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video editor: What to charge?

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Danielle Smit
video editor: What to charge?
on Sep 26, 2011 at 9:25:43 pm

I know this topic already appears a few times on this forum, but I think my situation is a bit unique and I would love some advice!

I have played around with video editing for years and slowly this skill is turning into a job and I would like to make it my next career.
Through the people I meet in my other job, I constantly get asked if I can edit / color grade / do titles for their video. Mostly these are promo videos, webisodes, personal reels, low budget tv projects, etc. I work from my own setup at home, I have one paid recurring client where I do their web promo videos once a month and I have had other odd paying jobs so far.
Then I work for very low wages at production houses when there is project I find interesting and I think I can learn something and hope to slowly build a reel for the kind of projects I want to work on.

But I get so many requests now and I have no idea what I should charge? What is fair but at the same time pushing the limits? I am lucky, because I have a well paying part-time job I do not need the money, but a little extra cash cannot hurt :) And even on the simplest project I always learn something. Also I would like to be valued for my time, I feel that sometimes people respect you more if you charge more vs less?

For my recurring client I charge $2000 that usually comes down to about 20-30hrs of work. It is basic editing and some coloring and titles, with only one output.
I have also charged $250 per hour for jobs less than 1 day.

Things that would affect my rate: I live in Manhattan, NY. I am completely self taught (no degrees). I work on FCP and After Effects. I have experience working at production houses doing commercial / advertising projects and tv and film projects. I have no reel (yet)

If there is any NY based freelance editor here, would you mind giving me some real world advice? Numbers preferably :)
Let's say there is a project that would probably take me 1 week (50 hours) + 2 revisions, what is a good price?
Should I charge a different hourly wage if I am doing only an edit or only color?
When do you charge hourly and when a flat fee?
How many revisions are normal?
Any other advice?

I am sorry for the long post.. Thank you in advance!!

Danielle


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Chris Tompkins
Re: video editor: What to charge?
on Sep 26, 2011 at 10:25:36 pm

Self taught does not matter.

Look at your market.
You must rub elbows with others in the industry?
Get a feel for what the average Free-lance edit rate is. What do others charge for gear and op?

Chris Tompkins
Video Atlanta LLC


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Mark Suszko
Re: video editor: What to charge?
on Sep 27, 2011 at 12:17:51 am

You are in Manhattan, and charging less than what a street dog vendor makes. No wonder you get plenty of business!

Step 1: Calculate your day rate.

Step 2: Charge that rate and nothing less.

Step 3: See step 1.


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Jason Jenkins
Re: video editor: What to charge?
on Sep 27, 2011 at 3:07:52 pm

[Mark Suszko] "You are in Manhattan, and charging less than what a street dog vendor makes. No wonder you get plenty of business!"

She's getting between $66 and $250 per hour. That's pretty cool if a hot dog vendor can do better than that!

Jason Jenkins
Flowmotion Media
Video production... with style!


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Danielle Smit
Re: video editor: What to charge?
on Sep 27, 2011 at 4:24:05 pm

Thank you all three for your responses!

Wow, I didn't realize I was undervaluing myself that much! You say calculate your day rate? But how? I have no costs (I would have the computer, software, etc anyway) besides my time.

I have asked people before, but I haven't gotten a clear answer, most people I have met are on an annual salary. Also the answers vary wildly.

Ok, so I should definitely charge more, so I do not end up getting $66 per hour.
You say pick a day rate and stick to it, but if you get hired for a project that takes you 5 days vs 1 day, the day rate should be lower, no?

Any other advice is greatly appreciated!

Danielle


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Craig Seeman
Re: video editor: What to charge?
on Sep 27, 2011 at 4:34:34 pm

http://freelanceswitch.com/rates/

[Danielle Smit] " I have no costs (I would have the computer, software, etc anyway) besides my time."

How well do homeless or dead of starvation editors do in the market?
You never plain on buying another computer or upgrading your software?
Your entire life expenses are a cost. Everything you own or will be is a cost. Your shoes, your transportation, your car and gas are costs.



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Todd Terry
Re: video editor: What to charge?
on Sep 27, 2011 at 6:53:23 pm

[Danielle Smit] "...if you get hired for a project that takes you 5 days vs 1 day, the day rate should be lower, no?"

Typically not.

Unless a long-term client is giving you a decent amount of continuing business every month on, say, a re-occurring project, then I'd just recommend sticking to your rate, whatever you determine that to be. An hour costs an hour, no matter if they need 2 hours or 200. And a day's a day, no matter if they need one day or 10.

And yes, definitely work by the hour. People who price jobs by the project almost invariably get screwed, unless you build a lot of fat into your estimate.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Danielle Smit
Re: video editor: What to charge?
on Sep 27, 2011 at 7:20:40 pm

Thanks Craig and Todd.
hmmm... good tips.. Not sure if this is getting harder or easier to figure out!

The the one clear message seems to be that I should be less 'nice' and stick to the hourly / day rate. And Craight you are right, I might buy certain upgrades / plug-ins that I wouldn't if I hadn't a paying job requesting it...

I will ask around some more what other people charge for their day rate and I guess experiment with basic economics of supply and demand to figure out what my rate should be..!?

Danielle


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Craig Seeman
Re: video editor: What to charge?
on Sep 27, 2011 at 8:09:20 pm

[Danielle Smit] "I will ask around some more what other people charge for their day rate and I guess experiment with basic economics of supply and demand to figure out what my rate should be..!?"

Use the calculator I posted to figure out what your base rate should be. As one gains skills, experience, more and/or better gear, you can increase your profit margin.

Supply and demand are certainly factors but it's simply not possible to go below a base survival rate and there's no reason to compete on price if others are driving themselves into bankruptcy. If your pice is too high you must cut your costs, not only your rate.

If you know how to market you can do better than supply and demand. Marketing is creating demand, not being a victim of it.



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Craig Seeman
Re: video editor: What to charge?
on Sep 27, 2011 at 8:01:05 pm

[Todd Terry] "And yes, definitely work by the hour. People who price jobs by the project almost invariably get screwed,"

And of course even a "day" has to be carefully defined. It's amazing how many clients think a "day" is 24 working hours . . . and you owe them time for bathroom breaks.



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Scott Cumbo
Re: video editor: What to charge?
on Sep 29, 2011 at 2:57:26 am

In NYC, an edit room at a post house will run you anywhere from $150 - $350 an hour (that's for a room with system and editor, avid or fcp) fcp tends to be a lower rate, but not always. Rates vary depending on client, job type and budget.... A lot of places are flexible these days.

Freelance editors are usually in the $400 - $750 and up per day.

It really comes down to what people are willing to pay you and the type of clients you have.

Hope that helps, good luck

Scott Cumbo
Editor
Broadway Video, NYC


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Michael Mediavilla
Re: video editor: What to charge?
on Oct 5, 2011 at 4:05:47 pm

You really need to know what's going on in your market.

I would avoid flat-rating a job with new clients, especially clients that are new to the post-production world.

We will flat-rate a job when an existing client, someone with whom we have a longstanding relationship, comes to us with a fixed budget that we have to back into. We carefully evaluate the scope-of-work and make a decision based the job at hand and the history with the client.

Projects with "hard" deadlines usually work out well in these scenarios

Crescent Beach Productions, Inc.
Long Island Video Production Co.


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Danielle Smit
Re: video editor: What to charge?
on Oct 5, 2011 at 5:04:44 pm

Super helpful, thanks!


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