Pond5 (visit Pond5 website) is the most profitable agency for most contributors who produce stock footage.

The first reason for this is the royalty share that guarantees video makers and photographers:

  • 40%, or
  • 60%, if you opt for exclusivity.

The other microstocks pay less:

These three agencies are the best choices for a contributor who wants to make money with footage, because even if some other microstocks can provide a larger share, a number multiplied by zero is zero.

In the stock footage market, the only agencies that actually sell are the three just mentioned.

If, instead of creating stock footage, you prefer to sell stock images, becoming a Pond5 contributor is not a good strategy, and I suggest that you register, for example, on Shutterstock (see my tutorial that teaches you, in 5 minutes, how to register on Shutterstock), which sells well both photos and videos.

Be careful, however, that you are not making a big mistake in not changing your strategy to start shooting videos, which is much easier to create than you can imagine, if you already know how to photograph.

How much you can earn with Pond5

It is useless for me to talk like a guru, boasting results that I do not share. In this screenshot you can see my best sellers. They are clips from 5 to 10 seconds, shot in a minute if they are real time videos or in 10 minutes if they are time lapses:

For the record, there are:

  • 4 time-lapses (including the first place)
  • 3 real-time videos

The amount reported is the total earnings. Unfortunately, today, it is difficult to understand how much my share was because, once, Pond5 paid 50%, while today it pays 40% or 60%.

An average month of earnings

As I write this last review (November 2019), I have 14 thousand clips published. From September 2017 to September 2019, I didn't upload anything, due to my commitment to other digital projects. Two months ago, I started again.

My average monthly earnings – when I uploaded consistently – were these, shown below:

The good thing about microstock is that it is a passive income (read what a passive income is).

So, at a time when I wasn't uploading content, in 2018, on Pond5 I was making around 800/1000 dollars, plus the money I received from participating in a membership.

The month when Pond5 paid more

In October 2017, just at the beginning of the period I wasn't uploading, I collected 2114.70 dollars from Pond5.

These figures prove why I say that Pond5 is the best agency for those who make videos, and why photographers are wrong if they:

  • upload stock images to Pond5
  • don't start creating videos (and upload them also to Shutterstock and Adobe Stock).

I talk about money not to brag about it, but only because it's the best way to convince those who read this page that stock footage is still profitable and a great chance for all photographers.

By the way, here are the screenshots of the receipts, as proof that I'm not cheating anyone:

Pond5 sells (a few) stock images

Pond5 doesn't only sell stock footage, but also:

  1. stock images
  2. sound effects
  3. music
  4. Adobe After Effects templates

and more.

So, every producer can upload that kind of content and sell it. In theory. In reality, this doesn't make much sense, at least for photos, because Pond5 doesn't have a large number of customers who buy them.

The following image is a great present for you, because it shows a part of the website that no longer exists: a table that stated how Pond5's customers spent their money.

Stock images were less than 5% of the total quantity of files sold by Pond5, and 2% of the income (since they cost less than other content).

Years ago, I uploaded a hundred photos of the Venice Carnival to their collection. Over the years, I have sold less than 10 of them, and received less than I used to earn from stock footage in a single day.

So, Pond5 is not good for selling stock images. However, even most of the agencies that started by selling stock images and then started to sell stock footage (except Shutterstock and Adobe Stock) actually do not sell videos.

This means that even if:

  1. Dreamstime
  2. Canstockphoto
  3. 123rf

have stock footage collections, video profits are awful on their websites.

So, in those cases, unless you use services like

the time you spend describing the individual clips is not worth the earnings they generate.

In other words:

If you want to make money, don't sell stock footage on those agencies, and don't sell stock images on Pond5.

If your aim is instead to enjoy the satisfaction of someone paying to use your content, then sell stock images and stock footage wherever you want to.

How to sign up to Pond5

If you are a video maker – or even an owner of a camera that records video in at least Full HD (though better if in 4K) – and you think that, on your next trip to some European Capital or American city, you can create some clips to understand if you can sell them as stock footage, then:

  1. go to this page of Pond5
  2. sign up.

