Can You Make Money with Shutterstock? Read This Before Trying!

Can you make money with shutterstock
4 simple steps to make money with stock photos. However, it's anything but easy.

Shutterstock Review 2018: Update

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I just created an updated Shutterstock review to my YouTube channel. In the video, I walk you through the BEST 4-step process how you can make a good income online as a photographer.

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If you are looking for answers to questions like, “How to Make Money with Shutterstock?” “Can you make money on Shutterstock?” you have come to the right place.

In this article, I am going to talk you about making money with Shutterstock and earning money online in general. Without further ado, let’s get going!

can you make money with shutterstock
Shutterstock is a photo bank with more than 187 million photos.

Shutterstock Review

Name: Shutterstock

Type: Photo Bank

Short Review: It’s possible to make some money with Shutterstock but most photographers earn close to nothing. Unless you are a professional photographer with years of experience, you won’t get rich with Shutterstock. Many markets on Shutterstock are already very saturated because there are thousands of high-quality pictures.

If you are looking for a better way to earn money online, I recommend taking a look at my #1 recommendation.

What Is Shutterstock?

Shutterstock is one of the biggest photo banks in the world. Photographers can upload their pictures to Shutterstock while companies and individuals who need them, can buy the pictures.

Many photographers are looking for an opportunity to make money by uploading pictures to their photo bank. In this article, I am going to explain you 2 benefits of doing that but also 3 challenges. In the end, I’ll explain alternative strategy how you can make money online as a photographer.

2 Benefits of Shutterstock for Earning Money

Making money with Shutterstock has certainly some benefits. Let me list them for you.

1.You can do what you are passionate about.

I know that thousands of people who want to make money with Shutterstock (and other photo banks) are passionate about photographing. Well, now you have an opportunity to get paid for doing that.

Who wouldn’t like getting paid for what you love, right? At least I personally believe that we find the best results in life when we are doing things that we enjoy doing.

2.You can earn passive income.

Passive income is the money that you will earn even while you are not working. In my opinion, that’s the best form of income. Once you have done the work the money keeps on coming to your account even while you are laying on the beach. That’s why I like building various passive income streams.

With Shutterstock, you have an opportunity to earn passive income. Once you have uploaded the pictures to the photo bank and done the work you can make money even while sleeping.

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Can you make money with shutterstock
4 simple steps to make money with stock photos. However, it’s anything but easy.

Making Money With Shutterstock – 3 Challenges

There are many benefits of making money with Shutterstock but now I also want to discuss a few challenges.

1.The market is very saturated – The competition is extremely tough

“Just take your camera, grab a few pictures, upload them to Shutterstock and become rich.” That story doesn’t really work anymore (to be honest, I’m not sure whether it has worked even before).

Shutterstock has founded already 15 years ago back in 2003. Now it’s an enormous photo bank with millions of high-quality pictures. In the other words, there are millions of pictures competing with you in the marketplace.

Tough competition means two things:

  1. People are making money there.
  2. You need to be exceptionally good and hard-working to make good money.

2.You are highly relying on Shutterstock

When you make money with Shutterstock, you are highly dependent on their rules and policies. Let’s say that you spend a few years for building your Shutterstock portfolio and income stream. Then Shutterstock suddenly changes their rules in a way it affects your rankings and sales. It can take down a whole business.

Of course, you can diversify your risk by concentrating on several photo banks at the same time. Anyway, this is still an issue that you need to take into account. If you make money with Shutterstock, you are dependent on their rules.

If Shutterstock changes their rules significantly, you may lose your source of income.

3.Making money with Shutterstock takes a long time

Usually, creating passive income streams takes time. That’s also the case with Shutterstock. You won’t be making $1,000’s during the first weeks, months or perhaps even years unless you are exceptionally good.

My friend used Shutterstock for half a year and made $20. If I watch his pictures, they are professional quality. He has done photographing for over 10 years.

On the other hand, we can always say that he would have made much more money if he would have put more effort or if he would have better equipment.

Anyway, the bottom line is that making money with Shutterstock doesn’t usually happen easily.

Is it possible to make money with shutterstock
“We see their glory but don’t understand the story.” Making money with Shutterstock requires lots of hard work.

Imagine Yourself After 1 Year

Let’s say that you start uploading pictures to Shutterstock. You make your best and use hundreds of hours to create high-quality pictures. You check your earnings on Shutterstock regularly and nothing moves. $0,00 shows up in the balance. Maybe a $1,00 sale here and there.

A year passes and you have earned close to nothing. What if you would have spent those hundreds of creative hours doing something more profitable?

