For years, I’ve been looking for an easy, web-based way for clients to proof their images, and purchase the ones they like. There are a lot of options out there, but I couldn’t justify the annual cost. I shoot on the side, and just wasn’t generating enough revenue to even break even. Last month, I decided to sign up for a year of Zenfolio Premium.

This week, I finally had a chance to test Zenfolio. I’ve become a bit of a personal photographer for a friend’s baby. Starting with a pregnancy photo session, and continuing from there. A few days ago, we shot her 1-year photos, and I sent the edited images up to Zenfolio.

Jeffrey Friedl makes a great Lightroom-to-Zenfolio plugin–well worth a donation to continue using it past the trial period. After reviewing the proofs, my client asked for a few changes–different crops, etc. I made the changes in Lightroom, and with one click, updated the images in Zenfolio.

This particular client doesn’t do a lot of printing, so she opted to download images, instead. Zenfolio gives you, the photographer, a lot of options when it comes to digital downloads. Obviously, you don’t want people downloading full-resolution images that they then print themselves. I do like to provide downloads to clients, though, so they can share on whatever social media sites they use. So I opted to provide images that are 800px on the longest side. Zenfolio even lets you choose a license option. I chose the “online use only” license. Of course, that doesn’t mean your clients can’t print them, but an 800px wide image isn’t going to print well.

Organizing photos within the Zenfolio interface is more intuitive than SmugMug (which I tried earlier.) I found it somewhat confusing to edit the look of pages… I wanted to set one default theme that all other pages inherited, and it took me awhile to figure out how to do that. Otherwise, the site is very easy to navigate. I set it up with a custom domain, and pointed a subdomain to it. Works like a charm. Also, I set up a custom home page so that when a user clicks the home button, they are taken back to my primary site.

For your clients that do want to print, Zenfolio offers a wide selection of products from various labs, depending on your location.

I have a few different price lists created, and I apply them to albums before sending to clients. There’s a Standard price list, a Friends and Family price list, and a No Markup price list for times when I’m doing TFCD work with models and need to provide them with image downloads at no cost. Each price list can contain different products–you decide which products to offer to your clients.

Zenfolio takes it’s cut, of course. With the premium plan, it’s twelve percent for lab-fulfilled products, eight percent for digital downloads. To me, this is acceptable. I’m offering my clients a one-stop-shop for their images, and I’m not adding to my workload by trying to print and deliver their orders myself.

I get an email notification whenever a client makes a purchase, and another to let me know they’ve downloaded all the photos they purchased.

I’m going to give it year to see how well it works, and whether or not it makes sense to keep the account. So far, though, I’m pleased with the possibilities. If you’re an occasional shooter looking for a way to make a little money, Zenfolio seems to be a good solution so far.

Have you tried Zenfolio? Or another service? What were your thoughts?


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