Shutterstock vs Adobe Stock comparison in 2024

May 30, 2021 / by Stacy


Shutterstock and Adobe Stock are the biggest competitors. They both represent royalty-free forms of stock photo agencies that sell illustrations, photos, audio, and video files featuring subscription plans as well as on-demand with cash or credit. The former is the one of the largest and oldest in the business while the latter is almost as large and has a lot of integrations with software for creatives.

We will review both of them from contributor and customer perspective.

About Shutterstock

Shutterstock is one of the most established and most well-paying microstock agencies out there. It was founded back in 2003 and since then it gained 200 million images and 10 million videos. And, what is more important, millions of paying customers.

With over two decades in the market, Shutterstock ranks as a reputable firm that has actively collaborated with various other high-profile organizations like BuzzFeed, Google, and Marvel, among others. Shutterstock slightly surpasses Adobe Stock when it comes to its sheer numbers-boasting a massive stock content of over 360 million stock content, which on average is available at a relatively lower process than Adobe Stock. Nonetheless, according to various independent review sites, Shutterstock only offers the free trial AFTER paying the subscription plan, a factor that seems to catch many subscribers unawares. Despite this minor ‘blemish,’ Shutterstock is a safe and legitimate stock photo website.

You can read more about Shutterstock here.

About Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock is a microstock that was known as Fotolia before Adobe acquired it in 2015. Adobe inherited 100 million of images and more than 10 million clips in addition to graphics and 3D content. Besides this stock photo agency, Adobe Company has also developed Adobe Effects, Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Lightroom, among other popular creative apps. The software giant also owns Creative Cloud, a platform that holds all the apps.

Adobe Stock agency is ideal for anyone that uses Adobe apps since it offers crucial stock image library integration into the Adobe apps through Creative Cloud. When working on your designs, you can easily import stock images into the app (without initially needing to buy it), and you only pay for all photos used after completing your project. Ideally, it offers convenience.

You can read more about Adobe Stock here.

General comparison

Accordingly to customer feedback, Shutterstock and Adobe Stock provide approximately the same features and have similar scores.

G2 reviews
Shutterstock vs Adobe Stock as seen by customers

If you were to investigate Google search performance for Shutterstock and Adobe Stock, you could notice that while Shutterstock is generally more searched for, Adobe’s trend is mainly ascending over the last few years.

Google Trends
Shutterstock vs Adobe Stock trends comparison

In fact, if the trends consistently follow this trajectory, Adobe Stock may surpass Shutterstock in popularity by 2030. The popularity of Adobe Stock is mainly due to its distinctive innovation in the world of stock images, like the integration of its stock library with Creative Cloud.

So while both of them are very similar from a higher level, the devil is in details.

Pricing: Shutterstock vs. Adobe Stock

Both Adobe Stock and Shutterstock sell stock images and come with on-demand and subscription plans. Shutterstock comprises a royalty-free license starting at $0.22, with Adobe Stock slightly higher at $0.26. Nonetheless, in comparison, the difference is relatively insignificant.

Both agencies afford similar free trials comprising ten photos for a month that comes with the subscription plan. Another advantage with Shutterstock is their Promo codes. With Shutterstock, you reap at least a 15% discount, an offer not available for Adobe Stock.

Subscription plans

On average, the subscription plans are pretty more affordable compared to on-demand packs. This means a reasonably lower price per image. Nevertheless, to enjoy the best process, you need to sign up for a yearly contract with the most (monthly) downloads. As such, you must carefully consider your unique image needs before going for the most economical option. In any case, you won’t use every monthly download, so it’s better if you buy a relatively smaller subscription plan.

Shutterstock subscription plans

Shutterstock subscriptions
Shutterstock subscription plans

The Shutterstock platform affords different subscription plans ranging from 10 images to 50, 350, and even 750 images monthly which you can purchase separately or simply go for the annual plan (whole year). Moreover, Shutterstock offers you an option to prepay for an entire year, giving you an extra 23% discount.

NB: generally, the bigger the plan, the lower the price per image. Ideally, monthly plans are substantially more expensive compared to prepaid annual and standard annual plans.

