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Strange guys you can find on the internet

I founded this website in September 2016. Until that moment, I was receiving help requests from other contributors only through my profiles in the Agencies:

since it is easy to contact another producer through them.

The problem of answering emails when you have a project that involves hundreds of visitors every day, is that the world outside your room is different from what you expect.

Probably this is the reason why people are surprised about the fake news problem. We don't understand why someone shares content without even reading the text or writes comments like a modern Charles Manson.

We all have friends, so we are surrounded by people we chose, and it's strange even for me to receive some email and understanding that some of my readers are like Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber.

I have an account on eBay. Once a user bought by mistake a product that I had for sale. After understanding what happened, I contacted him, and I told him:

It is not problem, please cancel your purchase, and we're done.

First answer:

I don't know how to do that.

And I said:

I'm sure you've heard of a thing called “Google”. Go there and write something like “how to cancel a purchase on eBay”, it is not difficult.

Second answer:

No, I've never done it, give my money back.

I can’t give your money back, because eBay makes me pay fees, and since it was your mistake, it is not fair.

From that moment on, it started a dialogue that gave me the confirmation that in the world there are billions of regular users of the internet, but 90% of them belong to the category of those who:

  1. check their Facebook feed every day
  2. send a stupid gif at Christmas
  3. book their summertime holiday hotel

Zoolander style man

In my opinion most of the digital natives are not modern Einsteins who are masters of technology. Most of them spend their days:

  • chatting on social networks
  • listening to music with advertising on Spotify
  • playing online games
  • posting photos with Zoolander style poses on Snapchat

But if you ask them to make something easy, but useful, like unzipping a file, they don't know what to do.

I'm sorry if someone takes offence about what I'm saying. Let's say I live in a globalized world every time I open my browser, but in the physical world I live in Italy. That is a strange Country, and probably elsewhere is different.

To make money you have to run

When you run an online business, either:

  • producing stock images and stock footage
  • creating a start up

Unfortunately, your competitors are not the Zoolander style poses guys. Your competitors are people who are hungry, because they want to rule the world.

It is like when you are a kid, and you play a sport. I was a basketball player when I was a teenager. My team used to win most of the games, but one day, after the regular season, we went to the Playoffs. Our opponents were the winners of the National League the previous year.

Do you want to know the final score?

122 for them 19 for us. But what makes think, it is not the score of that game. It is knowing that none of the 15-year-old players of that National League winning team were never selected for playing in the Italian major league when they grew up. They joined just local teams who played in front of 30 people.

I can tell you for sure what happened, because I'm 40 years old now, and 10 years ago I wanted to know if some of those boys who won that game became a professional.

So, that story began with me thinking I was a good player, but one day me and my team lost a game by more than 100 points. Nobody in the winning team ever played in the Italian major league, so I suppose that all that players together again 10 years after, if they would have played against a professional Italian team they would have lost by more than 100 points. Try to think what could happen against an NBA team.

You want to be a microstock producer, and this story tells you who your competitors are. Unfortunately, I'm not talking about photographers and video makers who live in your town. I'm talking about the whole world.

Do you want my suggestion now?

Start to run, because it's the only way to survive this world today.

Ok guys, first sorry for my English. I'm good when I talk about how to price the stock footage on Pond5, but I'm not a great storyteller. Second the title of the episode is:

  • Why you're not selling photos online anymore.

The answer, even if I know that that is not a question, is just one:

  • competition

I bet we all started producing stock images and stock footage thinking something like:

Wow, I will tour the world and be paid by doing what I love to do.

And for many years I did that exactly, but now it's not that easy. But I'm here to help you with that.


Anyway, the real reason why I told you that story was that I wanted to quote a couple of films:

You should say now:

What's next? American Pie?

Anyway, I don't know if you're a Dumb and Dumber guy or if you're a Nouvelle Vague guy.

In this period, I work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, so probably I don't really know who I am and it's even more difficult to understand who you are.

