want to do more than just sharing and selling your work, Zenfolio allows you to blog on your site too, on your own domain name. Blogging can be a great way to make yourself stand out and bring in more clients, and keeping it in the same place as your work is obviously highly convenient.
While the lowest tier is similarly priced to SmugMug’s, Zenfolio charges a 9.9% transaction fee for all sales made through the site compared to SmugMug’s 15%. You can also get access to PhotoBooker, Zenfolio’s directory of working photographers, and there’s a mobile app too.
If you’re looking to make a career from your photography, especially through working with local clients, Zenfolio’s fully-featured Advanced plan might well be the option for you.
- from $12.99/month or $120/year billed annually
- 14-day free trial
PhotoShelter is not dissimilar to the other photography portfolio websites here, again being a place where you can host, display, and sell your photographs from your own custom website. If you dig deeper though, you’ll find it’s aimed at a slightly more pro-level than some.
This is most obviously reflected in the pricing, where the lowest tier plan is around double that of others. To reinforce its value, PhotoShelter’s Examples page does show how a number of celebrated photographers are using the platform, rather than just a gallery of templates you can choose from.
One thing PhotoShelter does differently to other photography portfolio sites is differentiating between its plans. With some of the others, the lower tiers get far fewer features. Here, all the plans get all the e-commerce, photo security, and customer support – pretty much everything.
The only thing missing from the cheapest plan is the built-in client proofing tool. You do get a lot less storage though, which is the main reason for paying for the higher tiers – for the hugely increased number of images you can keep on your site and more download bandwidth allotment when selling files.
The commission levels are also different, with PhotoShelter taking between 8-10% on transactions depending on your chosen plan. They all allow unlimited file sizes and any file format to be uploaded, though.
- from $7/month for the limited Basic plan
- 14-day free trial
Format is another platform that allows you to create your own photography portfolio website and blog, and with the features you’d expect to get for marketing your work. Like all the others on this list, you don’t need to know any coding to do it yourself.
If you want someone to do it for you though, Format offer a free site-building service with their two highest-paid tiers. Aside from that, most of the major differences between the plans come in the business features, with the numbers of client proofing galleries and products you can sell commission-free increasing the more you pay.
There’s also a Photography Business Masterclass video course that you get access to with the top two tiers, which further shows to me how well Format will look after its most valuable clients.
On the software side of things, you can integrate Lightroom and Capture One to publish and update your client photo galleries directly from those editing suites. There’s also a Format app that you can use to update your site or show your work while on the road, although it is only iOS at the moment.
With unlimited bandwidth and photo security options like right-click protection and the ability to add watermarks too, Format looks a solid option. It’s competitively priced and brings plenty of features for your money.
Wrapping up 5 of the best photography portfolio sites
In truth, most of the photography portfolio website builders here have similar feature sets and are competitively priced with one another.
Deciding which you choose to go with is going to be a matter of personal preference. It may be that one does a particular thing you need better than the others while being not so advanced on some things you value less.
Or it may come down to the templates you can use and how easy it is to get your website looking and working how you want it to on each of these. As they all have free trials, you’ll be able to find this out for yourself.
If it’s a fully-fledged photography blog you want to start, remember to take a look at this guide here and decide if WordPress is more what you need.
For a place to share and sell your photography though, you’ll be better off with one of the platforms in this article built specially to help you do that. Take some time and play with the free trials if you need to.
In the end, I hope whichever you decide to go with helps your photography business take off the way you want it to. 😀
… p.s. if you found this guide to 5 of the best photography portfolio sites useful and think others will too, why not help them find it by sharing or pinning? 😀