Since my son was born this summer I’ve found it difficult to find time for anything that doesn’t revolve around him, my wife, my dog, my 9-5, or the mountain of bottles I need to wash that seems to never disappear next to my sink.
For the past 6 ½ years I’ve been living separate lives from my home/office lives through my various blogs and online platforms. It’s disheartening to see my projects grow cobwebs.
After some self-reflection while a 17lb tiny human slept on my chest I realized I’m letting perfection and the size of what I want to create get in the way. In my mind I want everything I create to be near flawless and be of substantial length.
Remember learning about inertia in middle school science class? According to Newton’s laws of motion, an object either remains at rest or continues to move at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by a force. This is inertia — how much resistance it takes to change motion.
Most of us editors don’t feel the inertia we have because it hardly ever changes. We’re constantly in motion. Everyday we head into the office, fire up the Mac (or PC), grab a cup of coffee, and get to work editing. We’re in it day in and day out. Every time we sit down to edit we keep our motion going.
Being a video editor is no easy task. It’s like trying to do a 1,000 piece puzzle with 10,000 pieces but without seeing the box so you don’t know what you’re supposed to be making. And 3,000 of the pieces actually work for 900 of the pieces you need but you have no pieces for the other 100 pieces so you have to cram them together to complete your puzzle. Then you get asked to change the border of one of the sides but you only have middle pieces left. But you figure it out anyway because that’s what you do. Then you start work on the next puzzle.
This article will discuss the six skills every video editor needs to have in order to have a successful career, create powerful videos, and stay sane while doing it.
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The Art of the Edit
Every video editor needs to know how editing actually works. An editor should know when to cut and when to let the shot linger. They need to know the rules and how to follow them. But at the same time they need to know when and how to break them.
“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.”
Eight months ago my personal life got flipped upside down. Four months ago my professional career took a drastic turn. And a few weeks from now every waking second of my existence will forever be altered.
You can probably guess one of the changes already — my wife and I are pregnant. Our son will be here before we know it. Man, I’m nervous and excited and every other emotion in between.
The other twist of fate life threw at me was a career change. I traded in the edit bay for another role. In February I started transitioning off of editing projects and over to the producing / project management side of things. I’m with the same company and working on the same product but in a completely different role. As of mid-March I moved over to this full-time and started growing a team under me.
There are 4 things I’ve blown off doing this afternoon/evening that were marked on my calendar. That’s a problem. A calendar should be a sacred thing. Something shouldn’t go on your calendar if it can move. Once you put it on your calendar you execute whatever it is no matter what.
It stems from me not doing my weekly review this past Sunday or the Sunday before then for that matter.
The first thing on my calendar for this afternoon was to do my weekly review, even though it’s not Sunday. I know that the weekly review is my way of getting organized mentally and digitally for the upcoming week. Without it…not much gets done. I’m lost. There are too many uncompleted tasks sitting in the tool I use to organize everything. My calendar is as strong as a wet paper towel.
Okay, so what’s a weekly review? Without going too far into the weeds, I roughly follow the “Getting Things Done” method of productivity/organization. And the tool I use to organize it all is called OmniFocus. I have both the desktop and mobile version because I’m a psycho.
Wayyy back when I wrote a post called something like, “Done is Better than Perfect”. The TL;DR of it was that most of the time getting a video project out the door and delivered is better than having a perfect video project. Getting your video over to your client, director, producer, or audience is more important than having the video be 100% flawless.
The perfect video project simply doesn’t exist (unless you count Interstellar which by all accounts is the greatest movie ever made 😉). There will always be adjustments you could make. There could always be shots that need more color correction. More audio that needs sweetening. Different pacing, shot selection, etc. The thing about videos is that we’re making a 1,000-piece puzzle with 10,000 pieces while not being able to see the box to see what we’re supposed to be creating.
(Sorry for the clickbait-y title… I’m rusty at writing good, catchy titles)
It’s early in 2019. The confetti is still falling. Most of us are back to the office. Ready or not it’s time to begin another year in our careers. Another year of our lives.
