Let’s set the scene.
A client and a freelance video editor are having an age-old conversation about hourly or day rates. The client needs some branding magic added to their video, and the editor needs to know what they’re working with.
Client: I need someone to add my brand’s color tone, overlay captions, and smooth transitions to my video. Can you share your rate for this project?
Freelance video editor: Thanks for reaching out. Do you have a budget in mind?
Client: Not really. Just give me a rate, and we’ll see if we’re a good fit.
The client and editor right now:
Sound familiar? It’s a common scenario, and it’s especially frustrating when you feel like you’re undercharging for your services.
Fear not; this guide will show you how much to charge clients for your video editing services so you always know how to respond.
More specifically, you’ll learn about:
- Hourly rates for video editors.
- Fixed rates.
- Factors that influence an editor’s pricing structure.
So buckle up because we’re cleared for takeoff. 🚀
Table of contents
- Video editing hourly rates
- Video editing fixed rates
- Factors that influence pricing structure
- When should you raise your rates?
Video editing hourly rates
As an experienced video editor, you can charge by the hour like full-time staff.
Here’s an overview of what you can charge based on skill level.
When it comes to making big life decisions, you gotta weigh all your options to make sure you’re making the right move.
The same principle goes for charging hourly as a video editor–you should know if it’s worth it or not. So, let’s break it down and take a look at the good and bad (yes, there are both) of charging hourly.
Pros and cons of charging by the hour
We’ll start with the good side. Charging by the hour is great because:
- You’ll be paid for every second you’re working on the project.
- You can easily track the amount of time spent on the job.
- There’s no stress over post-production and editing revisions since you’ll be compensated for those too.
- Clients won’t frustrate you with first, second, or third drafts. They understand the more time they spend going back and forth, the more it will cost them.
- You won’t have to worry about scope creep.
Now, here’s the thing–charging hourly might not always work in your favor. If you’re a total editing whiz, you could finish the job in no time, which means you’ll end up with less cash in your pocket.
Let’s say you charge $75/hr and work on a project for two hours. At this rate, you’d make $150.
Maybe you’re an expert charging $120/hr. A five-hour project would net you $600–not including hours spent on revisions.
That’s a pretty sweet deal!
But before you go all in on the hourly rate, though, you should probably hear us out on fixed rates first.
Video editing fixed rates
Charging based on projects or fixed rates is a little more complicated than charging hourly.
Well, if you’re not a seasoned pro with years of experience, you could end up lowballing yourself and doing way more work than you bargained for. Not exactly a recipe for success.
But, if you’re up for the challenge, here’s what you need to know:
- The clients’ expectations.
- The type of footage or asset that’s needed.
- The turnaround time.
- Number of revisions.
- The video length.
- Specific service or skill set required.
Phew, that’s a lot. But, if you can get all that info up front and put it in a signed contract, you’re golden.
Then, you can give them a rate that matches the amount of work and the type of video they want. Generally speaking, that can be anywhere from $100 to $1,500, or more.
Personal or family videos are usually the least expensive videos. The cost of video editing really depends on how much raw footage the client has and how long they want the final video to be.
If it’s just a quick little vid, you’re looking at around $150 on average. But, if they want a full-blown movie, you could be charging over $1,000. It all depends on what they’re looking for.
Wedding filmmaking videos require more elegant, stylish, and high-quality videography. They need to be as perfect as the couple. 😉
…and that’s why the price should double too. After all, perfection isn’t free!
The video needs to have a storyline, perfect color correction, color grading, and all the right settings. So, depending on how long the video is, you could be charging anywhere from $350 for a short 3-6 minute video, to $400 or more for a 10-20 minute video, and even $650 or more for videos over 30 minutes long.
One of the perks of wedding videos is that you’ll probably work with a production company with videographers, which means professional equipment and steady shots.
Branded videos follow a more specific set of guidelines concerning appearance, style, and other criteria. Fortunately, they also happen to be the most expensive video type and range anywhere between $300 and $2,000+. In many cases, the price may exceed that range as all brands and situations are different.
Now, you might be wondering if all this work is really worth it. Is charging fixed rates really the way to go? Well, let’s weigh the pros and cons and find out, shall we?
Pros and cons of fixed rates
One major advantage of fixed rates is that there’s a set fee you’re expected to receive for each project.
If you’ve got experience and know how long it’ll take you to complete the editing job, you can estimate and give clients a corresponding timeline and cost.
