What: Shutterstock encourages photographers to upload their stock photos for resale, which can generate royalties 

Expected pay: 25 cents + per image

Husl$core: $$

Commissions & fees: 70% to 90%

Where: Nationwide

Requirements: 18 or older; have legal rights to the content you upload


Like Adobe Stock, Shutterstock encourages photographers and videographers to upload their images in exchange for earning royalties when those images sell. The royalties range from a low of 25 cents per photo to a high of $120. However, that $120 payment was for an “enhanced” license that gives the buyer the right to use your image often and into perpetuity. By and large, the site pays a lower royalty rate than Adobe Stock. And it also sells photos via package plans that are likely to keep royalty rates low, except in unusual circumstances.

We also found other disturbing terms in the Shutterstock agreement. Among other things, if you want to restrict the site from giving a buyer “enhanced rights” — basically the right to publish anywhere, anyhow and as many times as the buyer wants — you have to opt out. If you want to stop the site from selling your image for “sensitive use” you also have to opt out. What is sensitive use? To use Shutterstock’s description: “Sensitive Uses are those uses that depict a person in a manner that a reasonable person might consider offensive, controversial or unflattering.”

The site also only pays contributors when they have accumulated at least $35. (If you want to be paid by check, you need to build up $500 to get paid.) If you get booted from the site before you get paid, any accumulated earnings in your account can be seized by Shutterstock.

Other sites to consider:

Adobe Stock, Snapped4U and print on demand sites Society6 and RedBubble.

What their contributors say:

(from forums.shutterstock)

I’ve been a contributor for a little over a year and had my first sale in Feb 2016. I only have about 140 images on site right now but I have a total of 32 sold images. The $$ is not worth mentioning. Just like the other members said, it takes thousands of images in your portfolio to start making any real $$. I recently have been pretty busy shooting photos and have about another 100 images to add to my portfolio. But unfortunately there seems to be a problem with uploading and I’m kind of waiting for it to be resolved. 

I’m also very new here, just joined about a month ago, now have slightly fewer than 70 photos in my portfolio. Total earnings is a grand total of $1.00 (4 downloads) right now. Not much at all, but I was not really expecting this to replace my day job in the first place. I’m happy enough that there are people out there who appreciate my work…more is always good though

To make a little money here it takes highly commercial images. There has to be a use for your images. I only started adding images to my port about two years ago… and it is slowly building but I only have about 70 images at the moment and I average only $300 a year. This is very part time for me – I should say spare time. I probably add only a few images per month. But, that said, I think it’s also important to regularly add to your port. It seems to help boost your images in search results. If I go too long without uploading I do notice a drop in sales. Keep at it. With 50-100 quality commercial images you should see at least daily/semi-daily sales.

From WalletSquirel:

I made $1.88….after a lot of work