Shutterstock Contributor Review: Can You Get Paid For Selling Your Photos?

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They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well on the internet, a picture can literally be worth a thousand bucks. Thanks to companies like Shutterstock you can put those photos and videos in your phone or camera to good use by selling them through the website. You are probably wondering whether this is actually true and have scanned through a couple of Shutterstock reviews.

If you are still in doubt, we will answer any questions you might have plus a whole lot more facts you need to know before signing up to earn. So, let's get right into it!

What is Shutterstock?

Shutterstock, found at is a stock photography company headquartered in New York City, NY. Shutterstock was founded by CEO and founder Jon Oringer in 2003. Apart from photos, the company also stocks music, vectors, illustrations and videos. Shuttertock Inc. is a publicly traded company (NYSE:SSTK).

How Does Shutterstock Work?

As a stock photography company, Shutterstock collects photos, videos, vector images and illustrations from ”contributors” and sells them to willing buyers all around the web.

If you are a buyer, you have to buy a license that will spell out what you can and cannot do with the content you download from Shutterstock. In the same way, as a contributor, once your content is downloaded you will receive commissions from Shutterstock based on how much it sold for, and how many times it was downloaded.

How Do I Sign Up To Become a Shutterstock Contributor?

Becoming a contributor is free. However, they need some quite a bit of verification information, including name, government issued identification, email, physical address etc. It takes up to three working days for your information to be verified. Then, once they approve your application you can start uploading content.

Currently, you have to upload up to 10 images, videos or a mixture of both for vetting. Once the team approves your content, your contributor account will be fully active and you can start selling content.

If your application does not go through, you can reapply as many times as you wish. You can sign up for Shutterstock from anywhere in the world.

How Much Does Shutterstock Pay Contributors?

How much you earn on Shutterstock depends on a combination of factors. First, you earn royalties every time your content sells. Second, the amount of royalty you earn is calculated based on the earnings tier you currently belong to, which subscription your customer signed up for and their license type. Third, Shutterstock classifies earning tiers based on how much you have earned at Shutterstock since you started.

There are four tiers in total; $0-$500, $500-$3,000, $3,000-$5,000 and $5,000-$10,000. At the end of the day, the higher your earning tier the higher your commission amount.

Buyers can choose to subscribe for licenses that give them access to up to 750 images. Moreover, a tier one contributor earns 25 cents per download, tier two 33 cents, tier three 36 cents and tier four 38 cents per download. Additionally, based on your earning tier, you can earn up to 30% of the selling price of an image.

The most successful contributors have worked with the company for years and are good at what they do. Comparatively, if getting paid to take photos is not your thing, check out or Alternatively, you can start working part time or full time online with My Top Work A Home Recommendation.

How Does Shutterstock Pay You?

At the time of this review, Shutterstock pays through on the 7th or the 15th of every month.

  • Payoneer
  • Paypal
  • Skrill
  • Mailed check

US citizens will need to have their W-9 tax forms on file to receive payments. Then, payments for non-US citizens are subject to a 30% tax withholding. Shutterstock claims the 30% tax goes to the Government.

What We Like About Shutterstock

Positive BBB

For those of you who live and die for a company's reputation with the Better Business Bureau, Shutterstock's rating is an A+ at the time of this review.

High earning potential

Shutterstock registers millions of downloads every day. Actually, it's one of the best stock photography companies out there. An image can sell for hundreds of dollars, so you might want to go all out if you choose to contribute.

Shutterstock Complaints

They say a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. I know so far the company sounds as legit as they come. However, there are a few skunky experiences you might go through if you choose to work with them including

They might not pay you

You might have to jump through hoops after a long cat and mouse chase to get paid. In fact, they are actually quite quirky with payments. It seems sometimes they wait up until you've made some money to ask for verification documents.

It's hard getting approved

You think airport security rules are strict? Try registering with Shutterstock. But it's because they just want to make sure you are what you say you are before signing up. As a matter of fact, they will ask you for documents you might not have at the moment and end up losing your damn money.

If you hate having to break a spine to make money online, you can start earning right away at or

Rude Customer Service

There have been numerous reports from both clients and contributors about the way they handle complaints. Furthermore, some have argued that they hardly resolve issues regarding payments, and if they do, chances are you will lock horns with the person handling your case.

Is Shutterstock Stock Images Legit?

Shutterstock is not a scam. In fact, the most prolific of contributors earn a decent amount, and the word is actually spreading. If you love creating content, freelancing with your camera or just don't know what to do with your lens, try Shutterstock.

Alternatively, if you prefer earning money without setting foot outside your house, check out or At the same time, you can check out My Best Work At Home Recommendation if you are serious about earning a living online from home.

Well, that's my two cents about Shutterstock. Do you have yours? Drop us a word or question in the comments section below.

Until next time

Eddy with a Y

4 thoughts on “Shutterstock Contributor Review: Can You Get Paid For Selling Your Photos?”

  1. 02-02-2019

    Hello, Eddy with a y. Why is that?

    I am an old pro. Shooter for the Orange County (California) Register and other newspapers in Southern California and the Central Coast of California. And the wires. I have a wide range of photos, black and white, from work in 1957 thru 1990. Real people doing real things. LBJ with the crowd at the dedication of UC Irvine at his first public appearance after JFK was assassinated. Nixon playing the Missouri Waltz. Bola Sete blowing them away at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1967. I worked for FEMA for 20 years as a PIO and writer and photographer from the Northridge Earthquake in 1994 on thru 2013 and including Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi. All color work. Two presidents included.
    If Shutterstock is processing millions of images each day, does the company really have a set of standards for the quality of submissions? How can they deal with that much data on a daily basis? How does one wrestle with a company based in New York City? I don’t want to be mixed up with a company that screws people. Also, what size image do they want? 300 dpi by 8×10? TIFF or JPG? what?


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