One of the movies I prefer is:

a 1960s movie by French director Jean Luc Goddard.

Sometimes when I buy home movies on eBay for my website footageforpro.com I find footage that reminds me of situations in that movie, or those of the movies directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, like Red Desert, another great movie.

Well, by going from Dumb and Dumber to Red Desert it seems like my next stop will be a mental institution. So, it's better to start giving you the answers you need to make more money with your stock footage and stock images.

Copacabana footage

The first question comes from a colleague: Alex Rotenberg of https://brutallyhonestmicrostock.com/, a blog who helps people make money with stock images. He also wrote a book that I'm reading, and I suggest you do it, because you can find a lot of information to earn more money with your collection.

I would really appreciate a quick review of some of my stock footage that I have uploaded (and has never sold):

By the way, check out www.addictivestock.com. It seems like an interesting new agency based in Spain and they're taking on new contributors. I believe they accept footage but may require exclusivity which sucks.

Dear Alex, in my opinion you can sell the Copacabana footage easily, even if fireworks footage usually doesn't, because of competition. In your case the place gives your content "something more". That footage was shot a couple of months ago, that's why Alex didn't sell it yet. Stock footage takes more time than stock images to have the first sale.

About the 2 Milan clips. I'm not sure that shooting with the snow can give you more sales. A few years ago, I lived in Rome and one day it snowed; that is rare in that city. I never sold the footage I shot that day, probably because stock footage buyers search for more neutral content.

The best period of the year to shoot is spring, because in that season people wear clothes that can fit editing projects set even in other parts of the year. I wrote a post about this:


Talking about Milan. I shot it in 2013 in 36 hours. I was there for other reasons.

Screenshot of stock footage sales on Pond5

I made about $1000 with the stock footage I made, but at that time competition was less, and in 36 hours I run very fast. Once again, click the link and watch the video, if you want to understand how fast you have to run to make money today by shooting a city:

I want to give you an important suggestion:

  • don't ever think to make money with a single stock footage.

When you visit a city, you have to create more than 100 videos a day to be sure you will earn something. Don't check your sales report every day thinking that you will become rich because you shot that place in that moment.

Check only your sales reports and don't care abou:

  • views
  • add to cart and other data.

Who needs a new agency?

Thank you also for linking the Spanish agency website, but in my opinion, it's not worth to sell stock footage outside Pond5, Shutterstock and Storyblocks, because sales don't pay for the time you spend for keywording. I don't know how they think to find some exclusive contributor in 2018. They are crazy if they think they can do it by starting a project in 2018. I'm sorry to say it, but I think they don't know what the microstock industry is. Anyway, good luck guys!

How to price your stock footage

I would like to ask you a question about the prices of the clips: if you upload the same footage on Pond5 and Shutterstock, and the Full HD version on Shutterstock costs 79$, is it correct to set the same price on Pond5?

No, because, unfortunately, prices on Pond5 are lower, since giving the producers the possibility to set them up makes prices cheaper.

On Pond5, I recommend you starting:

  1. from 29 dollars for real time stock footage
  2. 39 dollars for time-lapses

and then rise the price of 10 dollars for each sale up to 49 dollars and 69 dollars. This is what I do, and it works.

Do you know how many royalties cashed my best-selling stock footage on Pond5?

More than 3,000 dollars, and now I sell it at 69 dollars, as it is a time-lapse.

You know that on Videoblocks/Storyblocks prices are:

  • 49 dollars for Full HD
  • 199 dollars for 4k

It is rare that a buyer compares the prices among different agencies. You have to consider that the buyers of stock footage are professionals who don't want to waste their time. They see what they need and buy it, by selecting the agency and choosing the best user experience. This is the reason why the agencies have different prices and they do not fight on prices like phone companies do.

