How To Make Money With Your Videos and Photos

How to sell your video
You’re not a professional videographer but you’ve recorded this amazing animal encounter on video during your last trip into the wild. The video gets posted on YouTube, Facebook etc. and generates interest from the internet crowd or even become viral. Inquiries from various film production companies follow shortly after, with the prospect of incorporating your video into upcoming tv shows geared for Animal Planet or similar tv programs for worldwide distribution. Such a situation can be very exciting and secure you a decent financial reward if handled properly. But, it also can become your worst nightmare and ruin your “one time shot video” once and for all if you make the “wrong” decision. Here are a few thoughts to be considered before selling your so called intellectual property.

First things first. Most media company will tell you that they don’t have any budget (?) or their budget is already exhausted. The truth is, if there is no budget, than there can’t be any production. Producing tv shows cost money (and make money in return as well) and no one in the corporate world can afford to work for free. In short, these companies want your video, film or photo material for free, to enrich their visual content and than sell their shows to the media network. It’s a business after all and no film company can exist without selling their products.
Okay, the producer(s) might offer you to be interview (without being paid...) as part of their show, your name will get credited and you’ll have to sign an appearance release form, stating to you’re the original owner of your video, film and/or photo material. Now, this is fine if you want media exposure without being reimbursed for your time and efforts. But, you might reconsider your decision, cuz the producers will hold your name accountable if anyone claims your footage later on. This could even turn into legal consequences for you. So think twice before you simply give your copyrights away for free.
Regardless, it’s unlikely that someone tries to sue you, if the material is indeed your intellectual property. Say, you recorded the video (not your wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend etc.), you are the original copyright holder by the US copyright law, therefore you can give your material away for free, if that’s what you like to do. Please remember, most tv shows have an international distribution, including program reruns. People (not just in the film business) can be extremely nice if you got what they want, but keep in mind that gratitude (in particular in the entertainment industry) has a short half-life and your name will be forgotten sooner than you might think.
The bottom line is to act professional from the start and you will be treated as such. Don’t agree to any hasty deals but rather take time to research before you comit yourself. Start by finding price patterns for similar video material. The internet and offers infinite info sources. Simply contact an established videographer, who might be more than happy to offer advice. You can also analyze established stock footage company such as Shutterstock, Fotolia etc., and compare their prices to get a rough idea on what similar footage will be sold for. 
But in reality you’ll have such unique footage, which can not be found on any of the stock footage websites. This is the reason why those media companies contacting you... So here is what you could and should do. Always ask the producer to give you all informations on their upcoming production, including distribution, when and where the show will be aired, how much footage of your video will be used etc.. There is also a difference if you deal with a media “newcomer” which might only have a small budget for their intended production or an established media corporation with a long track record of hit shows and therefore a reasonable budget to work with. 
Negotiate the price for your material based on its “rarity”. If no other person has ever recorded such a rare animal behavior, than don’t be too modest and craft your price around the fact, because your rare material will give the show its unique look or even its subject altogether. Any audience is willing to pay to see new and exciting footage. 
Offer your video material to be used non exclusively. This will give you the freedom to sell and re sell your video material to any other company and at any time you like. Also, it’s best to sell your material based time (per seconds)! This is standard procedure in the stock footage business and allows any company to pick only the best material suited for their production. But make sure to sell at least five seconds per cut (!), which means that the minimum of each cut from your original material shall be at lest five seconds long. Say, if you sell your video material for $ 25.00 per second, the company will pay you $ 125.00 for each clip with a minimum of five seconds in length. If the company wants to buy four clips of your material, you’ll subsequently sell them five clips, each at least five seconds long, worth $ 625.00. 
Emphasize that repeating of your material will count toward the total of footage used in the production. Just watch how many times the very same scene will be replayed in some shows and you’ll get an idea on how much money you can miss out. Last but not least, ask for your name to appear in the credits, to reveal its original source and to attack potential buyers as well. Please keep in mind that this can only be considered as one approach of how to deal with such a situation. There are certainly many more alternatives for you to explore. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or if you need advice on the subject.

