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.
This is a very special episode of the Command+Edit Podcast. I interview Grace Novak. Grace is in the midst of one of the scariest points in her life — trying to figure out how to make the jump from student to professional.
Our discussion focuses on topics such as networking strategies, how to make the most of internships, how to adjust to the professional world from student life, and how to market yourself with your website and demo reel.
Let’s cut right to the chase: My hourly freelance video editor 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 freelance video editor 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 freelance video editor 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.
PS: If you’re new around here and want to be notified whenever I come out with a new post / podcast / video / newsletter / etc. you can go here to signup. No spam. Ever. Just the good stuff 👊🏼
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.
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
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.
In this episode of the Command+Edit Podcast Nick and I discuss the most important topic when it comes to freelance video editing…how to get paid!
Topics include what software and services we use to invoice, how to invoice, how we accept payments, how long it takes to get paid, whether you need to have an LLC in order to freelance and taxes in the US and Canada.
As a reminder neither Nick or I am a tax professional or financial advisor by any stretch of the imagination. What we talk about is based solely our experience as two freelance video editors.
You probably don’t edit airport employee training videos. You probably don’t edit online marketing videos for healthcare startups. And you probably don’t edit small-budget YouTube comedy series. These are all types of videos I edit. They all have different audiences, goals and styles. Each video contains unique challenges and are different in so many ways from one another. One thing is the same though — the creation cycle of a video editing project.
For just about every video I edit I go through the exact same routine. In this post I’m going to explain what that process is.
I could write about pre-production for hours but I’m going to start from after the footage is shot and we’re in post. Let’s get into it!
Creation Cycle Phase 1: Pre-Production in Post Production
This is the first phase in the creation cycle of a video editing project. But before I begin what many would call “the actual editing” of a video there’s a lot that takes place. The time you spend right now in this phase will reap more benefits than time spent in any other phase. You will in all likelihood edit video fasterwith more time spent working on the tasks in this phase. It’s kinda like pre-production but you’re already in post.
Review pre-production notes
Read over any notes you have from the client/producer/director/whoever on the goals, audience, specifics, branding guidelines, must-haves, must-have nots, etc. of the video. Alternatively if possible you should talk to the client/producer to go over these details again. Things change during production and sometimes you’re left out of the loop. Tackle any possible surprises ASAP!Read more
It’s been awhile since I’ve truly written something for EVF. Actually it’s been awhile since I’ve written much of anything. My writing muscle was burnt out after letting my former daily blog expire and disappear into a digital black hole back in August. Two years of writing and publishing everyday…
Fast forward a quarter of a year later and I’m starting to get the itch again. But where do I write? I’ve always felt that with what I publish on EVF I need to be very calculated and stick to the facts and provide “expert-level” insights at all times. Well, even though I believe myself to be a more-than-successful editor and video professional, I can’t always provide that A+, top-of-the-line content with the tiny amount of time I can commit to EVF.
With that being said, I’m just going to let the words keep on flowing and write a bit about editing and life.
BTW I’m free writing right now. It can be a lot of fun and almost meditative at times. You should try it out if you ever get in a creative funk. Please excuse any typos or poor grammar because I’m just churning out the words.
Recently I took a new full-time position. I haven’t really broadcasted this anywhere. Nick and I recorded a podcast episode the other day where I talked about it some. It hasn’t published yet but should be episode 82. I’m absolutely positive I won’t remember to come back to this post and link it. 🙂
My new position is part editor (let’s call this ~70% of my responsibilities), producer (~20%) and project manager (~10%). Full-time freelancing is officially done. For now. I loved my time freelancing. Loved it. Even the stressful times when I couldn’t guarantee more than a few hundred dollars of work on a given week. I can absolutely see myself going back to that lifestyle too.
This position though was too good to pass up. I enjoy the content, my coworkers and my day-to-day work. Plus the paid time off. Uhhh I’ve missed the paid time off so much. I’m only 8 years into this career. It feels like though that I could always go back to freelancing. And vice versa. Yes, it sucks losing out on some gigs. Last week I had to turn down two projects. My network will take some sort of hit. As a professional though I think we should always be working on and building our networks. I recorded this fantastic Command+Edit episode with my friend and fellow editor Rhonda Thain if you want to hear me talk more about it.
I still have a couple small projects I’m working on on the side. And a couple pet projects I want to take on. The experience of running my own company, getting an LLC, doing my bookkeeping each week, having a real accountant, cold emailing, warm calling, invoicing and just overall doing many, many uncomfortable things have made me a better editor, professional and person.
Remember, I’m still free writing here so I know I’m about to lurch into a new topic like an unexpected jumpcut.
The software I’m using now is relatively the same. I’m in Premiere probably 60% of the time. Media Composer 30% of the time. And After Effects and Photoshop round out the rest. I’m rocking Premiere 2017 on most projects with the hopes that no one accidently updates to 2018 forcing me to update as well. And MC is on version 8.5.2. It’s a little behind and I miss some of the cool new features I’ve been seeing but it definitely still gets the job done.
Okay last topic before cutting myself off.
Next month I’m headed out to Los Angeles for the first time! Crazy, right?! How have I never been? I’m pumped. I know I mentioned it in a somewhat recent Video Editor’s Digest but again for anyone out there I’m thinking of doing a small happy hour. Seriously small. Like 4-6 of us max. If you want to join shoot me a message.
Thank you for indulging me and letting me get some stuff off my chest. If like this kind of post — more chatty, less instructional — let me know. Or let me know if you hate it and I should stick to basic little video tutorials like this one which somehow has 100,000+ views. Wut?