But, here’s the downside–there’s a good chance you’ll end up spending more time on the project than you thought. And no one wants to feel like they’re being ripped off for all the hard work they put in.
Now, you might be wondering how to figure out exactly how much to charge. Should you just wing it and charge whatever you feel like? Not quite; there are a few factors you should consider first. Let’s look at those next.
Factors that influence video editor pricing structure
Of course, it’s important to look at how long it will take you to complete a video editing project.
But beyond the final video length, make sure you take these factors into consideration too.
#1: Type of video
The complexity of the video content you’re taking on is a big factor when deciding how much to charge.
If you’re just doing some straightforward stuff like personal videos, social media interviews, or screen captures, you can charge a pretty reasonable rate. These types of projects don’t usually require a ton of brainstorming or back-and-forth.
But, if you’re working on a live-action or conceptual video, like a music video or a corporate video with storyboarding, transitions, voice-overs, and all that jazz, you should definitely be charging more.
Basically, the more complex the video, the more you can charge.
#2: Geographic location
Where you live usually affects how much you can charge. Generally speaking, clients in big cities like New York or San Francisco are more willing to pay top dollar for a good editor than clients in smaller cities.
So, you might want to consider this when sharing rates, especially if you’re a beginner trying to build your portfolio.
Now, if you’re a highly skilled professional video editor, you can charge whatever you want, no matter where you live.
Good clients will pay for premium talent, no matter where you’re located.
#3: Experience and skill level
If you’re fresh out of school or just starting out, you can’t expect to be making the same as the pros who’ve been doing this for years. That’s just common sense, right?
Now, that’s *not* to say you shouldn’t be compensated fairly for your work. But when you’re just starting out, you kinda gotta work your way up.
So, don’t be ashamed if you’re starting at the bottom rates. Everybody’s gotta start somewhere, even the best video editors out there. As you gain more experience and get better at your craft, you can start raising your rates.
As your portfolio grows, you can start raising your rates.
The key here is to charge a rate (whether it’s hourly or fixed) that reflects your level of experience. If you’re just starting out, you might charge $25-$40 per hour.
But if you’re a seasoned pro with tons of experience, you could charge upwards of $100 per hour. It all depends on how much experience you have under your belt.
#4: Client base
Not all clients are created equal.
Sometimes, you might meet clients with huge budgets who don’t mind putting down some serious cash for your services. Other times, your clients might be small business owners or people trying to grow their YouTube video channel.
In those cases, you might need to be flexible to get the job. But generally speaking, you should still stick to a rate you’re comfortable with, even if you’re being flexible.
The bottom line is that you shouldn’t expect to charge all your clients the same rate. It’s all about being adjustable when you need to be, but also sticking to your guns and charging what you know you’re worth.
When should you raise your rates?
To be a good freelance editor, you must keep developing your skills as the industry evolves.
If you’re doing that, it might be a good time to raise your rates. Here are some other scenarios where you may want to raise your rates:
- Increased demand: If you’re suddenly getting a ton of work thrown your way, that’s a sign that you’re becoming more valuable. You can reflect that by raising your rates a bit.
- Experience: The more experience you have, the faster you can work. That means you can get more done in less time, which means you can charge more for your time.
- Industry standard: If you find out that your current rates are lower than what other editors are charging, then it might be time to raise your rates to match.
When you’ve taken the bold step of raising your rates, the next step is to communicate this with your clients. For existing customers, give them a heads-up and explain why your rates are increasing.
You can do that over asynchronous communication platforms like Gmail or Slack.
Raising rates too often can make customers feel like they’re being gouged. It may even lead them to take their business elsewhere. In most cases, raising rates annually in conjunction with your other annual budgeting decisions makes sense.
And when you do raise your fees, consider raising them by 15-20% at a time to give clients time to adjust.
But what if clients resist the changes?
Well, you just need to explain the rationale behind your decision or consider giving them a discount to ease the transition.
Alright, now you know what to charge your clients when they ask about your rates. But just because this guide is over doesn’t mean our partnership has to be!
We can help you…
Level up your video editing business
Customer satisfaction is a big deal in video production or editing. You want clients to approve of the finished products. That way, they’ll be more open when you charge higher rates.
For that to happen, you should be able to easily share the project with them for feedback.
You’ve probably relied on emails to do this in the past.
But, what if we told you there was a better way, where you only have to invite them to collaborate on the video?
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