Boycott Boycott Shutterstock


Recently Shutterstock changed their pay table. Often when there is change, no matter the reason, it sparks some protest from those that preferred the previous structure. The change in how the pay table works sparked protest from a small group of people mainly saying they don't want to be paid $.10 for a photo, nor have their level be reset at the start of each year. They suggest others disable or delete their portfolios in response. I will call this the "Boycott Shutterstock" group. I personally don't find their arguments too convincing. In this article, I show that the "Boycott Shutterstock" group have not thought thoroughly about the issue.

But first, please sign up for FREE using my reference link to be a contributor to Shutterstock. OK, on to the discussion.

From chat forums, Facebook, and Twitter, I have found that most of "Boycott Shutterstock" tend to focus on the number $.10, which is the minimum payment, but tend to ignore the entire pay table (as well as general economy/industry, but I won't address that here). In fact, a $.10 with a red strikethrough "do not enter" type of road sign is their logo, so this is definitely their main focus. But let's look at the entire pay table. For example, I created an UNOFFICIAL pay table based on my current understanding. Please send any corrections to me if you find mistakes

Note that there are many other possible values for payments for photos and videos than just $.10. My 6/2020 earnings (so far) are larger than my 5/2020 earnings. The fact that I had many $.10 payments does not automatically mean my overall earnings will be less (or greater) than before.

What can, say, the lowest level expect for their subscription payments? Before, under the payment structure based on lifetime earnings, the flat payment would be $.25. The "Boycott Shutterstock" will suggest you will always make $.10 because they tend to ignore the other values in the pay table. However, now under the new payment structure, from my understanding, payment can be any of: $.10 (6 ways), to $.24, $.30, $.37, $.38, $.44, or $.74. If the distribution of those outcomes is all equal to 1/12 (i.e. a "uniform distribution"), then expected earnings are about $.26, which is greater than $.25. This comes from the defintion of expected value: (1/12)*$.10 + (1/12)*$.10 + (1/12)*$.10 + (1/12)*$.10 + (1/12)*$.10 + (1/12)*$.10 + (1/12)*$.24 + (1/12)*$.30 + (1/12)*$.37 + (1/12)*$.38 + (1/12)*$.44 + (1/12)*$.74 = $.255, or $.26. This shows your expected earnings for the lowest level subscriptions are greater than in the previous pay plan, assuming the subscriptions packages are uniformly purchased.

Of course, the distribution may not be uniform/all equal. If the $.10s packages are more heavily weighted, then the expected earnings will be lower than $.25, a critic might (correctly) say.

To eliminate critic or proponent bias in assigning the distribution, I create random distributions. I use Excel and Visual Basic code to simulate expected earnings thousand of times, and compare the expected results to the previous value of $.25. I kept track of the % of the time the expected value is greater than $.25.

Here is the simulation I created in Excel, and here is the Visual Basic macro code:

Here are the results from the simulation:

Based on this simulation (as well as my experienced realized 6/2020 earnings), I conclude that on average the $.10 payments are not a doom and gloom situation as "Boycott Shutterstock" promotes. Whatever critics personally feel, they need to look at the entire pay table, not just the minimum payment, as that doesn't tell the whole story. Note that similar simulations can be done for other packages and levels. They also should not ignore, or offer vacuous conspiracy claims of "Photoshop!" or "Shutterstock employee!" or insults about portfolio content (I've had to block several of them on forums, Facebook, and Twitter for being uncivil), to those that have similar or more earnings than before, just because it goes against their viewpoint.

If you are convinced to disable or delete your portfolio based on the recent pay table change, that is your choice of course. I just ask/hope that contributors make it on logic and data rather than on emotion. However, if you are enraged by a $.10 minimum payment, you should know that groups like "Boycott Shutterstock" will always compensate you $0 for all of your photos and videos, and their goals and motives may not be in line with yours.

Please sign up for FREE using my reference link to be a contributor to Shutterstock.

Thanks for reading.

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