How to Use Shutterstock’s Creative Flow+ for Social Media Graphics

6 min read

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How to Use Shutterstock Creative Flow
There’s a new kid on the block for all things social media—be that creating social media graphics and videos easily or scheduling them directly from design to platforms. Joining the ranks of Canva, Placeit, and a few other similar graphic design tools now is Shutterstock’s Creative Flow+.

I want to give you a quick guide to who it is best suited for and how to use the tool to create a social media graphic easily so you can decide if Creative Flow + is for you.

In this post:

What is Creative Flow+

Creative Flow+ is a collection of tools created by the stock photo giant Shutterstock. The included tools are: A drag-and-drop graphic design interface, an AI-powered prediction tool that helps novices create beautiful social media graphics meant to achieve specific goals, a social media editorial calendar (to plan and publish from within Shutterstock), and a text-to-image generator powered by AI.

Shutterstock's Creative Flow+ Homepage
Shutterstock’s Creative Flow+ Homepage

What is the cost of Creative Flow+

Access to Creative Flow+ requires a subscription. At the time of writing this, the subscription costs $9.99 per month when paid annually or $12.99 for month-to-month subscribers.

Please note that the Creative Flow+ subscription grants access only to its design tools, and not Shutterstock’s huge library of images, videos, and music files.

However, if you’re planning to use Shutterstock’s assets to create your designs, then you’ll find their “All-in-One” solution more affordable, starting at only $29/month (based on usage.)

Shutterstock's subscription page
Shutterstock’s subscription page

What can you create with Creative Flow+

With Creative Flow+, you can easily create social media graphics, business cards, logos, documents, and much more. You can create from scratch, or you can use pre-made templates too.

The pros and cons of Creative Flow+

Here’s a quick list of pros and cons:


  • Behind Creative Flow+ is the stock photo giant Shutterstock with its 400 million+ images, videos, and music files.
  • You can seamlessly use these assets within Creative Flow+ designs.
  • Plenty of beautiful social media templates to choose from.
  • The design editor is easy to learn and work with.
  • You can publish your social media posts directly from Creative Flow+.
  • An AI-driven tool called “Predict” can guide your social media post design to achieve specific goals, such as driving traffic and sales, or increasing brand awareness. (This tool is still in beta, as in not quite perfect yet, FYI.)


  • The tool feels new. There are some bugs and kinks that still need to be ironed out at the time of writing this.
  • Creative Flow+ works best with Shutterstock, making the overall cost higher than comparable tools.

Who is Creative Flow+ for

Anyone who needs to create pretty and functional social media graphics and a tool to plan and schedule them would find Creative Flow+ useful.

That said, given there are comparable tools out there, I personally recommend Creative Flow+ to current (or future) Shutterstock users who do not wish to join yet another platform for their social media design and planning needs.

For that reason, I highly recommend the All-in-One plan to all new users to get the most out of Creative Flow+.

The Different Tools Within Creative Flow+

Let’s now look at what’s available within Creative Flow+.

[FYI, you’ll need a Shutterstock All-in-One or at least a Creative Flow+ subscription to use this set of tools. There’s a one-month free trial available, so you can try it out first before making any commitments.]

Creative Flow+ is made of five (5) main tools:

  1. Generate
  2. Catalog
  3. Create
  4. Predict
  5. Plan

1) Generate

Generate is Shutterstock’s version of a text-to-image generator where you input a text prompt, and based on that prompt, Shutterstock creates an image for you. To use Generate:

  • Go to Creative Flow+ and then click the ‘Generate” tab from the left panel. (See image below.)
  • Input a descriptive text prompt in the designated field.
  • Then click “Generate” next to it.
Shutterstock text-to-image generation.
Shutterstock text-to-image generation.

By the way, Shutterstock’s text-to-image is pretty phenomenal; one of the best I’ve seen so far!

For example, during testing, I used the prompt, “Oil painting of frogs playing football in the rain,” and I got these ↓ Pretty awesome, right?

Shutterstock text-to-image generation for prompt, "oil painting of frogs playing football in the rain."
Shutterstock text-to-image generation for prompt, “oil painting of frogs playing football in the rain.”

2) Catalog

You will find all your assets within Catalog; images, videos, music, or any files you may have uploaded, along with whatever you create with Creative Flow+. Think of it as your personal organizer within Creative Flow+.

3) Create

“Create” is what I was most interested in personally. Because I use Canva to design most of my documents and graphics these days, I wanted to see how it’ll measure up against Canva.

Well, it’s definitely not as powerful or feature-rich as Canva yet, but Creative Flow+ has all the basic tools you need to design social media graphics. This may even be better for novice users who only wish to design pretty graphics and schedule them for their social channels, ideally using templates rather than creating from scratch.

To start creating, click the “Create” tab from the left panel. Then choose what you wish to create (there are pre-defined canvases for different social media platforms, or you can also start with custom sizes. Once you’re inside the editor, you’ll see a lot of different options. Current Canva users should be familiar with many of them already 🙂

In the editor, you can start creating from scratch, using shapes, graphics, images, drawings, etc., or you can choose a template and edit that. Once done, you can download your design or publish it directly to your social media (you’ll need to connect your social media to Shutterstock before you can publish.)

Shutterstock (Create) design editor.
Shutterstock (Create) design editor.

4) Predict

Predict is… how should I put it… another way to create a design that seems to have more potential than that.

Basically, the idea behind Predict is to create social media graphics with guidance from AI. In other words, you should be able to give some information (which social media channel, the purpose, the field, etc.), and then Predict will guide you through the process of creating social media graphics that have the best chance of doing exactly what you want them to do: drive traffic, sell more products, etc.

But the tool is unfinished (in beta) at the time of writing this and was pretty anticlimactic when I tested it. Once it is fully implemented, though, I have high hopes for it. But for now, it’s just another way to start creating a social media graphic and not much else.

5) Plan

This is your social calendar. You can plan your calendar and schedule to publish directly from within Shutterstock.

I made a quick (20-min… so I guess not too quick? Heh…) video to walk you through the five different tools within Creative Flow+. Check it out!

Here’s a video walkthrough of these five tools within Shutterstock’s Creative Flow+:

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Creative Flow+ Free to use?

Creative Flow+ comes with a 30-day trial. After that, if you want to keep using Creative Flow+ tools, you will need to switch to the paid subscription.

Will I lose all my designs after the free trial ends?

No. After the trial, if you choose to cancel your subscription, you will still be able to access your existing designs, but you won't be able to use pro tools like Predict, Plan, etc.

Is Creative Flow+ cheaper than Canva?

Not really. The annual subscription costs $9.99 per month which is the same as Canva. However, note that Canva Pro comes with access to its entire library of images. On the contrary, if you wish to use Shutterstock's images, you will need to sign up for the All-in-One plan, which is much more expensive. So, technically Canva is cheaper than Creative Flow+.

Creative Flow+ feels like another tool in the growing tools that can help you design easily. As you know, I’m a Canva Verified Expert. Will I make the switch to Creative Flow+? No. Should you? That depends on you!

As I’ve said before, to get the most out of Creative Flow+, I recommend signing up for the All-in-One plan. That way, you can fully utilize Shutterstock’s power in your designs (the millions of images, videos, and music tracks.)

Go ahead and try out Creative Flow+ for free for a month. See if you like it or not.

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This blog post was sponsored by Shutterstock. All views are my own.
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