freelance video editor

You can more easily find a quality Freelance Video Editor or Videographer online because they're becoming more widely available as technology simplifies the technical process.

 

Between short courses, weekend warriors and the excitement of taking working with moving image for a living, the videographer and editing markets are very well serviced.

However, with such a populated marketplace comes a range of skillsets, value, quality and price. It's not easy for a company to source a videographer or editor without some of the key pieces of information. We're going to share 15 years of experience hiring freelancers, providing you with insights, jargon, and techniques to help make this process as seamless as possible.

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It Starts with the Brief

"Looking for a freelance video editor to produce a 30-second video from event footage."

Writing a detailed brief for a small(ish) project may feel like a waste of time. However, for the sake of a few extra minutes, it could save you hundreds of pounds and hours of wasted time going back and forth with the wrong freelance video editor.

Writing a brief for a project doesn't have to be an arduous process or a longwinded novel. A good brief contains just the right amount of detail to enable the freelancer video editor to give you an accurate quote.   The more information about the project you can provide them, the more accurately you'll be quoted and get the type of style you're looking for. Sounds simple, right? You'd be surprised at the number of one-sentence briefs we receive. Here are the key areas to address when writing your project brief.

  1. Even if it's a short project, use descriptive language to engage videographers. One line that gives the basic information isn't going to motivate the top videographers or editors. They're in demand and often choose to apply for jobs they like the sound of. Money is not always the main motivation, so 'sell' your project and make it sound as appealing as I'm sure it is!

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  3. It also frustrates freelancers when there is a lack of detail. This is because they find it very difficult to provide a suitable quote or know which examples of their work to show you.

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  5. Whilst you're hiring the videographer, they're also choosing to apply for your project too and you want to pick from the best. 'Looking for a Videographer or Video Editor'  full stop, just isn't enough.

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  7. Provide detail about the specific shots that you'd like to capture or what type of footage you'd like to edit.

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  9. List the specs: A) how long would you like the video to be?  B) What date would you like the shoot to take place and when would you like the final edit?

  10. If you require a videographer to produce the footage, provide a list of any additional locations referencing whether they're indoors or outdoors, what's the standard of lighting if indoors. Will the videographer need portable lighting?

  11. Use visual examples. Creative minds love to see examples of work that you like. It gives them an idea as to your expectations as well as a stylistic idea. Include links to videos of the type of content you're looking for or, if you're a creative soul yourself, provide a moodboard (Pinterest is good for this). Unless you have a very specific vision for the project, allow for some creative license. You are hiring a specialist after all so use them!

  12. State where the video is going to be used, and in what format you'd like the video. Video for social media may require formatting, for example. Perhaps you'd like a trailer of the video to use as a teaser. Prices range depending on usage so don't be surprised if a videographer asks this question. A freelance video editor can then offer a range of quotes based on image usage.

  13.  Include EVERYTHING you require in the brief. Hidden extras are never good and freelancers are well aware of a technique known as 'creep scope'. This is when a client keeps adding little bits to the project until they become a substantial amount of work for the freelancer.

  14. When, where, what, why and with whom? Get the non-negotiable points out of the way at the brief-stage. If your project takes place on a date the videographer or editor is unavailable, there's no point talking further. Same goes for where. The why is more interesting. If a videographer doesn't like the project, they may turn down the work. This happens a lot more regularly than you may think. Videographers often don't want to be associated with certain brands as they don't align with their values. Sometimes it's to do with a moral objection.

Understanding the Freelance Video Editor's Terms and Definitions

A freelance video editor or videographer will undoubtedly have a variety of clients, producing content for a range of projects. Freelance video editors and videographers must have their own equipment and software so that they're prepared for each job at hand. They must also have excellent negotiation and people skills, as they'll be directly dealing with many clients and teams. Once you hire a freelance video editor or videographer, make sure that you discuss when the shoot is taking place, how long you think you'll need them and when you need the final product by. This last point is essential, as a lesser-known fact about video projects is that the editing process can take a lot of time.