The challenge with Shutterstock is that the market in many areas is so saturated and the competition is tough. That’s why many people fail to earn any money and they end up wasting endless hours while uploading their videos.

Somebody may argue that there are no guarantees to succeed in any business. However, I believe that success leaves clues. The old wisdom says, “If you do what other successful people do, you will eventually get the same results that they do.

I have seen over and over again that the people who follow the Wealthy Affiliate training, succeed to make money online. The principles and steps they teach have also worked in my own life. Therefore, in my opinion, it’s more guaranteed way to make money online than uploading pictures to Shutterstock.

Conclusion – Is Shutterstock Worth It?

Yes and no. If you enjoy photographing and uploading pictures to the Internet, there’s nothing wrong with it. However, if you wish to make big money, I think you should start doing something else.

There are several ways to make money online but my #1 recommendation, especially for beginners, is Wealthy Affiliate. It’s a step-by-step training and a community that will help you hand in hand for making a living on the Internet. I can confidently say that the Wealthy Affiliate training and community has changed my own life.

Can you make money with shutterstock (2)
There are many ways to earn money online as a photographer.

Let me explain a simple 3 step process how you could be making money online as a photographer.

3 Steps to Make Money Online for Photographers

If photographing is your passion, I have a good idea how you can make money online. Let me explain you the 4-step formula that I would suggest. And by the way, I have seen numerous websites that make money by following exactly this formula.

1.Launch a Simple Photographing Website (It’s Possible in 30 Seconds Here!)

You don’t need any programming or technical experience to do that. I thought before that creating websites is only for super-humans until I realized that there are simple tools that anyone can use to build a basic website easily.

So, the subject of your website would be related to photographing. Let me give you just an example. Let’s say that on the website you give other people recommendations and tips on photographing. That’s just an idea and you can, of course, choose any other subject as well.

2.Create Content – Pictures/Texts/Videos

Content can be anything from articles to videos, pictures and whatever you want to create. One idea is to create articles like, “Best 7 cameras for under $500.” “5 Tips for Grabbing a Perfect Landscape Picture.” “Watch How You can Take a Beautiful Pictures of Nature.” “3 Tips for Beginner Photographers.”

Then you recommend some great photographing related products while you are giving information to your audience. Remember that you don’t need to be the best in the world. If you are reading this article, I bet that you know more about photographing than I do. Therefore, people like me would find your content very helpful.

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3.Earn Money

When you give product recommendations, you can link them to e-commerce stores like Amazon and other ones. When people click your link and buy something on Amazon, you earn a commission.

If they click your link and buy the camera, you earn a commission. But even though they would buy something completely different, you will still earn commissions. Even though somebody would buy men’s boxers, laptops or literally anything through your links, you make money. That’s the beauty of affiliate marketing.

With affiliate marketing you will also earn passive income which means that you earn money even while you are not actively working. You can sleep, lay on the beach, take pictures with your friends, exercise at the gym and you may be earning passive income at the same time. Of course, it requires that you have done the work beforehand.

But sometimes with affiliate marketing, you earn money still even 10 years after you’ve done the work.

Can you make money with shutterstock
Click the picture to learn more about affiliate marketing.

How to Learn More About This?

This was just a short example how you will make money online. I can recommend you a step-by-step training that will walk you through all the details that you need to know in order to make money by using the exact strategy that I just explained to you.

I didn’t know anything about making money with affiliate marketing before I started that training. It was and it is still completely free to get started. There are also premium features and tools that cost money but getting started is free. I pay for the premium features because they generate me much more money than I pay for them and that’s why I can recommend them for you as well.

Anyway, I don’t want to hold you too long. You can get started by clicking the picture below. I will send you a personal message inside the Wealthy Affiliate community. See you inside!

4 Steps to Making Money Online

What do you think about making money with Shutterstock?

What kind of results have you got?

Are you interested in other ways to make money online?

Let’s discuss in the comments below! 🙂

If you have any questions about the article or making money online, in general, feel free to ask below and I’ll be more than happy to help you out.

By Roope Kiuttu

Hello! I am Roope "Robert" Kiuttu, the founder and owner of I created this website back in 2015 to help you to make money online. You can ask me anything and I'll be happy to help you out. I help people daily to make more money online and I love seeing people succeeding. If you want to get my 1-on-1 support and help to make money online as well, get started HERE.


  1. You are right Roope they just like a bank of photo’s but for you to earn on this platform the pictures must be quality and make sense. They will pick your entry and have it in raffle draw so if you’re pics got selected then you are lucky. But the equivalent of price is minimal only so you need to keep on sending your entries to them.

