How to Start a Business as a Freelance Video Editor
Over the years, video editing has become an essential and viable career option. Whether it’s editing clips for corporations or putting together cuts for YouTubers, there’s tons of work available for a video editor.
If you have a good grasp of editing (or are a seasoned pro!), you should consider starting your own business. Becoming a business owner might sound intimidating, but the process isn’t all that difficult.
If you’re looking to take your video editing skills to the next level, here’s a step-by-step guide on starting a business as a freelance video editor.
How to Set Up a Freelance Business
These days, it’s easier than ever to take a part-time passion project and turn it into a full-time business.
If you’re ready to take a leap and start your own business as a freelance video editor, here are the steps you need to take:
Apply for a Business License
First things first, you need to apply for a business license.
This license will allow you to offer your services as a business rather than as an individual. When you apply for your business license, you’ll need to pick a name for your business and pay a small fee.
Once you get your business license, you can apply for your employer identification number (EIN). This is what the government uses to track your taxes.
Sole-Proprietorship vs. LLC
When you are applying for your business license, you will have to choose what type of business you want to be. Different types of small business classifications will alter how you pay taxes as a business.
Most freelancers will go with a standard LLC for their video editing business. You can also consider a sole-proprietorship. A sole-proprietorship is anyone that is a freelancer or runs a company solely on their own.
When you pick this option, you will be liable for all business expenses or faults on your business. In contrast, an LLC is a business entity separate from the individual.
Now that you’ve set your video business up, your next step is to obtain insurance.
You may be thinking that video editing isn’t that risky of a job. All you need is equipment and a space to work. Yet, it’s essential to ensure that everything you need for your business to thrive is protected.
If you accidentally spill coffee on your computer, you’ll need a new one — and fast. Obtaining business insurance can help you cover costs in the case of an emergency.
Business insurance will also help you protect your business if you ever run into an unfavorable encounter with a client.
The biggest difference between having your own business and working for someone else is your access to benefits. Luckily, there are great options for affordable and flexible benefits as a freelancer.
Obtain (or Upgrade) Your Equipment
Now that all the paperwork is out of the way, it’s time to set your business up for success. As a video editor, you need reliable equipment.
This might mean buying new equipment and software or upgrading the gear you already have. While this may be an expensive initial investment, it will pay off in the long run. The right equipment will help you create the best video content and set you apart from other video editors.
When it comes to video editing software, you’re also going to want to make sure you have the industry standards. Programs like Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro, and Photoshop will help you create high-quality products.
Create a Portfolio and Website
As a video editor, you probably already have a portfolio. However, if you’re just starting, you need to put together a body of work that you can showcase to clients.
A portfolio should tell your story as a video editor. It will be what you send out to cold pitches and potential clients. Make sure that your portfolio reflects the type of work you want to do as a video editor and shows some of your personality in the process.
Make a Reel
If you’ve already been working as a video editor, you probably already have a reel of material together. Depending on the project, you can add this to your portfolio or send it separately.
If you are just starting as a video editor, you can create a practice reel. Try taking stock clips or your footage and editing it together. You can put together a reel and show it on a YouTube channel or include it in your portfolio.
Have your Bachelor’s degree in video production?
Use past school projects uploaded as youtube videos to help you pitch to clients.
Launch a Portfolio Website
When you start working as a video editor, you want to make it easy for your clients to see your work.
That’s why it’s a great idea to create a portfolio website. Even though you already worked on a portfolio, having a website makes it easier for clients to see your work. You don’t want to be sending people huge video files when you reach out to them.
Your portfolio website should show who you are in a nutshell. It should also be easy to navigate.
A portfolio website should include information like:
- Your resume
- Past projects you’ve worked on
- An about section
- Links to your socials
There are plenty of resources out there where you can build a free portfolio website that looks sleek and professional. Or opt for making a profile on Upwork or Fiverr, putting your portfolio in easy reach of people looking to hire you!
As your business grows, you can make edits and post new work on your website with ease. This is also a great way to show colleagues on your post-production team what a final project might look like.
Incorporate a Contact Page
Ensure you make it easy for clients to get in touch with you. There’s nothing worse than seeing a strong portfolio website and not being able to get in touch with the editor.
If you’re just starting, you want your contact page to get to you quickly. Create a business email that you will check regularly and use to conduct business as a video editor. You can also set up a contact section on your social media channels.
Build Your Client Base & Market Your Business
While you may enjoy being more behind the scenes, marketing yourself is a great way to gain new clients and make connections in your industry.
