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You’ve heard the phrase, “content is king.” But in 2023, just any content won’t get the job done.
According to a survey conducted by Social Media Week, in 2020, 55% of people watched videos online every single day — great news if you are a freelance video editor, or aspire to become one.
That number has surely risen in the intervening years, making video one of the most important forms of content.
Companies are always looking for talented people who can create and curate their video content so they can stay ahead in the social media game, properly communicate with their clients and employees, and tell their brand story.
Working as a freelance video editor is a great way to make money on the side or get your foot in the door of the industry, but it can also be a fulfilling full-time career.
How do you break into the freelance video editor market? What does a freelance video editor do? Where is the best place to find work? This article will answer all of those questions and more.
What is a freelance video editor?
Making videos is a lot more involved than written or visual content. For large projects, it can take a variety of skilled people to make things happen.
Someone has to write scripts, scout locations, hire talent, gather props, track down or make costumes, manage schedules, and run the actual camera, all just to get to the point where a video is ready to be edited and packaged up for releasing to the public.
A freelance video editor is a specialist within this complex web of professionals. The editor takes all of the footage and puts the best pieces together in a way that makes sense. They add music, any special effects, transitions, and subtitles if necessary. Additionally they would cut scenes, remove unnecessary background objects, create overlays, and so much more to create a final piece.
Essentially, a freelance video editor makes everyone look good.
Skills required for a freelance video editor
If you are considering work as a freelance video editor, there are a handful of must-have skills that should be on your resume:
A video editor is only as good as the tools they use. You’ll need a working knowledge of Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere. If you are working on smaller projects or only social media videos, you can probably get away with something comparable to Camtasia, Blender or DaVinci Resolve.
Although a freelance video editor generally doesn’t have complete control over a project, creativity is still an essential trait. Editing requires you to envision the project from beginning to end and add the finesse that makes the director’s plan come to life.
Even though freelancers often work off-site, you are performing a single role within the larger job. It is crucial for a freelance video editor to be able to collaborate with a variety of people in a professional way.
Don’t forget, as a freelancer you are running your own business. You’ll need to manage billing, cash flow and your profit margins.
Freelance video editor salary
Every contractor has to set their own rates and determine the best way to bill clients.
Hourly, a freelance video editor can expect to make anywhere between $30 and $150 an hour. There is such a wide range because less-skilled professionals or those working with smaller businesses charge less, while experienced editors and those who work for big-name companies can charge a higher rate.
On an annual basis, in the US, the average freelance video editor salary is $61,730, according to Glassdoor. However, some editors hit on the right formula to make a much higher income.
Freelance video editor jobs
It’s fairly straightforward to find freelance video editor jobs to apply for. The best place to start is usually within your professional network, but online job boards are always filled with video editing opportunities, as well. Here are the top four sites to check:
FlexJobs has been around for over a decade, and for good reason. This job board embraced remote work early in the game, and created a space for freelancers to find the kinds of jobs that work for them. You’ll find thousands of video editing jobs posted at any given time.
This innovative job search tool sends curated positions straight to your inbox, so you waste less time searching, and you’ll always know the leads are high-quality. A freelance video editor is bound to get new clients from this list.
This job board may have fewer listings than some of the larger professional marketplaces out there, but Mandy is one of the few dedicated specifically to the film industry, making it a great place to find freelance video editor jobs.
Once a simple professional social network, LinkedIn has become a powerhouse in job postings. There are pages and pages of openings for a freelance video editor. You can narrow your search by location or using keywords for your specific skills.
3 Tips on how to start your freelance video editor career
Taking the plunge into a new career as a freelance video editor can be an exciting challenge. It will take work, but if you’re willing to put in the effort, you can be on the road to doing a job you are truly passionate about before you know it!
Here are three tips to help you get started.
1. Learn all you can
All the best freelancers start off by having top-notch skills. For a freelance video editor, this means practicing with editing software until you know it like the back of your hand, watching lots of training videos that are within the same niche that you hope to get into, and potentially shadowing another professional to see what the daily workload is like.
You might consider investing in some quality courses to really up your game. Most full-time video editors have a bachelor’s degree in a film-related field, so if you don’t have formal education, working through some master classes is a good idea.
2. Create your demo reel
In order to find great clients, you have to be able to show that you do great work. The only way to really do this is to build a strong portfolio, sometimes called a demo reel, because they used to be on an actual reel of film.
Today, most freelance video editors will host their demo reel on their professional website, so they can easily link to it when opportunities for gigs come up. However, you should also start your own YouTube channel (like these freelance youtube channels) to host your work — this will help gain potential work, and be a hub to show off your skills.
A great demo reel should be short, ideally two minutes or less. Only include your best work, and make sure it is reflective of who you are as an editor. You should also add text to clarify how you contributed to the overall video.
To build a demo reel, you need to have video content to edit. Student projects may be acceptable, but it helps to branch out. Ask friends and family if they have any video editing needs, or you could volunteer at local businesses or organizations like the library or schools.
3. Build your network
You can’t be a freelance video editor without clients. Landing that first client isn’t always easy. Many businesses want to work with a more established contractor with lots of projects under their belts. When you are just starting out, you may need to charge a lower rate or take on projects you might not be particularly interested in.
While searching job boards can be productive in finding freelance video editor gigs, the best way to begin your career is to build up a professional network.
Try joining a local meetup of video editors, or find an online mastermind group that can help mentor you along. You can also reach out to people you have worked with in the past, friends who may be looking for professional video content, or anyone you know who owns a business or runs a marketing department.
Word of mouth and solid references are by far the best way to find quality leads.
Start your freelance video editor career today
If you are someone who is passionate about film projects, working as a freelance video editor may be a great fit. Video editors are highly skilled professionals who help create everything from YouTube content to Hollywood films. Businesses in all industries need video content for marketing and communication needs.
Once you acquire the necessary skills, decide how much to charge, post a killer demo reel and find some great clients, you are officially a freelance video editor. From here, learn all you can about freelancing (you are in the right place for that!) and ensure you are running your business smoothly and making a fair income for your work.
Video content is here to stay, so if content is king, video editors are the artisans that make the magic happen.
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