Davide Romanini is one of the students of my course. He works on the web not only as a microstock producer, but also with his ability to use videos to create new opportunities.
In his career he has:
- launched an App
- invented a Youtube format he was able to monetise
- created his own microstock agency
That's why reading his story is useful for all the video makers who want to become entrepreneurs in a world that is becoming icreasingly digital day by day.
Not just a videomaker, but an entrepreneur: Davide Romanini
What's your core business?
I own an internet service company. We started out many years ago by making websites. We were among the first in Italy doing this. Today we are mainly focused on:
- web marketing
- video-web marketing.
Videos are an old medium that has become the most powerful tool on the web to comunicate, as now there is a perfect environment to reach billions of people, thanks to the widespread availability of smartphones.
I also have an online newspaper in Italian. It focused on:
We have geared the website on videos: we interview professionals who own businesses related to tourism.
The activity as a producer of stock footage
When did you start uploading on agencies?
I started in 2009. A friend of mine told me about Dreamstime.
I uploaded 1000 stock images. Then I stopped to dedicate myself to other projects. If I had continued, I probbaly would have reached a good income, but I would have missed the chance to create other projects.
Which agencies give you the best results?
Today I mostly sell on:
but the biggest sales I get are still from Dreamstime.
For a limited period of time they offered the contributor the possibility to upload editorial photos of important events.
Not having dedicated myself to produce stock content full-time, I actually don't have the income of a professional producer. However, thanks to what I earn from agencies, I can afford:
- a new camera
- new lens
as stock footage and stock images generate a passive income.
In beginning I produced without a strategy, so the subjects of my portfolio are very miscellaneous. There are some strange best sellers in my collection, like a Harley Davidson logo photo sold with editorial only license that periodically still sells a lot (probably when there is some event on the Harleys and the media is looking for images to talk about it).
The equipment to produce photos and videos
What equipment do you use to take videos and photos?
I produce all my stock footage and images with my good old Canon 40D and Canon 5D MarkII.
In my opinion, in the microstock business the equipment was important 5-6 years ago. Now even the entry level cameras can create content good enough to be sold online.
Are there any online tools you use to improve the performance of your collection?
Talking about tools I have to thank you as in your course you have suggested:
- a sun tracker (discover this tool)
- keyword software (discover this tool)
These helped me to produce better content.
Launching your own microstock agency
You tried to create your own microstock agency. Why didn't it work?
The project failed but, failing is very important for your growth as an entrepreneur. When I launch something I can safely risk to lose a little of my time, but when the risk becomes economic, you must understand when it's time to give up.
The idea I had was fine, because it did not copy the existing stock agencies. It was a microstock focused on editorial content: images, even shot with mobile phones, along with articles written by journalists and translations.
Packages could be created containing, for example, the photos of an event taken by a photographer, the description written by a journalist and the translation made by someone else.
There is still nothing like it online. Maybe because the idea wasn't good.
The problems that have arisen
Going online cost too much. The financial side of a project is something that a person who is used to shooting videos and photos has a hard time taking into account.
We didn't foresee the crash of the servers. We had them in-house and in a few months they broke several times. We should have invested in hardware what we invested in advertising.
Too bad, because we already had thousands of photographers, hundreds of thousands of photos and a good team of people devoted to the selection of the images people sent.
The next stage would have been to create a meritocratic positioning. In addition to being approved, the photos also received a score that was read by our algorithm that ranked the content when customers made a search, also giving the possibility to new photos to overtake older ones.
This creation (and the failure) of the agency pushed me away from microstock for a few years.
Only recently I uploaded content again, as I observed that even after a 4 year absence, a passive income from the stock images I had in my portfolio remained. This time I decided to dedicate myself to stock footage and signed up to Pond5.
How to monetise videos on YouTube
On the player above the headline is one of the episodes of your travel format in Italian that airs on Youtube. How do you make money with it?
Behind that format there is a lot of passion. In every episode we travel Italy searching for the most beautiful places of the world.
Sometimes I don't even feel I'm working. Even having the camera around my neck doesn't annoy me, as I would have it even if I were there on vacation.
I cannot devote all the time I'd like to this project but I like it so much, so I had to find a way to make money out of it.
First of all I tried to remove the costs, by offering the creation of videos to the hotels where the host and I stayed in exchange for accommodation.
From the second episode every trip was profitable, because it cost me little and, in addition to YouTube partnership, in the long run I can make additional money with the stock footage I produce during these trips.
Further more: with so many professional involved in the tourism business leads to being able to offer them other services, such as:
- web marketing
- website creation
- building new apps
How to use the videos shot during the show as stock footage
Since you have filmed many Italian cities, even small ones, do you think that that kind of content can sell well on microstock?
This is an interesting question that can help newbies. Stock content sells when people search for a keyword, not when they search for the name of the city.
Let me explain: a photo sells more for the search "medieval village" than for the search "Cortona". Keep this in mind when you describe a photo, especially when you write the title.
Making business with videos on the internet
By reading forum threads about video making, my idea is that those traditional video makers who really know how to create videos can't understand how online business works so, in a world that is more digital every day, today they are like dinosaurs one second before the asteroid fell from the sky
You started making videos years ago but you soonunderstood how important the web is.
What do you think about old school video makers who can't understand how their business is changing?
I know on the internet only a certain type of videos work, but it doesn't mean that I like to make them.
The interviews I publish for my online newspaper have a good success, perhaps because we were the first to do something similar in Italy in the niche of tourism. Or maybe because we selected the right host.
But what finally counts is getting paid for what we do. We created a format that is easy to shoot and edit. So we have been good entrepreneurs while optimising the project.
Is it what I like to do as a video maker?
It doesn't matter.
It is more difficult to get paid for emotional videos as many potential customers think they can make them by themselves. That's the point where old school video makers get crazy about.
But, even if it's difficult to think when you watch some YouTube video with millions of views, quality and constancy always pay off if you run a business.
A group of my friends founded Traipler, a project focused on the production of emotional videos and they're still there years after launching.
Proud to be an entrepreneur
In addition to selling stock images and footage, you have launched an app, created a Youtube format that you monetise, created a portal about tourism, and opened your own microstock agency.
I bet you don't spend your time resting on the couch and complaining that nobody gives you a job.
What do you recommend to those who like video making and want to become entrepreneurs but don't know how to start?
Don't search for a job: attract it.
I can't stand those who complain all day long. If something doesn't work for you, do something else.
As a single, it's easier for me to be an entrepreneur as I can afford to take a little risk. Often I can do what intrigues me and avoid what bores me, even if it would make me more money.
Being an entrepreneur is the toughest job in the world:
- There is no thirteenth
- When you're sick nobody pays you
- All our works are "occasional"
I'm not a good salesman, but I can create funnels on the web that drive people to buy something, mine or my customers'. In this way I am not looking for work, but the work comes to me. And I like it.
Questions written by Daniele Carrer, answers by Davide Romanini