How to Create a Gorgeous Photography Website with SmugMug in 90 Minutes – A Complete Step-By-Step Tutorial

2016-02-25 3-45-05 PM

20% Off SmugMug Coupon*

If you are interested in getting started today with SmugMug use the link below to save 20% off ANY of their packages. That will save you money on an already affordable product. You’ll love it!

SmugMug – 20% Off <<– Use this special link to get 20% off your new SmugMug account!

*Already in the 14 day free trial? Shucks, the 20% discount link above only works for brand new signups. Maybe if you haven't started working on your new SmguMug site you could delete it and start a new site using the link above so you can save some money.

Which package should you get?  I suggest either of the SmugMug Pro packages (Portfolio or Business) because I've found it relatively easy to sell enough prints through my SmugMug site to cover the cost of my SmugMug subscription. That's a win-win. :)

Creating my photography website has been one of the best decisions I have made for my business. Ever. Since creating in 2005:

  • I have had a “home” for my images (backed-up, secure, and on display to the world)
  • I am able to direct friends, family (and eventually clients) to my photography website for them to experience my photos the way I want them to be experienced (ad free and without facebook clutter!)
  • I was able to sell my first prints – which led to my second sale, and my third and the eventual launch of my part-time photography business.
  • I have a website to make client images available for viewing, sharing, and purchasing prints and other products – for profit.
  • I have become more confident in my photography. It has been the perfect stepping stone to conquering my fears about what I can product and how I can offer my services to clients.

As a part-time business owner, my website is my storefront. It's where people find out that I exist, and that I offer a valuable service. It's also where they decide if they want to hire me — or not.

It's incredible, and I get a lot of emails from people that either love my photos, love my website, or both. And that is so cool.

Do you really need me to convince you any further? Now is the time to build your website and this post is here to help you make it happen.

Now about this tutorial…

Course Objectives: Mission Possible: Build your very own custom photography website in as short amount of time as possible.

Course Requirements: Nadda, Zip, Zilch — You don't need know ANYTHING about web design or website creation to complete this course. Yippee!

OK, I'm Ready to Take the Course. Let's Do This!

Certainly, just follow me…

Wait, Can I See What My Final Website Will Look Like?

Sure! Check out the demo site – (it's a fake site, clearly) :)

All right. Let's get started!

SmugMug Tutorial Testimonial

Step 1: Sign Up With SmugMug and Upload Our First Gallery

In this video, we'll create our SmugMug account (if you haven't done so already), and create our first gallery – filling it with beautiful images.

Step 2: Upload a few more galleries and create our Portfolio gallery

In this video, we'll fill out our site by creating a few more galleries and uploading more photos. I'll show you how to use the “Quick Settings” feature in SmugMug. Then we'll use the best photos from each gallery to create our very important (and impressive) Portfolio gallery. And we'll be using a secret SmugMug ninja trick to create our Portfolio. That's right – Secret. Ninja. Trick. :)

Step 3: Setup Our Site Settings, Create the Menu Bar and Social Media Profile

Step 3 is about creating our profile and site settings so things just “work” in the later steps.

Step 4: Customizing Our SmugMug Website

In Step 4 we get to have some fun while we customize the look and feel of our website using SmugMug's New “Drag and Drop” customization tools. It's what you've been waiting for I know! No coding, no special skills required. Just follow along and have fun.

Using SmugMug’s new “drag and drop” customization tools we'll make the following changes to your website:

  • Adjust the color of our default “Ludwig” theme
  • Create the homepage slideshow
  • Add a text block (customer quote) under the homepage slideshow
  • Design the Header section – stacked and centered
  • Customize the other page types by removing unwanted content blocks and adjusting the margins

Step 5: Create Our “Work With Me” Page and Contact Form

In this step, we'll create a special page on our website which will provide information about you, the photographer, your services, and client testimonials.

This is where you sell yourself – to hopefully get people to contact you (through our fancy contact form) and attract more business!

  • Get your own custom domain name ( instead of at (yes, they sell .com’s as well as .ca’s and .net’s, etc.).

