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Has anybody made money on Shutterstock?

  1. profile image0
    ryankettposted 6 years ago

    Now that I have a camera with a half decent resolution I am considering making some of my pics available for microstock sites, I am attracted to the idea of another residual income, even if that income is modest.

    I would be interested in hearing whether or not anybody else has used microstock sites for this purpose, and whether they have had success doing so; what level of earnings should I expect per year per 1000 decent quality photos?

    If $1500 a year is realistic with a portfolio that extensive then I will give it a go; I'm not patient enough (and probably not quite skilled enough) to pursue macrostock sales, and I have read numerous accounts of people making substantially more through microstock anyway.

    And what does better, raw photos or enhanced images? I am half capable on photoshop, but editing to such a degree takes time and is therefore likely an unviable in an environment which I should imagine is a numbers game just like Hubpages?

    Any insight into your experiences, or alternative site suggestions, is most appreciated.

    1. FagunRain profile image54
      FagunRainposted 6 years agoin reply to this


      1. sunforged profile image64
        sunforgedposted 6 years agoin reply to this
        1. skyfire profile image72
          skyfireposted 6 years agoin reply to this


        2. lrohner profile image83
          lrohnerposted 6 years agoin reply to this


    2. livewithrichard profile image84
      livewithrichardposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      I started to do this a couple years ago but found that it was just as time consuming, if not more, than article writing. 

      I was interested because my neighbor was earning nearly $600 a month from an 800+ image portfolio across several sites.

      If I were going to start now, I would create a blog and make a post with every image I wanted to upload to microstock sites with all the proper tags and possible uses for the images along with a shrink wrapping or watermark to protect them from thieves. And I would link the image to the microstock service that is hosting it.  But make sure the blog is in proper format with categories, tags, permalinks, etc.

      Raw images are preferred to enhanced images because the buyer will most likely want to do the enhancing.  Some sites want and need vector images as well.

      Here is a list of sites that I am registered with but never uploaded anything.  (most of them have great photography tutorials and tips which I have found beneficial)


      1. dsmith1472 profile image59
        dsmith1472posted 6 years agoin reply to this

        I am with shutterstock, but the same images the have been accepted by shutterstock have not been accepted by Istock.  I have made $4.00 so far with only 8 images, but could use some advise.  Should I just try to get my photos on all of the ones you posted?

      2. Nrj Bheema profile image60
        Nrj Bheemaposted 4 years agoin reply to this

        Hi richard.." And I would link the image to the microstock service that is hosting it". How can you link images to microstock service?
        I registered with http:/submit.shutterstock.com/  1week ago.. they ask for 10 photos initially. So i was preparing 10 photos to submit.. But i have no idea as how does shutter stock pay for every photo. Any idea?

        1. psycheskinner profile image80
          psycheskinnerposted 4 years agoin reply to this

          They either sell it as a one of which gets $2 or more depending on size and license, or via the subscription plan which gets you 30c each time.

    3. profile image0
      Charlinexposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Unless you are a highly skilled and productive photographer, it may not be realistic to expect $1500 from SS in the first year. Don't forget, the micro stock market is highly saturated with many professionals.

      1. profile image0
        ryankettposted 6 years agoin reply to this

        I have realised that the standards are too high, I have found a few sites which take editorial pictures; they require no manipulation.

        As much as I would love to mess around on photoshop all day I just don't have the time.

        I have had 30 images accepted by an editorial stock site, so that's the direction that I will head in.

    4. profile image60
      Norbert Pikulskiposted 2 years agoin reply to this

      I had bad luck with shutterstock they pay less than all sites i researched, better off flippn burgers

    5. profile image60
      specialmonkeyposted 20 months agoin reply to this

      There's another new stock site 123stock.co.uk, probably worth adding on there before it gets over crowded like the main ones

    6. Greg Hung profile image61
      Greg Hungposted 17 months agoin reply to this

      Hi Ryan I've been doing stock footage almost full-time for 2 years. I average about $1000US a month. It took a lot of time and work.

