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7 Steps to Become a Freelance Video Editor

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Being a free spirit with an adventurous soul to explore the world and raise awareness, video editing is the kind of dream job for me. I never had experience or education background in video editing or documentary production before this and I really came into this line of work purely due to chance.

I studied in Sweden during my university years and came across an opportunity for students to intern as a videographer for a company in Uppsala. It’s a fashion company dedicated to revolutionize the industry from within, to safeguard animal welfare. Touched by their motto, I applied for the unpaid internship even though I had no previous experience in it.

With my passionate talk about making a change, I got the internship. The interview process was delightful. One thing I appreciate about the Swedish work culture is, they try to only judge you by your determination and willingness to contribute. It was a Skype call for my first interview. My boss refused a video call as she didn’t want to judge me by my appearance, a great approach I never received elsewhere.

Working remotely allows me to work from anywhere...even roofs!

Talking about how much I wanted to contribute and how determined I was to learn. I was quickly accepted for the next interview, also a Skype call. It was about making arrangements and the conditions for the internship.

To land a job you want, the best you can give is your excitement for the job.

Showing your love for the position is always better than showing your interest in monetary return. Your heart is what captures the employers. Talk about your visions, your dream and how you plan on making that come true. All these make a positive influence for the company and anyone that knows a talent will see that.

Requirements to becoming a freelance video editor:

  • None, if you're like me and are willing to find an unpaid internship
  • Training in software like Adobe Premier Pro or Final Cut

I physically relocated to Uppsala for my internship. Given that it’s a fashion company, any trips to Italy, where the production house is located, would be covered by the company.

Training is a must for a newbie.

Till this day, I’m still surprised I got the placement. It wasn’t an easy start. With no hands on knowledge on video editing and documentary production, YouTube was my best friend. There’re colleagues that I could seek help from, but the point of any internships is to take the initiative to solve your own tasks.

It’s been 1.5 years since my internship and I continue to contribute for them remotely after I left the country. I’m now exploring the world while working as a video editor.

The biggest takeaway from my internship is to never pass on an opportunity because you feel you “have no chance” anyways.

I had zero work experience with video editing and I was given an amazing opportunity. I also believe if you have the passion, you will find someone that connects with the fire in your soul.

a video editor on camera for a project
A rare moment I pop on the screen instead of behind it

Another thing is that you can achieve as much by teaching yourself as by going to university, you just have to be very self-motivated.

Having no teacher to guide you and push you through each step, you are your own teacher. Break down each task into small tasks and look up how to do those smaller tasks.

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Here's how you can become a freelance video editor:

1. Learn the software

Adobe Premiere Pro is my go-to editing app and the only one I use. I have heard Final Cut is more user-friendly for beginners and Premiere Pro is more professional.

Which one to start with is up to you but in most professional settings, Premiere Pro is what you will use.
A screenshot of a video editor working on Adobe Premier Pro CC
A behind the scenes look at Adobe Premier Pro

2. Be proactive & teach yourself

As said, YouTube is my best friend. Any questions you have about the app, YouTube has an answer for you.

Justin Odisho and Austin Newman are my go-to channels for more advanced technical stuff.

There are many other great YouTubers out there sharing their invaluable experience and knowledge on the app and how you can master it easily.

Not fun to start from zero and you will probably progress slower than you’d wish but it’s beneficial to your personal growth. At the end, not only would you acquire the knowledge for your job, you would also learn about yourself, your strengths and weaknesses and how to be resilient.

3. Look for internships

Taking an unpaid internship is a good starting point. Everyone has to start somehow. Although I was extremely grateful for the internship, I also knew I got it mostly because I was an unpaid intern.

In the, end people won’t pay you for skills you don’t possess.

We are all eager to fly before we learn to walk but reality is, you have to sacrifice your time and money to unlock skills that will benefit you in the long run.

A constant struggle for me and many others is when to take up an unpaid job and will it positively influence me? When I started out, I also felt not getting paid for my work wasn’t fair, but then I realised, if I had to go to school for this, I would be paying much more. I was able to learn new things for free. It was a good deal.

4. Build up connections

Starting out at a physical location to build up connection is essential if you don’t already have skills. It allows you to shadow fellow workers and learn, while having an office to seek help.

I would recommend looking for an internship nearby, even online so the geographical constraint won’t impact your work much if you have to physically meet up for work from time to time.

After gaining a certain amount of experience, you’re ready to take off on your own, working remotely anywhere. You will be grateful for the time you invested in all the unpaid jobs as your reward will be much greater.

5. Search for freelance gigs

Freelancer.com was my first freelance platform. It's highly competitive but you would get decent exposure for stable clients if you’re willing to lower your price at the beginning. Check out these 7 other platforms to find remote work as a video editor.

One good trick I learnt is to use local freelancing platforms when travelling. Although remote work sounds dreamy, most employers want someone in the same time zone in case of emergency.

Take the time to Google local platforms for freelance jobs and you won’t be disappointed.

female digital nomad enjoying free time on the beach at sunset
With some hard work, you'll be able to take your job around the world

6. Apply for everything

In hindsight, I wish I had been more aggressive with job hunting and not passed out jobs thinking I wasn’t qualified for it.

Truth is, they decide if you’re qualified or not.

Submitting an application doesn’t hurt. If you don’t fit, they filter you out anyways. Never pass on a chance.

7. Be ready to put in some hard work

Working remotely is surely fun. I get to work up on the mountains, at the beach, by the pool or even up in the air. As long as I have my laptop and my hard drive with all the clips, I’m good to go, not even the internet is needed.

I have to admit, becoming a video editor is tough. Unlike all the jobs with no previous experience needed and you can easily pick up on, like teaching English online, becoming a video editor requires a lot more work and the reward at the beginning is much more unstable. I do it because of my passion.

I believe anyone should live their dream doing what they want, even if it poses great obstacles.

Truly wishing the best for your start in this field. With the pandemic going around, it’s time to think about what you like for yourself and take the time to do something that makes you happy. Sharing my experience and thoughts to connect like-minded girls takes me back to why I started in this field in the first place. I want to make a change and make this world a better place for others.

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