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An All-Round Guide to Become a Successful Freelance Video Editor in 2021

  • 28 May, 2021
An All-Round Guide to Become a Successful Freelance Video Editor in 2021

If something comes out on top in 2020, it would almost certainly be video. In fact, video is so common that it is projected to account for 80% of all user internet traffic in the coming year.

As Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, HBO Max, and others fight for streaming dominance, more and more TV and film content is made, all of which involves editing. The massive growth of video has called for the need for professional videographers and video editors.

As a result, the Bureau of Labour and Statistics in the United States estimates that the occupation will rise by 18% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.

So, if you want to start off with freelance video editing but don't want to be bound down to one company, being a freelance video editor would be your best bet. Wouldn't it be nice to work on a YouTube interview one day and a short film the next?

In this blog, we’ll turn up everything you need to know about how to become a successful freelance video editor in the dynamics of 2021.

Basic Steps to Start Your Freelance Video Editing Career

freelance video editor jobs

Have a look at some of the initial yet most important steps to consider while starting your video editing career:

  1. Decide if It's a Good Fit for You 

Before you take the first step towards being a freelance video editor, ask yourself if it's the right path for you. A regular full-time job provides you with fixed hours, a fixed salary, and health and insurance.

On the other hand, freelancing is a risky business because you don't know how long it'll be before the next paying project arrives. While a standard full-time career has a low risk and a predictable reward, freelancing has a high risk and the opportunity for a big reward.

But one thing is for sure, you are your own boss if you choose to freelance. No one is going to dump a to-do list on your desk every week. Yet every day, freelancing necessitates a great deal of discipline.

Let's move on further if you think you can take it!

  1. Research the Market and Pick Your Niche 

Choosing a specific niche for your career is always a good idea. Look into the market and decide what type of videography might be the best fit for you in the long run. 

For instance, you may want to start with a particular media channel, medium, or publication if you enjoy it.  If you love horror fiction, you may want to look at what it takes to become a video editor in that category.

Different editorial positions would necessitate different levels of experience and expertise. Some sectors can be easier to get into than others. For example, editing research journals requires higher qualifications and a profound experience than doing weddings and events videography. 

So, be smart with your choice. 

  1. Get The Required Training 

You undoubtedly know that being an editor requires more than just a fascination for books. Editors should have a basic knowledge of text editing as well as publishing environments.

You may also want to be familiar with social media sites, search engine optimization (SEO), and content management systems (CMSs), depending on the kind of content you choose to deal with.

You may also need to learn how to use style manuals like The Chicago Manual of Style or The Associated Press Stylebook. You can check out some of the organizations that offer editing courses, training, and seminars.

  1. Mug up and Practice More 

If you wish to be a professional video editor, you must be extremely skilled at what you do. Learn as much as you can about the editing software you've chosen, and always be there to learn more. 

In the beginning, it’s good if you work on unpublished projects just to develop new skills. If you don't have something to edit, consider shooting a mock ad for an item in your home and try making it like a professional advertisement which is always fun to watch.

It would be impossible to find clients if your editing skills are not at a reasonably advanced level. However, you'll have to prove that you know what you're doing. For that, pick any of the best ideas you've worked on, upload them to a portfolio or hold a private portfolio to share with potential customers when needed. 

  1. Get Hold of the Hardware and Tools You Need

Hold on, you aren't fully ready to take on clients just yet. Before you go out and start landing customers, double-check if you have the required tools and hardware. If your editing computer crashes often while editing, you won’t be able to do the work efficiently.

Below are some of the things you should strive for:

  • Adequate CPU and RAM capacity to manage intricate timelines without crashing

  • Enough rendering capacity on the CPU or GPU to export videos in a fair period of time 

  • Sufficient hard disk or cloud storage to store client videos and projects

  • Heavy-duty computer, high-definition headphones, full-featured video editing software


  1. Spot Your First Client

Finding the first customer can be the most daunting part, but it is also the most critical. Your first customer will establish your credibility as a competent editor. To potential prospective customers, you might say, "I've done work for XYZ firm." That's a lot more persuasive than saying you've never done something before. 

When securing your first client, you will at times have to tolerate a smaller wage or work on a job that you aren't especially happy about. To get a head start on your freelance career, you can sign up for the most affordable freelancing platform

Freelancing sites are highly competitive and have an access to a vast pool of prospective clients, which means that numerous freelancers may be vying for the same work. What’s important on these platforms is your ranking and a few negative reviews can really hurt you.

