Shutterstock Review

ShadowShutterstock review

Founded in 2003 and headquartered in New York City, Shutterstock is the most powerful micro-stock agency in the world. If you are going to choose only one microstock company to work with, Shutterstock is it! Why? Because on Shutterstock you can earn the same amount of money that you would working with all the other microstock agencies combined. As a contributor, commission here is about 30% (pretty high when compared to other agencies). Shutterstock is also by far the most popular photo bank - people are making purchases every minute of the day! So, if you are serious about earning some money online through media sales – go to Shutterstock.

Get Started with Shutterstock...

Popular on Shutterstock

Get on your hard drive and find some high resolution, high quality work that you have stored away that is both interesting and conceptually appealing (I know you have some). Next, you will need to register and submit your personal ID. Now take those beautiful images that you found and upload. You will need to upload your 10 best images for an examination. If at least 1 of them pass the review, you are on your way! You now have at least one on-line picture that are available for purchase.

Want to know how much it is possible to earn? Here is my income report of 2009-2016

Want some advice on how to pass this initial review?

Submit photos that are isolated on a white background. This tends to give your photos the higher commercial value that customers are after. If you are not a beginner in photography, almost any pictures can be submitted, but it is best to stick with bright concepts, and images that are harder to reproduce.

All of your uploaded images will be reviewed. If an image does not pass you will receive a description as to why it didn’t (try not to take it personally, I have found that these descriptions aren’t always an accurate reflection of a particular issue with a photograph). Photographs that do pass this “exam” have a higher chance of being sold, so you can expect they will bring in a few bucks in the first week. Of course, the money is virtual and you will need at least $75 to request payout, but this does help motivate you to upload more media and try to improve your work both technically and conceptually.

If you do not pass an exam, don't feel too bad, you can try again in a month or so. Spend this time learning what the most common mistakes are that submitters make and prepare for your next exam challenge! Once your waiting period is over, you can upload any 10 images again (including those that did not pass – however, I don’t recommend using them again). Getting accepted onto a microstock can take patience, but it also gives you an opportunity to improve and learn from your mistakes.Getting accepted

Shutterstock Business Model

Shutterstock has "25-A-Day Subscription" model of standard selling license. Buyers can download up to 25 images per day of any size for a monthly fee of $249 (this means they get each image for only 33 cents). If they prepay for an entire year, they get each image for only 28 cents. Wow! The benefits of this model are frequent sales and orientation on corporative clients. For individuals without a formal subscription, Shutterstock offers "Images on Demand" -this allows buyers to purchase 5 to 25 images for $9.8 or $9.16 per image respectively.

Promotional Opportunities

There are tools available on Shutterstock to help you promote your media like public sets (Portfolio -> Catalog manager) and mini galleries (Promotion -> Gallery). Just create sets or galleries of your most popular, bright and amazing work and you will be able to promote them on your web or social sites. Public sets will also be shown under your Shutterstock profile.

The Competitors

The closest competitor to Shutterstock is iStock. In 2011, iStock cut its contribution commission to 15%-20% (that is dramatically low). Even before that cut, the commissions paid were not overly high, but at least if contributors worked exclusively with iStock they were rewarded with a higher commission rate. After the cut even the exclusive authors only get between 25%-45% commission on images sold (not high considering they are not permitted to work with any other agencies). My recommendation? Go the non-exclusive route and keep your options open. So, in my experience, Shutterstock is the number one microstock agency to work with. If you can create nice images or footage go and register at Shutterstock. Initially the funds may help you recoup some of the money you have spent on your photography gear, but later, who knows? You may decide to turn this into a profession. Independent freelancing is not a bad gig!

Shutterstock Details

Contributor rate20% - 30%
Image sizeMinimum 4.0 MP
ExaminationYes (10 images, at least 1 should pass)
Minimum payout$75
Referral program$0.04 per each image downloaded for the first two years, 10% per each clip downloaded for the first year, or 20% of the first customer payment up to $200
Media acceptedPhoto, Vector, Footage, Audio
LicensesStandard License, Enhanced License
Payment methodsPayPal, MoneyBookers, Cheque

Contributor commission (images)

Lifetime Earnings
Per-Day Subscription
On Demand (Small/Medium)
On Demand (Any Size)
Enhanced License
$0 - $500
20% up to $80
$500 - $3,000
25% up to $100
$3,000 - $10,000
28% up to $112
$10,000 +
30% up to $120

Compensation for footage is 30% of the sale price received by Shutterstock. For example, a regularly priced HD clip ($79) would pay $23.70.

25-A-Day Subscription

1 Month
3 Months
$709 ($236 per month)
€558 (€189 per month)
6 Months
$1349 ($225 per month)
€1074 (€179 per month)
1 Year
$2559 ($213 per month)
€1908 (€159 per month)

Images on Demand

$49 ($10 per download)
€39 (€7,8 per download)
$229 ($9 per download)
€179 (€7.16 per download)

Enhanced Subscriptions

$199 ($100 per download)
€159 (€80 per download)
$499 ($100 per download)
€359 (€72 per download)
$1699 ($68 per download)
€1359 (€54 per download)

Video Price

HD Clip
SD Clip
Web Clip
4k Clip

Video Packs

Quality / Clips
5 HD Clips
$369 ($74 per clip)
€269 (€53 per clip)
10 HD Clips
$699 ($70 per clip)
€519 (€52 per clip)
25 HD Clips
$1699 ($68 per clip)
€1249 (€50 per clip)
5 SD Clips
$229 ($46 per clip)
€179 (€36 per clip)
10 SD Clips
$439 ($44 per clip)
€349 (€35 per clip)
25 SD Clips
$999 ($40 per clip)
€799 (€32 per clip)
5 Web Clips
$79 ($16 per clip)
€79 (€16 per clip)
10 Web Clips
$149 ($15 per clip)
€149 (€15 per clip)
25 Web Clips
$349 ($14 per clip)
€349 (€14 per clip)
5 4K Clips
$929 ($186 per clip)
€829 (€166 per clip)
10 4K Clips
$1759 ($176 per clip)
€1559 (€156 per clip)
25 4K Clips
$4259 ($170 per clip)
€3779 (€151 per clip)

About the Author

Alexander JemeljanovSiebel Consultant / System Analyst with more than 8 years experience. Main hobbies include - photography, videography, and microstocking with more than 6 years experience. I also enjoy sports activities, blogging, and trying new things.View all posts by Alexander Jemeljanov →

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