How do I sell my drone footage? Beyond stock sites!

If you have owned a drone for a while you may have gigabytes or terabytes of footage which you don’t know what to do with. Or, perhaps you bought a drone because you really like the idea of selling your drone footage and want to make a little bit of an income from all of the awesome shots that you have been so carefully curating. There are so many drone shots online that it can be hard to actually sell your drone footage. In this article we’re going to go over everything you need to know about how to sell your drone footage and what you need to pay close attention to to increase your success in selling.

How do I sell my drone footage? You can sell your drone footage via stock sites such as Getty images, Shutterstock, Pond5, and many more sites that take a commission of your sale. Alternatively, you can create your own website and sell your footage alongside drone services – this is probably the most lucrative but time-consuming way.

Starting your own website is like starting your own business and it can be very tough and challenging and requires a lot of commitment to drive traffic to that website. We will go through everything you need to know about making your website as successful as possible to give you the best chance of selling your footage for a good price.

Let’s take a quick look at why you want to sell your drone footage – everyone’s motivation is different.

Why you may want to sell your drone footage

selling your drone footage may be a side effect of having lots of really awesome footage that you have been carefully collecting over the last few years or it may be a conscious business decision. Whatever it is the reasons are unique to you and here are a few common reasons people want to sell their drone footage.

Make drone cost neutral

Drones and their accessories are expensive. However, once you have made the initial purchase of the drone it is relatively inexpensive to keep it running – as long as it doesn’t get into any accidents. The only thing you need to do regularly is replace the propellers and buy a new battery every 2 to 3 years.

Selling footage is an opportunity to offset the initial purchase of the drone so that it becomes cost neutral over time. You can also use the small amount of income that you can get from stock sites to purchase new propellers or if you are lucky you can also upgrade your drone with the money that comes in.

Side income

Having a side hustle or a side income is getting more and more popular. Whether it is out of necessity or it is just a passion that you hope to turn into a career having another stream of income can certainly help you purchase all of the little things in life.

Buying a drone initially could have started out for you as something fun – and now is turned into something more of a passion – and you want to share that with the world and make some money along with it.

Better than sat on your computer unused

If you have had a drone for a while you may have many gigabytes of drone footage sat on your computer and hard drive. If that that it is solely sat on your computer is very unlikely to earn you any money stop if, however, it is sat on a searchable database of drone footage it has the potential to earn you some money as people are browsing for drone footage to use in their latest creative projects.

In my opinion is much better that your drone footage be available for purchase rather than sat on a hard drive in your office.

You do have to take into account the amount of time it takes to edit and colour grade the drone footage – but if you enjoy the process you can do it yourself, or you can get a freelancer to edit the drone footage for you.

Upload your footage onto stock sites

One of most popular ways from earning money by selling your drone footage is to upload your footage onto sites that sell stock images and video.

These sites are browsed by content creators and people in the TV and film industry to quickly grab shots to include in their current project. Higher end studios will do all of their own drone footage but studios and creators with a more limited budget will opt to purchase stock footage.

Bear in mind that each of these stock sites will take a fraction of the sale price of the stock footage that you upload. Some of the sites will charge up to 50% of the sale price whilst others are as low as 20 to 35%.

Each of the sites is very similar in the fact that you create an account and use their interface to upload the stock footage you want to sell. Some sites have very strict publication and submission policies. I have had footage accepted by some places whilst other places have rejected it due to copyright issues i.e. a logo was in the footage on a building and also if you include any footage with people that can be identified you need to get a release form.

This can either act as a hindrance or if you’re willing to go through those steps you can produce footage that others haven’t got the time to produce and increase your sales.

Here are some of the sites that you can upload your footage to.

Getty images – Link

How do I sell my drone footage

Getty images are one of the most recognisable names of stock footages. Because their library consists of a range of different types of footage it can be hard to take your drone footage stand out.

Contributors to the library will get a 25% cut of the total sales which is one of the lower ends of most of the other sites.

Shutterstock – Link

How do I sell my drone footage

Shutterstock is also another very well-known player in the stock footage game. Like Getty in it is not solely for drone footage but there are many drone images and footage sold through the site.

There rates for contributors starts at around 30% of all stock video sales and there are some very complicated rules for other types of multimedia like drone photos. Once you are on their Creator list you get access to a shop list which shows you the most in demand content to help you get more sales.

Pond5 – Link

How do I sell my drone footage

Pond5 has 25 million video clips which can make it hard to stand out. They are also not a dedicated drone site and so it can take a little while for your footage to stand out amongst the crowd.

They are not as well-known as Getty in but because they provide footage, music, after-effects, and other types of footage they are becoming more and more popular with content creators.

DroneStock – Link to website

How do I sell my drone footage

Drone stock is a website where you can upload drone footage. They are one of the very first drone only websites on the planet and they are also backed by some big Hollywood names who look for shots on their website. They want to elevate the production value of content by providing easily accessible drone footage from independent creators and filmmakers.

Because this site specialises in drone footage it is a fantastic place to upload your content. Drone stock is also one of the best paying marketplaces as you get to keep 50% of all the sales from your content stop non-exclusive content will only get you 30% of the sale.

Another interesting aspect of this is that drone stock can get requests from filmmakers and directors that are looking for a very specific shop. These requests are sent out to the pool of contributors and they can go and collect that shot and sell it to the requesting studio.

Blackbox – link

How do I sell my drone footage

Blackbox is a little bit different as it is not a site where people purchase content. Rather, it is a place where you can upload content from your drone and they will distributed to all of the other platforms potentially saving you many hours of uploading and keyword optimising your drone footage.

Membership to Blackbox doesn’t cost anything right now all you have to do sign up for an account. Because they act as a middleman they take 15% of the net sales cost. However, how much do you value your time and are you willing to pay for the extra convenience that comes with using a service such as Blackbox.

