© 2021 CyberNews - Latest tech news, product reviews, and analyses.

If you purchase via links on our site, we may receive affiliate commissions.

Zenfolio review – exciting new portfolio tools

zenfolio review

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.

Rating:3.6
Ease of useEasy Portfolio interface
TemplatesOnly a handful of templates
Business featuresSolid photography features
PerformanceJust below average speed
Current deal:40% OFF your photography website

Pros and cons of Zenfolio

Pros

  • Good value for money
  • Baked-in features from watermarking, to printing and selling pictures
  • Simple to set up

Cons

  • The classic builder is a difficult to use
  • Printing features only let you ship to the US
  • Not many templates

Zenfolio pricing

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.

PlanFeaturesPrice
PortfolioSimple portfolio plan with 7 basic templates$5/month
PortfolioPlusAll portfolio templates, email marketing, and selling features$12/month
ProExcellent photography and marketing tools: get an extra 40% off HERE.$22/month
AdvancedMulti-user access, mini sites for events, and other advanced features$32/month

These Zenfolio prices are valid when paid yearly. If you wish to pay monthly, you can – but the prices will increase to $7, $15, $30, and $44 a month respectively.

zenfolio pricing

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.

Tip

If you're a professional, looking to save with Zenfolio, good news! Right now, Zenfolio offers a special 40% discount for all CyberNews readers. Click the link below, and start saving!
Get deal NOW

Is Zenfolio easy to use?

Besides being one of the cheapest website builders, 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!).

zenfolio example website

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.

zenfolio startup

Then, you choose your ready-to-use template. There are just about a dozen options available.

zenfolio classic pick design

And then, a few uploaded pictures later, you get redirected to the dashboard – which looks like this.

zenfolio classic dashboard

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.

zenfolio classic menu edit

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.

editing classic zenfolio theme

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.

editing classic zenfolio theme 2

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.

zenfolio portfolio startup

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.

zenfolio multi page templates

Then, with that basic setup done, you also get a chance to build your gallery.

zenfolio select layout

And then, after some basic setup choosing your preferred styles and designs, as well as uploading your pictures – you get redirected to the dashboard.

zenfolio portfolio 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.

portfolio gallery zenfolio

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.

zenfolio client permissions

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:

zenfolio editing pages

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.

zenfolio site design

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.

zenfolio adding elements

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!

adding elements on zenfolio

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 templates

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.

classic zenfoilio templates

Zenfolio Portfolio offers 11 templates. Only 7 are available for the regular $5 plan users – they’re the one-page templates.

one page portfolio templates

PortfolioPlus users also get access to additional 4 multi-page templates.

multi page portfolio 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 features 

Being one of the best website builders for photographers, 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 eCommerce

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.

zenfolio ecommerce

Here you get to set prices for each product or gallery, making them available either as a print of a digital download.

zenfolio print prices

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.

Zenfolio watermark

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.

zenfolio watermark

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.

lightroom plugin setup

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.

zenfolio lightroom setup guide

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.

Zenfolio performance

Website builders 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.

Zenfolio alternatives

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

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

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!

Zenfolio FAQs

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.

Related articles:
Comments 2
  1. 0.0 says:

    do you know if zenfolio compresses your images before publishing the site? i’ve seen a few zenfolio websites with pics that looked a bit pixelated to me

    • Paulius Masiliauskas says:

      Hello! Zenfolio gives you options on how you want to deal with this. On settings, you can choose the compression and resolution of the images. And for more work-related stuff, you can always upload uncompressed RAW files.

      I found that in Zenfolio’s case, the blurry look is more prevalent on older websites – perhaps they were uploaded earlier when the tools were less refined, or something happened in the platform over time. As of now, I had no such issues happen to me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I agree to the Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Subscribe for security tips and CyberNews updates
Email address is required. Provided email address is not valid. You have been successfully subscribed to our newsletter!

© 2020 CyberNews – Latest tech news, product reviews, and analyses.