How Much Should You Charge For Video Editing?

Determining what to charge for your video editing services can be a difficult thing. Since there are few (or often zero) hard costs associated with the performance of the work and no set industry standard across-the-board, prices can vary considerably. Even worse, clients often attempt to whittle your effort for the project down as much as they can, negotiate to the bare minimum, and sneak in extra tasks.

If you’re just starting out as a video editor, you’ve got a lot of work to do to determine what you are worth to your clients, what scope of projects we’re willing and able to handle, and how to not get totally screwed over by someone looking to take advantage of you.

SPOILER ALERT! Nobody can give you a solid answer on what exactly to do, but Ian Sansavera (@notiansans) of Learn How To Edit Stuff has some wisdom, tips, and thoughts to share that might just help you as you learn and grow in your field.

The number one question that Ian gets asked on his channel is the most difficult question to answer “How much should I charge for my video editing services?”

What makes this question so tricky to respond to is that no two clients, projects, or editors are alike. We all live in different places, work in different industries, and have varying skill sets and work experiences.

No one can offer you a spreadsheet, chart, or comp to science out the best answer to determine your rate. As you drive through your career, you’ll figure this out as a process of trial and error but Ian’s tips can help you avoid a lot of anguish.

PUT A CONTRACT TOGETHER

Regardless of who you’re working for or what you’re being paid, the most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your interests is to put together a contract. This document defines your responsibilities as well as the clients and it is your first, last, and only line for defense should either of you not live up to their obligations.

WHAT GOES IN THE CONTRACT?

Contracts should be as detailed and definitive as possible, leaving little to no room for interpretation. You’ll want to outline anything and everything you’ll be doing, and how and when they’ll be paying you for it.

  • Project Scope
    • What is it that you’ll be doing, and what sort of final deliverables will be required in the end?
    • If the work isn’t outlined here but the client is requesting it, it’s outside of your agreement and will require an additional cost.
  • Deadlines and Delivery
    • When is it due?
    • What needs to be delivered and how?
    • How many rounds of revisions are included?
      • Typically, you only allow for 3 rounds of revision: Rough Cut, Fine Cut, and Picture Lock.
      • This helps keep things collaborative but not open ended.
  • Your Rate
    • How much are you charging and how is that work qualified?
      • This can be hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly depending on what you’re doing.

This brings us back to the dreaded topic of rates. Ian recommends, and I fully agree with this recommendation, never to accept lump sum payments for work. At the end of the day, you always end up working more for less money, and every time I’ve ever worked for a lump sum the relationship with the client ended with the deliverable.

Time is money, and money is time so qualify your payment in terms of the time you’ll spend on the project. You can make this hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly depending on how long the project is going to last. The dollars for dollars amount is based on your experience and the value of the final result to the client.

Determine your rate based on your skill set and how good you are at editing, your understanding of time, budgets, and deadlines.  This is your career, and your rate should be fair so clients keep coming back to work with you time and time again.

Figure out how many hours, days, weeks, or months its going to take you to complete the project and if their budget is worth the dedicated time to work on it for you.

Rate Examples Based On Skill Set:

*these are by no means accurate and should only be used for reference.

  • Entry Level – $150 to 200/day
  • Intermediate Level – $350 to 550/day
  • Advanced Editors – $600 to THE-SKY-IS-THE-LIMIT/day

The marriage of your skill set and the scope of the project will determine the final price for your work.

When you’re just starting out in the business, you’ll probably do a lot more work for a lot less money but as your skills grow, the clients come calling, and quality of the final product that you put forth increases you’ll have a really good understanding of what your time is worth. Just remember to have a contract, qualify everything by the time, and determine what the scope of the project entails before you put yourself into a bad situation.

My best advice is to be firm, fair, and courteous about when payments are due. Early in my career, I spent almost as much time collecting payments for my work as I did editing the project. The clients who pay the fastest, are consistent with their responsibilities to submit payments, and treat their obligations to the contract as a sign of respect for me and my business are always my favorite. They get the most benefit from my time, I’m happy, they’re happy, and we work better together.

[source: Learn How To Edit Stuff]

Claim your copy of DAVINCI RESOLVE 16 - SIMPLIFIED COURSE with 50% off! Get Instant Access!