How to Hire a Video Editor: 5 Questions to Ask

If there’s one job to fill with a professional in your video marketing efforts, it’s probably going to be a video editor. Herewith the five questions to ponder and get answers to during the video editor hiring process:

  1. What makes a good editor?
  2. What do you look for in an editor?
  3. What do you discuss with your editor?
  4. Where do you find an editor?
  5. What does it cost? How long does it take?

Let’s jump right in:

1. What makes a good editor?

  • A good editor is a person who can tell a story and make smart decisions
  • A good editor will listen and understand how to tell YOUR story
  • A good editor can take hours of footage (film clips) and sort through them quickly to find the nuggets
  • A good editor will take direction and understand your video’s context
  • A good editor will listen (I said that already, I know, but it warrants repeating) and take direction well

2. What do you look for in an editor?

  • Look at an editor’s show-reel and sample videos. Make sure you ask them WHAT their role was on each – it can be a hodge-podge of straight editing, animation, motion graphics, sound mixing, and color correcting (these are all separate jobs in the TV/commercial world), and all of these can be done by one person on a small project. You just want to make sure you know exactly what you’re looking at and therefore, what you would be ‘buying’
  • In their work, listen for good sound, look for smooth transitions, look at overall style, and pay attention to the quality of the graphics
  • If you need graphics and animations make sure they can show you samples that they created and animated themselves (don’t assume anything)
  • Make sure you like their style. Are their videos similar to what you are looking for? If not, keep looking

3. What do you discuss with your editor?

  • Workflow! How do they get the footage from you or the shooter, what software are they using, and what are they giving back to you (insist on all source folders and project files (!). You want to be covered should you need to make changes and they are no longer available
  • Discuss scope of work (timeline, deliverables) and their hourly or day rate (here more than anywhere else: You get what you pay for)
  • Listen to their suggestion of how long it will take. In general, editing takes a lot longer than you would think
  • Make sure you have at least two rounds of changes built into your scope of work
  • Personally, I always work on hand-shake basis, but I’ve also been doing this for a very, very long time and work with people that I trust. It’s probably prudent to write down all of the above and have both of you agree to the terms in writing

4. Where do you find an editor?

  • Word of mouth! I’d go with recommendations from people you trust
  • Upwork – I wouldn’t hire under $60 an hour – give them a small job first to see how they work and if you are “compatible”
  • Caution about working with editors in 3rd world countries: Ask them if they have a licensed copy of the software they are using if you want source-files! (bootleg copies might crash your computer!).  I have also found that they typically work on ancient computers (after all, they charge you peanuts per hour), which means that your work will take a LOT LONGER (their machines don’t process very fast and editing can be very labor intense on a processor). The add-on time it takes them to process and render your video might wipe out the savings on hourly rate compared to a good deal in the US.

5. What does it cost? How long does it take?

  • It depends and it depends
  • My 2-minute “talking-head” vlogs with graphics and titles but no music- take me about 3 hours to edit (this includes a thumbnail and graphics). It would take an editor about the same amount of time, but the product would be much better J:
    • I have the advantage of knowing the footage and I don’t stop shooting until I know I can live with one take and just cut that up (I feel I’m too slow of an editor to go back and forth between clips) and this way I also don’t have to deal with matching color and sound if it’s all from the same shot.
    • An editor goes into multiple clips and cuts together the best parts of each (which is what you want from an editor in the first place) and that takes a bit longer, especially since they are not familiar with the footage.
  • Most professional editors work on an eight-, or ten-hour day rate. From corporate, I’m used to paying $500 – 600 per day on the lower end. If you hire by the hour it’s going to be either a bit more, or your editor will have a minimum hourly. For one of my vlogs, I would expect to pay at least $350. But for something like that I’d likely do a ‘bulk’ deal to get a better rate and have three to five videos done at once.
  • The difference going from a $35/hour editor to a $60/hour editor is – with a few notable exceptions – well worth the investment: Both in terms of outcome and process.
  • Allow time for an editor to set up the edit, look at footage and any other assets (logos, photos, graphic elements, music, etc.), and allow about 2 hours of editing for a basic 2-minute talkie video. And then allow for more time to finesse all the “moving parts” – i.e. transitions, audio, music, graphics, etc. I would say a 4-hour minimum for an edit that is just straight talking head. If you have b-roll (additional footage that plays while the “talking-head” keeps talking),double that time. For editors, it takes a moment to find the rhythm between speech, what you see, music, and graphics. Finally, allow at least two hours for feedback changes and final output. As you can see, even a small edit can turn into a 10-hour affair quickly.

Looking for an alternative? Learn how to edit yourself… It’s a beautiful process if you are so inclined and have (or are willing to make) the time.

 

Herewith a link pack to all other blogs that cover video editing:

Nina’s Favorite Video Edit Apps | Original date 06/23/17

How to Approach Video Editing – VLOG | Original date: 05/26/17

How to Make Video Edits Work for YouOriginal date: 05/12/17

How to Approach DIY Video Editing | Original date: 04/29/16 | Update: 05/10/17

How to Create a Workflow and Organize an EditOriginal date: 05/13/16 | Update: 5/10/17

A Post-Production Glossary for Editing |Original date: 05/06/16 | Update: 5/10/17

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