How to Sell Stock Videos to Make Money

In this tutorial, we will share our entire stock video workflow to create stock footage to earn passive income as efficiently as possible.

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In this tutorial, we will share our entire stock video workflow to create stock footage to earn a passive income. We have been in the stock photography since 2015. At first, we produced stock photos for the most part. But, after we bought a camera that can record 4K clips, we ventured into stock video territory.

We cannot recommend enough to anyone to get into stock videos. Stock videos have been consistent breadwinners for us since 2020. Many stock photo websites lowered prices and percentage payouts to contributors. This has especially affected stock photos. Yet, our stock video sales have remained strong despite this turmoil. If you are already taking stock photos, adding stock videos to your portfolio should be relatively easy.

Camera for Stock Videos

We recommend a full-frame camera capable of recording 4K clips. If your current camera captures only HD clips, it may be time to upgrade your gear. Also, it should be a full-frame camera, as its sensor will produce sharper videos with less noise. But, if not, a cropped sensor camera will work fine too for the meantime. Take a look at our post on strategies we use to save money on buying camera gear.

We still use a full-frame DSLR camera. This camera captures 4K clips in an 8-bit format, which is more than enough for us. You may also want to invest in some good lenses with a low and fixed f-stop rating. We use the so-called holy trinity lenses in our work. These are 14-24mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses. We also bought a dedicated lens for night photography, which is the 35mm f/1.4 lens.

Camera Settings for Stock Videos

There are several camera settings that you need to be aware of when recording stock videos.

1. Manual Mode

First, we shoot all our stock videos in manual mode, as opposed to shutter or aperture priority modes. If you do not turn on the manual mode, you will have strange-looking shifts in exposure in your stock videos.

2. Frame Rate per Second (FPS)

One setting you will have to decide on is the frame rate. Modern cameras allow you to choose frame rates such as 24, 30, 60 or more. Some stock videographers swear by 30 frames per second. Then, there is the 24 frames per second camp. At the end of the day, it is a personal choice.

We made the decision to use 24 frames per second early on for real time footage. Of course, there is also slow motion footage. We record such clips in 120 frames per second in HD format since this is what our DSLR camera is capable of. 

3. Shutter Speed for Stock Footage

Whatever the frames per second you choose, you must set the shutter speed to double the frame rate. For instance, if you choose 24 frames per second, your shutter speed should be 1/50 of a second. In principle, it should be 1/48 of a second, but not all cameras allow you this setting.

4. White Balance

Next, we shoot videos in manual white balance mode. If you set this mode to automatic, you will have weird color shifts from yellow to blue. This may not look very good.

5. Video Format Recording

If you can, choose the RAW format for your video. If RAW is not available, choose Log. If log is not available, choose flat format. These formats determine how your camera converts color information into a digital video file. Raw format is the best since no processing gets done. Most modern high-end mirrorless cameras come along with RAW format. Log format is popular too.

As for us, we have neither Raw nor Log, unfortunately. For this reason, we use the flat profile. It is not the best, but this does deter us from recording high-quality footage that sells.

Stabilization Gear for Stock Video

When you are just starting with stock videos, your first priority is to record more or less stable clips.

1. Handheld Stock Videos

Recording stock footage handheld works just fine. We recorded many of our best-selling stock videos handheld with no problem. Moreover, we use natural props to stabilize our videos, such as fences, rocks and even sticks. While the unprocessed footage may look shaky, you can stabilize it later in the video-editing software.

2. Tripod

If you are already taking stock photos, you may own a tripod. If not, we recommend getting one. We bought a carbon fiber tripod by Manfrotto and it served us very well. Moreover, we also own a lightweight travel tripod by Bonfoto that we bought on a budget from Amazon. Because we travel often, a lightweight tripod is a must in our camera bag for both stock videos and photos. Read our review of this travel tripod for more info.

3. Gimbal

We also own a gimbal. A gimbal lets you produce smooth, professionally-looking stock footage. In our experience, there is no easier way to increase your stock video sales than to use a gimbal. We bought our DJI Ronin gimbal back in 2019 and recorded some of our best-selling stock clips with it.

Stock Video Post-Processing

When it comes to post-processing stock videos, we are all about being efficient.

Naming Convention for Stock Videos

After we shoot our stock footage, we upload files onto a computer. Then, we rename each file using numbers and descriptive names. It is very important to have numbers, as it will be easy to track and later resubmit your stock videos, if needed. You can name your video as, for instance. This will allow you to track at least 99,999 video files.

