If you are serious about blogging, DO NOT use Zenfolio’s blog tool

Do Not Blog on Zenfolio

Do Not Blog on Zenfolio

{begin rant}

The Honeymoon is Over

I’ve been a Zenfolio fan-girl for more than six years.

When they enabled blogging natively on their platform in 2012 I jumped ship from Blogger and moved my blog, committing whole-heartedly to the Zenfolio paradigm.

I noticed several deficiencies in customization compared to Blogger right away, but mistakenly believed that Zenfolio would up their game and keep development going for their loyal customers who happened to be bloggers. I was wrong.

Moving my blog to Zenfolio was (probably) the worst decision I’ve made for my website

As I’ve grown as a blogger, I’ve repeatedly tried to add functionality to my website to increase usability and stickiness to keep people on my site as long as possible. I have been stifled at nearly every turn.

  • There is no way to insert third-party code into the page template – I wanted to add a non-intrusive popup in the lower-right corner asking people to sign up for my newsletter.
  • There is no way to insert third-party code into the post template – I wanted to add code that would automatically link three related posts encouraging people to click through to other content (I ended up doing this manually – searching through my list of posts and doing the copy/paste thing)
  • They limit the number of characters in the sidebar field (but don’t tell you the limit) – I post affiliate ads and discount codes for my readers. It got to a point where each time I tried to add something new I had to delete something else or it refused to save.

There have been countless little things that I’ve had to construct workarounds for, which, over time, has made my blogging workflow cumbersome and incredibly time consuming.

Zenfolio is holding my blog content hostage

Yes, you read that right – they do not allow downloading/exporting of your blog content (or custom pages)! There is no way to export your blog, either for backup OR moving the blog in an easy fashion to another platform.

I have HUNDREDS of posts and I’m furious that I can’t move my data. If I were to cancel my Zenfolio account, my content would be gone. In no way is this okay!

I’m not ditching Zenfolio…yet

The honeymoon might be over, but I’m not quite ready to kick Zenfolio to the curb. They excel as a portfolio. Their gallery features are great. Its obviously their bread and butter…blogging is not. Zenfolio is a great way to display your images to potential clients. Its fantastic for portrait and wedding photographers who want an easy way to set up private client galleries.

They also still have my blog content(!!!) – I’m working on manually copying and pasting my blog content to a new WordPress website that my husband and I are building. (I’m not ready to share that URL – its in rough shape still). This process could take months. My life would be SO much easier if Zenfolio allowed me to export my blog!

C’est la vie – sometimes you have to go through growing pains to build a business (and recover from stupid mistakes).

{end rant}

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  1. Kyle on July 25, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    Hi, any chance you found a solution? I’m dumping Zenfolio entirely (been there since 2007), and have the same issue with the blog being trapped. It’s unbelievable how far behind they are now; rated dead last for portfolio hosts. Squarespace and Format appear to be the top two, so I’ve started rebuilding in Squarespace (love it so far!). Thanks!

    • Angela Andrieux on July 25, 2016 at 7:41 pm

      Hi Kyle, Unfortunately my solution isn’t a great one. I built a WordPress site using a subdomain (blog.angelandrieux.com) and am little by little copy/pasting my old posts from Zenfolio. With over 460 posts held hostage on Zenfolio’s server it is a huge chore. The only upside is that it gives me the opportunity to refresh old content/links and improve my SEO.

      Once I have a post copied over I do an HTML 301 redirect from the old post to the new version. I’ve been using http://www.rapidtables.com/web/tools/redirect-generator.htm to generate the HTML codes. I then use the source code view in Zenfolio to insert the html 301 direct at the top of the post. It isn’t the BEST way to do a 301 redirect but from the research I’ve done it is the only option for directing a blog post on Zenfolio to a new URL.

      I’m glad to hear that you are loving Squarespace. I’ve heard good things. I’m still using Zenfolio for my portfolio but I’ve been researching other options. I’ll check out Format, too. I’ve even considered building up galleries on my WordPress site since my theme supports it. That still leaves the issue of print/product sales, but I’ve been looking into Fine Art America for that. Pros & cons there, too.

      Let me know if you have any other thoughts/suggestions. Cheers!

  2. Daniel on August 9, 2016 at 9:18 am

    Honestly Im about to jump ship purely because I can’t export. I’ve had a couple of companies ask for my review blogs to publish on their sites, these are my sponsors and I can’t just grab it. I’m going to have to re write it, very frustrating as I though id at least be able to transfer the text.

    • Angela Andrieux on August 9, 2016 at 9:27 am

      I agree. Its extremely frustrating. I’m exploring other options as well, in addition to moving my old posts over to WordPress (post by post, copy & paste). What other platforms are you considering? So far, WordPress is working well. I’m just not sure what to do about my portfolio and product sales. Let me know what you think and if you have any suggestions. Cheers!

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  4. Anna on August 27, 2016 at 5:07 pm

    I’m moving to wordpress.org for my website. Thankfully, I only have about 30 or so blog posts to move, and still have all the photos on my computer, so I’m going to copy and paste all my text and re-upload the photographs to match. Tedious, but the seo is so so bad on zenfolio that I cannot justify staying there and watch as my competition get found on google and get hired when I could have been hired had my work been seen!

    • Angela Andrieux on August 28, 2016 at 8:44 am

      Good luck with moving your data. As you say, its tedious, but worth it! I’m moving around 460 posts. Uff.

      I did write a followup article, not sure if you saw it, on how to move your Zenfolio blog content to WordPress. I included how to do a html meta tag redirect which will help your existing traffic find your new site (as long as your Zenfolio site is still up and running). https://angelaandrieux.com/2016/08/how-to-migrate-your-blog-from-zenfolio-to-wordpress/ I hope it is helpful to you!


