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Do you have your hard discs full of stock images and stock footage that you could make an income from, but you don't have the time and desire to describe them?

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If you:

  1. talk to an old-school photographer
  2. you explain to him what stock images are
  3. ask him to create photos to sell online

I'm sure this person will put his soul and body trying to create the best pictures he could. He will certainly produce perfect shots, but... let me tell you something:

he won't sell anything on microstocks.

Now, one digital native boy who often, is not a computer genius but just a guy who spends most of his time chatting on Whatsapp or making comments on Snapchat, could say that the old school photographer does not sell because he doesn't understand the digital world. Well, in my opinion, that digital native guy knows about photography as much as Adam Sandler knows about style; because, the reason for the inability to generate royalties of the glorious photographer, is simply the wrong choice of content to be produced.

As many people in the world, I love to travel. I think I spent my best professional moments walking around European capitals with my:

  • reflex
  • tripod.

Even though I have been a proud professional editor working for TV stations, traveling to create images and footage is the best way to understand the world, and to stay away from those bosses who get up angry every morning or from those colleagues who do everything to ruin your days.

You earn less for producing stock footage and stock images today as compared to 10 years ago. In 2011, I created in Paris a couple time-lapses and I earned thousands of dollars on Pond5 and Shutterstock.

Screenshot of my best seller stock footage on Pond5.com

The good news is that cities are still a good subject today. The bad news is that there's another kind of travel-related subject that is not profitable at all. Shooting:

  1. mountains
  2. seas
  3. lakes

is pleasant. You stay out in the nature, you breathe clean air and you won't find a cop that asks you if you have permission to shoot; for example, it happened to me in London at Liverpool Street train station or in Rome in Saint Peter square.

Tourist on the beach of Stintino in Sardinia

Talking about nature, as you know I'm Italian and I had the great pleasure to take shots of Sardinia's crystal Sea during my summer holidays. I did it in the golden years of stock footages and stock images; so I created a lot of videos, set in white sand beaches full of people. It was in 2009, and sales were good at that time. As good as they need to be to repay me a 7 days holiday spent to relax and, only few hours, to shoot.

Today, things are different, and sales of beaches and waves crashing are close to zero. Producing that kind of stock footage is not convenient, because the money you can make with it is not worth a holiday interruption. For the same reasons, mountains are not what I will suggest you shoot today. First because buyers don't want to buy stock images and stock footage set there. I can assure you that; because I live a couple of hours drive far from the Dolomites, that someone should say are the most beautiful mountains in the world, as they are made of pink stones great for postcards in souvenirs shop. I love to spend my time there.

I first shot them as a photographer 20 years ago, when I was in my twenties; then, about 10 years later I started creating time-lapses. Let's say: until 2010, they sold what I needed to say I was not wasting my time creating content of those beautiful places. Now sales are flat, so my suggestion is:

take a vacation in the Dolomites, or take a vacation in the mountain you prefer, but don't expect to pay for a hotel using your sales on microstocks.

Not anymore, even if you are a genius of stock images and stock footage. I know this is bad news for many of you, but the truth sometimes can hurt. Talking about shooting nature, whether

  • a landscape
  • a wild animal

let me tell you a general rule for selling in microstocks:

Don’t ever think you're a very great photographer, someone that in sport is called a "Top Player", so you think you can find buyers regardless of what the market wants.

Now you may wonder why I started talking about the old school photographers and I ended up talking about Sardinia's beaches or the three peaks of Lavaredo:

What does an old school photographer have to do with those places?

Well, if you explain in 10 minutes to that photographer what stock images are, without talking about the market, I'm sure he will come back a month later with... let's say... 100 perfect photos with great subjects for puzzles:

  • The forest in autumn
  • A cow drinking on a pond
  • A daisy field.

Let me say it: I love that kind of photographer. I'm not fooling him, but there's another kind of stock images and stock footage producer, I love more and I want you to be like him:

  • the kind of producer who just want to make money

and stop thinking about saving the world with his own art. He can be

  • a natural
  • one those people who bought my course

but wherever he comes from, after a month of production he does not come back only with 100 photos.

He comes back with at least 500 videos. Now, let's focus on these 2 words:

  • 500
  • videos.

I used those two words because

in microstock industry, quantity can generate profit more than quality and stock footage can generate profit more than stock images.

Then, talking about the professional mindset you need to have, my suggestion is to go to mountains and seas, only to spend a beautiful holiday, as I frequently do, thanks to what I earn with stock images and stock footage. If you need to produce something that sells on:

and you want to visit a place that you would also visit for tourism, go to cities:

  • a European Capital
  • a big American city.

Try to test buyers demand with the free online tool I explain in my course, because in these days Frankfurt sells a lot more than Vienna, for many reasons:

  • the European Central Bank and his Euro logo
  • the modern skyline

for example.

If you can hire an office with large windows, use five friends of yours dressed like businessmen and businesswomen and produce dozens of clips with office scenes:

  • the job interview
  • answering the phone
  • colleagues talking in front of the coffee machine
  • the meeting

Your creativity is the only limit.

I will now give you some homework. If you go to Pond5, which is the agency that guarantees the biggest earnings for stock footage producers, and you type a word in the search string, you have the option to sort the results not only by the default option, which is "Best Match" and depends on the Agency's algorithm, but by "Popular"

Screenshot of the "Popular" SERP with the query Paris on Pond5

so clips will be listed according to the sales. Try words like:

  • Paris
  • family
  • business. The clips at the first places with those keywords earned thousands of dollars.

Screenshot of the most sold stock footage with the keyword Paris on Pond5

I'm sure you will be shocked; but after watching this you will start moving from the amateur mindset to the professional mindset; which is what you need to make money.