An experienced video editor will be much more selective with their footage, whereas a less confident editor will run through hours of footage in the hope that they stumble across something that works.

An easy way to spot a confident videographer from a nervous one is the number of times they want to re-take a scene. Even experienced videographers sometimes have to take a few takes but, equally, they know when they've got it and can move on. Preparation is a major part of the filming process and you can save time and get a better product if you give the videographer time to set up, plan and prepare before they press record.

Let's look at an example. Let's say you're a fashion e-com startup brand. You've got 80 pieces in your collection and want to produce a video that captures a sample of your brand, collection and reason why someone might want to buy them. The videographer will most likely take multiple shots of the collection, the models and maybe even the studio or office. This is to make sure that they've got what you require. When working at pace, videographers can sometimes miss a shot that's out of focus or the model's position may look odd.

Pre and Post-Production Phases

When they check in their tiny camera screen all looks well but on the computer, there may be trouble. To safeguard against this, videographers tend to shoot a couple of extra clips just in case.

At the end of the day, the videographer has hours of footage to get through. Just re-watching the footage (which they often do in double speed) takes nearly as long. If you have a project that requires a lot of footage and many different edits and cuts, please be mindful when setting your deadline. Freelance videographers and editors will have multiple clients on the go at any one time, so imagine the backlog.

Pre and post-production is a vital part of working as a freelance videographer and can add a lot more hours or days to a job. We spoke a little about post-production (editing), however, pre-production is one that many clients often don't consider.

Pre-production might be needed if the videographer has to scout out a location or if there are multiple sites that the client would like to shoot at. From editorial fashion promo videos to wedding videos, there are times when it pays to do a recce before the day of the shoot.

Of course, for a small project, this may be excessive, however, bear it in mind if you are shooting in a random place. This is because the videographer will have to work out the lighting, the concepts and the environment on the fly, which can be time-consuming. I remember doing a shoot in an industrial estate in South London.

The client assured me that there was plenty of light and I didn't need to bring anything extra with me. When I got there, the light he was referring to was the harsh strip lighting running through the corrugated iron structures. They were horrible and made the subject look flat with a blueish hue. What could I do? I did as much as I could using the settings on my camera and the rest had to be done in post-production. The client was paying by the hour and ended up spending 3 times more on the edit than it would have taken if we had invested 30 minutes of pre-shoot scouting.

 

Types of Freelance Video Editor and Videographer Projects + Tips When Hiring

 
Promo Video

Promo, or promotional videographers, specialise in creating videos to promote brands. Everything from a video about a new health app to the launch of a new restaurant, a promo videographer will have the skills to put a narrative together, ensure the brand is front and centre of the piece and capture footage that speaks to the brand's audience. A 30-second promo video can range from £500 up into the thousands.

Explainer Video

Innovative companies often have services that require some explanation. An explainer video will do just that. Some companies opt for an animated explainer video whilst others prefer to use footage of real people or things. A videographer specialising in explainer videos needs to be able to piece together a short, concise video that clearly gets the message across whilst holding the viewers' attention. The cost of an explainer video can vary as a high-end production with actors, lighting, extras etc... isn't cheap, however, the average explainer video with voiceover or graphic overlay should cost around £1000 - £2000 to produce. You'll then need to budget for the cost of the freelancer video editor's work to polish the final footage.

 

Event Video

Event videographers must be able to perfectly shoot high-quality and usable content that captures the essence of an event. Personality plays a big part in event video if you're looking for footage of your guests. A videographer is more than just a camera in a hand, they often have to direct people, interview guests or organise large groups of people. When hiring a videographer for an event, take this into account. Event videographers can be priced by the project or sometimes by the hour. It pays to bring the videographer down into the venue before the event so they can scope out the lighting and get an idea of where they are going to shoot. A 1-hour event might require 3 hours of time in the venue and another 3 hours to edit to produce a 30 - 60-second video. Cost ranges from £600 to £1500 for this type of content.

Wedding Videographer

Wedding videographers aim to capture a couples’ special day by working closely with them to create an important piece of memorabilia. It's a collaborative effort in some ways as the bride and groom will want to have their ideas heard.

