In the world of film and video production, there are a lot of great jobs out there. You can be a director, a cinematographer, a post-production coordinator…the world’s your oyster.

Those who have been bit by the editing bug can tell you: there is no job more mentally invigorating than being a video editor.

But how does one get into video editing? And, more importantly, how does one build a career as a freelance editor?

Let’s explore everything you need to know about getting started as a freelance editor, including how to find clients, how to manage your day-to-day schedule, and eventually how you can turn yourself into a business.

What is a freelance video editor?

So, first things first, let’s define what it means to be a freelance video editor in today’s day and age. A freelance video editor is simply a person who is hired by a company, agency or individual to perform efficient video editing tasks. 

And technically speaking there’s a lot of jobs and roles which a freelance video editor could be specifically asked to do including color correcting or color grading, sound editing, or different types of video coding or exporting.

However, for most purposes, a freelance video editor is someone tasked with taking footage (either which they recorded themselves or was given to them) and editing that footage into a final version of a video. 

The process requires a bit of back-and-forth between a video editor and a client or project manager to share requirements and goals, as well as a thorough review and export process for the sharing of final deliverables.

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What does a freelance video editor do day-to-day?

As mentioned above, a freelance video editor’s day-to-day schedule can vary significantly depending on the types of projects and work needed to be done. However, there are some general activities which a video editor usually performs day-to-day when on a job.

And from here I’m speaking from experience in my time as a freelance video editor where I was often asked to take on projects which could span anywhere from a day to several weeks or months. 

  • Start of day: Check emails and go over the work you need to do for the day. 
  • Morning session: Open up your video editing program and any relevant documents or plug-ins and begin editing. This session can last 4 to 5 hours and is sometimes capped by sending off footage or drafts to be reviewed by a client.
  • Lunch break: Take some time to yourself to eat, socialize, and/or reflect on your work from before.
  • Afternoon session: Re-open your video editing program and work on your edit for another 4 to 5 hours. This session is also often capped with sending off footage or drafts to be reviewed by the client, ideally with notes being sent for you to review for the next day.
  • Evening: Ideally even a freelance video editor will be sure to set boundaries with clients and log off at a specific time of day. It’s not unusual for freelance video editors to spend time in the evening either finishing up projects, doing extra freelance work, or learning new editing tricks or skills for fun.

That’s just my own personal schedule more or less though as each freelance video editor will undoubtedly work up a schedule ideal for them. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that a freelance editor isn’t always on the job, so for days where no client work is needed it might be best to focus on networking, building out your resume or portfolio, or learning additional editing certifications and skills.

Freelance video editing: 5 qualifications you need to have 

Now that we’ve gone over a standard day as a video editor, let’s go over some basic qualifications that you need to have to get started with your freelance career. Some of these are physical things you need (like a computer), whereas others are skills which you need to work on and possess to be successful.

  • An adequate computer: While you don’t necessarily need a top-of-the-line PC, you do need an adequate computer which can edit at a reasonable pace.
  • Hard drives (and back-ups): The freelance video editor will always need plenty of hard drives and back up drives to store footage, files and assets, as well as keep your clients’ work safe.
  • Video editing training: Whether it be from an accredited university or with YouTube tutorials, you’ll need plenty of video editing training to be able to perform all the tasks asked of a professional video editor.
  • Problem solving skills: A good video editor should be great at problem solving as there will always be issues which arise with every project. 
  • Communication skills: You should also be well versed in communication as a freelance video editor will need to communicate early and often with clients on scripts, goals and timelines, as well as be able to implement feedback into new drafts of a project.

From there though, each freelance video editor will indeed be unique and your own career path and experiences will help to shape your skillset as you develop and grow.

How to start your freelance video editing career 

So, with all the qualifications and day-to-day examples outlined above, how do you actually start your freelance video editing career? Well, the answer is a bit complex as its not quite as cut-and-dry as other career types.

By its nature, freelance video editing, is either an on-or-off proposition. If you’re actively doing editing work for a client, congratulations! You’re a freelance video editor.

If you’ve not doing any freelance editing work, and never have before, you’re not quite one yet.

But this is good news because all it means is that for you to get started as a freelance editor is to find a client and begin working. Which, if you follow the steps below, isn’t as hard as it sounds either.

How to find freelance video editing jobs

Now let’s go over some actionable tips for finding freelance video editing jobs. It still takes a great deal of in-person connecting and networking to put yourself in front of new clients and companies.

However, while it never hurts to connect IRL when possible, you can actually build a career in freelance video editing completely remote and no matter where you live.

Here are 5 steps to follow:

1. Join a video-specific Slack group 

One of these new virtual ways to network and connect with other creatives and editing professionals is to find a video-specific Slack group to join and engage with. If you aren’t familiar with Slack, you can get started here, but it’s basically a collaboration hub where you can join different channels, teams, or discussions to stay connected with different groups.

