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How to make good money on Shutterstock and fund your Van Life - Part 2

Updated: Jun 9, 2022

Hey I'm back as promised but slightly later than planned with PART 2 of my 8 Part series on making money on shutter stock. If you have missed part one then no big deal it was only the introduction but you can check it out here...

So I won't waffle on I will just get on with the details to save everybody's time, This is what I will cover today.

PART 2 - Photo Requirements

- Video Requirements

- Equipment you will need

- How to get started with titles and Key wording

- How to research


There are a few things you need to know before you start uploading your photos to Shutterstock or you could waste your time uploading and key wording all of your content for most of them to be rejected. Shutterstock is a huge professional company used by other huge professional companies so there are quite picky about the content they let on the site, this doesn't mean that you need to be an amazing professional photographer to get your content accepted onto the site but it does mean that you have to meet their photo requirements, choose the right categories to upload your content to and get any releases needed (if needed) before you upload.

If you haven't already set up a Shutterstock account please click the Shutterstock logo below to sign up and follow along.

File types - You can only upload JPEG or TIFF files, this is very good news as all cameras and phones will shoot JPEGS so there is no need to convert your files before uploading. There is no point in uploading TIFF files because as soon as you upload them they are converted to JPEGS straight away so it's better to convert them yourself to the quality of your choice if you have TIFF files to upload.

Resolution - All photos must be at least 4 megapixels, this is also good news as all decent modern cameras and phones take much higher quality photos than this now. For example the iphone 7 (it was released in 2016) has a 12 megapixel camera. One thing you should pay attention to though is cropping your photos too small, if you crop a tiny section out of a 12 megapixel photo it will be below 4 megapixels and will not meet the requirements.

File size - The maximum file size for a photo is 50MB. This is megabytes not megapixels as mentioned above, megabytes refers to the size of the file unlike megapixels that refers to the resolution. This is also something that you shouldn't really worry about unless you are a professional uploading huge files with lots of layers. Most of my highest quality JPEGS are only 10MB and most of my phone photos are about 2MB.

Releases - This is a pretty simple one, if you are uploading content for commercial use then you will need a model release for anybody that is in the photo and a property release for any recognisable building in the photo (I will go into much more detail on this in a later post). You can download the model release forms from the website, I will post links in the FACEBOOK GROUP to where you can download them.

If you are uploading content for editorial use you do not need any release forms at all, again I will go into much more detail on this in a later post.

Quality - When I say quality I don't mean resolution like above i mean the actual quality of the content of the image. There are a few photography faux pas that will get your images rejected

  1. Focus - You need to make sure the subject of your photo is fully in focus or it will be rejected.

  2. Exposure - Your photo needs to be exposed properly - Not enough light or too much light your image will be rejected

  3. Noise - If your image has too much digital noise your image will be rejected - This happens in dark or over edited images

  4. Ghosting - Faded quality of your image due to the position of the sun and on your lens

  5. Motion blur - When you take a picture of somebody and they move and the bit that moved is blurred

You will learn more about all of these in PART 5 of my series and how to perfect it. I have also started a FACEBOOK GROUP for everybody that is following this blog series. After every post I will post helpful videos and links for anybody that would like to learn more, answer any questions you might have and for general money making chit chat.


Just like with the photos Shutterstock has requirements for its video clips too, this is what you need to know.

Releases - Just like above if you are uploading content for commercial use then you will need a model release for anybody that is in the clip and a property release for any recognisable building in the clip. I will post links to where you can download the releases in the FACEBOOK GROUP

File types - All footage should be prepared as QuickTime .mov or .Mp4 files. I will go into more details on this in PART 6 but your device is likely to shoot video in .mov

File size - You can upload video files up to 4GB. You will not need 4GB for a standard 4K clip so you should never need to worry about this.

Resolution - Resolution can be anything really but the better the resolution the more money the clip sells for. I would go for HD at the lowest and 4K when possible. Most new cameras and phones shoot in HD or 4K so you should no problems there.

Quality - Again when I say quality I don't mean resolution like above I mean the actual quality of the content of the clip. There are a few faux pas that will get your clips rejected.

  1. Focus - You need to make sure the subject of your clip is fully in focus or it will be rejected.

  2. Exposure - Your Video needs to be exposed properly - Not enough light or too much light your clip will be rejected

  3. Noise - If your image has too much digital noise your clip will be rejected - This happens in dark or over edited clips

  4. Shaky footage - shaky footage looks very unprofessional and will be rejected with out a doubt

Other video requirements (I will go over everything in much more detail over the coming weeks and in the facebook group)

Clips should be 10 - 60 secs long

Clips should have no audio

Clips should have a neutral colour grade to them


So as I said above you don't really need much equipment to do this at all you could literally get away with just a decent smart phone and a laptop, at a push (and it would be awkward and fiddly) you could get away with just a phone.

If you want to make a real go at things though I would suggest getting yourself some proper decent equipment as it will make a huge difference to what you are able to shoot.

Bare Minimum - So as a bare minimum you will need

  • A decent smart phone that shoots 4K (most modern phones do this iphone have since the 6S

  • A laptop for editing and uploading your content

To check if your phone shoots in 4K please click the link below

A Decent Set Up - If you still only want to use your phone and not go for a full on camera I suggest getting all of these bits to make your videos look more professional.