Bonus Step: The Zen of Pricing Our Photos in SmugMug

In this bonus video, I show you how to simplify the pricing options for both you and your clients to maximize sanity and profits.

So there you have it

I truly hope you enjoyed this tutorial. I spent over 30 hours putting this tutorial together for you and I know it’ll help you fast-track your way to a successful website.

If it has helped you in any way, please do me a favor and let me know in the comments section below and also share this tutorial using the social media buttons at the side of this post. Thank you!!

Cheers, and I’ll see you and your website on the world wide web very soon!

P.S. For those of you who just “scanned” to the bottom of this page (yeah, you!), let me lay it out plain for ya:

  • If you doubt SmugMug – just remember that there is a 14 day free trial. It takes seconds to sign up – and if it's not for you, you'll know it in 14 days and you can just let it go. No strings attached. And if it's good enough for these photographers, it might be good enough for you too!
  • If you doubt my tutorial – just have a browse through the comments below. The videos work, they help, and they don't cost a thing but a little bit of your time. But trust me – it can save you WEEKS of work to get you to a site you love.
  • If you doubt the end result of the SmugMug site I help you create – No worries! We all have our preferences. But if you're still looking at using SmugMug, make sure you use my SmugMug link to save 20%.
  • If you doubt SmugMug and the tutorial – I still love ya. No hard feelings. :)

Please share your thoughts or questions on the tutorial in the comments below. As you can see, I reply to every comment – sometimes faster than you can believe!

I'd love to hear from you.

Fill In the Blanks Contest Question: “I Want to Make a Side Income with Photography so I Can __________.”

Let's talk about money.


“We're creative artists! Leave the boring money talk for the accountants…”

Now I know you're a photographer. And you're probably a pretty darn good one at that. That's awesome.

But I also know you're reading this blog with the hope of making a little (or maybe even a lot!) of extra cash with your camera on the side. That's awesome too.

But let me ask you a couple of questions

  1. Why do you want to make extra money?
  2. And what exactly do you plan to do with this extra cash once you land some paying gigs?

Having a powerful why and what can be a huge motivational factor that ensures you push past your hurtles to success or decide “this photography business stuff is just too hard” and give up.

When I decided I wanted to make money with my camera, it was so I could afford a $1000 lens (the game-changing, jaw-dropping Nikon 18-200mm VR, to be exact). [Read more…]

How Do You Know When You’re Good Enough to Charge?

I hate to tell you this…

But it doesn't matter if you think your photos are good enough to make you money.

And it doesn't matter if you don't think you're photos are good enough to make you money either!

There's really only one way to know if you can make money with your camera – someone (anyone) will tell you that they want to pay you to take some photos.

It might go down like this:

“These photos are really good! Will you do a photo shoot of me and my kids next weekend? I'll pay you for it.”

I'll pay you for it. [Read more…]

Zen of Pricing Your Photos in SmugMug

Ariston Collander Photography

The Bonus Video

Just because SmugMug has 3 print labs, and over 300+ product options doesn't mean you need to take advantage of all of them.

In fact, in the name of preventing your customers heads from exploding, I'll be recommending a more minimalist approach.

Less is more, if you will.

In the video below I'll show you the easy way to set your pricelists in SmugMug.

The zen-like approach I'll be recommending looks like this:

  1. Setup one default pricelist to rule all of you galleries and images
  2. Actually reduce the number of products you make available to your customers
  3. Enjoy the pure joy of letting SmugMug do all the hard work while you just rake in the profits (seriously, just keep reading) [Read more…]

Forget What’s In the Bag, What IS the Bag?

Camera gear is a touchy subject.

Google “Nikon vs Canon” and you get over 52,000,000 results.

So I'm not going to even attempt to lay out the dozens of bag options, give a long list of features to compare and analyze until you're blue in the face.

If you're like me and addicted to reading product comments, head on over to Amazon.  Come back when you're done — in an hour or two.

In this post I'm simply going to tell you what I am currently using, why I like it, and what I'm saving up to buy.

My Old Bag – the Lowepro 200 AW

The Lowepro 200 AW is a swing bag – and was the biggest of the Lowepro swing bags at the time I bought it, a few years ago. Looks like there is a larger 300 now.

