Zenfolio advertises itself as the #1 website builder used by pro photographers. The all-in-one platform aims to help you showcase and sell photos with ease, while still remaining a highly practical, easy-to-maintain website builder.
And for many photographers, this sounds exactly like the salvation they’ve been looking for. It’s hard enough just to be a professional photographer! Who wants to end up becoming your own website designer, sales manager, and order fulfillment expert?
So, for this Zenfolio review, in order to find out just how really helpful this platform can be, I made my own website and took a personal deep dive into its services.
And I was surprised to find out about some recent changes – on top of the existing platform, Zenfolio has also launched Portfolio and Portfolio Plus, an additional new platform that’s supposed to help smaller photographers showcase their skills on a budget.
And overall, going through both available options, I was quietly impressed with just how focused this platform is on one simple thing – helping photographers sell their work to a broader audience.
Resist the temptation to do in-depth design edits, and just focus on using this platform to promote and sell your art – this is where Zenfolio is best, and this is what it’s made to do.
Let’s have a look at what this platform is about. If you want, you can click here to jump straight to conclusion – or have a look at each of the parts individually.
|Overall score||3.6★||Helpful tool for photographers|
|Pricing||★★★★||Pretty good prices for basic photography websites|
|Ease of use||★★★★||Portfolio version much easier to use than classic Zenfolio|
|Templates||★★★★||Very few, but high-quality templates.|
|Business Features||★★★||Some solid photography tools, but printing only to USA.|
|Performance||★★★||Just below average in speed, due to plenty of images.|
Pros and cons of Zenfolio
- Good value for money
- Baked-in features from watermarking, to printing and selling pictures
- Simple to set up
- The classic builder is a difficult to use
- Printing features only let you ship to the US
- Not many templates
Zenfolio offers 4 different pricing plans: two on their old platform, and two for their new, portfolio-centered platform. The cheapest Portfolio plan costs $5/month, the most expensive Advanced one is $32/month. Overall, this platform is just slightly cheaper than the industry standard.
There is also a 14-day trial for each of the plan, letting you to have a proper look at what this platform can do.
|Portfolio ($5/month)||New portfolio platform. 15GB storage space for both photos and videos. One-page website templates. You can add your own domain. Allows social media integrations and all the basic marketing features, but you can’t sell with it.|
|PortfolioPlus ($12/month)||New portfolio platform. 100GB of storage. All Starter features plus you can sell products, do custom-designed greeting cards, collages and offer self-fulfilled products. In addition, you get email marketing tools.|
|Pro ($22/month)||Old Zenfolio platform. Full access to the previous version of Zenfolio. Selling and marketing available.|
|Advanced ($32/month)||Old Zenfolio platform. Everything above, plus multi-user access, mini sites for event management, Adobe Lightroom functionality, and a several extra eCommerce features.|
Before the launch of the new Portfolio platform, Zenfolio did have a $10/month plan. It used its old platform and focused on portfolios and personal users. No more: now, there is a clear separation at which platform is suited for which user, and in turn, budget.
Let’s see at which plan is meant for who:
- Use the Portfolio plan if you are looking to make a simple portfolio site. You can make shareable client galleries: something crucial for photographers, but can’t sell online or use multi-page templates.
- Use the PortfolioPlus plan if you require a multi-page website, eCommerce features, or wish to do some email marketing. This is meant for photographers that look to sell their art.
- Use the Pro plan if you wish to keep using the older platform and look to sell your photography online.
- Use the Advanced plan if you want to use the older Zenfolio platform to make a business based around photography.
But also, this is a Zenfolio review, not a Zenfolio press release. So I feel like I should clarify something from the start:
With the launch of Zenfolio Portfolio plans, I find it difficult to recommend the two expensive packages. On top of being brand new and future-proof, the $12 Portfolio plan offers comparable features to the $22 plan.
So, go cheap: and pick a plan depending on whether you wish to use your Zenfolio website to do online sales.
Is Zenfolio easy to use?
