As I write this it’s 4:39am. I’ve been up since 4:00am fighting heartburn. Is it from dinner? Is it from last night’s whiskey? Is it because I’m turning 30 tomorrow and this is what getting older feels like?
I’ve been attempting to write this post for months but haven’t been able to find the words. I can’t think of a better time than the present to try though.
Over the past two and two thirds years I’ve spent several thousand hours of my life dedicated to Edit Video Faster. Check out this massive archive page I recently build as proof. This site or business, whatever you’d call it, is a very large part of me and who I am. I love it dearly and want to see it grow into something much greater than what it is now. However I’ve reached a point in my life and in my career that the hours I spend on EVF and the many more hours I spend stressing about the never-ending to-do list I’ve created for myself around EVF are not in alignment with where I’m trying to take said life and career.
All the stress around what I want to build and actually building it are taking a toll on me. I feel it every morning when I write out my most important tasks of the day. I feel it all day as I work on and for my freelance business. I feel it every evening when I’m trying to spend time with my wife and dog. I feel it every night lying in bed realizing I didn’t get this or that project moved forward at all today. And it hurts. It hurts so bad and it’s my fault.
Regardless of blame or why, I’m incredibly sorry. I feel that I need to step away, temporarily but indefinitely, from Edit Video Faster to regain the perspective and motivation I need to continue to build EVF into the honest, thorough resource for video editors that I want it to be and that you deserve.
What does that mean? Well, not a whole lot since I can’t seem to finish any project for EVF anyway!! (Just kidding, but a little self-deprecating humor felt needed)
But for real, what does that mean?
Some, but a lot less content. One of my priorities for this break is to take the pressure to create wayyyyyy down. No deadlines. No broken promises. I want to create how I used to create for EVF…organically and about whatever was inspiring me at that time instead of creating based on some arbitrary content schedule I set up for myself months prior. That’s the system I’m currently working under that is not working.
My plan is still to continue to write blog posts, send out newsletters and create video tutorials but when the mood strikes. I don’t want to publish a newsletter because I publish a newsletter every week. I want to publish a newsletter because there’s news that you should know about!
There’s a 100-mile long backlog of projects, tasks and to-dos I need to carefully inventory. Taking this time off, whether it’s for a few weeks or a few months, will hopefully allow me the time and perspective to reorganize them in a way that will be the most meaningful for you and in a way that’ll allow me to actually complete them.
At the end of the day (btw, I hate the phrase) I want to be able to create more and better stuff for you, focused around your growth as an editor. The current state of how I’m doing this is not working. If you’re ever in need, have questions or just need someone to talk post (or baseball) with I’ll still and will always be here for you. Just shoot me a message here.
PS: I’ll still be active on Twitter and Snapchat. Please say hi to me there if you haven’t before!
As we start a new week I’m sitting here scratching my head searching for some cool, relevant post production news to write about. I could mention the Oscars and Joi McMillon being the first black female nominee for film editing. I could mention the recent Editors Retreat. I could mention any number of political issues dominating seemingly every bit of social media, news coverage or casual conversation we may have. But I’m still sitting here thinking about iMovie.
On Friday night my wife and I went out and bought her a MacBook Air. Our previously laptop-less household was in desperate need of one. $849 later we were back home signing into iCloud, iTunes and a dozen other applications that begin with ‘I’.
::Jump cut to Saturday night::
My wife, who is not an editor, edited a 6-minute movie of our trip to Vietnam. It’s complete with animated lower thirds, timewarps, blur dissolves, stock music (that I provided from my Soundstripe account) and more. It’s a legit video that most any big-time travel vlogger would be proud of. I couldn’t be more proud of her!
It’s apparent that iMovie has shortcomings, especially for us trained editors. But it can get the job done for a lot of people. Some of the biggest people on YouTube began cutting in iMovie. You may have started in iMovie. After watching her spend a few hours in iMovie it’s clear that iMovie has two jobs. First, to help amateur video creators edit their first videos. And second, to those that let it, inspire them to be creative.
