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Category: Challenges (page 1 of 2)

The most difficult part about mastering a skill

Time for a little free writing session…

There are an infinite amount of projects one can work on. New project after new project pop into our heads and we want to pursue each one. So we start down a path hoping to make this one great thing. But then a new idea pops in our heads for something completely different. Ahead, the path we’re currently on seems shrouded in mystery and overgrown with bushes and thrones. So we backtrack and start down a new path.

Path through the woods

Photo by Zack Silver courtesy of Unsplash

We get far enough down this new path when the same thing happens. Maybe we go a little further this time before starting something new. Maybe we stop at the first bend in the road or rain cloud in the sky. Time for a new path.

The hardest thing about accomplishing a project or completing a goal or mastering a skill is staying on that same path regardless of obstacles.

A path I recently vacated was learning Vietnamese. I reached a point in my Mango lessons where it was too difficult to retain the information in the time I was allowing myself to focus on the mission. My willpower was gone and I have zero guidance. I quit. I gave up. It got too hard. The thrones were too much to take. Read more

Some brief thoughts on creating creative work

There several dozen half-written and probably twice as many fully-written but never published blog posts scattered across my computer, laptop, Google Drive and various Moleskins. They contain thoughts I’ve had on many post production-related topics that I’ve worked countless hours on. And they’re just sitting there in digital purgatory.

“It’s not good enough.”

“Someone could say that you don’t mention ______ method/shortcut/etc.”

“You aren’t really an expert. Who are you to give advice?”

I could think of endless reasons not to ship each one of them.

Today I was watching some random YouTube video from this guy another YouTube guy I routinely watch recommended. His production quality was low. He knew it. But he said something that struck a nerve with me.

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Straight Up Hard Work

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.

The amount of effort I put into wrestling was astronomical. Running literally an uncountable amount of laps in the hallways before practice. Up-downs. Monkey rolls. That stupid circle from Vision Quest where you got up and ran around all the guys laying down then the next guy got up where in my junior year one of the seniors accidently stepped on my ankle which was the only time I ever had to go to the trainer but I sucked it up and wrestled the rest of the season on it even though it was probably severely sprained or worse.

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.

– Josh

Written Saturday January 7th, 2017 at 2:10am.

Okay, one more picture. I can’t help myself.

8 Lessons from 12 Weeks of Freelancing

8 Lessons from 12 Weeks of Freelancing

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
  • Business mailbox

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.

Cheers,
Josh

The Fundamental Flaw in the Profession of Video Editing

Fundamental Flaw in the Profession of Video Editing

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.

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Mastering Avid Media Composer’s Keyboard Shortcuts Exam

Mastering Media Composers Keyboard Shortcuts – Exam

I want you to become a keyboard shortcut master. If you know the keyboard shortcuts and understand their functions, you’ll be a faster video editor. That means you finish projects sooner, get paid faster and make your bosses and clients happier.

When I was learning Media Composer I wish I had a way to check my progress. I didn’t. I didn’t have a teacher. I couldn’t afford a class. There were no lessons to follow. Lynda.com didn’t exist and YouTube was unreliable. I just plugged away each day, screwing up and knocking clips out of sync, until I eventually got to a place where I believed, “I think I finally understand all this.” Not knowing your skill level is rough, especially if you’re new to an industry or software. You don’t have to go through that pain and mystery like I did.

This is why I have created the Mastering Avid Media Composer’s Keyboard Shortcuts Exam. The exam is 70 questions and takes place right here on EVF. If you’ve taken any of my free Media Composer quizzes the format will be familiar. Please take a crack at a quiz so you know what to expect for the exam.

The multiple-choice exam will cover everything in the Mastering Avid Media Composer’s Keyboard Shortcuts lessons. To do well on the exam you need to know what the keyboard shortcuts are and how their associated functions work.

Before we go any further, please remember that I have no affiliation with Avid. I’ve written for their blog before but that is it. They do not compensate me and this exam is purely based on my experience with Media Composer. Cool?

The exam costs $5. Less than a burrito bowl at Chipotle. If you study the shortcuts, take the exam and feel that it wasn’t what you expected and you now hate me and feel wronged, I’m happy to issue a refund. I’m positive that will not happen though.