When building your creative business, one of the keys to success is client relationships.
In the beginning, you may find yourself working with many different clients with various budgets. As you start making a name for yourself, you can take on fewer projects at higher budgets.
Most video editors work on a project-by-project basis. Don’t be afraid only to take on projects that you know you are capable of and have the time to complete. Having too much on your plate can be overwhelming as a small business.
Now that you’re thinking about working with clients, here are some more tips to help you find them:
When it comes to creative industries, one of the best ways to find clients is networking.
You can easily use the internet to your advantage when starting to network; LinkedIn is a traditional source for connecting with others in your field. As a video editor, you should also try cold pitching to creatives or companies you are interested in working with.
All the while, it is beneficial to connect with others in the industry. Making a friend on a video shoot could lead to a great partnership down the line.
Every videographer will eventually need a great editor for their projects. Don’t be afraid to get out there and make friends with people in the video production industry.
Use Social Media
Don’t be afraid to use social media to your advantage. Most small businesses use digital marketing to increase their brand awareness. You can build your brand with simple graphic design and promo skills.
Follow some of your favorite creators, videographers, or video editors on their social media pages. It’s not uncommon for professionals in media to communicate via social media and even start working together.
You can even use your business Instagram account as an easy and quick way to send people highlights of your work.
Show Off a Little
Don’t be afraid of using newer social media platforms to show off your skills.
Platforms like TikTok are great for showing the world your editing skills quickly in a short form. A viral moment on TikTok could lead to partnerships with brands. It can also give you and your business a lot more visibility.
You can easily reach new audiences and potential clients with a couple of great video edits on TikTok.
Focus on the Kind of Content You Want to Land
When building your brand and marketing your business, make sure you do so organically.
If you want to work with social media creators and YouTubers, don’t create a brand of corporate product video edits and vice versa. For television and movies, you’re going to want to showcase video editing work to fit that niche. If you wish to do music videos, try to show off projects with musicians.
Strong marketing and branding your business will help you get into the video editing spaces you are passionate about.
Stay connected with your network and always look for new projects.
When you are marketing your brand, and potential clients reach out, respond promptly. If you don’t have time to work on a project with them, you can also reach out for future collaborations.
Don’t forget to have your business cards printed up and ready to hand out. Check out: How to Choose a Design for Your Freelance Business Cards
Develop a Business Management System
When you decide to start your own business, you also have to put work into keeping it all together. It’s crucial to figure out a system that works well for you and gives you time to do what you love as a video editor.
Even though you may be working alone as a freelance editor, you want to create a system that will help you seamlessly manage your business. This includes keeping track of projects, budgets, billing, and more.
Productive Freelancer Habits
Being a productive freelancer demands excellent time management skills.
The best part of having your own business is getting to pick your hours and how many projects you want to take on. You may be eager to take on as many projects as possible, but the time it takes for financing, talking with clients, and finishing the project can become overwhelming.
To be a productive freelancer, start by making yourself a dedicated work schedule. Having strict hours will prevent you from working too late into the night or burning out quickly.
Make sure you also set up tight parameters and contracts on your projects. It’s common to work with clients who may want lots of tweaks or edits, so ensuring that you can do that and still get paid is important.
Use Project Management Tools
When you have multiple projects or just need to get your invoicing done, a project management tool can help keep everything organized.
Many different sites can help you manage your tasks and stick to timelines. You can even use calendars to share with clients and have checkpoints throughout projects to keep them up to date.
You may often work on tight deadlines for your video editing jobs. This is another reason having project management software can work to your advantage.
You will be a more successful freelancer if you keep yourself organized — no matter what system you use.
Keep Brushing Up on Your Skills
As a video editor, you’re in the business of creation. To build a successful video editing business, you must keep honing your craft and learning new skills.
Every day, there are new developments that can help you become a better freelance video editor. You can try new things like after effects, animations, or work on sharpening your transitions.
You may even get to a point where you are getting so many projects you need an extra hand. Then your business will be ready to make new hires and grow.
No matter what you decide to do with your video editing business, you should always look for the latest and greatest to keep your business thriving.
Starting your own freelance editing business comes with all the perks of being a gig worker. You get to set your hours, take projects that interest you, and set the rates for those projects.
The only difference in having a business is being responsible for the administrative stuff too. The good news is that you have access to benefits that are just as competitive as major corporations with tools like Gigly.
Stay happy and healthy, and don’t skip out on benefits just because you work for yourself — sign up for an Alliance of Gig Workers membership now!