  • A decent smart phone that shoots in 4K

  • A hand held gimbal stabiliser for your Phone

  • A tripod and tripod attachment for your phone

  • A laptop for editing and uploading

To Make A Go Of It - If you are thinking you want to make a proper go of things and create some Amazing Photos and stunning footage then you should try and get yourself a full set up so your options are endless. If you are already into photography or cinematography you might already have all the equipment needed too.

I will write a separate post with links to decent equipment that I recommend for all the options above and below and I will post it at the bottom of this post and in the group when it's done. But these are the basics.

  • A decent mirrorless or DSLR camera

  • A selection of Lenses

  • A selection of filters

  • A Handheld gimbal stabliser

  • A tripod

  • Spare batteries

  • LED Video lights

  • Specialised equipment for certain types of photography

  • Laptop for editing uploading your content

  • Drone

Don't worry I will go over how to use most of the equipment in other posts and will be posting loads of links and videos to the FACEBOOK GROUP so don't forget to join!


Once you have content to upload to Shutterstock the next thing you need to know is how to key work and write your titles. This a very important step that takes just as much effort as taking the photo because this is how people are going to find you content to purchase it.


The first thing you will need to know is how to write a title. This is different to key wording but it is a good idea to get as many appropriate words in the title as possible without just listing words (this is what key wording is for). Just writing a few words like "leafs on the ground" is a very bad ideas as your content will show up very low down in any search result.

The best thing to do is write a very descriptive sentence that covers a verity of things that people are likely to search for for example.

"Orange, brown and yellow leafs laying on a autumnal forest floor in mid October as the sun sets and the rays of light shine though the trees creating amazing shadows"

You will see a huge difference in the two titles, The first one will only get seen if people search for leafs or ground.

The second one has a lot more chance of being found, if anybody searches orange, brown, yellow, leafs, laying, autumnal, forest, floor, October, sun set, light rays, trees, amazing, shadows it will show up in a search result somewhere then all you have to worry about is getting your key wording right and uploading the right content.


So key wording is basically tagging and works in the exact same way, unlike the title you do not have to be descriptive and just describe the content you can go one step further and be a little bit more creative.

You are allowed up to 45 key words on each photo or video clip you upload and you should try your best to use all of them to get your content seen by as many people as possible. The more your content gets seen the more downloads you will get and your popular content will then show higher in the search results bringing even more views and downloads.

As I said above with key words you can be a little bit more creative than when you write the title and you will need to be to use your 45 word allowance but this is a good thing. This is where we can target the people who don't know what they are looking for yet, they know they want something and they might have a rough idea of a theme, emotion, mood, feeling etc.

Take the word CUTE for example, this word is searched a lot but covers a wide verity of subjects. The person searching it obviously doesn't know exactly what they are searching for because if they did they would have typed it. Like if they wanted a picture a cute baby they would have searched cute baby, this should be taken advantage of.

Just like cute there are literally hundreds of words that people might search for not knowing what they are looking for. here are a few good ones.

Love, happy, sweet, warm, cold, angry, sad, amazing, beautiful, pretty

You might see a bit of a theme there and you will probably see what I am aiming to show you here. People don't always know what they want, you really want them to see your content before they see something they like because after a few pages of looking for something they WILL got very bored and just go back and choose the best one they have already seen.

So to get your content seen your key words need to be spot on. One thing you DO NOT want to be doing is putting irrelevant key words in that have nothing to do with the content. Firstly this will waste your very valuable 45 key word limit, it will get seen but by people that are looking for something nothing like your content so it won't get downloaded and your content might start slipping down the search results (this is very bad) and it is also very spammy. Keep your keywords on point all the time.

Before you post each piece of content think about all the people who might download it and key word to target them.

Again I will go over key wording in a lot more detail in PART 3 of this series but they are the basics and enough to get you started. I will also post photos and video clips in the FACEBOOK GROUP throughout the coming weeks with 45 hashtags each so you can see how I would key word specific content.

Ok so thats about it from me for now, I hope you all enjoyed it and found it useful

If you liked this post please subscribe to my blog or like my Facebook page to keep up to date with all my posts. To like my Facebook page please Follow the link below

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We have now started three of our very own facebook groups and everybody is invited to join. They are all brand new and lacking in members at the moment but bare with us and we will try and make them the best Van Life groups on facebook.


A brand new group for anything that is Van Build Related, If you are still in the van build stage then this is the group for you. We will be posting all of our van build posts, any helpful videos & guides, photos, links, recommendations, etc

It is also a good place for you to ask for any advice you might need on your build, post your own pictures, videos, blogs, guides, recommendations and anything else that is Van Build related. if you are not already a member please click the photo below to join.


We have set this group up for all things Van Life Related, in this group we will be posting all of our non van build related blog posts but also sharing anything that any of us come across on the internet that we think will be helpful to van lifers. Links will include but wont be limited to helpful videos, websites, apps, blog posts, park ups, meet ups, freebies, pay it forward, van life facebook groups etc.

All members can feel free to post links to anything Van life related in this group! To join the group please click the photo below.


We have set this group up to keep in touch and further help anybody that is following our " How to make good money on Shutterstock and fund your Van Life" series. In this group we will be posting all of our Shutterstock posts, helpful content to help explain specific sections of our posts in more details and anything else that will help you make money on Shutterstock. Eventually (when they go live) this will also be the right place to follow along with our How to make money on Printful series.

Members can feel free to ask questions and post anything they like related to Shutterstock (and Printful). To join the group please click the photo below.

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1 Comment

Jack Dumfries
Jack Dumfries
Aug 30, 2023

I suggest you use another program. Here is a link to the program I use myself. It is compatible with MAC.

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