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Excellent way to make money while pursuing a fun hobby. Having a good number of photos can mean accumulating a nice monthly side income with virtually no upkeep.

Last updated: April 9, 2014

Founded a decade ago, Shutterstock pioneered on the microstock subscription model and maintains a library of over 30 million royalty-free stock photos, vector graphics, and illustrations.

Sites like shutterstock license images and video clips on behalf of photographers, designers, illustrators, and videographers, adding 20,000 new images a day from 40,000 contributors in 100 countries, as in 2013. So if you are professional, amateur or just hobbyist this is an excellent method to make money from home.

Contributing photographers must apply before they are eligible to upload their images. In order to get in you must submit 10 pictures that are evaluated for quality and appropriateness. At least seven pictures must be approved for the contributor account to become active.

Once in, contributors can upload items tagged with keywords, color, orientation, type and categorize theme. In order the uploaded image to become active must pass "inspection queue", where each and every picture is examined to make sure that meets quality criteria which is very high, also uploads must not breach copyright and trademark laws. Each time an image is downloaded, the contributor receives a flat rate of 25c. The rate can go up to 38c depending on total lifetime earnings of the contributor. The more downloads you get the more money you make. Although the competition is extremely tough due to the fact that micro stock market is flooded with many professionals. Even amateurs and hobbyist can make money from micro stock images, because clients usually do their search based on keywords, not an author. However what makes shutterstock successful is it’s system that highly favors new images. If an image is successful when it’s new, it will continue to generate income when gets older, it also indirectly helps other work by the author. Seasoned contributors know that, and they constantly upload new images in order to get exposure and make money. This is very beneficial to shutterstock because increases it’s already impressive archive with even more high quality content.

User interface is simple and has only 4 main categories, it’s very business oriented. There are no personalization features like member profiles, ratings, etc…

Shutterstock offers extremely useful statistics, custom positioning of the watermark to better protect the image and lucrative referral program.

From client perspective shutterstock is also great because it offers cheap royalty free items. Standard license subscription models can be “25-A-Day” or “Images on Demand”, they also offer Enhanced subscription model.

However in order to protect themselves from image stockpiling by clients, subscription contract prohibits use of the images the buyer hasn’t used six months upon downloading. They also forbid use of the images for trademarked items, logos or templates for sale.

You can definitely make money from home by selling micro stock images. As nothing is easy, the earning will depend on your time and efforts invested. To really make money in stock photography you need a hundreds of images and you need to contribute new items on a regular basis.  The search engines on the major micro stock providers favor images with a lot of downloads and images that are newer.

Shutterstock is the most popular consistent performer with high potential, especially for consistent contributors.

Alternative sites to shutterstock are: istockphoto, Getty Images, 123RF, bigstock …

If you intend to use the service make sure you read our Shutterstock Tutorial


Popularity: 5/5

Reliability: 4/5

Security: 4/5

User Interface:3/5

Support: 4/5

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