Looking back at 2018 maybe there was something you didn’t do. Something you didn’t learn. Or something you didn’t accomplish. A project, a habit, a new NLE to master, a documentary to edit. So we look to 2019 as our saving grace. We have a whole fresh calendar for us to get X done. And that fills us with a glimmer of hope. That we can make that change this year. Heck, we have 12 whole months.
As the confetti is swept up and the hangovers from NYE are cured, we head back to the edit bay or cubical or home office. We got this in 2019. Then…we check our email.
My answer is a bit different than most. It’s not because I have a passion for telling stories. It’s because… well… I explain in the video.
(I know I need to clean up my beard, thank you)
What do you think? I’m in post production because I’m lazy. Because my sister told me I should. And ten years later here I am. Happy, thriving and surviving.
Why are you in post production? Leave your comments below.
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Let’s cut right to the chase: My hourly rate is $65. $65 an hour buys you whatever professional services I can provide — video editing, producing, project managing, coaching, QCing, media managing, voice-over artisting, sitting in meetings, etc.
If that’s all you wanted to know you can stop reading. But if you want to know why, the history behind it and why that number fluctuates I’ll try my best to explain it below.
When I first started freelancing I was charging $20/hour. That was in 2009 and it felt like SO MUCH MONEY. It kinda is when you’re 22 years old post-grad paying $550/month in rent for some sh**** room in a duplex with your college buddies.
How did I land on that number? I have no idea. $25 felt like too much and my first client said yes to $20/hour.
Over the years as the confidence in my skills grew so did that number. $20 became $25. $25 became $30. Then it stayed there for awhile. Freelance at that point was only part time and was extra money on top of my salary (even though that salary wasn’t much). I felt good about what I was charging and so did my clients because they were getting a bargain and still are.
Once I took the leap into freelancing I had to bring that number up. So I bumped it to a range of $35-$55/hour. I’d start by asking for $55/hour but knew I could be negotiated down to $35 or $40 for most projects. If they said yes to $55/hour then sweet! Otherwise I was still happy with the haul I was taking home.
Then once I had been in the #freelancelife for a few months I realized I needed to raise that number. The extra taxes you pay as a freelancer are killer. There is no way I could have charged that much and maintained my lifestyle. Also there is absolutely no way I could have done full-time freelancing if I wasn’t married. Seriously all you single people freelancing paying for your own health care are so courageous. Hats off to you because I do not have the balls to do that.
I realized I needed to raise my rate so I did. $65/hour. And at that point my range jumped to $45-$65. However I’d be hard-pressed to say yes to anything below $55. I made up my mind and had to stick to that range. Even if you need the money you can still say no and ultimately make more. More times than not my freelance client was willing to come up to at least $50. That $50 fit in my range so I’d take those jobs.
Several months ago I ended up taking a full-time job. But I had all this freelance work still coming in. In order to justify taking more work and jamming it into an already packed schedule (thanks to this site, Command+Edit, trying to have a somewhat normal social life, etc.) I had to raise my rates again. Now my rate is a firm $65/hour, no matter what. I will not take any less unless there’s a crazy reason like it’s for a non-profit and I’m 110% behind their cause and feel the urge to help. Otherwise…$65/hour. For everything.
If I can get more, of course I’m going to try. But 99% of the time all I’m looking for is $65/hour. That’s the sweet spot. That’ll get me to forsake happy hours and Netflix and podcasting so I can bring in a little extra coin.
My freelancing situation is more than likely different from yours. My rate works for me and it took a very long time to figure out and become comfortable talking about. In all honestly I probably should and could charge more. I know in the next year or so I’ll raise my rates again because my time will become more valuable. And in a year or so I’ll raise it again. Put this cycle on repeat until I retire.
Talking about your rate is something we editors do not do enough. That’s why I was only charging $20 an hour in the beginning. I didn’t know what I could charge. I had no one to talk to about this. My advice is charge as much as you comfortably can. Negotiating what we get paid is the most difficult part of our job but literally it is the #1 thing that matters because it is our job.
If you want to share your rate and start more conversation around rates please do so in the comments below.
If you found this article helpful could you do me a favor and share it with an editor or freelancer who could use it? Thanks.
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