2. Attend networking events specifically for video editors 

Similarly, if you do live in a location that is a good hub for film and video, then you should absolutely consider IRL networking as well. For example, if you live in New York there are plenty of great networking events — even specifically for video editing — that you can find on MeetUp.

3. Scour LinkedIn and job boards 

You’ll also want to look into building out a robust and informative LinkedIn profile as that’s one of the best resources for finding jobs and putting your name, face, and reel in front of clients. Once you’ve built a profile, you can expand your job search either to localized areas (like this one for video editors in New York) or remotely as you open yourself up to clients across the globe.

4. Get certified as a Vimeo Expert 

Moving into resources for freelance video editors right here on Vimeo, you should absolutely also check out the Vimeo Experts program to see about becoming a certified Expert within the Vimeo community. Not only does the Experts program give you training for video skills (both Vimeo-specific and general) it also unlocks a special badge and opportunities which you can find on For Hire Marketplace on Vimeo.

5. Make a profile on gig-centric websites 

Finally, a newer tip that is gaining a lot of steam in professional video circles is to make a profile on a gig-centric website to showcase your talents and put your profile in front of other creatives and executives. 

The name of the game with this approach is finding the new cool websites (like ilovecreatives for example) and taking the time to make sure your profile puts you (and your talents) in the best possible light.

How to start a video editing business

Once you have found yourself with a few freelance video editing opportunities and clients, you’ll actually be faced with a decision as to whether or not you’d like to continue on just as a freelancer, or to turn your work into a business.

For many freelance video editors this means starting a video editing business. And while it might just be yourself as the lone employee to start, as you build your brand and get more and more work, you can consider hiring on extra help and building out a team.

Here are the basic steps that you’ll need to follow:

  • Choose a company name: You can always use your own name to start, but if you want to truly grow try to pick something fun, unique, and smart.
  • Create a reel: A freelance video editor will always need a reel to showcase your best projects and diversity of work.
  • Make a portfolio (or website): Every company needs a website these days, and a video editing brand is no different. You can start with an easy-to-build template from Wix, Squarespace or WordPress.
  • Optimize your linkedIn profile: But don’t forget your LinkedIn profile which is still perhaps the most powerful digital footprint for any video editing professional.
  • Start an official LLC: Finally, as you grow you’ll want to consider officially starting an LLC for your company as a way to keep all your revenue, expenses and tax information in order.

Career advice from real freelance video editors 

Finally, to wrap things up, we have some pieces of advice to share with you on how to start your freelance video editing career from real freelance video editors themselves.

From tips for building skills to finding gigs, here are some insightful nuggets to help you along your way.

What are the most important skills you need to become a freelance video editor?

Successful video editors (according to actual video editors) tend to have these skills:

  • Values communication and feedback
  • Hunger to learn and continually progress
  • An innate understanding of storytelling
  • A focus on people, what they need, and their goals

What does a typical day look like for you?

For some editors, each day is a little different. “One day it’s all out editing the deliverables. Another day it’s figuring out how to promote myself and get in front of people. Other days it’s networking, updating [my] website, researching new tools, etc,” said wedding videographer Paul Wozniak.

Others take a batching approach, like Project Director Chris Hoerdemann, who said: “[I have] administrative work and meetings from about 8am to noon, and then editing from about 1pm until I have hit whatever milestone I was shooting for that day.”

Any advice for a total newbie? 

Jacob Perkins, founder of Hens Bread Productions in Austin, Texas, says, “Be confident in your pricing, you offer a skill most people don’t have. Anything for “exposure” should be done because you like it. Overestimate the editing hours because it’s bound to go over a couple hours over adding small details.”

Several editors recommended taking advantage of free learning like YouTube tutorials, or taking on pro-bono work for a non-profit you admire. Another editor emphasized the value of building relationships early in your editing career.

“Always be producing something — even if it means doing pro bono work, or producing personal projects. I did four or five free projects during my first six months, and all of those clients then became paying clients. Five years later, we are still working with them, and their word of mouth recommendations early on resulted in an avalanche of paying work coming our way in the first year,” said Chris Hoerdemann.

What are your primary channel(s) for finding gigs?

Here were a few top responses from real video editors:

  • Google Search
  • Word-of-mouth / referrals
  • Social media like LinkedIn
  • Online groups — everything from Vimeo to Facebook

Hopefully these tips and tricks have given you a solid roadmap to start your own career in freelance video editing. Remember, while there are great pieces of advice which you can learn from, the real way to get started is simply that — get started.

Put yourself out there, start working on projects for fun, hone your skills, and start building yourself into the brand that you want to be.

Learn more post-production and career tips.