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Fotolia logoFotolia are a relatively young microstock agency. They started out focused on the European market and it worked for them. Up until the Fotolia V2 upgrade, they had the highest advertised quantity of images online of all microstock agencies, though there was a lot of speculation about the authenticity of their numbers.

Fotolia Background

Fotolia came onto the Alexa radar in late 2004, despite their official press kit stating that they were founded in January 2005. This makes them a relatively late entrant to the microstock market. They’ve certainly made up for lost time with their portfolio numbers, quantity of contributors, and the significant amount of press coverage they generate. They’ve been strategically creative and driven their business to place themselves among the microstock market elite.


Web Address
Google Pagerank 6
Google Backlinks 23,900
Alexa Rank 3,691
Image Stats 1,958,562
Minimum Image Size 2 MegaPixels
Vectors Yes
Footage No
Licenses Standard Royalty Free. Extended License for resale items, but Unlimited Run and Multi Seats are included in the standard license. (Exclusive Buyout License discontinued June 2007)
Compensation Minimum 33% or minimum 50% for exclusive images
Pricing $1 – $5 for standard license. Contributors can set own prices, within limits.
Payment Methods PayPal, Moneybookers
Payout Threshold $50
Referral Program 15% of purchases and 10% of contributor sales
Application Process None, just start contributing
Exclusivity Higher commissions
Upload Methods HTML, Java in-browser application, FTP
IPTC Data Yes
Delete images? Yes, immediately and individually
Currencies US Dollar, Euro, Pound Sterling
Languages English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese
Headquarters New York, USA (Originally Paris, France)

Cool Features

  • Set own prices – contributors can set the prices of their images at Fotolia within the limits of their level. Higher level contributors have more flexibility in their price levels. This enables more successful stock photographers to really increase their earnings.
  • AdThumb – images downloaded from the free section (which are donated by contributors) generate advertising within the thumbnail. 50% of the revenue is divided among the contributors whose images were downloaded from the free section.
  • Pronunciation demo – go to the FAQs of Fotolia and look under the Main section for ‘How do you say Fotolia’. You can play an audio recording of the official pronunciation!
  • Keyword order – keywords at the start of the list for any given photo are given higher relevance in the search results. This is a great way to limit the effectiveness of keyword spamming and allows contributors to really hone their keywords. You cannot change keywords of approved images, but you can alter their order.

Fotolia Performance

Website performance has always been shaky at Fotolia. Session timeouts result in database errors and speed is very poor. Alexa reports their speed to be in the bottom 3% of all monitored websites. The website is down for maintenance more frequently that all other microstock websites and unscheduled outages are also frequent.

Sales performance seems to be hit or miss. Many photographers report Fotolia as their highest earner, while many others report them in 4th or 5th place. The ability to set higher prices for high selling images appears to have a significant impact on the ability for contributors with high quality portfolios to earn substantially greater amounts with Fotolia.


Fotolia are definitely worth the effort of contributing if you’re using multiple agencies. Their sales don’t seem high enough to attract a great deal of exclusive contributors from what I’ve seen. Their earnings place them in fourth place for me, but with a better portfolio you could raise the prices and generate higher income.

Register at Fotolia here.

Update 2007-06-25: Changed total images online figure to reflect Fotolia’s updated (lower) figures

Posted June 11th, 2007 by


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