After years of shooting video, just last year I got into putting stock video online to try to make some money and earn a passive income. 2020 was a dumpster fire of a year for work, so it seemed like a good time to go through the Terabytes of footage I just had lying around and see if this stock footage business pans out. It turns out it does.
HOW TO START.
Obviously, you need to shoot something. I shoot video mostly so that’s what I focus on. I do a lot of travel films, so I have videos from all over the world, including a ton of Drone footage. What you shoot is up to you, but for me it was already footage I shot so the only work I had to do was comb through it and upload it to a stock service. If you are looking to shoot something, it would be wise to see what is selling on stock sites (which is as easy as putting in a search term and organizing it by “popular”) or you can just go off your gut and see what is in the news that day and focus on that.
HOW TO PREPARE YOUR FOOTAGE
For me I made a dedicated drive that I would put all my stock footage on. Then I organised it at the folder level to make it easier to batch. For instance I would do most of it by city, so make a folder for New York, Rome, San Francisco and so on.
Next I would open Premiere (or your editing software of choice) and bring in that cities footage. I throw it all in one timeline and get to chopping it down into managable shots. This is where the real work comes in and there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Length of shots. Most stock places have length requirements. For the one I use it must be longer than 5 seconds, and less then 1 minute. Usually I aim for shots that are somewhere between 10 and 20 seconds long.
- Quality of shots. Most stock places will reject footage that is not perfect. That means no jerky movements, no out of focus or poorly lit shots. They have to be clean, smooth and beautiful.
- Subjects of footage. Obviously this will ultimately determine if your footage attracts a buyer. Try to be dynamic with your footage, interesting angles, or of a location or with people that are unique. Remember if you are shooting a location or people you will have to have release forms to submit the footage legally. No way around that.
Once I’ve got a series of clips, I will go through and do a color correct on them. Most stock places will tell you to make them look beautiful, vibrant and stand out. No one wants flat images to work with it would seem, they all want some sort of treatment on them. So this can go beyond color correct, and be more of a color grade. Give your footage a feeling and it will do better online.
HOW TO UPLOAD YOUR FOOTAGE
First, export all your clips independently. You can do this manually, or, you can get help from a plugin like EZ Clip or something similar. For me I batch everything and let it all export overnight into folders with the city names. This makes it easy to keep track of what I’ve uploaded already and what needs to go up. With stock, its a numbers game; the more pieces you put on line, the more potential you have at making money. So organization is key.
Once everything is exported I batch name everything with the city. I’m not sure this helps the bots find it, but cant hurt. At this point you can upload to a stock service like Shutterstock or Getty Images. I however take a shortcut and use BlackBox.
WHAT IS BLACKBOX
BlackBox, simply put, is an aggrigate that puts your stock on multiple stites for you. So instead of uploading to Getty, Shutterstock, Adobe and so on, you throw it on BlackBox and they put it on those other sites. They take a percentage of the amount if your stock gets sold, but to me it’s worth it to save me the time of uploading it 5 times to 5 different sites.
Another cool feature about BlackBox is that they have a community set up that can help you with any step of selling your stock footage. For instance they have people that will edit down your videos, color grade it, even upload and tag it for you. The way it works is that you hire these people through the site, they do the work, and IF the footage sells those that helped gets a percentage. You set the amount before the work is agreed upon. I personally have never used this feature but I think it’s pretty cool.
TAGGING AND NAMING YOUR FOOTAGE
On BlackBox you can batch process your clips which makes it easy if you upload a series of similar footage. This is why I group my shots by city, because the tags will all be similar. One thing I do do is make a unique title for each clip. BlackBox recommends this as it does help place your footage in front of more people. Once they are all tagged and named, you submit your footage and sit back. BlackBox will review it, make sure it’s up to snuff, and then place it online for you.
HOW MUCH DO YOU MAKE?
Well, I’m not going to say exactly but I will say it is definitely worth the effort. Considering everything I have is already shot, and was shot for some other purpose, the amount of work to go through footage and export and upload is not much, and making a passive income no matter how small is a no brainer. Instead of spending an hour on TikTok Ill go through a city and upload and be done for the day, and that is a good feeling.
Anyway, I hope this helps anyone looking to do something with all that footage on their drives, it’s a great way to make a little extra money without really doing much work at all. If you want to see the kind of footage that I’m putting online hop over to www.nycdroner.com and take a peek.