So you’re a talented video editor (or a color grading master, motion graphics designer, audio mixer — what have you). Great. You decide to take your talents into the world of freelance video editing.
And why not? Freelance video editing is a great way to add to your current income — or be the main source of income. Career planning firm Zippia says there are around 50,000 freelance videographers and video editors in the U.S.
If you know your way around Premiere Pro (and other Adobe Creative Suite products), Final Cut, or DaVinci Resolve, there’s no shortage of jobs.
Although creating world-class videos as a freelance video editor is super fun, it’s only half the battle. Working with clients while balancing other jobs and staying on top of your bookkeeping is critical to the success of your editing work.
That’s why I’ve thrown together this complete guide of best practices you can reference for a fruitful freelance video editing career path. Enjoy.
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1. Bill Your Clients for File Transfer. No, Seriously.
Any professional video editor will attest to the importance of good file transfer.
Good file transfer means files arrive quickly and in good condition. Which means, you can start your video editing tasks sooner, get final approval(s), and shift your focus to other projects/paid gigs.
Bad file transfer is sinking hours on slow uploads and failed deliveries, and increased frustrations (on your part and the client).
So why charge for file transfers when many freelance video editors don’t?
The answer can be summarized by:
- Unforeseen Costs
File transfer takes time.
For video editing professionals, it takes longer than usual because of how heavy video files are.
Gigabytes of data can take a couple hours to transfer, let alone terabytes (more common with raw, uncompressed files). Those are hours you could spend on other projects — because, as you know, trying to move heavy files and editing at the same time can cause your computer to do its best impression of a jet engine.
If you are sending files back-and-forth between a client, that can eat up most of your day. This is especially important if the client forces you to use their internal file transfer system that is slow and/or error-prone.
Unforeseen costs is anything that adds to your expenses on account of a client’s large file requests. Expenses you weren’t accounting for, such as:
- Subscribing to a higher payment tier because your current file transfer subscription caps at a certain file size (often the case with WeTransfer and Dropbox).
- Having to purchase and ship a hard drive.
- Purchasing more cloud storage space to accommodate backups of client files.
Large file transfer tools like MASV make it incredibly easy to monitor and bill back clients at a set, predictable rate:
- MASV has a flat pay-as-you-go payment fee of $0.25 for every gigabyte downloaded.
- MASV has virtually no file size limits. Users can send and receive up to 5 TB *per file.* There is no need to invest in a higher payment tier.
- MASV keeps a detailed transfer history of your deliveries (sent and received). Use it to bill relevant file transfers back to your clients. You can even export Billing Log Reports.
- All MASV transfers are stored, for free, in the cloud for up to seven days.
- MASV lets you add a ‘Package Tag’ to group transfers by project. You can search for transfers by tag and export the results as a CSV with a line-by-line breakdown of costs.
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2. Don’t Create Extra Work
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Freelancing is the same as any other job in that clients want to work with people whose company they enjoy — or can tolerate, at the very least. So don’t make things difficult and create extra work for the client.
Specifically, it means, be proactive and find easy ways for clients to interact with you. Nobody wants to deal with an unorganized combination of email threads, Slack messages, Dropbox links, etc.
A MASV Portal is the ultimate way to simplify workflows with clients and show off your problem solving skills.
With a Portal, you can create a custom upload portal to receive large files. You can create as many Portals as you want (e.g. one per project, per client, etc.) and brand them to your liking.
All your client needs to do is upload their files to your Portal URL. And before you ask, no, they don’t need a MASV account to contribute.
It’s a fast, simple, and easy to way to collaborate without adding to your client’s workload.
Instant Cloud Backup
If you connect a cloud storage to your MASV Portal, any file you receive will automatically route into that cloud storage. No manual upload required and you have a cloud backup ready to go.
Save on Per-Seat License
Another feature of MASV Portals, one specifically designed to empower freelancers, is its ability to bypass per-set license models.
Allow me to elaborate:
Say you are hired as a freelance video editor to assist an organization’s in-house video team. Everyone on that team has access to Frame.io. All files associated with the project you are working on must be stored in Frame.io storage.
Under normal circumstances, you either:
- Need access to the corporate Frame.io account, which requires an additional user account.
- Need access to another team member’s login credentials, which is a security risk.
- Need to send files to a member of the team to upload to Frame.io on your behalf, which is an added step for everyone.
MASV has a direct integration with Frame.io to support cloud storage uploads.
That means, if your client creates a MASV Portal and connects it to Frame.io, any file you upload to that Portal will appear in Frame.io storage.
Your client does not need to add you as another seat in their corporate Frame.io license, which saves them money and admin work. And it gives you the freedom to collaborate instantly.
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3. Keep Yourself (and Others) Organized With Minimal Effort
There are all sorts of affordable tools out there to keep freelancers organized.
- Trello is a fantastic visual project management tool, for example.
- Toggl is excellent for down-to-the-second time tracking.
- Google Workspace is awesome for its cheap yet powerful array of business and collaboration tools, from Docs to Sheets to Meet (although I don’t recommend Google Drive for sharing large video files, but that’s another story).
MASV also provides tools that help freelancers keep themselves organized, including our MASV Teams feature. With MASV Teams, you can create a different team within your MASV account and invite collaborators to that team, and set their permissions.
It’s great if you need to bring on more freelance editors to help push an edit over the finish line.
