If you’re a freelance filmmaker or videographer, you’re likely on the lookout for more ways to maximize your earnings. If you have a full-time gig, you’d surely appreciate another way to earn money on the side. And if you’re a student or a hobbyist, you probably wouldn’t pass up a chance to pocket a little extra cash. “Passive” and “income” are two words most hardworking humans can get behind.
Stock content provides the opportunity for skilled photographers and filmmakers—as well as designers, illustrators, and animators—to profit from their work on their own time and with minimal effort. Best of all, contributing stock visuals doesn’t have to mean taking an entirely new approach to shooting and editing (although there are a few key things you’ll want to keep in mind). Chances are, you can begin contributing to a library today with content you already have on hand and with the projects you’re already working on; and with time and consistency, you can build a sizable passive income. We teamed up with Adobe Stock to take a look at how stock can help you generate passive income, while you get on with the rest of your life.
Start with what you’ve got
Stock is a pretty (small-d) democratic business—if you’re 18 or over, do good work, and have the rights to it, Adobe is happy to have you. Longtime stock contributors will tell you that they’ve honed their craft over time as they’ve grown familiar with the elements and trends that are particularly popular. But you don’t necessarily need experience shooting for stock in order to get started; in fact, it’s highly likely that you already have b-roll gathering dust that could easily be licensed online. You can also begin the practice of asking commercial clients whether you can repurpose spare footage for stock, in the event that the rights aren’t already yours.
Pay particular attention to content that hasn’t been edited in any kind of obvious way. For example, sometimes a significant amount of blank space provides an ideal canvas for text, or an awkwardly long shot gives an editor just the right amount of breathing room. If you can de-train your eye for perfectly trimmed visuals, you’ll be better able to deliver content that other creatives can play around with.
Stock lets you do you
Cinematographer and director Rick Ray boasts a prolific and creative career, thanks in large part to stock content. His vast portfolio of stock footage features some of the world’s most dramatic landscapes—postcards from his nomadic lifestyle as a documentary filmmaker. Ray says the right content can out-earn even feature-length projects: “If you break down the imagery that you’ve shot and you look at those individual shots as having their own resale value, that becomes the world of stock footage,” he told the Adobe Blog earlier this year.
Rick’s exotic landscapes make for stunning content, but there’s an urgent need for familiar visuals, too. Take a look at the scenes and people in your immediate surroundings and find opportunities to turn them into fresh photos or video. And as Ray notes, stock allows you to build an additional revenue stream simply by using more of the work you’re already doing. To generate a larger passive income, it takes time and a consistent approach to building out your collection. But whether you’re a documentary filmmaker, a food photographer, a social video producer, or something else entirely, your work naturally presents opportunities for you to produce captivating, saleable content. Then, if you finance your next trip with glorious, sun-drenched vacation photos, all the better.
Access is everything
Dumping your work into the wrong library could compromise your ability to earn legitimate money, so exposure is key to choosing the right licensing platform. What’s more, licensing fees and royalties vary tremendously, which could mean the difference between earning pennies and reaping in real rewards, depending on how many people the content reaches.
Adobe offers a competitive 33% artist royalty for images and 35% for video, and it’s integrated into Adobe Creative Cloud applications—and even Microsoft PowerPoint—to up the chances that it will cross the paths of creatives. (You can also upload directly from Adobe software like Premiere CC, Lightroom CC, and Bridge CC, making it easier to get your work out into the world.) Everything you upload to Adobe is automatically made available on the site Fotolia as well.
Get those releases signed
Don’t forget: You’ll need to protect your models, too. Trustworthy stock providers will demand that every single person who appears in your photos or video, or who modeled for illustrations or vector art, has signed a release form. You’re likely familiar with this process already, but if you don’t have a form ready to go, Adobe has one on hand that you can use via their Contributor Portal. (If one-and-done is what you’re going for, it also works with Adobe Sign.) As an artist, you know intellectual property is important, and crossing t’s and dotting i’s now saves hassles in the future. It sounds like a pain, but really only takes a minute if you are prepared! Ultimately, spending a little time up front saves you a lot of time and hassle down the line. And when it comes down to it, isn’t keeping things easy what your stock content portfolio is all about?
You’re in charge
When you’re shopping around for the best home for your content, make sure you pay close attention to the rights you’ll retain after becoming a stock contributor. In some cases, as with Adobe Stock, it’ll still be your content, just promoted by the licensor. In others, you’ll be asked to provide the exclusive rights to your work, meaning you can only sell it with that one company. Review the terms of your agreement carefully to ensure that you’re entering into the best collaboration.
When it comes down to it, isn’t keeping things easy what your stock content portfolio is all about? Take a look back at the work you’ve already produced, stick to the stuff you know best, explore new opportunities over time, and find a great place to consistently promote and license it. And then move along. You’ve got work to do.
If you are interested, get started here.