Hiring a video content editor is no light task. Editors are the final players in the long game of video production. Whether you’re planning to utilize a freelancer or you’re hiring a full-time editor for your in-house video team, selecting a candidate can be daunting. Every editor works a bit differently, has a unique style and process, and may have certain areas of specialization that you’ll want to understand. In the end, you need to be able to trust your editor to complete a puzzle that doesn’t come with a picture on the box.
Luckily, we’ve done our fair share of puzzles and hired enough video content editors to feel like we have some expertise on both.
Freelancers Vs. Full Timers
When hiring a video editor, you have two options: freelance or full-time. Both options have benefits, but it is important to understand you (and your client’s) needs before choosing which route to take.
Hiring a freelance video content editor is becoming an increasingly common route for many video agencies. Freelancers are beneficial because they are immediately ready for work, tend to have experience on a variety of project types, and often can provide exactly what is needed when specified. Though they may require a bit of onboarding and research before beginning a project, a good freelance video editor will be able to jump right in no matter how fast your metaphorical treadmill is running.
However, there are also some pitfalls to hiring a freelancer to edit your videos. Their hands will be all over the final product delivered to your customer, so you have to be sure those hands are the right fit for the job. In fact, we tend to think of the video editor as the last writer in the process. So even before you hire, make sure your freelancer is clear about and comfortable with the goals, audiences, channels, key messages and other critical strategic elements that need to be reflected in the final video.
Your internal team and freelancers need to remain collaborative, sharing ideas and pushing each other creatively. The best freelancers will provide their own suggestions and ideas as a supplement to yours without forcing their own agenda onto the project. At the end of the day, a simple “chemistry test” over the phone, video chat, or a post-COVID cup of coffee can ensure that you’re able to work well together to provide the desired result.
There are plenty of general pros and cons to hiring a new full-time team member; we’ll assume you or your HR team can sort through those. When it comes to hiring a full-time video content editor, there are some additional specifics worth taking into consideration.
Since your full-time editor won’t only be responsible for overseeing the completion of a single video project, you’ll want to get a sense of how he or she might revise your overall production process. They should be comfortable being involved in the strategic phase, and weigh in on the pre-production and production phases, as well. In the hiring process, you may want to ask them to review your website, work archive, or production space –– and get their honest feedback. What would they have done differently? Where do they see opportunities for improvement?
If your company has a specific lane (e.g. healthcare), experience in that field is critically important; if you’re looking for a generalist, request a variety of sample work to get a sense of the editor’s ability to adapt to various types of projects.
You’ll also have to provide equipment and software to a full time video editor, including but not limited to:
- A new and top of the line computer with enough RAM to handle your projects efficiently
- Hard drives and other file storage equipment
- Software such as Adobe Premier
- A physical space to work in your office
- Speakers or headphones that deliver high-quality audio
There is obviously much more of a start-up cost to hire a full-time editor compared to a freelance video editor, but both have their advantages. Choose wisely depending on your needs.
Qualities of a Good Video Editor
Regardless of whether they ultimately fill out a W2 or an I9, there are a few qualities that separate the good from the not-so-good that you should consider when hiring a video content editor.
- Your editor should be a problem solver. Anyone can watch a tutorial on how to cut video together in Premier. But a good editor understands what the client wants and can help them get there in a compelling way.
- Your editor should know your audience. For example, a savvy editor knows that busy people won’t watch a video over 2 minutes long; if you’re making a video intended to be watched by corporate big-wigs, your editor will take that into consideration and plan to keep it short. If your video is an educational piece designed to train new employees, they have a little more leeway with running time.
- The storytelling gene should be ingrained into your editor. Every video has a beginning, middle, and end. Knowing what to include, what to exclude, and where to start will keep the audience entertained and make your video worth remembering.
- Your editor should have an opinion and be willing to share it. While agencies and clients may think they know the exact path to take to success, editors see things differently and, therefore, often provide a creative interpretation no one else in the process has considered. Though it is an editor’s job to ultimately provide what a client wants, suggestions for different approaches, alternate cuts, or even new pieces of content should be welcomed with open arms.
- Can your editor dance? No, you won’t need to ask them to bachata in the break room. But editors with rhythm tend to create the most effective end-products. Pairing audio, video, and visuals takes a certain innate musicality that will give your video content energy.
Passion Makes Perfect
At the end of the day, whether your editor is freelancing or working for you full-time, they should be passionate about their work. One final tip for hiring a video content editor is to simply look for someone with interests, passions, and skill sets that differ from your own. When they’re not sitting in an editing bay, what do they like to do? What kind of art and culture do they consume? What inspired them to get into editing in the first place?
Those niche areas of interest, differences in background, unique talents, and perspectives are what will truly elevate the quality and creativity of not just your video content –– but your entire video team itself.