Usually, on agencies, buyers and producers have different accounts. On Pond5, on the contrary, you can buy and sell content by registering once. To do this, use the button:

  • Sell your media

at the bottom of the page.

In the next window, click:

Pond5 page for start selling content


Then write:

  • your email
  • the username you prefer, ideally the same one you use on other agencies
  • a password of at least 8 characters

and click:

Pond5 request for contributor's information

  • NEXT

Write your:

  • first name
  • surname
  • country (where you live)
  • address
  • city
  • postal code
  • phone number
  • VAT number

It is not necessary to have a VAT number to sell stock images and stock footage, or to upload on Pond5, since not even I (who has one) have entered it.

To overcome the problem of entering the VAT number on the Pond5 site – since, if you do not write anything, you cannot move to the next window – enter a sequence of zeros, and then click the button:

  • NEXT

Now you have to say if you are:

Pond5 request for contributor's information

  • an individual creator
  • a Production Company
  • an Authorized Representative or Aggregator

Select the type of media you want to send:

Pond5 request for contributor's information

  • video
  • music
  • sound fx

and more.

Not selecting one of them doesn't mean that you will not be allowed to upload that type of content once your account is approved.


  • next

and in this last window:

Pond5 request for contributor's ID

you have to upload a digital copy of your ID, to avoid fraud.

Unfortunately, I can't do it, because I have already uploaded it for the account I normally use, and if I did so again I would risk being banned from Pond5.

After uploading the document, put a check mark to say that you have read the contract, and click:


It usually takes a couple of working days to get the result of your application, which there is no reason to think that Pond5 will not approve.

How to set up your Pond5 profile


  • signing up,
  • being approved

by Pond5 you can start selling.

There a few things to know if you want to work properly. You must set, for example, how to get paid and you must decide what to do with some of the selling programs they have.

Listed below you can find a few basic suggestions.

Pond5's Global Partner Program

Pond5 has a few sales programs for distributing producers' content outside of their website. One of these is called Global Partner Program.

If, unlike me, you have been in the business for less than 10 years, it is a bit complicated to understand.

Pond5, with the Global Partner Program, asks producers for permission to redistribute their content to partner agencies or companies.

The sales that are generated from these are paid to the producer at the same percentage rate as those generated by Pond5.com (40 or 60% depending on the exclusivity), but with the possibility for the partner (agency or company) to change the price set by the photographer or video maker. So, the money actually received is generally less.

These agreements, made between Pond5 and partners, are made, basically, for two reasons:

  1. In the eastern markets (mostly Asia) the agencies that contributors who live in the Western World use are not strong – as happens with Facebook and Google, which are replaced by national social networks and search engines.
  2. There are partnership programs stipulated with subjects other than agencies.

For example, a few years ago, Adobe Premiere gave editors the possibility to work using low resolution files from Pond5's collection, allowing them to finalize the purchase only after deciding the final editing (purchasing only the content actually used) .

The question is:

Should I join the Global Partner Program?

The answer is yes.

When, in the past, other agencies have done the same thing, in the forums there has been criticism from those who have joined because, in some cases, sales reports were of a dollar, or even less.

I explain this on my course (learn more about my course), in depth. Here, I can just say that the sales that are obtained thanks to the Global Partner Program do not lose you direct sales on Pond5. And, in addition to this, you can withdraw from the agreement at any time.

The payments

To get the money you earn, first you have to tell Pond5 the method of payment you prefer. To do so, go to


and choose between

  • Payoneer
  • Skrill
  • PayPal.

I recommend using PayPal.

Then, you must select:

  • Automatically send payment when balance reaches $25.

PayPal applies no fees to the money that Pond5 sends you. But, if your currency is different than dollars, PayPal charges you 2.5% in the conversion.

It's up to you decide between keeping the money on Pond5 or sending it to PayPal. What I can tell you is that Pond5, in the more than 10 years I’ve sold my footage there, have never delayed payments, so I think they will always pay producers.

The real problem is that, among all the payment methods, PayPal remains the least worst and, therefore, you are somehow obliged to choose it.

