I have been submitting my photos to Shutterstock.com for four years now. In a month I will close my account with them and never submit another photo again.
Here’s why; sometime over the next few weeks I expect to finally crawl over the minimum payout threshold of $75. I do not intend to spend another four years to make another $75.
I understand that there are many people who do in fact make decent money through micro-stock agencies. They make this through pure, raw volume. They are submitting hundreds of photos a month to multiple agencies in most cases. This takes up an alarming amount of time. Not only the time to upload the photos, which is considerable even over the fastest internet connection, but also to tag and describe each one individually, something that is impossible to automate.
I simply don’t have that kind of time. Not for such a puny payoff. In the four years I have had my photos on Shutterstock, 264 people have downloaded them, probably very few of whom are legitimate publishers, most were probably using them for cheap art for their walls. I don’t like that. My art is worth more than 25 cents a pop.
Most of my photos get rejected. It’s not because they are bad photos, it’s because the people who make the decisions are kinda stupid. I’m not being harsh, they actually are. I have had photos get rejected in one batch only to be approved when resubmitted, unaltered, in another one. The reasons given for rejection are dubious at best, and ridiculous at worst, and rarely are accurate. Usually they make me wonder if the person actually spent any time looking at the photo at all. I even had my most popular photo get deleted from my gallery after being there for a year with no explanation whatsoever. I found that fishy, to be honest.