Zenfolio is a platform that focuses on making things as easy as possible for you. The setup process is simple and similar on both of its platforms. Starting everything up takes no more than five minutes and is supported by a follow-through guide.
We make our website builder reviews by setting up a test site on the platform. Zenfolio has two platforms: I used them both, and in this review, I’ll show you my experience with them.
Here is a test site that I ended up making (click the image to visit it!).
Let’s see how that went.
Using classic Zenfolio
Once you sign up with Zenfolio, you get asked to fill in your basic information: niche, and the things that you plan to do with your website.
Then, you choose your ready-to-use template. There are just about a dozen options available.
And then, a few uploaded pictures later, you get redirected to the dashboard – which looks like this.
When it comes to adding and managing pictures, Zenfolio does a fairly decent job. You can use the main dashboard to add images, insert watermarks, and even add things like restrictions, or set pricing for prints.
The menu setup is decent: it’s not an intuitive drag-and-drop variety, but you can make several pages using Zenfolio’s pre-made templates.
But if you steer a bit to the side, and try editing some finer things about your website’s design, it all gets just a little bit…confusing.
Compared to something seen on the top builder options out there, editing Zenfolio old builder isn’t a piece of cake.
The Theme Designer option, meant to set up your entire website, is clunky and quite confusing.
While you absolutely can edit a lot of things about your website, it’s not a pleasurable experience. And so, for many people, picking a theme, and adding the images is going to be just about the extent of website customization. It does the basics well – but that’s it.
Using Zenfolio portfolio
Zenfolio Portfolio not only rhymes really well, but it’s also a very well-thought-out photography website builder. At the start, it looks eerily similar to classic Zenfolio. “What is your website about?”, “What do you do?“, that sort of thing.
Then, the first difference emerges: you get asked whether you’d like to upload your pictures, or to go straight into website customization.
You don’t have to choose: in the website-building process, you’ll get to do both.
At first, I chose to start a website. And I got to choose from one of the templates. One of the key differences between Portfolio and PortfolioPlus plans is right here: I use a PortfolioPlus plan, so I get to choose between multi-page themes. The regular Portfolio plan will offer one-page themes instead.
Then, with that basic setup done, you also get a chance to build your gallery.
And then, after some basic setup choosing your preferred styles and designs, as well as uploading your pictures – you get redirected to the dashboard.
And honestly, it’s kind of excellent. The left-hand side menu includes all the things you need to do to manage your website and galleries.
The “Galleries” menu lets you add new images, and separate them into different folders.
In the “Settings” menu, you can set privileges for each of the galleries: it’s a great way to show the images to your clients.
The Selling menu lets you to quickly monetize your pictures. The preset options allow you to quickly build a pricing structure, manage orders, coupons, and shipping options. And the Reports menu keeps track of all of your sales.
Finally, there’s the Website menu:
In here, the website editing is much more intuitive than on the classic Zenfolio. You get to manage pages (if there are any!), change the website domain, color scheme, and pick a different template.
After clicking the Plus icon, I got to choose between 16 different elements: 4 types of text, 5 types of image elements, a button, 4 content blocks, and an Instagram block.
The elements can be easily edited. Once you pick an element, a menu on the left pops up, offering you various customization options: including even something as niche as custom animations!
Overall, Zenfolio Portfolio is very easy to use. Especially, when compared to the old version. This is the one you want to use, and so, I picked Zenfolio Portfolio, to make my custom website.
Zenfolio doesn’t offer all that many templates. But they look fairly modern and put your images at the very front – the way it should be on a photography website.
Classic Zenfolio offers 13 templates to pick from.
Zenfolio Portfolio offers 11 templates. Only 7 are available for the regular $5 plan users – they’re the one-page templates.
PortfolioPlus users also get access to additional 4 multi-page templates.
So, not much to pick from, huh?
Definitely. I wish Zenfolio had more themes to choose from. That being said, it is certainly a case of quality over quantity. All the themes available look pretty good. And they do their best to highlight your images, and not some creative decisions made by the in-house design team.
