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 certain sales levels.

How to Sell Content on Shutterstock

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 June 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.

For All Stock Media Creatives

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EXCLUSIVE DEAL: 15% Discount On ALL Images, Footage and Music Tracks
Offer ends: 31 July 2024

15% OFF

EXCLUSIVE DEAL: 15% Discount On ALL Images, Footage and Music Tracks
Offer ends: 31 July 2024

Thanks to our long-term cooperation with Shutterstock, we can now offer to all our Readers this special Exclusive Coupon to let you save on photos, vectors and videos. Head on to this article to find out more on how to use the Coupon Code.

Search for Stock Photos, Vectors and Videos

We have something special for our readers: Shutterstock Photo Search and Footage Search. You can browse millions of amazing stock photos and video clips without leaving our website. If you need comps for your projects click on any image or video and you will be sent to Shutterstock Website, where you can complete your downloads.

Shutterstock Plugins and 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.

Adobe Creative Cloud users can now download Shutterstock Plugin and insert stock media directly into Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, and Premiere Pro. Read more about Shutterstock and other Best Stock Photo Plugins.

Shutterstock Review: Our verdict

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?

Shutterstock Details

LocationNew York, USA
How to applySubmit 10 sample images for review – only 1 has to be approved to become Shutterstock contributor.
Image sizeMinimum 4.0 MP (approximately 2400 x 1800 px)
Media acceptedPhoto, Illustration, Vector, Icon, Video, Audio
LicensesStandard License and Enhanced License
Image pricingSee Image / Credit Price Comparison
RoyaltiesSee Contributors Royalty Comparison
Minimum payout$35 for Paypal/Skrill (higher can be set by contributor), $500 for checks
Payment methodsPayPal, Skrill, Cheque
Referral programSee Referral / Affiliate Programs Comparison
Upload methodsActiveX Webform, FTP
IPTC Data supportYes
Download Releases – Multi-languageSee Model & Property Release Forms
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