How I Built my $5k / Month Editing Business in Sydney

Hi, I’m Nick. A freelancer currently based in Sydney, Australia. I was a creative child as far back as I can remember, building legos and making puzzles recommended for kids way above my age.

My digital creation started as animations in Powerpoint on Windows 95, I became quite involved with Flash based content (remember Newgrounds?) and eventually picked up my first camcorder early high school and started filming.

University was essential for me as it helped develop my creative approach to projects and gave me direction on top of the self taught skills I had.

I started freelancing the same year I started university, became heavily involved with producing video content for my uni, and everything just bloomed from there.

What inspired you to become a videographer and editor?

I don’t think I can quite call myself a director yet, but I am aspiring towards that 🙂 From the start what inspired me was just the thought that I could live and breath a job that to me didn’t feel like work.

Being able to work a role that could take me all over the world was something I was determined to make happen. If we’re going for a cliche answer, Christopher Nolan and his films have always stood out to me as movie perfection, as well as Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049!

Those films have really made an impact in my approach to artistic creation.

How was the process moving from freelancing to in-house at Billy Blue Creative?

Honestly, this was sheer luck, being in the right place at the right time. In 2016 Billy Blue Creative needed a part-timer to help pick up some of the slack.

While I was there, the other two Videographers eventually resigned, and I was left working 3 days a week but still delivering the content of 3 Videographers.

My manager recognised this hustle and naturally offered me full time that following year in 2018. Billy Blue Creative creative only became a collaborative studio in 2018 when we merged with the graphic design team of the bigger business.

I was involved in the creation of the brand, developing their video branding and social presence.

How did you get your first client as a freelancer?

My first client actually came out of left field. Following a couple of concert films I shot and edited for my university, I spotted a job online asking for a Videographer to shoot a 3 day concert at Taronga Zoo in Sydney.

It was low pay, but I was fresh so it didn’t matter. Amazingly, they loved the limited work I had and offered me the role.

This job was awesome and I had some brief encounters with musicians like Jimmy Barnes and James Morrison.

What’s your editing process once you have the files?   

I don’t really have a standard process for shooting. Generally I keep communication constant, discuss with the client exactly what they want and suggest ideas, and stay transparent with all costs involved.

This has led to some very strong business relationships that have kept work constant for years. This also means I go into most edits with a very strong idea of the final outcome.

My edit workflow is streamlined to get to the actual editing very quick. My PC is setup with several internal drives, the one I edit off is an SSD.

It’s organised very simply:

You have Company Assets filled with logos and branding guidelines for frequent clients, my Project Template folder, Scratch Disk, and To Archive. Below that are my current projects organised with a code and name.

I start with a template folder that I copy for each project. It looks like so:

Organisation is paramount, especially as some of my projects end up being sent back to the client for others to work off.

Once the folder is set up and named, I copy all media to the rushes folder by Card / Day, depending on length of the shoot. Note that I do this step religiously after every shoot day, no matter what time I get home.

Download and backup STRAIGHT AWAY. I’ve lost a days worth of footage before because I waited until morning and then accidentally formatted thinking the footage was copied. This actually happens for a lot of editors and the ultimate is the story about Toy Story 2.

After that it’s dropping everything into Premiere and beginning the SELECTS process, finding the good stuff. Once all the fluff is removed, I’ll start a rough cut and usually do all my audio processing now.

I find it easier to send a few clips to Audition than a thousand little sound bites after the cut is made. Once drafted, I’ll make any graphics needed, basic colour grade, then send to the client.

After review I’ll make changes plus final grade/tweaks and polish. Usually there are 2 rounds and we’re done.

Which platforms & tools do you use? 

I’m Windows based so for me it’s all Adobe. I have used Davinci Resolve on occasion, but for the fast turn around work I often do, there is no workflow that beats Adobe’s integrations.

The other biggest life saver for me is Plural Eyes, instant automatic syncing of all your video and audio from multiple cameras and recorders.

For project management I use Google Sheets and an actual diary. Like paper and pen, the smell of leather. I write down a brief summary of what was done each day, and track all days worked in a calendar overview to cross reference with my spreadsheet.

Which project or video are you most proud of? 

I have two I’m most proud of, both in the same year. When I went full time with Billy Blue Creative I picked up a campaign working closely with a Hospitality college.

The project was titled “Element”. We had success on a similar campaign in 2017, but this time they gave me more control on the creative look and feel.

We travelled all over Australia filming graduates who had attended the school and were now successful in their own careers. Element, in your element.

We produced a short series of 5 videos, with a bunch of short and social content to accompany it all. It was quite successful, with high school graduates ringing up the college saying “Hey I saw this cool video and want to study here”.

“Hey, I saw this cool video and want to study here”.

Seeing that direct influence from something I had made was amazing. That series also ended up being used as a case study internally to promote the value of what video content can achieve.

My other proud moment was a personal short film titled “Beautiful Night”.

I scripted and directed a 6 min drama with the help of my university friends. I sourced actors and locations myself, asked a small VFX team to help with some shots, and really tried putting my all into it.

The film was submitted to Tropfest, was unsuccessful, and is admittedly not that great of a film (story wise), but it was a massive learning experience for me.

It was my second foray into scripted drama and sort of proved in myself that I could actually achieve something of this scope.

Where can someone see your rates, if they’re interested in working with you?

I take a holistic approach to every project I work on, and as such don’t advertise my rates upfront. A lot of my clients employ me for both my filming and editing combined, it’s not a lot of either individually.

I enjoy being a part of the creative process, helping develop the concepts and goals before pushing rates. Come have a chat with me, I love the whole process and love bringing ideas to life! 

What’s your advice to freelance editors moving to London or Sydney for work? 

London is certainly a very difficult place to get in the biz. You have to hustle every day, sending emails and CVs, trawling the Facebook groups and websites for work until you land something.

I sometimes went a month at a time without work, and I can tell you that it becomes a real test for your motivation. I’m grateful that my persistence landed some awesome gigs.

In Sydney, it’s similar, but you have nowhere near the same volume of people looking for the same work.

The downside is there’s a lot less work in Sydney. In both places, networking is key. Talk to everyone on every job you get (within reason), be kind, be proactive, ask questions, make friends.

I landed a lot of jobs because someone would pass along my name to someone else.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?  

COVID-19 decimated all opportunities in London last year. I was left without work overnight, so me and my fiancé (now wife) packed up our life in 5 days and came home to Sydney in March 2020.

I don’t have the stats for the UK, but just look at the US stats!

That sucked, but the upside was through my network and connections at home, I picked up work by April and launched right into freelancing.

I’m very grateful for my situation as we avoided a lot of the grief the pandemic has caused others. I now work from home, and have no plans to ever return to office work. Plus, feature film production is booming in Sydney, so I have a massive opportunity to reach for that.

”I sometimes went a month at a time without work, and I can tell you that it becomes a real test for your motivation.”


Phone: +61 423 741 464 



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