Facebook Pixel
Join our Facebook Community

Does Fotolia Have Photos for Your Blog?

Do you use images in your blog posts? Most bloggers like to increase their posts’—and blogs’—impact with an image, and while I’m a die-hard textophile, I can see the point. An image is certainly more eye-catching than text. Couple the right image with the right heading, and you’re on fire.

Until recently, the only image resource site I’d used was stock.xchng. While I like the site and its offerings, sometimes, there’s slim pickings for particular image types. I prefer not to use CC-licensed images myself because some CC images can be used for commercial purposes, others can’t, and the image owners may change their minds, then ask you to take the image down … to be honest, it all seems like a lot of hassle to me.

I do work with a lot of content, so maybe that has something to do with my inflexibility on this point.

Fotolia: royalty-free stock photography

Recently we were contacted by Fotolia and offered a month-long trial of the service, which boasts a library of over 13 million images. There were some images that were unavailable within the trial, but in the month, I sourced 17 images. Only once did I find that an image I wanted to use was unavailable in that subscription—and it wasn’t hard to find a replacement that was just as good.

Fotolia offers photographs, vector images, and videos. The only option I used was images. To give you an idea of what’s on offer, I ran a little search on both Fotolia and stock.xchng for the keyword “handshake”.

Fotolia returned 17,913 results, and the selection was good.
Does Fotolia Have Photos for Your Blog?

stock.xchng returned 34 results, and the selection was … not as good.
Does Fotolia Have Photos for Your Blog?

Both sites allow you to roll over the images to see an enlarged, lightbox version of the pics. Both tell you on the results page what sizes are available, and when you view a specific image, both sites tell you how you can use that image—in Fotolia’s case, you’ll also find out the cost of the image.


Fotolia uses a credit system to sell images. The cost of each image depends on:

  • the size and resolution of the image
  • the license you choose
  • the image itelf—some images simply cost more than others.

If you’re planning to buy a stack of images, subscription plans are available which can see the images cost you “as little as $0.14 per image!”

Use and application

Fotolia offers two kinds of licenses:

“The standard license (from XS to XXL and the V license)

“This license allows you to use our images to illustrate magazine ads, websites, blogs, marketing campaigns, press articles, tv video or movies, book and book covers, documents, reports, presentations, etc. on all types of media with no limit on time or copies.

“The extended licenses (X to XV)

“This license allows buyers to use the image to create derivative products intended for resale or distribution where the value of the product is derived from the image (postcards, t-shirts ect.)

“Without limitation, you’ll be able to create mugs, t-shirts, posters, greeting cards, templates or other products, and sell them to your customers.”

This is a pretty big bonus over free stock images. stock.xchng doesn’t allow the resale of images—if you want to do that, you need to contact the creator through the site. That’s (likely) no big deal, but from an ease-of-use perspective, Fotolia makes this a no-brainer.

Image quality

Anyone who works with images knows that there are good stock libraries and bad stock libraries. Even I can tell that. Those who are really into design, marketing, and visual communication can pick very fine lines between what’s deemed “usable” and what’s not.

I’ve used a lot of images from stock.xchng over the last three years or so, and it’s pretty easy to tell the dross form the diamonds. Some amateur photographers are great and I’m always able to find something really good on the site.

While Fotolia returns many more results, and more polished images, for each search, I generally found the bulk of images to be a little too … posed. Or contrived. An image of a hand reaching out of a computer monitor, in particular, made me cringe (I think I was searching for “handshake” at the time). I still shudder when I think of it.

I just can’t get that image out of my head.


But let’s move on. On occasion, I did use what I felt were less-than-ideal images for want of anything better (one of these days I’m going to do my own photo shoot of a branding iron, no matter what it takes).

That’s not to say there weren’t some fabulous, fabulous photos on the site. And some of the less-polished, not-designed-for-an-ad-agency shots that I feel are more natural and speak more directly to real readers.

All in all, I’d say Fotolia had a great selection of images. I always found something I liked—and found it quickly.

Finding what you want

As a text fiend, I find search functions universally poor. However, the search on Fotolia was really very good. I had no complaints, which is saying something, and was pleased with the results I got every time, which is saying even more.

If you’ve used image sites before, you’ll know that it can take some intuiting to get the kind of image you want. So when I had to find a shot for Angela’s post on humor, I expected the worst. I’d have to say that I got some pretty unusable results on Fotolia, but with them, I also got some good results, and was extremely pleased with the image I chose. It was natural, not too posed, and comparatively low-key.

Choosing images is an extremely personal thing, though, and what I think is bad, you might see as great. All I can tell you is that I had better luck searching for tough keywords on Fotolia than I ever have elsewhere.

