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)

One quick word before we begin (and I do mention this again in the video) — if you want to set your prices and make a profit in SmugMug, you'll need a SmugMug Pro account.

Everyone's first question: How much is a SmugMug Pro account?

$150 per year.

Everyone's second question: What do I get for $150?

You get to set your prices. You get to earn a revenue. Come on here people…You get to run a business! :)

Best of all is once you set your prices, SmugMug takes care of the rest:

  • Take advantage of SmugMug's gorgeous shopping cart
  • Take advantage of  SmugMug's “buying power” to enjoy cost savings on your products
  • Take advantage of  SmugMug's very own 100% satisfaction guarantee and superhero customer service
  • Take advantage of  SmugMug's coupons, packages, and event marketing

SmugMug makes this so easy and smooth for you and your customers that the $150 per year is almost laughable.

In fact, while I was writing this blog post, I got an email from SmugMug telling me one of my customers had just ordered $144.65 worth of prints and cards and I had made $101.85 of pure profit!

See for yourself…

So yes, it's safe to say that I highly recommend SmugMug Pro. :)

Now, let's get to the pricelist tutorial, shall we? This is the real “how-to” stuff…

Now Take Action!

Login to your SmugMug account now (or if you don't have an account yet use this link to start your 14-day free trial and save 20%!).

Follow the steps in the video, go into your Pricelists, set your profits, and start earning money from your passion!

The Complete Professional Photography Website Tutorial

In case you missed it, here are all the steps to the tutorial where I show you how to go from just signing up with SmugMug to having a completely customized, clean, and fully functional pro photography website.

Still Not Quite Sure What This Tutorial is All About?

Visit the main tutorial page which explains the what and the why's of this how-to create a great wedding photography website tutorial.


  1. Ryan
    I am new to smugmug and your tutorials are EXCELLENT!! Thank you for taking the time to do these.
    Question for you – where are you based so if someone looking for an excellent photographer I could maybe refer them to you.
    Best Regards

  2. Thank you for the video. I have a question…I set my prices and had the default at 200%. After hitting apply changes the prices I set went back to the 200% mark after checking . What am I doing incorrectly?

    Thank you
    Simone Wolford

  3. You did a great job putting your zen pricing video together. On top of that you to the time to reply to everyone who submitted a question and or comment. I am in the ongoing process of constructing my site. The price list I have at this time is subject to change. I would be interested to know what you think of my pricing. Wayne

    • Hi Wayne,

      Thanks for your kind words. Sorry I didn’t reply to your comment sooner. I really like your site! I’m a sucker for monochromatic images. And historical images too. :)

      As far as pricing goes – I’m going to refer you to my friends new “Pixel Cents” site which has some awesome information about pricing your work. http://pixelcents.com/


  4. Dude, you totally made my day with this video!!! I’m glad to have stumbled across your video, now I have lots of work to do but this help me put all the pieces together. Again, thanks for the tutorial Ryan!!!

  5. Liam Bunce says:

    Hi Ryan
    Great tutorial (Zen of pricing) everything explained in simple language which makes it all so clear. I am in the process of looking for a host site and Smugmug looked the better option having checked out several other. having now seen your tutorial my mind is now made up.
    Many thanks i look forward to viewing more of your videos.


  6. Excellent tutorials, very clear. Thanks for sharing

    • You’re most welcome Andy. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. :)

      • Hi Ryan,
        I have a question about pricing & personal downloads:

        you say you like to give away web sized ‘printmarked’ downloads so that people can see your ‘watermark’ when they share them.

        I thought printmarks were invisible until they were printed off.

        Is there a way you can share web sized watermarked downloads? There doesn’t seem to be an option (just print marked).

        Or is the term being used interchangeably here?

        • Hi Andy,

          Printmarks do show up on purchased products — so that would include physical prints as well as purchased downloads.

          However, to be honest, I haven’t had the best luck with my “give away web sized printmarked downloads”…..I’ve had to actually watermark the images in Lightroom physically, then upload to SmugMug so that when someone downloads and uses the image, the watermark is there.

