Top 10 Features Your Custom Shutterstock Clone Must Have

August 2, 2023
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Stock media has become an integral part of content creation today. Be it blogs, advertisements or social media – everyone needs high quality photographs, videos, vectors and illustrations. This growing demand has led to the rise of stock media marketplaces like Shutterstock that connect content creators with media authors.

If you also want to capitalize on this opportunity, building a custom stock media marketplace similar to Shutterstock is a great idea. In this blog, we will dive into the must-have features your Custom Shutterstock Clone should have.

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What is a Shutterstock Clone Platform?

Shutterstock, founded in 2003, is a leading global marketplace for royalty-free stock photos, videos, music and illustrations. It brings together creators and consumers of stock media in a platform that makes licensing media effortless.

The creators or contributors can upload their work to Shutterstock and earn royalties when someone purchases it. On the other hand, consumers like bloggers, marketers, businesses can search through Shutterstock’s massive library and buy media for their needs.

A Shutterstock clone essentially replicates this marketplace model with similar functionality. It is a custom-built stock media platform that lets creators sell their content and consumers license it. You can add your own branding, tailor processes, add pricing models as per your business needs while leveraging the marketplace structure of Shutterstock.

Why Create a Shutterstock Like Application?

Here are some top reasons to create your own custom stock media marketplace similar to Shutterstock:

Launch Your Own Stock Media Business

Building a Shutterstock clone gives you a ready marketplace platform to start your own stock media licensing business. You can attract media creators to sell their work as well as consumers who need media content for websites, ads, presentations and more.

A clone allows you to jump right into the business without needing to build extensive functionality from scratch. The revenue model is already proven by Shutterstock. You simply need to customize the platform for your brand and target audience.

Connect Media Creators and Consumers

A stock media marketplace brings together creators and consumers of media onto a single platform. Photographers, videographers, illustrators and more can upload their work. While content creators like marketers, advertisers, bloggers and businesses can license it.

Your Shutterstock clone provides this meeting ground. Media creators get access to expanded distribution and earn an income from their work. At the same time, content creators get a diverse library of media for their needs at affordable costs. It’s a win-win for both sides.

Offer Diverse Stock Media Options

Shutterstock offers photos, vectors, videos, music and illustrations to cater to diverse consumer needs. When you build a similar marketplace, you also get to provide a multitude of media options.

The more variety you offer, the more creators and consumers you will attract. Buyers can find all kinds of media they need for websites, social media, ads, brochures, blogs and more in one place.

Facilitate Scalable Revenue Generation

A stock media licensing model generates continuous revenue. Each time media is purchased on your platform, you can earn a commission. This creates a passive income stream that can grow exponentially as your library expands.

Shutterstock reported $450 million in contributor earnings and a revenue of $665 million in 2020. A custom-built clone allows you to take advantage of this proven scalable business model. The possibilities of growth by attracting more media and buyers are immense.

Build a Niche or Regional Platform

Shutterstock provides a diverse global collection of media. But with your own platform, you can target a niche media offering or specific geographical region. For instance, build a stock image marketplace specializing in wildlife photos. Or a platform focused on regional media content and languages.

Catering to an underserved niche or geography allows you to better compete. You can effectively market to creators and consumers in that domain or location. A clone platform gives you the flexibility to scale a niche stock media business.

10 Must-Have Features in Your Shutterstock Clone

Now that you know why a Shutterstock clone is a great business to build, let’s look at the top features your platform must have:

1. Seller Accounts and Profiles

Media creators should be able to sign up as sellers on your platform by creating accounts. Provide options for different account types like free, premium or exclusive accounts based on benefits offered. Sellers can create detailed profiles showcasing their portfolio and credentials.

Make sure your system can handle a large number of seller accounts as your marketplace grows. Essential profile features include:

  • Account login
  • Profile details like name, bio, location and portfolio samples
  • Payment account details to receive contributor earnings

2. Media Upload and Management

At the core, your Shutterstock clone needs to allow media uploading and management. Sellers should be able to conveniently upload their photos, videos, vectors, illustrations, music files in suitable formats and sizes.

Give them the ability to:

  • Upload multiple files together
  • Add titles, descriptions and tags for each media
  • Organize into albums or portfolios
  • Select license types and prices per media
  • Track upload and rejection history
  • View number of views and downloads per media
  • Flag infringing content

Build a robust admin interface to review, approve and manage submissions too.

3. Search and Filters

Make it easy for buyers to find the kind of media they need in your vast collection. Offer powerful search functionality with these features:

  • Search box to input keywords, titles, tags etc.
  • Advanced search filters like media type, category, size, licenses, date, color etc.
  • Search suggestions and recommendations as the user types keywords
  • Auto-complete prompts for faster searching

This improves the discovery of relevant media for buyers.

4. Media Licensing Options

Provide flexible licensing models that buyers can purchase media under. Common options include:

  • Royalty free – buyer pays once to use it multiple times
  • Rights managed – buyer pays for exclusive rights
  • Editorial – limited license for news, editorial content etc.

Let buyers choose sizes like small, medium, large or vector. Offer packages with number of downloads allowed. Provide add-ons like having an image with or without watermark versions.

Give sellers the flexibility to set prices per media based on licenses, size and other options.

5. Multi-level Review System

All media submitted to your platform needs review before it goes live. This ensures copyright, quality and guideline compliance. Build a multi-level moderation process:

The first level can use AI to check for potential issues. The second level is expert human moderators that thoroughly examine submissions. The final level is community moderation where users can also flag inappropriate content.

This layered system will keep your media library compliant and quality controlled as it grows.

6. Secure Payment Integration

Seamlessly integrate payment processing in your Shutterstock clone platform. This allows the licensing transactions between buyers and sellers to smoothly take place.