My wife will never be a professional video editor. But she could very well become an inspired video creator in her free time. And iMovie seems to let her do that. The creative tools are right there and fairly easy to use. Titles automatically have (darn good-looking) transitions. Timewarps have automatic presets. Color corrections apply like filters on Instagram. Anything a new editor could want is right there.
I’m going to try my best not to rag on iMovie anymore. It’s a piece of software that we should encourage people to use as a stepping stone to more advanced NLEs if their videos require it.
I’d love to hear any thoughts you have on iMovie. Share them below in the comments section or send them to me privately here.
BTW, the other day I created an Archive Page that contains every article I’ve written and tutorial I’ve created. Please check it out if you’re new around here.
Hey, one last thing. I publish a weekly(ish) newsletter about post production news and happenings around this site. If you’d like to receive it and notifications about new blog posts go here to sign up.
I had to fire up my 11-year-old PowerBook G4 laptop in order to find this picture. Can’t believe that thing still works.
I had just turned 18. I was covered in a cold sweat from the February gymnasium air. I had my red, white and blue wrestling singlet on. My black Nike mesh shorts. My Asics black and white wrestling shoes tied way too tight like always. My headgear laid on the floor next to me as my head laid even lower.
A few minutes before I had lost my second match in the Virginia AA Wrestling Regionals. That meant I was out of the tournament and my four years of varsity wrestling was over. My 119lb body, which was north of 140lbs back in November, that could run 7 miles without being winded suddenly felt worn out.
As I sat on that floor so many emotions and memories ran through me. Anyone who has every knowingly competed in a sport for their final time can relate. When you are that deep into something you feel complete.
At that moment as I sat on that hard gym floor, my back against the cinder brick wall, I told myself I’d never do something like that to myself again. It felt like I was the most tired 18-year-old on the planet.
Sitting there felt like an eternity when it was probably less than a minute before my dad walked over. He nudged me with his foot. I looked up. “Want some pizza?” he asked.
I bit into my second slice of lukewarm Papa Johns off of the white paper plate we got at the concession stand in the hallway of a high school in Orange, VA. Never again I told myself.
Fast-forward, jump cut, wipe or cross-dissolve your way 12 years into the future. At almost 30 I consider myself successful. I’m college educated. I run a steady self-employed company. I write on multiple websites, podcast, have a fledgling YouTube channel, have the best wife and dog in the world, travel the world on occasion, get to see friends and family whenever I want, have no health concerns and overall a pretty happy guy.
Why does it feel like there’s constantly something missing?
I could be wrong. I could be 100% wrong about this whole thing. But I think I know what’s missing and it’s on that gym floor in the middle of Nowhere, Virginia lying next to my wrestling headgear.
It’s not the wrestling mat. It’s not sprawls or takedown drills or pushups (even though I still do at least 50 a day). It’s that all-in dedication to doing straight up hard work.
No one, at least no one I can imagine, vomits in the hallway trashcan after writing a blog post or recording a podcast. This stuff is still straight up hard work but of another kind.
Anyone can find 15 a day to write a blog post and publish it everyday for a year and a half like I have on my other site. That’s difficult and takes a hell of a lot of dedication. But it’s not like the straight up hard work that went into wrestling.
Anyone can find an hour or two a week to write a newsletter and cut a quick tutorial. It’s scary to put yourself out there to the world like that. But it’s not like the straight up hard work that went into wrestling.
What’s like wrestling is completing this massive list of unfinished projects or projects I haven’t even begun that I stare at everyday.
I haven’t been doing straight up hard work for you and I’m sorry. I can blame those early mornings before school sitting in the sauna at the community center a county over in order to cut weight. I can blame those offseason bleacher runs. I can blame any number of things or memories or the residual pain left in my right shoulder from this one match that took everything out of me but I won 2-1 in overtime, securing a tournament win for my team.
I haven’t been doing straight up hard work for you and I’m sorry.
I have no action plan. I have no idea where to begin. Outside of completing the above massive list of projects I don’t know what straight up hard work for Edit Video Faster even looks like. But I know it’s something that I have to do in order to feel whole, to feel complete again.
