pond5 photographer

Free Pond5 Guide [All You Need to Know]

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Pond5 is quickly taking over the photography scene. Just take a moment to notice what professional photographers talk about:

“Since I started selling on Pond5 I… Once I moved my photography business over to Pond5 it…”

It’s Pond5 this, Pond5 that. People can’t seem to get enough of it.

Photography is my favorite hobby, so I was naturally intrigued by the Pond5 agency. What are its advantages over Shutterstock or Getty Images? Is it worth my time?

Furthermore, as part of the Workooze team, I felt obligated to explore Pond5 in terms of building a reliable passive income. In a recent article, I explained how to make money from photography and included Pond5 as a viable option. Can Pond5 make it rain? Or better yet: Can I quit my day job?

This topic suddenly became all too important so let’s take a closer look and see what Pond5 is all about.


What is Pond5?

Pond5 is a hub to buy and sell stock.

It is a premium stock photo agency standing right next to more recognized names in the industry — Shutterstock, Getty Images, Alamy, and others.

Pond5 was found fairly recently compared to the others, in 2005. But, Pond5 quickly became a top player on the global market after the strategic acquisition of Czech company Picmax in 2013. Its revenue and global visibility instantly and vastly expanded.

Now, they are the world’s largest video marketplace. More than 17 million video clips make them a go-to place for filmmakers and marketers.

Pond5 has a website, with a blog. You can also find Pond5 on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

You can enter the Pond5 world as a contributor, a buyer, and an employee.

Pond5 Contributors

According to a 2020 Report on the global stock images and videos market, we can expect to see a 5% growth until 2025. The rise of the e-commerce industry is the main factor behind the desperate need for visual content.

By simply analyzing supply and demand, now is a great time to become a contributor and the easiest. Modern digital cameras are available to everybody. With a small money and time investment, anybody can become an amateur photographer, and should.

Stock photo agencies have made it easier for amateur photographers to sell their work, acting as a middleman simplifying the process. Yes, there are still many professional photographers who do amazing artistic and original work and get paid preposterous amounts of money. You can look up to them in the beginning.

Now, everybody is invited to the table. Your photographs shouldn’t be buried in a folder. You can sell them, make a profit, and gain an audience. Your selling success can be a powerful driving force. You could be inspired to turn occasional clicking into an adventurous hobby that has a strong chance of becoming a fulfilling career. Don’t let the fear of failure come in your way.

How to open a Pond5 account?

Firstly, Pond5 is free. Anybody can open an account and start uploading.

Start by heading over to Pond5.com. Click on Log In. A window will pop up where you will see in the bottom Sign up. Click on it to continue.

Fill in the very basic information about yourself: email, username, and password. You can’t get more basic than this. Then, click again on Sign up.

Now, you have an account.

Behind your avatar icon, you can find Sell your media. Click on it. You can watch the instructional Pond5 video, and read all you need to know about the selling process. Basically, Pond 5 will have to approve the submitted work. They will also notify you when you get a sale. Here, you learn about the royalties, which are the highest in the business. This is where Pond5 tells you about your rights.

After you’ve read that, click on Start Selling. 

Then, a Pond5 Contributor Agreement pops up. Scroll through it, read it, and check the box at the bottom that you have read and agreed to the Contributor Agreement. Click on I Agree in the blue box.

Now, you will have to fill in the missing information once again. This time, more detailed contact information is required to sell your media. Type in your first name, last name, phone number, etc.

After you’ve done that, click on Confirm.

Congratulations! Now you are a Pond5 seller. You just need to verify your email to continue. Click on Send verification email.

Now you’re good to go.

You can go back to your dashboard. Go through your account and fill out all additional information, especially your profile picture, payment, and taxes info, etc. You cannot proceed without providing a government-issued ID (driver’s license or passport with a picture). Then, after a complete registration, you’ll be able to upload to Pond5.

Artist Profile Page

There is only so much Pond5 can do for you. Pond5 wants you to promote your work as well.

You can customize your profile page with a photo, showcase your media, and use it to attract buyers. Buyers can browse through your portfolio using keywords and filters. Create collections and then optimize them for search engines by editing descriptions. You can link your Pond5 Artist Profile to your website and social media accounts for maximum exposure.

Reagans and Michael Jackson
The Reagans And Michael Jackson At The White House Ceremony To Launch The Cam/Source: Pond5 Public Domain

Pond5: What can you sell?

Pond5 accepts images, videos, music, sound effects, after effects (AE) templates, and 3D models.

