The Ultimate Guide To Getting Your Start In Stock Video – Part 1 Misconceptions

In 2006, I joined as an exclusive contributor to iStock and entered the world of creating stock video  footage. My journey over the last seven years has had several twists and turns. It is my hope that, by following this guide, you can learn from me and make your journey shorter than mine, while attaining profitability in a much more quick amount of time.

When people find out that I shoot stock footage, often times they comment about how “easy” and “freeing” it must be. Other content creators want to know how to get their start and make easy money. Before we get into the nitty-gritty of stock footage, it is important to dispel three myths around stock footage.

“It’s Easy Money”

Stock footage predates the internet, so it isn’t anything new. The increasing speed of the internet, however, does make accessing stock footage easier, and there are more places to sell your footage every day. So, on the one hand, it is easier today to get your content online and selling than when I first began in 2006. But, on the other hand, the ease of submission, and the massive libraries that have sprung up over the last 7 years actually make it harder than ever.

stock video guide easy money

The people who got in at the start and created large libraries are well ahead of the curve. They will continue to generate more income due to the size of their library. That doesn’t mean that it is impossible for you to get involved; it just means that you have an uphill battle. It is going to take time and effort to get noticed. This endeavor is not one for someone who is looking for easy money.

“Get Rich Quick”

If you are thinking that stock footage will be your key to getting rich quick, then you are also sorely mistaken. Stock footage is not a quick path to riches. Not only will it take time to shoot, edit, and deliver your content, but it is going to take time to get noticed, and time for sales to start to build to a place where they occur regularly and sustainably.

“It Will Provide Instant Income”

The last misconception that I hear a lot is that stock footage will provide instant income. The thinking is: “As soon as the footage is up online, people will start flocking to it, downloading the content, and providing a revenue stream.”

Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Depending on the content you shoot, and when it is submitted, it could be 2–4 months before people start regularly buying your footage. And that is after it has been reviewed and accepted by the stock footage house, which could add another month to the equation. So, if you are wanting to sell Christmas footage during the holiday season, you had better be thinking and planning ahead by shooting your content in June.

Stock Footage Guide Part 1 Get Rich
Still from Ryan’s catalogue.

The longer the content is online, the more chances you have to get noticed, and for your content to bubble to the top when someone does a search.

The path of Stock Footage is not one that will lead to easy money. It will not get you rich quickly, nor will it provide you with instant income. If you are looking for those things, then you had better look somewhere else. If, however, you are looking for something that will deliver regular income, will generate money while you sleep, and you are willing to put in the hard work and stay the course over the long haul, then what I have to share in the following posts will put you on the path of success in stock footage.

DISCLAIMER: I am sharing with you directly from my own experience, and what has worked for me. I cannot promise or guarantee any results. Use my advice at your own risk.

Until Next Time, Get Out There And Shoot…

The Ultimate Guide To Getting Your Start In Stock Video
Part 1 Misconceptions
Part 2 Exclusive or Non-Exclusive
Part 3 Who Should You Sell To?
Part 4 How To Drive Sales of Your Footage
Part 5 What Content Should I Be Shooting
Part 6 5 Crucial Steps For A Successful Stock Shoot
Part 7 Maximizing Your Post Workflow
Part 8 How To Effectively Deliver Your Stock Footage

Ryan E. Walters, Cinematographer


Join the conversation

7 Responses to “The Ultimate Guide To Getting Your Start In Stock Video – Part 1 Misconceptions”

  1. Raymond Pettit on June 30th, 2014 4:07 am

    This blog covers a lot information about Stock video.

  2. Joe Prete on September 14th, 2014 7:12 pm

    Hi Ryan,

    Great and generous stuff. How do you handle talent and locations? How much do talent get paid on average? Do you get releases from everybody/location?

    Thank you!

  3. Kittil Ursin on March 18th, 2015 3:45 pm

    Hello i wounder about when filming. Is a cannon 600d good enough camera to use?

  4. Fred Pleasant on May 15th, 2016 10:10 am

    Link to the following posts?

  5. Rachel Kenton on May 16th, 2016 12:17 pm
    Rachel Mahrle

    Hi Fred,

    You can find them all here: Enjoy!

    – Rachel, Z-Team

  6. Fabiano on September 21st, 2016 10:52 am

    Hi Ryan! I just read all The Ultimate Guide To Getting Your Start In Stock Video, and I found it amazing. Well written and very informative. Thanks a lot and success!

  7. Freelance Video Collective on November 19th, 2016 11:25 am

    Stock footage sites need to support creators. We have written an article about the top 10 paid stock video websites which provide reasonably priced stock footage and healthy earnings for creators.

About the Author

Born in 1980 in Seattle, Washington, Ryan has had a love and passion for the visual arts since a young child when his grandmother, an avid photographer, took him along on photo expeditions. As he grew up, his parents furthered that passion by enrolling him in various art programs and lessons. While he enjoyed painting and drawing, something was always missing - the ability to capture motion. Once introduced to the art of cinematography in high school he never looked back.Ryan E. Walters, Cinematographer Since that time, Ryan has developed this passion and turned it into his career. As an award-winning cinematographer his work has allowed him the opportunity to travel worldwide in the pursuit of telling stories that are visually compelling. Ryan's distinct experience includes feature films, documentaries, commercials, and shooting for Comcast, TLC, Oxygen, and the Discovery Channel. Not only does Ryan seek to deliver cinematic images for his clients, but his commitment, organization, and professionalism means he constantly goes the extra mile to ensure that the results he delivers exceed his clients expectations.


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