Offloading PSDs and other digital art for a price is an art in itself. There are so many different ways to distribute your unique creations that things can get crowded. Stock digital art is a popular thing on the Internet and there are many who would pay for a unique, well-designed item. I’ve personally been a supporter of Envato’s own GraphicRiver or AudioJungle for the delivery of said items, but there are more apt solutions than these — you just have to look for them.
And that’s where Folio makes its grand entrance. If you want a quick way to upload your art, whether it’s a user interface for an iPhone app, vectors, or even audio, this could just be the best tool for the job. Unfortunately, it’s invite-only right now and they took a good month to send me one. That’s not to say you shouldn’t try it though; I’ll take a deeper look after the break.
Sell Your Content
The main purpose of Folio is to give you a simple, fast way to promote and sell your content. Once you’ve received an invite, you’ll be able to download the upload utility to your Mac and start bringing your content to Folio’s servers. Things on this front are pretty simple and the developer even provides a seven-step tutorial when getting started. Once you’ve run through that, you can begin uploading and selling your creations.
There are fourteen different categories for content: app, audio, fonts, graphic design, icons, illustration, interface, iPhone, logo, mobile, photography, texture, typography, and vectors. Being a photographer and not much of a graphics designer, I uploaded a photo of a grape punch Calibrachoa hybrid flower. It uploaded just as fast as it had when I added it to my 500px portfolio, showing that the upload speed is substantial.
However, before pressing the upload button, I had to insert a few details about the item, like its name, the category I wanted it to be in, some tags for search, and the price. Once finished, I had the option to check either Twitter or Facebook for automatic sharing to my friends — this tells them that you’ve just added a new creation to your Folio account and they can purchase it. I didn’t connect any accounts because I don’t use either social network. However, I’d like to note that Google+ support in this function would be useful for photographers and others who use the service.
Folio will automatically name the file you’re uploading using its existing filename, but you may want to remove the extension before pressing the blue button.
Folio takes 30% of the money you make to pay for hosting and maintenance. Hosting your content is free, just like on Apple’s App Store, but if your item does sell, 30% of the profits will go to Folio, with 70% left for yourself. It seems like a generous amount for the service and I’m fine with it, but I can see some people having a problem with that. Still, the service allows you to change the price to whatever you want without additional charges or anything: it’s not like eBay and only offers one simple way to sell content. I haven’t sold anything yet, so I can’t say much for the community, but hopefully business picks up.
Folio has a built-in browser for its content should you want to get some stock items from the service. Using the search functionality found inside the menu bar app, you can find pretty much anything. Just click the download button to purchase it, but be sure to heed that price on the left beforehand. I’d also recommend not searching multiple times because the app has trouble comprehending those sorts of things. It’ll cache the last item you browsed in the right side of the screen when you search, which seems to be a bug.
Actually finding something you want can often be difficult due to the lack of tags and filenames. I searched for simple user interface elements like “home” and the results were sparse. Instead of an abundant supply of home buttons for websites and whatnot, I got two results: a set of gold navigation buttons for a website and a navigation ribbon for a website.
Tidbits of Bugginess
Folio’s Mac app has its share of problems, just like every other app out there. One of the worst happens when you try basic uploading. If you click out of the uploader window to get the file you’re hoping to transfer to Folio’s servers, the window will disappear completely. This renders the uploader useless, unless you decide to drag the file to its icon, which will effectively cause the whole menu bar app to make a grand kerfuffle in which it eventually reaches the point of giving you the upload details window.
Sadly, once you’ve reached that step, you can’t exit it unless you want more pop-up-and-down behavior. The main problem with Folio’s coding is that it’s designed to stay desktop-level and not float anywhere else. So, if you dismiss it once, it’ll keep flickering in and out until you take care of it by hiding (CMD + H) or closing all your apps. This is extremely irritating and since there’s no other way to upload things, I’d expect a better experience.
Room for Expansion
I think that, in addition to needing bug fixes, this service has a lot of room for expansion. The basic functionality is fine for boring old users who want a boring experience, but I’d like to see support for multiple screenshots of items, a better browser interface, better guidelines with tags being a requirement and not just a suggestion, and so on. I also think that PayPal integration would be highly beneficial for more than just withdrawals and should be used for payments as well. It’s a universal payment method on the web these days, so why isn’t Folio using it?
For Mountain Lion users, how about Notification Center support? Not everybody is going to be using growl in OS X 10.8, so you’re leaving out a crowd here. Also, I was anxious to use the service for audio uploading, but there’s no support for it. Apparently video, audio, and code files will be supported “in the future”, but misleading users by including an audio category on the website is unnecessary.
As an alternative to Envato’s services and others found across the Internet, Folio isn’t half bad. The app, however, is rubbish. There are bugs that prevent basic functionality most of the time and I never like seeing that in any app. I feel like things should be in beta right now since the service has been out for months and all bugs ought to have been worked out by now; I’m wrong, sadly.
A good deal of potential is what Folio has, but right now it’s not at all prepared to combat its greater competitors. Until there’s some improvement, I can’t recommend using the service since core functionality is faulty.