  5. Tom Robak on November 3, 2016 at 3:55 am

    well written Angela. Zenfolio blog is a disaster – migrating it is a pain too… I’m glad you got rid of that

    • Angela Andrieux on November 3, 2016 at 9:01 am

      Thanks, Tom. I agree – it is a disaster. I’m not rid of it quite yet…still transferring over my old posts a few every day. BUT I’m so much happier with WordPress!! I clicked over to your website. Your wedding work is stunning!

  6. Mike P on December 7, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    I’m glad I came across this article! I’m wanting to start a photography website with a good e-commerce and good portfolio platform. Zenfolio seemed perfect for those. I also want to blog about my travel photography with pictures,stories, videos and equipment/ product links ie; Amazon. Any suggestions? Also looking at squarespace. Thanks!

    • Angela Andrieux on December 11, 2016 at 12:43 pm

      Hi Mike, I’m glad the article was helpful! I would encourage you to check out Imagely. It is managed WordPress hosting for photographers. WP is certainly more involved than a platform like Zenfolio or Squarespace, but you have complete control and far more options. While I’m not yet an Imagely customer, I likely will be in the next year when my Zenfolio subscription ends and I’ve finished moving my old blog posts over to WP. I’ve been impressed with their WordPress education (via their podcast) and from what I know so far, they provide great support. Let me know what you go with, and why. Happy Holidays!

  7. Dee Zunker on January 2, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Great write-up Angela. I am in the process of moving from SmugMug to WordPress 100%, but the ever elusive options for sharing, proofing, and selling on WordPress to match what the hosting sites offer are hard to put together. NextGenPro is the closest so far, but I am diving into the SEO more before I go all in with NG pro.

    As for Squarespace, it is just a blog that will integrate with SmugMug, so not a replacement for your online hosting IMO. You end up paying for both. You also have the issue of not being able to export your blog when you decide to make a change later, just like with Zenfolio.

    • Angela Andrieux on January 2, 2017 at 2:48 pm

      Hi Dee, I’ve heard great things about NextGenPro. While I’ve been steadily moving my old posts from Zenfolio to WP, my galleries are still on Zenfolio. I hope to change that in a few months and NextGenPro is at the top of my list for building out my portfolio on WP.

      I wasn’t aware that Squarespace didn’t have export options. That is good to know! I looked seriously at their service before I settled on WordPress, and while better than Zenfolio’s blogging options, it still didn’t have the flexibility I was looking for.

      Best of luck on your SmugMug to WP migration & Happy New Year!

  8. Skylar on February 18, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    Hi Angela!
    Thank you for this write up. We just read through all of this dialogue. We’re currently using Zenfolio for our website, hosting and blogging. We’ve just begun to utilize our blog as a marketing tool (or trying to) and realized how bad it really it! Very limited options for customization, SEO and it’s not user friendly. Where are you now in this process? And what do you think of Imagely?

    We were thinking of sticking with hosting on Zenfolio because we enjoy the client/proofing/purchasing/print buying marketplace but the blog is really throwing us for a loop. Hopefully there’s a way to integrate a different kind of blog or something else into a Zenfolio site but we’re not sure. If not, we may need a complete overhaul. Thanks in advance!

    Skylar & Devin

    • Angela Andrieux on February 18, 2017 at 4:55 pm

      Hi Skylar & Devin,

      I just finished moving my blog posts (manually copy/paste) from Zenfolio to WordPress last week. It was a tedious process, but my WP blog has so much more functionality and the SEO kicks Zenfolio’s butt.

      I’m just getting started with Imagely and am in process of shifting my WP hosting from GoDaddy to Imagely. So far their support has been great. Since I’m moving my entire portfolio, online store, etc. to WP the transition is going to take awhile. Its a much bigger learning curve than setting up a site with a service like Zenfolio. That said, I’m looking forward to having complete control over my site, suppliers, and prices.

      On the portfolio end, I considered sticking with Zenfolio because of the ease, but at the end of the day their SEO is inferior to a WP site. Plus, then I would have had to keep up and manage two sites. I’ve also learned that having your site all located at your main URL is better for SEO as well.

      As for options for integrating Zenfolio with WP – sadly there are none. I searched high and low.

      Let me know which route you end up taking and how it goes. And if there are any other questions I can answer, please let me know!


    • Angela Andrieux on February 18, 2017 at 4:59 pm

      One more quick note – I checked out your site and your work is amazing! FYI the Facebook link at the bottom of your site is broken. :) I look forward to following you!

  9. Steve Dalmado on July 5, 2017 at 11:33 am

    Hello Angela, I’ve been using Zenfolio for the last 8 years and recently switched it to cover my photobooth business about 6 or 7 months ago. I have a WordPress site but haven’t been too active with it. Which template in WordPress are you using that allows galleries? I need one that allows free downloads. My galleries and Blog posts are less than 25 so switching won’t be too daunting.

    • Angela Andrieux on July 5, 2017 at 11:47 am

      Hi Steve, Thanks for your comment! I’m using the Gridsby theme from Modern Themes and I use the NextGen Gallery Pro plugin for my galleries and slideshows. You can do galleries with Gridsby BUT it is very cumbersome. The NextGen Gallery Pro plugin will work with just about any theme. Good luck with your transition! :-)

  10. […] In early 2016 I moved my blog to WordPress because I’d outgrown the capabilities that Zenfolio allows for their blog platform. (I wrote about those issues in August of 2015, you can read the article here.) […]

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