Shutterstock Makes Getting Accepted Easier

Posted on 12/8/2015 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

In its race to grow its image collection, Shutterstock has made it easier for new contributor to get accepted. New contributors used to have to submit 10 images for quality review. Seven of those 10 had to be accepted before the contributor was allowed to submit more images. Now, if only one is deemed acceptable the contributor can begin submitting more images. Here’s the way Shutterstock explains the change.

    As the Shutterstock artist community grows, we are constantly looking for ways to better support, educate and empower our contributors to become successful in our marketplace. Just within this past year we launched a contributor support center and relaunched our contributor forum on a more dynamic and user-friendly platform.

    As the next step in improving the contributor experience we have decided to simplify the sign-up and onboarding process by changing the requirement  from 7 to 1 out of 10 images accepted for initial submission. We found that the "7 out of 10" rule is no longer an effective standard to evaluate if a contributor can be successful in our marketplace. We know that we can better educate and support our contributors once they are active on our platform and have access to our many resources and support tools.

    As always, we will continue to evaluate all images we receive per our standards. This change will simplify the sign up process for any artist interested in joining the Shutterstock community and will improve the overall contributor experience!
What is unclear is the degree of future review and the number of new images that will be added to the collection. Maybe reviewer will tighten their standards and be more selective about the new images that are added. What we do know is that 674,208 new stock images have been added in the last week and Shuttestock has 68,452,120 images in its collection, not counting footage. At that rate the collection will have well over 100 million images before the end of 2016.

Good Or Bad

Most contributors seem to think that this will lead to a lower and lower quality offering. They say that in the last year the overall quality of the offering has been rapidly declining as Shutterstock races to add more images. Experienced producers say that with some submissions almost everything is accepted, and the next most is rejected. The reasons given for rejection often make little sense.

In many cases a huge amount of redundancy is accepted, all with the same keywords. This tends to clutter the search when customers start to look for images. One example that many contributors like to point to is this collection by Doug Shutter. He started contributing in 2012 and has 39,282 images on the site. Many relate to marijuana, not a high demand stock subject.

It also seems that many of the accepted images may meet all of Shutterstock’s technical and quality standards (or those of any other microstock site), but the subject matter is often not the kind of thing most image buyers look for or need. Many amateurs take pictures of things they like, and of subjects that excite them, not necessarily of subjects that customers want to buy. For most users such images tend to clutter the search.

Extrance exams are of little value it those submitting don’t get guidance as to why they didn’t pass. Now, Shutterstock seems to have done away with the entrance exam, but no one is providing them with much guidance as to what they need to do to produce saleable images.

Why Is Shutterstock Doing It?

Many contributors, particularly those who have studied the business and are trying to earn a significant part of their monthly income from the images they produce, think there is two reasons.

    1 – Some believe Shutterstock, as a public company, must constantly grow the size of their image collection in order to appeal to investors and make the investors think they are doing something.

    2 – Others think that Shutterstock may be purposefully reducing the quality of the general collection. In this way professional users who don’t have time to search through the massive general collection will be forced to become Enterprise customers in order to get access to the much more selective and curated collection of better quality images at much higher prices.
It is important to note that the average price of an Enterprise license is $100 compared to $2.76 for the general file in Q3 2015. In addition, Shutterstock already has 22,000 Enterprise customers and about 24%, or in the range of $100 million, of total revenue will come from Enterprise sales in 2015.

What Should Microstock Contributors Do?

A number of microstock contributors who understand the market and have been producing great work are talking about giving up on microstock. Maybe they should be trying to find ways to get Shutterstock to accept some of their better, and more saleable images into the Premier of Offset collections.

Copyright © 2015 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

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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