Hundreds of downloads on Fotolia

A stock images contributor sent me a photo:

Film reel

This is my absolute best seller after two years of contribution. A photo that is the opposite of the classic stock image: black and white, even a little bit dirty. I don't know if I was just lucky, but it sold in every agency where I uploaded it.

Fotolia is definitely at the top with hundreds of downloads.

My other best sellers usually are similar and very different from the classical stock image you can find online. In your opinion: is it profitable to produce content different from the clichés of microstock?

Luck has nothing to do with the earnings in microstock. You have to get rid of this misunderstanding in order to work properly. You need luck to win the lottery.

In the microstock industry you need:

  • to study
  • to work hard
  • to be able to create quality content

Second thing, I have a question for you:

What is the classical stock image you are talking about?

I suppose you're talking about images created spending hours of Photoshop. Or, I don't know:

  • the pretty girl talking on a smartphone.
  • The happy family cooking.
  • Boyfriend and girlfriend walking on the beach.

In my opinion, the world of microstock subjects today is made by niches, each of which has its own different rules of creation.

With stock footage you can try to make money with the kind of subjects I've just told you. You ask your friend to spend a few hours with you and you shoot her in different settings:

  • talking on a smartphone
  • taking a picture
  • running at the park

In one day you can create dozens of shots. You already have the camera; maybe your friend works for a beer and you both are happy.

You will make money if you work this way

If you want to be a professional producer of stock images, today you have to understand with what kind of subjects you can make money.

One day your subject will be your cat, one day the children, one day an indoor time-lapse.

After 3 months check the statistics.

  1. Why the didn’t the cat sell, while the apple going rotten did instead?
  2. It's because of the market or because your shot was bad?
  3. Is because you did a bad keywording or because the time-lapse was flickering?
  4. That image sold because you have been a photographer for 30 years and you know how to work with lights and similar stock images for sale are rubbish?

Then you can check on dropstock.io if that subject is profitable.

After this you will understand what kind of subjects can make you earn a lot of money, and you can start producing more and more of those.

Otherwise, if you have another job, and you like to take pictures like millions of people in the world, you can go out on the street and shoot whatever you find. But you won't make money, you will just have a lot of fun.

Talking about the reasons for the success of your photo. In my opinion, there's an idea behind the creation of that image, and talking about the stock images producer who goes out on the street and improvises and doesn't make money, having a good idea it is something appreciated by the market.

Then I like the kind of grungy style you gave to your photo, with the black blurred mask on the corners.

The digital age has led to perfect images:

  • No grain
  • perfect focus.

There is a great request of diversity in the market in this moment. If you understand that, you can make money.

I believe, however, that the real reason for the success of your best-selling photo is the fact that you were able to express a concept. Guys, sometimes you have to focus on creating a concept, but I'm sure most of you only think about subjects.

What codec to use to export videos

I discovered your blog one month ago and I want to ask you an important question about Videoblocks. They rejected all the stock footage that I uploaded, while the same videos on other agencies were accepted!

I believe this is due to the codec, because the format is .mov while the codec is set on animation. I use Adobe After Effects for all the videos. Can you recommend me the right codec to use for all the sites?

Easy and quick answer for me:

  1. Photo Jpeg 90% compression
  2. Apple Pro Res 422, if you are a MAC user.

When to use editorial license to shoot cities

If I shoot a monument and in front of it there are recognizable people walking, is it necessary to say to Shutterstock, Pond5, and Videoblocks that I sell that footage for editorial use only?

Yes, you have to use the editorial use only license, even if people are recognizable only by zooming and freezing the video.

On Pond5, you have to write “editorial use only” in the curator notes of the footage.

On Shutterstock, unfortunately, you also have to edit the description, according to the guidelines of the agency, and you have to put a check mark on a box called editorial.

Screenshot of Videoblocks sales

On Videoblocks, instead you don't have to do anything, because the buyer has to understand if the content is editorial or not.

