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Cadge31Salary Question
by on Mar 8, 2007 at 3:38:53 am

Hello all,

I've been working at an advertising agency for almost a year and half. My title at the firm is "video editor". However, I am also frequently used for my shooting abilities. And, from time to time, I serve as an IT guy and fix minor computer problems. I work 40 hours a week and make just under $30,000.00 a year. I recently discovered a stack of the previous editor's pay stubs laying around, and he was making almost twice what I make. Granted I got this job straight out of college, but I have built an impressive reel over the last and a half. Also, my boss recently told me that I am the best editor the firm has ever had. I also know that the firm is not doing well financially. Do the professionals in this forum think I am underpaid? And should I be seeking a raise? It's a tough situation. There are only 3 of us working there full-time and 1 part-time. I am the only non-family memebr. Thanks.

-Aaron


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zrb123Re: Salary Question
by on Mar 8, 2007 at 4:28:34 am

Some of it depends on where you live, but I say you definitely should be paid more. (Always pursue what you feel you are forth) Here are a few web sites that to help you out.

http://www.salary.com
http://www.payscale.com



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Emre TufekciRe: Salary Question
by on Mar 8, 2007 at 2:40:25 pm

I do believe you are being underpaid,(thinking your former colleagues were being paid double for the same job.)

1-If the firm is doing bad,that is not your concern. If you are not paid percentage or bonuses every time your firm does good why should you be expected to undercut yourself when the firm does bad. Do you think your boss is concerned about paying you extra or buying a new BMW? If you think there is no other work available and you are lucky to have your job, you are stuck in a rut. Maybe it's time to change your field.

2-I have always been referred by my employers as a amazing editor/animator/shooter and the best they have ever seen in their lives; they are lucky to have me. But not once was I offered an raise and when I asked for one I always got "It's a bad time". I only got their interest when I said I was leaving and they sprung to action. By that time I didn't want to work for them anyway and changed jobs for a higher pay.

3-I fooled my self many times by saying, I have it easy here, I don't want to move, I know the equipment, I built a reputation, My boss loves me....etc None of it is relevant.

4-Start putting your demo reel together,find out what the market is like around you. Then talk to your employer and ask for a raise and SET A DEADLINE for an answer. If you are good as you say, the worst case scenario is you will get a no, then you can start looking elsewhere.

This is what I would do or have actually have done in the past. It has always worked out for the best for me.I hope at least it would put things in perspective for you.


Emre
http://www.productionpit.com
Boxx Tech PC, dual-dual AMD 2.0,4BG ram,Avidexpress HD w/Mojo,UVW-1800,DSR-25, Adobe production studio.

"Creative cow is udder madness."


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grinnerRe: Salary Question
by on Mar 8, 2007 at 4:46:19 pm

Dang, Aaaron.
Congrats on getting a paying gig just outta school. My first gig paid 3.35 an hour and my second paid much less as I was on salary at 18k a year working 70 hour weeks. I didn't break into the 30s for years.
Yes, editors do make more than that. You will later on.



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Mark SuszkoRe: Salary Question
by on Mar 8, 2007 at 8:03:07 pm

There's more to getting good remuneration for your work than just the money. There's insurance and health, stock and retirement bennies that often make a big difference when the actual take-home pay is less than you'd like, and these are always good places to start negotiating up from, compared to actual payroll. Due to tricks of accounting, they can often give you more on the bennies side than the take-home cash pay side. You should press on that issue. Some of these benefits offset expenses you'd otherwise have to pay out of the salary, so in a sense, the extra pay it frees up from your current monthly check is effectively "like" a raise.

What about other intangibles, like, you could ask that they pay for you to take some classes or buy some tutorial packages to improve your skills with the software you're using. They could give you paid leave to go to NAB, or Siggraph, for example. What about a company car or at least a company gas card for your car. They could allow you to, on a limited basis, use their gear after-hours to make your weekend independant projects on, for side-money. Do they pay the entry fee and award shipping fees to enter your work in various contests and awards programs?

Cash is always nice, but it's not the only way to get paid. A great portfolio of tax-sheltered investments and payroll deductions/ 401K's and the like can be more meaningful in the long run.


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Cadge31Re: Salary Question
by on Mar 8, 2007 at 9:47:25 pm

Thanks for your reply.