Once you purchase the exam you’ll download a document (an .rtf file which can open in Notepad, Word, etc.) with instructions that will direct you to the exam URL and the password to access it. Go to the page, enter the password, enter your first and last name and your email address. This email address is how I will follow-up with you about your results and is just for me to congratulate you. Take the exam. You’ll get your results right away and I’ll message you within a few days to chat about how you did. Once you get a great score you can relish in the fact that you’re a keyboard shortcut master.

If you are not pleased with your score you are free to retake the exam as many times as you want within a week. Each week I change the password and if for some reason you are locked out or have any trouble getting in message me here and I’ll get you in as soon as possible.

To purchase access to the exam click the “Buy Now” button below. Once again it is $5. You can use PayPal or a credit card. After that you will be prompted to download a document with instructions. Message me here (or email me – josh@editvideofaster.com) if you have any issues.

If you’ve been around here on EVF for a while you know that I’m completely honest with you. I believe this exam is a fantastic way to test your Media Composer chops. It’s something that I wish I had years ago and that’s why I’ve created it for you. Spending the equivalent of a venti vanilla latte in order to gain knowledge and confidence in your career is a no-brainer to me.

If you have any questions whatsoever email me or use my contact page. I’m happy to answer any questions you have about the exam.

Cheers,
Josh

Keyboard Shortcuts Exam Pre-Sale!

Mastering Media Composers Keyboard Shortcuts – Exam

Please note the pre-sale is now over. Please visit this page for more information on the exam.

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been creating a bunch of lessons about Media Composer’s keyboard shortcuts and their related functions. This is because I want you to become a keyboard shortcut master. If you know the keyboard shortcuts and understand their functions, you’ll be a faster video editor. That means you finish projects sooner, get paid faster and make your bosses and clients happier.

When I was learning Media Composer I wish I had a way to check my progress. I didn’t. I didn’t have a teacher. I couldn’t afford a class. There were no lessons to follow. I just plugged away each day, screwing up and knocking clips out of sync, until I eventually got to a place where I believed, “I think I finally understand all this.” Not knowing your skill level is rough, especially if you’re new to an industry or software. You don’t have to go through that pain and mystery like I did.

I’m in the process of creating an exam to solve this very issue. It will be a simple, convenient and affordable way to test your abilities with Media Composer’s keyboard shortcuts.

The exam will be launching February 13th (my birthday!). It will take place here on EVF. If you’ve taken any of my free Media Composer quizzes the format will be familiar. Please take a crack at a quiz so you know what to expect for the exam.

The multiple-choice exam will cover everything in the Mastering Avid Media Composer’s Keyboard Shortcuts lessons. There will be two more lessons released before February 13th. To do well on the exam you need to know what the keyboard shortcuts are and how their associated functions work.

Before we go any further, please remember that I have no affiliation with Avid. I’ve written for their blog before but that is it. They do not compensate me and this exam is purely based on my experience with Media Composer. Cool?

Your results, if you choose, will be displayed on the leaderboard. On the leaderboard you’ll have the opportunity to link to your website, demo reel or piece of work you’ve done. The leaderboard will be in order by score then by date. The first person that gets 70 out of 70 will be at the top of the leaderboard permanently. So that means if you want to be near the top you better 1) study the lessons and 2) take the exam before others do.

The exam will cost $35. I want anyone attempting the exam to take it seriously. I want you to study and master the keyboard shortcuts. If you study the shortcuts, take the exam and feel that it wasn’t what you expected and you now hate me and feel wronged, I’m happy to issue a refund. I’m positive that will not happen though.

Once you purchase the exam you’ll download a document with instructions that will direct you to the exam and the password to access it. Go to the page, enter the password, enter your first and last name and your email address. This email address is how I will contact you about the leaderboard. Take the exam. Get a great score because you studied and relish in the fact that you’re a keyboard shortcut master.

If you are not pleased with your score you have one week to retake the exam.

A few days following your completion of the exam I will email you to get the link to your website, demo reel or piece of work you want associated with your name on the leaderboard. If you do not want to be on the leaderboard you can opt out; just let me know! I will be emailing you from josh@editvideofaster.com.