          But then when prints are ordered, I have the proof delay on, at which time I remove the watermark for the prints.

          The reason I have to do it this way is because the downloads have to be PURCHASED in order for the printmark to show up. But I still don’t believe that that’s good for my business. I want the client to have the downloads for free so they can spread them around — and the watermark is used for marketing for me.

          I hope that helps.

  7. Awesome tutorial.. Thanks.. One quick question.. Do you have recommendation on price lists if you were not just in the “wedding” business. ie. if you think friends and family would mostly be buying photos you to take, or you take photos ad hoc at an event or something you are attending and just happen to send out the link for people to purchase some.. I noticed you didn’t select single download images.. I would have thought that would be one of the more popular choices. How would you suggest pricing single download images.. $2 or $5 for original and $.25 or something for print mark?

    • Hi RJS. My advice for setting things up to sell photos to friends and family would be to give them a coupon for x% off. That way, they fully know how much your prints are worth – and they get the warm fuzzy feeling of knowing they are getting the friends and family discount.
      As for the single download, that’s totally up to you. It can be a great idea if your shooting sports where you’ll have parents only wanting the image of their own kid.
      Hope that helps.
      Glad you liked the tutorial! :)

  8. YvonBeaubrun says:

    Hello Ryan,  I am interested in setting up Smug Mug.  But I don’t see how I could operate on the margins between what Smug Mug charges and what I could reasonably charge for pictures on their base prices.  How exactly were you able to generate over $100 in profit?  What did you sell & how much did you sell it for.  The base prices seem like the price points that I could reasonable sell them at which equals no profit or very little.

    • Ryan Oakley says:

      @YvonBeaubrun Hi Yvon. The expense of a SmugMug account needs to be looked at like any other business expense. Is what I’m getting in value from the service worth it for me in either Return on Investment (ROI) or some other benifits (freeing up my time to work on getting clients, for example). For me to build my own website that has all the eCommerce tools I would want to sell prints online would be thousands of dollars. Not to mention the other things that SmugMug does for me — image security, customer service (for me and my clients), coupons, boutique packaging, privacy features, etc.   
      So the way I see it, $300 a year is a small price to pay for what I get from SmugMug —- especially considering I don’t rent or own studio space or cover a very large overhead with my business.
      As a business owner yourself, you may have a different perspective. And who knows, I may change service providers at some point – but for the last 8 years, SmugMug has served me and my clients just fine.
      And to answer your question —- I make most of my profit from clients when the hire me for a shoot. I don’t rely heavily on back-end print sales. Those are just icing on the cake. :)
      Hope that helps.

      • Ryan Oakley says:

        @YvonBeaubrun Sorry Yvon. I reallize now I didn’t really answer your question which was specifically looking into the sales example I used in the post above.
        for that sale I sold 27 items. Mostly 4×6’s which I sell for $3.95 (very reasonable to client and profit markup of $3.57!). I also sold a package of 20 4×8 cards (which my client created themselves) for $41.95 – and has a profit of $27.
        So I think there is definitely a way to make money with SmugMug prints and still make costs reasonable to your clients.

    • @YvonBeaubrun
      You shouldn’t be aiming to compete with places like CanvasonDemand or Costco that are services for people to frame their own photos.  They charge $100-150 for a canvas (just to name one product).  That’s around Smugmug’s base price and if I were giving away my photography for free, then yes that’s what I’d charge.  
      The point is that they’re paying for your artistic vision and work.  Why is a Picasso worth so much?  Surely you aren’t just pricing out the cost of the canvas.  So why should you undersell your own photography?
      Assuming your photos would qualify as fine art, then if you sold a 16×24 canvas I would start with at least a 50-100% markup.  $300 is reasonable for a work of art.
      If you are doing portrait type sessions (or weddings) then a 100-200% markup still nets you some nice profit and is in keeping with pro studios.  Even the mall places charge something like $15 for an 8×10, which only costs a few dollars for the printing at Smugmug.
      I use Smugmug.  If you want to see how I priced things, check out my site: http://gallery.etchedinpixels.com

      • Ryan Oakley says:

        @Chris Alleyne Chin  @YvonBeaubrun Chris – Great information in there. And I totally agree – our customers expect a significant mark-up for our work. Whether we create one of a kind fine-art shots or fab portraits…..it’s the image they are paying for, not the paper.

