Making Money With Stock Video Footage

Learn how to create stock video footage and make money selling it over the Internet on stock photo/video sites.

Video Transcript

When was the last time you were driving along a lonely country road in the late afternoon and was inspired by the tall waving grass blowing in a wheat field as you passed? Did you stop or just think about it? Maybe you thought, "Hm, nice shot. I wonder what I'd use it for?"

There are dozens of drive-by chances that we probably miss every day because we don't know exactly how we would use that shot. But 2,000 miles away is a video producer searching the internet looking for just that scene.

Stock footage is a worldwide multimillion dollar industry and buyers aren't looking for only the exotic locale that you think would be hard to find. Some of them are video producers just like you who need that one amber waves of grain shot to complete the piece. But it's 2:00 in the morning and winter in his part of the world and he's under a tight deadline and is willing to pay.

Stock footage is becoming easier and easier to acquire for the average video producer. No longer do we have to break the bank on huge libraries that are full of everything except that one shot we need. Producers can shop a la carte at stock footage Web sites the world over and purchase just one or dozens of shots at a time, which makes it more profitable for the producer that is selling the footage.

Companies like Istock, Shutter Stock, and License Stream, buy footage and each has its own criteria. Currently the Istock is better known for its still images than video, but that's changing and now's a good time to jump onboard.

Sites like Istock photo pay 20 to 40 percent of the purchase price depending on your membership. They require you to pass a test of sample submissions to make sure it passes muster before they begin to accept your work.

Shutter Stock. This is a paid subscription site, which means users pay monthly but can download as many images as they need per month. If you refer stock video buyers or stock video submitters to Shutter Stock, you can earn extra cash from their activity. Once you earn a certain amount, your cut goes up. Submissions are accepted via FTP, ActiveX, and HTML upload formats.

License Stream. The advantage of this service is you have power over the licensing of your content. Because License Stream's service gives content creators more control over the license, you can set up a premium for your content. Remember, however, with any control the more you keep the less your work will get used. So you need to balance what you will allow.

What to shoot. Check out the video on these sites to see the quality and variety of images. Most footage is shot using a tripod and they are very clean and clear without distracting backgrounds or movement. You don't have to supply high def images, but your work should be done from a high end, high quality camcorder. VHS won't cut it. Also, the footage doesn't have to be something so spectacular and awe inspiring. Sometimes it's the day-to-day lifestyle shot that the user is looking for.

Current events. Stay on top of or one step ahead of current events. Top stories in the news trigger the needs for generic or artsy footage portraying these events. Global warming and the current housing crises are obvious examples of much needed footage, but what's coming down the pike? Being the first on the block to offer footage might put you on the top of that subject.

Agriculture. Ag footage is always popular because someone in Washington State might have plenty of apple footage, but his story is on the wheat crops in the Midwest. Look around your area and see what you can supply. Try to gather all four seasons of isolated images of these crops as well as the process of pruning, picking, canning, and going to market.

Local flora and fauna. Besides the local crops, your area might be the only place on Earth that is host to the rare endangered Ferry Shrimp that has environmentalists all abuzz. Or the simple fact that a producer in Hawaii can't get a shot of a grizzly bear or a forest of noble pine Christmas trees in northern California.

Kids and family lifestyle. Most images with children can be a bit tricky because of the issue of working with minors. If a local foster care agency, for example, needs to create a public awareness video plea for foster parenting, they are restricted from using children in their care and are more likely to use generic footage found on a stock site. Just be very careful how you shoot and how you present any footage of children. As always, stay legal. Artsy shots that obscure children's identifies might put you ahead of the pack.

Copyright and legal issues. Speaking of legal, any identifiable shots of people you use will require model releases and verification that you own the footage. Well-known public monuments, buildings or landmarks like the White House, the Eiffel Tower, or Yosemite's waterfalls are open game. But if McDonald's golden arches appear in the background, that's not allowed. Additionally, identifiable shots of businesses, private property, or local art like this require you to get permission from the owners or the artist upfront. Don't try to get your paperwork done after the fact.

All the sites have easy to follow rules and guidelines so all you have to do is sign up and jump right in.

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Thank you, I've just taken

remofiore's picture
Thank you, I've just taken a look and since I'm about to open my own indie video production studio in Italy it's given me a good idea on how to start earning a few pennies which will help me keep my running costs. Great idea Thanx again !