What is Shutterstock?

shutterstock sell photos

What is Shutterstock?

It is a common saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, but what is not that common knowledge is that a picture can be worth a thousand bucks as well. What is Shutterstock used for?

On internet, with so many businesses in need of visual content, you can literally sell all that you have captured being able to earn a steady income, and this is Shutterstock about.

There are many agencies working for the benefits of such photographers and they are ready to find customers for them. So a whole stock photography industry has sprung up and it is quite profitable.

The only problem is that there are so many agencies that you cannot seem to differentiate between the legit one and the scams.

Well, this is where I come in. I have discovered a site which is 100% legit and pays a good commission to its sellers. Let me introduce you to Shutterstock.

What is Shutterstock? It is a lifesaver as it helped me earn loads of money. By just capturing some high-resolution photos and videos from my phone and camera and uploading it on this site, gave me a steady income stream.

So I want to share my experience with you so that you can also benefit from it and put your images to good use by selling them through this reliable website. You might be wondering whether I am actually telling the truth, but believe me you can skim through the internet and will find only good Shutterstock reviews. Here’s a view over my portfolio:

My Shutterstock portfolio

You will thank me later for it. So let us begin with a thorough inspection of this amazing agency which is the best player in the market. All your questions will be answered in this article plus a lot of facts will be given to you on how to begin earning as a pro stock photographer.

Shutterstock – An introduction

Shutterstock headquarters are in New York City and it was founded in 2003. The man behind its creation is its innovative CEO Jon Oringer.

Not only this company deals in photos, but it also stocks vectors, illustrations, music and videos. It is a publicly traded company going by as NYSE: SSTK. It is one of the oldest company in business and is renowned for its top-notch quality and reliability.

What is Shutterstock?

Like all stock photography companies, Shutterstock also draws sellers to pitch in their work. It collects photos, vector images, videos, and illustrations from them and then sells them to willing customers who view these on its site. Both the buyer and contributors are from all around the web and all they have to do is to make an ID at Shutterstock.

It works as a license purchasing agreement where the buyer buys the license from you for your work. You don’t get the whole amount that they pay, rather you receive a generous portion of it as a commission while the rest is given to the agency as they manage the work for you and provide you with customers.

So the whole process is very easy and for the ease and benefit of its contributors, Shutterstock provides them with the option to define their own terms of sale so that they can spell it out to the buyer what they can and cannot do with your content.

For each of your file downloaded you receive the commission from Shutterstock which is transferred to your Shutterstock ID which will be based on both the price it was sold for and the number of users who download it. We will discuss how you can deal with the money you earn later in the article.

Signing Up To Become a Contributor at Shutterstock

Becoming a contributor at Shutterstock is not only easy but is also free. So what are you waiting for? There is nothing to lose so sign up now. Let me help you by explaining the whole process. The only things you need to make an account and register as a Shutterstock contributor are your verification documents and information which includes name, email, the government issued identification and physical address, etc…

It will only take three working days for the shutter stock’s administration team to verify the information. Once they approve your application then you become a registered contributor and can begin uploading content.

If the application gets rejected you can apply as many times as you wish. There is no penalty, just ensure that you don’t do the same mistakes again and follow the rules properly. If you just follow the guidelines all will go well and you can become a Shutterstock member from anywhere in the world within no time.

For inspection purposes, you will be asked to submit up to 10 images and videos. Once the team reviews your content and find it satisfactory then your contributor account gets authorization and you can start selling content actively.

Shutterstock Contributors earnings

Earning on Shutterstock are comparatively higher than its competitors because Shutterstock believes in giving a higher return to its contributors. Unlike other agencies, it gives the majority of the license fee paid by the customer to the seller.

Even though the commission varies as it depends on different factors, but even the minimum amount earned is better than other agencies that pay peanuts.

Shutterstock earnings breakdown table view

Firstly, you earn from the royalties each time a buyer purchases your content. This royalty is based on your earnings tier, the subscription your customer is paying for and the type of license.

So the earning tier you belong to is classified by Shutterstock as the total amount you have earned at Shutterstock since you begin working as its contributor.

It is categorized in four tiers which are $0-$500 which earn you of 25 cents per download, $500-$3,000 which earn you 33 cents per download, $3,000-$5,000 which earn you a commission of 36 cents per download, and $5,000-$10,000 which earn you 38 cents per download.

