How to Make Money with Stock Video: A Beginner’s Guide

  • Time to read: 9 min.

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for any purchases that you make through these links. This does not affect the price you pay for any of these products nor our reviews of those products. Also, I’m not a financial advisor and this should not be taken as financial advice.

Stock footage refers to any kind of video or film clip that can be licensed for use by other filmmakers. The term was coined back in the 1940s when clips from old Hollywood movies were sold as “stock.” Today, there are many ways to make money with stock video-from selling content on your own website to uploading videos directly to companies like Shutterstock and Pond5.

In this article we will cover how you can start making money by shooting and selling stock video footage! It includes beginner’s tips as well as information about the legal aspects of this business.

What is Stock Video?

If you’ve ever watched TV or movies/documentaries or seen video advertisements, you’ve seen stock video. Stock footage is a piece of video content, often shorter than one minute, that can be used to add more depth and authenticity to video productions when producers don’t have the time or money to take those shots themselves. Also called b-roll, these video clips are meant to be added seamlessly to a video production so that it adds to the story and context of the video.

A good video that explains what b-roll footage is.

Let me give you an example of stock video and when/why it could be used. Let’s say that you are shooting a documentary about the Amazon rain forest in Brazil. You’ve filmed most of the shots already but want to add some context to the film by showing fires taking place in the Amazon.

Instead of waiting for a fire to break out in the Amazon so that you can shoot film of it, you can buy the rights to use someone else’s “stock video” of fire raging in the Amazon. Then you can include that in your documentary.

It used to be that finding this stock video was difficult. Now, however, you can sell stock video and make money on the side doing it!

How Much Can You Make Selling Stock Footage?

make money with stock video
Photo by KoolShooters on

A great question, and one that’s not easily answered. While stock videos are a part of the content industry like music or photo editing, there is no governing body regulating how much stock video repositories can charge buyers for content. So what you make off selling your footage will depend on who wants to buy it, the rights they want for the footage, and how many quality clips you have for sale that people want to buy.

For example, video footage of someone riding a bike down an empty street in New York City might be of interest by a lot of different video producers since New York City is a well known place. However, the same style footage taken in my hometown probably wouldn’t make you any money since last I checked, there weren’t too many directors looking to use my town in their videos.

But as with any service-based business out there (such as starting your own transcription business), quality really counts – people want originality when they’re paying money so you’ll need to prove yourself before you start earning big bucks.

In addition, different video clips can sell for different prices. For example, one video clip I sold made me $2.58 while a different video I sold made me $28. On the other hand, I’ve seen people that have sold clips for over $200!

When it comes to making money with stock video footage, it’s all about shooting lots of quality video that people want to buy and use. If you only upload 10 clips, you might not get a lot of (if any) sales. However, if you upload 1,000 clips, you’re more likely to find potential buyers because you’ll have a wider selection of shots they can choose from.

What Types of Stock Footage Sell Best?

man holding clapper board
Photo by Martin Lopez on

There are so many different types of stock footage! It can be difficult to answer this question because there are too many categories. You could shoot lifestyle shots, aerials, or landscapes for example. There’s also a lot that goes into deciding what you would like to film in the first place- consider your skills and interests before making any decisions about creating new content.

The most important thing is considering what type of work will interest you as well as showcasing your own creativity.

The question of what a photographer should shoot depends on the individual. What is worth photographing for one person might be meaningless to someone else, and vice versa. There are many different categories that photography can fall under such as lifestyle shots or landscapes but no matter how broad these seem there will always be something interesting in each category depending on where you find yourself at any given moment.

The best way to figure out which kind of shooting would interest me most was by asking myself “what do I enjoy”? Do I like taking pictures with people who look happy or sad? Or maybe it’s more about making my own stories come alive through capturing moments of seemingly mundane things.

You do need to understand, though, that some categories are really saturated. For examples, videos of birds, trees in the wind, or the sunset/sunrise are a dime a dozen on video footage sites. You can still post these videos for sale. You’ll just have more competition.

How Do You Shoot Stock Videos?

make money with stock video
Photo by Donald Tong on

You need a couple of things before you start shooting stock video. The two most important things are:

A camera with a good video quality. The better the videos come out on your camera, the more appealing they will be to buyers when you’re selling them.

An understanding of what makes shots interesting and dynamic. You don’t want everything to look like it’s been shot in one take from a tripod in front of someone sitting at their desk or reading on their couch.

The best way to start shooting stock video is with your phone. You can also use a handheld camera, or even just turn on the video feature on your computer or iPad to start shooting right away. For example, this link has a video I shot I took one day while I was walking through a neighborhood in Pirenopolis, Brazil. And guess what? It sold!

