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Your First Shutterstock Submission and Application Success

If you have existing images, or if you’re ready to start creating stock, then joining Shutterstock is as straightforward as 1-2-3. We maintain quality standards, but we also have a very fast and efficient upload, submission, and approval process. Many of our contributors start earning money within 24 hours of submitting content.

Here’s how to get started with your first batch of images (or video):

1. Read Shutterstock’s submission guidelines.
Our guidelines explain your legal rights and responsibilities, technical criteria, and what content is appropriate for the collection.

2. Consider whether your images have "commercial" and/or "editorial value."
"Commercial value" and "editorial value" are defined as the likelihood that an image buyer will find your content useful to license. Is it realistic that your image would be used in an advertising campaign? If the image is editorial in nature, could you see it being published for news or educational purposes? Images are licensed for many different purposes, but you should think about how desirable your images might be for different types of editorial or commercial uses.

3. Edit your images down to a quality set.
Even the best photographer can be a bad editor, because he or she has an emotional investment in the photographs. If you're not sure what your 10 "best" images are, consider consulting other sellers in the Shutterstock or MicrostockGroup forums for their feedback.

Example portfolio sample from gkuna.

Example portfolio sample from gkuna.

4. Check your photos at 100%-200%.
View your images from 100% to 200% magnification in order to locate noise, artifacts, and other defects that might jeopardize their approval.

5. Include quality metadata and keywords.

For the most part, buyers don’t find your images by visuals alone. Search engines match a buyer's search terms to the keywords you've entered. Better keywords = better sales. Accurate keywords = better sales. If you enter 25-45 accurate, relevant, and properly spelled keywords for each photo, your chances of success are very high.

6. Upload and submit.
Once you’re satisfied that your images meet the above criteria, it’s time to submit! Upload your images at and keep an eye on your email for your official acceptance!

7. Don't get discouraged.
Many successful Shutterstock contributors were rejected on their first submission. If we reject your first submission, keep improving and try again!

This article is an excerpt from the Shutterstock Contributor Success Guide. To download the complete guide in multiple languages, visit this page.

Interested in becoming a Shutterstock Contributor? Sign up now »

Top image: Tourist boat in Vietnam by John Bill