      Online collection as of April 2016

      Pond 5 5300, Shutterstock 4059, Videoblock 2401, Dissolve 3673, Pixta 154,  Motion elements 5723
      Online collection as of April 2015

      Pond 5 est 3000, Shutterstock 3000, Videoblock 1000, Dissolve 2432, Pixta 1258

      You may have shot a lot of footage, what what really counts is how many clips you have approved an on-line with the stock footage agencies. Here is a snapshot of my current collection. I started out with 500 clips that I submitted to Motionelements and have steadily increased my collection since January 2014.

      I've just release a Free report for info for the past 2 years. More info Here

    7. psycheskinner profile image80
      psycheskinnerposted 15 months agoin reply to this

      Getting 1000 photos loaded, keyworded, model/property released, and accepted by quality control would be an enormous task. If you do manage that your earnings goal is realistic if your pictures are of a diverse range of human models in commercial poses, of they are objects and landscapes, not so much.

      The quality control is very strict these days both in terms of focus and technicals, and copyright on designed objects and model releases.  I found it just too much hard work to get things loaded, although they were the best eaner of the sites I used.

  2. profile image0
    ryankettposted 6 years ago


  3. frogdropping profile image86
    frogdroppingposted 6 years ago

    Can't help you Ryan - it's a site I came across ages ago and looked over. Not that I was interested - I'm no photographer. I remember reading that they're picky about what they'll take. I suppose they want 'creative' over 'obvious'.

    Hopefully someone will appear sooner or later and have something better for you.

    Edit - I think they prefer raw images, so the users can Photoshop them etc to their own liking. The cleaner the better.

  4. kirstenblog profile image75
    kirstenblogposted 6 years ago

    I would like to hear folks experiences too, not that I have a fancy camera but I do go on holidays, and I do have a camera (point and shoot, but I love her).

  5. LuisEGonzalez profile image81
    LuisEGonzalezposted 6 years ago

    You can make money on Shutter stock,
    but you need:
    1. Several hundred images for submission,
    2. They need to be 100% technically sound,
    3. Be within their pixels resolutions needs,
    4. Must be of "in demand subjects".

    1. profile image0
      Charlinexposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      That's all true. Besides, you have to apply and get accepted.  After this, every photo you upload will be inspected.

  6. Bill Manning profile image70
    Bill Manningposted 6 years ago

    I take pictures of Disney, Universal Studios and SeaWorld down here in Orlando. Seems like those would be in demand, no?

    1. profile image0
      Charlinexposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Probably not, unless you have the property releases from these companies or sell them as editorial images.

  7. strawberryhill profile image60
    strawberryhillposted 6 years ago

    Interesting.  I didn't realise there was any cash in it / almost a scam.  I do like the idea of properly SEO indexing them and driving some traffic though.  thanks tp livewithrichard for the list of sites.


  8. ColibriPhoto profile image85
    ColibriPhotoposted 6 years ago

    I have been with ShutterStock for a little over a year. I make money on a regular basis. But it is not easy. There is a big difference between taking photos and taking photos that will promote or sell a product. They are not looking for snapshots. Photos of flowers and sunsets are out unless you have something that is exceptional. Any people in the photos must provide a model release, and this is even if you can't see their face. Many buildings and public structures require a property release. No photos of cars, motorcycles, busses, trucks, etc. without a property release from the manufacturer. I could go on but I think you get my drift. Money can be made but it takes as much time and effort as writing, and I find the returns from writing to be more substantial.

    Hope this helps.

    1. profile image60
      Victoria Davidposted 4 months agoin reply to this

      Do I need a model release from God for snapping nature?

      1. psycheskinner profile image80
        psycheskinnerposted 4 months agoin reply to this

        No, but you also aren't going to sell as well if your only subjects are nature.  Models, communities etc especially diverse ages and races, that's what sells, next being high concept stuff.

  9. Lazer317 profile image79
    Lazer317posted 6 years ago

    Hi There,
    I am not with Shutterstock, but I do work with iStockphoto and have made some money there.  I don't know how demanding Shutterstock is, but iStockphoto is very and anything I submit has to go through an inspection which takes up to 10 days for approval.  It's very time consuming, and I find it does take more time then writing articles, but there are many photographers doing this full-time.  I think in order to be successful you must shoot commercial product and lifestyle shots, and you have to have an online portfolio of at least 500 photos to make a decent second income.  I am not there yet....maybe one day.  *sigh*

  10. Yackers1 profile image72
    Yackers1posted 6 years ago

    I am registered with Bigstockphoto, Fotolia,Dreamstime, 123RF and Stockphotomedia. The standards are very high and there is loads of competition so don't expect to make too much money. It is worth a go though - afterall the images would only be sitting on your hard drive with no earnings potential right?

