By: Amy Do, Career Community Advisor
Andy Rosenberg is the COO of Short Cuts editing. He graduated from UCLA in 2009 with a degree in Anthropology. He was a huge consumer of early YouTube. At around the time of his graduation, he realized that there was money in the industry.
Andy’s entry point into the YouTube Creator industry was unusual. “I was at this restaurant with a friend, and I heard someone else at the bar talking about how they managed SMOSH and stuff,” he said. “I was paying more attention to this guy over there than to my friend that I was there with… eventually I was bold enough to go over and ask for his email address.” This exchange eventually led to an internship.
“I was doing grunt work for $10 an hour,” Andy said about the internship experience. “I just wanted to be a part of the [YouTube] world somehow.”
The YouTube Creator economy eventually grew to the point where content creators were hiring people to support their audience metrics and general channel management. Andy during this time was hopping around from studio to studio, doing things outside of his job description including:
- Channel Manager — adding search terms and tags, eye-catching thumbnail design
- Optimization Network — giving grades based on current performance, suggesting ways to improve algorithmic reach
- Analyzing data of channel retention time
- Determining maximum video time/video pacing in order to retain audiences.
Andy then went on to do this work for the Jimmy Fallon YouTube page. “I did that work from home and loved it,” Andy said. “Basically the same work, writing the descriptions, tags for the algorithm.”
When Andy was on the job hunt again, his priority was working from home. “You know with the pandemic… working from home is really normal now, but I’ve been doing it basically since 2015.”
He stressed the importance of having support and people to bounce ideas off of. “Sometimes corporations take a long time to make changes,” he said. “It’s hard to not have support in a larger organization as an independent worker and feel like I’m not being listened to, even though they hired me to give them tips on how to grow.”
Through these struggles Andy says, “I had a really great network of people throughout these times who remembered me from back when I was at my previous jobs…[they were] a business base.”
Andy reflected on how payment has changed over the course of his career. “When I was first starting I charged $100, which is really low… editors don’t really want to work for less than $100–150 per video.”
He says that ShortCuts’ rates are determined by the Creators’ subscriber base and other factors. “You know, if they have 150k subscribers and they make beauty tutorials, we’d charge maybe $200 more if someone has 5 million views per video and has a lot of complex edits.”
“We also provide expertise and on-call editors, so Creators can make last-minute changes. If you take all that into account, the price point makes a lot of sense.”
ShortCuts exclusively works with a bank of freelance video editors. “We’re very specific about all the legal stuff so that we don’t have to pay taxes or give benefits,” Andy says. “Basically we tell them to do it and give it back.”
Job Postings and Hiring
“We mostly hire through references and freelancing websites like LinkedIn, Freelancer.com, Upwork, and Fiverr…most people who work in the industry know each other… we’re always taking new people.”
Generally, Andy says that ShortCuts provides a sample video to edit during the hiring process and then gives a round of notes, and the way potential new editors respond to criticism informs the hiring decision.
The key to being a good freelance editor, according to Andy, is tact. “We want people who are reasonable, level-headed, and professional… communication is also huge. Also, don’t make fun of the clients, and be open to receiving criticism. Learn what they are looking for instead of assuming your personal taste is correct.”
ShortCuts Editing specializes in YouTube editing, where many creators form close bonds with their audiences. “Creators a lot of the time do their own editing, or are self-taught. That means they have a unique style that’s not exactly a quote-en-quote professional edit,” Andy says. “We specialize in incorporating tricks to flow better for [viewer] retention. For example, cut music, pull out on the right frame after punching in. The details really affect the quality.”
Because of the nature of their clientele, Andy says that onboarding new clients is a delicate business. “We have a goal call, and for creators they’re always like ‘my channel is my baby,’ right? So they basically say, ‘Do exactly what I’m doing,” and then make them want to watch longer… YouTubers don’t want you to know they hired an editor. Hiding that it’s a business to preserve the feeling that it’s a personal digital space.”
Andy highlights the dichotomy of being a “lifestyle” creator. “Even if you do daily vlogs, that’s a business. The stigma [of hiring an editor] is going away… I think it’s connected to the proliferation of short-form content on all platforms. For example, creators are hiring [freelancers] to reform and edit pre-existing content from YouTube to a 3-minute video for Facebook, or editing down to 59-seconds for Instagram and TikTok.”
An ongoing issue for all freelancers is learning how to charge the right rates. There are challenges in the creator economy as well. “There are a lot of gaming videos that are like, compilations of ‘Best Of’ moments,” Andy says. “Some of those gigs really don’t pay much, like forty bucks a video. Sometimes the creator will post on twitter and hire a fan to do it for free. It might feel worth it [to the fan] because, ‘Oh my god, I get to work with this person…”
Creative industries are ripe for exploitative labor practices, largely because of the per-task nature of employment and lack of industry-wide best practices.
Andy emphasizes the need for people working in creative industries to separate themselves from the idea of fanship. “You know, it took me a long time to get over the celebrity of it… Now I’m able to separate myself. It’s hard to be seen as professional if you’re a fan. Low-paying jobs hurt everyone [in the creator economy].”
ShortCuts Editing was started out of a love for the craft, and the evident demand for services. “I loved Youtube editing, making art, and I wanted to make a company,” Andy says. “We’ve had no advertising, just word of mouth and references. Ex-colleagues at Studio 71 or other networks refer creators to us.” He emphasizes the power of word of mouth marketing within specific industries. “As of last year, we’ve been leaning into growing organically.”
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