How to upload stock footage on Pond5

There are three ways to upload content to microstock agencies:

  • the website of the agency itself
  • an FTP software, like Filezilla
  • services like Multcloud (or Stocksubmitter, Microstock+, Everypixel DAM).

What I usually prefer is the web interface, because the upload is more stable than an FTP software, and the procedure is less complicated to set up than Multcloud, which is, however, more efficient if you send a lot of content to many agencies.

To upload content on Pond5, just connect to the homepage:

Pond5 homepage

and click at the top right:

  • Sign in

to log in with your own:

  • username
  • password

You are sent back to the homepage and, at the top right you must click on the icon of your profile and select:

Pond5 dropdown menu on the homepage


You arrive on this page:

Pond5 contributor's dashboard

where you have to click the blue button:


This window pops up:

Pond5 upload media window

Click the blue button:


Choose the files you want to upload and wait.

Attention: When the uploading is finished, you cannot immediately insert titles and keywords for your stock footage; you have to wait for these to turn to NEEDS EDITS status on the MY UPLOADS page.

4K resolution videos

If you want to make money with stock footage, today, it's better to upload videos in 4K resolution, at least, if you have hardware that allows you to easily edit and export in that resolution, which is not something you can easily do with old computers.

And then, of course, you need to have a good internet connection (or use services like Stocksubmitter, if you want to sell on multiple agencies).

Today, mp4 is generally accepted by agencies, but big production companies, which are the ones who usually buy extended licenses, will choose the .mov files if the videos they're interested in are in that format.

It's not just a matter of quality; it's a matter of handling the files within the editing software (.mov files and Apple Pro Res, even H.264, are accepted by most professional software, including Final Cut which is unstable).

How to select the editorial license on Pond5

The editorial license must be selected if content that is uploaded to microstocks contains subjects protected by copyright and privacy laws.

In a city (and not only there) it is very difficult to shoot something without shooting:

  • recognizable people
  • modern buildings
  • car plates
  • shop signs

If you want to watch a video that explains how to avoid this annoying problem, you have to buy my course. If you're not interested and you have time to read, I explain the difference between:

  • license for editorial use only
  • license for commercial use

on this page as well.

In the case of Pond5, to tell the agency that you sell your content with the editorial license, you must write in the Curator Notes (the last box on the individual content pages):

Pond5 curator notes

  • Editorial use only

You will not find this information written anywhere, but I have personally asked Pond5 and they have told me what to do.

The release

The release is a document that you have to upload if you want to sell images or footage with the commercial use license, when you portrayed:

  • logos
  • recognizable people
  • other elements protected by copyright

If you worked with a model, who, in microstock, is usually a friend who stays in front of the camera pretending to do things like:

  • talk on the phone
  • cook something
  • run at the park

you need a release signed by that person and uploaded to Pond5. In the document, they authorize you to use their image for commercial purposes.

If you want to work fast, there are a lot of apps that can help you do it.

Common problems when uploading on Pond5

Uploading on Pond5 is easy, but sometimes there are problems that new producers can't solve.

One of the most common I found (actually, I don't know why it still happens) is with the FTP software, which sometimes causes issues. Filezilla, after finishing the upload, sometimes does not delete the files in the queue and keeps uploading them.

When this happens, on the UPLOAD page, you will find the same video several times, because Filezilla, once it has finished uploading, starts over, making the producer waste his time deleting the videos.

You can solve this problem easily: Stop using the FTP software and use the web upload. It is stable and doesn't give you issues.

Apart from this, I’ll give you a general rule for a digital business. It is the basic rule for creating a profitable enterprise as a microstock producer: If there is a problem, you can access all the information you need to solve it.

If there is something that stops you, look for information on the internet. For sure, someone else has already been in your same situation, and there was someone who explained to them how to get out of it and then shared the solution.

The web is not your neighborhood. It is made up of billions of people, so almost every problem has already been solved.

On the web are the worst people in the world, but there are also people who care about your problems and don't ask you for anything in return.

The selling price for individual videos

Pond5 is the only agency that allows producers to set the sales price of images and footage. There are different strategies to set the right price. They first depend on whether you're a newbie or a successful producer.

