Which method is the best to submit your stock footage?

As we wrote previously, Blackbox is taking over the Stock Footage market – and well deserved. In June of 2018, the number of users grew amazing 700%.

BlackBox is not only attracting the old experienced stock filmmakers but is opening the doors for thousands of new contributors.

And though there’s a big hype around it right now, it’s prudent to carefully take a decision if you’ll go exclusively with them or stick in the traditional way (uploading straight to Shutterstock, Pond5, Adobe Stock, etc).

This isn’t a company comparison overview. After all, Shutterstock is one of BlackBox’s partners. This is actually a comparison review with pros and cons of selling footage in the traditional way or the BlackBox way.

I hope this comparison helps you take your own decision.

What is Blackbox?

Stock Footage is just the starting point of BlackBox. The platform is revolutionizing the process of making content and getting paid the long tail money creators really deserve. If you listen to Pat McGowan’s interview, you’ll agree this is just the beginning.

This article covers the stock footage process, but you can check our BlackBox focused article here.

Blackbox is a digital guild that connects video creators and curators. With their platform, film creators can focus on shooting/filming new footage and leave the “boring work” on them (metadata, descriptions, keywords). The video content will be submitted to 4 major stock agencies at once:

  • Shutterstock
  • Pond5
  • Adobe Stock
  • Storyblocks
  • more to come

For stock filmmakers, it means you can now be free to work on what you really like, while you let other users take care of writing metadata and keywords for you.

It is also an opportunity for editors and copywriters to work on files of other users so they can get a share of the income.

If you haven’t subscribed to BlackBox yet, you can do it clicking here. By using our referral code, you help us keep the work on this blog and YouTube channel.

Choose your side: the BlackBox way or the old-fashioned way

While many new users are going exclusively with BlackBox, it might be a good idea to analyze the traditional way before going full speed on the decided direction. The whole idea explains the hype around BlackBox but your decision should be based on real information, not just hype.

Since you can’t upload repeated footage files to the agencies Blackbox submits to (Shutterstock, Pond, Adobe Stock and Storyblocks), you have to decide which way you’re going to submit your footage files.

There are pros and cons on both sides. It will really depend on what kind of user you are. The following comparison might help you take your own decision.

Pros & Cons of submitting files exclusively to BlackBox

Still not a BlackBoxer? You can become a stock contributor right now registering here.

I’m personally in love with BlackBox and its community. Still, I’ll put my emotions aside and will write you neutral pros & cons.

1. Pro. Submit to multiple websites at once.

I’ve been working on my own multi-agency spreadsheet for years and no matter how good it gets, the whole process still takes several hours.

Each agency has its own way of doing things. The categories names, the maximum of keywords and file formats are just a few given examples.

That struggle alone makes BlackBox worthy of attention. As for today, BlackBox submits your files to 4 major agencies: Shutterstock, Pond5, Adobe Stock and Storyblocks.

Check out my 2017 earnings report and notice how those were my most profitable agencies.

2. Pro: More time doing the work you love

I’d say this is the biggest advantage of BlackBox: being free to focus on producing more footage.

Writing metadata, uploading your files to multiple agencies… All this while trying to fit the stock agencies requirements is a hard and tedious work. Upload your files to BlackBox and they’ll take care of the dirty work.

It gets harder if English is not your native language, which is the case for me and 60% of Creative Income YouTube Channel.

If needed, BlackBox gives you the chance of letting other users curate your files (from editing to keywording) in exchange for a small share of those files’ income.

I’d say this is the biggest advantage of BlackBox: being free to focus on producing more footage and earning more with that.

3. Pro: Better rates

The power of being part of a big community is that together we preferential commission rates from the stock agencies. So even though BlackBox takes 15% on net sales (that would be ~5% on the gross value) you will still get more money than you would alone.

You just have to be aware that if you’re taking help of other users you will also share your earnings with them. We call it the curator’s share.

In fact, it is totally negotiable. You’ll choose your curator among many users and will let BlackBox know the share that specific user is going to have. BlackBox’s platform will take care of paying each user through PayPal.

For Metadata only curation, BlackBox recommends a share of 20% rate. That means 20% of that file’s net income will be paid to the curator.

For Full Curation, which means someone is also writing metadata for you, BlackBox recommends a share of 40%.

4. Pro: Sell more than you would be working alone

At this point, some of you might be thinking you will make more money if you just do it by yourself. You may be right, but let me ask you a few questions first:

  • Do you still have files laying on your computer and external HDs waiting to be edited?
  • Do you think you would get better metadata if someone else writes it?
  • Do you believe you would get better-looking footage if someone else edits it?

If you have answered yes to any of the questions above then you’re probably losing money right now. You should never have files laying on a hard disk when they could be making you money instead.

Although you’re getting a smaller share, there’s a big chance you will be selling way more than you would alone. Especially if you’re a bad keyword writer.

It’s a better idea to get a smaller percentage of something than 100% of nothing.

