With YouTube, multimedia platforms, TV, film, and other opportunities, big and small, it’s a great time to stretch your wings to embrace being a freelance video editor. But make sure you’re ready and that your skills are on point before you reach out, that way you’ll be sure to offer up the best video editing skills you can.

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What Does a Video Editor Do?

Not only do video editors shoot and record video footage, but they also organize the digital material. This is probably the most important part as it turns the recorded material into the director’s vision. It’s where the knowledge and the creativity of the editor blend to create the finished piece. And that is just part of what a video editor does. According to Zippia.com, a freelance video editor also may do any of the following:

  • Collaborate with the director to determine the vision of the piece
  • Choose the best equipment for the specific piece, such as the type of lens or lighting
  • Create a scene based on the director’s vision
  • Enhance the video with special effects and sound effects

Clearly, part of the success of this career depends not only on the talents behind the camera but also on understanding the director’s vision of the piece and interpreting it into reality. More than one editor may work on a piece and there can be a lead editor with assistants. Often, however, there is just one editor so this is a great job for a freelancer. Though they must work with others in the production process, the editing can often be all their own.

Sometimes a freelance video editor may not do the shooting, but they focus on editing instead. In this case, they are given the raw footage and edit it to turn it into the final piece, the director’s vision. It’s important to note that an editor does not solely work with just the footage, they often add other components into the finished piece. For instance, they can create graphics to use or utilize special effects or sound effects in the finished, edited piece.

Video editors may work internally on projects, such as branding videos or corporate material. They can also work on projects such as films, documentaries, or personal videos, like wedding videos or videos for company social networks such as Instagram. In that case, an Instagram video editor can make all the difference. One great thing about this field is the variety of capacities within it. And a freelancer can find their niche and stick to it or work in a number of areas where their skills fit.

freelance video editor

What Type of Jobs Are Available?

As mentioned, there is a wide variety of jobs available for a video editor. And we mentioned how as a freelancer, it’s easy to stick to one genre or utilize skills to work in a number of different editing capacities. Sure, the glamorous side has film editing, as in movies and big screen productions. There’s also TV production and editing, which is a great, dynamic field as well. But an editor shouldn’t limit him or herself to these areas. As a freelancer, you can also find work in the smaller editing positions, such as wedding videos, school productions, and corporate work. 

Depending on where you live, your markets will differ. If you are in a large city, you may have more opportunity with the bigger productions, but don’t let living in a smaller market discourage you. According to this article, there is plenty of work to be had wherever you are. You can look for projects with a local TV studio or do some work with local bands creating their music videos. Sports teams always need video editors, and these levels range from national to small community teams. Local commercials are a great freelance project and so are YouTube videos. According to the same article from No Film School, YouTube is a massive marketplace, and content needs to be edited. You could be just the one to do this.

The nice thing about editing and video production is that you aren’t limited. So many people want/need videos and the size of the projects run the gamut. You can work on more than one project at a time. For instance, you could be handling corporate videos during that week and specialize in wedding videos on the weekend. There is no need to limit yourself.

Important Skills to Have as a Video Editor

Of course, strong technical skills are all important here. You’ve got to know how to work the tools you’ll need, and you have to be good. You also have to stay up to date on new technology, methods, and trends in the field, But that’s not all. According to No Film School, you’ve also got to have to know how to problem solve in any situation,  be able to create and tell a story in the director’s vision, and be a strong communicator.

It’s a given that technology skills are all important. And it’s not just being skilled at using your equipment, but also knowing how to do what the director wants. For instance, if you have to edit or add voice over or dubbing, you’ve got to know what that entails. You’ll also want to stay abreast of any trends and new technology that you want to incorporate into your piece.

As for problem-solving skills, you could see problems pop up in any stage of editing. You, as the editor, will have to know what to do when this happens. Whether it’s a technology problem or something with a deadline, you’ll be the one to have to fix it. Having the skills to stay calm when something goes wrong is huge; you don’t want to have to run to someone else each time a stumbling block is in your way. The better you problem solve, the better off you’ll be.

Part of being a good video editor is telling a story. The director will share his or her vision; you will make it come to life. So not only is the storytelling on you, so is the interpretation. Just like a good story teller knows what to embellish and what to leave out, you’ll do the same thing with video editing. Some clips will be perfect as they are, some need to be shined up, and others, well, you can just leave them out. It’s up to you to refine the story to awe the audience with it.

Communication plays a big role in almost any field. As a video editor, you’ve got to be a good communicator to absorb the vision and make it a reality. It’s all about communication. You also may need this skill for everyday encounters, like sharing your final project in a presentation or relaying a hold-up or asking for an extended time. The more professional and positive you can be in your communications, the more respect you’ll earn.

Freelance Video Editor versus Staff Video Editor

When it comes to freelancing versus staff employment, you’ve always got some pros and cons. Let’s take a look at these from the perspective of a freelancer.

freelance video editing


  1. One of the biggest pros of being a freelancer is being your own boss. This means you take the jobs you want, you can decline the ones you don’t want. Sure, this does mean that you’ve got enough work to let you choose, but you can also have another job while you are breaking into the field. By picking and choosing your freelance video editor jobs, you can find your niche and realize what clients you prefer to work with.
  2. You set your own hours. Maybe you’re a night owl and nothing is better than working on a project all night. Or maybe you have children at home that you want to spend the afternoon with, and you can get all your work done in the morning. Being a freelancer means working on your time, as long as you meet your deadlines.
  3. You set your own rates. Freelancing allows you to set your own rates. After a little research about freelance video editor rates, you should be able to establish what a rate is that is both fair to you and your client. Take things like your experience, your location, and the time spent on the project into account.
  4. You learn everything. You probably don’t have an assistant as a freelancer, and you certainly aren’t anyone else’s assistant. This is a great experience even if you don’t plan on always freelancing. It makes you learn every aspect of video editing, even things you may not be doing in another capacity.
  5. You learn to negotiate and make big decisions. These are critical skills in freelancing. You are the one to advocate for yourself, with rates and deadlines and anything else. You are also the one to decide what to do if things don’t go according to plan, or what to tweak and what to leave alone. Freelancing is one of the best kinds of training.


  1. No insurance or benefits. This can be a deal-breaker for some, but for others, it doesn’t matter. If you need a job with great benefits and insurance, freelancing may not be for you.
  2. Lack of consistent work. If you are just starting out, you may have long stretches where you don’t have a project. You have to figure out what to do during this time to help your income and your reputation.
  3. You have to brand yourself. To avoid those lapses in employment, you’ve got to market and brand yourself. Some people love this and it’s not a con at all, they’ll have a beautiful freelance video editor website. Others don’t excel at promoting themselves. If you are a freelance video editor, you’ve to got to do it, though, or you won’t get work.

Depending on how you work, freelancing may be right up your alley. It really is an excellent way to hone your talents and take charge of your career.

The Big Takeaway of Freelance Video Editing

Freelancing is a great way to get in a creative field. Video editing has so many facets and capacities that you can build a beautiful resume and full client base by freelancing. You could land commercials, music videos, corporate work, or wedding videos. Perhaps you can land them all. Freelancing allows you to develop your talents and your personal signature on video editing. Whether you are taking on freelancing as you get started in this exciting field or you are already making a generous income by freelancing, let it be your chance to let your creativity shine along with your talents.