Adobe Stock subscription plans

Adobe subscriptions
Adobe subscription plans

When it comes to Adobe Stock, you can enjoy subscription options of comparable prices and sizes. You can pick between monthly plans ranging from 3 images, 40, 350, and 750 images/asset download per month, or better yet, annual subscription plans of 750, 350, 40, or 10 downloads per month.

for almost the exact cost, Shutterstock affords you 50 photos, while Adobe Stock only offers 40

Shutterstock affords fairly more cost-friendlier stock images courtesy of its annual (prepaid) package that Adobe Stock can’t compete against. Lastly, the Adobe Stock free trial is better than the Shutterstock option since the latter offers you ten images with the free trial and Adobe Stock offers ten or even 40 free photos!

On-Demand packs

If you don’t prefer a binding contract, you can buy photos on-demand at Adobe Stock and Shutterstock. Typically, on-demand packs are relatively costlier than standard subscription plans, although it affords more flexibility plus needs no commitment. Moreover, Extended or Enhanced licenses can only be purchased on-demand with credits or cash.

An extended/enhanced license is significantly more inclusive than the royalty-free/standard license, although it costs more.

Shutterstock on-demand pricing

Shutterstock on-demand
Shutterstock on-demand plans

With Shutterstock, you enjoy 3 on-demand 2, 5, or 25 image packs per license. For royalty-free (standard license), on-demand packages usually cost between $29, $49, and $229, while with extended (enhanced license), it costs $199, $499, and $1,999 sequentially. The least expensive on-demand royalty-free/standard license images usually cost about $9.16 per image with the most extensive Shutterstock plan of 25 photos. Buying the smallest plan costs around $14.50 per image. Enhanced (extended) license photos cost approximately $67.69/image with the biggest on-demand pack.

Adobe Stock on-demand pricing

Adobe Stock on-demand
Adobe Stock credit packs

The on-demand Adobe Stock pricing is pretty more complex since you must buy the credits first. These credits purchase stock photos, templates, premium 3D items, and videos.

Credit prices are as follows:

Credits Price
5 $49.95
16 $149.99
40 $359.99
80 $669.99
150 $1200

Here’s the purchasing power of the Adobe Credits:

Adobe credits
Adobe Stock credits purchasing power

Credits Product
1 credit Standard images or Standard templates
8 credits HD videos
20 credits 4K videos
12+ credits Premium images
12+ credits Editorial and Enhanced license

Essentially, you will pay between $8-10 per photo based on your credit pack choice.

Contributor programmes

Both Shutterstock and Adobe Stock run contributor programmes that allows people to sell their artworks on these marketplaces. Contributors create content, add metadata and upload it to the website. After it gets approved by the staff, customers can purchase it.

Shutterstock royalties

New earnings
Shutterstock contributor royalties levels

Shutterstock organizes contributor royalties in levels where you need to hit a certain number of sales to reach another level. Also Shutterstock will reset your level every January 1st.

As it was explored, if you have on average 100 monthly sales for all 12 months, through the year you will earn effective 25% commission per download on average. If you have 200 monthly sales, you will get around 27% per download and so on. This is just another way of looking at the percentage breakdown.

Adobe Stock royalties

Adobe Stock earnings
Adobe Stock royalties from images and vectors

Contrastingly to Shutterstock, this platform pays based on the subscription plan the customer used when buying your license. Adobe’s royalty payment calculations are a bit less complicated than the competition. And at 33% for photos, illustrations and vectors, and 35% for video, the payouts are generally higher too.

Contributor perks

Adobe provides free access to Portfolio for contributors. One of the newer features is the ability to build a free website via Portfolio to showcase your works. This offers you another way to boost your sales.


Ultimately, despite both stock image agencies offering stock photos for a meager cost, Adobe Stock has undeniably been evolving, and it’s been a fruitful transition!

In essence, Shutterstock is the perfect suit for those who desire a wide array of stock images for a somewhat lower price. Boasting over 360 million images, this site is well to boost all businesses, including bloggers, individuals, and businesses.

At the same time, Adobe Stock is ideal for those who will highly benefit from its innovation through its Creative Cloud option affording an assortment of Adobe Stock apps. This includes artists, designers, and basically anyone who uses Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe apps. Examples: artists, designers.

So, if you are looking for the best and cost-friendly stock image platform, try out these two excellent options. After all, with their free trial options and hoard of unique features, you have nothing to lose!

Register at Shutterstock

Register at Adobe Stock

See also

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