Hiring an Editor

This article is currently in the brain-dump stage. I’ll be adding observations and resources here as I find them; then I’ll come back later and flesh out a full article.

If you’re a creator looking to hire an editor, I highly recommend reading this and conducting yourself accordingly. If you’re an editor, I double-highly recommend reading it so you don’t get exploited.

I’ve seen a lot of creators trying to undercut editors. They’ll offer stupidly low rates for editing, or even ask editor to edit for “exposure”. Let me be clear: This is exploitation.

Editing is a valuable service. It doesn’t matter how much money your client is making; editing is an established profession and there is a range of rates that are reasonable.

When my editor Tony started working with me 5 years ago, we started at $350/video and very quickly increased rate from there.

“Length of video” is a garbage metric for setting a rate. Charge either hourly, or by average project complexity. 

A per-video rate can work well if you build a long-term relationship with your client, but be cautious about it in the beginning. Get a sense of the project’s scope.

Leading with, “I charge $300 per video” is a good way to find yourself underneath a 100-hour project, and realize you’re making $3/hour.

Trust me, I’ve been there. Just out of high school, I once quoted $50 for a project that ended up taking 80 hours. Lesson learned.

A 10-minute assembly cut of talking-head footage might take 30-60 minutes (of edit time), but a 10-minute explainer with b-roll, motion graphics, etc can take 40 hours of work. It all depends.

Keep in mind that edit time isn’t your only time expenditure. You’ll spend time waiting for your client to deliver assets, and if they expect you to render the video, that’s time your machine is basically unusable. Consider all these factors when setting your rates.

Use a contract, and include language about how you handle revision requests. Typically it’s a good idea to charge hourly after the first round or two. When I did web dev, I charged $60/hour after 2 revision requests – and that was back in 2009, when I was 18.

Stand your ground if asked to do more work than your negotiated rate covers. It’s ok to give your client a bit of leeway in order to build a good long-term relationship, but don’t let yourself be exploited.

And let me put this part in bold:

Your portfolio is everything, and it can include work you do for yourself. I have my eye out for motion graphics artists right now, and I couldn’t care less if the work in an artist’s portfolio was done for a client or for themselves.

Don’t let a cheap client try to pressure you with the old “work with me and I’ll help you make more connections”.

There’s merit to that – to a degree – but not to such a degree that you should allow yourself to be exploited.

About the Author

My name is Thomas Frank, and I'm a Notion-certified writer, YouTuber, and template creator. I've been using Notion since 2018 to organize my personal life and to run my business and YouTube channel. In addition to this formula reference, I've created a free Notion course for beginners and several productivity-focused Notion templates. If you'd like to connect, follow me on Twitter.

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Fill out the form below and I’ll answer as soon as I can! ~Thomas