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How Much Does Shutterstock Pay for Contributors?

Shutterstock is one of the leading stock photography websites, giving contributors a platform to sell their work. Contributors who upload photos and videos to Shutterstock can earn money from their content. But how much do contributors actually make?

Shutterstock pays 15% – 40% royalties which translate to €0.10 – €35.92 per image and €0.90 – €42.32 per video download. Certain off-list or special sales can make up to $200 per download, and in some exclusive deals, the royalty can even go up to thousands.

Shutterstock’s royalty structure is a bit complicated. The amount you earn per download varies depending on various factors, including the plan or type of license purchased by the buyer and your contributor level on Shutterstock.

In this post, I’ll take a detailed look at how much Shutterstock pays for contributors and give some insights into what kind of royalties you can expect if you’re a Shutterstock contributor.

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Factors That Affect How Much Money You Can Earn on Shutterstock

Several factors can affect how much money you make from Shutterstock, including:

  • Your contributor level on Shutterstock
  • The plan or type of license purchased by the buyer
  • Your Portfolio Size
  • The Quality of Your Content
  • The Relevance of Your Content

The money you can make selling stock media on Shutterstock is related to sales volume. Because the price per single download may be only a few cents, the amount of money you can make depends on how many downloads your content gets.

That is why portfolio size, quality, and relevance are such important factors. And those are also the ones you have the most control of.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these factors and how they can impact your earnings.

Your Contributor Level on Shutterstock

Every Shutterstock contributor is assigned a contributor level. This is based on the number of downloads your content receives in the calendar year.

The more downloads you get, the higher your contributor level and the higher rate of royalty you will earn for each download. The level is determined yearly and resets on January 1st annually.

Below you’ll find the levels breakdown and their associated download requirements.

Earnings breakdown for photos, illustrations, and vectors
Contributor LevelDownloads per yearRoyalty Rate
Level 1Up to 10015 %
Level 2101 to 25020 %
Level 3251 to 50025 %
Level 4501 to 2,50030 %
Level 52,501 to 25,00035 %
Level 6Over 25,00040 %


Shutterstock Video Contributor Levels. The level reset back to level 1 on January 1st of each year
Contributor LevelDownloads / YearRoyalty Rate
Level 1Up to 1015%
Level 211 to 5020%
Level 351 to 25025%
Level 4251 to 5,00030%
Level 55,001 to 25,00035%
Level 625,000+40%


The Plan and Type of License Purchased by the Buyer

Shutterstock offers several types of licenses and plans. Depending on the plan or type of license purchased by the buyer, you will earn different amounts.

For example, if a buyer purchases a 5-image on-demand plan, you will earn a royalty based on the price of a single image or video download in that plan. So, the 5-image pack costs €49, which makes €9.80 per image. You will earn €1.47 – €3.92 based on your contributor level.

Let’s assume you get 100 downloads in a month from the 5-image on-demand plan. That would give you €147 – €392 as a royalty for that month.

Your Portfolio Size

The larger your portfolio size, the more chances you have of getting downloads and earning money. You must build a portfolio of thousands of stock media to reach consistent monthly sales. Uploading high-quality content regularly is key to increasing your portfolio’s earning potential.

The Quality of Your Content

Your content quality plays the most important role in how much money you make on Shutterstock.

High-Quality content is more likely to get downloaded by buyers and therefore rise higher on the search results.

As such, you will earn more money from high-quality content with a smaller portfolio than from low-quality content with a bigger portfolio.

The Relevance of Your Content

The relevance of your content is also important. Buyers are more likely to download content related to current trends and events.

Keeping an eye on current trends and uploading related content can help you get more downloads and earn higher royalties.

Detailed Shutterstock Royalty Payments for Contributors

In this section, I’ll dive deeper into the details of Shutterstock royalty payments.

In general, Shutterstock Pays €0.10 – €35.92 per download for images and €0.90 – €42.32 per video footage. However, there’s more than that.

I’ve compiled a detailed table of royalty amounts based on the contributor level, the license type purchased, and the subscription plan. The table is divided into image and video sales. Let’s check that out next.

How Much Does Shutterstock Pay For Photos?

As said earlier, the royalty amount depends on the contributor level, subscription plan, and the type of license purchased by the buyer.

In general, Shutterstock Pays

  • €0.10 – €1.96 per image from subscription downloads,
  • €1.07 – €3.92 per image from On-Demand downloads, and
  • €10.19 – €35.92 per image from extended license downloads.

Below is a detailed table on how much each image download type pays as royalties to the contributors.

