Video shooters who want to make money in the stock footage market usually ask me one of two questions: “What should I shoot?” and “What sells?”
It is understandable why they’re asking (I provide my answer below). On most jobs, videographers get a day rate, and it’s usually clear how much money they’ll make and when they’ll get paid. But it’s not as straightforward in stock footage where you only get paid when someone buys your clip. The percentage of clips that sell only averages around 15%, which means 85% of clips might never sell! Shooting for stock footage requires a leap of faith, and that’s never an easy motivator when it requires your time, talent, and equipment.
At the same time, the stock footage market is $1 billion per year by some estimates, and there is a real opportunity to make some extra money and work towards financial freedom. So the real question is: how can you make shooting for stock footage sustainable?
The Clippn Way
You need a formula that will help you focus on the long-term, which is where stock footage shooters find success. This way, you don’t have to calculate how much you’ll make from a given shoot or worry if it’s even worth it to walk out the door with your camera or drone.
First, let’s think like a buyer for a minute. They are usually a producer or editor looking to fill a hole in their timeline between two other shots. Maybe there’s music underneath and possibly a voiceover track. So besides the subject (e.g., Red Rock Canyon, Tower Bridge, AcroYoga at sunset, “winning,” etc.), there are many factors that go into “what works.” And it’s the buyer who determines that. So definitely use common sense when you shoot and follow some basic best practices, which I’ll outline below. But throw out the idea that a beautiful shoot means a better shot, or that a highly produced or directed shot is more valuable in the market or even that shooting one thing over another guarantees a sale.
We call our system for success, “The Clippn Way.” It is a numbers game, and you can maximize your earning potential by managing three things: Quantity, Quality, and Variety of clips.
- The more you shoot, the more you sell.
- Tell a story with wides, mediums, and tights.
- Think long-term when you’re building your library and set manageable weekly goals (e.g., shoot one hour or story per week).
- Resolution: The demand for 4K is growing, and there’s a premium for these clips.
- Movement: this is video, so have movement in the frame or move the camera.
- Composition: how you frame it should be visually appealing.
- Audio: record natural sound, stay away from music, and don’t talk while you’re shooting.
- Duration: count to 15 Mississippi in your head - you will never regret it because your clips will always be long enough.
- Explore different categories on the Clippn dashboard for ideas.
- Find an under-represented niche.
- Try and get releases: released footage sells at a premium.
The Clippn dashboard makes it easy to follow this formula, which has been working for over five years.
So how do I answer the question of what to shoot and what sells? All types of footage sell, so you should shoot everything. But most of all, have fun. That’s what Clippn is all about.