If you're a beginner, you'd better set cheap prices, like:

  • $29 for your real time clips
  • $39 for time-lapses
  • $49 for hyper-lapses

Of course, once you set a price, you can change it at any moment. I advise that you raise it by $10 after each sale, up to $49 for real time footage, $69 for time-lapses and $79 for hyper-lapses.

The only thing you have to be careful of is that, if you don't opt for exclusivity, you will have to set a price that is not higher than that of your content for sale on other agencies (Shutterstock and Adobe Stock sell Full HD videos for $79, for example).

Content selection

Thanks for the content you submitted, but we're decreasing the number of clips of that type since we already have many similar ones in our collection.

These words are the beginning of an email with which Pond5 has refused 100% of the videos sent by one of my friends.

This video maker normally had an acceptance rate close to 100%. When things like these happen, I used to be on the producer’s side. And even more so in this case, because I knew the person and because I read the emails between him and Pond5.

The agency lacked professionalism. When you apply a legitimate editorial line, you have to distribute the updated guidelines to the contributors at least a couple of months before, just to avoid people throwing away hours of work, since producing microstock is a serious job for many people.

Then, seeing what sociopaths who participate in Facebook groups used to write, such as:

“Look at the files that I found on Shutterstock, when for me they refuse almost everything!”

I imagine that, in the email accounts of those Pond5 employees who talk with contributors, most of the messages are not as polite and clever as those written by my friend. So, I know that agencies like Pond5 do not have an easy task in discerning between different types of users that report an anomaly.

Anyway, the most important news is that Pond5 sometimes decides to raise the level of content selection and sometimes lowers it. Therefore, there is nothing surprising about answers like those received by my friend.

If you want to make money with microstock, you never have to think about reviewers’ or other contributors’ opinions. You just have to think about what to produce the next time you plan to use your camera.

Common error messages after keywording

Sometimes, after describing videos on Pond5, despite having inserted titles, keywords and all the information, videos don't change their status:

  • from “Needs Edits”
  • to “Pending Review”.

90% of the time it happens because the contributor did something wrong while filling in the information, for example:

  • inserting a title that is too long
  • not setting a price and not allowing Pond5 to do it for him

It’s happened dozens of times to me, and, after correcting those issues, files will change their status to “Pending Review” as they are sent to the reviewer.

Waiting times for reviewing content

Pond5 usually approves stock images and stock footage in a few days, though the delay can be more depending on the period.

When approving or rejecting content, Pond5 is faster with long-time contributors like me. Newbies have to wait longer.

I don't think that worrying too much about:

  • long acceptance times
  • rejections

is worthwhile.

The best way to spend time as a producer is to:

  • study the market,
  • produce.

At least, for those who want to make money.

Pond5 revisions are made by real people (not by a bot). Reviewers are usually hated by producers, but those of Pond5 are the most loved, as the acceptance rate on that agency is higher than that of others.

How long you have to wait before selling

Becoming a microstock contributor is easy and costless, as you only need:

  1. a camera (or even just a smartphone)
  2. 5 minutes to sign up for free to agencies like Pond5 and Shutterstock

So, most producers are not entrepreneurs, but only dreamers. And dreamers love questions like:

How much can I make by selling photos and videos online?

How long does it take to get the first sale?

Regarding this last question, on my course, I say you have to wait 6 months. This assumption is made so as not to give false expectations to people who start producing today. It can be a couple of weeks for stock footage, or even days for stock images, but after your first sale, you have to start working hard to generate sales every day.

The story of one my students, Domenico Fornas (read it), proves that what I say is true; he waited 6 months to get his the first sale, but after 2 years, he makes 1100 euros a month.

In general, people's time is the most precious thing in the world, so you can't waste yours to make just a few dollars per month, as you will end up doing if you don't have a strategy, regardless of how long it takes to earn your first dollar.

Sales reports

Pond5 informs producers, every day, of sales via an email, but that email is delayed by 2 or 3 days.

Pay attention. On the UPLOAD page, there are statistics showing:

  • views
  • bin adds
  • cart adds

They are not 100% reliable, as I have files that were sold which, on the UPLOAD page, still have 0 views.

