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The Ultimate Guide to Building Your Freelance Video Editor Career

Updated: 2 days ago

Rear view of a freelance video editor at a cozy workstation, with two monitors displaying video editing software and a scenic mountain video project. The warm, ambient lighting of the room suggests a comfortable and creative editing environment. The editor's focused stance and professional headphones indicate deep concentration on the task of video editing
A Freelance Video Editor at their workstation in a Video Production House in London

In this blog post, SHOOTLAB Content Creators will guide you through the steps to becoming a successful freelance video editor, opening a world of creative possibilities and opportunities. The demand for video editors is booming as digital media consumption explodes globally. There's never been a better time to launch a career as a video editor. But how do you become one? Being a video editor isn't just a job; it's an avenue for creativity and storytelling, offering diverse and exciting paths, both freelance and in-house, across multiple industries.

How to Become a Video Editor: Your Complete Guide by Shootlab

Becoming a video editor is a journey that blends creativity with technical skill. It involves understanding how to assemble video and audio content, to tell compelling stories. This role requires not only proficiency in video editing software but also a keen eye for visual storytelling and good pacing. There are several pathways to enter the video editing industry, each offering unique experiences and learning opportunities. Whether through formal education, hands-on apprenticeships, or specialised training programs, aspiring video editors can find a path that suits their learning style and career goals.

  1. A University Course: University courses in film and media studies provide a comprehensive education in video editing, covering both theoretical and practical aspects. Students gain hands-on experience with editing software and will learn about the broader context of film and media production.

  2. A College Course: College courses often offer more focused training in video editing. These courses can range from short-term classes to longer programs, providing practical skills and a foundation in editing techniques.

  3. An Apprenticeship: Apprenticeships in video editing allow for learning on the job under the guidance of experienced professionals. This path combines practical experience with some formal training, offering a real-world perspective on the industry.

  4. Working Towards This Role: Gaining experience through entry-level positions in media companies can lead to a role in video editing. This often involves starting in a different position and gradually moving into editing as skills and experience are gained.

  5. Training Schemes Run by Broadcasters: Some broadcasters offer training schemes, providing an immersive experience in the field of media production, including video editing. These schemes are often very competitive and provide a mix of training and hands-on work experience.

  6. Specialist Courses Run by Private Training Providers: Private training providers offer specialised courses in video editing. These are typically focused on specific skills or software, providing an intensive learning experience geared toward immediate practical application.

A close-up of a freelance video editor’s hands working on a colorful, illuminated editing keyboard, with a computer screen in the background displaying a video editing software timeline. The warm bokeh lights create a cozy atmosphere, suggesting a creative and focused editing session. The editor's workflow is highlighted by the visible video clips and editing tools on the monitor
Freelance Video Editor at their workstation in London

What does a freelance video editor do?

A freelance video editor's role extends way beyond merely assembling raw footage. We are storytellers who enhance narratives using a blend of technical skills and creative insight. This involves using editing software to organise raw footage into a coherent sequence. Our tasks range from importing and logging video files to performing rough cuts to remove excess footage. The process continues with colour enhancement, sound mixing, scene restructuring, and final quality checks. We also handle compression and cataloging of the final product, maintaining meticulous records of their services to clients. This diverse skill set is applied across various projects, from short-form social media content to advertising and branded content.

  • Utilise editing tools to sort and refine raw footage into a cohesive story.

  • Handle the importation, categorisation, and labelling of video files.

  • Execute an initial cut to eliminate unnecessary footage.

  • Revisit and refine the first edit.

  • Adjust colour settings (colour grading) and blend audio elements.

  • Rearrange scenes across the timeline for optimal narrative flow.

  • Conduct a comprehensive final check to assure the quality of the video.

  • Compress, store, and systematically organise the completed video.

  • Keep detailed records of services provided to clients.

A freelance video editor works in a dimly lit room, focused on color grading a film scene on a professional editing workstation. Multiple monitors display advanced editing software with color correction tools, waveform monitors, and node-based adjustment layers. The setup includes a control surface with trackballs and dials, a laptop displaying video scopes, and a coffee mug
Freelance Video Editor working at Video Production Agency

What skills do I need to become a video editor?

