Stock Agencies vs YouTube Earnings

Hans Peril
5 min readJan 23, 2022

In my previous post, I’ve introduced a way to monetize useless videos. And, if ever you’ve tried uploading footage in places like Shutterstock, you’ll notice they have very strict policies about curation and labelling that you need to follow.

But before you upload videos, I’ve compiled some bullet points to keep in mind based on my experience, including advantages and disadvantages of some. As you read, bear in mind that this is simply based from my personal experience, which may vary for you depending on the type of footage you are uploading.

Earning From Agencies

Stock footage agencies like Shutterstock are more of a one-time earning. Because any user can buy your video there, and distribute it to their friends for free (without you getting a single cut from it in case they resold it)and you never know who actually bought your footage, just that you earned from it. Every footage pays for about $15 to $100 depending on your resolution, rec 709 format, container, and bit rate.

There are also some release forms that you need to submit (model release for people, property release for real estate/buildings) or the agency will reject your footage after a week of trying for an approval.

You don’t want to waste your time, so its better to have-it-at-one-go when you submit batches of clips.

There are also certain metrics like the min and max length (minutes) for your video clips, and you might need a curator who will input the tags/description/metadata for each clip. Also:

  • Clips need to me trimmed, color corrected, and labelled.
  • Clips usually get rejected if they are shaky.
  • Clips that have a person’s face, upper body, or even clips where people can identify themselves in WILL REQUIRE A MODEL RELEASE FORM otherwise, it gets rejected.
  • Clips not submitted (for approval) after 30 days of inactivity from the upload date will be notified and automatically removed after 10 days.
  • Clips not curated after 30 days of inactivity will automatically be returned to the original uploader.

What About YouTube?

YouTube on the other hand is a more widely distributed platform and the earnings aren’t directly coming from the user/viewer.

Instead, you earn a “monthly earning” based off of your audience watch time, average click rate, subscriber count, and views. Typically you can earn your first $100 by the time your channel is above average in size, or comparable to a channel with the following stats:

  1. watch time of at least 5–8 mins
  2. average click rate (CTR Ratio) of ~above 1% (believe me this is hard to get when you are under 1,000 subs)
  3. about 1,000 to 10,000 sub count
  4. views of about 15,000 and above

Yeah, YouTube doesn’t pay off easily at the start.

But, it’s definitely is a better long-term strategy, since you won’t have to worry about the people copy-pasting your content to their friends (because its not paid; its basically in a free app called YouTube) and every future view will just accumulate, similar to an internal point system that just grows and grows.

Plus, in my experience, stock footage agencies don’t even usually sell in the first 2 months, so you’re probably better off in YouTube (in case you are already famous/have-a-fanbase).

Can I Upload The Same Clip To Both?

Keep in mind that you can’t do both.

You may not be allowed to submit the same clip to both YouTube & stock footage agencies because these agencies usually have a policy you have to respect, and you can also get suspended for selling publicly available content (that is, if you post the same clip on a public domain like YouTube).

Either way, just weigh your options and set your own personal limit of how much you really want to earn from your footage. Moving on:

Uploading To Stock Footage Agencies

There are a lot of agencies worldwide. Like, literally a lot. Here’s an actual list off the top of my head:

  1. Shutterstock
  2. Adobe Stock
  3. Pond5
  4. Storyblocks
  5. VimeoStock

Now, you can clearly see what is wrong with this. For each site, you will need to submit one footage and wait for it to get approved, before it gets to see its first customers.

So, if say you have 1 30-second video clip, you will need to upload it 5 times (1 for each site) and wait until that site approves your video. And you’ll soon realize that once you get to the point of uploading batches of videos every day, the problem has quickly escalated out of control.

Thankfully, as I was browsing throughout the internet, I found a Canadian web service that uses its own internal engine to upload to those agencies, without having to open an account for each one. Its called Blackbox.

Linking Automated Video Database

Blackbox uses Filezilla, an app that connects you directly to your cloud space where you can upload your footage. It is a very secure service (provided that you follow the guide in my previous article) while maintaining upload speed at the same time.

Also, with the recent upgrade to Blackbox v4, some new features has been added including:

Media File Sync via Google Drive or Dropbox — Members can select to sync all files or just by selected file(s). Instead of using the traditional FTP for media content, members can just do the content sync from their cloud storage such as Google Drive or Dropbox.

Blackbox has also added a new stock footage agency named Deposit Photo, which means more potential sales from a new customer base.

Full instructions on Blackbox setup here.