We’ve read thousands of your emails, tweets, and posts this week and planned on making a blog post with answers to your most common questions.
Baldy, our President and co-founder, recently spent some time with Frederick Van Johnson from TWiP (This Week in Photography) addressing a lot of questions that the community has been asking about our pro price increase. Frederick suggested that, rather than a blog post, we do a follow-up video answering your most important questions.
So that’s exactly what we did:
UPDATE on November 8, 2012: We’ve added the ability to price and sell to the Portfolio account, based on the feedback we’ve been getting from you.
UPDATE on Sept 7, 2012: We’ve posted an update from Don & Baldy to answer your most common questions about these changes.
UPDATE: In case there was any confusion from the email, you won’t see a price increase until after your next renewal date if it’s after October 15th. We are not billing anyone on October 15th unless that was their annual or monthly renewal date.
For the first time in 7 years, we’re raising the price of some SmugMug Pro subscriptions, something we tried hard not to do.
Pros who sell at a markup use far more storage and features than pros who don’t, so we split our pro account into two types: Portfolio and Business.
Portfolio is $150/year or ($20/mo) and still provides access to our pro labs for both you and your visitors, plus pro features like watermarking.
Business lets you set prices and earn profit. It will be $300/year (or $35/mo) for new customers, but existing subscribers who set prices will be asked to renew at $250/year (or $30/month) beginning October 15, 2012.
Personally, if I were asked to pay more for a service, I’d want to hear from the person responsible for the decision. That’s me, so I placed my dSLR on a tripod, and looked it right in the lens imagining it was you. I tried to offer a peek inside SmugMug and our thinking:
What will I be charged when I renew?
If your anniversary date is before October 15, no worries, you’ll renew at our existing rates.
- After October 14, we’ll guess you’d like to renew at the Portolio rate if you aren’t setting prices.
- Also after October 14, we’ll guess you’d choose to renew at the Business rate of $250/year (or $30/month) if you do set prices.
If we’re guessing wrong, you can upgrade or downgrade in a few seconds in your Account Settings.
What’s the diff between Portfolio and Business?
The short. Portfolio has everything except commerce features.
The long. Portfolio lets you build a beautiful site, protect your photos and print pro-quality prints. You get everything in the Power account, plus:
- Access to Bay Photo and WHCC. (Loxley in the works. We’ll say when.)
Business has every bell, whistle and feature we offer, including:
- Commerce tools: Custom pricing, Sales tax, direct deposit
- Marketing features: Events and favorites, Coupons, Packages, Order branding
- Workflow helpers: Proof delay, Personal Delivery, Boutique Packaging
Our features chart has all the details.
Do I get something out of this?
Yes! The other big reason for doing this is to invest more engineering in SmugMug to make your lives better, which is exactly what we’re doing.
We love that many of you have been with us for almost 10 years and it’s stunning to think how far we’ve come together. Thanks so much for all the great support you’ve given us.
Thanks for being a part of the SmugMug family,
Chris MacAskill (aka Baldy)
Co-Founder & President
Recently the Mountain View Patch came to visit us at SmugMug HQ to feature us in the Startup Spotlight:
We’re not really a startup and are excited about entering our 10th year of profitable business! But old habits die hard and we still act like one: We’re nimble, hiring like crazy and we stay close to our customers.
Take a look to learn about our modest beginnings and how we’ve worked hard to be successful bringing you big, beautiful, ad-free galleries you know and love. Plus, find out how being stretchy can make or break you in this rapidly-changing digital age, and meet a few high-profile neighbors in SmugLand.
We’re tickled that we’ve come so far through the years. Of course we couldn’t have done it without you: our friends, fans and family!
We thought we were doing an awesome thing by giving away 20,000 stretchy comfy grippy camera straps. Until recently, all we heard was how cool the straps are.
But we’ve heard a few disturbing reports of the clips failing on some straps, so we thought we’d better put out an alert. Problem is, we’ve given these away at places like SmugMug user group meetings, so we don’t have a way to contact everyone who received them. Please pass this along to anyone you know with our straps.
We have 15,000 new straps coming this week and we asked the manufacturer to put much bigger clips on the new ones (click to see bigger):
Disclaimer: the fact that we’re hanging a 20 pound weight from the straps does not mean we recommend it! Don’t try it at home.
