5+ years
onboarding and paying talent through Upwork
articles published each month
business days average time to hire
“As our team needs more support, Upwork is a critical resource, whether we onboard talent from our own networks or find skilled professionals on the platform.”
Annie Stanley-St. Cyr
Senior Content Marketing Manager

Shutterstock’s content marketing team produces engaging educational content for creative professionals and businesses around the world. The team publishes about 40 articles on the Shutterstock blog each month, along with other diverse content pieces including videos, ebooks, infographics, and case studies to position the company as a thought leader in the creative space.

Shutterstock image

To support this volume of content, Shutterstock enlists the expertise of freelance writers, illustrators, designers, and other creative professionals.

In 2018, Shutterstock transitioned to net 60 payment terms, meaning the company has a 60-day period to pay for goods or services from freelancers and vendors. While net 60 terms can benefit many stakeholders, for freelancers, the length of the payment window can be challenging. At the same time, manually processing payments for multiple freelancers and vendors can also be an administrative burden.

Given this transition, Shutterstock needed to find a solution to more effectively onboard and pay talent, while saving time and increasing freelancer satisfaction.

Leveraging Upwork to onboard and pay freelance talent

Many of the freelancers who support Shutterstock’s content marketing team are connections from existing team members’ professional networks and Upwork also helps the team expand beyond their own networks. This approach is beneficial in the creative field because the individuals are already known and trusted by team members, and have a portfolio of work to showcase their creative skills.

Engaging, onboarding, and paying multiple freelancers, and managing invoices one-by-one from multiple sources, can be complicated and time-consuming. To simplify the process, Shutterstock turned to Enterprise Suite, which enabled them to initiate contracts, onboard and pay talent, and centralize important documents in one place—helping the team stay organized and reduce time spent on administrative tasks.

One of the biggest benefits of Enterprise Suite for the Shutterstock team is time savings. Completing the traditional procurement process can take weeks or months in some cases. With Upwork, individuals are typically onboarded within a week or less, enabling the team to start projects almost immediately.

By leveraging Enterprise Suite, Shutterstock can also pay freelancers in one click shortly after a milestone or project is completed, rather than waiting up to two months with net 60 payment terms.

“Paying talent instantly when they request a payment is a major benefit and almost unheard of in the freelancing world, as individuals usually wait at least a week for payment after sending an invoice,” said Annie Stanley-St. Cyr, Senior Content Marketing Manager at Shutterstock. “Given the volume of articles, video tutorials, and other resources we publish, keeping writers and other creatives happy is essential. Paying them in a timely fashion is a significant part of that. Streamlining all payments in a monthly invoice through Upwork is a huge advantage for our team.”

Engaging creative professionals on Upwork

In addition to using Upwork to onboard and pay talent from the team’s professional networks, Shutterstock also engages creative professionals directly from the Upwork platform.

The typical process for engaging freelancers from different sources can be manual and difficult to track, from reviewing portfolios to communicating and onboarding talent. Partnering with Upwork to post jobs, access talent with a wide range of skills, curate a list of candidates, and stay in communication helps make the process seamless.

The Shutterstock team turns to Upwork’s global network of talent to find writers, designers, and other independent professionals. One example that stands out is a long-term relationship with a designer on Upwork who supports a popular freebies section on the Shutterstock blog, which features free clip art for customers.

Creative Freebies

The Shutterstock team seeks designers who capture the brand’s style and vision, and Upwork is a go-to resource to find qualified designers and other creative professionals to fuel the company’s content engine. The team found a skilled designer who delivers wonderful freebie packets, which drive a lot of traffic to the Shutterstock blog. The designer was one of the first hires through Upwork and continues to partner with the team more than a year later.

Upwork gives Shutterstock the flexibility to work with independent professionals for a short period of time or make engagements open-ended.

Continuing to improve and evolve content operations

As Shutterstock’s content operations continue to scale, a focus on improving SEO optimization and maximizing results is essential. Upwork helps the team engage and onboard talent with the skills they need to drive qualified traffic, engagement, and revenue for the business.

“We onboarded an SEO expert who someone on our team worked with previously and she has made a significantly positive impact on the content team,” said Stanley St.-Cyr.

The Shutterstock team is also always looking for unique ways to evolve content efforts and incorporate the latest content marketing trends. They regularly experiment with new content formats and approaches such as interactive quizzes, user-generated content, and influencer marketing.

As Shutterstock considers newer ways to diversify content, Upwork helps the company expand and evolve the way they tell stories by connecting the team with talented individuals who have in-demand or non-traditional creative skills. Access to this talent supports Shutterstock’s broader innovation goals.

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