I’d love for you to stick around for this journey. If you’re new around here I recommend starting here.
If you have any thoughts to share or old wrestling stories leave them in the comments below or send me a private message here.
Today begins my by 13th week of freelancing. I’m (verrrrrry) far from saying I’m comfortable. However I’ve never been happier with my employment situation or made more money than I am at this very moment. I’ve also never had this much uncertainty on where I’m finding my paycheck each week or never worked so hard. In this post I want to share with you 8 lessons I’ve learned so far in my freelance journey. I hope they can help you if you are a freelancer, are looking to make the transition to being a freelancer or just are interested in life as a freelance video editor.
Lesson 1: The Work Will Come
Work will find it’s way to you. It just does. I can’t 100% explain it. But somehow you will find work. Maybe it’s because your back is against the wall. Maybe it’s because you’re reaching out to people you normally wouldn’t reach out to (more on this in a moment). But you will find work. I have found that it’s a domino effect. Once you get in at one place and you do an awesome job you’re more likely to get referred for a different job that you’ve never even heard of before.
Making the jump to freelance feels like you jumped out of a plane with no parachute and you are scrambling to tie one together as you plummet towards earth. You will figure it out though. You’ll make your parachute and it’ll slow you down for a few moments then it’ll get ripped from your hands and you have to create another one. The work will come.
Lesson 2: You Have to Ask for Work
The work will only come if you ask for it. Let me repeat: You have to ask for work in order to get it.
No one will hire you out of the blue. You have to email, call, text, LinkedIn, go to networking events, talk to people at bars, Tweet, Snap, and Insta your way into finding work. A few weeks ago I made a short vlog about what I’m doing to find work you might want to check out.
Here’s my #1 takeaway. You can stop reading after this if you want. Ask for work and tell people you are looking for work. Explain what you can do for them and how hiring you will do X, Y and/or Z for them. Face-to-face is always best but if you can’t meet up any of the aforementioned internet tools work as well.
Lesson 3: Estimate Your Earnings AFTER Taxes
As freelancers we have to pay for our own social security and other taxes that full-time employees don’t because companies pay for them. We also have to pay self-employment tax. Essentially ~27-30% of whatever you make as a freelancer in the US is going to go to taxes. And you are responsible for paying that quarterly. So when you are giving your rate or bidding on a job remember that you will not see 100% of that. Roughly every $100 you make, you’ll only see $70.
This is something I didn’t think about when I was a full-time employee. I just got my paycheck every two weeks and that was that. I knew what to expect and how much I made a year. So when I went into #freelancelife I thought at first, “hey I can just bid on jobs that’ll equal my paycheck and I’ll be making the exact same with all this freelance freedom.” False. That thinking undercut me by 30% which is a big decrease in payment. Since then I’ve raised my rates to make up for this. So instead of thinking I’d making $100, charging for $100 and ultimately making $70 I am now charging $130 and making $100 when I should be making $100. Make sense?
Lesson 4: You Can Write Off A Lot for Taxes
Disclaimer: I am not an accountant or a tax expert by any means. I am a humble freelance video editor from the internet trying to help out other editors the best I can and hopefully maybe one day they’ll purchase coaching services or training products from me so I can supplement my freelance income and buy my dog organic treats. That being said…
I never realized how many “things” you can claim on your taxes. Essentially how it works is that you keep track of business related expenses and this gets deducted from your yearly income and you end up paying less taxes. So if you made $60,000 a year but had $10,000 of business expenses you only pay taxes on $50,000 worth of income.
A few things you might not realize you can claim as business expenses are:
Driving miles to and from jobs
Tolls while driving to and from jobs
SaaS’s for your business (i.e. QuickBooks, Screenlight)
Editing software (i.e. Avid, Adobe, etc.)
Website hosting for your business
Lesson 5: I use QuickBooks More than Photoshop Now
QuickBooks is an online tool where you can keep track of your business income and expenses and track how much you need to pay for taxes. Each week, typically Thursday, I spent about 45 minutes 1) logging my miles 2) logging my invoices and 3) logging my expenses.
