How to Start a Video Editing Business

Wow, do I receive some fabulous questions! Following up from ‘How to Start a Freelance Website Design Business‘ and ‘Is Remote Life Coaching a Good Business Idea‘, let’s explore ‘How to start a Video Editing Business’.

(As a side note: for way more detail on How to Start A Business, I just published a new book called The Start-Up Business Guide. You can grab your copy and loads of bonus features here.)

I break the question into 3 categories: Product (what should I sell if I went out on my own), Market (who should I sell it to, and how), and Skills (what skills do I need to develop to make this a success).

Product

There’s absolutely a successful business to me made in Video Editing and Motion Graphics, especially as a freelancer / sole operator (ie, not building a team). However, someone has to shoot those videos!

So your options are:

  1. Film them yourself;
  2. Find a partner wanting to do that (a proper, “build a business together” partner, or just one or a few videographers you can call on reliably); or
  3. Build a referral network from companies that need video editing services.

Options 2 and 3 will take more time, and of course mean someone else eating into your revenue and profitability. Option 1 is hard to do remotely – unless by ‘Remote Video Editing Business’ you mean one where you are happy travelling wherever in the world (or your target market) the client happens to be. You also need to be comfortable shooting the videos – video production and video editing are different (though related) skills.

So how to extend on that, especially for likely target business clients? One option I hear people suggest is “I’ll also code their website and offer additional marketing support for social media et cetera”.

Firstly, unless coding is a massive passion, it’s likely to be more of a distraction than a good business idea. To start (and something like Codecademy might be a way to start) you’ll be competing with thousands of other wannabe coders around the world, as well as those who are much more competent. Catching up and standing out is possible, but I would suggest building on what skills you have. (But see below!)

So then what else? My approach goes to the market – what else are video production clients already buying that you could offer?

  • Marketing strategy
  • Personal / business branding
  • General content production – blogs, articles, podcasts etc
  • Graphic design
  • Web design / development
  • Inhouse training on video production

Do any of those seem more interesting to you than coding? Do you actually need to do any of those, or

If you were my client, I would suggest the following business model and then see whether you liked it or not!

  • Retainer-based video production – clients sign up for 6 or 12 months of consistent videos
  • First month is planning – the outcomes the client wants from video production, what topics etc – and you provide a short strategy report
  • Content production is a mix of hero videos (1 every six months, like a company profile video) and regular video content (clients can choose daily, weekly, or monthly releases – this impacts which retainer package they choose)
  • Production includes search engine optimisation for YouTube (ie, the world’s second largest search engine)

Product Pricing

I have no idea of specific Video Editor rates and prices, and these are going to vary wildly depending on whether you want to be a Video Editor in London or a Video Editor in Branson, Missouri. If you know the going market rate, use that! (Perhaps be a little bit cheaper at first, to win the first clients, but don’t make yourself too cheap.)

The other way of pricing is to go through this process:

  • How much would you like to earn each month (eg, $5000)?
  • How much time would 1 client take to service (eg, 1 day a month)
  • There are an average of 20 business days per month – you ideally want to hit your target income working 10 days a month, since that gives you enough time for your own marketing / sales / admin / holidays and so on
    • For some businesses that’s more realistic than others. I work with a cleaner who wants to earn $10,000 a month and charges clients $35 an hour – he clearly needs a team!!

Based on the retainer idea and those made-up numbers, it would look something like:

  • $1000 for the first month, as that includes strategy
  • $500 per month thereafter, for 1 monthly video

Two months’ notice if they ever want to stop.

Producing weekly videos would be 2-3x as much as monthly; daily would be 3x weekly.

Market

My experience is that offering services to established businesses – rather than individuals, hobbyists, or start-ups – allows you to charge a much higher rate.

There’s definitely niches to be found – different industries, you could work with startups, maybe you only do company profile videos, or you only shoot videos for authors launching a book!

My advice on niches is that they find you, not the other way around – you find a client of a certain type, and they refer you to someone similar, and before you know it you have experience, a network, and a showreel in that niche. So don’t try to work this out too early – build clients, see what’s interesting (and pays well), and follow the energy.

So how do you target a market and find those first clients? By far the best way is to start with your existing network – who do you know that would hire you? Who do they know? Start building your networks, and an email marketing list – “eat your own dogfood” which means releasing your own videos on a regular basis and sending them out.

Sales is the biggest skill new business owners need to learn fast. Honestly, it’s not that difficult if you’re willing to practice. The biggest mistake I see is people who can do everything for everyone struggle to give a potential customer something specific they can say “yes” or “no” to – this is where the retainer idea is useful, because it would mean you have 1 clear product (regular video production) with 3 options (daily, weekly, monthly) – a client can take their pick very easily, instead of you saying “what do you want?” because they don’t know!

I’m more an ‘In front of the camera’ guy these days, but I’ve done my share of video production!

Skills

So where does that leave us? The key skills I see are:

  • Any technical skills you think would help sell a clear product that people will buy
  • Consistent marketing activity, to generate regular leads
  • Sales skills to win clients

Something like the Key Person of Influence programme (by Dent) could be really helpful as well. I’ve met a lot of people who’ve done that programme in the UK and Australia, and they’re all charging higher rates and winning more clients as a result.

I hope that helps – let me know how you get on, or if you have any more questions!

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