Using stock footage is one of the easiest ways to enhance your video content. When used correctly, stock footage can take your videos to an entirely new level, and editing it into your content takes a fraction of the time it takes to shoot your own B-roll.
More good news is that there are tons of options for accessing stock video footage. You’ve got your stock video buffets with “all-you-can-eat” subscriptions that give you complete access to thousands of stock videos within one site.
Then there’s the single-use licensing website that allows you to make one-time stock video purchases. Oh, and did we mention that there are even plenty of free stock video sites for all you hobbyists and creators on a budget?
In other words, there’s a site for you no matter your budget or needs for stock video footage.
Important: When available, we use affiliate links and may earn a commission!
In this guide, check out our top recommendations for the best stock video sites right now. Each of the sites covered here gives users access to royalty free stock video footage that can do wonders for your content.
Why Use Stock Footage in Your Content?
Before getting into the list of best royalty free stock video sites, let’s talk about why we love stock video content so much.
First of all, using stock footage is a HUGE time-saver. Shooting your own B-roll footage is time-consuming, and the B-roll footage you shoot might not even do that much to enhance the content.
So if you’re sick of spending hours shooting B-roll footage that’s mediocre at best, stock footage is a great solution.
Second, stock videos have the ability to tell a story. They allow you to communicate your message with visuals that your audience can relate to. They paint a picture, and with so many stock video sites to choose from, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding the exact picture you want to paint.
And the third big reason to use stock videos for editing is to cover up mistakes within your footage.
If you’re not happy with the way a clip looks or something happened to the visual aspect of the shot, you can still utilize the audio by editing a stock video clip on top of the original shot.
Best Stock Video Sites Right Now
Now that there are so many stock video sites online, finding stock footage is so much easier than it used to be. Unfortunately, with so many options available to video creators, knowing which site is right for you and your budget isn’t always as easy.
In our list of best stock video websites, we’ve covered the best free stock video sites as well as our favorite paid options. Here’s the complete list of the best stock video sites for every budget:
- Stock Footage 4 Free (FREE)
- Pexels (FREE)
- Pixabay (FREE)
- StoryBlocks (PAID)
- ArtGrid (PAID)
- Envato Elements (PAID)
- Shutterstock (PAID)
Even if you’re almost 100% sure that free stock footage is right for you, at least try to keep an open mind when it comes to the paid sites. There is a big difference between paid and free stock video, and for a lot of people, it might be well worth spending the money.
Top Free Stock Video Sites
Let’s start with the best stock video sites free of charge. After spending tons of time checking out the what seems like endless number of free options, the 3 that stand out most are:
Why Use These Free Sites?
Out of all the free sites out there, these 3 are the best for a number of reasons. First of all, they keep the process of selecting stock footage simple and don’t overcomplicate things when it comes to licensing.
You won’t be restricted to terms and conditions for what you can and can’t do with the footage, and for the most part, there are no restrictions for footage usage.
Because of this simplicity, it’s very unlikely that you’ll need to credit the creator of any of the clips chosen from SF4F, Pexels, or Pixabay.
Downsides of Using Free Sites
While all 3 of these sites are great options if you’re looking for a free stock video solution, they do have a few flaws, including
- Size of the library
- Searching capabilities
- Quality of the videos
- Clips are Less Unique
Con: Size of the Library
The biggest downside to using a free site is that the size of the library is much smaller than you’d typically find from a paid site. Paid sites invest a heap of money into buying and licensing stock footage, so you’re much more likely to find exactly what you’re looking for from a paid site.
With free sites, you’re limited to a smaller number of clips, and you might not even be able to find what you’re looking for at all if you have a specific clip in mind.
Con: Searching Capabilities
The hardest part of browsing through stock footage is actually finding the perfect clip to seamlessly fit into your content, and it’s definitely more of a challenge with free sites.
With a paid stock video site, there’s generally a lot more control within the user interface, specifically when it comes to the search process. They allow users to dial in the search to find a clip that’s an exact match for what you’re looking for.
With free sites like Stock Footage 4 Free, Pexels, and Pixabay, the search functionality isn’t nearly as intelligent. This lack of control and power is a big reason why many creators take the plunge into paid sites instead of going with the free options.
Con: Quality of the Videos
Not only is the library smaller and more difficult to navigate with free stock video sites, but the overall quality of the content tends to be lower, too.
The phrase “you get what you pay for” definitely applies here.
The clips accessed through paid sites are far superior in terms of quality, and many of them are even shot by professional videographers. This is yet another big reason to consider a paid site over a free one.
Another flaw of using a free site is that the licensing isn’t nearly as straightforward as you’ll find with a paid site. We did mention earlier that all 3 free options on our list have fairly simple licensing, but that’s not actually the norm for free stock footage.
Most free sites have a lot of restrictions with the footage they offer regarding what you can and can’t do with it and where it can be uploaded. With paid sites, licensing is infinitely more straightforward.
Licensing/copyright infringement is a big deal, especially for creators who are monetizing videos or creating videos for clients or broadcast.
Even if you do go with one of our free recommendations, it’s likely that you’ll have to spend more time looking into licensing to make sure you’re not infringing on the site’s terms.
Con: Clips Are Less Unique
Remember what we said earlier about the smaller libraries with free sites? This doesn’t just make it more difficult to find the perfect clip… It also means that the clips you use are more likely to be used by others.
