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Can You Make Money on ShutterStock? Or Is It Just a Scam..

If you are interested in making money online by selling your pictures then ShutterStock is one of your choices. But can you REALLY make money on ShutterStock? Or is this just going to be a waste of time that is going to add up to pennies at the end of the day?

I have been getting some questions on making money selling pictures on ShutterStock by some website visitors and I know this is a hot topic so I finally decided to get around to writing this review. In this review I’m going to clear a few things up and give you a better understanding of the potential money you can make.

make money on shutterstockShutterStock Contributor Review

  • Website: shutterstock.com
  • Pay: Pay per download basis
  • Recommended?: For some, more on this


I’m sure you already know how ShutterStock works but I’ll give a brief overview anyways.

Anyone can sign up with ShutterStock and become what they call a contributor. And as a contributor you can upload your photos, videos, and drawings to the marketplace and get paid every time someone downloads one.

You can make money, and some contributors make really good money, but this is far from a walk in the park and shouldn’t be expected.

How To Become a Contributor

I would recommend holding off on this until you have read this whole review because you might change your mind, but I’ll summarize the signup process for you.

When you first sign up you will have to enter your name, email, and some other basic personal information. You will then get an email that you will have to click on to confirm your email.

After that they will need to verify that you are serious about this and you will be required to submit some of what you consider your best work. This could mean they ask you to submit ten photos, ten drawings, or one video.

You will also have to verify your identity by uploading an ID, such as your driver’s license.

After everything is submitted it is up to ShutterStock to approve you. This can take up to 48 hours. And once they do you will be notified via email and you can start contributing your photos and making money right away.

The Compensation Plan

As mentioned, you will get paid on a per-download basis. And the amount you will get paid per download depends on 2 things… the type of download that it was and the amount of money they you have earned as a contributor.

ShutterStock has a 4 tiered payout structure where it pays its top contributors more than others. These tiers are based on the amount of income that you have made as a contributor.

As you can see below, everyone starts out at the bottom tier. Once they earn $500 they get bumped up to the next tier where they will earn more money. Once they hit $3,000 they will get bumped up to the next tier. And finally when they hit $10,000 they will get bumped up to the final tier and will be making as much as they possibly can per download.

One of the nice things about the compensation plan here is that once you achieve a rank you stay at that rank. Its not like you have to keep meeting a standard of sales every month or anything like that.

How You Get Paid

You can get paid in 2 ways, either by check or by PayPal. If you choose to get paid via check in the mail you will need to reach a $300 minimum balance in order to cash out. And if you choose to get paid via PayPal you will have to reach a $100 minimum balance.

I would suggest using PayPal because it takes less to cash out and it is faster payment.

So How Much Money Can You Make?

The big question here is how much money can you make??!! realistically of course.

Unfortunately there is no real good answer to how much money you can or will make. Some people make very good money on ShutterStock while others make nothing at all.

If you upload some really good high commercial value photos you could literally make $100+ a week just by having 20 photos or so uploaded. But if you are uploading photos of low commercial value you could have 1,000 photos and be making $10 a week off of them.

There are a lot of variables at play when it comes to the amount of money you can and will make with the photos and videos that you upload.

The quality of the photos themselves are of course one of the main variables here, but something else that is VERY important is keywording.

Keywording is something that I see get misused all the time on ShutterStock and other similar sites. And what this is, is just words that you tag your photos with so that people can easily find them when searching for images.

For example take a look at the photo below and the keywords used for it…

The keywords I circled. These are tags that the author put in here to help people find this pictures. Many of them are very far off based and do this no good. For example, one of the keywords is “human body art”. Now if someone is actually searching for Human Body Art pictures they sure as heck aren’t going to download this one because it has nothing to do with that.

Getting your keywords right is a BIG deal and should not be underestimated.

If there were 2 things I would say you absolutely need to get right as a contributor, it would be quality images with high commercial value and good keywording.

Final Thoughts & What I Recommend

Well, ShutterStock is definitely not a scam and you definitely can make money as a contributor. However, its not an easy game. ShutterStock has a lot of professional photographers filling their marketplace and there really isn’t any room for amateurs. They are extremely competitive and even have to approve every single photo that is submitted to them.

You can definitely make some decent money but you HAVE to be good at this. If you are an amateur or aspiring photographer just looking to get your feet wet then you should look into digital photo marketplaces like Foap or Markedshot, which are more geared toward amateur photographers.

But even with these other two sites you shouldn’t expect much money. The bottom line is that making good money with online photography markets like these is not an easy task and not many people succeed at this. But I guess you have to start somewhere right?

But anyways.. if you want to know an alternative way to make good money online then what I would suggest to you is to take a peek at how I do so.

I make a living working online for myself and I enjoy what I do. I wrote a post (link below) on what it is that I do, how it all works, and how others can get started doing the same.

–> Read about it here if you are interested

Comments, questions, concerns??? Leave them below in the comment sections and I’ll get back to you soon ?


About the author


My name is Kyle and I am the owner of Earn Beast. I created this website to explore the various ways of earning and mainly focus on teaching others how they can make money online. To learn how I make a full-time income online, Click Here

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