It is vital that the videographer works with the couple to produce a video in line with their wants and vision. A pre-wedding consultation is recommended, ideally at the wedding venue so the videographer can plan suitable shots, lighting and moments in advance.

Most people don’t mind splashing out on their wedding day, so videographers can command anything from £1000 to £1500 for a middleweight videographer all the way up to an average of £3500 to £5000 for a senior wedding videographer with the trimmings.

Travel Video

Travel videographers produce stunning work all over the world. They work for tourist boards, travel companies, magazines, hotels, or charities who want to capture footage of a particular place. Their job is to promote a destination; therefore, a storytelling ability is integral. Travel video helps to sell particular locations to tourists and travellers so local knowledge is also important. Many travel projects will have a producer, director or person on the ground to assist the videographer.

Now, this begs the question, do you hire a videographer whose work you really like but may not know the location well and fly them in or look for a local videographer near the location you're shooting? The cost to fly and house a travel videographer can make it more expensive but you'll have more control, less of a language barrier in some cases and have access to the videographer when back in your homeland. The cost range is massive so speak with the videographer about the project in detail before signing the contract.

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Rates

Hourly Rate

Being paid hourly allows freelance videographers to be paid appropriately for all of the time they have put into a project. The average hourly rate across the board for a freelance videographer is £33 in the UK ($39 in the US). However, this takes into account the multitude of smaller projects as well as the hourly rate of junior videographers working today.

A reliable, experienced videographer will cost anywhere from £75 - £100 per hour. When working on jobs that require capturing a particular event in real-time, charging by the hour may be the best option. Don't forget to factor in any additional hours such as location scouting and editing. A videography job is rarely just the hours they are shooting and most videographers will have a minimum rate, typically half a day.

Day Rate

By establishing a day rate, freelance video editors and videographers can assure that they're paid correctly for each day that the project lasts. Clients who agree to a day rate can then stick within a budget. However, keep in mind that the videographer is not at your beck and call. If there is a problem with a shot or you'd like additional post-production work done, it may cost more.

A contract with any hire is vital. The clause outlining the requirements of the videographer and a line about the subjective nature of creative work is key.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) recommends that freelance videographers receive £500 for a day’s shoot and an additional £500 for a day’s editing. This is because most videography jobs require at least one additional day editing, sometimes more. The advantage of a day rate from a client's perspective is that they'll generally get a better price than paying hourly.

Project Rate

Many videographers choose to quote per project as so few videography jobs are quick. By charging a rate for the whole project, freelance videographers ensure that any pre and post-production work is included in the final fee. A client can also feel in control of spend.

A project fee will include all of the work involved in producing the content, including location scouting, researching and editing, as well as the actual shoot day. The risk when pricing for a project is if it goes over the agreed time or the client requests a reshoot or re-edit.

Clearly define your terms in the contract to protect yourself from these eventualities. There will typically be an hourly rate or day rate agreed in the contract should the videographer do additional work outside of the agreed brief.

 

Managing Freelance Videographers

I've hired over 100 videographers for a wide range of projects in the past 10 years and, although there are no set rules to management, I've seen patterns. Over the years, we've built up a relationship and have an understanding when I provide a brief. They know how I like to work and I know their working process. However, it wasn't always so smooth and it's a fresh start when hiring a new videographer from outside my inner circle.

The differences in managing freelance video editors compared to full-time staff are like comparing apples with oranges. The freelance videographers I've worked with wouldn't put up with a dictatorial 'boss'. They got into freelancing to be their own boss and set their own rules. This doesn't mean they're difficult to manage, quite the opposite: most are mature and experienced enough to manage themselves.

There are subtle management techniques to consider. For instance, a freelance videographer will almost always know more about their craft than you, so let them get on with the technical aspects whilst guiding them on your objectives. Once they know what you're looking to achieve, they can provide professional insights. If you have a vision, show them and then step back.

