An under-appreciated and possibly lucrative channel of opportunity for many aspiring video producers – and one that just work for you – is creating and selling stock footage. Stock footage is everywhere – if you have a discerning eye you stand a good chance of seeing it when you’re watching TV, movies, commercials, and other film and video productions.
What Exactly is Stock Footage, and Who Uses It?
Imagine a video producer in a city like Seattle producing a video that’s set in New York City. Her production will be much more authentic with the addition of establishing shots of iconic NYC images, like the city skyline, the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, and so on. But expense and time precludes her from flying a crew all the way across the country to get these shots. That’s where stock footage comes in.
Established stock footage companies collect footage of locations, scenes, and action that they can sell to TV, film, and video producers who don’t have the time, resources, or locations to easily and inexpensively produce the footage they want in their own location or in their own studio.
Who Sells Stock Footage?
As mentioned above, there are a variety of companies that trade in selling stock footage to video producers. A quick internet search will bring up plenty of leads in this fast-growing business. Virtually all of these companies have contact and registration portals set up online that let you register with the company – often for free.
Once you’ve got your eyes on a few different companies start checking the details. Find out what file formats are acceptable to them, and then see if they’re looking for any particular type of footage. Many stock footage providers also are looking for clips of particular lengths as well. Don’t be surprised if they ask you for a demo reel or sample footage – after all, the footage they’re selling reflects on them, and they’ll want to ensure that the content you provide meets their standards. Don’t look at this an obstacle – if they’re looking for particular type of footage it’ll be a great opportunity for you to hone your skills and expand your video portfolio.
What Stock Footage Sells?
Stock footage material can run the gamut, from iconic landmarks to generic shots of the natural world. When you’re considering what kind of videos stock footage companies are going to want – and which will sell best for you – take some time to consider what may be in demand and what unique or unusual video presentations you can create. And without a doubt, capturing people engaged in contemporary outdoor activities is always in demand, due to the changing nature of fashions and recreational activities.
If your area is blessed with unique natural settings, take advantage of them. After all, remember that the people who buy stock footage are looking for video clips of places they can’t shoot themselves. Keeping this in mind, take the time to shoot the assets around you in unique and different ways. For example, footage of hikers walking down a trail is good. Footage of hikers walking down a trail taken from above, or at very low angles, will give you even more options. Your potential clients may want the odd angle, or realize they can edit together your footage to create a more compelling presentation.
Another example – imagine you’re shooting footage of an outdoor café. Don’t just settle for the long shot. Get in close to capture the details of the table or some of the interesting architectural details in the vicinity. The more interesting shots you’ve got, the more your footage will stand out.
And don’t forget sports. If you have access to non-descript sporting events, like a golf match, club soccer, tennis, and so forth, you may have a good seller to a video maker who needs establishing shots.
How do I Send Footage to Stock Footage Companies?
Once you’ve made contact with a willing company, you’ll need to work within their parameters to send them footage. Most stock footage companies request a certain number of clips at a time since it’s easier for them to review and post the footage, plus associate search keywords and more, with a group of videos, rather than simply a few at a time.
Most companies will use some type of FTP (file transfer protocol) software or a website designed to handle multiple uploads. Be sure to familiarize yourself with their method once you sign on, so that you can avoid potential hassles later. It’s all part of being professional at what you do!
What’s My Earning Potential?
Most stock footage companies will pay you a percentage of the cost of the video when they sell it. Different companies sell video clips for different amounts – anywhere from a few dollars to several hundred, so your earnings can vary quite a bit depending on the percentage and the selling price. One other factor to consider – some companies pay more if the content producer works exclusively with them. In other words, if you promise not to sell your footage to anyone else, you may get a higher cut of the proceeds of the sale.
But here’s the real beauty of stock footage sales. It’s not a one-time sale. Stock companies sell the same footage to multiple customers and give them the rights to use it as many times as they like. If you’ve got a sharp eye you may have noticed the same clip used in different commercials or TV programs – that’s the power of stock footage at work. And if you’ve created a popular or compelling piece of footage, you may end up making a steady income from it as it is purchased numerous times from different clients.
Consider Stock Footage Sales
If you’re willing to put time in on the front end to create a collection of compelling video clips, selling stock footage could become a valuable part of your video production business. There are no guarantees since you’ll need to shoot the footage first and then wait for sales. But if you’re willing to invest the time and come up compelling and, original footage, it may be the boost your business needs.
– Video Caddy