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.

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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


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