Post-Processing in Adobe After Effects

Next, we import and edit each video in Adobe After Effects. After Effects is much more versatile compared to Premier Pro. For this reason, we recommend starting with After Effects from the get-go. After Effects comes with a 7-day free trial if you’d like to give it a try.

We typically create an After Effects project for a batch of 10 stock clips. This makes it relatively efficient to edit stock videos that may require similar edits.

In After Effects, we almost always remove audio. 99% of time it is not relevant for a buyer. But, audio could be relevant for protests or other occasions where sound and voice is important.

Next, we focus on correcting the white balance, increasing contrast and saturation. But, we strive to preserve the natural look. Also, if a video is shaky, we use After Effect’s native Warp Stabilizer. We also sharpen videos with Unsharp mask.

After all edits are complete, we export our videos using the ProRes 422 Standard video codec. We do not recommend using other lossy formats. Alternatively, you can use higher bit-rate ProRes codecs to preserve even more colors. But, this will come at the expense of larger files that you will have to store somewhere.

Keywords, Titles, Descriptions for Stock Videos

After that, we create keywords, titles and descriptions for each stock video. We wrote a tutorial on how to create keywords to maximize your sales. While the tutorial focuses on stock photos, the same logic applies to stock footage.

Proper keywords and descriptions are key success factors in stock photography. Do not skip on this part and learn how to keyword your stock videos from the very beginning.

Tracking Spreadsheet for Stock Videos

As for tracking files, we maintain a dedicated spreadsheet for this purpose. We use Google Sheets and you can download this spreadsheet for your own use. It may look like this:

Stock video tracking spreadsheet to track and record stock video files for multiple stock video websites

The most important columns are file name, title, description and keywords. We also have separate columns for each stock content website. There, we mark each file as accepted or rejected.

Where to Sell Stock Videos?

While you can try many platforms that exist out there, we do not recommend this. Instead, we suggest that you focus on a sure thing first.

As of now, we submit stock footage only to Adobe Stock, Pond5 and Shutterstock. At the beginning, we licensed our content on two more platforms. But, we removed everything due to very low returns on our effort there. Try these 3 platforms and see how you feel about the entire process. Later, you can always add other platforms and see if they work for you.

As for uploading stock videos, we use the free Filezilla ftp program.

Supplying Metadata to Stock Video Websites

The next thing is to supply various metadata to each stock video website. The worst you can do is to manually copy and paste keywords and other data for each video. We use the upload CSV metadata function for this purpose. If you’d like to learn more, we wrote a tutorial on how to use the upload CSV metadata function. Moreover, this function integrates very well with the tracking spreadsheet we mentioned earlier.

Resubmitting Stock Videos

After we submit each stock video, we wait for review. Then, we mark each video as accepted or rejected in our tracking spreadsheet. If a rejected video is worth it, we may re-edit and resubmit it for review again, if possible.

Stock videos are often rejected. In our experience, rejection rates are not as bad as for stock photos. But still, they happen. For this reason, we recommend keeping track of and resubmitting your stock footage often.

Stock Video Data Backup

We keep all our After Effects project files, source and edited stock video files in separate folders. This makes it easy to find and resubmit stock clips later.

USB Drives Backup

We store all our stock footage on a separate USB HDD drive for immediate access. Seagate and Western Digital hard disk drives have been our go-to storage devices for years. They are relatively inexpensive and have worked great for us so far.

Online Data Backup

While we have not experienced a complete failure of our USB drives, this can happen. Because our income depends on access to our content, we made an early decision to use a secondary cloud data backup option.

We wrote a review where we compared popular data backup service providers, such as iDrive, Carbonite, Arq Premium and Backblaze. After a long deliberation, we chose iDrive for its versatile features, strong security and phone backup options.

iDrive cloud data backup service with discount coupon code for first time subscribers

In case you decide to choose iDrive, they are offering a 90% discount for new subscribers. Your will pay $7.95/year for a 5TB backup plan for your first year. But, if you need more than 5TB of data backup storage, iDrive offers a 25% discount for the first year on plans up to 50TB.

Concluding Remarks

We used to look at stock videos as complimentary to our stock photos sales. But this is no longer true. Stock footage demonstrated a very rapid growth in sales for us for the past 2 years. At the same time, stock photo sales declined or stayed flat depending on the stock photo website. For this reason, we are shifting our focus to producing more stock footage.

If you have any comments or suggestions, let us know in the comments section. We are curious to hear what fellow stock photographers are doing to improve their stock video workflow.


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