So you’ve finally hit that point. You’re lookin’ to make some skrilla’ online with your sound effects. Now, I’d be lying if I said you’d get rich quick, or be able to figure it out from the get go. However, I’ve managed to make a nice chunk of passive income selling my sounds, and I want to pay that forward. So here it is:
Pond 5 splits the sale 50/50 with you, and makes it easy to organize all of your effects. They host the audio on their servers, and you can deliver as high of quality audio as you like — not too shabby. Plus, they handle all of the credit card mess, and will automatically do a direct deposit to your Paypal account once you make over $25. Basically, you post media – Pond 5 sells media – you both make money.
Sounds simple, but I truthfully didn’t make much until I honed my selling craft with these 5 techniques:
1. Study the Best Sellers
When you search for a sound effect on Pond 5, you can change the filter to sort by most sold. This allows you to see what’s selling the best, and how those sellers are describing their sfx (sound effects). Go ahead, and leverage those same techniques. It’s not stealing. Nobody’s judging you. If it’s working for the big dogs, it’ll likely work for you. Free market research baby!
2. Know Who You’re Selling To
A few indie film and gaming companies use Pond 5, but their #1 customers are actually entrepreneurs (podcasters / bloggers) and public speakers. These people tend to want simple sound effects, and the best sellers reflect it. If you’re gonna’ sell music, keep it uplifting, positive, and motivating. Seriously, use words like that in your file name and description. You’re playing a very old fashioned game of SEO optimization when you’re naming tracks for Pond 5’s search engine. Take advantage of those loaded keywords, and even list 2 or 3 mediums for what they can be used in.
Uplifting Fun and Happy Ukulele Tune – Film | TV | Public Speaking
That covers a bunch of power key words, and tells the consumer where it might be best used. As soon as I started doing this with my sound effects, my sales quadrupled.
3. Master the Nuts and Bolts
You’d think people would be eating up the crazy complex sound effects…
N – O – P – E
The best sellers tend to be whooshes, swishes, cinematic hits, fireballs, rain, and crowds cheering. That’s right, the nuts and bolts of your basic professional sound library. Before I released my dragon cries (all voice acted – no processing at all) my best seller was called,
That’s right. Classic Squeak. I’d taken a cabbage, and recorded it squeaking with a Zoom H4n. That squeak alone made me like $30. I’ve now outdone that with a track called Scary Tension that sold privately for $200 to a motion picture. Who said you couldn’t make money online!?
Anyway, it all goes back to KISS.
Keep. It. Simple. Stupid.
Just because you think it’s really cool, doesn’t mean it’s actually useful. Deliver sounds that can be used over and over again for super common purposes like a mouse click, or a title whooshing by.
This is so basic, but you need to normalize your tracks. If the waveform is tiny, it won’t play well on computer speakers, and your potential consumer will pass over it for somebody else who took the time to normalize. It’s easier to turn down a track than it is to turn it up, so make sure you’re normalizing your audio to something like -.5 dB.
5. High Quality Recordings Only
Pond 5’s moderators rate your submissions before they even hit the marketplace.
They rate your audio before others can even hear it. There’s definitely been some controversy here, but that doesn’t change the status quo. You need to submit high quality recordings in order to get a good initial rating, and have the chance to pop out in the marketplace. Here are my recommendations for crushing the review process:
- Audio quality of at least 24 bit 48 k
- Clean empty audio on each side of the active audio — bookend your sounds with silence
- Normalize your files
- Give the file an accurate and detailed title
- Include a real sales pitch within the description and list out where it might be used
- No preamp hiss, or ambient sound in the background
You do that, you’ll be all set.
I’ll tip you off: sound effects sell much more often than music tracks. Leverage that. Also, don’t undersell your effects. Luckily, Pond 5 now tells you what the best sellers are selling at, so you can use that price or go ahead and goose it up a bit. I sold a minute long track for $200, so clearly there’s a market out there.
Deliver great useable audio that fills a need. Your effects can be amazing, but if there’s no demand then they’re not gonna sell. Also, stock audio is a numbers game. You typically need to get 1,000 effects in your library before you start seeing some real traction. Most of the pros have 10,000+. Basically, if you have enough out there, you’ll stand out, and people will start finding you.
I hope this article helps everybody out. It took me a few months and a ton of forum diving to find some of these tips when I was starting out. Don’t expect massive results or to get rich. This market just doesn’t work like that. It’s passive, side income that you set and forget, so keep that in mind as you progress.
What other methods have you found for boosting your stock audio sales? Leave a comment below, and be sure to share some of your successes!