Good returns for Fotolia uploads, this site earns good results, here's why:
Clean simple layout, reasonable royalty structure and excellent referral scheme combined with reasonable cost per image make this a winner. The more images you sell the higher your royalty percentage goes, for 2011 starting at 20% and steadily rising to 46% (lots of sales needed to get to that level!) If you only upload your images to Fotolia then you can add 15-17% to those figures (35%-63%).
Fotolia have been constant innovators over the years trialling (and often quietly dumping) new ideas along the way (myfotolia r.i.p.) Fotolia images via their API can be found tied into all manner of products from office document templates to video presentation websites.
From a point of view of the photographer regarding rejections, fotolia wins hands down on having some of the most useless feedback in the microstock industry, a typical rejection message from fotolia contains something like:
"Your image did not meet our technical qualifications. The image contains one or more technical problems:
- Blurry or out of focus
- Over/Under exposure
- Framing problem
- Over or under saturated colors
- Problems with contrast
- Noise or Pixelation
- Quality of routing
- Interpolation problem"
Work out from that exactly what's wrong with your image! To make things worse, the email contains no link to view the image, only an id reference number which you can cut and paste and then go and match to the rejections online (2012 - it's been like this for years and shows no sign of changing).
As stated above royalty rate depends on your ranking (dependent on your total number of sales you have made) and on exclusivity. Fotolia offers exclusivity on a per image (increased credits per sale) and a per photographer basis. Exclusive photographers earn an extra 15-17% per sale
Excellent referral scheme commission rates, and lasting for 5 years (or 1 year depending on when you registered) it is (was) one of the longest commission periods in the business. As a photographer on fotolia, you will soon find that any customers you may send to purchase your photos directly will soon start earning you a lot more than just the commission you receive from that photo. I've found that my commission sales have over-taken from photo earnings on this site (and that is not a result of referral links from this site)
Fotolia has a very powerful API system, perhaps the most powerful/well supported in the microstock industry. This system allows other websites to either search and direct buyers to fotolia or to sell images direct (under the same terms as fotolia). It's unlikely you will use the API but the customers it attracts and the extra sales streams it affords increases the number of sales made by all fotolias contributors. If you opt-in to have your images redistributed by fotolia (highly recommended) then they can be sold and used in all manner of innovate applications A typical site to see this in action is printed cards on pingg.com just do an image search and see the "premium pingg" results.
In addition to microstock prices, Fotolia offer their buyers more traditionally priced stock images sourced from major 'macrostock' or 'full price' agencies at a substantial discount (starting at $20). These results are either mixed into normal searches or can be viewed separately. Emerald tier contributors can also offer their images in the infinite collection under special terms, separate from those for normal micropriced stock. Fotolia have remained tight lipped about exactly which agencies the infinite collection are sourced from but a May 2008 press release stated that more than 6000 of them were from moodboard.
6 years back earnings were very slow from this site, and stopped uploading for a while concentrating on some other sites. It just goes to show how quickly things can change in this industry, and how an upcoming site can take over. I doubt that once a site is earning good sales that it will decrease dramatically without notice.
It's a difficult choice to place the top 4 sites, especially with some of the somewhat uglier things that fotolia does. There is a lot of innovation going on here, some of it painful but a lot of it seems to be paying off, it leaves me wrestling with a decision of money v conscience.