We’re happy to replace your strap with the new ones coming this week even if you’ve had no clip fail. No worries, they’re free, just like the originals. But we have to ask for patience because we have a backlog of orders.
The reports we’ve heard of failed clips appear to have come from the kinds of big cameras Batman would use:
We know of a few people who heard of the clip fail but love their straps so much they threw away the clip and sewed the strap.
Clip slip & fail
We researched failures on the net and it was a little bit scary to read clip fail reports about straps of just about all makes. Someone sent in a diagram of the way they have secured their straps for years no matter the manufacturer or size of camera. Here’s what they said:
“The idea of the double lock is that it prevents the slippage by binding the nylon against itself and also captures the tail end of the strap inside the slider. This makes slippage virtually impossible. The other advantage is if the clip should fail, the slider with all of this extra material can and usually does bind and catch the item before it falls.”
But big cameras require big straps
I know, the straps say Pro on them… But honestly we can’t be sure even the new straps will be bullet proof on big camera/lens/flash combos. We’ve not been able to do the thousands of hours of testing under all conditions that would make us be sure they’ll never fail under a big load.
How to get new ones
SmugMug subscribers can get new straps at http://www.smugmug.com/free-stuff.mg.
Love the straps but don’t subscribe to SmugMug? If you have one of the old straps, send email with your name and address to help at smugmug dot com. We’ll get one to you if you act fast before this goes viral and we go through all 15,000.
But we can’t tell you how sorry and embarrassed we are that a clip apocalypse happened to some people whose beloved cameras hit the ground.
All the best,
The SmugMug Family
Who’s your daddy?
We added a referrer tab to your statistics so you can see who’s making you popular. My SmugMug site was discovered by StumbleUpon:
For most sites, you can click on the numeric link under hits to discover which pages on those sites are fueling your rise to fame and fortune.
This feature diverts your customer’s package to you so you can personally deliver it to them.
Enable it for all galleries on the pros tab of your control panel. Enable it for specific galleries via Gallery Settings.
We still collect your customer’s ship-to address in the shopping cart in case you don’t have it. We’ll notify them that their package will come from you.
Continuing the effort to promote your brand on orders, such as cart and package branding, our new order confirm emails mention you more prominently and us less so.
Improved Sales History Page
Faster, lighter, betterer at the maths, with more sort options.
An annoying error message asking you to remove Google Analytics code from your custom footer should annoy you no more.
Almost shipped but…
Stay tuned for our next exciting episode because two pro improvements almost went out tonight but just missed the bus.
All the best,
The SmugMug family
The thing is we have giant walls and we’re kinda bored by static scenes.
What if we want a giant print of fireworks over San Francisco, like this shot we love from Chris Michel, printed BIG!
Creative high-schooler and SmugMug intern Kevin, who dreams of Stanford, did what he does best: mooch cameras from his friends. Fire nine of them at the same instant and voila! Pixels enough for 12-foot prints.
Here ’tis with two cameras firing simultaneously:
So who wants to be part of shooting an epic 12-foot print of Fireworks over San Francisco? ‘Cus Kevin and I would like to meet you there so we can mooch your 5D MKII, if you have one.
Got other ideas for an epic big action shot we can take as a group of 5D donors?
Kerry Ellis offered to ask the astronauts to take a high-res pic inside the International Space Station. Ooooo!! Kerry, it isn’t the winning idea for the staircase but I have a wall 140″ tall x 140″ high that I’ll mount that shot on if you can arrange it, and I’ll send you a very fine iPad.
Photo courtesy NASA:
A few days ago I was sure we would settle on award-winning underwater photographer (and editor of Wetpixel) Eric Cheng’s idea for an underwater pano.
Eric, I love the idea so much I may be willing to commission it, and we may not be able to pull off the iPad-winning idea, so stay tuned.
The idea that swept us away:
California Photographer Patrick Smith suggested getting to the top of the North Tower of the Golden Gate Bridge and shooting South, placing the south tower on the staircase far wall, and the spans on the two side walls, with views of SF through the spans. Epic! Chilling! I’ll be sending your iPad right away.
How do you get permission? Some have:
Golden Gate tower photoset on Flickr.
What’s in it for the people who manage the Golden Gate Bridge? An epic public domain gigapixel image for historical purposes? Make it available for public viewing somewhere important?
