It’s been said time and time again that images improve engagement and can even improve (or destroy) conversions. Plus, they plain look good. But, copyright laws make it so you can’t just use any image you’d like. You need to have the rights to legally use the image commercially.

photospin logoIn years past, I was an avid iStockPhoto user – back before they lost their mind. iStock was never “cheap” but about two years ago the prices of their “credits” to buy images went through the roof.

A photo that used to cost me 60 cents started costing me about $1.43. And I was buying credits in bulk (300 at a time) and getting a “discount” on them. And that was for the smallest of the available image sizes!

Along with the price increase, many images were suddenly available only in larger sizes – meaning they’d require anywhere from three to ten credits to purchase them. I don’t know about you, but I’m sure as hell not paying five to fifteen dollars for an average blog post image.

Considering the number of websites I own, iStock was becoming a BIG expense. So I went in search of a replacement for them about 14 months ago. Around that time, I found PhotoSpin.

PhotoSpin details

There are two types of plans – Premier plans (starting at $329) which give you access to 500,000+ royalty free images and Premium plans (starting at $1188) that gave you access to over two million royalty free images. When I first took a look at the PhotoSpin Premier Plans, they basically looked too good to be true.

Basic PhotoSpin plans

So let me get this straight. I can download up to 50 images a day and up to 1500 images per month in any size they have available up to 3600 pixels (bigger than I will EVER need by far) for $329 dollars a year? Even if I only had one blog… at one image per day, five days a week that meant I’d only be paying $1.25 an image vs the $1.40 to $15 dollars per image I was having to fork over to iStock.

In actuality, my sites used an average of about 14 images a week. So my per image cost suddenly dropped to 45 cents!

There HAD to be some kind of catch.

So I called them to find out what it was. And you’ll never believe what happened next. A person answered the phone. A real, live person who wasn’t outsourced tech support. They assured me there was no catch. So I took a chance and signed up for their Premier Plus plan.

My PhotoSpin experience

I’ve been with PhotoSpin a little over a year now. The experience has been primarily positive.

:) No catches

I’ve had no problems with downloading whatever images I’d like and have found no catches as far as “oh, you want THIS image? well that will cost more” type stuff.

:) Per image costs are down

As I stated above, moving to PhotoSpin instantly dropped my per image price to 45 cents an image based on my then usage. But now that I can download all the images I want, I use a lot more of them bringing my per image cost down even further. Even more bang for my buck.

:( Occasional downtime

In the beginning of my membership, the site would go down here and there (or be so slow to respond that it might as well have been down) which was REALLY annoying when I simply needed an image to finish up a post. But I think that had a lot to do with growing pains, because I haven’t had the issue in well over six months now.

:| Limited collection

The quality of the photos is usually pretty good – and fine for my needs. But there’s no denying that selection and image quality is a better at the more expensive sites (I am speaking of the Premier Plus plan – I have no idea if the same remains true with the Premium plans.) If I was launching a HUGE piece that absolutely needed an amazing “wow factor” image, I’d likely need to purchase a few single credits with either iStock or ShutterStock to get one. But, I’ve found the quality at PhotoSpin to be perfectly fine for 99% of my needs. If you look through prior posts of mine here on the Sugarrae blog, all the images come from PhotoSpin.

:) No “evergreen” billing

One thing I appreciated is that PhotoSpin didn’t automatically renew my subscription when it came up for renewal. Instead, they sent me an initial email and a then a reminder email – both telling me that my subscription was expiring and I’d need to login to the PhotoSpin site to renew it.

IStockPhoto vs. ShutterStock vs. PhotoSpin costs

Let’s say you use ten images per week at a 500 pixel wide resolution. That would mean you use 520 photos per year. Based on getting the cheapest possible price per image from each provider based on that usage, the costs would be (cents rounded up for cost per year):

  Cost per image Cost per year
 iStockPhoto $1.33 $692
 ShutterStock $4.05 $2107
 PhotoSpin $0.63 $329

For the record (and as you may have already guessed) I absolutely renewed my PhotoSpin subscription.

Edited to Add a Discount Coupon Code

Seems PhotoSpin saw my review and sent me an email offering up a discount for Sugarrae readers! Just enter in sugarrae10 when signing up for your subscription to receive a 10% discount on our Premier Series collection!!

Now I’m off the savor my weekend, which is going to look something like this:


Why the picture? Because I can. ;-)

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Check out my recent case study that shows how I generated 234,000+ pins (and counting) to a site with only 45 posts. I give you all the details (with specifics) here.