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Studies show that the brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text and humans can feel the sense of a visual scene in less than a 10th of a second. This means that the significance of visual content cannot be overstated, particularly in online marketing where you have to find innovative ways to capture your audience’s attention.

But, rather than struggling to create your own images and videos, you can simply search online for photographs, illustrations, and videos to use as part of your website or social media marketing.

And, instead of spending countless hours trying to find the perfect visuals for your campaign, you can sign up for an account on a site like Shutterstock, where you’ll find everything you need, just a mere search away. 

Shutterstock is a well-known photo agency that has the largest royalty-free photo collection on the web. 

Founded in 2003, this platform was the first to come up with a photo subscription model. You can buy specific images or get photos via the Shutterstock subscription. Either way, you’ll have a reliable source of high-quality visuals for your website, social media, or email marketing needs. 

Best of all, when you get a Shutterstock subscription, you also receive access to Shutterstock Editor which allows you to crop images, add filters, and make other enhancements to the files you download. 

Read on to discover everything else this amazing image service has to offer. 

Is Shutterstock Worth it?

Shutterstock is a great option for realizing personal and commercial projects. It’s easy to use, affordable and provides you with an endless library of images, illustrations, graphics, videos, music, and more. 

If you need images to use on your website, social media, email, or marketing campaigns, then this is the only source you require. 

Simply conduct a search for the exact type of image you need, and you’ll be able to find thousands to choose from. Additionally, you get customization options that allow you to enhance any image and make it unique to suit your specific needs. 

All of this barely scratches the surface of what this platform really offers. 

Whether you have basic or advanced needs for visual materials, this platform will cater to them all at a very affordable price. 

There’s nothing you won’t be able to find on this stock images service, including royalty-free vectors, photographs, videos, illustrations, and even music. You’ll also get editing tools and media organization features to make your work that much easier. 

All in all, this is your one-stop-shop for all things visual in all sorts of categories, including editorial, abstract, nature, outdoors, vintage, finance, and infographics, among many others. 

With this one tool, you’ll be able to take care of all your visuals requirements, which means you can save money and time when you don’t have to sign up for multiple tools for sourcing and editing your assets. 

Shutterstock Summary

Shutterstock logo

10 out of 10

Ron’s Thoughts

Shutterstock is arguably the best-known content hosting platform in the world but the reasons for its success aren’t as well-known. Well, one such reason is that you can easily realize commercial and personal projects, allowing you to monetize the content you create with swiftness. Shutterstock doesn’t host just images but videos, illustrations, and music as well. Also, the 1-month trial is superb for testing the platform and learning more about it.

  • Biggest Pro:

    Excellent Selling Opportunities

  • Biggest Con:

    Cannot Purchase Single Images

  • Annual Discount:

    Yes - Up to 40% Off

  • Price:

    Starts at $49/Month

  • Promotion:

    1-Month Free Trial

Who is Shutterstock Good For?

Shutterstock is ideal for anyone who has a need for visuals to use online. The platform has a massive library filled with all types of media, including: 

  • Images
  • Videos
  • Music tracks
  • Illustrations
  • Vector images
  • Templates
  • Editorial content
  • 3D models

…and much more.

Basically, Shutterstock has everything any content creator could ever want to help them create eye-catching and engaging visual content, which makes this image service perfect for: 

  • Bloggers
  • Artists
  • Filmmakers
  • Marketers
  • Agencies
  • Media organizations
  • Nonprofits
  • Schools, Colleges, Universities
  • Startups
  • Hobbyists

Shutterstock Offerings

1. High-Quality Images

With over 316 million images, Shutterstock is one of the largest resources for high-quality visuals you’ll find online. The platform is continually adding new images to the ever-growing library which means finding the exact image for your needs gets easier with each passing day. 

All images on the platform are high quality and commercial-ready. The company’s offer in stock photography rests on three main pillars: quality, quantity, and variety. Regardless of the theme or style of image you’re searching for, odds are that you’ll find it on Shutterstock. 

Every image is distinctive because of its top technical quality and commercial appeal. Each picture is ready to jump from the platform’s catalog to your design without any further enhancements. 

But if you do need to make some edits, you can do so easily with the platform’s easy-to-use drag and drop visual editor that lets you crop, resize, cut, and enhance photos using a variety of filters. 

2. Video Footage

Other content offered by Shutterstock includes video footage that you can download and use as part of your marketing campaigns. The platform has a growing community of over 1 million contributors which means they add hundreds of thousands of video clips each month. 

There are currently over 18 million clips to choose from and these creative assets are ideal for YouTube-based projects that automatically scan videos to find copyrighted backing tracks or footage. When you use content from Shutterstock, your project will be licensed to ensure compliance with the majority of website guidelines. 

3. Music Tracks

In addition to images and video footage, you can also download music tracks on Shutterstock. As the leading global provider of licensed content, this platform will provide your business with music to use in your projects so you don’t have to worry about copyright issues.

