Success Crafted

Unlocking the Success Story of Unsplash: A Free Creative Resource

When looking for high-quality, royalty-free images, Unsplash is one of the most popular and trusted platforms available. Unsplash is a website that offers a vast array of high-resolution images for personal or commercial usage, and best of all, every photo is completely free to use.

Unsplash was created in 2013 as a way for the startup company, Crew, to share their images with the world. Unsplash rapidly gained popularity and became a leading platform for people to find free high-resolution images.

In 2017, Unsplash became a standalone company and continued to grow, adding new features to the platform such as their API and

Unsplash Awards. In this article, well dive into the history of Unsplash and explore why it has become such a popular platform for creatives and businesses alike.

Short History of Unsplash

To understand how Unsplash came to be such a trusted platform for creatives, we need to go back to its founding story. The website was created by a Toronto-based creative collective known as Crew.

Crew originally launched in 2012 as a platform to connect businesses with freelance designers and developers. The idea behind Unsplash was simple: Crew wanted to create a way to share their own photos without licensing issues.

They posted 10 high-resolution images on a Tumblr blog, with the intention of merely sharing them with their audience. Little did they know, those ten images would change the trajectory of their business forever.

The blog post that showcased the ten images was shared widely on social media and became incredibly popular. People were looking for high-quality images to use in their projects, and Unsplash provided them with that service.

So, to meet the increasing demand, the company decided to expand the platform into a standalone website. From the time it launched as a standalone website, Unsplash saw rapid growth in popularity.

It featured images from a range of talented photographers, allowing creatives to find unique visuals for their projects. Unsplash offered an array of photos that could be used for free without compromising quality, which was a game-changer for small businesses and independent creatives.

Unsplash’s Growth

Within its first year, Unsplash had over 1 million downloads and gained an enormous following. It’s hard to find this level of success among start-ups, yet the company capitalized on what it knew their audience wanted: access to high-resolution images that were free to download and use without any legal restrictions.

In 2015, Unsplash opened their API to developers, which allowed third-party companies to effortlessly integrate photos from Unsplash’s collection into their applications. This was a smart move because it opened the platform to even more people, making it easier for companies to include high-quality photos in their projects without hindering the user experience.

By 2017, Unsplash had grown so much that it became a standalone company that received over 11 billion photo views each month. The company had over 600,000 photos on its platform and over 80 million downloads.

In addition, Unsplash’s API was powering other websites, applications, and startups around the world. The company had clearly hit its stride: it had grown to become one of the most respected creative companies in the world.

Unsplash Awards

In 2019, anticipating their growth and the needs of their user base, Unsplash announced the launch of the

Unsplash Awards. This feature highlighted the exceptional work of photographers who had contributed their images to Unsplash.

The awards feature monthly prizes for photographers in many categories such as lifestyle, nature, black and white, among others. The company used this event as a way to recognize the hard-working creative professionals they helped to support.


Unsplash Awards provide an opportunity for photographers to showcase their work while also providing meaningful recognition to their peers. Furthermore, competition drives the quality of submissions and ensures that the platform is always providing high-quality content.


Unsplash’s success story provides a lesson on the benefits of well-executed startup ideas. The simplicity of their original idea became popular, and the company’s subsequent growth shows how simplicity can be transformed into a rapidly expanding business model.

Unsplash has quickly grown into a platform that enables commercial and personal creatives to enhance their projects with high-quality, royalty-free images. With over 2 million active users and more than 1.5 million downloads per month, Unsplash’s contributions to the creative community cannot be understated.

3) Unsplash Business Model

Unsplash has several monetization strategies in place that have helped it become a sustainable business over the years, while still maintaining its core principle of offering free high-resolution images. Here are a few of the most prominent methods in use:

Native Advertising through Unsplash for Brands:

Unsplash for Brands is a new feature that enables brands to buy advertising space and content within the Unsplash platform.

Brands that seek to create engaging experiences through high-quality visuals can use Unsplash to reach their target audiences. Unsplash focuses on creating organic and authentic content as opposed to the in-your-face advertising that most businesses use, making the platform a perfect fit for brands who want to connect with their audiences without turning them off.

Subscription Plans with Unsplash+:

Unsplash+ is a subscription service that offers access to features such as exclusive content and the ability to curate personalized collections. Unsplash+ also provides enhanced workflow tools, such as pre-selected collections alongside custom folders, image batch download, and custom search functionality.

The subscription costs $12.99 per month or $119.99 per year. Contributors Compensated One-time per-image:

Unsplash does not pay photographers a royalty or a recurring fee for the images that they contribute to the platform.

Instead, photographers are compensated with a one-time fee that ranges between $10 and $200 depending on the image’s quality and licensing terms. Photographers can also expect to have their work seen by a vast array of people, which can lead to future work opportunities and increased visibility for their careers in the photography industry.

4) Unsplash Funding, Revenue, and Valuation

Over the years, Unsplash has proven to be a successful and competitive business, such that it has raised multiple rounds of funding from notable investors. These investments have helped the company expand their offerings and develop new features for their users.

Total Funding Raised:

Unsplash has raised a total of $38.6 million in four rounds of funding to date. Its latest funding round was in January 2021, led by Institutional Venture Partners (IVP).

Other investors include Accel, FirstMark, Coatue, and Crew. Notable Investors:

Accel is one of Unsplash’s earliest backers and has continued to invest in the platform over time.

Since 2013, Accel has poured over $20 billion into startups across the world, making it one of the most prominent venture capital firms today. FirstMark is another notable investor that has invested in Unsplash since its early days.

They are known for funding startups that have a unique vision, with a focus on building world-class technology. No Disclosure of Valuation or Revenue:

Despite its success, Unsplash has not disclosed its revenue or valuation to the public.

The company has also noted that it doesn’t view itself as a traditional startup, and does not believe that these metrics are an accurate reflection of their business’s overall health. Instead, Unsplash focuses on providing the best services possible to its users and continuing to grow.


With Unsplashs unique business model, the company has succeeded in gaining a foothold in the thriving marketplace for high-quality, free visual content. As Unsplash continues to grow and develop, it is sure to remain a reliable and innovative source of free images for creatives all around the world.

The platform’s use of monetization tools like Unsplash for Brands and Unsplash+ shows that the company is dedicated to providing the best user experience possible while still maintaining sustainable business practices. The companys funding rounds and investor relationships demonstrate that investors have confidence in Unsplash’s ability to continue to grow into the future, making it a name to watch in the creative industry.

Unsplash is a thriving platform for free high-resolution images, with a unique business model that combines native advertising through Unsplash for Brands, subscription plans with Unsplash+, and compensation to contributors through a one-time payment per image. Unsplash has raised more than $38 million in four funding rounds from investors such as Accel and FirstMark.

Despite its success, Unsplash has not disclosed its revenue or valuation but remains dedicated to providing the best user experience possible. The article suggests that Unsplash’s success story demonstrates the benefits of a well-executed startup idea.

By providing high-quality, free images and expanding its services, Unsplash has become an essential resource for creative professionals and businesses.

Popular Posts