How to Make a Passive Income in Racing Photography and Other Streamlining Secrets

As a racing photographer, it is critical to save time in anything you do. After all, time is money in this sport.
Image by Lukas Bieri of Pixabay.

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As photographers it is everything to find a new way to streamline your process. In this day and age it is very important for you to be prospecting and servicing your clients, and less in fulfilling photo orders. Depending on the job, you could take as much time to fulfill photo orders as you do to complete the session. 

This article will cover two very reliable companies to streamline your photo selling process and ensure that you can spend more time with your clients. 

The reason I have chosen these two in particular is because of proven use in the racing industry, which is where I focus my time. But regardless of the industry, you can use these two platforms in just about any type of photo selling environment. 

The two platforms we are talking about are Zenfolio and SmugMug. Both are very comparable in what they do. Let’s cover what they do, then we will compare both in price and compatibility. 

What they Do:

  • Both offer great ecommerce platforms for you to sell photos online. 
  • They offer a passive income for your photography business. 
  • Both have exceptional customer support if you need anything. 
  • You can use both with your current website host. 

This section will be described using my experience in the racing industry. Please replace my experience with your own, for example wedding photos and family style photography, and you will be surprised at how similar they are. 


Before, I would need to print photos of each driver and walk around from pit stall to pit stall and sell them to the driver. While most of the time this would work, however some drivers just do not want to buy. 

This process would require me to utilize a third party printing solution such as or Miller Labs. Both options are nice, but it always happened,  I would have at least one mistake every week I picked up my orders from Walmart. 

With Miller Labs, I had far less mistakes, but would need to wait a week or more for the photos. 

When utilizing either Zenfolio or SmugMug, you are able to place your photo online and it will automatically have the options to buy the photo and a third party printing company will print and ship for you. 

You set the prices and the products you want to have your photo shipped on and either platform does the rest, which leads me to my next topic, passive income.

Passive Income

What is true passive income? In photography, you work for every income you get, so there really is no “passive income”. 

Until now. Both platforms offer a more passive form of income that allows you to spend more time in the business. 

Think about it, these photos sell at any time. For example, I photographed a wedding two years ago. The family are still ordering. Holidays and anniversary, or insert your scenario here, photos are being ordered from my website with the work already being completed.

If you are a wedding photographer, family style photographer, or if you want a more profitable solution to stock photography, these platforms will be your answer. 

As an added bonus, you can set up email communication with your buyers and provide them with coupons that allow them to take a certain amount off of their order, further boosting your sales. 

Exceptional Customer Service

It never fails. If you have operated and/or owned a website, there are problems. For those that are less-than tech savvy, it is important to have your own “support team”. After all, what else are you paying for? 

For both platforms, the support does not cover returns, but that is ok in my opinion. For me, having more control over the return process is key. It gives me the opportunity to offer exceptional customer service and vet if the return is warranted. 


While you can’t directly integrate your sites, it is very easy to link them to your main website, should you choose to stay with your website host. Don’t get me wrong, if you are ok with their pre-sets, you can do all hosting and selling from one platform. 

For me, I need more out of my site than what either platform can offer me. So what I do is set my homepage on Zenfolio to my actual website, but then offer a menu option in my actual website to lead you to the ecommerce portion. 


Mentioning templates, both sites have similar photographer-centered templates. They have similar looks and functions, so they don’t differ too much in my opinion. 

In Conclusion

Both platforms are similar in more than just their features. While the pricing is definitely different, it is competitive with one another. The only difference beyond price you will see is Zenfolio has three plans and SmugMug has four. 

If you are serious about selling your photos in a passive way, you could choose either of these two platforms. 

We cannot choose one or the other because both platforms have so much to offer. I use the “Pro” plan with Zenfolio, but would use the “Portfolio” plan with SmugMug. While SmugMug does come in slightly lower in pricing, we are talking a few dollars a year. 

If you want to know more about either platform, or get a more in-depth approach at setting up your website with either of these platforms, contact us and we will be happy to provide you with a step-by-step approach to the setup.

Examples of Each Site:

SmugMug: Heath Lawson Photos ; STL Racing Photos

Zenfolio: A.e. Blair Photography ; Brendon Bauman Photos


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