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Why is Shutterstock so Expensive?

There is no denying that Shutterstock is one of the most popular stock image platforms in the world today and has become almost a household name in many circles. But that kind of popularity usually comes with a price that should be justifiable in order to attract more customers. So why is Shutterstock so expensive?

Shutterstock’s pricing is based on a combination of the variety, quality, and the number of stock images and other digital assets they offer with their subscription plans. Their prices might seem expensive compared to most other stock image platforms, but they’re in line with most premium stock image platforms.

As always, let’s examine the finer details to see whether or not the prices are justified and whether Shutterstock is worth your money.

How much does Shutterstock cost?

Shutterstock has a variety of plans and options like monthly or yearly subscriptions with different packages of the number of images per month, on-demand packs of images, monthly team plans based on the number of users, enterprise plans, as well as custom plans if none of the other plans suit your needs.

The prices vary depending on the plan, but individual subscription plans range from about $25 / month (if billed annually) to about $167 / month (if billed annually).

Below is a table with all of the plans and prices as of the time of writing this article.

Subscription

IMAGESMONTHLY, NO CONTRACTANNUAL BILLED MONTHLYANNUAL BILLED UPFRONT
750 images / month$249 / month$199 / month$1,999 / year
350 images / month$199 / month$169 / month$1,649 / year
50 images / month$125 / month$99 / month$979 / year
10 images / month$49 / month$29 / month$299 / year

On-demand packs

IMAGESPRICE
25 images$299
5 images$49

Teams

IMAGESUSERSPRICE / MONTH
750 images / month2 users$379 / month
750 images / month3-10 users$479 / month
750 images / month11+ usersGet in touch with them

Enterprise

Shutterstock’s enterprise plans are designed for large organizations needing an enterprise workflow, specific licenses, and VIP service. Some of their clients include Johnson & Johnson, Netflix, Capital One, and many more.

Their enterprise plan includes loads of great features, but mainly aimed at large organizations with very high image consumption rates.

Custom plans

Their website states that they can work on a custom plan if you do not find any of their available plans suited to your needs, although have never tried this before. Maybe this is something to try in the future that could make for an interesting article.

Watch this space…

Enhanced License packs

All plans include Shutterstock’s Standard license, which excludes some rights to use of the images that you might have a need for. You can view their standard license here to see whether whatever your specific requirements are, are included or not.

If it is not included in their standard license, you can opt to purchase an enhanced license for the specific images. Te enhanced license comes with a hefty price tag, but you might not have a choice if you really need to use the image for a purpose only covered by the enhanced license.

They also offer image packs for Enhanced Licenses which range from $199 for 2 images to $1699 for 25 images.

What’s included in your subscription?

Shutterstock subscriptions include access to over 325 million images, vectors, and more. They also add almost 200,000 new images and other digital assets daily from their over 1 million contributors from all over the world.

Below is a basic breakdown of what other features are included in the various plans.

FEATURESINDIVIDUAL PLANSTEAM PLANSENTERPRISE PLANS
Full access to millions of images✔***
Create and share collections***
Free plugins for your most used programs***
Create designs with basic editing features***
Create designs with professional editing featuresWith subscription plans**
License coverage for multiple users**
Dedicated account representative**
Licenses for sensitive use*
Options to transfer license ownership*
Access to expert content researchers*
Free unwatermarked previews to download*

How does Shutterstock compare to others?

With probably hundreds of options when it comes to stock image banks that are available online today, it can be difficult to decide which one is best suited for your needs.

However, there are a few of the major players in this space that immediately stand out and we will use them to compare their pricing to that of Shutterstock.

  • Adobe Stock
  • iStock
  • Bigstock
  • Getty Images
  • 123RF
  • Depositphotos.

Because this is not a review or comparison of the best stock image platform, but only aimed at determining whether Shutterstock is expensive and why I will keep the comparisons with the other major stock image platforms limited to the price of their cheapest subscription plans and the number of stock items available.

Below is the comparison.

PLATFORMSUBSCRIPTION PLAN STARTING PRICENUMBER OF STOCK ITEMS
Shutterstock$49/month (10 images per month)370 million+
Adobe Stock$29.99 (for 10 images per month)50+ million
iStock$40/month (for 10 essential images per month)88 Million+
Bigstock$79/month (for 5 images per day)88 Million+
Getty ImagesContact80 Million+
123RF$29/month (10 images per month)110 Million+
Depositphotos$29/month (for 30 photos per month)130 Million+

Now you will notice that Shutterstock did fairly well in terms of the cheapest plan compared to the number of available stock items.

Although they are on the more expensive end of the spectrum when it comes to their cheapest subscription plan ($49/month for 10 images/month), they have almost 3 times the number of stock items (370 million+).

One thing that Shutterstock is also known for is the variety and quality of its images and other digital assets. Which brings me back to our original question, why is Shutterstock so expensive?

Why is Shutterstock so expensive?

Shutterstock’s pricing is based on a combination of the variety, quality, and the number of stock images and other digital assets they offer with their subscription plans.

As a stand-alone price, yes, paying $1999 for a yearly subscription plan with 750 images per month might seem expensive, but compared to what you get with your subscription, and compared to other premium stock image platforms, it’s not actually that expensive in my opinion.

What are the cheaper alternatives?

In continuation of my previous point, there are however much cheaper options in the market that might suit your needs just fine without breaking the bank.

As soon as we move into the realm of lower-priced stock image platforms, they simply become too many to even mention, but I will highlight one that I still use to this day.

Envato Elements is a great alternative in my opinion because of the fact that you get so much more in terms of different digital assets like images, graphics, video templated, stock videos, graphic templates, fonts, sound effects, music, and so much more.

Check out my review on Envato Elements here to find out more about my proposed cheaper alternative to Shutterstock.

Is Shutterstock worth the price?

That brings us back to the question about Shutterstock. So is it worth it?

In my opinion, I would say absolutely yes, Shutterstock is worth the price in terms of the variety, quantity, and quality that you get with your subscription.

But there is a but, and that is that it all depends on your niche and the type of business that you have and the type of images you require. Although the variety is astounding were browsing around on Shutterstock, they are quite limited in certain obscure areas where you might not find what you are looking for.

Since you can browse around for free without a subscription and see all the available images, although it is with a watermark, you can get a clearer understanding of whether it will work for you or not. That being said, 98% of the time you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for, which is quite impressive, to say the least.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Shutterstock might seem expensive but is well worth it compared to what you get out of your subscription plan.

There are many other alternatives out there in the market that you can check out, Envato Elements being one of them, and hopefully, you find the right balance between price, quality, quantity, and variety.

Follow this link to create your Shutterstock account today – https://shutterstock.com

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