Video editing has been a skill I’ve been interested in developing for years, but I didn’t take steps because I always thought it was very expensive and you needed a degree to do it!

Happily in recent years the software options have become much more user friendly and simplified, as well as the prices much more cost effective and skill requirements more basic. With the popularity of YouTube videos being much more mainstream for the amateur video editor, as well as phones allowing users to make and publish amateur videos simply and easily.

Even though you have a phone with some sort of video, you still need some editing skills to produce a more professional video. Below are 7 tips from an amateur video editor to help guide you on your video production journey.

1. Choose software that does what you need, not just what you want

Video editing software has many features that sound glamorous, but with great options comes great responsibility. I waited for 6 months to find software that I thought would work for me. I researched phone software, professional software, free software and realised that whilst the video’s they show look great, delivering something like what they show is hard to do, or is priced as ‘optional extras’.

Many phones now have editing software built into the video feature. They follow a simple structure of upload components such as videos and photos, arrange in an order, select some music, save as a video file and you’re done.

I use Wondershare Filmora. It has the balance that I need of an amateur’s skills, but with some detail that gives a professional look and feel. It didn’t take me long to follow some tutorials and learn how to produce a basic video. I then worked out what I like from the software and took steps to add more detail as I understood what it does.

2. Take your time

A quality video is not a 10-minute job. Yes, you can produce and upload a video very quickly, but if you want to give it some attention you’re going to need a little time to get a sense of what the end product will be.

Find tutorials that you enjoy watching that help you to understand what you’re doing.

3. Don’t go overboard with technique

Less is more – for video editing this is very true. Can you imagine a video that has bangs, flashes, crazy transitions and so many bells and whistles that you can’t follow it? Think of those videos you’ve watched that are simple, interesting and engaging? What made you want to keep watching them? The content has much to do with it, but I’m sure it was that you didn’t get distracted by the complexity of it.

That doesn’t mean the video isn’t complex – something simple can take some time to make it so.

4. Use the features well

Media will need to be in a landscape format to correctly display on a 16:9 video. Your media need to be clear and in focus. It doesn’t matter if you have parts of a video that aren’t great, those can be cut as you edit your media into a full video. Think about what you want your video to say. Many people now watch videos with the sound off – that means subtitles are important to viewers to understand what your video is about. Do you have branding? Are there particular colours you want to use? What is your call to action from the video? Make sure you think about the elements. Watch a range of videos to see what you like and don’t like.

Transitions are the movement between each part of your video. You could keep it simple and have the transitions fade or move easily from one part to another, or you can use more advanced transitions that flip, bounce, sweep, and zoom. Remember who your audience is and what they will enjoy seeing.

Filters and overlays add elements to make the video more creative, but they can be a distraction. They can work for you though and you should look at what your software offers, and try them to see what works for you.

Green screen and split screens are also part of video editing software and when used well can be very effective.

5. You’re not a magician

Remember that you’re an amateur. If you’re doing a project for someone, make sure it’s clear you are not a professional and will not be delivering a Hollywood blockbuster. You’re experiences reflect your abilities, but don’t oversell them. Also, make sure the person you’re developing the video for is aware that you are guided by the materials you have.

I’m not discussing the development aspects of the footage for editing in this article – that’s a whole other area! I will say that by investing in some good quality (not necessarily expensive) hardware it will make your final product so much more amazing. But, you can still produce nice videos with a phone recorded video so test with different hardware to see what works for you.

6. Take a step back

Once you’ve edited your video and you’re happy, stop and leave it for some time. It’s amazing how you can look at something for hours, then come back and see something else you hadn’t noticed.

If you have added sub-titles, headers, credits look at those line by line for typos and speed. Think about what a viewer will be thinking about as they view the video – can they read the text in a reasonable time? Is the text big enough to read? Does start and end of the video say what you need it to?

Next, look at the transitions – is everything flowing smoothly? Are the transitions consistent? How long is the video and will it engage your viewers for the entire time? If not, cut it down!

View the video once more after you have looked at the different elements. Don’t rush to the end as once you’re done, you’re done. It’s not easy to go back and edit once a video is in the public domain so be pedantic about what you are producing.

7. Have fun with it

Video editing is fun. You’re using your creativity to produce something that others will watch. Think about how long you think your video should be. If it’s a podcast or educational video they will be longer than a promo or ad, but however long a video is, make it consistent and interesting.

Video editing is an investment in your skills, creativity and patience but you’ve got to start somewhere.

Louisa Stewart

Louisa Stewart

CEO and Founder


About the Author

Louisa Stewart is CEO and Founder of Blue Ninja Business Support.

Louisa has more than 14 years’ experience in professional administration and loves all things admin!

Louisa has been training and learning about video editing and now provides video editing as part of Blue Ninja’s services.