Download PlanPricePrice/ ImageLevel 1 (15%)Level 2 (20%)Level 3 (25%)Level 4 (30%)Level 5 (35%)Level 6 (40%)
750 / Annual Monthly€159.00€0.21€0.10€0.10€0.10€0.10€0.10€0.10
350 / Annual Monthly€129.00€0.37€0.10€0.10€0.10€0.11€0.13€0.15
50 / Annual Monthly€99.00€1.98€0.30€0.40€0.50€0.59€0.69€0.79
10 / Annual Monthly€29.00€2.90€0.44€0.58€0.73€0.87€1.02€1.16
750 / Annual Prepaid€1,699.00€0.19€0.10€0.10€0.10€0.10€0.10€0.08
350 / Annual Prepaid€1,349.00€0.32€0.10€0.10€0.10€0.10€0.11€0.13
50 / Annual Prepaid€979.00€1.63€0.24€0.33€0.41€0.49€0.57€0.65
10 / Annual Prepaid€299.00€2.49€0.37€0.50€0.62€0.75€0.87€1.00
750 / Monthly Paid€199.00€0.27€0.10€0.10€0.10€0.10€0.10€0.11
350 / Monthly Paid€159.00€0.45€0.10€0.10€0.11€0.14€0.16€0.18
50 / Monthly Paid€125.00€2.50€0.38€0.50€0.63€0.75€0.88€1.00
10 / Monthly Paid€49.00€4.90€0.74€0.98€1.23€1.47€1.72€1.96
25 / On-Demand€179.00€7.16€1.07€1.43€1.79€2.15€2.51€2.86
5 / On-Demand€49.00€9.80€1.47€1.96€2.45€2.94€3.43€3.92
750 / Team Monthly Plan€409.00€0.55€0.10€0.11€0.14€0.16€0.19€0.22
5 / Extended Licence€449€90€13.47€17.96€22.45€26.94€31.43€35.92
25 / Extended Licence€1,699€68€10.19€13.59€16.99€20.39€23.79€27.18


How Much Does Shutterstock Pay For Video Footage?

When it comes to selling stock footage on Shutterstock, the same system applies to that also.

In general, Shutterstock Pays

  • €0.90 – €13.52 per video clip from subscription downloads,
  • €6.00 – €42.32 per video clip from On-Demand downloads, and
  • €8.93 – €69.52 per video clip from extended license downloads.

Below you’ll find a detailed table on how much each video download type pays as royalties to the contributors.

Download PlanPricePrice/ FootageVideo TypeLevel 1 (15%)Level 2 (20%)Level 3 (25%)Level 4 (30%)Level 5 (35%)Level 6 (40%)
5 Annual Monthly€89.00€17.80All€2.67€3.56€4.45€5.34€6.23€7.12
10 Annual Monthly€139.00€13.90All€2.09€2.78€3.48€4.17€4.87€5.56
25 Annual Monthly€179.00€7.16All€1.07€1.43€1.79€2.15€2.51€2.86
5 Annual Prepaid€829.00€13.82All€2.07€2.76€3.45€4.15€4.84€5.53
10 Annual Prepaid€1,399.00€11.66All€1.75€2.33€2.91€3.50€4.08€4.66
25 Annual Prepaid€1,799.00€6.00All€0.90€1.20€1.50€1.80€2.10€2.40
5 Monthly Paid€169.00€33.80All€5.07€6.76€8.45€10.14€11.83€13.52
10 Monthly Paid€319.00€31.90All€4.79€6.38€7.98€9.57€11.17€12.76
25 Monthly Paid€599.00€23.96All€3.59€4.79€5.99€7.19€8.39€9.58
5 On-Demand€230€46.00SD€6.90€9.20€11.50€13.80€16.10€18.40
10 On-Demand€459€45.90SD€6.89€9.18€11.48€13.77€16.07€18.36
25 On-Demand€1,000€40.00SD€6.00€8.00€10.00€12.00€14.00€16.00
5 On-Demand€269€53.80HD€8.07€10.76€13.45€16.14€18.83€21.52
10 On-Demand€499€49.90HD€7.49€9.98€12.48€14.97€17.47€19.96
25 On-Demand€1,199€47.96HD€7.19€9.59€11.99€14.39€16.79€19.18
5 On-Demand€529€105.804K€15.87€21.16€26.45€31.74€37.03€42.32
10 On-Demand€999€99.904K€14.99€19.98€24.98€29.97€34.97€39.96
25 On-Demand€2,399€95.964K€14.39€19.19€23.99€28.79€33.59€38.38
5 Extended License€599€119.80SD€17.97€23.96€29.95€35.94€41.93€47.92
10 Extended License€819€81.90SD€12.29€16.38€20.48€24.57€28.67€32.76
25 Extended License€1,489€59.56SD€8.93€11.91€14.89€17.87€20.85€23.82
5 Extended License€649€129.80HD€19.47€25.96€32.45€38.94€45.43€51.92
10 Extended License€929€92.90HD€13.94€18.58€23.23€27.87€32.52€37.16
25 Extended License€1,739€69.56HD€10.43€13.91€17.39€20.87€24.35€27.82
5 Extended License€869€173.804K€26.07€34.76€43.45€52.14€60.83€69.52
10 Extended License€1,219€121.904K€18.29€24.38€30.48€36.57€42.67€48.76
25 Extended License€2,379€95.164K€14.27€19.03€23.79€28.55€33.31€38.06


Single & Other Sales

Every now and then, you can get sales that are way beyond the list prices.