I do not have this linked to my bank account (yet) so I manually go through my online bank statement transaction by transaction. Even though this kinda sounds like a pain I actually oddly enjoy it. It gives me a chance each week to review what I’ve been spending my hard-earned money on. As much as I love Starbucks seeing 5 Starbucks transactions for $2.31 a day adds up after awhile. I never noticed until I actually looked each week.
Lesson 6: Get an Extra Hard Drive
I’ve been using the same 2TB Fantom G Force Drive external hard drives for years. I keep my main hard drive clean and have a backup of all the essential elements on my computer. Once I started freelancing and needed to use it more than for EVF video tutorials and small side projects and I couldn’t clean it as often it became apparent I needed an extra hard drive just for current freelance projects. I moved all my vital elements (templates, music tracks, generic lower thirds and background, etc.) onto a new hard drive and it’s 100% dedicated for freelance work. I actually need to hit up Amazon and buy a backup drive now.
Lesson 7: Do the Little Things for Free
Treat each client like you would when you had a brand new girlfriend or boyfriend when you were 16. Woo them. Pretend you are Steve Harrington from the first few episodes of Stranger Things. Say nice things to them. Buy them presents. Think of them night and day. Make them feel like they are your one and only.
In the video world that means do the little things for free, especially at the beginning. If there’s a shoot and you’re going to be editing that project and it doesn’t inconvenience you too much, volunteer to go to the shoot!! Heck, maybe help out. You might even be able to give your input that’ll save you in the edit bay.
“Hey, don’t you think we should move that soda bottle on the desk in the background? Otherwise I’m going have to blur it out in post.”
“Oh yeah, good idea!”
That’s just one example. The bottomline is that when you can do small things for your client that’ll improve the final product or your relationship, just do them! Don’t think about hourly rates or not getting paid. I promise you it will pay off in the end.
Lesson 8: Be Proactive
In the full-time editing world it gets really easy, almost too easy, to just go by the book. The producer told me to do X and I’m going to do X even though I know it’s wrong. Then you can point fingers and say, “it wasn’t me!” because you are getting paid anyway. Yes, this is horrible work ethic but I know it happens.
In the freelance world doing this only hurts you. It’s so vital that each project goes well so when you see something that you know is going to be wrong and even though you’re going to step on some toes you gotta speak up. Your goal is to deliver the best video you can in the most timely manner. Do that.
Putting It All Together
After 12 weeks of freelancing here’s what I’ve figured out:
Work will come but you have to ask for it. Be aware of taxes. Estimate what you’ll make after taxes and know what you can write off and how to keep yourself organized with a tool like QuickBooks. Get another hard drive just for freelance work. Doing the little things for free and being proactive will pay off in the end with your clients.
Thank you so, so much for reading this post. If you have any lessons of your own that you’ve learned while freelancing or any questions please leave them in the comments!
One last thing. If you aren’t signed up to receive the Video Editor’s Digest and updates for new posts I’d love for you to click here and sign up.
It’s been one of those weeks for me when it feels like the deck is stacked against you. Literally every move you make is countered with one that puts you an extra step backwards. Phew. Since this is the case I’d like to just write about what’s on my mind instead of getting into nitty gritty software details. This gives me a chance to let you into my life a bit and into some of the ideas and goals of Edit Video Faster. Is that cool?
This week I’ve dealt with a hectic shoot (understatement), a serious health issue with a parent, out of town travel for work, and the Internet and TV being down to name a couple things. I’m not looking for a pity party. I know you’ve probably dealt with and regularly deal with worse than this. I’m just giving you context because the last thing on my mind is recording a new tutorial or working on EVF’s upcoming Media Management Fundamentals in Avid Media Composer course.