So if you are a constant seller than your total earnings will be high so the commission you will earn will also be higher.

Remember as your time span of working increases, your chances of becoming a successful contributor also increases as not only does the company begins to value you more but you also become good at what you do. So don’t give up in a small time.

You will gradually increase your earnings. Be patient and within no time you will be able to make a stream of income if you have the will, skill, and determination to do so!

Payment methods at Shutterstock

Shutterstock usually pays by the 7th or the 15th each month. So you don’t have to worry about your paycheck as your account amount is updated every month and you receive your hard work money on a timely basis without any time lags or disruptions. Here’s a view in my account:

My Shutterstock account

You can clear the amount from your account by transferring it through Payoneer, Skrill, PayPal, or Mailed check – whichever suits you best.

If you are a US citizen then you will also have to submit their W-9 tax forms on file to get payments. And if you are a non-US citizen then your earning will be subject to a 30% withholding tax which goes to the Government.

Positive rating on BBB

For those of you who want to rely completely on Shutterstock, there is good news. It has a solid reputation with the Better Business Bureau, which has rated Shutterstock’ as an A+.

So this makes it a secure and stable way to earn income and the most reliable stock photography sites for contributors. This is why thousands of sellers worldwide trust it.

High earning potential

Shutterstock has an extensive library which attracts millions of customers every day, as at Shutterstock variety isn’t a problem – so customers from all around the world use it!

Along with its excellent reputation, it has become a go-to site for buyers which is very beneficial for contributors as the demand for their content is high.

This has a direct impact on earning potential as both the number of downloads and the price of content increases. So if you want to become a member of a stock photography company which is sure to find you customers and that to with a good payout ratio then join Shutterstock.

It is 100% Legit

Shutterstock pays what it says. It doesn’t defraud on its payments and is certainly not a scam. In fact, it ensures that the contributors receive their money on time and get a decent amount for their content. It held its prolific sellers in high regard and makes sure that they don’t face any difficulty.

That is why it has become the number one stock photography site as the word is actually spreading about its legitimacy. So if you want to seriously pursue stock photography and you know how to create amazing content, then Shutterstock is the best site for you.

I totally recommend it to all my fellow photographers who wish to earn some extra income from their home.

Wide-spread networks

Shutterstock can be used from anywhere around the world. There are no limits and each and every geographical area with an internet connection is open for Shutterstock. It is a global earning site which doesn’t restrict anyone from joining it on the basis of their nationality.


Shutterstock is one of the oldest and most popular sites and has a long history of stock image selling and buying, which makes it one of the “Big 6” companies in this industry.

This is beneficial because it knows the ins and outs of the market and specializes in stock marketing. It has been in this industry for more than a decade and is the pioneers of the stock photo subscription.

So with such experience, they are able to provide both its buyers and sellers with the best service. And with time it has accumulated a vast library which holds the largest royalty free photos collection of over 220 million files.

This number is ever increasing, so join it now and make your contribution.


You don’t need to be a pro to understand the workings of Shutterstock. Its systems are complex from the inside but for users, they are very easy to operate as its creators ensure that it can cater to its user in a friendly manner.

That is why the website is very elegant but simple to use, making it user-friendly.

Intelligent system

The business model it makes use might look simple to the users but it is backed by an enhanced system which has high functionality. To maintain its reliability and to manage it smoothly, Shutterstock uses an intelligent system to verify both its users and the files.

Its strict criteria ensure that the content is unique and it policies promotes creativity and authenticity. This reduces the chances of fraud and leads to efficient and effective performance.

Updates and innovation

Since its early days, the creators of Shutterstock have been working to make it better. They are innovators and have never let their site remain behind when it comes to updating.

This has got them got a lot of press complimenting as they constantly update their system to improve their services. They have also made acquisitions like acquired Bigstock to expand their library and market share.

Shutterstock Review conclusion

To sum it up, I would only say that it is the best place for photographers to start earning money. It is an epitome of reliability, high-quality, innovation, and user-friendliness.

What more can you ask for? So start making some big cash by signing up now and begin uploading the content that deserves a big return!

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Author: condruzmf

32 thoughts on “What is Shutterstock?

  1. This is probably the 2nd post I read recently on similar topics on how photos taken can be used to generate income. From your post, i noticed that Shutterstock has a better payouts as compared to the one i got to know recently, and I think you have recommended a good one indeed. Good job and thank you for sharing this wonderful opportunity to generate income.