Best of all, MASV bills per team, not per user. All files sent and received by members of your team will be charged to the single credit card on file.
It’s just one less thing your client needs to worry about. They just have to deal with you and you only.
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4. Time is Money: Find the Fastest Route to Delivery
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Working fast is essential for a freelancer, especially if you’re on your own and need to finish several projects simultaneously. You must be able to move quickly and clear off tasks to start anew.
This can be accomplished during production with the help of various AI video editing tools, which act as a high-powered assistant, adept at removing menial steps from the video editing and post-production process.
It can also be accomplished by investing in tools that prioritize speed to reduce your overall turnaround time.
As mentioned above, the cost of slow file transfer can impact your entire workflow and stop you from starting another project. It’s why MASV is optimized for speed and performance above all else.
- MASV boasts lightning-fast large file transfers across a global network of 300+ servers.
- MASV leverages your available bandwidth for fast paced delivery; and it runs on a modified version of TCP to ensure transfers arrive on-time, without choking others on a shared network and setting off firewalls.
- MASV is the only cloud file transfer tool optimized for 10Gbps video transfer performance.
- The MASV Desktop App comes with innovative acceleration features like Multiconnect, which lets you bond multiple internet connections (such as 5G mobile data, WiFi, and satellite internet) together for an added boost of speed.
Time is money, after all – and the faster you deliver, the faster you can invoice.
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5. Avoid (Bad) Surprises
Not everyone loves a surprise, especially one that results in an awkward conversation with the client.
Conversations like, “my upload failed, I need to re-send it later tonight.”
It’s best to thoroughly research with tools/apps you want as part of your workflow. Their performance is a reflection on you as a freelance video editor. As such, you want gear that will make you look good.
MASV’s well-documented reliability and flexibility help freelancers keep things professional by sending files of any size without upload or download errors, or transfer timeouts. You’ll never run into unwanted surprises like:
- File size limit warnings
- Transfer error messages
- Firewall blocks
- Hidden fees
6. Find More Ways to Get Paid
Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash
Ah, the most rewarding part of being a freelancer: getting paid for your hard work. But it’s easier said than done.
Ask any editor who made the jump to freelance video editing jobs. They’ll tell you that creativity is the easy part. It’s putting on the project manager hat and managing invoices/expenses that complicates things.
Statement of Work
First, you need to provide a Statement of Work (SOW) before starting a project. Consider this document the piece of paper that keeps everyone honest.
- It informs the client of your rate, timeline, and responsibilities
- It gives you a clear-cut definition of what is required
To make things easy, you can download MASV’s free Freelance Video Editor Statement of Work template.
Freelancers often either bill after each project or monthly (you can also bill at a different frequency, but I find monthly is the most common).
Just make sure you set up the invoicing arrangement in advance to avoid any awkward surprises. And don’t reinvent the wheel, either – there are plenty of nice-looking invoice templates you can find for free online.
There are a bunch of free tools like Expensify to track invoices and expenses. And always be sure to remember client requests when billing. If your client needs your invoice submitted by the fifth business day of the month, be sure to meet that timeframe.
Upsell and Additional Income
I know the word ‘upsell’ gives off a sleazy salesman vibe but it opens up a whole stream of revenue when done right. The key is to upsell your services in a way that matches the client’s initial request:
- Edited a product tutorial video for a company? Offer to edit subsequent tutorials at a discount if the client buys in bulk.
- Created an explainer video for a startup? Offer to put together a library of video and graphics assets you know they will need (lower-thirds, logo bumpers, icon animations, etc.)
- Edit marketing videos for a brand’s YouTube channel? Offer to optimize the videos for other social media accounts (TikTok, YouTube Shorts, Instagram, etc.)
Did you know you can get paid for sending large files via MASV’s Affiliate program? If you sign up to be a MASV Affiliate, you earn 15% commission on the first year of sales for every customer you referred. In other words, if you have friends in the video community — or you have a blog/YouTube channel — get your supports to sign-up for MASV and earn revenue off the gigabytes and terabytes they are bound to transfer.
With MASV’s pay-as-you-go pricing model, it’s easy to know exactly how much you will earn off certain transfers.
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Taking on freelance video editing jobs is a fantastic way to make some extra money or become a full-time gig with the right roster of clients and steady work coming in.
While every project is different, there are certain, unique best practices which video editors can use when going off on their own. They are:
- Start charging for file transfers. Delivery it is an integral and time-consuming part of an entire editing project.
- Don’t become another thing for your client to worry about. Make their job easier by simplifying the way you work together.
- Stay organized, either as an individual or as part of a team.
- Prioritize velocity and work quickly to get a start on other projects.
- Keep your billing organized and seek out ways to make extra income from your existing relationships.
Another best practice for freelance video editors? Using MASV as the primary file transfer tool.
MASV is a cloud file transfer solution specifically built to move large media files between clients, collaborators, and co-workers. It’s used by post-production professionals, broadcasters, in-house video teams, and freelancers to make large file transfer less of a pain so creative professionals can focus on their craft.
Sign-up for free today for fast, easy, and secure file sharing of heavy media assets. We’ll even throw in 100 GB to get you started. After that, it’s $0.25/GB downloaded. Uploads are free and you’re not tied to a monthly subscription that charges your credit card even if you don’t use the product.
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