Is Fotolia worth it?

If you’re not earning money from your blog, I wouldn’t recommend spending cash on images. You can get good free photography through so many other sources—spend your money on something that translates directly to more readers.

If you are making money through your site, Fotolia is worth a look. You don’t need to be making millions, either. The images I bought cost US$0.33 each, and I downloaded 17 images during the trial, so all up, Darren would have been looking at $5.61 for three weeks’ worth of images here at ProBlogger. Not bad!

If you:

  • deal with a lot of content
  • don’t want to have to worry about licensing and permissions
  • want to spend as little time as possible making your posts look good
  • want to finish looking for images so you can [insert other, more interesting task here]

…then Fotolia could provide the answer.

Have you used Fotolia? What about other stock photography sites? Let us know how you manage imagery on your sites through the comments.

About Georgina Laidlaw
Georgina Laidlaw is a freelance content developer, and Content manager for problogger.net. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.
  1. Meh. Plenty of free, public domain images for blogs around. I use http://www.morguefile.com all the time.

  2. I use creative commons most of the time. I will certainly check out fotolia thanks for share.
    I have also posted on how to find free stock photos you can check out the list on my site.

  3. I’ve been using fotolia for a couple of months now and I am pretty satisfied with it. Some categories are a little limited in terms of the selection they have. I prefer istockphoto.com but it’s too expensive considering that my blog is not a money making blog.
    I am happy with fotolia for now and would recommend it because it is very affordable and if you are keeping it simple you will find pictures you can work with.

  4. Your right ome stock images are really cringe-inducing Georgina. The handshake in particular… Great article though, I usually just source my own images from friends etc.

  5. I discovered Fotolia a couple years ago and I love it! And I agree about the ease of search. Interestingly, I’ve started saving images to my lightbox as inspiration for blog posts. I’ll see a great image and that will trigger an idea for a topic I want to write about.


  6. This was a helpful review, Georgina. I have been using dreamstime to purchase photos (they have free ones also) and they are a minimum of $1. So I will check this fotolia place out. Thanks!

  7. I have used Fotolia to purchase a few images here and there when I couldn’t find a great Creative Commons alternative or when I wanted to use it for advertising. I think if you know how to scour Flickr properly, you can find some really excellent photos that are Creative Common Licensed. You’re right that there are issues inherent in that, but there’s always a catch with “free”

    • Thanks for the tip. Are there any concerns about licensing being changed for a photo you already used?

      I’ve been concerned in the past that if I download an image from Flicker there may be the opportunity for the creative common license to be changed and make the image prohibited for distribution.

      I have heard great success Fotolia, but I’ve always been concerned with the gray area of free images. Thanks again!

  8. Finding a right image from free sites like Flicker creative commons and reading through the licencing is not an easy job.

    I agree with Georgina that its worth paying $0.33 for a picture to save lots of time.

    Thanks for sharing Georgina.

    • I have tried using Flicker as well and I have to say it’s much easier to pay for a high quality photo and know all of the licensing terms upfront than try my luck at images that may or may not be prohibited from use on my site.

  9. Haven’t tried Fotolia – but it sounds like istockphoto, which is what I’ve been using for years (when I’m not using my own photos anyway…).

    • I agree Ashley. I love istockphoto as well. It has served me pretty well and added a lot of personality to my site.

  10. I don’t use photos on my blog, but I often have to provide them for my articles.I have found that Dreamstime is a great site. They offer free photos which can be used on websites. The quality can sometimes be hit and miss, but with plenty of searching it is possible to find some gems. My clients seem happy with them and I save myself some dosh!

    When it comes to my blog, I just prefer to keep it clean and easy to read. I find photos are OK, but sometimes it feels to me like someone is just adding photos because they feel they should. Not because it is actually relevant to the article they have written.

    Thanks for the article.

    • I have to agree with Megan’s point. I visit a lot of blogs that seem to just throw some images in their posts just to have visuals. People who really read blogs can tell the difference when the picture is relevant, or if it’s there just for the sake of demonstrating a visual. I personally, am sick of looking at stock photos; I have a handful of older ones on my site and want to rid them all…. Gives to much of the generic vibe if ya ask me.

  11. I use Fotolia all the time. When I can’t find something on RGBStock or other such sites, I go to Fotolia. Another site that’s quite similar is Stockfresh. But, Fotolia is the best, at least in my experience!

  12. I agree that there is an inherent “hassel” with going throught the CC’s in flickr. I also find the pictures that are available under the creative commons attribute on flickr are not as well indexed as those on fotolia.

    Fotolia is a lot cheaper than some of the other photo sites out there (some charge up to $20.00 per photo or more…).