As some work might take place remotely eg: the editing and post-production process, a line of communication is key. Consider using a messaging app like Slack or WhatsApp so you can go back and forth without the formalities. This allows the videographer or video editor to show progress to the client visually and remove the stuffy nature of email.

In my experience, freelancers like deadlines and work best when there is something to work towards. So long as the deadline is realistic and the client doesn't change the brief halfway through, deadlines and milestones are a great way to see progress. Consider using project management tools such as Asana, Monday or ClickUp.

Freelance Videographers have a lot of hidden overheads. Take these into account when setting your budget before engaging with a freelance videographer. Of course, it's not the client's responsibility to cover the costs of a freelancer, however, it's useful to know what videographers are having to pay out to see if there are areas you can leverage in a negotiation.

Equipment

Videographers require more essential equipment than most other job roles in the creative industries. It is vital that freelance videographers have the basic tools to create, edit and produce shots and content. Their equipment doesn't come cheap and a basic camera, lighting setup, editing software and accessories require a significant investment.

Software

When it comes to editing software, there are plenty of options for freelance videographers and freelance video editors. Popular choices include Premiere and Final Cut Pro.

Travel

Many freelance video editors or videographers will find themselves travelling around the country or even abroad for work. It is important that this cost is either paid for by the client or considered when setting a rate for a project. Most freelance videographers will add travel into their price, however, that travelling further-a-field may request additional travel costs are covered. Freelance video editors tend to work from home or their office, however, if you require them to come to your place of work, take that into account.

Location Scouting

Scouting locations for a shoot is not always the responsibility of the videographer but it is often apart of pre-production process as it has to be undertaken before the shoot. If the videographer scouts for locations they must factor this into their rate for the project, making sure to include the costs to travel to the locations and the time taken.

Storyboarding

Depending on how big the project is, most clients will hire a separate, professional storyboard artist. However, if the freelance videographer is asked to create a storyboard for a project, this is an additional rate that must be factored into the final fee. Storyboard artists are typically paid between £20 to £30 an hour. Remember what you're asking a videographer to do on a project. Large productions may require 2 or 3 experts to do the work many clients expect a videographer to cover.

 

freelance video editor

How to Ensure a Fair Rate for a Freelance Videographer

Talk About Money

Freelancers, in general, are not great when it comes to talking about money. Certainly, the less experienced freelancers in the industry tend not to have a day rate. Experienced freelance video editors are likely to be more confident in their rates and will have a minimum day rate. It's important that clients and videographers don't shy away from discussing money from the very start of each project they undertake.

Equally important is that the client does not take advantage of the videographer's lack of knowledge in this area. Longterm, it won't work out. Working for free is not an option and therefore, all payment expectations should be made clear from the start so there is no confusion or underpayment later on.

Experience

It is important for clients to gauge a freelance videographer's level of experience and expertise when it comes to setting a fee. As there are so many elements to video production, the more you know, the higher the fee. For example, the more software and equipment a videographer owns and is familiar with, the more likely they can justify asking for a higher fee. As with all creatives, the bigger and more diverse a portfolio, the more money one will earn. Experience is not only about the quality of the end product. It’s about communication with the client and a level of professionalism that a client expects.

Equipment and Software

Similar to a freelance video editor, if a videographer is providing all of the equipment and software for a shoot, they can justifiably charge a higher fee, as they're providing more than just their shooting skills. They're essentially working with the videographer to put the whole shoot together, as well as providing all the editing. in addition, videographers can often bring multiple services to a project. Discover what else they're able to provide when discussing the project. Don't ask, don't get.

Hourly vs Flat Rate

Charging by the hour vs charging a flat rate is one of the hardest decisions to make as a freelance videographer. Both methods of setting fees have their advantages and disadvantages and most freelancers will switch between the two depending on the type of project and how long it is expected to last. Usually, freelancers will make more money if they charge by the hour, but flat rates that are set before the project has begun to make life easy for both the client and the freelancer. Some freelancers price a project based on the budget. Clients tend not to divulge the budget to avoid this, however, it's important to know the value of a project before negotiating.

Summary

 

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