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Filming Your Own ‘Stock Footage’ Will Help You Create More Content, Faster

A step-by-step guide to creating your own library of stock footage to use in your social media videos — and why you should.

Mar 26, 2024 8 min readSocial Media Marketing
Photo of Kirsti Lang
Kirsti Lang

Content Writer @ Buffer

Picture this: the perfect idea for a TikTok, Instagram Reel, or YouTube Short strikes. It’s a simple, thought-provoking quote or statement in line with the text-over-simple-clip trend on Instagram and TikTok. 

All you need now is the background footage to go with it. 

So you hop onto your stock photo site of choice and spend hours scrolling through expensive, too-perfect, generic clips that just won’t work. After a while, you give up — and don’t post anything at all. 

It’s a frustrating and all-too-common experience for marketers and creators alike. I can’t tell you how many great ideas I’ve binned because I don’t have the footage I need to make it work.

That is, until Buffer’s Social Media Manager, Mitra Mehvar, put me on to the idea of creating my own stock footage for my social media accounts. 

The idea is genius in its simplicity: Film the parts of your day related to your content niche (more on this below), even if you have no plans for the clips right now. For Mitra, this means plenty of footage of her day working remotely as a Social Media Manager. 

For me (I’m a Buffer writer by day, podcaster, and fitness nerd by night), this means clips of myself in the gym or filming myself as I record the next episode of my show. Within a few days of filming random clips, I had the perfect opportunity to use some of them when I stumbled upon a trending TikTok audio:

@itsmekirsti

I started doing it for my physical health. I kept doing it for my mental health. Exercise might no longer be a part of my career, but it’s still a huge part of my life. ✨ I’ve been working out consistently for over a decade. Its been my primary coping mechanism through Break ups Moving home Moving jobs Moving countries Pregnancy Post partum Motherhood Marriage Some days all I have is 15 minutes, and that’s OK. That’s enough. How do you motivate yourself to workout? Recognize that there are benefits beyond the physical. Lean into them. Sure, its no substitute for actual therapy. But right now, it works for me. P.S. Yes, this audio is extremely cheesy but I kind of dig it. 😂

♬ My Escape: Gym Motivational Speech - Fearless Motivation

Now, I have a bank of recorded stock footage to tap into whenever I need it, which has been a game-changer when it comes to staying consistent on social. In this article, I’ll unpack how you can do the same, plus share some ideas of clips worth collecting.

Another way to work smarter, not harder: Crosspost your Shorts, Reels, and TikToks to other platforms to maximize your chances of success. Scheduling your YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok content with Buffer makes this easy. Here’s how →

What is stock footage?

Stock footage, also known as archive footage or B-roll footage, is a video clip that can be reused and repurposed in various ways. 

Like stock photos, you’ll find stock footage is easy to buy online (we have a comprehensive list of free stock photo websites to explore, many of which offer video, too). Going this route on social is an option — many brands and creators go this route — but finding clips that aren’t too polished or pricey can be tricky. Some of these stock videos will also have specific copyright rules you must follow, even after buying them. 

This is why you should consider creating your own stock footage by filming all the random parts of your day that would make great additions to your social media videos, whether edited into a story-driven video or used as a background to a text-drive clip like the one I mentioned above.

How to create your own stock footage

As I touched on above, the process is really straightforward. Simply capture moments from your day related to your content (though you’ll want to do some strategy and planning for the best results). Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Consider what kind of footage will be most helpful for you. What videos have you gone out of your way to film in your most recent videos — could some of those shots be recreated and repurposed? What clips will help you take followers behind the scenes in your business or life? These ideas will constantly evolve — especially as you start filming — but they should always tie back to your content pillars.
  2. Make a list. Jot down the ideas that popped into your head, and then extrapolate on them. A fitness creator, for example, might want to include things like packing their gym bag or loading up their barbell. (You’ll find some examples to spark ideas below).
  3. Get your recording equipment ready. Have everything you need ready to go for moments when inspiration strikes to remove the friction of filming. That doesn’t necessarily mean investing in anything particular over and above what you already use. A tripod can be handy, but I went with a sturdy water bottle that I could prop by phone up against. 
  4. Get filming. Here’s one part that’s best not to overthink — whenever you perform one of the tasks on your list above, get your phone or camera out and film a few minutes of it. I’ve found that unless I’m recording a timelapse or a longer clip that I plan to speed up, going for short snippets tends to work better. The last thing you want is to spend hours chopping up your stock footage to something you can actually use. 
  5. Create a stock photo folder. Save all your stock footage in a specific folder on your phone or device so it’s easy to find and sift through when you’re looking for something specific. 
  6. Block time out to film stock (optional). If you’re not building up your stock footage library as much as you’d like, you could dedicate a day, afternoon, or even an hour to film. Here, you’ll want to review your social media content calendar to be strategic about the shots you need to get and pick your location accordingly. 
  7. Set up filming ‘dates.’ If you’re a social media manager who needs clips of a business owner creating their product, set it up. If you’re a creator, you could ask a partner or friend to come to a couple of locations with you to film or even team up with another creator and film for each other. 