Anyone know how to get permission?
We’re all about Big Prints at SmugMug’s HQ, like this 60-foot gigapixel skyline of SF:
That one had to be dark because it’s in an entertainment room where we watch movies. Here’s a lighter big print in our conference room:
The tragedy is we have a massive stairwell looking empty and sad. Sad because it doesn’t have the gigapixel wrap-around floor-to-ceiling (150 inches) breathtaking shot it deserves. Even the dog looks sad:
All you have to do to get us to send you an iPad is come up with a scene that would make the hallway awesome. The person who comes up with the idea that excites us most gets the iPad.
There are a few constraints. One is we’d love a light scene, like maybe colorful fishies near the surface in the great barrier reef.
Another is we have to be able to shoot it or commission some talented photographer to shoot it. So Saturn’s rings are out. I dunno, does someone know how to shoot a gigapixel image underwater and stitch it? Sounds hard.
Our bias is that big photos should let you see fascinating details that you can’t see in small ones. We have a 144-inch print of Milan Cathedral that gets people to stare in wonder because they can see details they can’t even see by traveling to Milan.
Robert Scoble made a video of our large prints.
We’re pretty geeky, so we like aerospace museums. Is there one full of coolio planes that would allow us (you?) to shoot for a print that large? We like exotic car collections, too…
Keep in mind that the viewing distance will be very close. People aren’t standing back, they’re walking two feet away as they climb the stairs. They demand awesome detail.
We’ll be watching the comments like hawks and can’t wait to send an iPad to someone!
All the best,
Chris MacAskill (@baldy on Twitter)
Love is in the air! We just added an elegant new theme for Valentine’s Day. Showcase your lovebirds (or your own sweetheart) in style:
Find it in your themes picker under ‘Holidays & Seasons’. Remember, Power and Pro users can customize this theme and many others to create their own look.
Questions? Comments? Talk about it here.
The SmugMug Family
Simple Sales Tax
Some states require Pros to collect sales tax. If you fit that bill you can now specify a tax rate and we’ll automatically apply it in the shopping cart for orders shipping to your selected state. Find the Sales Tax Tool right in your Control Panel, under the Pros tab.
You’ll also see that your Sales History records will reflect the amount of tax you collect. Read all about this feature here.
Please note that SmugMug does not assume responsibility for the management of sales tax you collect and we recommend you consult with your tax advisor if you have any questions.
If you are a saver or a spender, we now offer a little something extra in our new Profit Handling feature. We give you the option to request payment or hold payment in the Pros tab of your Control Panel.
1. We’ll pay all pros that have at least $500 in profits once a month. If you make no changes in your Control Panel, your Payment Handling will be set to this option.
2. Previously, if your unpaid profit was less than $500 but you wanted to be included in our next payment cycle, you had to contact us via email. You can now trigger a one-time payout of all your profits yourself by clicking the top option. You will be included in our next payment cycle, then the normal schedule will resume.
3. If you prefer to bankroll, you can put all your future payments on hold until you change your mind. Choose the third option and savor your new holiday savings fund.
Need a refresher on reporting? Look here.
Fixes and improvements
Our Smart Galleries just got smarter:
- Smart Galleries no longer fall into an infinite loop if two galleries pull photos from each other.
- Switching rules from ‘Any’ to ‘All’ will properly return valid results.
- Smuggers using IE7 can now join the fun and add/remove rules.
- You can set a Smart rule to apply to a single day.
There were other important bug fixes, too:
- The W9 form accepts routing numbers that begin with 08 and 09. We also added a “Government” option to the filing status list.
- Be Social Tweeters were sometimes presented with an erroneous confirmation message if their post failed. This now works perfectly.
- Arranging photo by number saves the order you set.
- Keyword searchers are rewarded with a nicer message if there are no search results.
And last but not least, we heard your reviews about our beta Stats and made a few refinements:
- Click a calendar date twice to view data for a single day.
- The gallery choice sticks when you click through the other tabs. Get all the details.
- We added filenames to image pickers and gallery details.
- Gallery names now accept non-English characters.
- The graph should load properly each time you change tabs or adjust settings.
Thanks to everyone who offered their generous feedback. If you have a gripe or a comment, please make sure to tell us about it.
All the best,
The SmugMug Family