[I am the founder of Zenfolio and the person responsible for most of the bad decisions. Hopefully, some good decisions, too.]
Writing this first blog post made me think back to the beginnings of Zenfolio as a concept. Back then, photo hosting was a really crowded market with every portal and every company in the photo industry announcing free photo sharing services. I often get asked how in such an environment did we convince ourselves that people would pay money to host photos?
Three things made me believe this was a good idea:
- Being a photographer myself (a hobbyist photographer I should add), I knew I would pay money for such a service as I refused to throw my photos on one of the advertising-driven sites;
- I did not believe that anything “free” was going to last;
- It was clear to me that there was room for a quality service rich on features and focused on an online viewing experience.
Fast forward to 2008 and a lot has changed in the industry. Several free and consumer-based services are no longer around (ImageStation, iciclelanding.com, and Yahoo! Photos to name a few). Flickr is mainstream and chose to stay in the social interaction space around photos. Phanfare is reinventing itself to the grievance of many users. And more people are realizing that anything “free” is ultimately going to cost them a lot in time wasted or future investments. In short – we were right.
In a little over two years that Zenfolio service has been live, our customers have told us many times how much they appreciated our commitment to keeping clean online presentation free of advertising and that our efforts in preserving good usability and elegant design were much appreciated. Our Premium users are telling us that turning their passion into a business was never easier, and the number of people switching over to Zenfolio Premium from other “pro” services is a real proof of that.
Quality over Quantity
We take criticism for not building out the service fast enough but in many ways this measured rate of growth is deliberate. It allows us to preserve the quality of service and really focus on delivering the best in service. So far, we have been successful in that, with zero down-time and no major usability problems.
We are not in any hurry to turn a quick profit and run, or to get the most eyeballs. We are building a business that can be sustainable and long lasting. As others have learned, the growing pains can be damaging to the reputation and to customer relationships, and we are doing our best to avoid making such mistakes.
For us, quality will always be more important than quantity and when it comes to building software for artistic expression, making it perfect is worth the effort. As the name Zenfolio implies – we are striving for perfection which is always elusive.
Introducing Forums and Blog
The introduction of this blog and the user forums marks a new milestone in the growth of Zenfolio as a company – we are no longer communicating one to one with our customers, we are communicating one-to-many and many-to-many which helps us grow organically as a community of like-minded people focused on our passion for photography.
We have big plans for making future blog posts informative and interesting to many of our users. We are also planning for guest appearances from other bloggers covering general photography subjects, so if you have a suggestion of a topic that would be interesting to cover, let us know.
You can sign-up for the blog RSS feed to be automatically notified when there are new posts. We also encourage you to bookmark the user forums page to get access to the latest information and to become active participants.