It’s worth noting that certain locations might have rules about filming, so be sure to check that before you head out. You’ll also want to avoid filming the faces of other people around you without their permission.

7 stock footage ideas to add to your list (+ examples)

Here are some stock footage ideas, as well as how creators and brands have used them in practice, to help you create your own list of must-film moments

1. At work 

If you’re building your personal professional brand or a social media marketer for a business, take viewers behind the scenes with a (work) day in your life. The most authentic brands are the ones that resonate the best with their audience, so give your followers a chance to connect with you. 

For creators like @rita_codes, that means clips of her typing away at her desk and reacting to messages are her bread and butter:

@rita_codes Design devolution 🙅‍♀️ Collab with @sonderingemily ♥️ #design #webdesign #uxdesign #remote #remotework #programming #coding #programmer #developer #technology #computerscience #software #tech #webdeveloper #webdevelopment #softwaredeveloper #programmingmemes #softwareengineer #womenintech #womenwhocode #programminghumor #programmingfun ♬ original sound - rita_codes

If you’re a creator, ‘at work’ might mean everything from unboxing gadgets to baking — whatever footage is most useful for your niche. 

For personal trainer @cassolholm, that means setting up for her powerlifting sessions. 

For @gamergirlgale, that means clips of her latest game. 

2. At play

As a creator, some clips of your hobbies certainly won’t go to waste. For example, @wellness_ed put this family beach clip to work as part of the ‘introduce yourself’ trend that has been doing the rounds on Instagram (a great use case for stock footage, too). 

Here’s another great example from @tori__porter, who edited clips from a plethora of her wellness hobbies together in this compilation video: 

3. In production

As a small business owner, pull back the curtain on your production process to show how much love and energy goes into your products — especially if that process involves you getting your hands dirty in the way ceramicist @laurynbowers does in this Reel:

4. Travel

Even if you’re not a travel creator, moments captured from holidays and special trips can be helpful in your content. 

Here’s a montage of moments from @sarahbmarks — not from a specific trip, but several she’s saved over many months to create a video of tips for traveling on trains. 

@sarahbmarks Tips for travelling by train in Europe 🚅🙌🏼 #traveltips #traintravel #train #travel #eurostar #europetravel ♬ original sound - missy vicky 💞 - ★.𝐕𝐢𝐜𝐤𝐲🥂

I also love how @hikingwithmary cleverly used audio from the Twilight movies to showcase the misty beauty of Juneau in Alaska. 

@hikingwithmary The small town of Juneau #alaska #juneau #adventure #rainydays #moodyweather ♬ ac vhscoven on Instagram - mia

5. On the go

Clips of you on the go can be surprisingly handy — especially when you look like the part, like @mrs_emontano. This simple clip of her walking across the street (with an incredibly clever caption) boasts more than 270K views and probably took a few minutes to create.

5. Scenery

A picturesque sunset, rolling hills, a misty mountain — any beautiful vistas you encounter could be an excellent vehicle for sharing words of wisdom with your followers. 

Here’s a great example from @__charlineen__

@__charlineen__ Live a little 🧡 #quotes #quoteoftheday #sunset #portugal #portugalviral #foryou #fyp #traveltiktok #relatable #lifelessons ♬ live a little - The National Park Travelers 📸

5. Get ready with me

A successful GRWM video doesn’t necessarily have to mean chattering away to the camera — a timelapse of how you prepare for the day ahead is another great way to give followers a window into your world. 

Beauty journalist @morganfargo has mastered the art of overlaying these clips with thoughtful voiceovers. 

@morganfargo i think about this often, especially because i know that doing things in public can be really motivating for some people but for me it always felt so overwhelming 🐢 #fyp #fypシ #grwm #chattygrwm #vlog #getreadywithme #lululemon #lululemoneducator ♬ original sound - morgs

6. Around your office/town/home

Another way to give followers a peek behind the curtain is to show them where you work and live. What you take for granted about your surroundings may be fascinating to your audience. 

Here’s a look at how @gemdimond invited her audience to take a look around her new office:

@gemdimond Replying to @Rosie Chong Welcome to HQ! @Eclat #officetour #workvlog #interiordesign #officedecor #interiorinspo ♬ original sound - Gemma Dimond

7. The small things

Don’t underestimate your downtime. A steaming cup of tea, cozying up with a blanket and a book, or making a healthy meal can prove wonderful for reflection and sharing that meaningful tradition, quote, or life lesson with your followers. (Though I recommend only doing this for a minute or two so you can actually relax.)

Do you have any stock footage ideas that are not on this list? I’d love to hear them! Tell us more in the comments below, or join Buffer’s Discord to chat. 

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