Well, I do get full health and dental from my current employer. However, there is no 401k or retirement plan. There are only 4 of us working here, and 1 only part time and is moving on to another job. It just bothers me that the previous editor made so much more than I do with the same benefits. My boss is always saying how the corporate climate for small advertising firms is changing (not for the better). I don't know if I believe that though. Fact is, the cost of producing quality television spots and corporate videos has dropped dramatically. I just think that we are getting beat by our competition. My boss's are older and don't seem to push as hard for business as they should.


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Mark SuszkoRe: Salary Question
by on Mar 9, 2007 at 12:03:10 am

Can I get mildly religious with you, just for a minute? This is a story I have to repeat to myself any time I feel jealous about someone else's good fortune.

Bible parable about a man who owns a vinyard:
His grapes are bursting-ripe and ready for picking, and in the first light of day he hires some men to come pick the crop.
Little later in the day, he realizes he's going to need more men, hires them around noon.
Later in the afternoon, he sees bad weather is coming and anything left overnight unpicked will be lost, so he rounds up some more guys and puts them to work too, only for the last couple hours.
The harvest is a success, and he pays off all the workers.
Workers who got hired in the early dawn hours complain to him that he has paid the same full day's wages to the guys that worked only an hour, and that's hardly fair.

His response:

"Is it my money to do with as I please or not?"
yep.
"Did I or did I not give you every penny I contracted with you for?"
absolutely, the full amount.
"Then what do you care how much I paid the OTHER guy?"
...

So, the point is not to beat yourself up over someone else's success; in your case, the guy that preceded you, but to concentrate on the simpler issue of: are you getting paid exactly what you contracted for. Also, maybe it's best to always sleep in and be late to the gig, you get paid more:-)

While the average rate around you that others get is a handy guide, it is not some kind of law they have to pay you the top of the range.

Now, like the bible story says, the worker is worth his wage, and no one begrudges you getting your due.
But it is you that must take the initiative to define the range of what is reasonable compensation for your level of performance. It very well could be they can't afford more, just as easily as it could be the case they are shafting you. The only way to find out, is to have it out.

Understand, you have to be willing to quit and walk away from the negotiations at any time, and *they* have to know that, if you are to have a hope of winning the negotiation. Have your demo reel updated, take most of your office decor home leaving bare essentials that will fit in one box. Start coming to work dressed a little bit differently, wear slacks, a nicer shirt and tie, if you normally wear open-collars and jeans. If asked what's up with the threads, say nothing, really, but when you go to lunch, always leave the building and go somewhere they won't see you... Later they'll assume you've been interviewing on your lunch hour and may have another place lined up. In fact, actually DO interviews if you can manage it, but faking will work as well psychologically. Prepare yourself to find or have another place to go, or you have no leverage. I don't know if at my age I have the guts to do that, with mouths to feed, but that's what it takes, to be willing to walk away from a sure thing if it isn't the right thing anymore.

Be sure they really understand the level of commitment and effort you have out into this job, remind them of the past successes you had together. Documentation, hard evidence, don't rely on memory. You can explain what that same job would have cost them last year using th eold guy's rates, and how much you've saved them. Then let them know that while you are very happy here and would love to stay, you have to get more to do more, and that means reduce your workload or pay you for the extra work.

Fridays are for firings and sneaking out the admission of bad news and embarrassing revelations. Hit them up early in the week, Monday or Tuesday, so they have to look at you in the eyes the rest of the week: "Bob, I gotta talk to you and Jim about something important, can we schedule some time this afternoon?"

Play it with innocence and team spirit: "...you know, Bob, I think we've all just let this situation sneak up on us, we're all so involved day to day with getting the best job done and on time, that we sort of lost sight of the larger picture of just how much is being done, and I know you've said how happy you've been with this work, so I think out of fairness, it's really time we update the compensation to more accurately reflect the level of commitment I've given this working relationship. What do you say to setting a schedule for a salary bump somewhere down the road? When can I expect a merit increase?"

If they say no outright, put the remaining personal stuff from your desk in the cardboard box and say you're very sorry this couldn't work out, and no hard feelings, (smile with a sympathetic expression of pity for them the whole time) but business is business and you're going to have to tender your notice. You'll clean up the last of the active paperwork before you leave today, so everybody knows where all the in-progress work is. They might want to stall you, avoiding scheduled meetings to talk about this while they scramble to find a replacement.

