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How to Professionally Charge a Video Editing Project

Every freelance video editor needs to determine how to charge their video editing project. Do I charge by the hour or by the project?

This article and video is on determining which of those is right for you. If you are looking to determine what you’re rate should be here’s my freelancer rate. And if you’re trying to figure out how to bill and accept payments, here’s a discussion I had on that topic.

Why Charge a Video Editing Project By the Hour?

TL;DR Charge by the hour if you can. Simple reason — because it is easier!

The issue is with trust, especially when you’re freelancing remotely (which we’re all doing right now).

I do two big things when I’m with a new client. First is that I give a slightly discounted rate so they can see how I do things and how long it takes to do things. And second, I keep a very basic timesheet. All this timesheet says is what I did on what day.

Example: Monday Sept. 20, 2021 | 3:00 PM-5:00PM | 2 hours | Setup Premiere Project; imported footage; logged and organized footage into bins; color-coded clips; started rough cut

Sample Timesheet for a Video Editing Project

If you want to use ^^this^^ timesheet, go here and save a copy of it to your Google Drive or download an Excel file of it.

Each week I’ll send this over to the client. This is so they can see I’m not spending a massive amount of time on any one particular part of the project. Once you gain that trust it gets a lot easier for the client to give you that per hour rate.

When to Charge a Video Editing Project Per Project

I really try to avoid pricing per project but if I must then the following needs to happen.

First, I need to be familiar with what’s expected, what type of footage and assets I’m supposed to get, what the turn-around time is, and what the client expectations are.

Next, revisions must be clearly spelled out. Ideally this is in the form of a contract but if not, a crystal clear conversation needs to be had with the client. For me, this is usually good enough. If the client breaks this verbal agreement they’ve then lost my trust and I won’t work for them again. I’m confident in my work and abilities that they won’t want to lose me.

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Currently I have only one project like this. I have one client with this one project that has a flat rate. The cost is $100. I know exactly what I’m going to get in terms of footage and assets. And I can edit it and get it out the door in under 2 hours of work time. Since my hourly rate is $65 an hour this is fair for both the client and me. If I finish it in an hour, then I’m making $35 more than if I charged by the hour. What if it takes me 2.5 hours to do (which it never does)? I would have made $162.50 instead of $100. I’m willing to take those chances. And TBH we’re talking about a minimal amount of money over the course of a relationship with a client.

If for some reason these videos are starting to always take me two hours to do, then I’ll revisit the flat rate with this company.

Also, it’s understood that once they get me the footage it’s going to take me a couple days to work it into my schedule. Maybe it’ll get sent to me and they need a quick turn-around time once. Okay, I can be flexible. If this happens again though, it’s time to revisit our deal.

How I Charge As a Freelance Video Editor

The bottomline is that you need to be paid fairly for the work you do as a freelance video editor. I believe you are paid most fairly if you charge by the hour. Knowing how to charge a video editing project on a per project basis is super tricky. There’s a ton of details I recommend you working out with your client before agreeing to a deal like this.

Communication is key. Stay open-minded but firm on what you want to do and why. And try your best to put their concerns at ease. For me being able to charge a video editing project by the hour, I do this by giving a slight discount on the first project and by providing a simple timesheet each week.

What do you think? How do you charge a video editing project? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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– Josh