Looking for a new side hustle? If you love video content, know how to shoot an effective clip, and want to make some extra money on the side, you’re a perfect candidate to sell stock footage online.
If you’re new to the video space, “stock footage” is the term for pre-recorded video clips that are available for others to purchase and use in their video products. Stock footage libraries—which we’ll explore in more detail below—represent a treasure trove of ready-to-use footage that can fill in gaps in your videos, enhance storytelling, or just provide unique and eye-catching visuals.
As the demand for video content continues to skyrocket, the need for high-quality stock footage is also on the rise. That’s where you come in!
How Can You Make Money Selling Stock Footage?
Just like people purchase stock photos for their projects, video editors and filmmakers are constantly on the lookout for captivating and relevant footage to elevate their videos. By offering your own video clips for sale, you’re tapping into this growing market and giving other content creators the opportunity to use your creative work in their projects.
The gist is simple: you film original video content that captures just about anything you want, and you upload it to a stock footage library of your choosing. When editors are searching for clips that would fit into their next video project, if they choose something you filmed, you get paid in exchange for letting them use your content.
Everyone wins—you make some extra money with your videography skills, and editors and filmmakers can bring their vision to life without having to capture every clip themselves.
Stock footage can also save the day for projects that did have a full-scale production. Footage can get lost or damaged, shots can be ruined by bad lighting or background noise, critical story moments can be left off the call sheet altogether, or the video’s direction could change in post-production. When these disasters axnd pivots happen, stock footage can save a project from needing a reshoot.
Tips and Tricks to Film High-Quality Stock Footage
If you want to sell your video clips, it’s important that they look professional. The higher quality your stock footage, the more likely you’ll successfully sell your work. Not sure where to start? Here are a few areas to focus on while you’re behind the camera:
- Lighting: No matter where you’re shooting, make sure your video’s subject is well-lit and visually appealing. Watch out for shadows, avoid overhead lighting, and prioritize soft light sources whenever possible. (Learn more about effective lighting in this article.)
- Composition: Visually dynamic shots are more useful—and interesting—to most editors. Rather than shooting your subject directly in the center of your frame, try creative shots that set your subject up in an interesting way. You can always post a few similar clips when you go to sell your content, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
- Stability: Camera stability is crucial when it comes to capturing professional-looking footage. Shaky camera movements are distracting to viewers, and they’re a dead giveaway that you’re not a professional cameraperson. When in doubt, invest in a tripod or other stabilization equipment to keep all your shots smooth and steady.
- Subject Matter: When it comes to subject matter, prioritize filming clips of popular subjects, current trends, or evergreen content that will always be in demand. While niche clips have their place (and they do get sold—just not as widely), focusing on broader appeal can increase the chances of your footage getting purchased.
You might notice there’s one variable we left out of this list, and that’s audio. Why? The majority of stock footage clips are uploaded without audio, so you don’t have to worry about bringing a mic setup or keeping the area quiet when you capture footage. Most editors will be working with their own audio or music files anyway, so there’s no need for you to include audio in your uploads.
Licensing and Copyright Considerations for Stock Footage
With those content tips in mind, let’s pivot to the business side of selling stock footage. As a stock footage vendor, it’s important to understand how licensing and copyright laws affect your work. When you sell your stock footage, you’re not actually selling the video clip itself. Instead, you’re selling legal permission for editors and filmmakers to use the footage, and that permission takes the form of a “license.”
There are a few common license types you’ll want to be familiar with. A Royalty-Free License is the most common type for stock footage libraries, and it gives purchasers the rights to use copyrighted footage without paying royalties for every use. It’s essentially a one-time fee in exchange for the rights to use the footage in any number of projects and use cases.
A Rights-Managed License is less common, and it grants permission for buyers to use a particular clip for one specific project. If they want to use the clip again for a different use case, they’d have to purchase another license for that project. These licenses typically cost more, and they may have implications for exclusive use.
If you choose to sell exclusive stock content to one specific site, make sure you don’t post the same clips on other stock footage sites. While most arrangements (and Royalty-Free Licenses) will allow you to have the same clip in multiple places to maximize your earnings, if you agree to an exclusivity clause, keep those clips separate.
Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong approach to licensing your stock footage. Just make sure to understand the terms of your agreement with each site so you don’t set yourself up for failure—or a lawsuit.
5 Platforms to Use to Sell Your Stock Footage
Ready to sell your stock footage? Here are five popular platforms to consider:
With over 350 million images and videos, Shutterstock is one of the most popular platforms for all kinds of stock media. As a result, they’ve paid out over a billion dollars to users that submit photos and videos for the site. (As a bonus, you can also get paid for referring other users and contributors!) Here’s their creator page to get started.
2) Adobe Stock
Adobe Stock is another popular platform, especially because it integrates with Premiere Pro. If you import and edit your clips using that software, you can publish them directly on Adobe Stock without the in-between steps. You’ll earn 33% of all royalties for Adobe Stock content, and you can get started at their creator page here.
Known for its wide selection of high-quality stock media, Pond5 is another marketplace where you can sell your stock footage. They have a simple upload process and allow you to set your own prices, which gives you a bit more control over your earnings than some of the other sites. Plus, like Shutterstock, they also pay you to refer new users. Here’s their creator page to get started.
Storyblocks offers a subscription-based model where customers pay a monthly fee for access to unlimited stock footage. As a contributor, you’ll get paid based on the percentage of your content that’s downloaded from the Member Library.
You do have to apply to be a contributor on Storyblocks, so it might be helpful to start with the other sites on the list to build up a stock footage library. Once you have a higher volume of clips in your portfolio, you can prioritize sites like Storyblocks that require applications. Here’s their creator page to learn more.
Finally, Artgrid is a smaller site that’s proven to be more lucrative for some stock footage creators. Like Storyblocks, it requires an application, so it’s best for videographers that have an established stock footage library to point back to. Here’s their creator page when you’re ready to submit an application.
Whether you already capture video footage in your day-to-day life or you want to pick up a new hobby, selling stock footage is a great way to breathe new life into your video clips. Use the tips and tricks above to capture effective clips, and post your content for editors to explore. You never know what might take off!