Essential Skills and Knowledge: To thrive in video editing, mastering software like Premiere Pro, Davinci Resolve and Final Cut Pro is essential. But it's not all about technical prowess; storytelling, pacing, visual composition, and colour grading are equally important. Soft skills like communication, collaboration, and time management can't be overlooked. For freelancers, SEO and marketing skills are invaluable.

  • Proficiency in Editing Software: Mastery of video editing software such as Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, or DaVinci Resolve is essential for cutting, splicing, adjusting, and refining footage.

  • Storytelling Abilities: A good video editor must have a strong sense of narrative to effectively convey the story and emotions through the pacing, sequence, and rhythm of the edited footage.

  • Attention to Detail: Keen attention to detail is necessary to spot and correct errors, maintain continuity, and ensure the final product is polished and free of issues.

  • Creative Vision: Creativity in video editing involves choosing the right angles, transitions, and effects that enhance the storytelling and engage the audience.

  • Technical Knowledge: Understanding video formats, compression, encoding, and exporting to various platforms while maintaining high quality is critical.

  • Time Management Skills: Ability to work under pressure and meet tight deadlines, often having to manage multiple projects simultaneously.

A cosy home office setup with a large window view. The desk is equipped with a modern computer displaying vibrant cityscape wallpaper, a white keyboard, and a computer mouse. The warm ambience is enhanced by multiple lit candles, a cup of coffee, a pair of glasses, and fresh flowers in the room. Personal touches include a colourful magazine, a decorative plant next to a glowing PC tower with a visible cooling fan, and a relaxed, inviting atmosphere created by the ambient lighting
Starting Out: Home Video Editing Set up

How do I become a video editor with no experience?

Networking Tips for Freelance Video Editors: If you want to become a video editor without any prior experience with determination and the right approach, it's entirely achievable. Here's how you can start your journey towards becoming a proficient video editor from scratch:

Getting Started a Shootlab Guide: Embarking on a career in video editing

  1. Educate Yourself: Learn the basics of video editing through online courses, tutorials, and reading materials. Websites like Masterclass, Udemy, and YouTube offer a wealth of free and paid resources.

  2. Choose Your Software: Familiarise yourself with video editing software. Start with free or low-cost options like iMovie, DaVinci Resolve, or Adobe Premiere Pro (which offers a trial period).

  3. Practice Regularly: Create your own projects or edit existing videos for practice. Consistent practice is key to developing your skills.

  4. Build a Portfolio: Experiment with personal projects or volunteer for editing roles to build your portfolio. Compile your best work into a portfolio. This could include personal projects, volunteer work, or any small editing gigs you can find.

  5. Get a job as a runner for a Video Editing company: One of the foundational steps towards becoming a video editor, especially when you have no prior experience, is to get a job as a runner in a production company or intern at a television studio. Being a runner may seem like a humble start, but it's a valuable opportunity to immerse yourself in the industry environment. In this role, you'll perform a variety of tasks, ranging from administrative duties to assisting on set. While the job might not involve direct video editing work initially, it allows you to observe and learn from professional editors, understand the workflow in a production setting, and build essential industry connections.

  6. Contact YouTubers and offer your services: A great way to gain experience is by offering your video editing services to YouTubers. Look for content creators who might benefit from your help, and propose your skills. This could involve editing a few videos at a reduced rate or even volunteering. It's a win-win: you get practical experience and build your portfolio, while they enhance the quality of their content.

  7. Networking: Connect with professionals in the field through social media, industry events, or local meetups. Networking can lead to mentorship opportunities and job leads.

  8. Freelance Projects: Look for freelance opportunities on platforms like Fiverr, Upwork, or local classifieds. Small projects can build your experience and reputation.

  9. Stay Updated: Keep up with the latest trends and technologies in video editing. This industry evolves quickly, and staying current is crucial.

A professional video editor in a darkened studio intensely focuses on editing a project across multiple monitors displaying various editing software panels. The setup reveals a sophisticated audio interface, waveform monitors, and video timelines, indicating advanced post-production work. This high-tech environment reflects the meticulous and skilled nature of a video editor's job

What do employers look for in a Video Editor?

