How Long Does It Take For Stock Footage to Sell?

August 30, 2019

At What Point Do You Start Making Money Selling Stock Footage?

Once you’ve shot, edited, and uploaded a curated portfolio of stock footage to various websites, how long will you have to wait until your footage actually begins to sell?

There are many variables that play into this equation, so it’s not the easiest or most straight forward question to answer. The fact is that nothing you upload is guaranteed to sell. It could take a month for one video to sell while it takes a year for another.

However, I did some research among other stock contributors and also studied my own experience to come up with my best estimation to this burning question that many of you have.

In this post, I’m breaking down exactly how long it can typically take for footage to sell once it’s uploaded across various sites, specifically Shutterstock, Pond5, and Adobe Stock.

My first sale

I began my stock photography and video journey back in December of 2016. If you want to read the full story of my journey into stock and how much money I made the first few months, you can check all that out here.

I began with about 100 photos at the beginning of December. My very first photo sale happened on the evening on December 30th, for a whopping 25 cents. See the photo below.

My first shutterstock sale

So it took about 30 days for my first sale.

I sold 14 by month 2.

By month 3, I was selling double that amount.

So for a short answer you can see that if you upload 100 quality files, you should begin to see a few sales picking up starting in about a month.

However, if you continue to upload, you will not only see an increase in your sales month over month from your new uploads, you will also find that the files that have already been downloaded should continue to be downloaded, sometimes exponentially so.

The snowball effect

I’m going to term this incredible phenomenon the snowball effect.

See, what happens is that once your footage is noticed by a buyer and then downloaded, the stock website then bumps your footage higher in the search results because the site’s algorithm deems it ‘good’ and ‘relevant’.

So the next time someone searches for those keywords, your footage is more likely to be seen by the buyer. If it continues to be downloaded, you will quickly find your footage rise to the very top of the search results.

When this happens, you will start to see this footage downloaded more and more frequently, often resulting in multiple sales per month.

Here is an example of one that just continues to get more and more frequent downloads as the months go by for me. As you can see it was added just over a year ago and started getting frequent downloads about 6 months ago.

most downloaded video from shutterstock

The Ultimate Guide to Selling Stock Bundle

DOWNLOAD NOW: The Ultimate Guide to Selling Stock Bundle


Want to dive even deeper? If you’ve read my monthly income reports then you already know that I haven’t added a single clip or photo to my portfolio since January this year, and yet I’m still making hundreds of dollars each and every month from photo and video sales. It’s the easiest money I’ve ever made. I’m walking you through exactly how to do it, even with a small portfolio of HD clips.

You’ll receive a beautiful 20 page PDF filled with valuable content packed full of insider tricks, including

  • Top 8 categories and genres of stock
  • Growing your portfolio into a money making machine (literally)
  • How to find keywords that will quickly rank high in search results so that your photos and video clips sell over and over again

It depends on demand

I would say the most critical factor in how quickly your footage or photos will sell is based upon the genre of clips you are submitting.

If you submit something in the nature category - a field of flowers for example - it could take much longer for your footage to be noticed. You are competing against a very large pool of gifted photographers and filmmakers and it will take more time for your work to rise to the top (even if it’s excellent).

If you submit something that is in higher demand - a doctor administering a medical test, for example - your footage will be sold way quicker. For more examples of what’s in high demand, check out this post on the latest stock footage trends that stock companies are asking for.

From the research I’ve done among myself and other stock contributors, if you submit high quality work in a genre that is in high demand, your footage will take about a month on average to get it’s first sale.

If you continue uploading, you may see a snowball affect begin to take place within the first six months of uploading, increasing over the next year or two as you continue uploading.

Here is a screen shot of the monthly growth I have seen on Shutterstock over the past 12 months. And note that I haven’t added any additional footage for the past three months. (So much travel over the summer has me behind schedule, but I do plan to get back on track with more uploads soon.)

shutterstock monthly earnings over time

Factors that matter

You can’t just throw footage or photos online and expect them to sell (within any certain timeframe) if you haven’t practiced a few other key strategies with your media.

For a complete breakdown of exactly how I get my media noticed and sold quickly, be sure to check out this post dedicated to my top 5 key strategies here.

But briefly, you need to make sure that you are:


In summary, you can expect your first few sales to come trickling in within the first month of uploading.

But with a little research and focused attention to what to shoot and how to properly upload, you will begin to see those sales exponentially increase within the first six months, only to continue to increase month over month after that, especially as you continue to upload more content.

I wish you the best of luck on this journey!

Let us know your experience in the comments below: how long did it take to get your first few sales and how have the following months been after that?


Hi, I'm Beth.

I started Handcraft Films to give other filmmakers and photographers the gift of documenting their own stories for years to come. I hope you'll learn something new and share your creativity here.
Join Our Newsletter

Latest Posts

September 28, 2020
The Perfect Career Path to Becoming a Video Editor

How hard is it to become a video editor? What's the best career path to take if you want to pursue video editing professionally?

Read More
September 25, 2020
Quick and Easy Audio Fade Out in Premiere Pro

Having complete control of your audio levels in Premiere Pro is simple. Here are two quick ways to fade audio volume in and out with ease.

Read More
September 23, 2020
50 Premiere Pro Templates Worth Having

Here are 50 of the absolute best Premiere Pro templates to create stunning video projects with ease - lower thirds, titles, youtube & more.

Read More
September 14, 2020
Top 5 Keyboards Every Video Editor Needs

We analyzed price, build quality, efficiency, and ease of use for video editors to find the absolute best video editing keyboards out there.

Read More
June 15, 2020
How to Shoot Portraits at Sunset Perfectly

Taking pictures in bright sunlight is gorgeous, but tricky. In today’s post we’ll walk through step by step how you can take incredible portraits at sunset each and every time.

Read More
June 10, 2020
Best Microphones for Streaming Great Audio

In today’s post I’ll be sharing with you my top ten best microphones for streaming audio. I’ve included factors like price, quality, and functionality to help you distinguish among them so that you can decide which microphone will be best for you.

Read More
June 7, 2020
21 Best Premiere Pro Transitions For 2020

In this post, I’ve put together 21 of the BEST Premiere Pro Transition packs that will give you everything you need and more at affordable prices.

Read More
May 2, 2020
How To Resize Videos In Premiere Pro

Here are three quick and easy ways to resize multiple clips and photos throughout your project in Premiere Pro. We’ll also talk about the differences between Set to Frame and Scale to Frame and which you should use for your projects.

Read More
May 1, 2020
Best Free Lightroom Presets Of 2020

We’ve curated the top 15 BEST and FREE Lightroom photo presets of 2020. There are many comprehensive lists of presets out there, but not many of them are very good or worth trying. In this list, you’ll find only the best for your photography.

Read More
April 25, 2020
How To Export Videos In Premiere Pro

In this free Premiere Pro tutorial for beginners, we’re diving into the best video settings for exporting your videos. With so many options to choose from, which are the best settings for exporting high quality mp4 or mov videos in 4k, HD, etc to YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram, and more.

Read More
1 2 3 6

Want more?

Subscribe to our newsletter for more tips and tricks delivered straight to your inbox.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram