Can You Make Money on Shutterstock?

Can You Make Money on Shutterstock?

Ever since I published the post on Dreamstime I’ve been interested in finding out about more photo-related jobs online – it’s a niche I hadn’t really explored that deeply before.

I’ve often come across Shutterstock when I’ve been searching for images for my websites, but I haven’t really used it due to the fact that they charge for their images (otherwise you end up with a big watermark across your picture!).

Still, Shutterstock is an extremely popular and successful image ‘shop’ – so how well does it reward it’s photographers?

Can you make money on Shutterstock with ease…or is there a catch to it’s setup?

Is Shutterstock a scam or is it legit?

Let’s take a closer look…

If you are interested in making real money online that can possibly replace or supplement your income regularly check out our #1 Recommendation HERE


The Shutterstock Contributor Review

What is Shutterstock?

The Shutterstock Contributor Review

Founded over 15 years ago now, Shutterstock is based at the Empire State Building, 350 Fifth Avenue, New York City, USA.

It’s CEO is currently Jon Oringer and it’s CFO is Steven Berns.

There are five Subsidiaries linked to Shutterstock:

  • Bigstock
  • Rex Features
  • PremiumBeat
  • Offset
  • Webdam

The business itself is a stock photography company that concentrates on selling the photos, videos, vector images and illustrations that it’s contributors submit.

Purchasers who use their service have to buy a license first. They can then use the media on offer in relation to the license they hold.

Contributors to the site receive commissions based on how much it sold for, and how many times it was downloaded.


Shutterstock Contributors – Joining The Ranks

You don’t have to pay anything to become a contributor, although the process is a little bit of a pain in the ass!

What do I mean by this?

Well, these day, more ‘serious’ companies online want to make sure they’ve ticked all the correct boxes with their members – fair enough really…but a bit of a pain all the same!

Shutterstock’s verification process involves you having to hand over your name (go figure!), government issued identification, email and physical address.

What is Shutterstock?

Once you have submitted your info, you then have to wait for them to check you are legit – it took 48 hours for them to verify me.

You then have to prove that you are not a cowboy snapper – someone with a cell phone camera who clicks at any old crap!

To do this, you need to submit up to 10 images, videos or a mixture of both for vetting. If they pass the grade – you’re in!

There’s no need to worry if you fail at this hurdle – you can gather your thoughts and apply again…as many times as you want.

If you are totally new to making money online, I would suggest that you check out my #1 recommended online business course as this was my stepping stone to build an income generating business.


How Much Money Can I Make at Shutterstock?

Okay, this gets a little confusing – so stick with me!

Firs of all, you earn commissions through the media you sell…but these commissions are based on the earnings tier you currently belong to, which subscription your customer signed up for and their license type.

This ‘earnings tier’ is worked out from the amount of money you have earned through Shutterstock, to date.

So, simply put – the higher your earning tier the higher your reward.

A tier one contributor earns $0.25 per download, tier two $0.33 cents, tier three $0.36 cents and tier four $0.38 cents per download.

Once you have reached a level worthy of a ‘cashout’, you can choose from 4 payment methods – Payoneer, Paypal, Skrill or a check through the post.

There’s only ONE program I really recommend. It helped me turn my hobby’ into a $10,000+ per month money making machine. Click here for the exact formula I followed.


Common Shutterstock Complaints

Before signing up with any option to work online, it’s worth checking out the ‘beef’ past members have had with the company, first.

I have encountered a few complaints regarding the payment system that Shutterstock implements – some people have walked away without payment (through frustration).

You see, in some cases, Shutterstock have waited to ask for verification details – until AFTER members have applied for their cash!

I don’t know the reasoning behind this, but it must be a right pisser to think you are going to get paid…only to find out you have to jump through a few hoops first!

Shutterstock Complaints

I have also encountered a few complaints from past members regarding getting their foot through the door – apparently the have had terrible problems with their verification experience.

This would be okay…if the customer service was up to scratch…but apparently they can be quite rude at times (another online complaint!).


Is Shutterstock a Scam?

No, it’s definitely NOT a scam, but like ALL companies, they sometimes manage to piss off their members!