These are so-called single & other sales which are single image sales through Shutterstock’s mobile app, along with custom products that are not available on its eCommerce platform.

These custom products may include API deals and partnerships, enterprise plans, and other tailored plans that cater to the buyers’ needs.

Earnings from these API deals and partnerships are a great supplemental source of revenue for the contributors and may earn anywhere up to hundreds of dollars per download.

Screenshot of single & other sale on my Shutterstock dashboard
Screenshot of single & other sale on my Shutterstock dashboard

Exclusive Deals

Additionally, there are also rare cases when Shutterstock contacts you directly and offers an exclusive deal.

These offer a unique opportunity to sign a contract with Shutterstock, where they will license certain images from you, and in return, the photographer or artist will be rewarded handsomely.

In many cases, the photographer is required to remove the same images from other stock media platforms as part of this exclusive deal, which can lead to earning thousands per licensed image.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have experienced one such deal personally, so I know these deals exist. The financial rewards for such exclusive contracts can be significant and provide a great incentive for photographers and artists alike who decide to partner with Shutterstock.

Overall, it is important to note that these deals are not offered very often by Shutterstock, but if you’re lucky enough to get one, then the potential payoff could be considerable.

So be sure to keep your portfolio up to date with quality work, and you may just be lucky enough to land an exciting deal with Shutterstock!

Screenshot of the images I sold on Shutterstock for thousands of dollars
Screenshot of the images I sold on Shutterstock for thousands of dollars. I’m not allowed to show the exact details of the price.

How Many Photos Do You Need on Shutterstock To Make Money?

The answer to this question is not straightforward. It depends on various factors, such as your contributor level and the relevance and quality of your content.

In theory, you can make money on Shutterstock with as few as one photo or video if it’s high-quality and relevant to what buyers are looking for.

However, because stock photography is a volume game, it’s best to have a decent size portfolio. I always like to recommend having at least 1000 assets in your portfolio uploaded in 1-2 years. Your portfolio should be growing regularly with quality content that is relevant to buyers’ needs.

If you can make €5000 a year with 1000 assets in your portfolio, you are doing extremely well. Many stock producers make even more than that, but the majority make less than a couple of thousand per year with 1000 assets. It all depends on the quality of your work.

Can You Make a Living Off Shutterstock?

Many people dream of making a living off stock photography and are wondering if it’s actually possible to do so with Shutterstock.

While I believe that with hard work and years of dedication, you can make a living off Stock photography, making a living solely off Shutterstock can be challenging.

Uploading content on multiple stock websites and diversifying your income streams is necessary to make a good income off stock photography. Also, you need to have a steady stream of downloads and thousands of high-quality content that is relevant to current trends.

Building a business solely on Stock Photography is risky and most likely won’t pay off in the long run. Therefore, I recommend that you also look into other income streams as well to ensure financial security.


Here’s a list of commonly asked questions related to Shutterstock and its payments

Is Shutterstock good for beginners?

Yes, Shutterstock can be a great place for beginners to get started in the stock photography industry. It’s easy to use and offers a wide range of options for the types of content you can upload.

However, it’s important to note that Shutterstock is a competitive platform, and it may take some time to build a portfolio of quality content that buyers are looking for. Therefore, it’s important to be patient and consistent with your work.

Read also this post: How To Make Money On Shutterstock?

How long does it take to make money on Shutterstock?

Basically, you can make money immediately on Shutterstock once you upload content and have it approved. However, the rate at which you make money depends mainly on how much quality content you have.

If you build a portfolio of 1000 popular high-quality assets in 1-2 years, you should see consistent monthly income over that time and potentially make substantial money from it.

However, if you have low-quality content or your content is not popular, you need a bigger portfolio, and it takes much longer to make a regular income. It’s a numbers/quality game, and you have to be patient and consistent with your work.

What is the minimum payout on Shutterstock?

The minimum payout for Shutterstock contributors is $35. Any royalties earned below this amount will be rolled over to the following month until it reaches the minimum payout threshold.

How do I get paid on Shutterstock?

Shutterstock allows you to withdraw your earnings via PayPal, Payoneer, and Skrill. To withdraw your money, you need to reach the minimum payout amount and set up your payment method in your account settings.


Shutterstock is a great way to make some passive income if you have high-quality and relevant content.

Contributors are paid 15% – 40% royalties, which can translate to €0.10 – €35.92 per image and €0.90 – €42.32 per video download.

The amount you earn depends on your contributor level, the plan or type of license purchased by the buyer, and your portfolio size, quality, and content relevance.

So, if you’re looking for an additional source of income, consider contributing to Shutterstock.

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