Statistics are important to understand where your portfolio is going, but don’t give importance to minor data such as bin adds and cart adds. Avoid wasting your days tracking if a buyer has added your footage to his cart, because until that buyer finalizes the sale, it doesn't matter.

Extended licenses

Extended licenses, in microstock (not only on Pond5), are contracts that allow a buyer to use the content they want in large-budget projects.

If, for example, a production company wants to use the stock footage purchased on Pond5 for a global advertising campaign, then it's not enough to pay the price set by the producer.

For this reason, sales notifications like this happen:

Pond5 sales report

$79 earned for a video which I normally sold for $39. 79 dollars earned, reported by the daily Pond5 email, means that the footage was sold at two and a half times $79, since I earn 40% of the sale price and, in daily reports, Pond5 writes what you actually cash.

With only those 79 dollars, I paid for the two nights I spent at a hotel to shoot Florence. With all the other sales (also on Shutterstock and, in the past, on Storyblocks) I also repaid the time I’d worked.

One of the reasons why microstock is a great way to do business today is that it allows you to work when you have nothing to do – a situation which, unfortunately, more and more professional photographers and video makers are experiencing.

There's a big difference between spending a period when you do not have much to do:

  1. in Florence with your reflex camera
  2. on Facebook, discovering that your former work colleague from 2009 had a barbecue last weekend.

Important moments in the history of microstock

There are a lot of moments in the history of microstock when things changed completely. Those are milestones for photography enthusiasts who have made this business a second important income in their lives or, sometimes, even a full-time job.

For example, in 2006, many agencies started selling stock footage, and those photographers who first understood what was happening have increased their earnings dozens of times within a year.

Another turning point was when the agencies began to accept editorial content.

From that moment on, if someone was in New York and photographed Times Square, when they returned home they no longer had to waste their nights on the computer blurring the advertisements in order to sell those stock images online.

Years later, another revolution happened for contributors like me: Pond5 launched its membership area in 2016.

Just for accepting to join that project, I started to cash out:

  • about $800 a month
  • plus the regular royalties generated by my collection on Pond5

The microstock business gives you a passive income. I have a family, I love to live in my country and I have many digital projects today. But, if I want to, I can move to Polynesia and stop working for a very relaxed life, with the sole concern of having to check the microstock money coming into my PayPal account.

Of course, when I stopped producing stock images and stock footage to focus on other projects, my earnings remained the same for a few months, and then started lowering. But, in September 2019, two years after I stopped uploading (and just before starting again), I still got more than $1000 per month from Shutterstock (discover how much I earn on Shutterstock) and Pond5.

The membership area of Pond5

The membership area of Pond5, from 15 April 2016 to 15 February 2018, paid me a total of 14,402 dollars, just for having given 1582 of my clips to sell with a subscriptions plan.

My 1582 selected files were chosen from those in my collection with at least 2 sales.

Then, in October 2017, I was contacted with good and bad news:

  • The nice one was that they had opened the selections back up for a renewal of the membership area, selecting many more videos of mine.
  • The bad one was that they no longer paid a fixed amount every month but only a percentage of the files which actually sold.

You can see the results of this change in the screenshots that represent the payment I received in the first month of the new membership area for the sales related to my content included in it:

Pond5 PayPal report of payment

Unfortunately, in 2019, royalties coming from the membership area fell further. So, nothing good on the horizon, even if normal sales on Pond5 are still good.

Controversy between video makers

The introduction of subscriptions on Pond5, which, at the time, existed already on many agencies, such as:

  • Fotolia (which no longer exists, because it was incorporated by Adobe Stock)
  • Videoblocks (which became Storyblocks)
  • BigStockPhoto

was hell for many contributors. Subscriptions, according to them, it is still one of the reasons why so many:

  • video makers
  • photographers

find it very hard to travel the world, paying off their travels with their videos, today, while in 2009, with three days I spent in Paris, I earned what was enough to pay for a holiday of 10 days in Sardinia for two people, even if at that time:

  1. I didn't have the technical knowledge of the market that I have now
  2. I shot videos more like I was a tourist than like a stock footage contributor (as I didn't create a shooting schedule before leaving and I didn't track the sun position, like a teach in my course).