Stock images and stock footage industry started decades ago, but it boosted thanks to the internet, which has allowed:

  • immediate delivery
  • easy search procedures
  • cheap prices.

Thanks to this, buyers and producers changed. Today, photographers and videographers like us, with 1500 Euros equipment can beat Companies. We are flexible, so we're perfect for the market. We are:

  • men and women of about 40 years
  • University students and
  • old school photographers

because it's not a matter of age, it's a matter of mindset. Professional photographers in their 50s or 60s, unfortunately struggles to adapt to changes; because their glorious past makes it difficult for them to reset, or to face a shocking sentence like:

Everything you've learned so far is worth nothing.

You have to start from scratch.

The reality can be very sad and that's why sometimes I receive emails full of offends, because for someone it sounds like I'm the one who teaches people how to work for $1 per hour. Well, it's not like that. I know wedding photography can be frustrating because of competition, or because around the corner, there's always a fake professional photographer taking pictures with a smartphone. But microstock business is different, and people working for free must not be your competitors, because

you have to shift your job to a different business.

I'm telling you how the world out there is, I am also doing it because I earn 3000 dollars per month, even if now I spend only few hours a week to produce. Uploading to microstocks is a great way to enter the digital business, because it can earn you a passive income that gives you the time to focus on other digital projects. If you start building your collection today probably the first stock image sale will happen within the first month, but it takes more for stock footage. It's frustrating, but believe me, you don't know how happy you will feel when you will receive a sales report on your smartphone while you're relaxing on a Sunday.

The only way for me to create this podcast project, along with the website and the course, was to have stock images and stock footage passive income, which gave me the money to live even while holding the stock footage production. This is what it takes to be a microstock producer. You first need to study, because there are rules to know. You also need to learn how to use some online tool that helps your sales, but after that,

if you are a good photographer and you don't sell, you won't have to blame buyers or the modern world that is cruel.

You just have to blame yourself, because there is a 20 years old boy out there, with a cheap camera who is hungry and foolish because he wants to become an entrepreneur, and he is already selling stock images and stock footage more than you are doing, because he spent his nights to achieve his goal. Sorry for being that hard but I know some of you need a Sergeant Hartman to change your life, and changing your own life is necessary today if you want to live better.

Well listeners, it's time to talk about you. By the way, you can contact me too my friend. I receive many emails every week, and unfortunately I can't respond to all of them. I want to talk about a message I received from a man called Remo. He told me his story, which is not just about producing stock images. Taking away all the personal parts, he asked me a question in line with what we've talked about in this episode. I chose his message because those persons who just discovered microstock also wonder:

Is it worth starting to produce today?

Well, an easy question that requires a clear answer and I'll explain it in one second, but first a little disclaimer: this podcast is completely scripted, because my English is not that good, as you can hear, and I need someone to proofread what I'm saying.

Dear Remo

Your activity as a stock image producer can be a great way to differentiate your monthly profits. Also, as a passive income, if you stop producing because you have something else to do, the money will keep coming in case you can create a great collection. By the way, Remo is a music teacher and produces music videos, so stock images and stock footages are excellent filler in times of lack of work.

Back to the answer: In the past two years, I focused on content creation for microstockguru.com and my other websites. I also had my second son, and so I could not move that much; but I started digitizing 8 mm films and found a niche that is giving me big sales. If you want to create stock footage from the archive you already have because of the music clips you made, actually Remo it’s not that easy, as they are made of contemporary footage not historical footage like mine. You can have some problem with licensing. I hope you know there are two types of licenses:

  • commercial use
  • editorial use only

When there is:

  • a logo
  • a recognizable person
  • a car plate

you have to select the editorial one (or you have to digitally delete faces and brands, which is not convenient because it takes too much time and doesn't give you much profit).

To select the editorial license on Pond5 you just have to write:

Editorial use only in the curator notes.

On Shutterstock, it's instead a bit more time-consuming, because you have to tick a check mark, but you also have to change the title according to the guidelines that you find on their website.

So, it depends on what kind of footage you have, because I have not yet watched your music videos, even if for three years of my life I worked for an MTV Italy show. If there are persons, you need their signatures to authorize you to use the footage they are in. By the way, I've got a suggestion:

don't think about the past.

If you want to make money, produce brand-new stock footage with models, because they are much in buyers demand, and they have very small competition. I said "models", but they must not be professional actors. Even your friends and family can be perfect for lifestyle situations:

  • father and son at home preparing dinner
  • young lovers talking in a bench at the park
  • friends drinking in a pub.

Now I've got news about the membership area of Pond5. I was part of the project for the first 24 months:

  • 1582 files of mine were selected

earning me $791 + normal sales per month: $0.50 for every selected clip.

So $791 x 24 is about $19,000 dollars. I should say: not that bad. This month the membership area is refreshing and I will go from 1582 files to 2027 files.

Every clip they’ve selected choosing from selected producers:

  • Is over 3 years old
  • Has never sold in the Marketplace
  • Is priced under $100

The bad news is that I'll be paid only when my stock footage in the membership area will be downloaded. So:

  • no fixed amount for every clip selected.

I'll keep you updated about what this means in terms of money, but I'm quite sure Pond5 will pay me less.

The sad news of the last week was that Artbeats is closing. The sad news of today sounds like I lost thousands of dollars, but I'm strong and I'll be here to teach you more about selling your photos and videos online even in the future, no matter what happens to my royalties.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, the fourth episode of selling yourphotos and videos online has come to an end. In case I haven't said it, my name is Daniele Carrer. You can find everything about me on microstockguru.com. I don't know if Guru is the right name, maybe you can call me the Godfather of microstock, as I'm Italian and the stereotype says that there's that kind of criminality here.

From the Vito Corleone of stock images and stock footage, thanks for listening to my podcast and I hope my words can make you earn a lot of money. Ciao.