At the end of the day – EVERY online company has some sort of complaint labeled to it, it’s the way of the world I’m afraid.

I do know that prolific contributors earn extremely good money on this site and I do know that if you have the talent – you can to!

Chances are if you’re on this blog, you’re looking for income you can sustain for the long haul. If this is the case, check out our number one recommendation HERE

15 comments on “Can You Make Money on Shutterstock?

  1. Shutterstock doesn’t look like a bad way to make money. But other than the verification problems you don’t mention if there are other problems and if this is a viable way to make an income. How is traffic? Do you get enough downloads for each upload you make and how long we have to wait for payments. These are some of the questions that came to my mind when reading this article.

    1. What do want – blood! 🙂

      There are no other problems mentioned, because there are no other problems. As for traffic – check out Alexa. People do make good money there, as I point out, but it all depends upon the quality of your work – I’m not giving you a ball park figure because I don’t know your level. 

  2. Hello Chris. Thank you for sharing this article “Can You Make Money on Shutterstock?”

    I have known Shutterstock for a very long long time now. I do graphics design and most times look for stock images to make some design. I usually come across Shutterstock a lot with the big watermark (I hate watermarks) only with an option get it off by paying for the image.

    Shutterstock is a good Platform to make some cash from your photos if you have some.

    1. Hi Barry,

      Believe it or not, I know exactly what you mean about their watermarks – I frequently come across their images to use on my sites…only to find they are plastered with watermarks! 

  3. Hello and thank you for this amazing article. I never knew that Shutterstock offered these kind of deals. Wow I am really impressed. I like painting and photography but only as hobbies. This Shutterstock contributor option is awesome.

    What I do not like is the commissions you earn. I do not know how many downloads usually average contributor has, but these amounts seem really low for an artist or professional. 

    I will check them out and their customer support to see if they can provide me with more information.

    1. Yeah that’s probably the best place to go mate, if you are interested in taking this sort of thing up. Bear in mind the commissions may have changed since the article was published. 

  4. As part of my day job, I take a lot of photos. That’s what led me to your site, as I am looking for ways to make money from the work I already do. Well, I do make money from the work I already do, but it would be nice to make a passive income from it, as well. Even though the payout is low, I think it could be a great way to make a passive income—even though it sounds like it can be a pain in the rear at times!

    Do you know what sorts of photos sell the best or is it fairly random? Do you retain ownership/copyright of the photos you submit or do they become the property of Shutterstock?

    Thanks for this post!

    1. Well this sounds like a pretty solid choice for you Karin – could be a good fit! 

      Not really sure what photos sell best – if you knew that, you’d probably be pretty wealthy! I think they become the property of Shutterstock once they are uploaded and you start earning off them (although I’m not 100% sure on this!). 

  5. If you are a keen photographer then why not sign up for Shutterstock after all you may as well be earning a few cents every time someone uses your image. Thanks for the detailed review I usually use other image websites and have never really looked closely at Shutterstock maybe I will now. 

    Loving the number 1 recommendation too 🙂

  6. Hi Chris,

    I want to thank you for your review on Shutterstock.

    I have used their services as a customer many times and often thought about using them as an income source as I travel a LOT and have about 30,000 photos around Asia.

    I am really grateful for you sharing the process of enrollment and verification, also payment!

    It seems that it’s not just small companies that give the run around. I understand them wanting to keep a certain level of quality, but they seem to have gone too far.

    You mentioned “There’s only ONE program I really recommend. It helped me turn my ‘hobby’ into a $10,000+ per month money making machine.”

    I am also a member of Wealthy Affiliate…

    How do you earn $10,000 with them?

    I would love to know your strategy.

    Thank you.


    1. Oh that’s through nothing but hard, HARD work Tim. The Wealthy Affiliate is a great platform but you have to be willing to put in a fair deal of leg work to succeed and make good money (there’s no magic bullet!). 

  7. I always use shutterstock for images so its interesting to see the other side of things. Using Shutterstock and other image libraries has got me to thinking about investing my own time in creating my own images so this is very useful to know!

    This is a great for a keen photographer to build a alternative route for passive income, I guess the better your photography and range of mages you have the better your chances are of making a income. 

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