We can start this Shutterstock Review by saying that it is the leading microstock agency due to their specific business model. Customers buy subscription plans and download 25 images per day. As photographer, you will be surprised how many image downloads you have. Initially you get only 25c per download but it will increase up to 38c once you reach $10,000 in sales – see “Contributor Rates” in the table below.
To become Shutterstock contributor you have to visit this registration page, sign up for a free account and send 10 of your best images for review. Only 1 have to be accepted and you can start uploading your photos. You must be very selective in choosing your images for initial review in order to send your best artwork only. Your images should be of the highest technical quality and also vary in subject. Be patient as it may take a while to hear back from Shutterstock. If you are unsuccessful for the first time, shoot new images and apply again. You will finally get there.
If you are already accepted as Shutterstock contributor, the approval process for your newly submitted photos may take 2-4 days. The site is very user friendly, including its online and FTP upload system.
Some time ago, Shutterstock launched a new site feature. It allows contributors to create public sets of images in order to market their portfolio. You can group your stock photos in 10 sets, add some information about yourself (profile picture, bio, equipment, website, etc.), as well as links to your social media.
Upload on Regular Basis
As for the other stock photography agencies, new uploads boost sales of your entire portfolio, encouraging contributors to upload consistently and creating the situation known in microstock as “feedeing the beast”. Their search engines make new photos sell well while images that are not doing well in the first week or so will probably have very few downloads in the future. This is how it worked at the time of writing the original Shutterstock review in September 2012. We have not confirmed that this is the case on the update of this review in March 2017.
In 2009, Shutterstock acquired BigStockPhoto who in 2010 changed their name to BigStock, redesigned the website, and what is the most important, sales improved significantly in the last couple of years. For more information on BigStock read our review.
Shutterstock Mobile Apps
Do you take photos with your smartphone? Would you like to upload them to Shutterstock directly from your mobile device? Read our latest article Go Mobile – Stock Photography Apps and find out more about mobile apps available from Shutterstock and other stock agencies.
If you take stock photography seriously you should definitely contribute to Shutterstock. For many photographers it is number 1 or at least in their top 3 in terms of sales and financial reward. Some people may not be happy with its low royalty per image, but daily amount of downloads should satisfy your expectations. Also, there is always a chance to sell you image with pay as you go credits for a couple of USD. Or with the Extended Licence and it will add another $15+ to your account… So, would you miss that opportunity?
We strive to keep all reviews and articles up to date so that all information presented to you is accurate. If any details provided in this Shutterstock Review are incorrect or outdated please let us know in the comments or via the Contact Form.
|Location||New York, USA|
|Stock Media Files||Over 130 Million Royalty-Free Stock Photos, Illustrations, Vectors, Videos and Music Tracks|
|How to apply||Submit 10 sample images for review – only 1 has to be approved to become Shutterstock contributor.|
|Image size||Minimum 4.0 MP (approximately 2400 x 1800 px)|
|Media accepted||Photo, Illustration, Vector, Icon, Video, Audio|
|Licenses||Standard License and Enhanced License|
|Image pricing||Image Packs from €29 for 2 downloads on demand.|
Annual Subscription from $29 (10 images per month), Monthly Subscription from $49 (10 images per month).
Team Subscriptions from $379.
|Contributor rates||Images (standard license) – from 25c per download. It will increase to 33c once you reach $500, to 36c once you reach $3,000, and up to 38c once you earn $10,000.|
Video clips – 30% of the sale price.
Enhanced License – from 20% to 30% (depending on your lifetime earnings as for the standard license).
|Minimum payout||$35 for Paypal/Skrill (higher can be set by contributor), $500 for checks|
|Payment methods||PayPal/MoneyBookers, Cheque|
|Referral program||$0.04 per each image downloaded (up to 2 years), 10% per each clip downloaded (in the 1st year), or 20% of the first customer payment (up to $200)|
|Upload methods||ActiveX Webform, FTP|
|IPTC Data support||Yes|
|Download Releases – Multi-language||Adult Model Release|
Minor Model Release