  2. Does shutterstock accepts edited pictures or animated pictures? For example I make an animated picture of a celebrity? Do they accept it? Do they still rate or pay for it? Because as of now I don’t have a camera so I am finding a way to earn on shutter stock while waiting for me to have a good camera.

    1. At least they accept edited pictures. Pretty much all of the images on their sites are edited actually.

      I quickly checked and noticed that they have also animated images. And I believe they also pay for them if somebody buys your pictures.

    2. First I thank to Roope Kiuttu for the great content with very useful information and as already mentioned by Roope Kiuttu that they accept edited pictures and yes, also animated images are also they accept in their footage section. But if you really wanna make money, don’t go with animated images, just go with vector stock. As per my personal experience, I can say vector files on Shutterstock download 2.5 times more than photos.

      The average sells on Shutterstock is –

      Stock Photo – 1.5 downloads per image in a year.
      Vectors – more than 2.5 downloads per vector in a year.

      Now calculate, If you upload 1000 Photos on Shutterstock (they should be high quality with commercial value, otherwise quantity doesn’t matter) then your yearly downloads will be 1000×1.5=1500 downloads per year or 125 downloads a month (appx. earning $30 a month)

      But If you upload 1000 vectors then your yearly downloads will be more than 1000 x 2.5 = 2500 or 210 downloads per month (appx. earning $50 a month)

      Vector will give you more earning with the same quantity.

      I also wrote on my website about selling vectors on Shutterstock. You can visit if you like. “”

  3. I’ve thought about doing this before and I did think it would not yield as much profit as I would like. I’m glad to have come across your review to confirm this. I think this could be a helpful supplement if you are already doing a lot of photography as a hobby anyway and would just like something to earn some money for you passively but it may be difficult to rely on this as a main source of income. Perhaps if you stick with it long enough and accumulate enough of a portfolio it will increase your chances in the long run but I think it would take too long to find this out for yourself so it’s best to just treat it as a hobby as a start.

  4. The sound of how earning on the website is very appealing but in truth evaluating how one gets paid in the system shows it’s not worth making one’s main source of earning money online. It would serve as a good passive income earning avenue as long as one it’s just snapping and uploading pictures just for the fun of doing it. If he gets paid good, if not he or she is taking pleasure in doing what they like.

    Reading your friend’s experience whom you said that used Shutterstock for half a year and made $20, that’s very discouraging having to work for 6 months only to earn a miserly $20. I would take up such offers.

      1. Seriously, it’s not worth the time and effort invested in it. Someone like myself that have a running expenditure of close to $250 to take care of in monthly basis wouldn’t achieve anything waiting to make a living from earning on Shutterstock. It would be a whole waste of one’s time and eventually not having anything to show for it.

  5. I am not a photographer and despite enjoying the art, I have no talent nor interest to engage in this particular form of work. However, a very close friend of mine is a successful photographer and his point of view is that shutterstock is only worth it if you’re trying to improve yourself, get better, and if you use it as means to get a simple bucks in times of need.

    This is more or less the same conclusion I reached after reading your article. I mean, if you’re a photographer and have a bunch of photos you can use to make passive money then go for it! But it’s not the kind of website you should dedicate plenty time and effort, because otherwise your income won’t reflect the work you put onto it.

    Thanks for the review!

    1. Yeah, seems that he has come to the same conclusions like I did about Shutterstock.

      I think that making money with affiliate marketing as a photographer would be much, much more profitable.

    2. @Rosette you evaluation of the website Shutterstock is clear as crystal. It’s best not making one’s main source of income because there is no way the work dedicated to the website would be able to reflect on the pay such individual is getting. It’s best used as a tool to get the photographer to be better at his work while having the opportunity to get some bucks from uploading it to the site and having the pictures downloaded by another user.

  6. This article was very helpful. I am passionate about photography and I was searching for an alternative to earn some passive income by selling my photos online. After reading this article I realized Shutterstock is a good place to earn some bucks, but it is not a business to rely on for living.

    With the market being full, the competiton is really high, so you end up putting all that hard work into creating a high-quality photo, and all you might get is $1 here and there. What I am thinking is to invest my time and talent into an activity that involves photography and provides me a decent amount of money and aside, try my luck with Shutterstock.

    Thanks, without your article I would’ve bet it all on Shutterstock and wait passively for weeks, maybe months, for about $10.

    1. Yeah, making money with Shutterstock takes time and effort. You need to learn and develop skills to be exceptionally good. I believe that during the first few months you won’t earn almost anything but if you do the work, you may produce some income. However, I haven’t tried it myself because the earning potential seems so difficult compared to other ways.

