Favorite Stock Agencies

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Shutterstock and Alamy are two of the most-loved stock photo agencies among photographers. So, which one is better?

It’s tough to say.

Breakfast Stock Club readers consistently report strong sales at Shutterstock. Alamy tends to be a little more hit-or-miss, but for those who put in the time and build up their portfolios, it often becomes a top-earner.

Alamy also just reduced their payout rate to 40% for the photographer (it used to be 50%). That being said, it’s still among the highest rates in the industry.

Breakfast Stock Club member Elizabeth Coughlan uses both Alamy and Shutterstock, and she’s written up a great summary, based on her experience, of the strengths of each.


My Favorite Stock Agencies
By Stock Photographer, Elizabeth Coughlan

Although I have signed up to several stock agencies, my two favorites are Alamy and Shutterstock. Here’s why…

Alamy makes me the most money overall, while Shutterstock brings me the most sales. For example, in October this year on Alamy I sold 5 images and made $183.72, and on Shutterstock I sold 81 images and made $37.09.

So what are the differences, and why do I like both?

Why Alamy?

  1. I like Alamy because they accept anything and everything, as long as the image passes their quality control. This makes it easier to grow my portfolio with whatever images I want.
  2. Uploading is easy, and I have discovered that as the size of my portfolio increases, I make more sales.
  3. I always check my contributor dashboard where it lists specific customer requests, latest trends, and inspiration from their collections. These often help me to decide how and what I am going to shoot next.
  4. The payment per image is one of the best of all the stock agencies as the photographer gets 40% of the sale. I have 4 images that have made the most on Alamy, all are of the Louvre, Abu Dhabi. For each one I received $231.77 as my cut of the sale.
    This is one that I got my husband to pose for.

Why Shutterstock?

  1. I love Shutterstock because I make at the very least one sale every single day, and usually far more… I have their app on my phone which pings every time I make sale. It always makes me smile – cha ching!
  2. Uploading to Shutterstock is very simple, especially if you have added keywords and captions beforehand in Lightroom.
  3. I enjoy their “Contributor Dashboard” as it shows where in the world you made the most recent sales, together with real-time sales and earnings, plus your top performing content. It also helps to define what to shoot and what to submit.
  4. Although the beginning rate on Shutterstock is 25 cents per image every time they are sold, this rises to 33 cents, 36 cents and 38 cents per download as you reach the $500, $3,000 and $10,000 lifetime earning milestones. However, that is the basic (subscription) rate. I have earned much more for a single sale.

    For example, this image below brought in $52.22 as an individual sale on Shutterstock.

    This shows the effect of the drought in Australia.

So why is Shutterstock one of my favorites when Alamy pays more? I just love having that daily affirmation that someone, somewhere in the world is buying my images. It proves to me that I can truly call myself a stock photographer.

Plus, when it comes to photography, it’s never a bad idea to diversify your income stream. Find what works for you and go with it!

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