See Turtle Hatchling

Choosing The Right Agency:
Many wildlife enthusiasts have posted quite some extraordinary images and videos on their blogs, websites and galleries. The majority of these digital images might be accidental, say a “one time shot” but others have been thought through carefully and subsequently, many more fascinating images will be crunched out over time and than posted, sometimes admired and soon to be forgotten.

Regardless of being a one time shot or not, your images are admired by many people all over the web and now you have the option to turn the outcome into a financial reward or simply let the interest in your work fade away. In short, you have the option to make some money with your photos or videos if you know how and continue with what you love the most, taking pictures. So why not turning your talent into profit? There are countless stock footage websites out there, which are just looking to sell what you already got. Great photos and videos of the “unseen” are alway wanted. But you’ll have to do little work first before you can harvest the fruits of you labor. 

Let’s start with research, simple google the words “stock footage” and find out who is selling your kind of images. Not every stock footage website likes to promote pictures of venomous snakes or fighting alligators. The truth is that images of retiles will never sell as good as images of cute cats, dogs, horses etc., but all major stock footage websites like Shutterstock, Fotolia and many others do sell a variety of images. 

Do your own research first and find out where your material fit in before contacting anyone. Also, you’ll need to improve your techniques and learn the tricks of the trade to become visible. But most of all keep up your visual work and improve its quality on a steady basis. One perfect image doesn’t get anyone very far these days but a few extraordinary photos or videos can go a long way, secure contracts and financial rewards. I hope this will help you to get started.

Red Eyed Tree Frog
Understanding The Stock Image Market

Before You Sign On:
Okay. You have plenty of photos, videos or both clogging up your hard drives and you decided to become a digital media contributor. Let’s start with the bad news first. The stock business is a waiting game and you must be persistent. Most agencies are over saturated these days and won’t even look at your images or video footage. The good news is: they all want fresh and cheap material. Always! The stock image industry has changed dramatically and has done so in an extraordinarily short period of time. Nevertheless, superb and rare images still command a premium but the market has narrowed tremendously.

First of all, to compete in today’s stock image market you might be advised to identify your niche first. Research which agencies represents your type of footage well. When presenting your best photos and videos, be flexible and offer them a variety of material but don’t be all over the place. If your domain is wildlife, than stick to the subject and show off your best work. Also, it will helpful to have your own website and build a relationships with photo and video users. You may not sell as much digital work per month as your future agent(s), however, it might still bring in some money and the best part is that you get to keep 100%. Always continue to work on finding new markets that can use your type of photos and videos, continue to promote your collection and make it easy for buyers to find your work.

Okay, you found a respectable stock image agency within your niche. The agent likes your work and offers you a contract. Now you can choose between exclusive or non exclusive representation. It’s a good idea not to look yourself down with an exclusive deal. I signed a non exclusive agreement with my first agency but they couldn’t make a single sale in over twelve months. Hence, I simply sign on with two other agencies, which started selling my work only a month later... and my first agency (which I was still under contract with) began selling shortly thereafter as well. A non exclusive agreement cuts a little down (10 percent less in general) on your earnings but you still have the freedom to seek representation elsewhere and increase your chance of sales.

If your images are sub-licensed through a number of other agencies, your profit will shrink dramatically, cuz your images filter through a number of agencies and your 50 percent becomes 25 percent, then 12.5 percent and often lower. After that you’ll have to subtract taxes from various countries and the net is absurdly low! You’ll be able to negotiate a much better price for direct licensing of images than any of the agencies do because the market is over saturated and even the best agencies with the most refined images are competing against micro-stock agencies licensing for virtually nothing. The agents are finding themselves in an untenable negotiating position. Hence, don’t lock yourself into only one stock library but rather sell few images on a daily basis for a small amount and then slowly add more to your library so that eventually you’ll have a couple hundred images that are being sold on a daily basis. It’s best to see it as a long term goal and above all forget about instant reward. The long term reward far out ways the instant reward. Those images will be selling over and over even when you retire!

Red Eyed Tree Frog