Whether you’re an experienced video editor who recently decided to go freelance or a newbie trying to turn a hobby into a career, chances are your technical skills will only play a secondary role in helping you create your very first clientele.
Indeed, what you really need is a solid set of soft skills that will allow you to attract new customers, manage your relationship with them and leave an indelible mark in their minds, so that they can become your loyal and recurring customers. All of this is just as important as knowing how (and why) to make a cut.
In his Learn everything in Premiere Pro course on MZed – a comprehensive 25-hour program exploring all aspects of the software – editor Digby Hogan also takes the time to share tips and business advice for building a successful career as a video editor. Let’s take a look at his suggestions.
Land your first paid gig
Especially if you’re just starting out, before you even try to reach potential customers, you need to build your own identity. Concretely, this means summarizing your artistic traits in a showreel, or better yet, building up a portfolio of works likely to interest potential clients. If you don’t have footage to work with, a good idea is to partner with peers from local film schools.
Once you have something you’re proud of, it’s time to show it to the world. As Digby suggests, you can start by gathering contact information for businesses or even production houses in your area. Indeed, using a local approach can help you grow faster. Try contacting these organizations by email first, but feel free to make a friendly phone call if they don’t respond after a few days. If you manage to earn the trust of 5 prospects, that’s enough to build a strong customer base.
Communication: the special ingredient
According to Digby, there’s a special ingredient at the heart of the perfect recipe for building a trusting and lasting relationship with a client: communication. Start off on the right foot by clarifying all contractual terms upfront. For example, agree on the maximum number of revisions included and establish a specific payment plan. Eliminating the paperwork will help you focus on the creative process later.
Then, once you have begun to craft your edit through a series of technical and creative choices, it is essential that you clearly illustrate the reasons behind them and, at the same time, listen carefully to the thoughts and feedback from your client along the way. Also, be sure to follow up every in-person meeting or phone call with written communication, so you have something to refer to, in case the going gets tough.
“The best thing to remember is communication, communication, and when that feels like too much, why don’t you try to communicate more? You can never keep your client up to date or communicate too much about the idea and your approach in this regard.
Digby Hogan, Learn Everything in Premiere Pro
Never leave your customer empty-handed
Depending on the complexity of the task, it may take you several days or even weeks to go from the first cut to the final version of the cut. Of course, during this period you will need space to find different solutions and creative possibilities, but it is extremely important that you never let things go quiet with your client.
If possible, Digby suggests meeting them in person, at least to review the first draft. “I find this to be the best practice and yields the best results, with the client understanding your direction in the edit and also feeling creatively included.” – he says.
Alternatively, you can use any digital platform of your choice (tools like Frame.io, Digital Pigeon, DropBox, YouTube, or Vimeo can do the job) to continuously share your progress. Ultimately, customers put their trust (and their money) in you, so they’re constantly eager to see what they’re paying for.
Dealing with uncomfortable comments
But what if your customer reacts to your insights in a way that isn’t exactly – let’s say – encouraging? Well, then you have to learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable. And the first thing to do in a similar situation is to try to create a positive discussion ground, while keeping unpleasant comments under control.
In his Learn everything in Premiere Pro Of course, Digby breaks this process down into three steps. Start by showing your client a proactive attitude to correct the parts of the assembly that he thinks still need revision. Then follow up by having them focus on the positives first, asking them what they liked about your job. Finally, divide the montage into sections and together examine them individually. This way, the feedback becomes more manageable and less erratic. Also, before getting back to work, be sure to share a recap of all the changes that were necessary.
Make your delivery memorable
Once your client is happy with the end result and the image is locked, it’s time to plant a seed for your next paid gig. Whether you opt for digital file delivery or decide on physical delivery, be sure to include a call-to-action to keep the momentum going. Invite your customers over for coffee or pick up the phone for a friendly chat. Show them your truthful and sincere interest in their life and their projects.
Your clients are probably very busy people, so it’s easy for you to be “forgotten” by their daily tasks and meetings. Try to keep the communication even after the files have been delivered and your invoice has been paid. As Digby says, “repeat business is good business, it’s fair business and it’s the kind of work that allows you to grow”.
What do you get with MZed Pro?
Inasmuch as MZed Pro Memberyou also have access to almost 300 hours of film training, and we are constantly adding new courses (several are currently in production).
For just $30/month (billed annually at $349), here’s all you’ll get:
- Over 40 courses, over 600 high quality lessons spanning over 300 hours of learning.
- Highly produced courses by educators who have decades of experience and accolades, including a Pulitzer Prize and Academy Award.
- Exclusive access to ARRI Academy online courses.
- Unlimited access to stream all content for 12 months.
- Download and view offline with the MZed iOS app.
- The majority of our courses provide an industry-recognized certificate upon completion.
- Purchasing the courses would cost over $7,600.
- Course topics include cinematography, directing, lighting, cameras and lenses, production, independent filmmaking, writing, editing, color grading, audio, and even how to cast. a YouTube channel.
- 7 day money back guarantee if you decide it’s not for you.
Join MZed Pro now and start watching today!
Full disclosure: MZed is property of CineD
Do you have a specific procedure for managing relations with your customers? Share your experience in the comments below!