Having experienced BlackBox users to write and submit your work to the 4 big agencies will probably make more sales than your own keywords would. So there is a big chance you’ll sell better with their help.

The platform offers collaborative work and takes care of the revenue sharing process.


5. Pro: Rank better on search results

Given that we’re all contributing to the same BlackBox seller profile, you should probably get better search rankings for your files.

That means your footage will probably appear on the first line of results and, consequently, sell better.

It’s the size of our BlackBox portfolio that makes every member’s content more searchable to buyers.

6. Pro: Stock Footage is just the tip of the BB iceberg

I had the opportunity to talk with Pat McGowan and got amazed with all the plans the company has for the future. They are totally centered on creators and their financial freedom.

Stock Footage is really just the starting point for them. Being part of this community means giving power to the creator’s community.

7. Con: You’re contributing to BlackBox profile

As I just said, we’re all contributing under the same BlackBox profile. So I believe you got it that your name is not going to publicly appear on the stock websites.

Though you still got all the rights for your files, they will all appear under the BlackBox profile.

Some people might see it as a downside. But let me be honest, is Shutterstock really the “social network” you want to get famous on?

From my point of view, this is even better. Some of my files do embarrass me, but they still sell. So I’d rather keep them there.

Pat’s argument is that “in our experience, the concept of personal branding is not a factor in buying decisions on agency platforms.” I would say the same.

You still own the rights over your footage. Use it on your YouTube channel or something like that. Youtuber Jeven Dowey that in a pretty amazing way.

8. Con: Blackbox process

The team behind BlackBox is really working hard to make it better every day. It’s a promising future.  If you’re already a member you’re probably getting weekly news of their improvements.

BlackBox 2.0 should be launched soon, but for now (June 2018), BlackBox portal is still a little hard to comprehend and might be difficult for beginners.

You may also be experiencing a delay on some files. But hey, this is totally explainable. They just grew 700% on a month!

If you want a better understanding of the microstock market, I suggest you register at Shutterstock as a contributor and go through the process to submit a bunch of pictures. Shutterstock’s process and user interface are really user-friendly.

I see this as a temporary downside. I’m still sure BlackBox will get there soon. I receive constant emails of weekly improvements they’re doing.

9. Footage only

As of today, Blackbox is only allowing stock footage contributors and shows signs for Stock Music. So photographers will have to wait.

If you’re a photographer, I still suggest you give it a try to shooting footage. You’ll probably raise your earnings by doing that and it probably can be done with the same camera.

Pros & Cons of going the old-fashioned way (straight to Shutterstock, Pond5, Adobe Stock, etc.

If you didn’t start submitting your stock photos/footage yet, I’d suggest you start with Shutterstock. It is normally the most profitable stock agency and has the best contributor interface so far.

1. Con: Fewer sales (in case of poorly written metadata)

You’ll definitely get more money per sale – but that doesn’t mean higher overall earnings. BlackBox curators are good at their work, so there’s a big change you won’t write as good metadata (title, description, keywords, etc) as they would. So you might get a smaller amount of sales in the end.

2. Con: Requires discipline to edit, curate and write metadata

Why did so many filmmakers and photographers give up on Stock Photography/Footage?

Simple. We all hate writing metadata. We’re creative people, after all.

In my case, I found the discipline to work on a batch of files every 6 months. It’s a very boring week but pays out in the end.

3. Pro: Process is easy and quick to understand

Shutterstock is on the market for many years. So, of course, their contributor interface is still better and simpler than BlackBox. But I’m sure it is just a matter of time before BlackBox comes up with new improved tools.

4. Pro: Better understanding of the whole process

The experience of contributing to Shutterstock (and Pond5, Adobe Stock, Storyblocks, etc) at least once will make you better understand the process. I see a lot of new users uploading files to BlackBox and asking people on the facebook group why is it taking so long.

The experience of submitting your own file will give you a complete overview of the process and market.

5. Pro: Your own portfolio

Submitting your footage and photos straight to the stock agencies will also allow you to create your own portfolio and track specific data (each agency gives you a couple of different insights).

6. BONUS: Choose your thumbnail

Shutterstock, Pond5, and StoryBlocks let you choose a specific snapshot of your video to be used as a thumbnail. Strong thumbnails are strong when it comes to footage files.

This is small, but a considerable obstacle for BlackBox.

My personal advice

As a 6-year-experienced contributor, my advice is that you subscribe to both platforms: Shutterstock and BlackBox. Try to upload a dozen different footage files on each of them and check how comfortable you feel.

On the other hand, if you hating writing your own keywords and description, then stick with BlackBox and focus on producing more footage.

If you can’t wait a few days for approval, prefer to choose your thumbnails and believe you can do a good job writing your own metadata, then go forward and try to sell your files by yourself.


What is your opinion?

What are your thoughts on this? Are you moving your footage to BlackBox, staying on Shutterstock (and other agencies) or mixing both? I believe this is a strong subject for our community to discuss!

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