With the rapid growth of multimedia and the incredible lucrativeness of platforms like YouTube, there’s really been no better time to jump into the industry. But learning how to be a freelance video editor takes some serious trial-and-error.
Fortunately, though, you’re not the first entrepreneur to forge this path. And there have been many before you whose mistakes you can learn from to better prepare yourself.
Still, becoming a freelance video editor takes a unique mix of talent, industry knowledge, and an old-fashioned leap of faith.
Do you have what it takes?
Is Learning How to Be a Freelance Video Editor Worth It?
Maybe you’ve already established yourself in the world of editing, and are just searching for the right way to strike out on your own.
If you’re new to the field, though, it’s important to know a thing or two about the industry and the changes it’s recently undergone.
To start, video as a media format is more popular than ever. And content creators have more control than at any other point in mass media history.
So, what does this mean for you?
First, it means there’s an active audience ready to watch your content at any moment.
For example, recent polls put the average number of video views at 8 billion views. Oh, by the way, that’s just on Facebook.
To put this into further context: 80 percent of all consumer internet traffic is used for video streaming.
Most importantly, companies know this. Video ads are seen as the most lucrative form of advertising by marketing professionals.
Second, it means that you have a wide range of platforms at your disposal. Whether you’re editing your own footage or someone else’s work, YouTube, Vimeo, and even Instagram or Facebook offer the opportunity to get your skills out there and in front of countless sets of eyes.
In the past, this wouldn’t have been possible without the support of a major distribution company standing behind your work.
Of course, many talented editors lead careers in the corporate media industry. But, unlike in years past, this isn’t your only option.
How to Switch From Full-Time to Freelance Video Editing
The transition from traditional employment to freelancing is a difficult one. This is true, regardless of your field.
With the right amount of preparation, though, you can make this move as stress-free and painless as possible.
Here’s what you need:
Your own equipment
The largest investment toward becoming a freelance video editor is, by far, the actual editing equipment.
Unlike working at a media production office or agency, though, this cost will come straight from your pockets.
When first starting out, you’ll need things like a heavy-duty computer and video editing software like Final Cut Pro or Lightworks.
Additional must-haves may also include high-quality headphones and an external hard drive.
Chances are, you already have some of these items for completing hobby editing projects. Keep in mind, though, that freelancing could very likely require upgrades to your current equipment now or in the near future.
In a perfect world, we could all close our eyes, hold our breath, and dive straight into our dream career.
But you probably don’t need us to tell you that this is a recipe for disaster (worst case scenario: in the form of eviction).
When taking the plunge into freelancing, you should assume that you won’t make any notable income for two to three months. In other words, you should have several months worth of living expenses saved up and set aside.
If you don’t have these funds saved up now, consider pushing back your transition a little bit longer.
Or, even better, look into switching to part-time work until you can afford to take the leap.
Impressive portfolio examples
How will clients know that you have the skills and artistic eye they’re searching for? By looking at your portfolio, of course.
If you’ve been employed as a video editor, you’re no stranger to the concept of portfolio work. You probably had to produce one for your last job interview.
But as a freelancer, your portfolio is much more than a simple interview aid. It’s the difference between success and failure.
In some cases, you may be able to use work completed at a previous employer in your freelance portfolio. However, check that you have permission to do so from both the employer and the client.
On the other hand, your portfolio doesn’t need to feature paid work exclusively.
Personal passion projects are excellent examples to include in a portfolio, as long as they display your skills in a context marketable to prospective clients.
You can also reach out to local charities and non-profits to offer free work in exchange for featuring this work in your portfolio.
Why doesn’t everyone work for themselves? If you have any experience being self-employed, you know that one of the top answers to that question is the amount of behind-the-scenes work that’s required.
As a freelance video editor, you won’t just be responsible for editing and other related tasks.
You’ll also need to worry about:
- Drafting contracts
- Scheduling your time
- Finding new clients
- Sending out invoices
- Filing your taxes
And that’s just the tip of the clerical iceberg.
With that said, freelancing in any form is extremely rewarding. If you have what it takes to be a self-sufficient entrepreneur, it’s your duty to go for it.
Plus, the business side of freelancing has become much easier to manage in recent years. With the development of software like invoicely, day-to-day tasks like invoicing and expense tracking just take a few clicks of your mouse.
How Much Money do Freelance Video Editors Make?
It’s important to follow your passion, especially when it comes to a long-term career. At the end of the day, though, we all work to make a living.
So, can you rely on freelance video editing to pay the bills? Or, will you forever be stuck taking on editing as a side gig?
Depending on location, experience, talent, and niche, U.S. video editors averaged $28.36 per hour in 2018.
Of course, everyone’s experience will vary. And since these numbers come from all working editors, not just freelancers, they might not offer a perfect representation.
How much should you charge clients?
Again, the exact skills and services you offer will affect your average rates. Whether you charge by the hour or per project, no two contracts will pay the exact same.
The best way to set your initial rates is to look at what your peers are charging. Be sure to account for differing experience, location, and specialties.
Here are three other factors that can mean making more or less on a video editing project:
1. Production services
Yes, some professionals edit videos and that’s the only service they offer. However, it’s not uncommon for editing to be just a small part of a contracted project.
If your video production skills span more than just editing (think scriptwriting, directing, or filming), there’s no reason you can’t market these services to clients, as well.
2. Video length
This is probably pretty obvious. But the longer the video, the more you should charge.
If you charge by the hour, then the length of a video will account for itself in your final rates. But if you offer your clients a flat-rate quote at the start, you need to take into account the length of their project.
3. Editing scope
At its core, video editing is just cutting and arranging different clips to form a cohesive piece.
As you know, though, editing is actually much, much more than this.
If a client requests additions like voiceover, stock footage, or animations that you are responsible for sourcing, your rates need to reflect this additional work. Any additional work should also be clearly outlined in your contract.
The Future of Media — Is There an End to the Video Trend?
If you dream of becoming a freelance video editor, there’s no better time than right now to take the plunge.
Video media is growing at astounding rates, with no end to this growth in the foreseeable future. And for those in the film and video editing industries, career growth is projected at 17 percent by the year 2026.
Businesses and organizations of all kinds are looking to cash in on video for their own advertising and information sharing needs.
But most businesses don’t have the equipment, technical knowledge, or talented personnel needed to create high-quality video.
That’s where you come in.
Learn more about how invoicely can make your transition from full-time to freelancing even smoother.