How Much Money Can I Make Selling Stock Footage?

By Clippn

With more people shooting stock footage than ever, everyone wants to know: how much money can I make by selling stock footage? 

There are so many factors that go into how much income a given clip, or collection of clips, will earn that we won’t know an exact number until the footage has been out there for a while. Ask any of the stock footage distributors and they’ll tell you the same thing: we just don’t know how much money you’ll make by selling stock footage.   

While there’s no foolproof way to predict how much you can make off of the stock footage you have on your hard drive—you only get paid after a clip sells, after all—that doesn’t mean you’re powerless. This is what Clippn is here to help you with—we give you a system to take control.

Selling Stock Footage with Clippn by Your Side

We’ve broken down the questions “how to sell stock footage” and “how much money can I make selling stock footage?” and turned them into a numbers game. “The Clippn Way” (Quantity, Quality, and Variety) lets you focus on shooting what you love instead of worrying about how much money you may, or may not, make from a particular clip or shoot. 

Here are some of the factors that can improve your odds of creating some best-selling stock footage:

  • Quantity: The more clips you shoot, the more you’ll sell.
  • Quality: While there are certain best practices for shooting stock, beauty is ultimately in the eye of the beholder (the buyer).
  • Variety: If you like shooting heli-skiing videos, that’s great! Finding a niche you excel in can be an excellent way to make a name for yourself. But if that’s all you have in your library, it might limit the amount of profit you can make.
  • Title, Description, and Tags: These features will determine if your clips get found, so the quality needs to be high: it’s a job for a pro.
  • Resolution: Most sites charge more for 4K stock footage than they do for HD. And with 4K footage in growing demand, the higher resolution you can shoot in, the better the odds are that you’ll be able to monetize that footage.
  • Releases: If you have footage that needs property or talent releases, get them.
  • Editorial/Commercial: Having a release form often determines if the footage you’ve captured will be used in an editorial or commercial context. 
  • Niche: When you’re prepping for a shoot, ask yourself: how much footage of what you’re shooting is already out there? How will your clips stand out from the rest?
  • Site: The distributors have different prices for different types of footage, and they usually have dedicated sales and marketing teams trying to get your clips sold.
  • Number of Sites: The more sites your footage is on, the more chances you have to sell. This is exactly why Clippn distributes to multiple sites on your behalf.
  • Subscriptions & Deals: Many sites selling stock footage also offer subscriptions and deals to their customers which can impact price.
  • Demand: It all comes down to what that editor or producer—whoever is doing the search and making the purchase—thinks fits their project and price point best.

Clippn is On Your Side

Clippn is on the same side of the table as you, the contributor. We are dealing with the same realities of the stock footage market as you are. In fact, much of the language in our Contributor Agreement is pass-through from the kinds of contracts you’d sign with the distributors themselves since they’re the ones doing the selling.

Along those lines, Clippn’s whole premise is that distributors are the experts in pricing and selling stock footage clips. It doesn’t do anyone any good to have the best collection in the world if no one can find it, which is why we only work with the sites we know can drive buyers to your clips.

However, it’s important to know that all these distributors are ultimately battling each other for market share. They’re trying different business models, learning from what works and what doesn’t, and borrowing ideas from each other that prove successful. So, while there are similarities between them, there are also key differences, including in pricing.

Selling stock footage is an unpredictable game, and there are some things beyond your control. For example, we once had a clip on a site listed for $1,000. It ultimately sold for $2.50. Why the discrepancy? Because the buyer had a deal with the distributor. But we’ve also had clips sell for $3,000 and more. This is why you have to play the numbers and average them out.

It’s nearly  impossible to predict how much money you can make selling your footage, which is why we recommend breaking it down to an “average return per clip.” Given that metric, we’ve seen people earn an average of $5 per clip per year and as high as $20 per clip per year. Some earn more, and some earn less. You don’t know until you go out and shoot.

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