The main reason I chose the swing bag was the fact that it is extremely mobile, like a backpack. But, unlike a backpack, the sling bag is much more accessible.

The images on the Amazon product page show how the bag swings from your back to your front without you having to take it off.  Then the zipper and the pockets are perfectly designed so that nothing spills onto the floor from 4 ft in the air when you open it up.

During a wedding shoot, the action is happening very fast. I need to move quickly, with all my gear, and be able to grab whatever I need (lens, flash, batteries, etc.) without having to say to the bride, “hold on a sec.” [Read more…]

The Simple, Ridiculously Useful Guide to Earning a Living from Your Passion

Photography PassionThe personal development blog, Zen Habits, has over 237,000 readers.

And I'm one of them.

It has a massive following because its author, Leo Babauta, is a talented, passionate writer and his blog has a crystal clear message – simplify your life; do what you love.

Do What You Love

“I’m lucky — I’ve found my passion, and I’m living it. I can testify that it’s the most wonderful thing, to be able to make a living doing what you love.” – Leo Babauta [Read more…]

Pinterest: A “Visual” Social Bookmarking Tool You and I Can’t Ignore

Pinterest Logo

I value my time. Which is why I'm rarely an “early adopter” of new social media tools.

Twitter and Facebook both had to prove their worth to me before I decided to get on board. I'm still undecided about LinkedIn, MySpace (ha!), and even Google+.

But when I heard about the rapid growth of this new “visual” social bookmarking site,, I had to check it out. [Read more…]

The Easy Way to Create Your Website Banner

Website Banner

Photo by docbaty (flickr)

There is a nasty assumption out there that all photographers are web nerds, graphic artists, and just generally technologically savvy people.

That's just not true.

Some are, most are not.

That's why I've been dedicating a lot of my time and energy on this blog to teach my fellow photographers some “how-to's” about working online.  To many photographers, the image making is easy….the web stuff is nuts.

In this post I'm going to share a tutorial where I teach you how to easily create a nice looking banner for your website.

But first, a little story….. [Read more…]

My New Years Resolution & The WPG “Let’s Get Organized” Contest!

Happy New Year 2012Today's post is a little bit special.  To celebrate the New Year I'm giving away a copy of the Evernote Essentials ebook to one lucky reader!  Read on to get the details…

2011 is coming to a close.

Thinking back, 2011 was a wonderful year for me.  I achieved some pretty big goals — one of them, of course, was to launch this blog and connect with fellow photographers who have a desire to shoot weddings. So yeah…I'm glad I'm writing this post on this blog and I'm glad you're reading it!

But this post isn't about the past year, it's about looking forward to 2012 and making sure we're improving ourselves to give us the best chance at reaching our goals.

That's right – it's time for some New Year Resolutions!

This year I'm going to stick to one of my most elusive (and thus recurring) goals – to get more organized.

And I read somewhere that you're more likely to stick to a goal if you share it with others.

Something about accountability, I guess.  :)

Ah heck, let's just make this thing official then…

I, Ryan Oakley, resolve to use Evernote, a tool I know and love, to help me organize my ever expanding digital life. [Read more…]

Time to Take the Rule of Thirds Up a Notch

Photo by James Brandon

Have you ever heard of the Fibonacci Series?  How about the Golden Mean, or the Golden Ratio?  Well, despite my nerdy engineering background — neither had I until I read Dan Brown's infamous The Da Vinci Code.

The most boring aspect of the Fibonacci Series is the math (gasp!).  But it's where we must start….with this simple sequence of numbers:

1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144…..

Do you see the pattern?  To get the next number in the sequence, simply add up the previous two numbers.

And the Golden Mean or the Golden Ratio is the number that shows up when you divide one of the numbers in the sequence to the previous number.

For example…144/89 = 1.617977

If I were to divide larger numbers that show up eventually in the sequence, I would start to get a very close approximation for the Golden Ratio — which is 1:1.618033….

So what.

Exactly.  So what.

No wait….there's more! [Read more…]