4. Convenient Interface

One of the platform’s main selling features is the convenient interface that will simplify your work. There’s a wide range of filters to search for the specific images you need. From photographs and illustrations to vectors and more, you’ll find what you need in Shutterstock’s library of free images. 

You can choose an image category, such as animals/wild nature, beauty/fashion, backgrounds/textures, etc. to make your search easier. 

Although there are millions of visual and auditory files to choose from, the platform makes it easy for users to find what they need through a wide range of intuitive search capabilities.

5. Shutterstock Editor

Shutterstock has its own image editor that is free for users on all subscriptions. It’s beginner-friendly and intuitive, allowing you to transform ordinary images into breathtaking visuals for use in your marketing campaigns. 

Now improved with artificial intelligence (AI) technology, the Shutterstock editor allows you to perform simple yet effective image editing tasks even without any technical or graphic design knowledge.

This editing tool greatly simplifies image post-production processes. Prior to downloading a stock image, you can choose “User Size” and then adjust the image to the required size. If you want to add a filter, simply click on the “Filters” icon and select from the various options offered on the side panel. 

For example, you can add the “Nickel” filter to add sharpness and make colors brighter, or you can apply the “Carbon” filter to make your photo black and white. The “Titan” filter, on the other hand, will mute your colors. You can also add and edit text or add figures as backgrounds. 

Once you’re satisfied with the size and color of your image, you can click the “Download” button to save all your changes and download your image.

6. Shutterstock.AI

This is one of the platform’s latest developments. Shutterstock.AI makes it faster and easier for creatives to discover the right content. The AI-based platform also helps users manage their projects effectively. 

For instance, there is an intelligent image recognition feature that allows you to match stock images to purposes and concepts. 

Although Shutterstock isn’t actually a tech company, per se, it’s still strongly tech driven which is why the platform is always pushing its limits further in terms of innovation and functionality.

7. Shutterstock Apps

There’s a Shutterstock App on both Android and iOS platforms that lets you search, share, and download photos on mobile. You can easily explore featured collections of both images and videos in the palm of your hands. 

Tap to save your favorite content in designated collections folders. Download them or share them with your friends. You can do it all on the go with a handy mobile app that allows you to get more work done.

8. Shutterstock Search Engine

Shutterstock has an advanced search engine that includes features like reverse image search. This intuitive search tool has robust keyword searching and filters that allow you to narrow your results to exactly the images, videos, or music tracks that you are searching for. 

You can also make use of the latest computer vision technology that will assist you in finding similar images in the platform’s vast collection.

Since its update, the platform’s search tool has become quite sophisticated and intuitive. It now has several features that make it that much faster for you to find your desired content. 

You have several options for searching, and you can sort images by relevance, freshness, keywords, filters, or through reverse image search. 

So, for instance, you might start with a keyword search and then use a filter to refine and narrow down the search. 

Or, if you see an image online that you like, you can simply use Shutterstock’s reverse image search feature to find that same image or a similar one that you can then purchase on the platform.

9. Shutterstock WordPress Plugin

Shutterstock has released a WordPress plugin that can be used to upload images from the platform from within your WordPress editor. What’s more, this plugin not only works with WordPress, but also with WordPress VIP, which is used by media giants like Facebook and Spotify. 

Simply download the Shutterstock WordPress plugin and then connect it to your Shutterstock account. You’ll then be able to see images live even without purchasing them through the live preview option. Of course, the image will be watermarked until you license it. 

If you regularly work on creating content on WordPress, or if you use Final Cut Pro on your Mac, you’ll find this an extremely helpful tool that provides seamless integration of the image platform with a variety of computer apps and software, including Google Slides, Microsoft Office Powerpoint, Photoshop, InDesign, Premiere Pro, Adobe Illustrator, and various other tools. 

10. Free Images

Right now, Shutterstock offers an exclusive, risk-free trial way you can get free images, videos, and music for 30 days. You can cancel with just a few clicks at any time within the first month and you will pay nothing for any of the files you’ve downloaded. 

Even if you cancel your free trial, you get to keep all your licensed images and videos. Within that time, you’ll have full access to the platform’s entire library of over 316 million photos, vectors, and illustrations. 

All you need to get started is to enter your email and password on the website, and your free trial will be live. Additionally, you can also get free files (templates, vector illustrations, images, etc.) in the platform’s weekly newsletter.

11. Earn Money from Your Photos

In addition to purchasing images from Shutterstock, you also have the option to sell your own photos on the platform. One of the reasons why Shutterstock is quickly growing to become the world’s best resource for images and videos is because it allows submissions from artists and photographers from all over the world who submit their images to be sold on the platform. 

These Shutterstock contributors earn up to 40% commission each time one of their images is downloaded from the platform. This is a reliable way for you to sell your images because the platform has a ton of buyers which increases your chances of selling your content. 

However, keep in mind that there are a lot of factors that affect how much you can earn on the platform. 

For example, depending on the quality and style of your work, as well as how well you keyword optimize your images, and what the competition is within your niche. There are also specific submission guidelines that should be followed if you want your images to be accepted.