Start your own website selling niche footage

Another way that you can sell your drone footage is by starting your own website. Unfortunately, this is not the easy or fastest route for monetising your content but it may be the most successful in the long run.

Building your own website and selling your footage requires you to know or learn how to set up a website, drive traffic to that website so that loads of potential customers can see your shots – think of it like traffic on a high street – and then you can also monetise via a number of routes such as ad, affiliate, and selling your stock footage directly to the customer. This has the potential to earn you much more money than the 25 to 50% you will get from a stock site but requires a lot more time, patience, and effort as well as failures to get right.

Setting up a website

Setting up a website is relatively simple all you need to do is register a domain name with a name provider such as namecheap.com and then you can get hosting – my favourite is siteground – for a WordPress website.

Having a self hosted WordPress website is the most flexible but most time-consuming way of starting up a website.

There are services such as Wix.com and Squarespace.com that allow you to set up a website within a matter of seconds. However, with both of these sites if you want more flexible features you will have to pay their increased subscription rate. It is more expensive than setting up a self hosted WordPress site.

Driving traffic to the website

Once you have set up a website you need to drive traffic to that website. You could start a blog – like this one – or you could used paid advertising on social media and other sites to drive traffic to the website. You will have to learn about Google SEO as well as developing all the skills to run the website efficiently.

Driving traffic to the website takes time, effort, and patience. It may take a couple of years to get the required level of traffic through the site before it starts burning a significant income. Making sure that you are watching what your customers are doing on your website and you are able to understand why they are there and what sort of images or services they want to buy can go a long way in making your website successful.

Once you have driven traffic to your website through Google search or other paid methods you can then direct people to your stock footage and videos, or photographs, which you could sell as principal as digital files.

There are more ways to monetise a website that you have set up rather than just using your footage for sales.

Monetizing the website

Once you have created a steady flow of traffic to that website you have a number of options for monetising the website.

Monetising your website through a variety of different methods is going to be the most effective ways of securing income for the future. If you rely just on one income stream that can quickly dry up due to factors outside of your control – for example, a Google algorithm change. I recommend monetising your website via a variety of ways.

Ads

Putting ads on your website is one of the easiest but least effective ways of monetising a website. You need a massive amount of traffic – think many hundreds of thousands of page views a month – before you start earning any significant income from ad traffic.

But it may just be that little bit of income you need to keep going and keep on enjoying your drone adventures.

Affiliate

You don’t actually have to sell your own products or your own drone footage. You could act as an affiliate for other services and products that you recommend through your website. Once again, this doesn’t really start to earn significant amounts of money until you have got a significant amount of traffic going through your site but it may be a little bit of income which you can put towards your drone adventures.

Selling photos

Once you have the traffic of people interested in drone’s and drone footage you could easily start selling your photographs as long as they are unique, well shot, and perfectly colour balanced. It is likely that you will be taking photos of your local area so selling photos of your local area may help you develop a niche and hone in on your target market.

I recommend that you go out and you take photos of your local area and you start to advertise those in local Facebook groups and other areas online where people from that community congregate. Taking unique shots of places that where people live make perfect gifts. Drone footage and shots are a fantastic way of giving someone who has lived in a certain place a new perspective on where they live.

If you’re thinking about selling photos make sure you understand how to edit and explore photos for maximum quality and impact when people are browsing your portfolio.

What sort of footage sells?

Not all drone footage made equally. There are plenty of drone videos online that are available for download and it is the subject and quality which determine whether or not someone will purchase a drone video and split with their hard earned cash.

Here are some ideas for you about what sort of footage sells in on stock sites.

Nature shots

People love nature shots. Think about grabbing some natural environment shots which provide the content creator and storyteller the ability to set the scene.

Think about large open expanses, flying over treetops, going near waterways and the coast. And in postproduction boost up the saturation so that it just looks stunning.

Infrastructure

There is also a huge amount of demand for infrastructure. If you live near different types of infrastructure such as windmills, electrical power lines, mosques, farm, industrial zones – these may all be in demand for filmmakers.  

Unique

The sort of footage that really sells well no matter what the subject is footage that is unique. Think about where you live. Is there anything particularly unique about where you live that could make your content stand out?

For example, do you live near a desert? Do you live in Australia with interesting animals? Do you live near the coast? Do you have access to a certain property that no one else has access to? All of these things will help you create unique content that people will struggle to get elsewhere. This will boost your sales and help you earn more money I selling your drone footage.

High resolution + Quality footage

Lastly, make sure that all of your drone footage is in as high a resolution as possible and that you have created footage that is good enough to be broadcast on wide screens and television.

There really is no substitute for a 4K video that is perfectly edited and colour balanced. This can all take time and it requires you to learn a new skill – editing and colour balancing.

Because of the amount of time that can go into editing you may want to outsource this using a service such as upwork.com or fiver.com. On each of the sites there are freelancers who can edit your drone footage and take a huge amount of the time burden away from you.

Summary

Selling your drone footage online is surprisingly simple as long as you know the websites to head to and you are able to supply those websites with, good quality, in demand footage regularly.

There is a lot of competition either drones are so cheap and affordable but if you follow the advice in this article I’m sure that you will be able to stand out from the crowd.

Whatever the motivation for you trying to sell your drone footage there is no better feeling than making that first sale!

The Author

Dr Andrew Stapleton is a writer and YouTuber with a PhD in science. He has written and/or produced videos for Science Alert, COSMOS magazine, and Australia's Science Channel among others. Andy started droneflyingpro.com to share his love and the research of all things drone! He has been a drone pilot for many years and has flown many types of drone. His favorite is still the DJI Mavic Air for the portability and functionality packed into a small and portable drone!