I’m one of those people who likes to run a million miles an hour in 12 different directions. Last year I decided to try to lower the amount of directions. I got it down to maybe 7 by stopping to coach baseball (which I will do again one day), quitting side projects like a fantasy sports website I was doing with my best friend and almost completely stopping to blog about beer. This allotted more time to focus on the projects I wanted to be focusing on, Edit Video Faster being the main one. Well, somehow I’ve gotten back into old habits and now it feels like I’m running in 15 different directions.
It’s so darn difficult to say no to these endeavours. Each one feels like it’s important but I think in order to save my bleeding bloody I might need to sever a limb in order to save the rest of it. And hopefully that limb will grow back… (too graphic??). Oh, don’t worry. I’d be severing limbs in order to save EVF. I’m not going anywhere! More on this in a minute.
EVF has always been a experiment on if I can help fellow editors get better at their craft while supplementing my income doing it. Each month this site makes around $10-$15 total between Amazon, the Quick Transitions Bin and a couple other penny-making projects. It costs about $20 a month to host it and the shopping cart. I guess I’m failing at the latter objective. However the first goal, helping fellow editors, is going fantastic IMO. I got an email from Zach two weeks ago that I have starred in my inbox. Since then whenever I’m needing some encouragement to work on a tutorial or post or email newsletter at 10:30PM on a Thursday (like right now) I open it up and it gives me that little bit of motivation to keep going. Thank you, Zach.
As a kid my mom always thought I’d become a teacher. Like any stubborn boy I automatically rejected what my mom thought. I didn’t become a teacher in the traditional sense. But somehow between teaching Tae-Kwon-Do in my teens, coaching baseball in my 20s and now mentoring video editors in my late-20s…I gotta admit she might have been right.
Back to the I’m not going anywhere thing. Something I hate is investing time into something/someone and they disappear. This happens all the time on the Internet. I get hooked on a podcast and after 25 episodes they’re gone. I invest hours reading posts by a blogger then they trickle posts out once a quarter (that’s very hypocritical of me because of what I did with my beer blog, whoops). This stuff happens and I get it but it doesn’t make me hate it any less.
June will be two complete years working on EVF. In no way do I feel myself slowing down. In fact, I only see myself and EVF ramping up more and more! This is great news for you. While I used to post 2ish times a month, I’m now at a steady once a week mark. I will miss a week every once in awhile (this week it nearly happened) but for the most part I’m pretty spot on. What I’m getting at is that I’d like you to trust me when I say that Edit Video Faster is not going anywhere and I have plans to build this thing for years. You can invest your time in growing as an editor with me. As I learn and struggle and overcome I’ll pass that insight to you as often and as thorough as I can.
The last sip of my beer is gone. I’m wiped out and need to hit the sack. Thanks for letting me ramble on a bit this week instead of focusing our normal video editing topics. If you liked this kind of post and want me to do them more often let me know in the comments below. If you’re new around here I promise I’ll dive deep into video editing, software tricks and tips and tons of other goodies to make you a better editor very soon. I’d love for you to stick around for it and you can do that by going here.
I’ll see you on Sunday with a new Video Editor’s Digest!
There’s a fundamental flaw in the profession of video editing.
When a carpenter goes to work they have their tools – a hammer, a saw, a drill, a screwdriver and a pickup truck filled with a hundred other tools. Each tool has it own job and does it’s own little thing when the carpenter is building something. Every once in awhile a new tool will come around that’ll make things easier for the carpenter. He or she can decide whether or not to learn how to use that tool and whether it should be added to their tool belt.
Editors face a similar situation except that the growth of new tools is out of control. Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Anything that’ll make our lives easier as editors is awesome. However there’s a point where we physically cannot keep up with the rate of new tools available to us. Then we get docked for not knowing this one random piece of software and might lose out on a job or gig over it.
Hey there! I tried something a little different for this video. It’s about the 12 things that I wish I knew about being a video editor when I was 22.
This style video is very new to me. If you liked it and want to see more let me know in the comments or by giving this video a thumbs up over on YouTube!
BTW, I recently started a fun weekly newsletter called the Video Editor’s Digest. In it you’ll get awesome tips, tricks, resources and news about video editing. I’d love for you to be a part of it. You can sign up here.