(cheerfully, sympathetically: ) "That's okay, I understand if something came up and we can't meet today, but listen, Bob, I hope we can re-schedule with the both of you soon, certainly within the next two weeks, because (two weeks from today) is my last day."

It will cost them more to replace you than keep you. In money as well as lost productivity and goodwill with clients. But they may still let you go, figuring you are too wised-up now to be strung-along anymore with tales of poverty. Time for fresh meat, and all that. From what you have said, you're basically the shop now. You have them by their synch generators, as it were, particularly if this is a heavy time for production with many deadlines. If you don't ask for more money, you're likely to earn their contempt, if they are the "grinder" type.

If you put it as sweetly as I did up above, and they are regular guys, what should follow is a nuts and bolts negotiation of when and how much you'll get raises. Put it to them that you are all for pegging increases to performance, and that you can help set up quarterly reviews towards that. With the expectation that good reviews mean a bump up. In this way, you've diplomatically set a 3-month deadline for them to pay more or you walk, and set the timer ticking. That also buys you some more time for your job search while still working.

First work on getting them to admit a raise is in order. Take your time getting to an actual figure for the amount, because in that negotiation, the first man to say a number loses. Keep nodding and looking them in the eyes as they suggest a figure, prompt them with reminders of the multiple functions you serve. This is a good time to offer them the olive branch of dealing out some of those "intangibles" in lieu of cash, that I mentioned earlier. You are dealing with them as fairly as you can on this, offering every possible assitance to reach a fair and honorable deal for both sides, believe it!

I wish you all the luck in the world on this, it is a very tough position to be in. Your proper attitude is vital. You want to remember that no matter how much they might imply how replaceable you are, your destiny is ultimately not in their hands, but in yours. YOU are the one with the power to decide when to stay and when to walk out and find something else. The worst they can do is fire you, and that's just freeing you to go somewhere better. If you're working the kind of hours you imply, for the rate they pay, that salary's not much above a senior burger-flipper/night manager's wage, and you probably don't even get the cool uniform and plastic name tag. You are not doing this work as a charity, but a livelyhood.

Raise or call.


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grinnerRe: Salary Question
by on Mar 10, 2007 at 8:45:48 pm

Mark speaks with much wisdom, man.
it seems to me if your old bosses are not cuttin the mustard, you should fire em. I mean if yer gonna start selling, may as well be for your own company right? Then you can pay yourself the salary you feel you deserve.
What I'm saying is as an artist, you should not stay at a place you do not feel appriciated at. You have to feel appriciated to do a better job than the dudes down the road a bit. If ya do, ya do a great job, making them more money and making raises a possibility for all. If ya don't, and it doesn't sound like ya do, tell em you need more jack or yer splittin. Pretty simple stuff, really. If they feel you are worth it they will anty up. No good bidness man likes to let valuable assets be scooped up by competition. If they say they just can't do it, maybe that place down the road a bit can.
The bottom line is you can stick your chest out if you can walk the walk. Ya can't if ya just talk the talk.



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royRe: Salary Question
by on Mar 12, 2007 at 1:40:21 am

Aaron:

After 22 years in the business and countless bosses who tell me they were brilliant here is what I have learned: You are only worth what A company wants to pay YOU for the job. It has nothing to do with you personally. 15 years ago a top level editor in NYC could earn up to $250K a year. Now those guys are lucky to be much above 100K. These were the best in the business, but the business has changed. I remember sitting in front of a former brilliant boss asking for a raise in the early 90's. I had an offer from a company willing to double my salary! Wow I was stoked, but I really did not want to leave. I told my boss about the offer, and he said in a nice slow Texas Draw, take it son. What, Take it son. He told me I was the best editor he ever had, but to him editing was worth only so much. He said It was time for me to grow, and he would bring in someone new and in a few years they would be in that same seat with the same issue.

Your bosses gave you the opportunity to learn on the job, and you hit a homerun, but they still have your rookie contract. The only way to grow financially is to get another contract, and they may counter. You have done well! Keep on growing!
Roy


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Steve WargoRe: Salary Question
by on Mar 12, 2007 at 7:25:05 am

Till the late 90s, to be an editor, one had to also be a technician. There was a thing called "sync", another called "phase" and yet another called a "TBC". Ask 90% of the "editors" of today what those three things are and they'll probably just stare at you for a minute thinking it's a trick question. There are two dozen schools in our market that are turning out hundreds of "editors" every semester. We get a load of resumes every time there is a graduation of any kind. These kids know how to operate either an Avid Express or Final Cut Pro. They know nothing of story telling, rhythm, marketing or anything else. Most of them are terrible at spelling. And yet, they walk in the door telling me that they are "editors". What they are is "equipment operators".

