The Editor Counselor

When I meet new people usually I am the first editor they ever met. I often have to clarify I am a video editor and not an editor for writers. I find it fascinating that years later they have become video editors too. Because I am the first they ever met working in the profession, I often receive calls in the middle of the night with emergency editing issues. I’ve even met new editors here on my blog through email with not just technical questions but about becoming an editor.

The conversation usually end up going deeper than editing. We talk about freelancing, self confidences and how to deal with current work situations. My heart goes out to them when I hear about their client who is paying them very little. When working freelance we have to use our best judgement but even more important we have to learn how to talk business with confidence. Over the years dealing with all types of people for all different types of projects, I’ve gotten better at making deals where everyone leaves happy.

Communication upfront is KEY! Making the price clear, how payments will be made, due date, final format and vision. So many problems come up when things aren’t clear.

Know your worth – Before you are caught off guard with someone asking you how much you charge, know their expectations. Ask questions about the person’s budget to see what you can give them for what they want to pay. Work out the amount of hours something takes and add some padding. Usually a project will take longer than you think. Under bidding is the worse, so try to over estimate how long it will take. Ask if you can talk at a later time when you have a better idea on what you might charge.

When Free is okay – There is a time and place to do free work. Its usually when you are still a “student”. You should no longer be free after two years of editing. There is always a ton of free work out there! Its the paid jobs that you want. Once someone has you for free, they will tell their friends and family you are happy to do work for them for nothing. Watch your editing reputation. I often hear people say, “She’s good but expensive”. If you want your project done well and on time, I am your girl and yes it will cost you.

Put it in writing! – I once heard, if its not in writing it didn’t happen. Write contracts to cover your back. Send invoices with details of what the clients are paying for and receiving. Include text about extra cost for revisions, etc. Keep in mind of duplicating, dvd’s, and even hard drive space. It all depends how big your project will be.

Make sure they have money – If you have a feeling a client doesn’t have much money, don’t risk doing business with them. I once did a job where I over heard a conversation that things were tight. I should have asked if the project was something they could afford. I completed the project and never got paid. The client said he wasn’t happy with it and not willing to do revisions to fix things. I didn’t have anything in writing, I was too shy to talk business and I wasted my time and effort.

Beware of the difficult cheap client – There will always be that client that is very picky and cheap. Do business with them at your risk but know this person will try to get the most out of you for very little money in return. If you pick up that the client is going to be difficult, over bid the job to turn them off. If they are willing to pay, well then maybe it will be worth it after all.

Deal with the issues and move on – If you are freelancing your client may want more and more. If you failed on your end to communicate extra cost of additions, take the bullet, make the change and fix the issues and move on. Don’t bother fighting it. If the client isn’t happy at the end, they’re not gonna wanna pay you.

Test your final product – If its a DVD, see if it plays on your player. Watch your final product. Don’t be lazy to fix your audio or jump cuts. Have someone else read your text to check your spelling.

Try to remain a good relationship with your client – You want them to refer you to others and hire you for more work in the future. The customer isn’t always right but let them think they are. Make them happy.

No matter what you’ll always have some freelance issue. If you learn how to do the business part well then you can focus on the creative part of the project.

Freelancing is differently a skill. What have you learned over the years?

4 Comments

  1. I remember some of my first freelance jobs while in college. At first it was taking an old cable broadcast from VHS to DVD for a neighbor. Then I got what I thought was a breakthrough. I made some connections with two real estate investors. One of the worst experiences of my life. In the end I got paid $100 to edit 9 hours of footage with multiple copies of dvd’s. I was also to shy to talk business and I had even heard conversations of how his budget was so tight not even air could squeak by. All the things said in your post are great advice. Never be afraid to talk business. Take a few and I mean a few free or cheap jobs. Once you have a small portfolio move up your price and stick to it. It’s a business and you have to eat. Freelance had a lot of pros to it and cons.

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