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Already producing video content? Then think about about selling stock footage with Microstock agencies.
Article by Simon Sharp
If you’re involved in making videos of any kind, then you might have heard about stock footage. Places like Getty images are known for selling clips of exotic subjects and charging several hundred, or even several thousand dollars for the rights to use the footage. aerial stock footage, shots of polar bears, the kind of stuff shot by experienced wildlife photographers with somewhat obscure laws about where the footage can be used. What you may not have caught onto yet is that the little man can now get in on the stock footage industry. Appropriately enough the arena where this happens is called the ‘micro-stock’ industry and, like so many others things in life these days, it has become possible through the internet. There are now dozens of stock footage companies that accept submissions from…well pretty much anyone. With video for internet becoming ever more present, the need for low-cost footage is only going to grow.
Put simply, you shoot some footage with your camcorder/camera, you edit it on your computer using either a programme like Final Cut Pro or any of the free editing applications that are appearing. You want to keep it simple and not spend too much time editing it and once you’re happy you make your clip into a Quicktime movie and submit it to one or more of the micro-stock agency websites. All being well they approve it and every time someone downloads the clip you get a percentage of the sale price (it varies quite a bit between the various sites). once someone has brought the clip it is on a ‘royalty free’ basis. In other words they can usually make use of the clip in whatever way they wish.
In theory this all sounds reasonably simple but in practice it can take a while to set this up: You may find some sites will reject your clip or ask for you to submit several clips to them before they even allow you to start regularly submitting. You have to decide what to film and you also have to make sure your clips are properly ‘key-worded’: If you have a clip of, say, a fairground, then people need to find it by typing ‘fairground’ into a search box. Again- simple in theory but takes a little bit of practice to actually get right. And figuring out what actually sells is another art. Its best to start by simply looking at what is already selling well.
All that said, if you already do and kind video production work then selling stock footage is a very worthwhile means of generating some extra income. Every time you’re on a shoot or out and about simply remember to take some shots of anything that catches you eye and you’ll be building up a library of clips. The best part is that, once once your stock footage clips are up on the site, they stay there and can be earning you income for years to come. When I started I looked at various sites and found some of the entry requirements a bit confusing. The simplest was Pond5: most importantly you can start uploading clips as soon as you have created your account. They are fairly relaxed on submission quality so, as long as your clip is stable and clear they will most likely accept it (your clip want to be clear but it is not always the most beautiful that gets the most sales. Compared to other sites the uploading procedure for your clips is easier. Another thing I prefer about Pond5 is that you can set your own price for a clip, which means that if you feel you have something really valuable that IS worth several hundred dollars then you can charge that. This is something few other sites allow.
In the long run you want to submit to several sites to maximise your income. Sites like istockhoto offer increased commissions for exclusivity but this will never compete with having your clips distributed as widely as possible. There are programmes such as I-Syndica which allow you to submit to several sites at once. However, when you are starting out and testing the water Pond5 most definitely makes life more straightforward.
You can find out more about selling stock footage at:Pond5 Stock Footage
Simon Sharp is an experienced editor and cameraman of over 7 years. He has been producing and selling stock video for over a year.
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