    Great article and thanks for sharing your views!

  13. I’m going to check it out! Right now I’ve been using iStockPhoto, and while they have great high rez images, most of them cost 2 “credits”($2 US) at the cheapest, so I’m definitely willing to try something a bit more affordable! THANKS

  14. For images on my blog, my first reference is morguefile.com but I find its set of images limited. Recently via another guest post here in problogger, I learned about dreamstime.com free photos. And my last resort is flickr.

    Thank you Georgina for introducing another reference. :) I will try Fotolia in my next blog post.

  15. You are Right but it is probably hard for bloggers in India like me to purchase such images for 0.33 usd :)
    However nice post to save efforts for probloggers:)

  16. Yea it looks as if its something alright to look into if you like paying for images.But with so many other sources around the net,others would likely second guess paying for this service at all.

  17. I haven’t started making money yet. But next year after I release my book I may venture and check out Fotolia. Thx for posting this.

  18. I use a mixture of free images from a couple of sites including Flickr and if I can’t find anything then I go to IStockPhoto which always has something good but at a price. I guess Fotolia is similar to that.

  19. Nicely done article, Georgina.

    This is one area I still need to ” Get active” on. I am of similar mind in that, I prefer not to go too heavily into photos on my blogs, though I know that it would be quite beneficial, if done properly.

    Have not looked at Fotolia before. To be honest, most of the photo sites I did peruse was generally in relation to free image usage. For more established sites, going that little bit further and either joining up(Payed membership) or simply purchasing photos when needed, would probably be fine.

  20. I really finished a ghostwriting project that used images from fotolia exclusively, I was extremely happy with the quality of images provided. I also appreciated that the searches on more abstract keywords returned quite a few nice results, when similar searches on other sites returned very few, if any, good images.

    For Images on my posts, I still use Flickr CCs, but as my readership grows that may change. For now, though, I have developed some friendships with Flickr photographers and don’t mind sharing a little promotional “link love” to help support their work – after all, those who provide CC images are providing a very generous service.


  21. i still use free photo’s and host it at images hosting like Flickr and Photobucket. The pictures that i download it from random website, I redesign it. I will use Fotolia as my images soon. Nice idea :-)

  22. I normally use my own photography in my blog which I am very proud of 99.9 % of the time. Once in a while I will need something I just don’t have and I just search the web for it and be sure to give credit to the photographer who owns it. I have never had any problems but again do not use others work very much. This site sounds interesting however I would not want to have to pay for photos at this time because my blog is not making profit quite yet. Flickr is also a good place to find photos to use and I email the owner, they are usually happy with you using their shots as long as you say they are theirs and I link to their Flickr photo stream as well. Interesting article!!

  23. If you are not using images as visual metaphors you are missing the boat. Visual images can be powerful attention grabbers and can say more than a thousand words. And, if you are not referring to the image in your content, then you are further missing the boat. Build your content around the image. After all images are worth a thousand words. I would argue they are worth a million words. When selecting images make sure they are good quality, feel free to modify them, put a caption under them and select images that fit the other styles of your photos and blog. I would also convert them into a link, to a special site or internal link. Putting a caption under an image or a question under the image to draw in your readers is also a great idea. It draws people into your blog through subtle interaction. You can also develop a relationship with a photographer on NetFlix by linking the image to the photographer’s web site and then get a reduced price or pay nothing at all by referring business to them. Be sure to use your keywords in the caption as well.

    If your blog is mostly text, it is imperative to break up that text. I believe no one wants to read a lot of text unless there is some space built in or some images arranged to relieve the eye and make the mind start to think about the metaphor you are trying to get across.

    Remember the Bible. Jesus said what he had to say by painting visual stories in the minds of the crowds that followed Him. Add images to punctuate and inspire your readers.

    Give it a try.

    On my blog artedonline.com (work in progress), I am using original paintings of coffee scenes or coffee cups and people talking, as if they are at a cafe or Internet Cafe. Since I am an online teacher and talking a lot of about how to use technology in the art classroom, this makes sense. It is a visual theme carried out throughout the site. I link back to the artists to give them credit and I contact them for permission. I also usually have a caption. Since my audience are art teachers this makes sense, but it also makes a point that I am inviting them to read to think and ponder the image and the words. In many cases, I use other pictures to create a visual metaphor that ties in with the content and I build my content around the metaphor. It softens the visual appearance of the sight and it is relaxing. Some images actually go along in a very meaningful and powerful way to the content of the sight, thereby driving the point home further.

    Effective teachers try to draw their audience by using as many senses as possible. I try to have readers do something while reading, look at something and read, as well. I also ask open ended questions to get the reader involved in my ideas. I call this making the site interactive. The more interactive the site, the more effective it is. My site is not even finished and I now have over 300 members.

