Does Shutterstock Really Work?

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Does Shutterstock work?Shutterstock serves two different purposes, it’s both a place to find royalty free images, and also a place to sell your photos and images to those that want to use them on their websites or in other media. But can you really make money with it, and are the royalty free images really free?

It’s important to understand that royalty-free does not mean an image is completely free to use, it simply means that you don’t have to pay royalties to use it. You buy the image once, and then you can use it again and again as you see fit, and it doesn’t matter how many people see the image, you only pay the one time.

Some images like the ones found at Wikimedia Commons, are totally free to use, and the owners of the images have made it so there’s no copyright. There may be other stipulations, like you have to give them credit, or they may say that you can use it any way you want to with no credit necessary. The images at royalty-free sites will be similar to that, except you have to pay a small fee first.k

The Claim
The claim by Shutterstock is that they have millions of images and videos for you to choose from, depending on what your needs are. They also say that you can upload your photos, images, and videos and they’ll add it to their collection so that you can make money from your work.

The Hype
You might have seen an add or heard of programs out there that say you can make money by simply uploading images to Shutterstock. The amount of money varies but usually is either a nice part-time income or potentially full-time. The hype is the ease with which these programs say you can make money, with many saying that all you have to do is sit and upload images and since there’s already a built-in consumer base the money just comes in. Of course it’s not exactly that easy.

The Cost
Shutterstock says that it has payment plans for every budget, and this is how the pricing breaks down. If you just need one or to images you can buy a two-pack for $29 with nothing more to pay. If you need more than a couple they have 5 packs for $49. And if you end up needing pics on a regular basis you can get a subscription package where you can use up to 25 images a day and you can get that down as low as $199 a month if you sign on for

The Commitment
If you plan to make some real money with this, you’re going to have to commit to being a pro contributor. This is going to take some time and determination, and is not an overnight process.

Using royalty-free images from Shutterstock is definitely a good way to go to add professional-looking photos to your website, without having to worry about getting in trouble for using them later. If you want to keep yourself in good standing at all times it’s important to use images that you have permission to use, or give credit to the photo’s source if that’s all they’re asking for. Finding and using free images from a Google Images search can sometimes get you in trouble as a webmaster if you end up using an image from a copyright holder that doesn’t approve.

As far as making a good amount of money goes as a contributor to Shutterstock, you’d want to treat it as a legitimate business opportunity and come up with great looking images that people want to use, and come up with a lot of them. Since it’s already a mature site with thousands of top contributors adding images for several years now, they’re flooded with top-quality images. So you really need to think outside of the box and deliver creative and sharp images and photos that business owners would want to use on their websites or in their brochures or other print media.

Final Shutterstock Review

Overall, Shutterstock is a great resource for royalty-free images, and you can really find some high quality, high resolution photos that will look great on your site and give your visitors some eye candy, which has been proven to help with retention rate and time on page.

As a money-making opportunity it’s going to rely greatly on your ability to make eye-catching images, or take unique photos that others would want to use. It’s a combination of being a numbers game, but also having the creativity there as well. If you can come up with large amounts of creative content you stand a chance of making a nice side income that could grow over time.

Our Recommendation
You never know how good you’ll be at something until you try, so if the idea of uploading images to make money appealed to you, it may be worth your time to learn how to get good at it. Like most anything it’s a skill that can be taught if you’re willing to put the time in, but if you only take a passing interest in it you’ll likely be left with little to show for it.

As far as buying and using images from Shutterstock, we’ve never had a problem with the entire process, and there are so many different images sometimes the hardest part is deciding between two or three really good ones.

What do you think? Does Shutterstock work or not?

7 Customer Reviews on “Does Shutterstock Really Work?

  1. I would like to know if Shutterstock can take my pictures, tweet them and put them in a book that I am writing. I have seen your work in other books and I loved the format of it. If so, please let me know as soon as possible.

    Angelous Ingram

  2. This will definitely be something I will bookmark for future use. It’s difficult to find great quality images for your website without the fear of legal action being taken if the image is not removed. The ones that usually provide decent images to use have an annoying royalties fee you have to adhere to in order to even use the same image repeatedly. It’s great to know that these don’t do that and that one you purchase an image, you use it it as many times as you’d like. I also like the idea of being able to sell my own photos for other people to use too! But I would only use this as form small supplemental income.

  3. I have worked as an assistant at a small photography/videography studio for several years now. The owner of the business uses a stock image website to make some extra money on the side. Although he takes some really incredible shots and sells a good amount of them, he really only makes a few cents on a lot of the images. He is lucky to make a few dollars on one. And he uses one of the biggest stock photo websites around, which pays better than others do. If you are an artist, just keep in mind that a site like Shutterstock will make it really hard to make enough money to make a living off of it.

  4. I like the images available on Shutterstock and have used some for a writing project. A wonderful source of images. As a source of income, it is a bit more problematic.
    The claim is that you can make money by taking photos and uploading to their website. Unfortunately, it is not quite that easy. Your photos have to meet certain quality standards so you need to have a fairly high quality camera and good photographic skills. This is not something that an amateur will be able to do successfully without a lot of practice and the ability to shoot photos that are unique and eye catching.

  5. As a webmaster I must agree with you Allison, Shutterstock is a good service. I used it a few times and I also like it because of the pay as you go option. I would hate it if it didn’t have that. I’ve seem a lot of small sites try to replicate the success of Shutterstock but some of their pictures are crappy.

    However I don’t really understand how the photographers makes their money. It seems like someone would have to sell a lot of pictures to pay a mortgage and put food on the table.

  6. If there is anything more annoying or stressful than searching for an image you need, it is having to worry about paying for it over and over and over again in the form of royalties. I love utilizing Shutterstock because I can easily search for the perfect product, pay for it once, and then use it repeatedly without having to worry about writing a check every two weeks. Personally, I find the yearly subscriptions way out of my league because I don’t nearly need to use that many images in a year. However Shutterstock has an awesome Pay As You Go plan so I feel like I can buy the photos I want without having to pay a steep price per month to get them.

  7. This website seems like a really great way for people to make money on the images they produce, and for people with websites to make their pages more impressive. It’s nice for bloggers and webmasters to have sources to find great photos and images to make their pages stand out. I’ve used some stock photo websites, but they don’t always have the best images. Even though you have to pay for this site, it seems worth it if you get some images that really improve the look of your page and increases the traffic to your site. This seems like a win-win for everyone.

    And it’s just natural that it would take a lot of practice and work to make any significant amount of money off of your images. That’s true of anything you try to make money with, especially if it’s a creative product. This seems like a great opportunity and forum for people to do that, though. This makes me want to try it!

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