We have an article on earning money with stock footage today from Daniele Carrer. He’s going to run through a number of methods to profiting through stock footage and how to earn money making videos.

According to what you must have read in some blogs, YouTube is the easiest way to earn money if you love holding a camera to make videos.

On TV, you must have heard several mentions of YouTubers, which made it sound easy to do:

  • just sign up,
  • publish a few videos,
  • get watched by millions of people,
  • make a lot of money,
  • live the life of your dreams.

Everything you think about this is true. However, just like the fact that every NBA star started from the playground, you have to start from the ground up here too.

The challenge with creating videos is that it is a dream of a lot of people in the world. So you must be ready to face huge competition if you want to build a business and career out of it.

I’m a YouTube partner. Last year (2017), I made $533.19 on 1,288,482 views and 2,551,511 minutes watched.

earn money making videos

earn money making videos

My revenues came from advertising ($513.89) and YouTube Red ($19.30).

earn money making videos

If by next year, I try to double my efforts and make 800 videos instead of my 400 published videos, it’s possible I make over $1000.

However, the real question is:

Can I consider a business where I am earning $1000 a year to be a real business?

In my honest opinion, I don’t think it’s even worth the time I spend on checking the analytics before I factor in the taxes I have to pay on the $1000 earned.

So, you may be wondering:

Why then do you have a YouTube channel?

YouTube is a great way to find customers for your business. Anyone can publish a video on YouTube that will generate as high as 10 million views.

Let’s take a look back at the last 20 years. In this period, I had a dream of becoming a film director. It was considered a big deal if I was selected by a Festival with an audience of just over 300 people.

Today, I use YouTube to find customers for my video project. I have a collection of unreleased historical home movies that I sell to documentary and TV productions.

In the description of each of my 400 videos, I have a link to the page of my website where producers can pay and download the footage they need in a fully-automated mode:

earn money making videos

earn money making videos

The screenshots are from a New York 1967 film I own. I made just $12.70 from this film on YouTube.

earn money making videos

However, I sold it 10 times on my website to earn 1,970 euros (Yes, I’m from Europe!).

One more thing, with diligent work, a good YouTube channel is one of the sure-fire ways to be on the first page of Google search results.

Let me confirm this for you. On your Google search bar, type in “New York 1967” (a query I suppose is used by producers who want to buy footage), and you will find about 496 million results.

earn money making videos

Guess who’s first?!

Ranking at the top

I know Google gives different SERPs depending on the place where the query was used, but there are online tools you can use to know what happens in different Countries. I tried for USA, Italy and Switzerland, and my video remained first in these regions.

Why do you think Google put on the SERP a content created by an unknown man from a small town in Italy and not, for example, a New York Times article or an NBC video?

Simply because the internet has its rules, and if you know these rules, you can try to hack them — as I have done to promote my business.

Five years ago, I was the story editor for an MTV Italy show and the pay was good. However, the show got canceled all of a sudden and I lost my job.

YouTube was my first idea to make money. I knew there were too many trash videos around, so I thought I could create a business based on producing quality content. I ended up earning a few dozen dollars each month after producing hours of content and wasting months of my valuable time.

That’s when I realized that producing stock footage is the only serious way for a freelancer to make real money from creating videos online.

Do you know what stock footage and stock images are?

Well, if you don’t, I have created a video to answer this for you:

About ten years ago, I produced commercials for giant screens which were aired in places like the parking lots of department stores. It was already hard to make money with the strong competition and cheap revenues.

So, a friend of mine suggested some websites to me where I could get professional photos that would allow me to save time while producing, instead of spending time shooting videos only to find myself in front of a client who will say to me:

I’m sorry, I don’t like it. Please make a new one.”

I could buy the images, animate them with After Effects, and create the final video very quickly.

Buying stock images was faster and cheaper — it is the best thing in a world that runs this fast. So I stopped producing Saul Goodman style commercials, competing with people who loved to work for 30 euros a day, and I became a microstock contributor.

It was autumn of 2006 when I began shooting stock images of the Adriatic Sea (I’m Italian) beach on a sunny day. It took me a couple of weeks to make my first sale.

That same year, some important agencies like Pond5 and Shutterstock launched their stock footage collection, so my single sales passed from $2 to $20.

I first uploaded handheld videos I shot a few years prior during a trip to Paris. It was an excellent idea as evidenced by the sales. That’s when I realized that I could make a lot of money in this magic moment when buyers were growing more than producers.


I bought an intervalometer on eBay, so I transformed my DSLR into a time-lapse machine. While people on forums were scared of damaging the shutter by shooting too many sequences, I toured Europe with my $500 camera, shooting about 20000 photos a day and earning thousands of dollars.

earn money making videos

On May 2011, I shot 3 time-lapses on a night in central Paris. One of them portraying Champs-Elyseées is still unsold, and I really don’t know why. Instead, two clips of the Arc de Triomphe earned me more than $1,000 each.

earn money making videos

Scaling the business up

It was too easy for me. So, I decided to visit the most famous city in the world with a friend of mine, brought my camera along, shot and sent my 5 to 10 seconds clips to Pond5 and Shutterstock.

Unfortunately, that period ended when photographers and video makers realized how easy it was to make money.

Today, you still can earn selling time-lapses or real-time footage in microstock. Buyers are still growing, but contributors are ever increasing as well, so competition is too strong to survive without having someone who can teach you how to do it.

The sale price of an HD clip on Shutterstock is $79 ($149 for 4K). The producer gets 30% of what the buyer pays and each clip can be sold an unlimited number of times. This is the reason why we have people who have made more than $1000 for a single shot of the Eiffel Tower.

Things used to be so simple until 2011. After the launch of Canon EOS 550D/Rebel T2I, which was the first camera priced under $1,000 that created Full HD videos, the stock footage world changed, leading agencies like Pond5 to today have more than 10 million clips in their collections.

To make money, you have to study the market and use online tools that can tell you what subjects buyers want in order to find a way to spend more time producing and less time keywording.

When all is said and done, the best advice I can give you is this:

Forget what you know about photography and filmmaking and start from scratch

Earn Money Making Videos – A Conclusion

I know how hard this can be, but producing microstock is different from any other business based on the production of videos.

I can’t cover all you need to know in two minutes, so I have created a website to help you with that.

I also have a weekly podcast, and a microstock course.

If you decide that you want to start off on the right foot, you can do it by watching the four free videos I send to those who subscribe to my newsletter.

I’m sure I can teach you how to make more money with your videos.

Daniele Carrer

We hope this was informative and has given you some ideas on how to earn money making videos. How do you earn money making videos? What have been your biggest successes? Let us know in the comments below.