The Pond5 agency is transparent and easy to work with. It’s easy to upload and submit your media. You can do this via webform or via FT. The submitted media will go through a reviewing process which can last up to ten days. Reviewers decide if a file is suitable for a royalty-free or editorial license.

Pond5 videos. Due to our short attention span, videos are in high demand. Opportunities for stock images and videos have skyrocketed. Modern consumers want short videos that visually advertise a product. Written descriptions, printed catalogs, and paper-based billboards are becoming a thing of the past. According to the latest market reports COVID-19 only accelerated these trends.

Female astronauts
First Class Of Female Astronauts/Source: Pond5 Public Domain

Pond5 Royalties

Contributors can’t seem to stop raving about high Pond5 royalties. And it is true. Royalties on Pond5 are extremely contributor friendly as Pond5 offers the highest royalties in the business.

For every video you contribute to Pond5 you will get 40% or even 60% if you go with the exclusive option. This means that if you offer your video to Pond5 and other agencies, which is a totally sound strategy if you want to increase sales, you will get a 40% commission. If you decide to contribute your video only to Pond5, you will be rewarded with a higher commission.

For everything else you contribute to Pond5, you will get 50%. This means you share sales profits with Pond5 50:50.

On Pond5 there are no tiers like on Shutterstock. Everyone is in the same class, without the possibility for advancement (or need).

President Obama
President Barack Obama Talks On The Phone/Source: Pond5 Public Domain

The key advantage to mention is that you have total control of setting prices.

On one hand, this is great for experienced contributors. But, beginner photographers may have problems with pricing. It is not easy to put a good price on your work so it sells. You can make a mistake underpricing, so you won’t make much money, and overpricing, so it won’t sell as much, or at all. The choice is yours, of course. But, keeping the prices low, just to sell, isn’t an effective strategy for the long run.

For example, the prices of images on Pond5 start from $1 and videos from $5. You could price your media this low, but a better strategy would be to price them a bit higher than that, at around $8. A good idea is to observe what’s selling and at what prices. Trends come and go, so try to keep up.

You can get paid via PayPal, Skrill, or bank checks. The minimum payout threshold is $25.

Pond5 Affiliate or Referral Program

It is a very interesting option. You can make money by simply advertising Pond5. You can get 5% of the sales of referred contributors. Another 5% is guaranteed for the purchases of referred buyers within a year.

Global Partner Program. This is a sales program designed to reach a wider, global audience. Basically, contributors can give permission for their content to be offered to partner agencies and companies.

The sale rates (40-60%) stay the same, but the partner agencies have the right to lower prices. This is not great news, but still, keep in mind that you’re making money in the end.

President Kennedy
President Kennedy Greets Peace Corps Volunteers On The White House South Lawn/Source: Pond5 Public Domain

Pond5 Community

Pond5 Forums is part of the Pond5 website. It is a place where contributors can share experiences and get advice. The community is very active and welcoming. This is the best place for beginners to learn and advance. The forum includes tech discussions, collaboration, critiques, classifieds (buy, sell, swap), footage requests, and Pond5 news and updates.

Pond5 Reviews

Trust Pilot gave Pond5 an excellent rating of 4.7. The vast majority of reviews were rated excellent or great. Users are mostly fascinated by the wide selection and affordable prices. The website is fast, with a user-friendly interface. One of the lower-rated reviews complained that desired media requires payment in addition to the membership fees. This can become a costly option.

Pond5 has a friendly and expedient customer service that solves problems, which is always tough to achieve in business. To all 9306 reviews on Trust Pilot, Pond5 replied with a personalized lengthy explanation or solution if needed. It can only be concluded that Pond5 simply cares.

“Pond5 excels in all aspects of production elements: website design, shopping experience, breadth and variety of offerings, quality of content, and pricing.”

Mitch Gould, Pond5 user

“I recommend Pond5 as a source for footage stocks. This time it was an upgrade of the license. As always the assistance was excellent (warm regards for Matthew and Olivier 🙂 ), answers were immediate and the price was reasonable.”

Mirek Wozniak, PZPR, Poland

Pond5 Tips

How much you make depends on a lot of factors. Take some time to study effective strategies, affordable pricing, ever-changing trends, and best photography techniques to improve the quality of your media. Some say — find a niche. I believe it is sometimes smart to find mentors or study other successful artists.

What everyone can do on Pond5 is to use their dashboard better. You can analyze your sales and overall statistics to see what works.