Offer payment options like credit cards, Paypal, bank transfer etc. Make sure to comply with payment regulations and security standards like PCI DSS, SSL, 3DS.

Automate payouts to sellers for their earnings from media licenses. Generate reports for tax purposes. An airtight payment system is crucial for the platform’s growth.

7. Buyer Memberships

Like Shutterstock, you can offer buyer membership plans for full access to the media library. This provides predictable recurring revenue for your business.

Plans can include:

  • Basic – limited downloads per month at lower per item price
  • Professional – higher number of monthly downloads at better value
  • Business – commercial use license and maximum downloads

Memberships encourage buyers to spend more on your platform. Offer discounts or rewards to retain members too.

8. Mobile Apps

Consider launching Android and iOS apps alongside the web marketplace. This makes your stock media platform easily accessible to contributors and consumers anytime, anywhere. Key app features include:

For sellers:

  • Upload and manage media
  • Review earnings and licenses
  • Receive notifications

For buyers:

  • Browse, search and download media
  • Access lightboxes and previous orders
  • Make payments and manage membership
  • Review download history

Mobile availability gives your Shutterstock clone extra advantage over competitors.

9. SEO Optimization

Optimizing your platform for search engines enables bringing in organic traffic from Google and others. Expand keyword targeting to rank for high value queries like “stock videos” “royalty free photos” etc.

Important SEO best practices are:

  • Title and meta descriptions for pages
  • Optimize media file names and descriptions
  • Write SEO-friendly blog content
  • Social sharing to increase reach
  • Fast load times for better user experience

This allows your website to gain real visibility and traffic without reliance on paid ads.

10. Marketing and Promotion

Marketing will play a key role in gaining awareness for your new marketplace. Utilize both digital marketing and traditional PR and events.

  • Run targeted social media ads
  • Send newsletters and push notifications to bring back visitors
  • Get PR coverage in relevant publisher sites
  • Sponsor related events and conferences
  • Offer affiliate programs to promote your platform
  • Run special promotions like limited-time discounts

With the right marketing, you can build authority and drive the initial traction vital for success.

Benefits of Using These Features

Combined together, the above 10 features provide an end-to-end stock media marketplace platform for your Shutterstock clone business. Here are some key benefits you can realize:

All-in-One Marketplace Solution

You get a complete marketplace solution with these capabilities instead of needing to piece disparate applications together. Having unified architecture and UX leads to higher engagement and conversion.

Customizability for Your Brand

While replicating Shutterstock’s functionality, these features can be fully customized for your brand’s name, style, messaging and more. Make your platform uniquely you instead of just a copy.

Quality and Compliance Control

Comprehensive moderation and review processes enable enforcement of guidelines. This maintains the quality and legal compliance of your growing media library.

Cost and Time Savings

When built right, a clone template accelerates your platform launch and business ROI. You can hit the market faster compared to coding a custom platform from scratch.

Scalability for Growth

These professionally built features are designed to scale up or down flexibly. This supports the immense growth you may see in media and user volumes as your marketplace takes off.

Competitive Edge

Instead of basic MVP features, launching with robust capabilities sets you apart. It provides a complete experience right from the start to attract and retain media contributors along with buyers.

The right Shutterstock clone platform positions you competitively to gain market share faster in the stock media space.


Creating your own stock media marketplace delivers an excellent business opportunity today. The demand for quality, affordable stock photos, videos and more continues to rise. At the same time, supply from talented media creators keeps increasing too.

By connecting these two sides, a Shutterstock clone platform enables you to build a scalable online business. It lets you compete in the stock media space with a proven successful model.

We explored the top 10 must-have features your Shutterstock clone platform should provide. From seller accounts to media licensing, powerful search to secure payments, you need robust end-to-end capabilities. Leveraging these features allows launching a marketplace that delivers value to both contributors and consumers of stock media.

With the right technology partner, you can cost-effectively build a custom Shutterstock clone app tailored to your specific business goals. An experienced developer can advise you on the ideal features, integrations, tech stack and architecture. They can develop an intelligent web and mobile app on time and budget for success.

So unlock the immense potential in the stock media space today by creating your own niche Shutterstock clone marketplace. With these key features in place, you will attract stock media creators to sell more content. At the same time, provide millions of content creators a platform to find the media elements they need easier.

Frequently Asked Questions

A Shutterstock clone replicates the marketplace model and functionality of Shutterstock. It provides a platform for stock media creators to upload and sell their photos, videos, music etc. Buyers can search, browse and pay to license this media for their commercial or personal use.

The cost can range from $50,000 to $100,000+ depending on the number of features, customizations, web and mobile apps and more. Choosing the right developer is critical to build a high-quality clone at optimal cost.

Yes, even though core functionality remains similar, many elements can be customized for your brand – name, logo, colors, messaging, processes, revenue model etc. This makes the platform uniquely yours instead of a generic copy.

An experienced developer can deliver a Shutterstock clone MVP within 3-5 months. With more complex features, customizations and apps, the timeline is around 6-9 months on average.

Some key technologies include:

  • Programming languages – Node.js, ReactJS, Python
  • Database – MongoDB
  • Storage – AWS S3, Cloudinary
  • Payment gateways – Stripe, PayPal
  • Hosting – AWS, Azure or Google Cloud

The right blend of technologies delivers the best scalability, security and performance.

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    Gauri Pandian

    Gauri Pandian is a seasoned Business Development Manager with 9 years of experience in sales and client relations. Currently, she is responsible for business growth and client acquisition as a BD Manager at Zipprr, a leading custom software development firm. Prior to this, she has worked with Early-stage startups helping them scale through strategic partnerships. Gauri has a crack for understanding customer pain points and unlocking new opportunities.