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.
stock.xchng returned 34 results, and the selection was … not as good.
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.
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 “That Work” – SLG. Not bad!
- 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.