Pond5 vs Competition

Pond5 is among the younger agencies. This fact makes them hungry for success. Their development is fast and upward.

Bigger stock agencies have a much harder time navigating through changing times. Trying to stay competitive is hard for everyone. Latest Shutterstock’s move to change the tier system was made at the expense of contributors and was not appreciated at all.

Pond5 Buyers

Everyone can become a buyer. It can be you but don’t be surprised when I say it is also Netflix, MTV, NBC, BBC, Disney, and many others.

On Pond5 you can find free stock, as well as paid contributions. Pond5 sells video, photos, illustrations, music, sound effects, After Effects templates, and 3D models.

  • Searching tools. To buyers, Pond5 offers the world’s largest collection of royalty-free stock images, video footage, music tracks, sound effects, and more. You can browse through their catalog and check the option in the filters — Public Domain (free) to see if there’s something you like. The search engine is straightforward. You can easily find your way using keywords, categories, or media type. You can even upload a file and search for similar footage. Pond5 will find a match in composition and color.

“Pond5 has such a good range of stuff from

different price points, you can find

something that works within your budget.” 

Freddie Wong, r0ck3tjump
  • Previews. You can download short previews before you buy. All previews are watermarked.
  • Buyer accounts. Just like contributors have accounts with many features, buyers get their own accounts on Pond5. You can get messages, participate in forum discussions, etc.
  • Buyer licenses. When you find something you want to buy, you have two options. Which option is better depends solely on your needs. Individuals with no commercial needs will become one-time buyers through an Individual license, while large enterprises will need to buy a membership — Business and Premium licenses. The difference between these types is in the amount of indemnification and how many people can use the downloaded media.
  • Indemnification. Pond5 buyers can choose to buy an option called indemnification. This means that Pond5 will step in if any legal problems occur after purchasing media from Pond5. Many large businesses/ buyers need this option and will gladly pay for Premium coverage. Pond5 will cover legal costs and settlements from $10,000 (individual license) — $1M (Premium).
  • Free stock video weekly download. This is a once in a week give-away is available only to registered users.
  • Best Price Guarantee. All Pond5 buyers are offered the Best Price Guarantee.  This means that if you find an identical item somewhere else online for a better price, Pond5 will match it. This offer stands for all media available on the Pond5 marketplace. However, note that Pond5 refuses to go lower than their minimum prices:
  • Video HD: $25
  • Video 4K: $50
  • Video SD: $15
  • Music: $15
  • After Effects: $5
  • Sound Effects: $2
  • Photos: $5
  • Illustrations: $5
  • 3D Models: $5
  • Payment. Pond5 accepts Visa, American Express, MasterCard, Discover, PayPal, and Moneybookers. Buyers are offered 4 differently priced credit packs which you can use to buy media online. The advantage to pre-purchased credit packs is controlled purchasing and bonus credit if you buy often.
  • Media of the Moment. In this category, you can see what’s trending.  It is interesting to see all the latest and the hippest.
  • Public Domain Project.  On Pond5 you can find historic media files completely free for download.
  • Free research. If you need help with a project, explain your needs to Pond5 and they will help you. If the budget is tight, you can ask for a custom price on media.
  • Adobe Premiere Plug-in. Pond5 offers a free Adobe Premiere Add-on and 50 free clips to get you started.

Working for Pond5

Pond5 is always looking for talented employees who can help them grow. On their website, you can see the available job openings or send your CV.

Pond5 is a global company which means they have offices in New York, Los Angeles, London, Prague, and Dublin. In 2019 they were included on Wealthfront’s career-launching Companies List alongside Buzzfeed, Grammarly, Namely, Popsugar, Squarespace, Quora, and others. This makes them a perfect item on every resume.

If you are creative, friendly, or simply good at new technologies, think about applying for a job.

Pond5 Conclusion

Many advantages and positive experiences with Pond5 put it high on the best stock agencies list.

Is it worth your time? Yes, definitely. If you had to choose one stock agency, Pond5 should be it.

Pond5 is genuinely interested in the rights of contributors and users. More established agencies tend to chase the money with little regard for artists’ interests.  Pond5 offers great royalties to contributors and the freedom to set their own prices. Buyers are also offered great prices for every budget, weekly free media, a wide variety of content, and licenses that include legal protection.

Making everyone happy and fighting off the competition seems to be going well for Pond5.

Furthermore, Pond5 is growing fast so we can expect more good things to come.

Scroll to Top