Don’t Reveal Your Shutterstock Earnings To Anyone

Posted on 12/7/2020 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (6)

Shutterstock doesn’t want their contributors revealing how much – or how little – they earn. Presumably, this is because they believe that if contributors knew how little they might receive for the imagery they submit they wouldn’t bother to submit anything.

Before submitting images to Shutterstock every creator must agree to the “Terms of Service.” Buried in this 6,769 word document is the following:

    14. Confidentiality

    By submitting any Content to Shutterstock, you acknowledge that you will acquire certain confidential and proprietary information, including but not limited to royalty rates, royalty payments and earnings data (collectively, "Confidential Information"). You agree to keep Confidential Information confidential and to not disclose Confidential Information to any third party other than representatives, agents, attorneys, accountants, auditors and advisors with a bona fide need to know, who shall first agree to keep the terms confidential.

Here's a story about what happened to photographer Dr. Arindam Ghosh, Professor of Biochemistry in Bihar, India, who published information on YouTube and Facebook about how much he has been earnings from his best-selling images on Shutterstock. He felt this might motivate others, or maybe as he admits, “show off” his success. He has been an enthusiastic contributor to Shutterstock.

When Shutterstock discovered this infraction they sent him a notice saying that they were disabling uploading to his account until he removed from the Internet all “video, post or blog article you have created which disclose Shutterstock earnings.“  

Shutterstock asked him to inform them when the task was complete. At that point they would consider turning his ability to upload new images back on.

Dr. Ghosh is still able to earn from previously uploaded images, but he is not allowed to upload new ones. He feels that if he is not allowed to continually upload his sales will eventually die because “the key is to upload daily.”

These comments on Microstockgroup by other Shutterstock contributors are worth reviewing.

Public Numbers

While Shutterstock doesn’t want contributors to tell anyone what they are earning, as a publicly held company in the United States, owned by investors, they are forced to publish overall numbers for the company on a quarterly basis. From the image creators point of view they are not that exciting.

Public numbers are available for Shutterstock, the industry’s second largest middleman distributor of stock images. In Q3 2020 they had 370 million images in their collection and licensed uses to 43.4 million of them. The average license fee was $3.79. The average revenue earned per-image-in-the-collection was about $0.45. Creators will receive about 26% of the gross figure paid, or about $0.12 per-image-in-the-collection. At that rate they would earn about $0.48 per year per-image-in-the-collection.

A year earlier Shutterstock had 313 million images in its collection and licensed 46.3 million uses. The average license fee was $3.40. The average revenue earned per image in the collection was about $0.50. Creators earned about $0.13 per-image-in-the-collection. At that rate they would earn about $0.52 per year per-image-in-the-collection.

During this period Shutterstock grew its collection by 18%, saw a decline of 5.5% in the number of images licensed and the revenue paid to image creators declined by about 8%. Remember these are averages.

Readers may also want to consider the following articles:

Copyright © 2020 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


  • Grant Faint Posted Dec 7, 2020
    this is such a great observation .... why photographers are still spending money and time submitting at the prices in todays marketplace is a mystery to me... its like a ponds scheme or pyramid scheme. the agencies need to have fresh ignorant submitters that think there is a pot of gold at end of rainbow... those days are over grant faint

  • Richard Gardette Posted Dec 7, 2020 :
    Undoubtedly the most famous utterance ever attributed to Lincoln is, “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”
    Early recollections place the saying in an 1858 speech Lincoln delivered in Clinton, Illinois. The first appeared in 1904 by E. E. Pierson, who remembered Lewis Campbell, a respected citizen of DeWitt County, telling him of the 1858 speeches that Lincoln and Douglas delivered in Clinton.
    According to Campbell, Lincoln said, “Judge Douglas cannot fool the people: you may fool people for a time; you can fool a part of the people all the time; but you can’t fool all the people all the time.”

    No relation to SSTK behaviour.

  • jasmin awad Posted Dec 8, 2020
    People are still sharing their income freely on the shutterstock boards. And loads of people do it under an alias on the various social media boards. I don‘t understand what the great new plan is by ss, they can never prevent artists sharing their results via the internet. This is the year 2020 and the internet will never disappear again.

  • jasmin awad Posted Dec 8, 2020
    November sales

  • Jeffrey Isaac Greenberg Posted Dec 9, 2020
    appeared in a popular 1684 work of apologetics titled: “Traité de la Vérité de la Religion Chrétienne” by Jacques Abbadie

  • Jeffrey Isaac Greenberg Posted Dec 9, 2020
    That "Lincoln" saying first appeared in a popular 1684 work of apologetics titled: “Traité de la Vérité de la Religion Chrétienne” by Jacques Abbadie...

Post Comment

Please log in or create an account to post comments.

Stay Connected

Sign up to receive email notification when new stories are posted.

Follow Us

Free Stuff

Stock Photo Pricing: The Future
In the last two years I have written a lot about stock photo pricing and its downward slide. If you have time over the holidays you may want to review some of these stories as you plan your strategy ...
Read More
Future Of Stock Photography
If you’re a photographer that counts on the licensing of stock images to provide a portion of your annual income the following are a few stories you should read. In the past decade stock photography ...
Read More
Blockchain Stories
The opening session at this year’s CEPIC Congress in Berlin on May 30, 2018 is entitled “Can Blockchain be applied to the Photo Industry?” For those who would like to know more about the existing blo...
Read More
2017 Stories Worth Reviewing
The following are links to some 2017 and early 2018 stories that might be worth reviewing as we move into the new year.
Read More
Stories Related To Stock Photo Pricing
The following are links to stories that deal with stock photo pricing trends. Probably the biggest problem the industry has faced in recent years has been the steady decline in prices for the use of ...
Read More
Stock Photo Prices: The Future
This story is FREE. Feel free to pass it along to anyone interested in licensing their work as stock photography. On October 23rd at the DMLA 2017 Conference in New York there will be a panel discuss...
Read More
Important Stock Photo Industry Issues
Here are links to recent stories that deal with three major issues for the stock photo industry – Revenue Growth Potential, Setting Bottom Line On Pricing and Future Production Sources.
Read More
Recent Stories – Summer 2016
If you’ve been shooting all summer and haven’t had time to keep up with your reading here are links to a few stories you might want to check out as we move into the fall. To begin, be sure to complet...
Read More
Corbis Acquisition by VCG/Getty Images
This story provides links to several stories that relate to the Visual China Group (VCG) acquisition of Corbis and the role Getty Images has been assigned in the transfer of Corbis assets to the Gett...
Read More
Finding The Right Image
Many think search will be solved with better Metadata. While metadata is important, there are limits to how far it can take the customer toward finding the right piece of content. This story provides...
Read More

More from Free Stuff