      • YvonBeaubrun says:

        @Chris Alleyne Chin  @YvonBeaubrun thanks for the personal reply, much appreciated.  I read them all.  Peace.

  9. Hi Ryan,  I found your site from the Smugmug blog comment you left me.
    I agree with your first point(s): that paring down the selections is good.  Smugmug doesn’t organize these in a good or meaningful way (do luster, glossy, and metallic all deserve their own line items?  No, a selector box would suffice).  
    I think you might be heaping a little too much praise on them for their “gorgeous shopping cart”.  It’s serviceable, but most other sites have a better layout.  I’m worried that theirs complicates things for clients, and makes it harder for them to find options like mounting that will lead to a better product.
    I will try linking to your site from mine: http://etchedinpixels.com

    • Ryan Oakley says:

      @Chris Alleyne Chin Hi Chris. Thanks for your comment.
      I remember SmugMug’s “old” shopping cart back in the day. So perhaps my idea of gorgeous was influenced by their big design change. 
      I have had numerous clients say that the shopping experience they get from “my” site is amazing. Perhaps they think that because they are ordering photos through “my” site that I created the shopping cart. If that’s what they think then GREAT!
      I must admit that I’m a glass is half full kinda guy. And though there is always room for improvement on any piece of software, I find I am very loyal to the companies that I use — SmugMug, YNAB, WaveAccounting, Lightroom, to name a few. 
      PS. Your site (and your photos!) look awesome. Very well done.

      • @Ryan Oakley  @Chris Alleyne Chin   Thanks for checking them out!  I hope you’ll come back and visit some time.   I would really like to have as much commentor activity as you have on your site.  Any tips on succeeding on that area?

        • Ryan Oakley says:

          @Chris Alleyne Chin I have no silver bullet on getting comments. Try one or any or none of the following:
          – Write lots of “how to” posts and ask people if they have any questions
          – Write contest posts (similar to SmugMug) and make a contest entry requirement be to leave a comment on the post
          – Write controversial posts that start a debate
          – Write an “open” post where the goal is to get people to talk (as opposed to a closed post where you are giving your opinion and the answers to a problem)
          – Get more traffic to your blog (add a link to your signature in related forums, guest blog on other sites, start a podcast, create videos on youtube, write posts frequently to get on Google’s radar, etc.)
          Hope that helps! :)

  10. grahamrawlings says:

    Hi Ryan. Many thanks for your super tutorials. You said it yourself( that it took you weeks to work all of this out),  and up until these tutorials I’ve found SmugMug  a very tough nut to crack. So much so that I’ve considered giving up on Smugmug numerous times. With your help I’ve now got a vibrant site that I am pleased with and can start populating in earnest, Many thanks again. Graham. http://www.cropshots.co.uk

    • Ryan Oakley says:

      @grahamrawlings Hi Graham — Your SmugMug site looks GREAT!  Very well done. Obviously you used my tutorials as a starting point – and added some of your own spice to your design. Very well done. And I’m glad I could help. :)

  11. Wow! Sounds like it would be silly NOT to try it!

  12. Andy King says:

    Ryan, I have found these tutorials invaluable for setting up my smugmug account. I can thanks you enough for taking the time to do these
    Regards Andy King

  13. Ryan,
    Thanks for doing all these tutorials it saved me hours of brain damage in setting my site up. Your effort is truly appreciated by me. Great job!!!