So what's my point? There is someone right behind you willing to do your job for less money than you are making, regardless of how much that is. How do I know? Because there is always someone from some other company, right behind me that is willing to work for my clients for less that I am charging. After all, $35 an hour is a lot of money to some Bozo who doesn't know the real cost of doing business. They think $35 times 40 times 52 and they're suddenly rolling in dollars. They don't have any idea that advertising, rental space, insurance, vehicle expense and taxes will take away about 70 to 80% of the motherload. And what happens to their newfound pot of gold when the next clown only wants $30 an hour and he can live on that because he got a check from Dad to buy his Mac laptop and mini dv camera and he lives at home and drives Mom's car.

My point is this: It doesn't make any difference what the guy made before you. It comes down to what you are worth to the company that you work for. Also, please keep in mind that those of us in the business for years have seen the economy of our business change drastically. We are producing a lot nicer product but the price we charge has almost been at a stand still for quite some time. We have so much competition and equipment is changing so fast that we just can't keep up. As soon as my high level edit systems were paid off, HD hit and we had to buy all new gear again that cost over $250,000. It was either move up or move on. The grass is always greener somewhere else. If the guy before you was making double, why isn't he still there doing it? I know. he made so much money that he retired to Maui in a really plush beachfront condo.

My suggestion would be to have a frank discussion with your employer and tell him how you feel. If you have a guaranteed salary, feel lucky to have someone who is willing to guarantee your paycheck. One of my former employees came to me with the same issue and requested that she be put on a commission type of pay scale. I jumped at that. Part of the agreement was that she would get no pay for her "tiny " mistakes and that she would reimburse me for company overhead for when those mistakes were being fixed. It took about three weeks for her to ask for the return of the guaranteed pay scale, to which I said No. It seems as though she made a minor spelling error on a company VP's name and she had to eat the cost of redoing the graphics, burning a new master and replacing 200 DVDs that were sent out. They went out indidually by FedEx so you can imagine what the bill was. She left and I hired someone else. It took almost an hour to find a replacement.

As an employer, I keep my people aprised of our financial healthiness. They need to know that there is a certain amount of work that there is no pay for. After all, how do we charge for someone to answer the phone, clean the kitchen, do the accounting, make sales calls, collect money, pay for vacation and holiday pay? All of that is wrapped up in the money that we charge for shooting and editing. When we do our quarterly reports, we show everyone our profit and Loss statement. After all, who would believe that a small, four person company like ours can spend $3500 per year in office supplies? Just for fun, a few days ago, I did a report on how much we had spent on video tape since we went to computerized bookkeeping in 1991. Over $120,000 in tape and that doesn't count HD tape or DVDs and we go through about 200 DVDs a week. The actual cost of doing business is huge and it's a cutthroat business. Ask Ron how much it costs to operate this website for a year. I'll bet the numbers are staggering. After all, all he needs is a computer, a server, a web guy (I know a cheap one that just graduated), and his wife works for free, just to help out.

Oops, here I am rambling on again... by the way, 35x40x52 is $72,800. I've never had a job that paid that much. Our federal tax bill for last year was over $20K. I haven't paid it yet. Can some one loan me some cash? Things just ain't as lush as they were just a few years ago.



Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona

It's a dry heat!


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Steve WargoRe: Salary Question
by on Mar 12, 2007 at 7:25:06 am

Till the late 90s, to be an editor, one had to also be a technician. There was a thing called "sync", another called "phase" and yet another called a "TBC". Ask 90% of the "editors" of today what those three things are and they'll probably just stare at you for a minute thinking it's a trick question. There are two dozen schools in our market that are turning out hundreds of "editors" every semester. We get a load of resumes every time there is a graduation of any kind. These kids know how to operate either an Avid Express or Final Cut Pro. They know nothing of story telling, rhythm, marketing or anything else. Most of them are terrible at spelling. And yet, they walk in the door telling me that they are "editors". What they are is "equipment operators".

