For stock footage in 2009 there were a few significant changes to existing agencies, but overall not a lot changed. A few new agencies have showed up, but none of which I would personally consider submitting to. The “big four” are still pretty much dominating the market with iStockPhoto and Pond5 leading the pack.
One significant change is that two of the big four changed their submit policies. They are now offering “insurance” of sorts to buyers with a guarantee that all footage (and stills if you do still with them) does not violate any copyrights. So make sure that you have your model releases for every shot with a person (or even a partial person now) in it. They are also enforcing property releases on buildings and pets now too (yes, I said ‘pets’).
As for me personally, I saw my video portfolio grow from just over 300 clips on January 1st to a little over 800 clips on December 1st (a little over 2.5 times). I mostly attribute that to having purchased a good video camera and adding footage to my portfolio which was strictly CG animations as of January 1st. Not only is it quicker to edit and submit footage than to render an animation, but it has the added benefit of getting you out of the house and into the sunlight.
My revenue also rose almost 3.5 times that of my 2008 year end total. Of course, with a larger portfolio you’d expect that… but I didn’t start significantly increasing my portfolio until the summer when I got my camera. So while a larger portfolio helps, the main reason is because I finally started diversifying and uploading to all of the big four agencies instead of concentrating on just one as I did in 2008. The additional income from the other 3 sites added up to amost 30% of my microstock income this year. Further proof to me that exclusivity is rediculous. I have less than 100 clips on the “other 3” sites, so once I get more uploaded and approved, I expect that revenue to grow as well in 2010.
The first thing I did when I got my new camera was to run out and shoot all of the standard stuff.. Clouds timelapses, lakes, flowers, traffic, etc… While those clips added to the size of my portfolio, I can tell you that none of them have sold. Those categories are just too saturated and everyone else who got a video camera last year did the same thing. And everyone who gets a video camera this year will also shoot the same thing.
A very important lesson I learned in 2009 is that quality and uniqueness sell. Every single one of my clips where I took the time to properly set up the camera angles, get the right exposure, and had a fairly unique subject has sold this past year. I got a pretty unique angle on a popular subject (wind turbine) and it sold while none of my other wind turbine shots sold because they were more generic angles that everyone else shoots.
If you absolutely insist on shooting a common stock video subject, do yourself a favor and find a unique slant on it. A different angle, unique lighting or play with the depth of field.