There are many websites for selling stock footage online and I want to share my experience using three of the popular ones (Pond 5, Revostock, Shutterstock). I am primarily uploading video footage and to non-exclusive websites only. I will go over process of registering, uploading and cataloging on each site.
Pond 5 touts itself as the stock footage site for artist with a payout of 50% and allows you to set your own price. They are the most flexible in terms of filesize and codec allowing 4k and Prores files. There are no hoops to jump through when registering, just sign up or link your facebook account.
After registering, you can upload either using the web browser interface or accessing one of several ftp servers. They even tell you which servers currently have the least load.
Pond 5 have the most extensive catalogue of information for your files. There is the basic title, description, tags, but also other unnecessary details like date, copyright, and camera/software. There are others but these are the mandatory ones. I can see how this info is useful in some situation, like date for historic events, but a lot of it seem irrelevant or would likely be in the descriptions already. Fortunately, you can make template to automatically fill in the majority of the form. The uploads page also lets you edit the title, descriptions, and tags of all the clips on one page.
The review process is the slowest of all three services. I have clips pending for over a month as of writing this.
*update* After 34 days, Pond 5 finally review my clips and 52 of 57 clips were accepted. The good thing is they review all the clips at once. Sadly, they offer no explanation as to why those 5 clips were rejected which makes it hard to figure out what needs to be improve for future uploads.
Revostock also pays artist 50% of each clip sold and allows you to set your own price. However, your files are limited to maximum resolution of 1080p and length of 30 seconds. You need to pass a short quiz before you can start uploading but the quiz is really easy so it’s just a minor nuisance.
After registering, you can upload either using the web browser interface or via ftp. They also have a Mass Import System which I have yet to try out but will update this article when I do.
Cataloguing does not require as much information as Pond 5 but they do not have a template system so it is still a tedious process. While their system can detect properties like format, codec, and sound, it strangely fails to detect framerate and field rending so you have the put that in manually each time. One good thing is you can preset different prices for different dimensions. Overall, the website looks dated and doesn’t provide any way to edit multiple clips with ease.
The review process varies from days to weeks. They are more accepting of clips than Shutterstock and when they reject your clip, they general include specific notes on what you need to do to get it approve. They add an editorial label for you as oppose to flat out rejecting it because it needs a editorial label like with Shutterstock.
Shutterstock focues only on selling stock photos and videos whereas Pond 5 and Revostock also have audio and motion graphics. They pay producers only 30% of each clip sold with fixed pricing. Their don’t officially accept 4k footage but a few of my 4k clips were approved so it depends on your reviewer. The registration involves sending them a picture of your ID and approximately 5 business days for them to verify it.
You can only upload still images using the web browser interface. Video files must be upload using ftp. You can also choose between automatic ftp processing or manually process it after each batch of upload. I prefer the latter as it seems less prone to failed uploads which occur frequently with large files.
Their cataloguing system is simple, just title/description (one field for both), keywords, and catagory. If you’re submitting a set of clips with similar descriptions and keywords, you can check multiple clips and any changes you make will apply to all of them. Just remember to uncheck the clip when you want to make individual changes because forgetting to will overwrite previous entries as well. One minor nuisance is that you cannot play the clips when you’re cataloguing it which I find helpful with the other sites because it helps remind me what the clip features. A much bigger nuisance is that after submitting the clip, their spell checker (which has a very limited vocabulary) will flag common terms like “4K” or “Hong Kong” so you pretty much have to hit submit twice every time.
Their biggest strength is their review time which is less than 72 hours. Sometimes I even have clips approve the same day. Rejected footage, however, cannot be edited even if it’s just rejected based on a lack of editorial caption. You would have to re-upload it again.
Going by the list of pros and cons can be deceiving. Although Pond 5 seem to have more pros and less cons than Revostock, I have stopped using Pond 5 because the slow pending time far outweigh everything else. There is nothing more torturous than waiting to see if your clips will be approve. Cataloguing is also a heavily-weighted factor because it is such a time consuming process and Shutterstock have the advantage here. I really wanted to like Pond 5 for their artist-friendly approach and flexible file format, but in the end, I use Shutterstock more for their efficient workflow even though I wanted to hate them for the limited options. Revostock sits squarely in the middle. I will probably going back to uploading to Pond 5 if and when I run out of stuff to upload to Shutterstock and Revostock.
Have you tried these services or others? Please let me know your thoughts by leaving a comments below.