Okay, one last thing.

The exam will go live on Saturday February 13th. It will be $35. I am doing a special introductory offer of $15 if you purchase before Friday January 22nd, 2016 11:59 EST. The price will never be this low again.

To get this deal click the “Buy Now” button below. You can use PayPal or a credit card. After that you will be prompted to download a document with instructions. Please email me at josh@editvideofaster.com (this is reiterated in the document) saying you’re part of the pre-sale for the exam! I should get your email address when you make the purchase but I want to make 100% sure I have it to send you access to the exam once it is launched. Once it’s launched I’ll send you the link to the exam with your password.

If you’ve been around here on EVF for a while you know that I’m completely honest with you. I believe this exam is a fantastic way to test your Media Composer chops. It’s something that I wish I had years ago and that’s why I’ve created it for you.

If you have any questions whatsoever email me or use my contact page. But remember you have until January 22nd, 2016 to get the exam for only $15, more than 55% off.

Please note the pre-sale is now over. Please visit this page for more information on the exam.

Cheers,
Josh

Free Avid Media Composer Quiz

AvidMediaComposerKeyboardShortcutQuiz-Level1

Hey! If you remember several weeks ago I came out with a free keyboard shortcut quiz for Avid Media Composer. Well, many of you downloaded it and I got some really good feedback so I decided to take it to the next level and create a bigger and better free Avid Media Composer keyboard shortcut quiz!

Get the Free Avid Media COmposer Quiz

I’m calling this one Avid Media Composer Keyboard Shortcut Quiz — Level 1. Yes, Level 1! That means I want to and will make more and tougher ones. This requires two three things from you.

Quiz Instructions

First, you take this quiz! You were going to already so this one is easy.

Second, leave me a comment here or through the contact page to let me know what you thought. Too easy? Too tough? Difficult to use? (BTW, for the life of me I cannot change that gray button with white text. I’m trying desperately to fix it but am not going to keep me from releasing this quiz any longer!)

And third, you stick around and read my message at the end of the quiz.

Alright! That’s it! I kept you long enough. The link below will take you to the quiz.

Avid Media Composer Keyboard Shortcut Quiz — Level 1

PS: When you go to the quiz you’ll be asked to enter your name and email. Don’t worry, that’s just for me and won’t be shared! I may reach out to you in the future if I come out with other items like this one that might be of interest to you though. Good luck on the quiz!!

Once again, you can get to the quiz through the link below:

Avid Media Composer Keyboard Shortcut Quiz — Level 1

Did you enjoy this article? If so, I’d love to keep in touch. All you have to do is go here to stay in the loop on new blog posts, tutorials, and announcements.


– Josh

When You Have Enough Tools and It’s Time to Start Building

WhenYouHaveEnoughToolsAndItsTimeToStartBuilding

Me, and a lot of other editors, like to say that knowing an NLE is just another tool in your tool belt. I like to take that analogy and go a step further. Every effect you learn to apply, software trick you implement, skill you acquire, connection you make, value you create for others and anything else you can think of that works towards improving yourself is a tool. Your tool belt consists of all of these. Each tool preforms a certain action whenever you are working on a project.

With your fully loaded tool belt you can build all sorts of things. The majority of time we tackle two types of projects. The first project is something simple, let’s say a chair if we can turn my analogy into something physical. We know there are four legs, a seat and a back to it. We have at least a rough blueprint we can follow or can easily find someone (or a YouTube video) to guide us. The other type of project is to build more tools! We build ourselves another screwdriver or a hammer or drill bit. These two types of projects pay our bills (barely) and (we hope) make our bosses happy. Are you happy though? If you are anything like me then you might not always be satisfied with the things you are building and their outcomes. Do they have enough reach? Do they improve my life or someone else’s life substantially?

Sure, we’re content after we sell off our chair or put away our screwdriver. We sold enough to pay off the mortgage this month or make ourselves more valuable candidates for a future job by having more tools. What we built was average. Deep down that’s not what we want. That’s not why we do what we do. We want incredible. As I lay here at 11:00PM drafting this on my phone in bed with my wife and dog already asleep long ago I’m reminded about how much incredible I want in my life and how little I am doing about it. For now…

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