All in all, good job.
Zenfolio offers a handful of helpful features. Some will make you able to sell your images, other will make uploading and managing your pictures just a little bit easier. The new Zenfolio is still a rather new platform: so we can expect it to have even more interesting features in the future. But for now, let’s see what we have.
Zenfolio includes a simple way to sell your photography: both in digital, and print form. It’s partnered with Stripe payment gateway to handle payouts, and with Mpix photo lab to print and ship your images to the customers.
The “Selling” menu on your website dashboard is where all the action will take place.
Here you get to set prices for each product or gallery, making them available either as a print of a digital download.
Payment, fulfilment, shipping, everything is handled for you. There’s just one caveat: right now, Mpix cannot ship items outside of the USA.
The digital downloads are fine, but I wish there was also a worldwide option for artists that wish to go abroad.
For photographers, it’s important to protect their work. In the age of social media, it’s very easy to see your images float online, with no compensation, or even credit to you.
Zenfolio knows that, and offers a way to quickly add watermarks to all of your images.
It’s a simple feature, but certainly something most photographers will – or at least should – use.
Zenfolio Lightroom plugin
Zenfolio Lightroom plugin allows you to quickly upload images directly from Adobe Lightroom to Zenfolio. If Lightroom is your editing tool of choice, this will be a massive timesaver. This feature is only available to PortfolioPlus ($12/month) users.
By clicking “Learn More”, you get redirected to a startup guide, that will teach you the basics of how to add Zenfolio pictures straight through the Lightroom app.
Overall, it’s a nifty tool that can be a good time saver. If you’re a Lightroom power user, this alone might be a reason for you to consider choosing the PortfolioPlus plan.
Website builder are not known as being very fast. Same is true with Zenfolio – it’s not going to blow your socks off with its speed.
But there’s a reason for that.
Zenfolio is a photography website, meaning that it’s going to be absolutely brimming with pictures. And pictures take up a lot of space, and so, they’re going to take a while to load.
For the final test of this Zenfolio review, I put my own website to a GTMetrix test, which looks into website load time and overall optimization.
Here’s what I got:
Doesn’t look good? Well, it isn’t. The website takes over 3 seconds to fully start displaying your pictures. It’s the pictures that slow it down. My test website included around 9MB of data right at the very top. This is why it’s rather slow.
That being said, Zenfolio is still perfectly serviceable. 5.5s for a whole website to load isn’t bad. It just isn’t great.
Maybe the photography features didn’t sell you, or maybe the themes just don’t catch your eye. Whatever the reason, there are some great Zenfolio alternatives you can choose from.
Squarespace has over 100 templates to pick from. And similar to Zenfolio, they’re minimalist and focus a lot of visuals – so, it’s perfect for photographers. On top of that, dropshipping, marketing, and design tools can help you make a pretty solid photography website.
SmugMug is a slightly more expensive platform, very similar to Zenfolio. If you’re still interested in a photography-first website builder give this a shot.
Zenfolio review – final verdict
I came to this Zenfolio review expecting one platform, and I got two. I expected a slightly outdated, but still helpful photography suite, and instead, I discovered a great option for portfolios and small businesses to use. Its name is Zenfolio Portfolio, and it’s a massive step-up for this platform.
It’s a shame that print selling options are available only in the US, and I wish that there were more themes available. Other than that, it’s an option I endorse.
I recommend one of the Zenfolio Portfolio to start your photography website. The new platform is easy to build a website with, and easy to manage – great, if you just want to spend your time focusing on photography.
Good luck making your picture-perfect websites!
What is Zenfolio?
Zenfolio is a photography-centered website builder, allowing photographers to quickly upload, share, and sell their work.
Is Zenfolio or SmugMug better?
SmugMug gives you more custom design options, but Zenfolio offers a very simple all-inclusive package for portfolios. It depends on what you want more.
Is Zenfolio any good?
Zenfolio is good if you’re a photographer who wants a simple website. If you’re not a photographer, or want a highly-detailed editing experience, use something else.