Sell Stock Footage: A Detailed Guide on How to Start Selling Videos on Stock Sites

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We have a special article from Evgeny Shkolenko today. Evgeny works for Depositphotos and is an experienced videographer. In this article, Evgeny shares his experience on how to start shooting stock videos and turn it into a business by learning to sell stock footage.

Let’s hear from Evgeny!

How to Start Shooting and Selling Videos on Stock Photo Websites

Remember the last time you watched a video on your smartphone? Most likely, it happened today but you might not even remember, pressing the play button almost automatically. Maybe watching YouTube videos during breakfast is a must for you?

More and more, the information we receive comes from videos. Video has become the main marketing tool of businesses. It’s become one of the best options to attract an audience, win over viewers and potential clients.

Obviously, the fast-growing video marketing and advertising industry will continuously need this type of content, and stock videos as a resource and tool will be in high demand for years to come.

Those who want to start shooting stock videos and want to get paid for it need to prepare well and constantly monitor the ever changing industry.

Over the past 5 years, thousands of professionals from all over the world have entered this field. Stock platforms are being used daily to upload new footage, which makes the competition and therefore the video quality requirements grow and change with time.

The footage of a duck floating down the river or a tree branch with leaves blowing in the wind won’t impress anyone today. Clients have become more selective — they want a meaningful, impressive and professional video enhancing their brand image and helping acquire and captivate their audience.

How does one approach the stock footage industry, how does it work and how soon can you expect to start making money? Let’s figure it out step by step.

sell stock footage

Shooting Video: Theory Lessons

Theory is the foundation of any practice. You need to have basic knowledge on shooting video and photography to start.

Nowadays, every city seems to have training courses for camera operators. But you don’t need to spend tons of money to attend the preeminent videographers’ workshops.

Here’s what will be sufficient:

  • simple training on how to compose your shots,
  • understanding the design and layout of a video camera,
  • basic concepts of light and lighting equipment,
  • learn how to editing,
  • footage processing and color correction.

All this knowledge will help you start shooting videos and create good material that will give you an opportunity to pass the entrance exam. Yes, every stock platform has its entrance exam that you need to prepare for.

Shooting Video: Equipment Essentials

The second step is to select equipment for shooting.

1. Camera

A camera is your main tool offering a set range of options to capture a picture. It’s simple — the more expensive and newer the camera is, the more opportunities it provides for your creativity.

Today, the video industry is is moving towards a 4K format of 3840×260 pixels. A simple 4K camera with standard optics is available for nearly $900.

No need to buy an expensive camera right away, until you are sure about your skills and determined to start selling your videos. In the future, when your experience and skills grow, you’ll figure out which camera will work for you.

sell stock footage

2. Tripods and Stabilization Systems

When shooting video, your camera must stand still. This requires a good stable tripod. Here are some things to look out for in a good tripod:

  • that it’s lightweight,
  • with strong legs,
  • a good hydraulic video head,
  • that is also convenient height,
  • with a panoramic instruments adjustment.

While many brands produce fine tripods, my favorite is Manfrotto. This company has a proven track record in the video production market as a quality producer, always keeping its customers updated with new technological novelties and their products.

sell stock footage

3. Stabilizers

Stabilizers come in different types and sizes. There are mechanical stabilizers in an old design — being an economical option although it limits the possibilities.

Most cameramen use electronic stabilization systems, such as DJI Ronin or MOVI. A stabilizer allows you to make fantastic shots in motion with the camera moving with minimal shakiness, focusing on the shooting object.

sell stock footage

4. Lighting equipment

If you want to shoot outdoors, you will need a set of light reflectors and diffusers. These are fabrics of different density and coverage that help to reflect and scatter the light.

If you intend to shoot indoors, then you will definitely need a set of lighting devices. The choice of inexpensive LED devices is now huge. Three fixtures would be enough for standard setups.

sell stock footage

Video shooting: Location, props, and models

Organizing a shoot takes the most time and effort. To get a high-quality video, you need to plan each step beforehand and allocate your time and resources efficiently.

Begin with defining your shooting theme.

Let’s say you want to shoot the footage of an athlete. You will need:

  • To find a proper gym or stadium.
  • To find a physically fit athlete.
  • To write a scenario — a storyboard of what exactly it is you are going to shoot.