Use Uber strategy

Now I give an answer to a friend that I met thanks to my Italian blog. This person is an illustrator and he started selling content in microstock. He wrote me an email about the latest episode of the podcast, where I talked about the earnings that I got by shooting a hotel room:

I wonder if you asked for permission? I bet you did not. Don't you find it risky? I have not watched your footage, but I think that the room is recognizable.

If you choose the editorial license, in my case you're pretty safe. I said pretty safe, because when you talk about copyright you can have problems with every subject:

  • objects, because for sure a designer created them
  • pens
  • bottles
  • Ikea furniture

Agencies can reject even stock images and stock footage of pets, because they are recognizable, and they have an owner who may claim the rights for using their image. And if you are the owner, you must upload documents that certifies that you are.

Believe me:

  • I have 12,000 clips on Pond5.

At least half of them can give me copyright problems. Use Uber and AirBnB strategies in this case. Start selling outside the rules, and correct if someone sues you, because in the meanwhile for sure you will become rich. At least that's what I wish you.

Creating microstock with a Samsung Galaxy

In your opinion, is it possible to make money with stock footage created with a smartphone, like a Samsung Galaxy S6 that shoots videos in 4K, with an f 1.9 lens?

Let me start from the aperture. That f 1.9 is not the same f 1.9 of reflex cameras.

Yes, you can sell content created with the Samsung Galaxy S6 on agencies. Many listeners do this, even if I will never shoot with a smartphone, at least until technology won't give me the chance to work with the same depth of field I can achieve with a reflex. Even if you can sell the stock footage, the problem is that you will sell less than you can do if you buy a cheap reflex camera.

It's easy: buy a Canon Eos 800d that you can find on Amazon for 500 dollars, and you will make a lot more money.

Why with stock footage you can make more money

I am a beginner. I tried to send my stock images to Shutterstock, that accepted 32 photos out of 57 that I sent, so I don't think it is a great acceptance rate.

I'm also starting to create stock footage, even if I don't understand why this would give me higher earnings compared to the photos. A greater earning share? Bigger number of sales? Both?

Let me tell you. You said you're a beginner and I can understand it by listening to what you said.

  1.  32 out of 57, believe me is not a bad rate in 2018.
  2. I will now give you a short answer to the other part of your question, because the concept you need to understand is absolutely simple: if you start to create footage you can earn more money, because there is less competition and the sale prices are 10 to 20 times higher than those of stock images.

A tool that helps you understanding what subjects to shoot

I started a few years ago to produce stock images. I made the keywording with the idea that it was not important. However, today I know that the keywording is even more important than the content. I discovered Picworkflow and I think I've found a tool that can help me to sell more. What do you think?

I think that the Picworkflow’s tool about understanding the rating of keywords was fantastic, until it was updated.

Developers have some problem today, because when you release a free tool, if there's a problem the easiest thing to do will be to stop updating your product.

You can find an alternative tool on dropstock.io. It is a free tool, but it is part of a project that has a business model, so I hope that it will last longer. On dropstock.io, you can enter a keyword and it will tell you if the subjects related to that keyword are going to sell or not, according to sales and to the content already published. Well I explain this better in my course.

I constantly update my course and, believe me, it's very hard to do it. This is the reason why I have to stop here today. I don't know if the podcast lasted less than usual, but I know that you will understand me, especially those who have not bought my course.

In this episode you've learned:

  • Who your competitors are
  • Why Copacana footage can sell while Milan footage doesn't as well
  • Why new agencies don't have a chance to survive
  • How to price stock footage on Pond5
  • Why a photo can sell hundreds of times on Fotolia
  • A new strategy to produce content that sells
  • What codec to use to export stock footage
  • When to use editorial license to shoot cities
  • If a Samsung Galaxy can create stock footage and stock images
  • What tool to use to understand if a subject can sell

It took me more than a day to create this content for you. Why don't you help me and share this page on Social Networks? You will help your friends who love photography to make money.