Let's be honest – any Shutterstock contributor review worth its salt needs to get talking about earnings. After all, that is why we are in this business, to make some money from what we love creating.
Shutterstock's slice of the pie has shrunk for me in recent years. At one time, they made about 60-70% of my stock income. Now they represent about 30-40% of my monthly income. I'm not sad about that. I'd rather have other agencies doing well too. Less reliance on one single agency is always a good thing.
That said, this agency is still a consistent earner with a proven track record of decent dealings with their contributors.
Yet they did change their Enhanced License payout from a fixed $28 royalty per sale to a percentage based scale. This effectively means a pay cut for contributors from January 2016 onward. Although it is not a welcome move for sellers, it does fit in their existing royalty tier structure. Custom Image (or SOD) sales are paid on the same percentage scale – 20%, 25%, 28% & 30% for the top tier.
Despite the library growing at a huge rate, contributors still report good earnings. Whatever Shutterstock are doing behind the scenes is working. They keep the client base growing and the contributor income (for many, at least) growing as well. Or at least, keeping steady for long-time contributors.
They also have become a major player for stock footage sales, competing with the popular Pond5. Their pricing for video footage is very good and their sales are steadily growing in this media format. For me they would represent the second highest earner for video, behind Pond5.
While they do sell audio, this isn't open to the general contributor. They make private arrangements with select contributors. They also focus on music more than other audio types like sound effects. Whether this will change in the long run is anyones guess.