Another popular way to start shooting stock video is with a drone. You don’t even need an expensive one. I started shooting stock video on a DJI Spark and used it to sell my first clips.

Once you have a good video camera, it’s time to focus on technique. There are a couple of tips to remember:

Don’t shoot static video

Since stock video footage is usually less than a minute, adding movement to your shots can make them feel more dynamic. To best add movement to your video shots, keep your shots as steady and crisp as possible by using proper camera techniques and stabilizers. When shooting handheld footage with one hand, hold the lens close enough so that it’s covered fully by your palm – then stabilize yourself against an object such as a tree trunk or car door before pressing record on your phone. This will help stabilize your movements and minimize your shaky camera movements.

Stay away from Instagram filters

One of the issues that beginners in the stock video footage business have to deal with early on is doing color grading. The most important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t color grade your stock video footage like you do you Instagram posts. Forget trying to come up with some popular filter of the day.

When you do color grading with stock video, use it to enhance the footage, not distract from it. You don’t want to overpower your stock video footage with too many filters because this will take away its power and authenticity.

Filters should be used mainly as subtle enhancement tools rather than drastic changes in appearance.

Remember that when people buy your stock video, they want to be able to use it for their own projects. That means that if your clip is color graded too extreme, they won’t be able to use it. However, if it’s only color graded at a basic level, the buyer can more easily manipulate it how they want it.

Shoot in 4K or 1080P

While 4K is all the rage right now in stock video, there are still plenty of buyers that purchase 1080p video. If you can shoot 4K, then by all means use that. However, if you can only shoot in 1080p, that’s fine since it’s still considered the standard.

Find buyers for stock video

Most buyers looking for stock video footage have a couple of websites to buy from. The most popular ones include Shutterstock, Pond5, and Adobe.

There are six levels of commission for Shutterstock contributors. The highest level is 40% and the lowest level is 15%. As you progress, your commissions will increase as well! Adobe has a slightly more complicated pay structure, the details of which you can find here.

Pond5 is slightly different than both AdobeStock and Shutterstock. They offer as much as 60% commission on exclusive content from their contributors and 40% commissions on non-exclusive ones.

Now, on the one hand it’s great to have multiple platforms to upload to; however, it creates a problem. Each platform has different content and upload requirements meaning that it can take you an incredible amount of time to upload your clips. And if you want to make money, any time spent uploading to the different platforms is time that could be spent shooting more quality footage.

Luckily, there’s a solution to this problem.


BlackBox is an automated stock video clip management platform that allows you to upload your stock videos in one place, then automatically distribute them to multiple platforms with just the click of a button. It’s helped thousands of artists and creatives make passive income by making it easy for anyone to upload their stock video footage to the major stock video agencies all at once.

The best part about it is that it’s free to sign up and get started. If you’ve got quality video footage on your hard drive or camera, sign up for an account and start uploading that content today so you can make money on it starting tomorrow!

Here’s a great YouTube video that talks more about it.

Wrap Up

You don’t need a degree in film to make money with stock video footage. In fact, it’s never been easier to make money from stock footage by selling it online to potential customers all over the globe. Shoot it, upload it, and make money! What’s even better is that now you can use a service like Blackbox to make this even easier.

As always, let me know below if you have any questions or comments!

FAQ – Make Money with Stock Video

How much money can you make from stock footage?

The amount of money you make from shooting and selling video footage is going to depend on the price per clip as well as how many clips you have.

What are some sites I can sell my stock footage?

Pond5, Shutterstock, and Adobe are all popular sites. To make it easier to submit to all of them, I suggest you sign up for a free Blackbox account.

Is selling stock video footage worth it?

Selling stock video footage is a great way to make money and it’s easier now than ever!

How can you get into the industry?

One of the best ways to start making money with shooting and selling video footage is to check out Jeven Dovey’s YouTube channel.

What categories of stock video footage are the most profitable?

The most profitable categories of stock footage are nature, urban cityscapes, and people.

Do you need a permit to shoot video in public?

Depends. If shooting on private property, it’s best to get permission from the owner first; otherwise you could be charged with trespassing or vandalism. However, you can shoot in public spaces without getting a permit or license.

Is stock video the same as stock photos?

No, they are different.

What’s a good camera for shooting?

The best cameras to shoot with are DSLR’s and mirrorless cameras. They take high-quality photos that translate well into video footage. However, you can get started with a high-quality phone.

How much does a DSLR cost?

A good one can cost anywhere from $500 to $2,000. Here’s a link to a good one to start out.