  2. I didn’t realise that just anybody could sign up to sell their personal images via Shutterstock.
    What a great opportunity for budding photographers to get their work out there and known to the wider community, and earn an income to boot.
    Thank you for the article, really interesting.

  3. I have joined a program before that pays for selling images. I found that you have to put a lot of images out there to get any return.
    How many images do you need to start showing some income and do they have a minimum payout per month.
    I think I will look into this, as I have thousands of photos, some are almost 75 years old. Does Shutterstock categorize their photos by subject.

    1. Hi john,
      To get accepted with Shutterstock you have to first submit 10 photos. After they will accept your work, you’ll
      become a contributor. The minimum payout is 75$.
      About how many photos you need to make money… it is very different from one photographer to another
      For example: a landscape photographer with thousands of photos will almost sure have less sales than a photographer
      who shoots persons. Note then if you upload photos with people you’ll need a model release

  4. After reading this review, I would definitely say that Shutterstock is a great option for photographers to submit their work to. It seems very good platform that’s easy to use, but protects the photographer at the same time. The fact that it’s a global-based network is really nice!

  5. Condruzmf,
    I like to say that this review is awesome, as a blogger myself I like to get my pictures for my blog from free-royalty sites.
    However, I do know it can be a bit frustrating to find content on this site. On the future I am planning to suscribe to shutterstock, so that I can get good quality photos, and actually find the visual content I am looking for.


  6. Shutterstock seems to be a very well organized system for anyone to share their photos in the hope of making a few extra bucks. I imagine that there are many contributors who never pass the payment threshold, but as with anything like this, there will be a few who are making a very comfortable living by doing something that they love doing. I do use some of there images from time to time and always manage to find an image suitable for my needs.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Yes, Shutterstock is great! It is tricky to earn from it, I only got 2 times paid until now but I keep uploading
      new photos and my earnings started going up faster

  7. Very interesting and informative content. I have only seen some grammatical errors – otherwise everything is explained very well.
    I can imagine that a lot of photographers will follow your advice and be very happy about the commission structure and the good reputation of this company.
    Maybe you can think of putting on some more pictures to the various headlines?
    I hope you can return the favor and check my website.
    Good luck
    Angelika Sesterheim

    1. Thanks for showing my mistakes and for your advise. As I am not native English, I might mess up with grammar
      each there 🙂 I just hope this will not be a very bad experience for my readers …

  8. Thanks for sharing your very detailed review of Shutterstock site. This is a highly reputable company for selling images. I did a short research once before and even thought about using the platform one day. I’ll bookmark your site for the future reference. Thanks again.

  9. Great information. I do have some questions though. First of all, is there a way to improve your chances of actually having someone purchasing your photos? For example, with a website you can increase SEO.
    Also, I’m sure there is some in-photo techniques you can use to take high quality, desirable photos like using a certain brand of camera or photo editing apps. Do you have any suggestions how to make selling photos on Shutterstock easier?
    Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi Chris,
      Absolutely! Beside the image quality, which is a must, you have to do something very similar to SEO
      When uploading photos to Shutterstock for approval, you are asked to provide a description and a maximum
      of 50 keywords – as so the buyers will be able to find it.
      You can research keywords and include some in your description, in the same way you’re dealing with SEO 😉

  10. I use Shutterstock, but form buying side. However, after lecture of your post I’m considering to start selling my pictures. Do you know whether pixabay offers such opportunity?

    1. On Pixabay you can upload photos in order to be downloaded for free – with free to use rights.
      But you may hope for paypal donations, this is asked from the one who’s downloading your
      photo… if he wishes so

  11. Thanks for this post, I didn’t realise that you could make money from the photos you have on your phone. I will definitely be looking into this as like everyone else I have a lot of photos on my phone.

    I hadn’t heard of shutterstock before but thanks to your post I know all about it now.

    Thanks for an interesting post.

  12. Thank you so much, this is a good idea for making some extra money online, especially if you like taking pictures, but there is another side I am interested in, Is there an offer for free down loads, I did not see that mentioned. I

    1. Hi there, First let me thank you for the nice words. For free photos, I ll suggest to simply download from sites that offers free full rights photos. Just google for free photos and you ll find plenty

  13. Shutterstock is amazing, use it often to find the highest quality images. Thanks for broadening my horizons in knowing you can earn a little bit of cash on the side by submitting photos here too. Great work indeed.

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