I’ve used Photoshelter to host my photography website for over two years now. I know that choosing a website host can be a daunting task, so I thought I would provide an summary of my experience thus far.
Launched in 2005, Photoshelter is an online platform that aims to showcase, sell, deliver and organize your images in one place. They currently host about 80,000 photographers worldwide, from amateurs to industry professionals.
Photoshelter offers three different plans to choose from depending on your needs (Basic, Standard and Pro). They also offer nine templates to choose from to set up your portfolio website.
- Photoshelter offers a free 14-day trial so you can see if it works for you (note that you do need to provide a credit card number).
- Template designs are very easy to use and easy to set up, with no coding required. You do not need to be tech savvy to set up your own website. This was the main reason I personally chose them as a website host.
- You can easily switch templates, even once you’ve fully built your initial website. Changes are made in real time so it’s easy to experiment and see what you like best.
- I’ve found Photoshelter to have a great support center with a respectable response time. I’ve contacted them many times and have come away with detailed responses in a timely manner each time.
- With the Standard and Pro plans you can easily integrate a custom domain name.
- Photoshelter protects your images online with their Image Theft Guard feature which prevents people from right-clicking on your images and saving them to their own devices.
- Template designs are not very customizable aside from basic color and font choices. This has been a huge drawback for me, and a common complaint I’ve seen across other forums. You cannot add buttons, pop-up boxes or sale advertising. Creating a simple marketing funnel on your site is not an option.
- Photoshelter pricing runs a bit higher than other website hosts like Squarespace. Basic accounts start at $12.99/month, while Standard is $29.99/month and Pro is $49.99/month.
- There’s not a lot of places to add text within the templates, which can be disadvantageous for SEO.
- While you can add custom pages, I didn’t find the option very easy to use and had to get some outside help to add images at the sizes I wanted.
- There is no built-in blog option.
Photoshelter offers a fully integrated e-commerce option with their templates. Options for online print sales can be through their extensive print vendor network, their five integrated print vendors (products, shipping options and rates are preloaded into the PhotoShelter pricing profile), or through self-fulfillment. There are also the options to sell digital downloads, image packages and create coupons.
- You can create an unlimited amount of pricing profiles and batch apply them to images which makes pricing your work easy.
- The ability to dictate your shipping costs with each pricing profile.
- You can set up PayPal, Stripe or merchant accounts so receiving payment is easy.
- Photoshelter provides a list of your past sales, and sales either pending payment, pending fulfillment or pending approval. This helps to keep you organized, especially if you’re self-fulfilling print orders.
- The layout of the buying process is not optimized well for sale conversions. A tiny cart icon in a light color can easily be missed by clients. If they do spot the cart icon and try to buy an image, a tabbed menu box is their next stage to navigate through.
- I have had more clients contact me about buying a print through my contact form than I have actually buying directly off the site. They’ve either missed the cart, or missed the non-prominent tabs to see all of their options. I personally want a much easier experience for my customers when they visit my site.
- Out of the five integrated print vendors that you can use to automate your sales easily, none are in Canada, which is a downside for this Canuck. Four are in the US while one is in the UK.
- If a client wants to buy an image package, they must select all images from the same gallery as there is no option to choose from multiple galleries. This has caused me some issues with digital image sales from events, or from buyers who want to purchase a range of stock photos from different galleries.
- Depending on your plan, Photoshelter will take 8-10% of each sale you make, on top of any credit card processing fees you may have to pay. Some websites charge more, some charge less, but it’s good to be aware of these added costs.
Photoshelter offers a full client image delivery system including password protected gallery viewing and proofing.
- Photoshelter offers multiple options for download resolutions for each image in a gallery. This makes it easy for your clients to get what they need quickly. A client can download a full resolution file for print, and also a smaller resolution JPEG for social media of the same image in a matter of seconds.
- You can set download permissions for client galleries based on time or numbers of downloads. For example, if your client is to receive five digital images from your session, you can present them with a gallery of 20 images and set the download permission to five so that they can choose which ones to download. You can also set an expiration date for the download link.
- The client proofing tool allows your clients to make selections from their shoot right on your site.
- A Quick Send option allows you to easily email an image to a client via a ZIP file.
- I haven’t personally found any cons with the client delivery system with Photoshelter.
Photoshelter uses a cloud-based system with your images. It very much acts as a content management system just as much as a website host.
- There is no file size limit for uploading and the process is simple with drag and drop file management. You can also integrate Lightroom Classic and Photo Mechanic plugins.
- You have access to your photos in high resolution from almost anywhere in the world. Photoshelter is basically acting as another secure backup for any images that you have uploaded with them.
- The image interface is easy to use, with clear “Listed on Website” or “Unlisted on Website” sections.
- If you wish to remove an image from your portfolio, you can delete it completely, or just “hide” it so that it’s no longer visible to the public, but it is still stored on your site for access it whenever you need it.
- Your images automatically import with all EXIF and IPTC metadata so all you have to do is rename your files if desired. Clients can search your images by keyword, date, orientation etc.
- The upload time for high resolution files is slow, so uploading a large gallery can take a long time.
Overall I think Photoshelter is a good option for people who aren’t tech savvy but want to create their own websites.
The client delivery, file storing and ease of use components are strong. Lacking is an effective e-commerce experience for potential buyers. As well, being able to customize templates further would be a huge upgrade.
Photoshelter has announced updates to come in 2021, so I hope some of their major flaws will be overhauled.