Shutterstock is one of the most well-known stock photo platforms and one that you have probably heard of, if you need stock images for your website or other graphic material.
However, Shutterstock is not for everyone. Especially not if you are a smaller business, freelancer, or self-employed and do not have a big budget.
Therefore, I will show you an awesome alternative to Shutterstock I am using myself. I will compare the two options, so you can see what fits your needs the best, and then choose the stock platform that has what you are looking for.
Why look for Shutterstock alternatives?
Let me first make it clear that Shutterstock is a really great stock photo platform, and one that can definitely be worth joining. But it all depends on your needs and budget.
Personally, I found that Shutterstock was not what I need at the moment. There can be different reasons to look for an alternative to Shutterstock, and why it might not be the right platform for you.
For me the main reason is the price, and I think that is the case for many other self-employed, freelancers, or smaller businesses as well.
I use A LOT of images every month for my websites, and if I needed to get all these from Shutterstock, it would be too expensive. That is the reason I started to look for a cheaper alternative, but one that still has great images.
I know there are many free stock image portals, but I choose not to use these anymore, as I want to be sure all the images I am using are royalty free. Furthermore, using a paid stock photo platform saves me a lot of time as there are more options, and I can easily find images that are different from what many other use. If you use the free platforms, you will often end up using the same images as many others are using, as the selection on the free portals of course is limited.
So let me show you what alternative I found, and why I think it is a great option.
A cheaper alternative to Shutterstock
As mentioned, I wanted to find a Shutterstock alternative that was not too expensive but still gives access to a lot of great images.
It is not easy to find. There are many paid stock photo platforms, but most of them are just as expensive as Shutterstock, or have really low quality images.
After looking around a lot I found the platform StockUnlimited that I had not heard of before. I had a long look around the platform, and could see the selection was good and the prices were very reasonable as well.
StockUnlimted has more than 1 million stock images, which is a big enough selection for me. It also gives access to fonts and music/sound effects.
For me the most important is however that it gives you unlimited access to stock photos. You can of course buy subscriptions, where you only buy a few images, but as I use a lot of images, I was looking for a platform that could give me access to unlimited downloads for a set price.
Furthermore, I made sure to check the conditions, and it clearly states that all the images you download, while you are a member, is yours to use forever. Of course you cannot claim ownership of them, but you can keep using them for example for your website, even if you later cancel your membership. This is very important as some platforms do not offer this, which means you are basically tied to have a membership with them forever, which is not fair.
So to give you more of an overview about StockUnlimited as an alternative to Shutterstock, let me compare the two for you.
StockUnlimited vs Shutterstock
I want to mention again that I actually think Shutterstock is an amazing platform, and on some areas it definitely gives better opportunities than StockUnlimited. However, it might be more than you need, and it might be over your budget.
So let’s look at what the two platforms have to offer, so you can find the overall best solution for you.
Number of images available:
It is of course important how many images you get access to on any stock photo platform.
Shutterstock will give you access to more than 200 million images, whereas you will get access to over 1 million with StockUnlimited.
This is of course a lot more you will get access to with Shutterstock. But if you think about it, you might not really need more. 1 million images is A LOT. From experience, I know that looking for relevant images between 200 million images can even be too overwhelming, but it is of course great to have a big selection, as it also means you can find images for basically any situation or graphical project.
So a lot if it comes down to your needs, and also to put together the other aspect I will go over below, to find the overall best solution for you.
Kinds of downloads available:
Both Shutterstock and StockUnlimited gives access to more than just images.
In addition to images, StockUnlimited gives access to music and sound effects, fonts, and graphical templates.
Shutterstock gives access to music and video footage.
On StockUnlimited you can download any of the available files they have, when you have a membership or subscription. So if you buy an unlimited membership, you can download unlimited sound effects, images, fonts, and templates.
Shutterstock has a different kind of subscription. There is one price for downloading images, but if you want to download video footage, there is another price, and the music you have to buy license to it for each download you want.
Quality of images:
The quality of the images are very important. Stock photos can often end up looking very much like stock photos, and this can look too fake.
That is why I personally like to use vectors on my websites, instead of photos, because they just often look fake.
However, both Shutterstock and StockUnlimited give access to a lot of vectors you can use, if you like me prefer using these. But they also both have images of high quality, so you can definitely find images that do not look fake and that are great to use.
Since Shutterstock has the biggest selection, you will of course also be able to find more different images here, so it might be easier to find the exact look you are going for. But the quality of the images on StockUnlimited are also very high, and it is also one of the reasons I choose this one.
If the prices of the platforms were the same, you would probably just choose the one with the biggest selection.
Price does however play an important part, and it is very different on the two platforms. This is where StockUnlimited in my opinion gives some of the best value for money out of the stock image platforms I have seen.
Both Shutterstock and StockUnlimited have several prices and subscription options. These are of course also subject to change, but let me give you some example of the prices, so you can get an idea of the differences. Below the chart I have explained the price examples further:
It is possible to buy download packages on both platforms, if you just need a limited number of images. On Shutterstock you can buy a download package of either 5 or 25 images. If you buy 25, the price will end up being around $10 per image.
The download package that is most similar to this on StockUnlimited is a package of 30 images. Here you will pay $0.83 per image.
On Shutterstock this package can only be used for images, while you can use the package on StockUnlimited to download any asset on the platform.
If you want a monthly subscription, you can get several options on Shutterstock. If you use quite a lot of images, you can get a subscription, where you pay around $200 per month and can download 350 images per month. On StockUnlimited you can get a monthly subscription for $19 and this includes unlimited downloads.
If you want a yearly membership you can get one on Shutterstock for around $1998 in total, and you are allowed to download 350 images per month. On StockUnlimited you pay $228 in total for a year and have unlimited downloads. On StockUnlimited you can even get a 3-year subscription for $684.
One thing to notice is that these are the regular prices. StockUnlimited often have sales, and at the time of writing this, you can get a yearly subscription for only $79.
So no doubt that when it comes to prices, StockUnlimited is a lot cheaper.
What platform should you choose?
As you can see, both Shutterstock and StockUnlimited are great platforms.
Which one to choose depends most of all on your needs and your budget. Personally, I think StockUnlimited gives amazing value for money, and I have bought a 3-year subscription when there was a sale, and it gives me a very big degree of freedom and has saved me a lot of time and money.
It is definitely a platform I recommend checking out. If you instead need access to even more, and if you have a big budget for images, then Shutterstock is definitely still a very good option and one of the best stock photo platforms.
Personally, I have decided only to use images from a paid stock photo platform on my website, because it saves me a lot of time, I am sure I have the rights to use them, and because it makes it possible for me to find images that are different from what the free portals have to offer.
If you also want to use a paid stock photo service, there are many to choose from. One of the best and most well-known is Shutterstock. It is however also quite expensive, and it can be overwhelming. An awesome and cheaper alternative is StockUnlimited, as I have explained above.
So if you need stock photos, and are looking for a Shutterstock alternative, I highly recommend you to check out StockUnlimited.
If you have any comments, any questions, or have any experiences with either Shutterstock or StockUnlimited yourself, I would love to hear from you in a comment below.