Shutterstock Pros and Cons

Shutterstock, like all other software, comes with its own set of pros and cons. Below, we take a look at some of the prominent advantages and drawbacks that come with using this platform.


  1. Risk-Free Trial: Sign up for a free 30 day trial to start downloading images and videos for free.
  2. Multiple Subscription Options: The platform offers a range of options for image service subscriptions for both small and large needs. 
  3. Massive Library: There’s an insanely large library of images, videos, music tracks, illustrations, and more.
  4. Selling Opportunities: Creatives can sell their work on Shutterstock as a way to create passive income. 


1. Cannot Purchase Single Images: Shutterstock doesn’t offer you the option to purchase a single image but you can buy a pack that includes anywhere from 2 to 25 image assets.

2. No Exclusive Content: You can’t get exclusive content on the platform. 

Shutterstock Competitors

Although Shutterstock is one of the best image services available right now, it does face some serious competition from the platforms listed below.

1. Shutterstock vs Adobe Stock

If you already use Adobe’s suite of tools, then you may be better off going with Adobe Stock. This is a great platform for designers and agencies that want high-quality, complete images that need very little additional editing. 

You’ll find plenty of options for use in high-end concepts created in Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator. On the other hand, Shutterstock is ideal for freelancers and other users looking for affordable images to use as a base for images that need additional editing. 

Both platforms offer royalty-free images, extended licenses, annual and monthly subscriptions, and on-demand images. 

However, the main difference between the two platforms is in the subscription cost per image, with Shutterstock offering images at $0.22 while Adobe Stock costs $0.26 per image.

2. Shutterstock vs iStockPhoto

iStockPhoto is yet another well-known media stock files platform. It’s touted as the web’s original source of royalty-free microstock photography and media. Thousands of designers, artists, and photographers distribute their work on the platform which is then purchased by consumers royalty-free. 

Just like Shutterstock, iStockPhoto users only have to pay once and they can use the files multiple times.  

Shutterstock offers a legal guarantee that any content you buy from the site won’t infringe on copyright, moral rights, trademark, or intellectual property rights. 

To purchase images on the site, you have to get credits for between $0.95 and $1.50 USD each. You can then choose from different credits that range between 1 credit and 150 credits depending on the size of the image.

3. Shutterstock vs Canva

Canva is an online design tool that a lot of people are raving about. It comes with millions of images, videos, and audio in an ever-growing library. 

The platform has set and forget brand colors, logos, and fonts, which makes it easy for you to take care of all your visual material needs. Of course, if you’re looking for the best logos you may want to just consider a logo maker instead.

You can transform a single graphic into multiple graphics with one click resize feature. Create transparent backgrounds to use your graphics anywhere, on your website, social media, email, or any other channels. 

Choose the perfect size and quality for your downloads and say goodbye to blurriness. All in all, you’ll find all the tools here that you need to create professional-looking images and videos. Best of all, the platform lets you sign up for a free 45 day trial for the Canva Pro plan.


Shutterstock offers multiple buying options and price points:

  • Flex Plan: $29/month
    • 10 Credits/month
    • All-in-one subscription for videos, images, and music
    • Risk-free: Cancel with just a few clicks anytime within the first month and pay nothing.
    • Keep images: Even if you cancel, you can keep your licensed images.
    • Save more: Get your first month free, then enjoy an annual subscription for just $29/mo.
    • Full access: Enjoy our entire library of more than 316 million photos, illustrations, and vectors.
  • On-Demand Images: $49 
    • Standard license
    • 5 downloads within one year
    • Save and sort your favorite assets with Collections
    • Share Collections with anyone, anywhere
    • Try before you purchase with downloadable comps
    • Easily keep track of your download and browsing history
  • Pro Plan: $99/month
    • Everything in the On-demand plan + 
    • 50 downloads per month
    • Tools for planning and organizing content 
  • Business Plan: $479/month
    • Everything in the Pro plan + 
    • Up to 10 team members
    • 750 downloads per month
    • More images and planning tools
    • Team collaboration features

Product Support

Shutterstock users can expect 24/7 customer support via live chat or phone. After sifting through dozens of online reviews, I’ve yet to find complaints about Shutterstock’s customer service. 

The customer support team is extremely polite and responds quickly to queries. They are knowledgeable and friendly and strive to solve problems as quickly as possible so users can get back to enjoying the platform.

Is Shutterstock Legit?

There’s no doubt about it. Shutterstock is a super helpful platform that is definitely worth buying for anyone who creates content on a regular basis. 

If you need to use images, videos, or music tracks, you’ll appreciate the Shutterstock subscription that allows you to download the exact types of media you need so you don’t have to search for hours online. 

Also, you have the peace of mind of knowing that you’re not infringing any copyright laws when you use your visuals. 

Furthermore, the image editing tools on the platform allow you to enhance images and make them unique for use on your own website or social media. And all of this is offered at affordable prices which makes Shutterstock one of the best image platforms you’ll find out there. 

Sign up for a free Shutterstock trial to start downloading high-quality images from the millions of options available on the platform.

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