How Much Does Shutterstock Pay? A Detailed Look At Earnings

Are you interested in earning money by licensing your photos, videos, music or other creative work? If so, you may be wondering – how much does Shutterstock pay its contributors? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take an in-depth look at Shutterstock payouts so you can decide if it’s worth your time.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: the amount Shutterstock pays varies based on several factors, but most contributors earn $0.25 to $0.50 per download on average. Top earners can make over $100,000 per year.

Shutterstock Royalty Structure

How Shutterstock Pays Contributors

Shutterstock operates on a royalty-based payment system for its contributors. This means that every time someone purchases and downloads one of your images, you earn a royalty fee. The amount you receive depends on several factors, including the type of content, your contributor level, and the licensing options chosen by the customer.

Contributor levels play a significant role in determining your earnings on Shutterstock. The platform has different tiers ranging from Bronze to Diamond, and each level offers higher royalty percentages as you move up.

As you gain more downloads and maintain a high level of quality, you can progress through the levels and increase your earnings potential.

Another important factor to consider is the type of content you upload. Shutterstock offers various types of content, including photos, illustrations, vectors, and videos. Each category has its own royalty rate, with videos generally having higher earning potential compared to static images.

Therefore, if you have a diverse portfolio that includes different types of content, you can maximize your earnings on Shutterstock.

Factors That Affect Earnings

Several factors can influence your earnings as a contributor on Shutterstock. One of the main factors is the popularity and demand for your content. Images or videos that are in high demand and frequently downloaded will generate more royalties compared to those with fewer downloads.

The quality of your content also plays a vital role in determining your earnings. High-quality, well-composed images or videos that meet the technical requirements of the platform are more likely to attract customers and generate sales.

Therefore, it’s essential to invest time in creating visually appealing and technically sound content to maximize your earnings potential.

Additionally, the licensing options chosen by the customer can impact your earnings. Shutterstock offers various licensing options, including standard and enhanced licenses. The royalty rates for each license type may differ, with enhanced licenses generally generating higher royalties for contributors.

It’s worth noting that while the royalty rates and factors discussed here provide a general overview, the exact earnings can vary for each contributor. It’s important to regularly track your earnings and analyze the performance of your content to make informed decisions and optimize your earnings on Shutterstock.

Average Earnings for Shutterstock Contributors

Shutterstock is one of the most popular platforms for photographers, videographers, and illustrators to sell their creative work. Many aspiring contributors wonder how much they can earn on Shutterstock.

While the actual earnings can vary depending on various factors, such as the quality and uniqueness of the content, the number of downloads, and the market demand, we can provide a general overview of the average earnings for Shutterstock contributors.

Typical Range of Earnings

The earnings for Shutterstock contributors can range from a few dollars to several hundred dollars per month. This wide range is influenced by several factors, including the type of content, the number of uploads, and the popularity of the contributor’s portfolio.

For example, contributors who focus on high-demand subjects, such as business or lifestyle, tend to earn more than those with niche or less popular content.

On average, a contributor can expect to earn between $0.25 and $0.38 per image download, and between $2.50 and $7.80 per video download. These figures are based on Shutterstock’s current royalty rates, which can vary depending on the contributor’s lifetime earnings and exclusivity status.

Earnings for Top Contributors

Top contributors on Shutterstock can earn significantly higher amounts than the average. These contributors have built a strong portfolio of high-quality content that is in high demand. They often have a large number of downloads, which translates into higher earnings.

Some top contributors on Shutterstock have reported earning thousands of dollars per month. Their success is attributed to their ability to consistently create unique and appealing content that resonates with buyers.

These contributors often have a deep understanding of the market trends and are able to produce content that meets the buyers’ needs.

It is important to note that becoming a top contributor on Shutterstock requires dedication, hard work, and a keen eye for market trends. It is not an overnight success story but rather a result of consistent effort and continuous improvement.

If you are interested in learning more about Shutterstock’s earning potential, you can visit their official website at for detailed information and resources for contributors.

Tips to Maximize Shutterstock Income

When it comes to earning money on Shutterstock, there are several strategies you can employ to maximize your income. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your Shutterstock earnings:

Create Diverse Content

One of the first steps to maximizing your income on Shutterstock is to create diverse content. By offering a wide range of subjects, styles, and themes, you can appeal to a larger audience and increase your chances of making sales.

Consider exploring different genres of photography, such as landscapes, portraits, or still life. Additionally, experiment with various editing techniques and compositions to make your content stand out.

Keyword Optimize Your Assets

Another essential aspect of maximizing your earnings on Shutterstock is to keyword optimize your assets. Keywords are crucial for helping potential buyers find your content, so it’s essential to choose relevant and accurate keywords that accurately describe your images.

Take the time to research popular keywords in your niche and incorporate them into your image titles, descriptions, and tags. This will significantly improve your visibility and increase the chances of your content being discovered.

Build Your Portfolio Over Time

Building a strong and extensive portfolio over time is a key factor in maximizing your earnings on Shutterstock. The more images you have available for purchase, the higher your chances of making sales. Make it a habit to regularly upload new content and consistently improve the quality of your work.

Building a diverse and extensive portfolio will not only increase your earning potential but also attract a larger clientele base.

Promote Your Content

Promotion plays a crucial role in maximizing your earnings on Shutterstock. While Shutterstock has a vast customer base, it’s essential to promote your content outside of the platform to reach a broader audience.

Utilize social media platforms, personal websites, blogs, and other online channels to showcase your work and direct potential buyers to your Shutterstock portfolio. Additionally, consider joining photography communities and engaging with fellow photographers to expand your network and increase your exposure.

By implementing these tips, you can take significant steps towards maximizing your earnings on Shutterstock. Remember, success on the platform requires dedication, consistency, and continuous improvement. Good luck!


In summary, most Shutterstock contributors earn between $0.25 and $0.50 per download, while top earners can make over $100k annually. While earnings vary based on content quality, keywords and other factors, building a diverse portfolio and promoting your work over time is key to maximizing income.

If you consistently upload creative assets in high demand, Shutterstock provides an excellent opportunity to generate passive revenue from your work.

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