Landing Your Dream Video Editing Job: At Shootlab, our extensive experience in the video editing sector has given us valuable insights into what employers prioritize when hiring video editors. Here are the essential qualities and skills that can set you apart:

  1. Proficiency in Editing Software: Employers seek candidates who are skilled in popular video editing software like Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, or DaVinci Resolve.

  2. Creative Storytelling Ability: The capacity to tell a compelling story through video is crucial. Employers look for editors who can craft a narrative that engages and resonates with the audience.

  3. Technical Expertise: Understanding of various video formats, compression techniques, colour grading, and audio editing is highly valued.

  4. Attention to Detail: A keen eye for detail is essential for ensuring the quality and precision of the final product.

  5. Time Management Skills: Video editors must efficiently manage their time, especially when working on projects with tight deadlines.

  6. Collaborative Skills: Being able to work effectively with directors, producers, and other team members is key in a collaborative environment.

  7. Problem-Solving Abilities: The capacity to address and resolve technical or creative challenges that arise during the editing process.

  8. Portfolio of Work: A strong portfolio demonstrating a range of skills and styles is often a deciding factor for employers, showcasing the editor's experience and creativity.

Close-up view of a video editing software interface on a computer screen, showcasing an active project timeline with multiple video and audio tracks. The detailed waveform and audio levels are visible, indicating precise editing work in progress. The colorful, vibrant still frame in the preview window suggests a dynamic and visually rich video project
Close-up view of a video editing software interface on a computer screen

Video Editor Freelance Rates

Do video editors make good money? Career Outlook and Earnings: The average salary for video editors in the UK, according to, varies with experience and location. Entry-level positions typically start at a lower range, while more experienced editors can earn considerably more. provides similar insights, indicating a range of salaries in the field, with potential for growth as one gains experience and expertise. Both sources highlight the promising financial prospects in video editing, affirming it as a viable career choice. For specific figures and detailed insights, please refer to here and Indeed here. Below is a breakdown of the key points regarding the earning potential of video editors:

  1. Average Video Editor Salary: As of 2023, the average salary for a video editor in the UK is approximately £25,000 to £35,000 per year for entry-level positions.

  2. Experience Impact: With experience, this salary can increase significantly. Senior video editors can earn between £40,000 and £60,000 annually, depending on their expertise and the complexity of their projects.

  3. Video Editor Freelance Rates: Freelance video editors in the UK may charge anywhere from £20 to £50 per hour, depending on their skill level and the project's demands.

  4. Industry Variation: Salaries can vary greatly depending on the industry. For example, editors in film and television tend to earn more than those in local news or online content creation.

  5. Location Factor: Video editors in London and other major cities often earn higher salaries, reflecting the higher cost of living. Salaries in London can be up to 20% higher than in other regions.

  6. Demand for Video Editor Skills: The UK's creative media industry is growing, with an increasing demand for video content across various platforms, which can positively impact job prospects and salaries.

  7. Company Size Matters: Editors working for larger corporations or well-established production companies often enjoy higher salaries compared to those in smaller firms or startups.

  8. Specialisation Benefits: Editors specialising in areas like visual effects or animation may command higher salaries, given the technical expertise required.

  9. Impact of Technology: The evolving landscape of digital media and the rise of platforms like YouTube and Vimeo create new opportunities, potentially leading to higher earnings for skilled editors.

  10. Career Progression: Career advancement can lead to roles like lead editor or creative director, which typically come with higher salaries, potentially exceeding £70,000 annually for top positions in major companies.

lose-up of a video editor's workspace with a focus on a professional color grading panel in the foreground, complemented by an Apple computer displaying color correction software with various scopes and graphs. The subtle presence of a figurine adds a personal touch to the organized and modern editing suite, highlighting the editor's attention to detail and the high level of precision required in post-production work
Close-up of a video editor's workspace with a focus on a professional colour grading panel in the foreground

What are some challenges that video editors face in their work?

At Shootlab we are all too aware of some of the challenges video editors face in their work. These include managing tight deadlines, which often require quick turnarounds while maintaining high quality. Editors also have to deal with client revisions, where they must balance client requests with their own creative vision. Another challenge is keeping up with the latest video software and technological advancements, ensuring their skills remain relevant and competitive. Additionally, maintaining creativity and inspiration in a highly technical field can be demanding, especially under time constraints.

