23 Apr Show Me the Money!

Jackpot, Lise GagneWhen looking at becoming a microstocker selling photos online, one of the obvious questions that arises is, ‘how do I get paid?’.

This question can be broken down further:

  • by what mechanisms can I get the money into my hand or bank account?
  • how long does it take for the money to arrive?
  • how often can I get paid?

This table answers these questions for each of the six microstock sites that I use.

Website Payment Methods Payment Frequency Delivery Time*
PayPal MoneyBookers Check
iStockPhoto Yes Yes Yes Balance of $100 2 days
Shutterstock Yes Yes Yes Monthly if over $75 2 days
Dreamstime Yes Yes Yes Balance of $100 3 days
Fotolia Yes Yes No Balance of $50 3 days
BigStockPhoto Yes Yes Yes Balance of $30
$50 for check
2 days
CanStockPhoto Yes Yes Yes Balance of $50 for PayPal
or $100 for others
8 days
123rf Yes Yes Yes Balance of $50 for PayPal
or $100 for others
not tested
StockXpert Yes Yes Yes Balance of $50
$100 for check
not tested
LuckyOliver Yes Yes Yes Balance of $100 not tested

*PayPal delivery time is an average of my experienced wait times between request date and payment delivery date, calculated over the past 3 payments from each microstock website.


I use PayPal for all these sites. I’m already a big user of PayPal for both personal and business transactions. It was an obvious choice for me when I started out with Microstock. If other microstockers are already using Moneybookers, it may be an equally easy decision for them. Check is the slowest of the payment methods due to its non-electronic nature. Most websites give an expectation of 3 – 6 weeks for delivery. CanStockPhoto also discourage the use of checks by having a higher payout threshold, and Fotolia and BigStockPhoto don’t offer it at all.

Shutterstock seem to be the only stock photography website who limit payouts to one per month. They pay accounts with a balance over $75 (default is $100 but can be changed in the options) at the start of each month and there’s no mechanism to request a payment sooner. This makes sense from an operational point of view, enabling them to be more efficiently with only one payment process per month. You just need to be selling enough photos to get your balance over $75 by the end of the month.

Once the money is in your PayPal or Moneybookers account, it’s a simple process to withdraw the funds to your bank account. Both these providers enable you to link your account to your normal bank account in order to both deposit and withdraw funds. Alternatively, you can obviously use the funds in your PayPal or Moneybookers account for online purchases rather than withdrawing the funds.

I guess that the vast majority of microstock photographers would use PayPal or Moneybookers to bring home their commissions. I further guess that PayPal is significantly more common than Moneybookers, based on Google and Alexa resources, and the fact that Dreamstime – not a small player – doesn’t bother to offer MoneyBookers as a payment alternative.

I’m interested to know how photographers who use MoneyBookers find their services. I’m exceptionally pleased with my PayPal experience. Additionally, it would be interesting to hear from microstockers who regularly receive payments by check, if there are any.

Updated 2007-04-29 to include StockXpert

Updated 2007-05-28 to include LuckyOliver

  • Dawn
    Posted at 13:25h, 24 April Reply

    Hi Lee,

    Great blog!

    So you know, BigStockPhoto does pay commissions via check. The contributor needs to reach $50 and can request payment via check.

    If you ever need any other information about BigStockPhoto.com, please feel free to email me directly.

    Thanks Lee,

  • Lee Torrens
    Posted at 02:40h, 26 April Reply

    Thanks for the correction Dawn, I’ve adjusted the article.

    It’s great to see BigStockPhoto out here actively taking an interest in what the market is saying! 😉


  • Kelly Thompson
    Posted at 23:53h, 12 June Reply

    We offer Moneybookers as many, many countries do not have Paypal access.

  • Anton Villalon
    Posted at 06:43h, 17 October Reply

    Hello Lee,

    I’m a user of Moneybookers. As of this time, Paypal doesn’t allow for money to be sent to my bank account in my country as well as in several others.

    Moneybookers is an excellent alternative to Paypal!

    Correction: Dreamstime can send money through moneybookers. I’ve received money this way.


    • LFChavier
      Posted at 19:14h, 20 October Reply


      Earlier this month Paypal started offering withdrawal by international credit or debit card to a lot of countries, including mine (Brazil). Many people from these countries were previously unable to withdraw from Paypal, or could do so only by check. Maybe your country is in the list, take a look here


    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 16:29h, 25 November Reply

      Thanks for the correction Anton, I’ve updated the post.


  • Luciano Meirelles
    Posted at 16:09h, 25 November Reply

    Friend, one question, I have an account in Shutterstock for about a week, and I don’t understand how does they pay via paypal? Can I get the money off the paypal, and put in my bank account, or what? Could you explain that for me?

    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 16:24h, 25 November Reply

      They will pay you automatically once your balance is over $75. You need to setup the payment options so they know your PayPal address.

      As for transferring the funds from PayPal to your bank account, it depends on whether PayPal supports accounts or bank transfers in your country. Moneybookers are more widely accepted, so consider them if PayPal isn’t available.


  • Anton
    Posted at 00:09h, 13 February Reply


    The Paypal withdrawal option works for the Philippines, as of January 29, 2008.



  • victoo
    Posted at 06:58h, 22 March Reply

    little update 😉
    In Fotolia you can withdraw any amount of money. There is $1 fee if you withdraw less than $50.
    And LuckyOliver lowered minimum payout to $25.

  • Pixels Away
    Posted at 11:11h, 22 March Reply

    First $100 Earnings from My iStockphoto Portfolio…

    You can find many enthusiastic articles on the web “How to make a few extra bucks from mictostock photography.” It is not so difficult to sell a few pictures and make a few dollars, but to get paid any money from this business is a different story. Y…

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