Sell stock footage

How To Sell Stock Footage [8 Simple Tips]

We independently test and review everything we recommend. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Table of contents

Stock footage is in high demand these days. More and more brands use stock footage in their campaigns and many editors find themselves in need of complementary or replacement shots for a project.

As a result, that means there is a substantial passive revenue stream waiting for freelance filmmakers by selling stock footage.

However, there’s more to selling stock footage than just filming and uploading any old clip. If you want your footage to sell, it requires focus and preparation. In this article, we look at several tips for shooting and editing high-quality stock videos (and the highest paying sites).

1. Plan Your Story

Firstly, videographers always need to be prepared. Don’t just take out your camera and start shooting what you think looks good.

Instead, treat it like a narrative by creating a solid vision before filming the shots you need to tell the story. You’ll cover all the essential shots, like the wide establishing shot and the close-ups, and you will capture every detail and emotion.

2. Shoot What You Love

There are several reasons why you should film what you are passionate about. You will have more fun doing it, and more importantly, it will reflect in the detail, accuracy, and quality of your stock footage.

Whatever you’re into, whether it’s the ocean, aerials, people, extreme sports, anything; grab your camera and film it. The chances are your footage will look and sell better.

To get into the mindset of a stock videographer, you need to treat every moment as potential stock footage material. Got a flat tire or your car needs an MOT? You can build a story around that.

Stuck in a traffic jam? You’re not going anywhere fast, so carpe diem, film it! Every situation can become stock footage.

sell stock footage

3. Know What Stock Footage Sells

Firstly, it’s essential to check which styles of stock footage have a higher demand than supply. If you film tons of footage in a style nobody wants, most likely you won’t turn a profit.

You might remember that time-lapses were selling like hotcakes until not long ago, but the market for them has become over-saturated.

So maybe this isn’t the direction you want to go in. On the other hand, hyper-lapses (which are basically time-lapses with movement), aerials and lifestyle shots are very popular today, so either one of them is the right choice.

lifestyle stock footage

Finally, the diversity factor is also in high demand. After all, in practically every tech commercial, you see people from different ethnicities having fun. So when you’re filming stock footage with people, make sure to use a diverse group of models.

group people different ethnicity

4. Use What You Have

If all else fails and don’t have a lot of spare time then don’t worry. One of the easiest ways to start your stock footage career is to check your hard drives from previous projects. 

Many filmmakers have a ton of unused b-roll already. So if you have the rights to repurpose older or unused clips, consider submitting them.

5. Future-Proof Your Footage

While most stock footage used today is in 1080p, resolutions always have a tendency to go up.

So if you want your footage to be relevant in 5 years or more, 1080p might not be enough. If you shoot in 4K-8K, you won’t need to worry about your income fading out in a couple of years.

In addition to this, another way to future-proof your footage is to shoot it in Raw, a format that gives filmmakers the ability to grade the footage themselves.

In the same way that yesterday’s grading style can now seem outdated, today’s style will look old in 5 years.

6. Use Interesting Camera Movements

Try to add an interesting camera movement when filming for stock. Static lifestyle shots can turn out boring and most likely won’t sell.

For example, you could use dolly movements, handheld or stabilized movements; you could also create an interesting parallax effect by placing something in the foreground when you film, it will create depth and give that parallax feeling to your movement.

The same goes for aerials. So try using different motions with your drone, like a subtle or dramatic parallax, or a push-in or push-out movement (this really sells stock footage!).

7. Tag Your Videos Accurately

This might sound like a minor detail, but it’s important. If you’ve already uploaded a video to YouTube, you understand the power in a good name. The same goes for stock footage.

For instance, if you have the most amazing footage but it’s not tagged correctly, nobody will be able to find it and you won’t get paid.

Lastly, be as descriptive as possible in your title and include the subject, action, location and some related buzzwords that you know are popular. Get into the mindset of your potential clients and think about what they will be searching for and what sells.

8. Get Release Forms Signed

Man signing release form

Most importantly, make sure you have release forms and get them signed by property owners and actors (even that random dude in the back of your shot).

In many countries, it’s the law if you want to offer your footage for stock. Some county councils require paying a fee for permission to film, so it’s essential to take care of all the legal issues before you offer them for licensing.

Best Sites to Sell Stock Footage

When submitting, be sure to take note of each agency’s payment structure. While most agencies remunerate their contributors with a percentage of their individual sales, there are some marketplaces where you may be more likely to get a little more buck for your bang.

So without further ado here are our top 5 stock video sites for contributors.

PositionWebsiteCommissionEase of UseContributor Programme
No.1ArtGrid★★★★★★★★→ Click here
No.2Pond5 ★★★★★★→ Click here
No.3Shutterstock★★★★★→ Click here
No.4iStock★★★★→ Click here
No.5Dissolve→ Click here

Looking for more sites to sell your footage? You might want to check out our article on the best stock video sites.

Artgrid is definitely our favorite site to sell stock footage. Firstly, they are relatively new to the stock video market game so are offering a pretty generous commission structure.

Secondly, their contributor dashboard is simple to use, making it quick and easy to upload footage. In addition to all of this Artgrid’s story-driven approach to stock gives cinematographers much more creative freedom.

Wrapping Up

In short, selling stock footage requires planning and determination, but when it’s done right, it can create a consistent passive income for filmmakers in an industry that is filled with inconsistency. Once you check all the boxes mentioned above, you’re ready to make money from stock footage.

Bob is our content editor at the Video Collective. He's a videographer and a real tech geek with over 13 years of experience in video production. Loves coffee but hates Marmite.
Read More

Leave a Reply

Unlimited music + SFX

Get full access to over 35,000 royalty-free tracks & 90,000 sound effects. Exclusive music from worldwide artists.

7-day free trial. Cancel anytime.