Shutterstock Contributor Review | How Much Can You Make?

Shutterstock Contributor – How Much Can You Make?

A screenshot of the Shutterstock website logo


Shutterstock happens to be one of the world’s leading platforms for photographers looking to sell and display their work to the world. To get started, you will first have to create a Shutterstock Contributor account. 

You are probably wondering whether you can earn a decent income as a Shutterstock contributor. If so, that is exactly why we have created this review. On this page, we are going to highlight everything you need to know about Shutterstock Contributor, including how much you can make.

At LegitWorkOnlineForReal, we are committed to helping our readers find legit online money-making programs. We understand that there are numerous scam websites that are only out to defraud unsuspecting people. Our reviews are aimed at showing how you can make money with the program under review (where the program is legit), and exposing scam websites where our research shows that the websites cannot be trusted. 

Today’s focus will be on Shutterstock Contributor. So how much money can you make as a contributor? Well you’re about to find out. We will be covering in this review, the following topics:

  • When Was It Started?
  • What Are They All About?
  • What Does It Cost to Join?
  • What Membership Plans Do They Have?
  • How Much Can You Make?
  • Good Vs. Bad Qualities
  • What Are Internet Users Saying About Shutterstock Contributor?

When Was It Started?

Shutterstock was founded in 2003, by Jon Oringer, an entrepreneurial photographer. The website was the first stock image subscription service and would soon scale to become the number one leading stock image platform in the world. 

What Is Shutterstock Contributor All About?

Realizing that there was a growing demand for licensable images at affordable prices, Oringer created Shutterstock and uploaded over 30,000 of his own digital images. The stock did not seem to satisfy the demand, compelling Oringer to welcome other photographers to contribute to the stock. 

Today, Shutterstock is a renowned brand in the stock photo market. For over 19 years, the platform has paid over one billion dollars to contributors. They are known to accept contributors from all over the world, creating a global community of photographers. 

What Does It Cost to Join Shutterstock?

Wondering how much it’s going to cost you to contribute your work to Shutterstock? Well the answer is it’s absolutely free to become a Shutterstock contributor. The platform is always looking for new illustrators, videographers, and photographers from around the world to contribute to its stock. 

Even though joining is free of charge, your photos must meet the set of eligibility requirements for the platform to accept them. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to become a Shutterstock contributor:

  • Sign Up

Head to the Shutterstock website and create a contributor account.

  • Upload Your First Photos

Upload your photos to the Shutterstock Contributor hub.

  • Add Keywords and Image Descriptions

Keywords help potential buyers find your images with ease. Make sure that the chosen keywords and descriptions match the image.

  • Submit

Submit the photos and wait for the website’s quality assurance team to evaluate them for value and technical quality. Once your images are accepted, they will be added to the Shutterstock library, where they will be made available for sale. 

How Much Money One Could make before 1 June 2020 You?

Shutterstock has a new earning structure that was launched in June 2020. Initially, contributors would earn royalties every time one of their photos was downloaded. The amount of money paid depended on a number of factors: the subscription and license used for every download, and your earnings tier. 

Buyers purchased images using either of the two options: on-demand and subscriptions. Your earnings tier would depend on your lifetime Shutterstock earnings, as well as on-demand and subscription downloads. There were four earnings tiers:

Tier 1: $0 – 500

Tier 2: $500 – $3000

Tier 3: $3000 – $10,000

Tier 4: $10,000+ 

For images downloaded under the subscription plan, you would earn 25 to 28 cents for each download. On-demand downloads earned between $0.81 and $2.85. 

How Do You Make Money as A Shutterstock Contributor Today?

As a Shutterstock contributor, you will earn 20% to 40% off of the image price. The percentage of your share of the price depends on the image/video tier. Images and videos are tiered based on the number of downloads. 

Every time a buyer downloads your image or video, you receive one download. For a steady and significant income, you will have to upload more content for more downloads. 

Image level Photos sold You earn
Level 1 Up to 100 15%
Level 2 101-250 20%
Level 3 251-500 25%
Level 4 501-2,500 30%
Level 5 2,500-25,000 35%
Level 6 25,000+ 40%

The “Image Levels” are the rankings given to photos depending on the number of image licenses sold. The more photo licenses you hold, the more you earn. 

The earnings structure seeks to reward contributors who sell more content. The Update resulted in a 50% drop in contributors earnings. Earnings for enhanced Shutterstock licenses were changed from $28 per download, to 20-40% of the license cost. 

Good vs. Bad Qualities

Below are the upsides and downsides associated with being a Shutterstock contributor:


  • Serves as a good source of extra passive income
  • Free to sign up


  • Earnings per image are so low (often in cents)
    The platform rewards contributors who can upload and sell more images
  • Your efforts do not match the results 

What Are Internet Users Saying About Becoming A Shutterstock Contributor?

The best way to learn about the experience of being a Shutterstock contributor, is by reading what other photographers have to say about the program. 

While doing our research, we realized that photographers contributing to Shutterstock are more than willing to share their experiences. Below are some of their sentiments. 

“Most of my sales from Shutterstock have been a measly 10c. Yep, beautiful photos that I’ve spent hours shooting, editing, uploading, keywording, you make a sale and it is – surprise! Not enough to buy… anything really. HOWEVER – don’t let me lose you yet. Because while the income from individual photos is very small, they have a huge client base, and therefore I’ve made more sales on this site than any other site, adding up to a higher overall income,” commented Christie Cooper, Shutterstock contributor. 

Christie is a Shutterstock contributor, with about 500 images on the site. Here is the full story on her Shutterstock Contributor experience – it’s worth your time. 

Click Here, to read more real user experiences!!

What We Liked About the Program

With over a dozen image stock libraries as big as Shutterstock, this site stands out for a number of reasons. The things that we liked the most about the program include the following:

  1. Rewards Volume 

If you can get a way to upload thousands of high-quality on-demand images, you will earn more than the average contributor.

  1. Straightforward Registration Process

The process of signing up to become a contributor at the stock agency is pretty straightforward. Refer to the step-by-step guide outlined at the top of this review. 

Our Conclusion For Becoming A Shutterstock Contributor

If you are looking for a site where you can sell your stock images, Shutterstock would be a great starting point. However, you should know that the website takes 80% of the earnings collected from licenses sold, while you only get 20%. In other words the earnings you would bring home, are significantly low. 

But the site is legit and you can earn some bucks. Just not that much. So don’t rely on this site to meet your bills. You can try signing up will other stock websites such as Adobe Stock, Stocksy, Getty Images, and Unsplash to supplement your Shutterstock income. 

Did you like our review? If so, please show your support by sharing a comment below in the comment section. Thank you for reading and see you on our next review. 

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