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Shutterstock focuses on Royalty-Free content, mainly on subscription-based licensing. As they were among the first implementing subscriptions they have a very solid base and a huge amount of customers, downloading image after image.
Customers pay a flat fee that will allow them to download (buy) a certain amount of images per month.
The uploading and tagging process is very user-friendly and they have excellent customer service.
Shutterstock will make payments as soon as you reach a minimum of $35. They pay through PayPal, Payoneer, and Skrill.
What is different with subscription-based platforms?
Well, for one thing, your earnings per downloaded image will be less.
On the other hand, it is likely that you will receive a lot more downloads as customers can download a lot of images per subscription.
In the end, what matters is how much money your pictures generate in a certain timeframe.
The biggest advantage of subscriptions is that it is more ‘resilient’.
If you have a month with fewer downloads, subscription-based will still earn you some money.
In numbers: 10 times $0.50 instead of 15 times will still make you $5, whereas 0 times $7.50 instead of 1 time $7.50 will leave you with nothing.
Signing up as a contributor is basically the same as with most stock photography sites.
Sign up with your email address, confirm it, and upload your first batch for review. As soon as you get accepted, you can upload more.
I tried it
In my experience, although it is some years ago now, Shutterstock is also very contributor friendly.
Part of the process of selling (or marketing) your images is that you give them the best title and description. You tag them with keywords, so customers will find yours when they search for the picture they need.
Shutterstock makes this very easy to do and will suggest keywords.
I Like It
I have to admit that it has been years ago since I sold my images on Shutterstock.
The only reason I left was to go exclusive with another agency, which made me leave the other stock agencies.
It Made Me Money
Back then, to me, it was more about learning than earning. The money I earned was invested in better equipment and software like Photoshop and Lightroom, but I had fun with it and learned a lot.
It allowed me to buy some nice hardware upgrades.