Saturday, September 1, 2012

Smugmug Jacks Up Prices For Pro Users

I don't usual talk about business issues here, but this is something I have to get off my chest. On Friday evening I was working on a few projects when I received an email from my photo hosting website, Smugmug. Usually these emails talk about new services or warn about downtime, but this was a different type of email. The email described a price hike on pro user accounts, from $150 to $250 ($12.50/month to 20.80/month) for existing users or $300 ($25/month) for new users. The reason for such a large price increase? Some pro users are using a boat load of storage space, and the company wants to hire more engineers to expand the in house servers.

For me, a small business, having the price double for hosting images is a kick in the gut. Thankfully I wont have to pay that increase, if I choose to stay with Smugmug, till next April. The question that I have in my mind is, why not offer different levels of pro accounts? One could be for users with less than 100GB of storage, and one for those who use more. Why should someone like me, who hardly uses any storage space pay for pros who use over 50 or 100GBs? I am using just under 10GB of storage space after three years of having an account! 10GB of storage isn't worth $250 a year, no matter where you look or how good the customer service is!

The second question I have for Smugmug is, why should I pay an extra $100 a year over the new "Portfolio" level account just for the right to sell images via my website? Prices on the site should really shift to something more like this: non pro users with limited data storage, non pro with unlimited, pro with limited data storage (less than 100GB) and pro with unlimited storage.

In the past I have justified the $150 a year, because I get more than storage from Smugmug. In the current economy $250 a year might be tough to swallow unless business also doubles in the next year.