“Listen to your heart and do what brings you joy. For me that happens to be shooting stock. The joy and excitement of the process fuel my portfolio growth to the point where I don’t need to worry about slow times.”Konstantin Sutyagin

As we burn through those weekday blues, it’s easy to dream of another adventure. For those of us with a passion for film and video, the idea of successfully translating our “hobby” into a full time job seems too good to be true. That’s something other people do—people who don’t have a family, or who are independently wealthy and don’t need an income, right? Well, we’re happy to tell you that you couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, most successful full-time stock videographers are everyday folks who simply wanted the freedom to do what they love and found a way to make it work. So whether your dream is to travel more, to spend more time with family, to see the world through the eye of your camera lens, or simply to be your own boss, what are you waiting for?

To ease the transition, we sat down with a few of our most successful contributors to find out how they make stock footage into a successful enterprise. Here are their top tips and tricks.

 

Tip #1: Don’t be afraid to take the plunge.

From contributor Jake Sorensen.

Like most people, shooting stock started out as a side hobby. After several years, I began to realize that I was making a decent amount of money each month selling stock footage. Finally, five years in, life intervened and forced me to make a choice. We were expecting our second child, and I was forced to look at my business and decide what direction I wanted to take it. Up until that point, I had been focused on producing feature length films and tv commercials, and while I loved it, the stress and work involved in funding and producing films was taking a toll. It was then that I made the decision to jump into stock footage full-time. It wasn’t an easy decision, but I had a vision of where I wanted to be and the freedoms it would allow my family.

I began producing content like crazy—filming, keywording, and submitting content into the night. That first year I increased our stock footage income by 69%. The following year I increased it by an additional 102% over the previous year. Year after year I have been able to significantly grow my income and find more work-life balance. Stock footage is not a get rich quick scheme, and it’s not easy money, but now my family has complete freedom. We are able to go anywhere or do anything without worrying about days off work. This is the vision that I saw three years ago and wanted to achieve–our family living comfortably from stock footage income and the ability to work wherever I am.

Purchase this video from Jake Sorensen

 

Tip #2: Don’t rush.

From contributor Stef Hoffer.

The most important thing to do when trying to make stock your full time business is to do what you like and what you’re interested in. Try to build a niche for yourself there. Patience is important too—clips don’t start selling overnight and you need a large and preferably broad portfolio to make it worthwhile. Whatever you do, don’t rush into things. Be sensible and make an honest analysis of your current financial situation, possible obligations, and responsibilities.

 

Tip #3: Walk the wire.

From contributor Roberto Fumagalli from Dualstock.

DS: Balancing production time with planning, research, and preparing clips for sale (editing, clipping, keywording, etc.) can be a tight balance. We split our time evenly 50/50 between production in field and out—possibly with a bit more time spent in post-production. So maybe actually 40/60 then.

And while we dedicate a little time to researching, we definitely focus more on planning. After eight years we feel confident enough to leave many things to improvisation. Be careful, though, if you’re new to stock and filming–improvisation takes skill and experience.

 

Tip #4: Find your workflow.

From contributor Jake Sorensen.

There are several ways to go about creating a stock footage business. One is to plan specific shoots, hire models, rent props and locations, etc. It is a much more business like model. Overall I think your clips from these shoots probably make a lot more money than some of the stuff I shoot—the difference is that the company is also spending a ton of money to create these shoots. My business model has always been to just shoot what we are doing as a family at the moment. In my opinion, I think that both models end up about the same when it comes to actual income once expenses are taken into account.
Purchase this video from Jake Sorensen

 

Tip #5: Look forward and keep calm.

From contributor Stef Hoffer.

VideoBlocks: How do you stay aware of the stock industry at large?

Stock media is a rapidly changing industry with new developments every week, if not every day. To keep up on the field at large, I read blogs written by various stock agencies, subscribe to several Facebook groups, and talk to people working in the industry (both contributors and those working for agencies).

And when sales are slow—As simple as it sounds—, try to stay calm and don’t panic. Continue your work and keep creating content. Constantly analyze your footage and see if there is still demand for it, and seek out ways to improve your portfolio.

 

Tip #6: Do what you love.

From contributor Roberto Fumagalli from Dualstock.

Being 101% freelance filmmakers, we love the freedom we enjoy. We do what we want, when we want, where we want, how we want. How can you beat that?

 

Tip #7: Never stop learning.

From contributor Roberto Fumagalli from Dualstock.

To work in stock media, you have to be willing to constantly grow. Learn the little tricks about keywording and what agencies deserved more of our time and attention. As always, you learn from your mistakes. We knew a lot about the value of pre- and post- production before getting started, but the business side of things is critical and something that we’ve had to pick up along the way.

What do you say—are you ready to take the leap? Here at VideoBlocks, we’re always looking for new talent as our Marketplace reaches new heights in the industry. We’re proud to say we’re the only stock video site to give 100% of our Marketplace sales to our contributors —because when the community wins, we win. It’s as simple as that. What are you waiting for?

 

Start Selling