Paid sites have way more to choose from, so if you want to stand out and use clips that aren’t all over the internet, it’s worth considering a paid option.
Top Paid Stock Video Sites
Just as there’s a long list of free options to choose from, the same goes for paid stock video sites. Out of all the paid sites online right now, there are 4 that stand out as the best:
The first 3 sites on the shortlist – StoryBlocks, ArtGrid, and Envato – offer subscription-based plans. This is something a lot of creators love since it’s possible to access an entire library of footage for a single monthly or yearly fee.
Shutterstock is another solid choice, but the only payment option for using this site is to pay for each stock video individually. This isn’t ideal if you plan on using lots of stock video clips over time; it’s not nearly as economical as a monthly or yearly subscription plan.
StoryBlocks recently rebranded from VideoBlocks. Now, the site features a section called StoryBlocks Video, StoryBlocks Audio, and StoryBlocks Images.
StoryBlocks Pricing Guide
To access stock video footage only, focus on StoryBlocks Video, where there are currently 2 subscription-based plans to choose from:
- Basic Video for $8.25/month (or $99/year)
- Unlimited Video for $16.58/month (or $199/year)
With the basic plan, users get access to 5 stock video downloads per month. With the unlimited plan, you get unlimited access to the entire StoryBlocks library, including Member Library videos, HD stock video, 4K stock footage, and even templates for AfterEffects.
Considering you get access to the normal library as well as the Member Library that contains all the user-generated content, a StoryBlocks subscription offers a lot of bang for your buck.
ArtGrid is the new kid on the block, but it still manages to stand out for filmmakers and content creators who want high-quality stock footage.
The videos found within the ArtGrid library are far from average. It offers really nice slow-mo videos, impeccable drone shots, unique time-lapses – basically anything you might want to put in your content as overlay footage.
Another ArtGrid pro is that the library is growing, and it’s growing FAST. However, it’s still not as extensive as the libraries you’ll find with the other paid sites covered here.
ArtGrid Pricing Guide
There are currently 3 different pricing plans to access ArtGrid footage.
The Junior Plan gives users access to all of the HD footage on the site, and it’s $25/month. For things like 4K stock footage or ProRes clips, the Creator Plan ($40/month) or Professional Plan ($50/month) will be the better option for you.
About Envato Elements
In the grand scheme of things, Envato Elements is a fairly new site to hit the stock footage scene. But that hasn’t stopped it from outshining many of the paid options available today.
Similar to StoryBlocks, Envato is so much more than just a stock video site. In addition to high-quality stock footage, a subscription to Envato gets you unlimited downloads to everything within the site. That includes:
- WordPress Themes & Plugins
- Stock Photos
- Music & Audio
- Courses & Ebooks
- VideoHive Templates for Motion Graphics, Intros, Outros, etc.
Envato Elements Pricing Guide
The Envato Elements pricing plan works out to about $16.50/month if you sign up for an entire year. That means for just $16.50 each month, you get access to unlimited downloads for stock videos, templates, photos, music tracks, and more.
Last but certainly not least is Shutterstock. Even though Shutterstock doesn’t offer the option for a monthly/yearly subscription plan, it’s worth considering thanks to its MASSIVE video library.
The Shutterstock library is the largest on this list of best stock video sites, and that’s ultimately why it’s made the cut. So if you’re unable to find exactly what you’re looking for from the other sites, there’s a very good chance you’ll still be able to find the perfect video on Shutterstock.
Shutterstock Pricing Guide
Shutterstock is the only site covered here that requires users to pay per clip. For a single clip, the starting price is $79, but you’ve also got the option to purchase clips in bundles of 5, 10, or 25 clips ahead of time for $359, $669, or $1579 respectively.
Top Pick for Paid Stock Footage: StoryBlocks
As of right now, StoryBlocks is our go-to site for accessing stock video clips. It has a decent-sized library and good search functionality. Best of all, the price is right when you factor in everything that comes along with the subscription.
If you’re unable to find the perfect clip on StoryBlocks, it’s recommended that you move over to ArtGrid next, especially if you’re on the hunt for a professionally shot, high-quality clip.
Still can’t find what you’re looking for? Then it’s time to move on to Envato Elements, followed by Shutterstock if it’s worth spending the money on a single clip. You might consider going straight to Shutterstock for things like client work or documentaries to save time finding a specific clip.
Start Using Royalty Free Stock Footage Today!
There you have it – the complete list of best sites for accessing both paid and free stock video.
In this guide, we covered some big differences between paid and free options and why it might be worth paying for your stock video instead of using a free site.
Paid sites definitely come out on top when you consider things like library size, interface usability and searchability, licensing, and quality of the footage you can access. Plus, using a paid option like StoryBlocks or ArtGrid generally leads to more unique content.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that there’s no one-size-fits-all perfect solution; the one you go with (whether it’s paid or free) really comes down to which site offers the clips you need within your content.
Once you’ve found the right stock video site for you, why not check out our review of the Best Sites for Video Background Music so you can get some great tracks for your videos.
Interested in learning more tips and tricks for creating quality video content? Check out our guide on the ULTIMATE Process for Editing Videos Faster. This free download provides you with tons of video editing tips and tricks that can take your videos to an entirely new level.
When available, we use affiliate links and may earn a commission!
Recommended Stock Video Websites:
Check out an up-to-date list of all the gear, software & tools we use and recommend right now at Primal Video on our resources page here!