With more than three million clips to date, there’s a lot of amazing stock footage in our Contributor Marketplace to choose from—so what does it take to stand out from the crowd, get ahead, and make a sale? We polled top-selling contributors for their creative insight and business savvy into what it takes to make it big in the world of stock video. With their help, we’ve come up five important rules for stock filmmakers in 2017. Whether you’re just starting out in stock media or a seasoned pro, these tips can help you make the most of the footage you shoot.
Rule #1: Variety Is King
From contributor Jake Sorenson
For those who are serious about getting into the stock footage industry, especially someone wanting to make a living from it: Shoot, shoot and shoot some more. The phrase “content is king” gets thrown around a lot—but in reality, to make a living selling stock footage, “variety is king.”
Much like a retirement investment plan, the more variety you have, the higher the odds that you’ll make money. A diverse portfolio also helps you through dry spells when footage that was once selling like hot cakes suddenly cools down. Never, ever look at what you are filming and think “no one is going to buy this.” Someone always will—and sometimes those clips even become best-sellers.
The point is, you don’t know what customers want. All you can do is give them as many options as you can and increase the chances that they’ll buy from your portfolio. Is it possible to make a living doing nothing but sell stock footage? Yes! But don’t expect it to be easy. Like anything good in life, it takes a lot of time and effort.
Discover more of Jake Sorenson’s portfolio in our Contributor Marketplace.
Rule #2: But Also Find Your Niche
From contributor Robert Harding
Carve a niche for yourself. With so much competition in the field, it pays to find a speciality. Whether it’s mountains, underwater footage, festivals, people, or a certain continent that you become an expert on, your aim is to become known as the go-to person for that subject matter.
Make sure your speciality is something that you really love—that way you’ll enjoy spending your time on it, you’ll be tempted to go that extra mile to set yourself apart, and your passion for your subject will be evident in your work.
Discover more of Robert Harding’s portfolio in our Contributor Marketplace.
Rule #3: Get Serious About Metadata
From contributor Dualstock
Varied and complete metadata is key to successful videos and good sales. It might sound ugly, especially for people who work with images—that is, with a form of art—but even more than a beautifully shot video, metadata is what makes your clips sell and repays your efforts.
We spend countless hours preparing appropriate and effective titles, descriptions and keywords, and arranging them for every single clip. We include locations only in our editorial clips, and we use 10 word maximum for the titles and 200 characters maximum for the descriptions. We don’t do this job in batch, and we probably spend more time keywording and tagging our videos than shooting and editing them—that’s how important metadata is!
Discover more of Dualstock’s portfolio in our Contributor Marketplace.
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Rule #4: Team Up with Others
From contributor Claudio Giovenzana
If you’re a travel videographer or photographer, you already know that your shots need to have a particular quality or unique perspective to stand out in front of clients. Sometimes it’s not a matter of inventing something new or “artistically” different—sometimes it’s a matter of having access to parts of the world that are off limits to tourists.
You can get this access by meeting people and offering them a beautiful portrait or photos in exchange for permission to get “closer” and create the footage you are looking for. In my own work, this is how I’ve gained access to protected forests, a tobacco factory, a chocolate manufacturer, natural reserves, many restaurants and villages, and even Greenpeace’s battlefields.
Along the way on your trip, you can find tourism offices, shops, locals, museums or volunteers in need of nice shots. It’s a win-win deal that allows you to go beyond the beaten paths common among tourists. So shoot video to sell, but gift beautiful photos or videos in exchange for the help offered in your process. Chances are you will have a way more interesting trip and make friends all over the world.
Discover more of Claudio Giovenzana’s portfolio in our Contributor Marketplace.
Rule #5: Keep Up with Industry Trends
Following trends in the field can be essential for planning shoots or making sure you’re highlighting the right clips at the right time. Aesthetic styles, camera technology, and hot content types are always changing. Right now drones, virtual reality and GoPro footage are at peak popularity—but who knows what’s next?
We’re always watching the horizon for the industry’s latest—and we’re committed to bringing our insights to the creative community. Every month we send important Marketplace sales data and highlights to our contributors, helping them to make the most of their portfolio and sales. And we’ve just released our Video Trends Guide featuring the five biggest trends for 2017.
Think you’ve got some shots that are on-point and on-trend? Keep shooting and make sure you upload them to our Marketplace.