How Much To Charge For Video Editing

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It’s the editor who orchestrates the rhythm of the images, and that is the rhythm of the dialogue and of course the rhythm of the music. For me, the editor is like a musician, and often composer – Martin Scorcese

When the Buggles predicted that video would bring an end to the era of the radio star, they couldn’t have known how accurate their vision of the future would be. Video has been the framing format of our lives for the last four decades and is the medium to which we all subscribe, regardless of our tastes.

It doesn’t matter if we’re devoted to movies, television shows, online streamers, YouTube, Vimeo, or one of the multitudes of other internet platforms, video is responsible for the creation of all of their content, and has stolen our species collective heart.

While the role of a video editor, thanks to the explosion in popularity of sites like YouTube and smartphones with built-in near professional-quality cameras, is no longer the sole purview of film school graduates or long time industry insiders, it’s still a vital, and pivotal, part of the entertainment sector.

The flood gates may have opened and leveled the playing field, but that doesn’t mean that position isn’t as valuable as it once was. If anything, it’s just the opposite as the necessary skill set employed by a good video editor is, arguably, worth more today than it ever has been.

So, how much is a video editor worth? How much should they charge for their time, expertise, and ability? We’ve taken a deep dive into the world of video editing, and have put together an indispensable guide that should help you to determine, and set your rates at a level that both you, and your clients, are comfortable with.

Knowing And Understanding Your Role

As with any profession, there a number of different sectors that require a video editor, and knowing which sector you’re working in, and your work qualifies you for, is vital to knowing and understanding your worth.  In the broadest terms, the general categories that apply to video editing are as follows: 

  • Music Videos
  • Documentary Features
  • Feature-length movies and films
  • Television shows and specialist programming
  • Wedding and event videos

A comprehensive and thorough understanding of your chosen field and everything that your role entails within it, and what you’re expected to do in order to make the project a success are vital.

As is establishing and quantifying what you can bring to the table that no-one else can to help your client achieve everything they want.

The Market Rate

Every market is different, and each specific role within that market charges and is paid, a different rate. Establishing what your role is worth according to the market is crucial.

Research is key, take the time to find out what other editors in your sector are charging, and if possible, find out as much about their work as possible. It never hurts to compare your skill set to others in your field and use that comparison to help set your price. 

Also bear in mind that the set rate will vary from state to state and region to region. The price for the same work in New York will be different from that in Illinois, which in turn will also be different to the rate charged for a similar project in Texas, California, or Maine.

Location is key and paramount to formulating your rate, so you’ll want to take that account when ascertaining what you should charge a client.

A Good Workman Never Blames His Tools But He Does Know What They’re Worth

You’re going to need the right equipment to do the job you need to do and the initial, and additional, expenditure associated with purchasing, and replacing, the hardware and software you’ll need, and already own, should be part of your rate equation.

Rather than push all the costs onto one job, you’ll need to spread them out over an even number of editing projects, or take a minimal percentage of their combined worth and factor that into your standard hourly rate or a flat fee. Your equipment is the tools of your trade, it needs to be paid for and your job needs to make sure that it is. 

Getting To Grips With The Project

The commanding factor in knowing how much you should charge a client is the project. You’ll need to know everything that you possibly can about the potential project that you’re being hired for.

Ask your client questions about it and when you’ve finished asking those questions, ask your client some more questions. You can never know too much, but knowing too little can be disastrous for you, the project, and your client. 

Establish everything you can about the project. Try to determine the timescale you’ll need to invest in the job to complete it successfully and what that timescale will require from you. How long is the project?

How many cuts and edits will you need to make? Has the client supplied a detailed list of instructions? Do they expect a daily progress update and do they want to be actively involved in the editing process?

Does the client have a specific idea and vision about how the project should look when it’s completed and if so, are they prepared to share it with you? 

Find out as much as you can before taking the project on, and finalize your quote and fee ahead of agreeing to take the job.  And always, we repeat, always get a contract that includes your fee and any additional charges that may be incurred if the project, for any reason outside of your control, runs past the timeline agreed.

The Do-Over

Some clients won’t be happy with your finished work and they’ll insist that you need to go back to the editing board and start all over again.

You’re not going to be able to charge them if they’re not happy, because at the end of the day it’s your job to make sure that they are.

So you’ll need to figure the costs, both in time and duties undertaken, that any potential re-editing may involve and work them into your original quoted fee. Remember, the client is always right. 

In Conclusion

We’ve given you all of the necessary advice that you need to understand what you’re worth is as, and what you should charge for your skills as, a video editor.

It’s all about knowing your role, what you can do, what the client wants, and what the project entails. The rest is entirely up to you.

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