  7. Thank you I had a great idea about shutterstock. I wanted to try this one because it looks easy as they said. But because of your enlightenment I finally decided not to try. It really hard and a long time to earn a good amount of money. This post is great and a big help for me. 🙂

  8. This is just a proof that you can make a money out of your good quality camera. If I only have a good quality camera I would definitely make money out of it. And I will probably try to make money in shutterstock. Of course you should be good in editing pictures for a much better quality pictures.

    1. I think that a good quality camera doesn’t make it itself. My friend has a good camera +10 years of experience of photographing and years of experience of editing. He made $20 in 6 months with Shutterstock after using many, many hours with it.

      So, you need to be really good with it if you want to make good money there.

      1. Oh its great to hear that. Can you show me your friends work? I wanna be like him someday if I already bought camera. Hope that I can make more money more than your friend could. Thank you.

        1. Yes, I believe you could make more but my friend’s example just shows how extremely hard it is to earn money on Shutterstock. Why wouldn’t you try affiliate marketing? He has some pictures here. Some of them seem to be already a few years old.

          1. I just checked out your friends photo compilation and I am so amazed for real!!!!! All I can say is wow, because I am a big fan of photography specially the landscape photography. Tell your friend that I really appreciate his works and he/she should do more photography since he/she is very good at it.

            Tell him/her that I Idolized him/her.But it is sad to hear that it really takes a long time for him/her to earn because he deserves to be promoted. Soon I will be like him/her. By the way thank you for sharing me the works of your friend Roope. You are a real friend.

          2. Yes, Sami (he is man by the way :D) is a really great photographer in my opinion also.

            I told your positive feedback to him also. I think he could build a good photography business with his skills.

    2. As much as earning money on Shutterstock looks promising, it’s not as good as it seems. It’s not really worth the time and effort invested in it because what one gets for the job done over a long period of time isn’t worth it. This is down to the stiff competition on the site by those who posses more skills than you do both in the art of photography and picture editing as well.

  9. I am a hobbyist photographer. I have an account on shutterstock, however, I have not listed my photographs yet. Even though I have not tried Shutterstock to make money, I know it is really hard to make money. You need to do SEO on your images, you need to promote your profile and listing on site as well as off-site. As long as you are using the site for residual income, there is no harm in trying.

    1. Yeah, SEO is very important on Shutterstock. My friend said that pictures that are related to business usually sell better. For example, well-dressed people at the office. However, he doesn’t taken that kind of pictures himself but says that other people got great results with them.

    2. Wow, @vinaya that’s one way to facilitate one’s earnings using the website Shutterstock, although I wouldn’t be taking up such schemes but it’s good to know and I would possibly refer it to one who is convinced he or she could make it using the site. Thanks for the input about using SEO and promoting one’s profile both offline and online in order to hit more sales.

  10. I appreciate the honesty in this article. But I must admit the challenges seem heavier than the benefits. But I don’t think I’ll be deterred from trying it because I love photography.
    Thank you for this!

  11. It is true that I enjoy taking pictures with my phone and uploading to social media networks, but I have to admit that I wouldn’t be thinking of using Shutterstock to make money considering that the market is always saturated. I wouldn’t want to go into a type of business where I will spend lots of time working only to earn a little and that’s the reason I won’t consider it for now.

      1. Skipping choices like this can be a way to facilitate the financial goals that I’ve got in 2018. I have decided to go for the bigger opportunities that can help me achieve my aims and get better at earning for the amount of time spent online. Yeah, joining this platform of photographers can be said to be all about passion, but some passion ain’t a good way to make the amount of money we need.

        1. Yeah. I think that anyone can make a living by doing what is their passion. Just need to find a creative way to do it. Some people like to chat and hang around with their friends. Well, Oprah makes millions for chatting and hanging around with his friends in TV 😉

  12. I love taking pictures, but I’m not that really good. I’n my own opinion, I don’t recommend shutterstock for professional photographers. It’s hard to shoot and find a wonderful or great subject. It’s a lot of effort and you should also use your wide imagination in doing this. And then they are just receiving a low amount from Shutterstock. Then it took a year before they receive a higher amount.

    I saw some sites also where you can sell your photos. Like Smugpro. Do you have any ideas with Smugpro Site? Are they better than Shutterstock?

  13. This kind of reminds me of my first affiliate site…Except yours is better. So did you put all the ads up with affiliate links or sell the ad space?

  14. I loved this article alought. It’s to best way of expressing and telling how u can earn some money with just selling some photograps. It’s very helpful. I would recommend to all my Friends to read this article as they are very keen about photography. Perfect article.

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