When I said on my blog (in Italian) that I would give my videos to the membership area of Pond5, other producers started writing to me. What they told me was sometimes a critique, but often something less polite, as happens on the internet.

The consideration I made to make my mind up was simple:

A single and insignificant video maker like me cannot stop the internet and the businesses created on it from changing.

If Pond5 had not moved towards subscriptions, in a market full of competition, it would have closed in a few years.

Online business is not like a Ken Loach film.

This is the global world, where your competitors are not from your city, or even from your country or continent. Especially when you have a digital product. It's a worldwide market, where there will always be someone cheaper than you, and you'll die if your strength is the price you sell at and nothing else. Period.

Pond5 and its forum

Pond5's forum seems like an important resource, especially for newbies. Actually, it doesn't help you earn more money. It's like Facebook: It makes you waste a lot of time with useless information.

From a social point of view, Pond5's forum tells you a lot of things about this business and its contributors. One of the most interesting is what the average microstock producer's ideas are. Most of your competitors started selling because they wanted to make money (just like me and you), but, actually, they have never done anything good in their life.

If you go to that forum, your first question must be:

How can I follow the advice of someone who spends half of their day checking their (scarce) sales and the other half complaining that buyers don't understand anything?

To make money on Pond5 and other agencies, the best strategy is to distance yourself from other producers by understanding buyers' needs and improving production workflow to sell better, and more, content.

If, on the other hand, you want to have a life worse than today's, take a tour of the Pond5 forum and find some new friends there. If you want to go that way, start from those threads with thousands of posts (like “about sales” and “last footage sold”).

You will find a lot of people in their fifties who still believe in dreams and sit on the couch waiting for the world to change.

Are you sure you want to be like them?

Advice for the newbies from an old producer like me

Pay attention to one thing (I talk to those who have recently discovered the microstock business). Trying to be a producer without committing, just because it's free to sign up, doesn't make any sense, because, this way, you lose time and energy and earn nothing.

I founded this website and its twin blog (in Italian) in 2015, and I met so many newbies who were:

  • thrilled the first day
  • skeptical the second one
  • frustrated the third one

and angry the rest of the time.

The role model you need to be inspired by is a student on my course called Alex Di Martino (read his story) who earned $230 in his first week as a producer. Or Domenico Fornas (read his story), who, after a couple of years, manages to bring home €1100 a month with stock footage.

Making money by selling stock footage and stock images is a matter of:

  • working method (to produce more and in less time)
  • understanding what buyers are looking for

Equipment and technique are important, but not as much as understanding how to be fast to produce more profitable content. A skilled video maker, or an old school photographer, will never be able to understand what content makes money if they first don't study.

I believe I am the right person to explain these kinds of thing for just one reason – the screenshot shown at the top of the page:

  • $3,322 earned with a time lapse shot in 10 minutes.

To do it, I wasn't lucky. I:

  • spent my days and nights studying
  • set up a strategy
  • worked hard to make it happen.

The mentality that makes money

To sell stock footage and stock images, your effort must be focused on planning a strategy, dividing yourself between:

  • learning the technique
  • understanding what subjects buyers want
  • producing

If you plan to quit your job to become a full-time microstock producer aiming to get up later in the morning and work 4 hours a week, you are going the wrong way, because such a situation can only be reached after years of:

  • hard work
  • right decisions

and, even if you are a great video maker and photographer, and you study every day and work hard, it is still not guaranteed that you will get there.

Today, we all enjoy paying cheap prices for equipment that a few years ago was available only to big budget production companies. So, we can't complain if that same change sometimes gives us problems.

The world leads us to think that there's always a magic formula to live better: Becoming an Instragram influencer, like that woman that made 100 thousand dollars for publishing one photo; being a producer like Yuri Arcurs (visit his agency's website), just because, if he did it, everyone else can do it, too.

Lies, that's what they are.

There is only one way to make good things in life: work hard every day and adapt to the changing world.

Daniele Carrer

Do you want to make more money on Pond5?

I have 4 free videos that teach you how to sell more.

At what email address can I send you the links?

Read the privacy policy.