    Ryankett - I would be interested in the editorial sites you use. Any chance you can do a bit of name dropping? Cheers.

  11. Adventure Colorad profile image86
    Adventure Coloradposted 6 years ago

    You can certainly make some money using stock photo sites.  But the amount will depend on your effort.  I have been with Istockphoto for four years and haven't made hardly anything, but I also don't put a lot of effort into it.  To make money in stock photography you need a large database of images and you need to contribute photos regularly.  The search engines on the major stock sites favor images with a lot of downloads and images that are newer.

    Google Yuri Arcurs if you want to see what is possible in the stock photo world.  He makes huge sums of money, but most of it is invested right back into his photography.

  12. catchadream profile image59
    catchadreamposted 6 years ago

    I have tried some of these stock photo sites with limited success.  You need to have pictures that are of content that applies to stock photography and the pictures need to be near perfection.  Since most of my photography is of nature my pictures aren't what stock photography is looking for.  I still take pictures with the intent of adding to stock photography sites and find the feedback useful  I have not invested the time that I can plan on making any real money at.

  13. DeylightWriter profile image70
    DeylightWriterposted 6 years ago

    Great. Thanks this is good information.  Indeed what I'm hearing is - as one person pointed out - it takes a lot of work - and is a "challenging" as article writing (online); so the choice is to make it work...if one decides to work at it.  thanks. peace.

    1. profile image60
      Norbert Pikulskiposted 2 years agoin reply to this

      Yeah remember you get what you pay for an oversaturated greedy market like shutterstock will leave you very unhappy, better luck at fotolia or rtf

      1. psycheskinner profile image80
        psycheskinnerposted 2 years agoin reply to this

        Shutterstock paid best for me.  It depends on the kind of photos you take.

  14. stockphotographer profile image76
    stockphotographerposted 15 months ago

    I've signed up for Shutterstock, iStock, Deposit photos, Fotolia and Dreamstime. Its been about 10 days since I joined and only earned 25c. I've posted over 100 images and only 42 accepted for sale on Shutterstock.

    Also posted about 17 on Fotolia and but they accepted 14 images. Every site has its differences. Although the photos I've uploaded are very old and are not shot for stock photography. Simply trying to upload as much as I can from my hard drive since they're just sitting there. I will be shooting for the purpose of stock photography as soon as all the hard drive images are uploaded (at least the decent ones)

    Even though 25c is barely anything, its a lot of fun when people actually buy your image and obviously appreciate what you've done. Seeing the rejections and what is accepted into the stock agencies are also a great learning curve to photography no matter what level you're at.

  15. ptosis profile image79
    ptosisposted 15 months ago

    My experience:
    Url        Minimum size      notes                    Minimum payout
    Alamy     17MB               100% Rejection
    Bigstock     doesn't say    100% Rejection
    CanStock     3 - 20            5 uploads/day        $50
    Dreamstime    3  - ?                                  $100
    Fotoila     4 - 30            100% Rejection      $50
    RedBubble doesn't say    auto Acceptance  no minimum got 18 CENTS (who-hoo sad - NOT!)

    Istock                                                        $100

    Only RedBubble allows me to put on a gallery of all my works, all others, I have no gallery although I have been accepted by CanStock and Dreamstime, there ain't ZERO chance of getting money outta it. Check out my  gallery @ http://www.redbubble.com/people/ptosis/portfolio


    Besides  Shutterstock requires you to pay them to put your stuff online. That's why I don't use shutterstock.

    I have a question: HP Pavillion g6 "This device does not have a profile for whole screen color correction" sRGB.icc uncalibrated. Is this the reason it looks good in RawTherapee but too light in email or imaged viewer? Would buying a monitor calibrator fix this problem? Same image looks different depending on program. What should I aim for?


  16. psycheskinner profile image80
    psycheskinnerposted 15 months ago

    Shutterstock does not require any payments.  Not sure where that idea came from. I have paid them zero, they have paid me just over $700 to date, mind you that is since 2006 (300 images in portfolio)