  24. I’ve been using Stockfresh for quite some time. I’m not sure how many images they claim to have available but I’ve never had a problem finding what I need and they seem to be about half the price of Fotolia…

  25. I use istockphoto for my images. I am really particular about the photo’s I use for my website and have found them to offer quality that I really like. The images are a little more expensive, but I usually organize them by cost and spend between $1 to 2$ for an image.

    I really like the selection of photo’s available. I might just have to take a look at fotolia soon. If the images are of the same quality then it sounds like a bargain, but for now I’m happy with istockphoto.

  26. I use Fotolia images on my site and I’m very pleased.

  27. I’ve been using Stockfresh for quite some time. I’m not sure how many images they claim to have available but I’ve never had a problem finding what I need and they seem to be about half the price …

  28. While there are plenty of free images around that are available with CC licenses, I like to pay for my images because I feel the creator of the image should be paid for their work even if it is a few cents or a few dollars. I usually purchase photos from istockphoto.com, but I like the images I saw on Fotalia and will start adding them to the mix on my own websites and when I build websites for others. Thank you for sharing this resource.

  29. Darren you mentioned that , you don’t use photos under CC because the owner may change his mind later on and you don’t want that hassle.

    As far as I know, under CC , once the author has granted any rights, he/she can not take it back.
    I read it on CC official website. Correct me if I am wrong.

  30. For my business site and blog I definitely need high quality photos. Usually use free images but I will certainly give fotolia a try.

  31. Thank you so much for taking the time to share this great service with us. Fotolia seems like the best place for finding high quality images fast.
    I usually use Wikimedia Commons (http://commons.wikimedia.org/) but will certainly take a look at Fotolia. You aroused my curiosity :).

  32. Thanks for the comparison Darren! I currently search Google images for most of my images that are included in blog posts. However, I do contact Flickr users can ask if I can use a couple of their images on my blog and offer a link back.

    I may have to try Fotolia in the future. I did try out Lisa Irby’s Photos.com suggestion as well, but it didn’t work out.

  33. I think Fotolia is one of the best ressources for adding stock photos to your blog. We have developed a plugin for Fotolia to let you search, buy and implement Fotolia images within your WordPress backend. Enable the affiliate program and you can earn back the cost of the photos, or even turn your photos into a lucrative revenue source. I recommend to give it a try, it’s free and you can download it here: http://www.microstockplugin.com
    I would love to hear your feedback!

    BTW: The plugin can be used for iStockphoto as well!

  34. I know a couple photographers that sell their pics on Fotolia, so I decided to try them first. As stated by others, I like not having to worry about licensing issues when choosing pics for my blog. I’ve had great luck so far in finding the right pic for my post.


  35. As mentioned in the article, I would recommend people to buy images only when you make enough cash out of your blog. Else, I guess Google images would do good! However, there are cases where you end in copyrights issue. So, I strongly suggest people to give a credit for the image when they use Google Images. By doing that, I can guarantee you that your blog will never be against DMCA.

  36. I would love to use fotolia with some of my blogs, but I agree with the article on having traffic to cover the costs. My site is still in it’s infancy and I am still learning and will continue to learn and make those who do visit have an enjoyable experience while at my website. I have downloaded a few images that are from cc artists, but have yet to use them for fear of 1) the artist changing their minds and requesting the image to be removed, and 2) copyright laws. I will continue to search other sites, and I am still thinking of just taking my camera and creating my own images to add to my blogs. If there was a star rating on this article, I would definitely give it a 5.

  37. I had the same deal with Fotolia and in the month of using it, found it to be the best place for images. Not only did they have all the images I needed but I had so many to choose from.

    I use to use free sites but never could find appropriate images or good quality ones. So I would end up going to Flickr and trying over there. Although a bigger source of images, I would still have to make sure not to forget to link the image to the Flickr page which was sometimes a pain in the back.

    I think that finding the perfect image for a blog about blogging can sometimes be very hard. However with fotolia’s piles and piles of them, I always dig something out. The biggest advantage I found there was the price (especially compared to some other stock sites) and the choice of images for niche sites.

    For example, if you were running a pet turtle niche site, you would have trouble finding a lot of good quality images out there. Fotolia is full of those.

    I just want to say that I am more than satisfied with them and will be using them for a long time.

  38. Your right ome stock images are really cringe-inducing Georgina. The handshake in particular… Great article though, I usually just source my own images from friends etc.

A Practical Podcast… to Help You Build a Better Blog

The ProBlogger Podcast

A Practical Podcast…