Our Review: 

Fotolia has now been replaced by Adobe stock  - this information is for reference only

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, 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.


Review Process
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

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.

Subscription Downloads pay a minimum of 25c to 40c per download.


Infinite Collection

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.


Adobe Purchase

As of early 2015 Fotolia is now owned by Adobe (Read "Adobe Stock" review which now replaces fotolia), this signaled Adobes entry into the microstock space with the purchase of the then second ranked agency for $800million (@ 34 million images). The Fotolia image collection froms the source of content for Adobe Stock, an optional add-on for Adobes Creative Cloud which allows images to be chosen and used directly within design applications in their "Creative Suite" software.


Several 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 several years notice.

It's a difficult choice to place the top 4 sites, especially with some of the somewhat uglier things that fotolia has done in the past, The adobe buyout offers a glimmer of hope that future business descisions will be more long term focused and not be made on the basis of revenue for investment companies. 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.





Site Details
Media Types (in addition to RF Images): 
This site accepts video footage
This site offers a dedicated free section
This site accepts vector illustrations
(sort by agency)
Real US$ Cost of 1 Standard Image: 
5 (compare prices)
Referral Scheme: 
15% - 'photographer commission' on purchases of credits only, for 1 year, 20 credits if a subscription is purchased (compare rates)
Exclusivity Options Available: 
Both Exclusive Images and Contributors (compare)
Cost of a standard image (1600x1200) 2MP approx: 
5 Credits
Royalty Rate: 
20%, 23% after 100 downloads, 25% after 1000 downloads (total for the user not per image - so fairly easy to attain 23 or 25 percent). 15-17% more for exclusive photographers work and increased images prices. Subscription Sales 0.25 Credits to 0.40 Credits per Download (compare)
Cost of 1 Credit (basic): 
$ 1
FTP Upload: 

Address: ftp://submit.fotolia.com
Username: [user id number, NOT your username]
Password: code found in the upload area of your contributor control panel (not your regular login password)


Multiple Combinations of Downloads (25-250), Length of Subscription (1,3,6,12 month), Images and Images Vectors and Footage Options.
Monthly: 25 images/day $199
Annual: 25 images/day $1649
Annual: 50 images-vectors-video/day $4122
(Multi-user options available)

(compare subscriptions)
Reseller+Data: XML (legacy) JSON (details: fotolia.com/Services/API/Documentation) (list all)
Site Statistics
Approx. size of photo collection (0 = no current estimate): 
65,000,000 Images (compare)
Alexa Traffic Rank: 
880 (a measure of the site popularity, lower number is better)
Alexa 3 Month Change: 
26% (measurement of the increase of site popularity compared with three months ago, negative is a decrease)
fan page link (list all)
@fotolia (list all)
microstockexpo 11/11
Overall Rating: 
Site Closed / Not Recommended

zippyphoto's picture

7 days rank?

zippyphoto (not verified) on Fri, 2008-10-31 19:40
What is the 7 day rank and overall rank about? I looked on the fotolia FAQ, they have a page about rank but it does not explain overall rank
Steve Gibson's picture

7 day rank and overall rank explained

Steve Gibson on Sat, 2008-11-01 08:18

The 7 days rank on fotolia is how much you earned in the past 7 days compared to all the rest of the people selling their images on fotolia. Don't confuse this rank with your 'ranking' which is the colour of the fotolia icon you have and is directly related to the number of sales you have made, it also affects the amount of commission you earn)

The overall rank and 7 days rank do not affect your comission level. No one but you can see your rank.

Example: if you earned say $25 over the past 7 days, but 3000 people earned more than in the same period then you would be ranked 3001. The overall rank is the same but compares your total earnings over all time with that of other users.

Steve Gibson
Microstockinsider.com Editor

leaf's picture

great site

leaf (not verified) on Fri, 2009-01-23 08:58
Very informative and well put together site.
Anonymous's picture

Fotolia has never been my

Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 2011-05-05 12:58
Fotolia has never been my primary site due to low sales and its user interface which is not user friendly when compered to many other agencies.
D P's picture


D P (not verified) on Sat, 2011-10-01 09:17
Having registered with 8 microstock sites Fotolia was the first to be jettisoned. Reason? I can live with 20~25% acceptance on submissions, on one site it's 100% another 80% other around 25%. But less than 5%?! That is ridculous and there are a number of complaints about Fotolia limiting submissions by just rejecting everything. I mean photos that once would have earned healthy incomes with rights managed are rejected by Fotolia ~ and payouts are not great. Jumping through hoops for the price of a postage stamp is not my idea of a healthy work flow.
Steve Gibson's picture


Steve Gibson on Sat, 2011-10-01 21:43

There are some very nice rejected images in that free collection of theirs...

Anonymous's picture


Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 2011-12-12 14:03
Hmm.. very strange to me score 8 out of 10. My portfolio is very small - vectors - but fotolia is really far lower than other sites, almost dead. Zero views mostly for all images. [deleted], bigstock and dreamstime are super sellers - considering size of my portfolio - and there is at least numbers of views - some life going on. As for fotolia - nothing, zero views for most images. I would put 1 of 10.

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