Adobe Stock vs Shutterstock for Contributor. Which One is More Profitable?

HomePhotographyAdobe Stock vs Shutterstock for Contributor. Which One is More Profitable?

Adobe Stock vs Shutterstock for Contributor. Which One is More Profitable?

Adobe finally entered the microstock photography industry starting by 2015. In that year, the company released Adobe Stock, a microstock photo website, to compete with similar websites like iStock and Shutterstock. For microstock photographers, it’s obviously a huge news since they now have a new place to sell their stock photos.

Meanwhile, Shutterstock — one of Adobe Stock competitors — has been playing in the microstock photography industry for years. Shutterstock firstly launched in 2003 and became one of the most well-known microstock photo agencies. Be it Adobe Stock or Shutterstock adopt the similar business model. They use subscription model in selling their photos. Well not only photos but also illustrations and videos.

In addition, they both also offer other buying options. In Adobe Stock, consumers can also buy an individual image without needing to be a subscriber. But, they need to pay more if choosing this method. Meanwhile, Shutterstock also offers an On Demand buying option for consumers. Understanding the buying options is important for photographers to grope how much they will earn money from selling their photos.

In this article, I will compare Adobe Stock and Shutterstock. My intention is to help those who will just to get started generating extra money by selling their photos to microstock photo websites.

Registration process

Of course, the first thing you have to do before submitting your photos is by creating an account first. At the beginning, the registration process of Shutterstock looks so simple. But, in most case, you will be asked to submit your passport as a requirement before your photos are published. We already have an article covering how to create a Shutterstock account. You can read it here.

Meanwhile, Adobe Stock doesn’t apply a complex requirements to create an account. You can start selling your photos using your Adobe ID account. But still, your photos will undergo reviewing process before they are get published. Simply put, the registration process of Adobe Stock is simpler than Shutterstock.

Buying options

As I mentioned above, understanding the buying options is crucial enough if you want to sell your photos to microstock photo sites like Adobe Stock and Shutterstock. By understanding the buying options, you will understand how your photos will be sold.

Be it Adobe Stock or Shutterstock adopt subscription model as the main buying option. Consumers pay certain dollars to download the contents from them. Adobe Stock and Shutterstock offer similar enough subscription packages. The cheapest subscription package offered by Adobe Stock is $29.99/month. This package allows consumers to download 10 contents (called asset by Adobe) per month, equal to $3.00 per asset.

Meanwhile, the cheapest subscription package offered by Shutterstock is $29/month. This package allows consumers to download 10 contents per month. Looks the same as Adobe Stock’s, but you have to commit to a year contract. If you choose a monthly subscription, you need to pay $49/month for the same number of downloads. In Adobe, users can also buy the assets individually without having to be an Adobe Stock subscriber. But, they need to pay higher. For instance, each photo is priced $79.99 (at the time of writing). This price includes extended license. If you choose subscription option, you will only get the standard license.

In Shutterstock, consumers have no chance to buy contents individually. If you they want to get an enhanced license of certain contents, Shutterstock offers an On Demand option where they can choose the enhanced license instead of standard. The cheapest package of enhanced license is $199, which applies for two contents.

Commission rate and payment methods

I know what’s on your mind when deciding to choose certain microstock photo site to sell your photos. Commission. Isn’t it?

Let’s start with Adobe Stock.

Adobe Stock offers a competitive royalty of 33% on images and 35% on videos. Let’s take an example. If a consumer with the cheapest subscription package download one of your photos, you will get about $ 0.99. Or, if there is someone buy one of your photos individually (without being a subscriber) you will get about $26 since each photo is priced $79.99. Adobe Stock itself apply a flat commission rate. Which means, no matter how many times your photos get downloaded, you will keep get 33% of each photo downloaded. For payment methods, Adobe Stock accepts Paypal and Skrill with the minimum threshold of $50.

How about Shutterstock?

Shutterstock offers lower commission rate than Adobe Stock. Your commission rate is determined by a parameter called lifetime earnings. Lifetime earnings is the total amount of earnings you have earned from Shutterstock. New contributors will earn 20% of each photo downloaded. With the average photo is priced between $1 to $2, you will get about $0.25 for each image downloaded by Shutterstock customers. Following is the table of the percentage rate based on the lifetime earnings status.

[table id=3 /]

For payment methods, Shutterstock accepts Payoneer, Paypal, Skrill and bank check with the minimum payout can be set by yourself.


Be it Adobe Stock or Shutterstock are great place to sell your stock photos. They can turn your photography into your job (if you consistent enough). It’s easy to say that Adobe Stock looks more promising in generating money since it offers higher commission percentage than Shutterstock. Plus the fact that users can buy contents directly through Adobe Creative Cloud apps (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and so on). However, Adobe Stock is not really going global yet. Some online licenses are not available in certain regions, which can reduce the chance your photos get bought by users in certain regions.

On the other hand, despite its lower commission percentage, Shutterstock has global consumers. The Shutterstock consumers ranging from digital agencies, designers to bloggers. They all can buy Shutterstock contents with ease, with no region restriction like Adobe Stock. But eventually, the choice keep yours.

hand-picked weekly content in your inbox


related posts