How Geeks Can Make Money from Video Jobs

Geek!This is Marina Martin’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

If you have a digital video camera, there are many ways you can earn extra cash to fund your geek habits, including working for a filmmaker network, entering video contests, selling stock footage, filming events, and sharing your own videos.

Work for the Elastic Lab Filmmaker Network

Elastic Lab pays freelance videographers to occasionally shoot footage for a variety of creative and commercial projects. They have multiple filmmaker tiers, so there are paying projects available to both hobbyist geeks who livestream and film their cat riding a Roomba, all the way up to independents with a full-length film under their belt.

A typical assignment involves filming an interview on a specific topic or shooting a tour of a local landmark, and every project pays at least $100 (usually more). Project invites are sent out based on where you live and what kind of equipment/experience you have, and it’s up to you whether you accept or decline each invitation.

Signing up is totally free, and there are no hidden fees; they even reimburse for shipping and media. The only requirements are that you’re at least 18 years old, you can legally work in the U.S. or Canada, and you have access to a real digital video camera – no Flips, still cameras, cell phones, or web cams.

Enter Video Contests

There are lots of film contests out there, and just by making a one- or two-minute video, you can win $500 or even $20,000 – pretty sweet! The best way to hear about the latest video contests is to drop Video Contest Hub and Online Video Contests into your RSS feed reader.

Sell Stock Footage to MotionDrops or iStockVideo

Many websites are in the business of reselling stock footage, typically on a commission basis. People buy stock footage to use in news broadcasts, in their own videos, or even to practice motion graphics effects. You can shoot anything – the sky, the ocean, your dog reading your calculus book – and see if someone out there wants to buy it!

MotionDrops splits stock footage sales with videographers (called “producers”) 50/50. Their non-exclusive licensing agreement means you can sell the same clips on their site that you’re selling elsewhere, maximizing your potential profit.

To start selling on MotionDrops, create an account and upload your current clips. You can upload individual clips or create collections that you sell as a group. They must approve your footage before it makes it into the marketplace, but they’re pretty fast about it.

You’re probably very familiar with iStockPhoto, but did you know they sell stock footage, too? In addition to making money on your footage, iStockVideo gives you access to a forum full of other geek videographers and membership in their A/V Club. They also have an annual iStockalypse event where you can get together with fellow video geeks in your town and make art.

iStockVideo gives you 40% commission on exclusive video clips, and 20% on non-exclusive clips. To sell your footage there, signup for a free account, take a quick quiz (no sweat!), and upload your three best samples for their approval.

You can always upload your footage to your own website and use PayPal and some SEO magic to sell it yourself, too.

Film Local People & Events

If you’re new to videography, you definitely don’t want to be filming once-in-a-lifetime events like a wedding … but there are plenty of less-serious opportunities to cut your teeth on making money shooting footage.

Kids’ birthday parties, local band concerts, high school football games, or even houses and apartments for sale — there are tons of places for a geek to earn some cash behind the camera. Start spreading the word – ask your family, friends, and friends’ families if they need anything videotaped.

You may need to do an event or two for free so you can make a demo reel to show to a prospective customer. If you’re stuck for ideas, ask to film a cousin’s birthday party or a dance recital. Be bold and offer your services outright – maybe you could walk around their house filming their belongings so they have a record for insurance purposes.

Incorporate Ads and Product Placement in Your Personal Video Projects

You’re probably already making your own videos for fun – LEGO re-enactments, comedies, or maybe even livestreaming like Chris. Why not make money while you’re at it?

StoryBids lets advertisers bid on the chance to incorporate their products in your video. Upload your video/concept and see if you get any bites!

Brightroll matches you with advertisers who will pay you to play their short video ads (“pre-roll”) at the beginning of your videos. They’re not for everyone, though, as they require 100,000 video views per month and 250,000 page views per month to qualify. (But it’s definitely something to strive for!)

If you don’t quite have 100k video views yet, there are plenty of video sites that share ad revenues with content creators, like Metacafe, Veoh, and (of course!)YouTube. By uploading your own videos to their sites, you can make money from your audience.

If you have specific geek knowledge to share, upload tutorial videos to Hubpages and eHow for additional revenue-sharing opportunities.

Well, there you have it! What videos have you created lately? Have you made any money making video? Any additional resources to share with fellow video geeks?

16 thoughts on “How Geeks Can Make Money from Video Jobs”

  1. I would like to thank you for taking the time to compile such a complete list. I have been interested in doing video projects, such as you have listed.

    I did want to take a minute to add something. There is a new startup called Pop Tent. At this site, , companies that need commercial’s post “Projects”. Now what we in the community do, is choose to accept the project or not, and then go out and film a commercial. If the company likes your work, they will buy the commercial at a price outlined in the project guidelines.

    Its just another one of many ways videographers can earn a little extra income in these tough times.

  2. That’s a great list and some very good ideas. It’s also a great way to learn new techniques and try stuff out

    Thanks for the list, Marina!

  3. Nice article, Marina.

    I’ve always been interested in video, but haven’t had much time to research the details. This post has been helpful and answers quite a few of the questions that I’ve had on the subject.

  4. Thanks for doing this – sometimes people get so discouraged and this is just the type of thing they need to get back up and get shooting! MOTIVATION, INSPIRATION & EDUCATION . Thanks Marina!

  5. No idea there were so many options out there! Amazing how artists now have more opportunities to get their work out there than ever before. Another reason for my love affair with the internets!

  6. I never realized there were so many ways to make a little extra cash with my video camera. I’m definitely going to be looking into upgrading my equipment now! Thanks for the insight and the info.

  7. thanks for all the great tips. i started in this biz just for fun …. filming a fan based hockey show in a local sports bar but never really considered it for making money. based on your suggestions, i’m going to sign up on some of the sites like elastic labs, istockphoto and see where this leads since this is so much fun. thx

    twitter: @isfan

  8. I have tried a lot to show my confidence and abilities to be filmed but no one lets me to walk even close to the studio. But You have given me a fantastic idea.

  9. Wow, that’s pretty cool. I never realized the various ways to make money with video. I’m not a film maker, but realizing these opportunities makes me want to try it out. With video technology some compact and accessible these days, it’s not hard to start. I was able to create this youtube video with just my macbook. You should know i looked quite odd walking around Seattle using built in iSight camera of my Macbook :) thanks for the post.

  10. Thanks so much for the shout out to Online Video Contests! I started the site back in 2006 for the express purpose that if I had some free time (or heaven forbid, lost my regular job) I’d have a way to make money and not be forced to take some crap non-video job. It’s so useful for people to be able to make money with their passions and talents – the internet is such a wonderful place for opportunity!

  11. If I read this, i may start editing video’s again… then again, maybe my personal DV-tapes won’t yield much money…


  12. Thanks alot for this really helpful information,But unfortunately i cannot be a part of this as i reside in India.But its gonna be helpful for me to know other websites like these which anyone can join within the whole world.

    Thanks Again

  13. You should add this to your list…… Vidli is a free new VMS platform that connects people who make videos with people who would be interested in buying video content. Great way to make money from your craft!

    @Abhishek Sharma, the site is worldwide and you can submit movies from anywhere!

  14. I have just got some lovely footage of the royal wedding from a very good spot not the best camera, but good footage. Do you think I would be best to offer this to an agent or to try to make money from you tube?

  15. I have just got some lovely footage of the royal wedding from a very good spot not the best camera, but good footage. Do you think I would be best to offer this to an agent or to try to make money from you tube?

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