Make Money Selling Stock Video Footage

Make money selling stock video footage. Live, open phones Q&A with guest Stephen Smith from Saavy Productions in Utah, USA

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  1. I really enjoyed listening to this one fellas. Very insightful. I wondered, how you would advise correcting/grading your clips? I shoot a lot of timelapses but also shoot on an FS7. Should we avoid heavily graded footage? Conversely, do people want S-log 3 footage so they can grade it themselves? And finally, any tips on file format to upload?


    • It’s a good idea to allow the customer to grade the footage to their own liking. But with the case of footage with the FS7 camera, there is a problem when you view the ungraded Slog3 it appears to have more noise in the shadows than Slog2. In post you might want to grade the shots so that you end up with the same brightness of image.

      • tips on file format to upload:

        H.264 OR ProRes

        Over the last few years, H.264 has become a reliable standard for video uploads — especially if you’re using budget or mid-range equipment. For the average videographer who wants to start a side business with stock footage, H.264 offers more manageable file sizes than the high-end codecs. To achieve this, the codec does compromise video quality a bit, and the extra compression makes it more CPU intensive when editing on a non-linear timeline.

        If you’re planning on doing serious color correction, H.264’s colorspace isn’t as detailed as PhotoRes or PhotoJPEG. In the grand scheme of things, however, H.264 is still a solid option because most editing software and media players support it, and it’s the default codec for many prosumer devices. Social media platforms like Facebook even transcode video files to H.264 by default! If you’re launching a stock footage operation, H.264 is a great place to start.


        At the opposite end of the codec spectrum, the ProRes codec family is an ideal choice when shooting stock footage with professional equipment. File sizes are significantly larger than H.264, but that’s because you’re getting a much richer colorspace, support for the highest bitrates (with ProRes 4444 XQ, you can have up to 12 bits per image channel), and each video frame is compressed separately.

  2. Hi people,

    Let me share my experience after 1 year selling stock footage in microstock platforms.

    I started on January 2015 selling content at Shutterstock, Pond5 and 123RF, adding Fotolia, iStock, Nimia, Dissolve, DepositPhotos, Videoblocks and Motionelements in the following months. In May I had all platforms selling my footage. At the end of 2016 I had 300 clips average in each platform with the same clips (more or less).

    I’ve made sales in all platforms except Motionelements where I have no sales so far.

    I created an excel file, where I wrote each sale in monthly basis (Number of sales and $ amount)

    And here are my results: (All are not exclusive)

    Agency Clips sold Earnings percentage
    Pond5 29 sales 35% of sales
    Shutterstock 22 sales 31%
    Videoblocks 3 sales 10%
    Nimia 1 sale 7%
    123rf 6 sales 6%
    Fotolia 8 sales 4%
    iStock 9 sales 3%
    Depositphotos 1 sale 2%
    Dissolve 2 sales 2%

    So, my conclusion, based in this experience is that, for maximize profit and time only Pond5, Shutterstock and Videoblocks* deserve the upload. The others, during 2015, were not profitable.

    *Videoblocks are too new so I’m not sure it they will be profitable in 2016 due to the amount of people uploading.

    As you can see, istock and Fotolia are the worst in terms of number of clips sold vs profit. They are a waste of time. Maybe if you play the exclusive role with those, results will be really different.

    This year I started to upload only to Pond5, Shutterstock and Videoblocks, as they are by far and based in my experience the most convenient places to sell clips nowadays.

  3. I’ve sold my footage through most of the sites: from Getty and Corbis (when it was around), to the “lower tier” companies, including Pond5. Pond5 is by far the best. I think they are close to taking most of the business away from the other stock houses (even Getty) – and, in my opinion, they would definitely succeed if they introduced an “exclusive” clause for their footage, which they currently don’t have. I love setting my own prices. I have a couple of clips priced at $290 that sell a couple of times a year. The pricing for my various shots goes all the way down to $25. But folks that believe you can make a living only selling stock footage are just hoping and wishing, in my opinion (unless you are the owner of the company). I don’t see how that can ever happen. It will always be a side business (i.e. “beer money, as mentioned earlier). If people are making rent and mortgage payments from stock footage, I’d love to hear about it and be encouraged by that. I find, having working in advertising over 3 decades, that footage of visuals that can be used as metaphors sell the best and are used most often (i.e. flowers blooming = life, waves crashing = turmoil, young hands holding = puppy love, etc.). Footage with people in it can sometimes be a problem because the images are too “specific,” often being too time, age or location specific (except for babies, scientists and engineers). I can’t count the number of times I had to remind production companies NOT to include ANY palm trees in the shot when shooting national commercials.

  4. Just chiming in as I come over once in a while to see what’s going on.

    A ton that I’d like to chime in on but will be brief and circumspect as I’ve always tried.

    Where’s the marketplace today?
    – There’s a lot of outlets including Adobe Stock that offer the ability to sell your footage. There are at least a few differences between the marketplaces but all have something to offer.

    Is there an opportunity for making ‘beer money’ or much more?
    – Assuming your content is interesting and viable, then I generally say that people get from stock sites what they put into them. If you put in a hundred clips, you’re going to make beer money. If you’re a regular shooter and you’re taking time to get stock shots and upload them to the sites and ultimately build a collection of thousands of clips, then you’re going to make a part time living and add some coin to your bank account. Since I’ve moved over to Adobe Stock, I’ve met many people whose full time job is doing nothing but traveling and shooting stock footage. To that point, there will be Rick Ray at the Adobe booth at NAB this year who is one of those people.

    Adobe is also sponsoring a 2 day workshop at NAB in association with Post Production World as well. If you are going to NAB this year and have an interest, here’s a link: Adobe Stock Shooting event

    Why potentially submit to Adobe Stock?
    – best answer is why not? I could wax poetic about the advantages of Adobe Stock, but I always try and walk the line and avoid pushing what might be perceived as an agenda. Reality is that most of the successful contributors put their content on all of the major sites and then they all work for you. The recent article from Daniel Hurst of Via Films is a great example.

    If anyone has any questions, always happy to engage with you.

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