Moreover, you should start networking while you're looking for your first client. Utilize social media networks to create your online presence. If you're fortunate, you could find a customer by personal connections who might need you for a long-term project.

  1. Plump for Full-Time 

To become a successful freelance video editor, any freelancer's dream would be to quit their day job and work full-time as a professional video editor. But you'll only be able to do this once you've developed a comfortable standard of freelancing income and a steady stream of jobs. 

When you go full-time, you'll have to put more money into your own workspace. Without an employer to provide you with supplies and hardware, you'll have to upgrade your editing equipment, purchase a cozy office chair, and get hold of new editing tools on your own dime.

Taking this step can be risky. So, before you go full-time, make sure you have a good number of long-term customers lined up.

Additional Tips: Give a Boost to Your Video Editing Career

how to become a freelance video editor

  1. Pick Up Speed with Your Work 

Producers have a range of video editors, and in order for them to work with someone remotely, you must make things as convenient as possible for them while offering a fast turnaround. 

Quick turnaround can mean working through the night to provide your client with a rough cut the next morning. One of the biggest reasons to get repeat business is quality work with the lowest turnaround time. 

  1. Keep Track of Your Time

If you charge by hourly rates, it becomes essential to track time. You can use your phone’s timer as a wireless punch clock. Moreover, there are many applications that can do this on both your laptop and smartphone, so there's no reason you can't keep track of your time.

Even if you work on fixed-rate, you must track your time per project. This way, you'll not only be able to bill correctly, but you'll also have a clearer sense of how long it takes you to complete edits, which will make you quote jobs more accurately in the future.

  1. Make Your Work Faultless by Labelling and Organizing It

If you're a skilled freelance video editor, you probably already do this. Build a folder with your name and the project name on the hard drive your client gives you. Subfolders separating audio, images, project files, and everything else will make it look.

Neat and organized work gives a professional aura and builds credibility on the client’s side. It’s something very easy but holds great value at both ends so don’t miss out on sorting your work. 

Must-Have Skills of a Freelance Video Editor

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  1. Strong Technological Skills 

Technological skills are, of course, important. You'll not only need to know how to use the equipment but also to be good at them. Moreover, you must keep up with emerging technologies, approaches, and developments in the industry. 

It’s a given that technology skills are all important. It's not only about learning how to use the gear; it's also about knowing how to do what the director wants. For example, whether you need to edit, add voice-over, or dub, you'll need to consider what that means.

  1. Problem Solving Skills

As far as problem-solving skills are concerned, issues can arise at any stage of the editing process. As a freelance video editor, you'll need to know what to do in this situation. You'll be the one to resolve it, whether it's a hardware or a project deadline issue. 

What’s important is to have the ability to be cool when something goes wrong; you must not rush to anyone else any time a stumbling block appears in your path. The better problem-solving skills you have, the better you’ll handle things. 

  1. Good Communication

In almost every area, communication is key. To absorb the idea and make it a reality as a video editor, you must be a strong communicator. 

You can easily receive and relay a wide range of information if you can communicate. Video editors need this expertise in particular since they often collaborate with a variety of experts, including music producers, sound editors, cinematographers, and directors.

  1. Attention to Detail

One of the most important skills to have as a freelance video editor is to be attentive to details. Your ability to complete projects correctly will lead you to perfection. 

As a video editor, you must be able to assess each part of your work as well as the overall project as a whole.

  1. Adaptability

Adaptability is a skill that helps you to comfortably and rapidly alter your strategy and mindset with the latest trends. Due to unforeseen problems in this industry, such as production delays, video editors must be adaptable in order to make the grade.

  1. Self-determination

When it comes to video editing, you'll always have to work alone and hold yourself accountable, which is why self-motivation is a vital ability to have. Self-motivation is a desire to perform effectively that comes from the inside. When you are self-motivated, you would seldom need supervision to ensure that your obligations are being fulfilled.

  1. Organization skills

Since they help you to structure different shots into a cohesive piece, organizing skills are an important aspect of video editing.

The Takeaway

Freelance video editing is an excellent way to get into the entertainment industry and has so many nuances and capabilities that can create your wonderful client base. There are a lot of possibilities including commercials, music videos, corporate jobs, wedding videos, etc. This career will help you hone your skills and build your own unique style of video editing. 

So, let freelance video editing be your chance to let your imagination shine alongside your skills, whether you're just getting started in this thrilling profession or you're already making a good living off it.