For example, wide shot, medium shot or a close-up of an athlete performing jumps, then push-ups or exercises with a barbell.

After that, you need to prepare all the documents, book the time and calculate the budget.

Model release

Don’t forget to sign a model release form with people in your videos.

In this document, the model transfers ownership rights to the video footage to the author. It means that a person confirms that he/she doesn’t mind that you will use this video material for commercial purposes.

Property release

A property release is a document signed by the representative of the premises where you are shooting to transfer the ownership rights of the footage to the author.

If an athlete has tattoos, a property release is also needed. You need to make sure that the logos, names and other brand identification marks don’t appear in the pictures. There also should not be any logos on the athlete’s clothes.

If you have no opportunity to get a release, but you have taken an excellent shot with the logo of a well-known company, then this video can be uploaded to a stock platform with an editorial note.

This is a license type that does not require releases. However,  the use of this video will be limited to non-commercial projects.

Shooting budget

Always calculate all your costs beforehand. The model’s fee, whether it’s money or footage, is discussed individually before the shoot so that there is no conflict and misunderstandings in the process.

This affects the shooting result and development your professional relationship with the models in the future.

You also need to calculate the costs of props, the rent of equipment and premises, clothing, and food.

For example, if you want to videotape a businessman drinking coffee in a cafe, you must first obtain the consent of the cafe shop owner, pay for a cup of coffee and dessert, etc.

Themes and Trends

What should I shoot?

Many stock platforms write about trends and popular topics in the industry. One can get ideas from current advertising as seen in the subway, supermarkets, or other print media.

There are subjects that will always be trendy:

  • children,
  • family,
  • sports,
  • business,
  • travel.

This is what you can start with and it’ll be easy.

It’s also important to review your competitors’ work from time to time to avoid repetition in the stories you tell.

The more unique your material is, the more likely it will sell. No one restricts you in your imagination and ideas, only the sales will show which of them are in demand. With more experience, you’ll easily learn about the ways and topics of shooting.

sell stock footage

Try to invite models of different nationalities and cultures to your videos. Remember that stock footage markets are open to an international audience.

Uploading a video to a stock photo platform

The time since you upload your first file to your very first sale can take anywhere between a few days to even a year. It all depends on how successful you are in picking the right subject and how accurate you are with the metadata of your video.

Metadata is the information that helps buyers find you in the search engine.  

Title

The title of your file is a field that should contain concise but also accurate information about your video.

For example, “A group of friends taking photos at the beach” is a good example of a file title.

“Friends at the beach” is not a complete description of this video, which reduces the chances of clients finding it.

The title should be short, concise and should not exceed 80 characters.

Description

In the description, try to specify only relevant information. Remember that your main task is to describe what’s happening in your video as clearly as possible.

Keywords

The keywords should include words that describe your video.

For example, a woman drinks coffee near a window. You can use keywords like: woman, coffee, morning, cup.

You may also add the keywords that do not describe the picture itself but point to the concept. For instance: coziness, housewife, lifestyle.

The age of the model, the time of the day or year (if this information is seen from the picture), can also be added.

There is a cringeworthy mistake that can ruin a videographer’s stock footage career. It’s spam. This is when popular and trendy keywords with high ratings that are not related to your video are deliberately mixed into the description and keywords of your video. In this case, you just trash the database.

Say, a user wants to find footage of friends who are photographed at the beach. Instead, the search engine will give out welders or animals. That is, content that does not match the search query for the words “Friends”, “Photos”, or “Sea”.

Some stock banks apply sanctions and block the portfolios of these spamming contributors. Basically, this way, not only do you fail to sell the files but risk losing the opportunity to work with the platform.

Sell Stock Footage — In Conclusion

I believe that if you’re thinking of trying your hand at shooting videos, stock platforms are a great place to realize your ideas, develop your creativity and make money in the process as you sell stock footage. Quality videos are the future of the stock industry, so it’s worth starting today.

Evgeny Shkolenko is a successful videographer and stock video creator. He’s been working on his spectacular collection which now consists of 4,000 files that has grown in the span of 3 years. 

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