So what's my point? There is someone right behind you willing to do your job for less money than you are making, regardless of how much that is. How do I know? Because there is always someone from some other company, right behind me that is willing to work for my clients for less that I am charging. After all, $35 an hour is a lot of money to some Bozo who doesn't know the real cost of doing business. They think $35 times 40 times 52 and they're suddenly rolling in dollars. They don't have any idea that advertising, rental space, insurance, vehicle expense and taxes will take away about 70 to 80% of the motherload. And what happens to their newfound pot of gold when the next clown only wants $30 an hour and he can live on that because he got a check from Dad to buy his Mac laptop and mini dv camera and he lives at home and drives Mom's car.

My point is this: It doesn't make any difference what the guy made before you. It comes down to what you are worth to the company that you work for. Also, please keep in mind that those of us in the business for years have seen the economy of our business change drastically. We are producing a lot nicer product but the price we charge has almost been at a stand still for quite some time. We have so much competition and equipment is changing so fast that we just can't keep up. As soon as my high level edit systems were paid off, HD hit and we had to buy all new gear again that cost over $250,000. It was either move up or move on. The grass is always greener somewhere else. If the guy before you was making double, why isn't he still there doing it? I know. he made so much money that he retired to Maui in a really plush beachfront condo.

My suggestion would be to have a frank discussion with your employer and tell him how you feel. If you have a guaranteed salary, feel lucky to have someone who is willing to guarantee your paycheck. One of my former employees came to me with the same issue and requested that she be put on a commission type of pay scale. I jumped at that. Part of the agreement was that she would get no pay for her "tiny " mistakes and that she would reimburse me for company overhead for when those mistakes were being fixed. It took about three weeks for her to ask for the return of the guaranteed pay scale, to which I said No. It seems as though she made a minor spelling error on a company VP's name and she had to eat the cost of redoing the graphics, burning a new master and replacing 200 DVDs that were sent out. They went out indidually by FedEx so you can imagine what the bill was. She left and I hired someone else. It took almost an hour to find a replacement.

As an employer, I keep my people aprised of our financial healthiness. They need to know that there is a certain amount of work that there is no pay for. After all, how do we charge for someone to answer the phone, clean the kitchen, do the accounting, make sales calls, collect money, pay for vacation and holiday pay? All of that is wrapped up in the money that we charge for shooting and editing. When we do our quarterly reports, we show everyone our profit and Loss statement. After all, who would believe that a small, four person company like ours can spend $3500 per year in office supplies? Just for fun, a few days ago, I did a report on how much we had spent on video tape since we went to computerized bookkeeping in 1991. Over $120,000 in tape and that doesn't count HD tape or DVDs and we go through about 200 DVDs a week. The actual cost of doing business is huge and it's a cutthroat business. Ask Ron how much it costs to operate this website for a year. I'll bet the numbers are staggering. After all, all he needs is a computer, a server, a web guy (I know a cheap one that just graduated), and his wife works for free, just to help out.

Oops, here I am rambling on again... by the way, 35x40x52 is $72,800. I've never had a job that paid that much. Our federal tax bill for last year was over $20K. I haven't paid it yet. Can some one loan me some cash? Things just ain't as lush as they were just a few years ago.



Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona

It's a dry heat!


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Steve WargoRe: Salary Question
by on Mar 12, 2007 at 7:26:03 am

Imagine how long it took to write that twice.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona

It's a dry heat!


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Kevin ReinerRe: Salary Question
by on Jan 17, 2008 at 3:39:18 am

Don't worry, as of this writing, style and rhythm still aren't sold in boxes.
;)

System Setup (for a more detailed list, see my profile)

HARDWARE
Mac Pro 2 x 3 GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon
9GB Memory
Two 16x SuperDrives
Dual-channel 2Gb Fibre Channel PCI Express card
Apple Cinema HD Display (23" flat panel)
ATI Radeon X1900 XT Graphics Card
AJA Kona LHe SD/HD capture card
Apple Xserve Raid 5.6TB

SOFTWARE
Mac OS X 10.4.10
Final Cut Pro Studio
After Effects CS3
Photoshop CS3
Illustrator CS3
Boris Continuum
Sapphire Plug Ins
Roxio Toast
Digital Anarchy Anarchist Suite
ParticleIllusion 3.0
Trapcode
Zaxwerks


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