    • Ryan Oakley says:

      @Willy54  Hey Willy – you’re most welcome buddy. Brain damage from setting up your SmugMug site would be terrible. I’m glad my videos were good preventative medicine. :)

  14. Hi Ryan,
    Thank you so much for this fantastic tutorial!  I found the “work with me” page and pricing advice to be amazingly helpful.  I had a question for you about selling  print-marked photos for web use.  If I add a printmark to all my photos in the gallery settings, will it show up in the photos in my galleries?  I already use a watermark, and don’t want to have them conflict with each other.  I also don’t want them to show up when my clients print photos from the smugmug photo labs.  Does that happen?

  15. Hi Ryan,
    Thank you so much for putting this fantastic tutorial together!  It was soooo helpful, especially the “work with me” page and the pricing advice.  Question for you…I love the idea of selling individual print-marked photos for web use, so that our photos can circulate and advertise for us. However, if I apply a printmark to all my pictues, will it show up on the photos in the galleries and on the printed photos as well?  I don’t want that.  I’m just a little confused…

    • Hi Amy,
      I’m glad you enjoyed the tutorials.
      From what I know about watermarking and printmarking —- watermarks will show up on the digital versions of your photos wether they are viewed on your SmugMug site or shared on the web on sites like facebook or pinterest. But when someone orders a print, the watermark is removed.
      Printmarks, on the other hand, WILL show up on the physical prints when ordered through SmugMug.
      Here’s more info – http://help.smugmug.com/customer/portal/articles/93344
      Hope that helps!

  16. Ryan, Fantastic presentation with your videos on setting up a website with SMugMug– transitioned to SMugMug from Apple Mobile-me gallery & iWeb/iphoto after Apple closed Mobile-Me on July 1, 2012. I followed your tutorials to the “T” and when I have time I will tweek a little more and make more my own — ;=) but many thanks to your sharing this in a manner in which it gave me confidence to move forward. Smugmug is very photographer friendly with great support — found them before you; but I am so glad i came across your complete 8 plus videos. I wish the BEST to you Ryan. Anytime you can make comments of my site for improvements… Thanks. Ed

  17. Ryan many many thanks, these videos have been fantastic. I signed up with SmugMug when I found out about the link with Loxley. I set up a basic site but hadn’t a clue how to get it looking like “my” site, until that is I found yoru tutorial. I now have a truly excellent looking site and OK it’s still very similar to your tutorial one but you’ve shown me how I can now tweak it to make it even more my own. Many thanks once again!

    • Ryan Oakley says:

      You’re welcome Richard. SmugMug is a great company, and it’s awesome they keep expanding their service by partnering with various print labs around the globe. I’m still waiting for them to hook up with a lab in Canada!  :)

  18. Rhylissa says:

    Ryan, Thank you so much for posting these tutorials! I spent ours trying to figure out exactly what I wanted my site to look like and this gave me the perfect start. Thank you so much!

  19. NicoleMills says:

    Another great tutorial…thanks!  You’re making my life soooo much easier.  I love it when someone else does all the work and I can piggyback on their knowledge.  :)

    • Ryan Oakley says:

       @NicoleMills Me too! Learning through others online is one of the greatest benefits of the internet. In the past I would have had to write a book and be published! I heart the world wide web. :)

  20. NicoleMills says:

    Another great tutorial…thanks!

  21. Great videos.  BIG help.  Thanks and keep up the good work

  22. Your video tutorials for SmugMug Pro are Fantastic……You saved me days and days of frustration with those excellent shows…..THANK YOU!!!!
    And welcome to the U.K. SmugMug teaming up with Loxley Colour Labs I think is a great innovation for us.
    Keep up the good work and all the best for the future.
    Melvyn Snelgrove in Northern Ireland

    • Ryan Oakley says:

       @mel157 Hey Melvyn. Thanks for the kind words. And yeah – it’s great news about SmugMug partnering with a UK print lab. Now they just need one in Canada and we’d be all set! :)

  23. weddingphotogig says:

    @MarkhamBennett Thanks for the tweet Markham! :)

  24. Great post, Ryan! Those emails are THE best!

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