There are a great many photo hosting websites out there, all doing a very good job. Chances are if you’re either a keen enthusiast, or someone who makes a living from photography, then you’ll have an archive online. SmugMug, Photoshelter and others all do a pretty good job, at various price points and they have broadly similar systems in place to help photographers sell their work. So, why did I move to Photodeck? This Photodeck review explains why.
UPDATE – This Photodeck review was originally written back in 2013. Since then, I have continued to use Photodeck as my image archive and photography website platform. Try it free and use the Photodeck discount code YG@UETFDN and get 50% off your first month.
It started with a sense of frustration at my existing host. Photoshelter had been good, they’re a big company and after seeing Digital Railroad fail a few years earlier, they seem to be concentrating on their core business, serving photographers with a platform to sell their work. I’d been with them for a few years, but to be honest, hadn’t really put a big push into marketing my archive.
With stock photography revenues seemingly in steep decline, there seemed little point. So my site just ticked over. I didn’t like the lack of mobile and tablet compatibility, primarily based around using Flash for slideshows. They kept promising it was ‘coming soon’ but as the number of mobile device visitors rose on my Google Analytics, I realized that mobile was important. It wasn’t for the future, it was here and now.
Then I realized that I’d been missing an opportunity with print sales. The popularity of the Stirling Moss and The Blonde image and requests for prints of that shot, plus others, made me realize that I needed to get a proper workflow in place.
At this point, I studied SmugMug, Zenfolio and Photodeck. Photodeck stood out, here’s why.
1. It’s blazing fast and I mean fast. Take a look at my archive at http://www.neillwatson.com and see how quick.
2. It’s totally mobile friendly, resizing on the fly and creating layouts that work on all screens, laptop, tablets and phones. Plus all the features continue to work, regardless of the platform.
3. No commission on your sales. This is a big thing for me. As I found my print sales increasing, so my monthly bill went up too. OK, so you can say that’s a good thing, it means you must be making more sales, right? True. But Photodeck takes no commission. Founder JF comments “We stick to what we’re best at, being a technology provider. In the same way that we don’t come between you and your clients, so we don’t step between you and your business partners.”
4. Enhancements are happening all the time. In the last two months alone, Photodeck have rolled out the print partner program and also added a mechanism to allow you to sell eBooks and other publications on the site too.
5. It integrates with WordPress. If, like me, you have a self hosted WordPress website, then you can take your Photodeck style settings and export them to your blog. This means that you can achieve a consistent look, plus you don’t have to worry about trying to export your WordPress archive to Photodeck.
Criticisms? Only tiny ones, none of which are deal breakers for me. First, Photodeck does include a blog template should you choose to run your entire website at one location. It’s a pretty good platform, but nothing like as powerful as a WordPress install, something I’m pretty sure that JF is working on. If you really really need a full featured blog platform, then continue running WordPress alongside as I have.
The other thing is you’ll need to invest time in it. Photodeck is immensely powerful, highly customizable. You can take one of the many pre-built themes, then customize that to your desired look. In addition, the pricing profiles are infinitely adjustable. The Plus Packs pricing calculator can be adjusted up and down to achieve the pricing level you desire, plus you can add multiple print sales options and differing pricing for postage. But it does take time, so be prepared to invest in it beyond the free trial period.
I spent a long time looking at the options and while others are perfectly OK, Photodeck’s combination of features as I’ve outlined above made it the choice for me. If you want to try it, you can use the referral code of YG@UETFDN when you sign up to get yourself a 50% discount off your first month. If you do, that helps us too, as we get a credit towards our own Photodeck account.
So sign up, use the code and try it out. After several years of using Photodeck and even trying out alternatives from time to time, it remains the best photographer’s website platform out there in my view.
2018. The Photodeck guys don’t sit still, just last month they released some new features for the service, something I asked about a while ago. Print fulfilment using One Vision Imaging in the UK is now integrated into Photodeck together with other great print shops in the USA too. This means that you can now ‘drop ship’ prints, canvas wraps and other products from your website straight to the print shop without having to deal with any shipping at all.
New themes an improvements are constantly being added and the platform remains blazing fast.