  • Finding music for a video edit: One of the common challenges video editors face, including us is sourcing the right music to complement their visual content. Music is integral to setting the tone and enhancing the storytelling of a video, but locating the perfect music track can be a time-consuming process. Editors must consider the mood, pacing, and genre of the video, as well as the legal aspects of music licensing. Often, they have to sift through extensive music libraries or collaborate with composers to create custom tracks, all while ensuring the chosen music aligns with the project's budget and the client's expectations.

  • Asset Management, working with different media formats and working with inconsistent video footage: Video editors frequently face the technical challenge of working with a myriad of media formats, each with its own set of codecs and specifications. The task of ensuring compatibility across various software and devices can be daunting, often requiring conversion and compression without loss of quality. Additionally, dealing with inconsistent video footage – whether it's varying resolutions, frame rates, or lighting conditions – demands a high level of skill and attention to detail. Editors must be adept at colour correction, frame rate conversion, and other post-production techniques to create a seamless final product from disparate sources.

  • Needing tons of hard drive space for active projects and backup space. Always an issue as a Video editor you can never have enough hard drive space and this is comes at a cost!

  • Investment in a proper gear needing a Powerful computer to handle large video file sizes. The necessity for high-performance gear is a hurdle for many video editors, especially when dealing with large video file sizes. Editing software typically requires a powerful computer with a fast processor, a high-end graphics card, and ample RAM to handle the intensive tasks of video editing smoothly. This is a significant investment, as a machine that lags or crashes during rendering can lead to lost time and potential compromise in the quality of the final product. For freelancers and those just starting out, this investment in proper equipment can be a daunting financial challenge, but it is essential for maintaining efficiency and meeting professional industry standards.

  • Motion Graphics can be difficult for video editor if requested by client: For video editors, incorporating motion graphics can present a notable challenge, particularly when requested by a client. Motion graphics require a specialised skill set that goes beyond traditional editing, involving animation and graphic design principles that can be complex and time-intensive to execute. Editors must not only be proficient with video editing software but also with motion graphics tools, which may necessitate additional learning and practice. This can be especially demanding if the client's vision is ambitious, requiring the editor to create intricate and engaging animations that align with the video’s narrative and aesthetic

  • Time Constraints:Challenge: Time constraints consistently pose a challenge for video editors. Clients often have strict deadlines, which means editors must work efficiently to deliver high-quality content quickly. This pressure is compounded when revisions are requested, squeezing the available time frame even further. To meet these tight deadlines, editors need to have exceptional time management skills and the ability to perform well under pressure. Moreover, the unpredictable nature of creative work can make it difficult to estimate how long a project will take, adding another layer of complexity to managing time constraints

The Hybrid Path: Combining Freelance and Full-time Work

For those who seek the stability of a full-time job while craving the freedom of freelance projects, the hybrid approach to video editing careers is worth considering. This model allows you to enjoy the benefits of a steady paycheck while working on freelance projects that fuel your passion and creativity outside office hours. Balancing both worlds requires discipline and time management but can significantly enhance your career prospects and financial security.


The role of a video editor is crucial in today's digital era, where video is not just content but a powerful form of communication. From mastering the technicalities of editing software to understanding the nuances of narrative pacing, your skill set is the key to unlocking a world of creative potential. Despite the challenges, such as tight deadlines and the need for high-performance gear, the rewards of bringing stories to life and the potential for good earnings are great.Pursuing a career in video editing is a journey of continuous learning and adaptation. So stay curious, keep learning, and remember, your unique vision adds value to the world of digital media.


SHOOTLAB are a Video Production Agency based in the UK. Specialising in Video Production, Post Production including Colour Grading & Video Editing. Photography, Videography, Social media Content Creation.

Video Production & Post-Production: Our video production team is equipped to handle every aspect of your project with expertise and creativity. From initial concept to final delivery, we offer a comprehensive suite of services, including full-service video production, advanced colour grading, and precise video editing. Whether you're looking to captivate audiences with a promotional video for your website, require the finesse of freelance cameraman services, or need expert video editing, SHOOTLAB has you covered.

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