Stock footage are video clips shot by freelance professional and amateur videographers that are uploaded to stock footage websites to be sold, through licenses, to others who are in need of footage for their film or video projects. And it is through the sales of these licenses that stock footage content providers can generate a passive income.

Have an artistic eye and love to shoot videos? Here’s a guide to how you can earn a living through the selling of stock footage.

What footage Can I Sell?

Basically anything. From common footage like handshakes to hard to shoot footage like aerial shots, stock footage websites want them all. It is basically up to the videographer what he wants to shoot. Keep in mind that while common footage is a lot easier to shoot, their value in the marketplace is significantly lesser than hard to shoot footage. Therefore, it might be better to shoot something that is unique and not accessible to everyone. It is important to note that your stock footage library should always be active, so make it a point to shoot something new every week and set up a queue such that there are new video clips being uploaded every day.


Types of stock footage in order of shooting difficulty

Be innovative, try to anticipate what potential buyers might be looking for and try to shoot that footage. With that said, remember that buyers could be looking for anything, so you shouldn’t ignore shooting commonly found footage. Recording sound, while good to have, is not that important when creating stock footage, unless it is integral to the clip. If sounds are a must, make sure that written releases for human voices are obtained. Also, there shouldn’t be any music, any off-camera voices or sounds like the videographer’s comments or equipment sounds.

How Much Money Can I Make?

Most resellers pay their content contributors a percentage of their sales made from their clips. The percentage differs from marketplace to marketplace, but will usually range between 20% – 60%, depending on the type of license and the exclusivity of the clip. Some agencies will let you set your own price for the clips you upload while some will have fixed prices for specific clip types and sizes. The prices can range from a dollar to several hundred dollars, and is dependent on factors such as the quality of the video, the length, the size, and the resolution (HD vs SD). It’s best to look at other already uploaded files with similar content to get an idea of how much you should charge for your clips.

The method of payment of your earnings differs with each agency, but it will usually be sent to you once a month via Paypal, Moneybookers or sometimes even as a cheque. The best part about this business model is that in most cases, you’ll be paid in perpetuity for the same clip, hence passive income.

Can I Still Make Money From Standard Definition Footage?

Frankly speaking, no one is looking to purchase standard definition footage anymore, unless your video has some historical or unique value with content that cannot be reproduced today. High definition (HD) videos are the way to go now and many are looking for videos with a minimum resolution of 1920×1080, but should the buyers require, HD clips are very often easily convertible to SD resolutions. With that said, offering cheaper SD options of your HD footage may increase the likelihood of sales as there are buyers who only require the standard definition version for their video productions.


SD vs HD Stock Footage

Where Can I Sell My Stock Footage?

There are many websites that provide a marketplace to upload and sell your created footage, and it may be a good idea to try selling with multiple resellers to generate a broader reach. Once you have decided on your preferred website(s), check their requirements, for example, what type of file formats they accept and the appropriate length your video should be. You may be also required to sign an exclusivity contract, where a non-exclusive contract means that the rights of usage to your stock footage can be given to several parties; and an exclusive contract means that only one party has the rights to your work.

Also, most resellers will ask for a demo reel or a link to your work to have an idea of what kind of footage you offer, but there are others who just want to see a few sample shots. In any case, it’s best to have on hand a collection of your best clips, so that you’re prepared when they ask you for some samples.

How Do I Get My Footage To Content Aggregators?

Each stock footage agency has its own methods for content providers to upload their work. Most of them offer File Transfer Protocol (FTP) service for large files to be transferred, some agencies allow clips to be uploaded directly on their websites, and others accept submissions on DVDs, hard drives or USB drives; where some vendors will shoulder the cost of sending the physical form of your media to them. It’s best to check with the agency the best option for the submission of your clip. Upon receiving your content, the agencies will then review the clips to decide if they are suitable to be included in their existing collection.

What Type Of Legalities Should I Be Wary Of?

When shooting video for commercial use where profits are gained, things get more restrictive. If there are people in the video, it is necessary to obtain a model release agreement for everyone in the clip. In some situations, there may also be a need to get a signed location or property release if you are shooting a location that is recognizable by various components in the video. Also, be aware of any brand names, logos or trademarks that are easily recognizable as those require permissions from appropriate entities before they can be used in your video. However, if permissions can’t be obtained, blurring or cropping the logos or trademarks out of the final footage will usually be enough.

RM vs RF: Which License Should I Sell My Assets Under?

Stock footage is sold with different licensing options but are most commonly sold under the royalty-free license. Royalty-Free (RF) license means that buyers will only need to pay a one-time fixed fee in exchange for the footage to be used in any manner they choose for as long as they like. Royalty-Free licensing is suitable for any type of stock footage.

Rights Managed (RM) license is where the buyer’s first payment for the clip limits him to using it only in one specific project, and if he wants to use the same clip in other productions, additional payment must be made. There are also cases where prices for Rights Managed clips differ based on whether they are being used for profit vs non-profit. Rights Managed licensing works best if the clips are unique, one-of-a-kind and is something that can’t be easily found elsewhere.

So there you have it, a quick rundown on how you can possibly generate a passive source of income. The stock video industry is still growing, and there is room for you if you are invested. Don’t ignore the basics, do your homework on the industry and study the needs of companies and individuals who require stock footage and shoot videos that cater to these people; and soon enough, you’ll be rewarded for your work.

Selling Stock Footage With MotionElements

Selling your stock footage with MotionElements requires only five easy steps – you first sign up to be a ME Artist; upload your works to your portfolio; edit and publish your stock video clips for sale in the marketplace; be notified for every sale you make through e-mail and; get paid monthly through Paypal or Moneybookers with no minimum earnings required.

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