10 Mistakes NEW Video Editors Make (Video Editing Tips for Beginners!)

 If you’re new to video editing, you’ll know it can be a difficult and overwhelming skill to learn! As a beginner video editor, it’s easy to fall into mistakes and bad habits…

Believe us when we say, WE’VE ALL BEEN THERE! But unfortunately, some of those little bad habits can cost you a TON of time, and kill the quality of your videos!

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Video editing can be one of the most daunting aspects of the video creation process. But the good news is that with some simple video editing tips, tricks, and an understanding of the key fundamentals of editing a video, it can become one of the MOST rewarding parts of your creative process.

Whether you’re editing YouTube videos or other video editor projects, stopping these mistakes and following these video editing tips will help you hugely on your video editing journey!

Plus they’re applicable no matter which video editing software you’re using.

In this guide, we’ll share the top 10 mistakes all beginner video editors make, and how you can avoid them!

Let’s dive in.

#1 Not Thinking Of The Edit When Filming

The first mistake you can make when it comes to video editing is to not consider your edit at the time of filming.

When you’re filming your content, you should be asking yourself these questions:

  • Am I definitely going to be using this footage?
  • Is the length of this shot going to be enough for what I need?
  • Do I need to capture more footage for this shot?
One of the best video editing tips is to think about your edit WHILE filming
The first mistake you can make is not thinking about the edit while filming

You definitely don’t want to have more footage just for the sake of it. More footage means more work editing. So you want to make sure you’re getting enough footage for your project but not too much that it will slow down your editing process.

Be mindful of the footage you’re capturing and whether you’re actually going to use it in your final project.

This can save you a ton of time, not just in your editing but also your filming and it will have a flow on effect into other areas as well.

A top down shot of a man sitting at a desk with his computer, tablet and smartphone
Taking this into account will save you a ton of time

#2 No Plan Before Editing

Mistake number two is jumping straight into your edit without having a plan in place for the type of video you want to create.

For each video you create, consider these questions:

  • What are the goals of this video?
  • Why are you making it?
  • What do you want it to achieve?
  • What do you want people to think, feel, know or do after watching your video?
A woman sitting on a bench writing in a notepad
Take note of what you want people to think, feel, know or do after watching your video

Having a plan and some goals laid out before diving in head first will make your editing process so much more targeted, streamlined and efficient.

You’ll have clarity on what you’re creating and why.

#3 Not Having A Video Editing Process

The third most common mistake for new video editors to not have a video editing process that they follow to edit their videos.

We see so many people who jump into their video editing software, dump all the footage in, then start doing some color grading the video clips or audio editing.

Video footage of Justin Brown inside video editing software
You need to have a process that you follow when it comes to video editing

But you really need to focus on the content first – this is something all advanced users do! You want to make sure you’ve got the right footage to tell the story and that there’s nothing wrong with the footage you captured.

Jumping into the color grading, tweaking the audio and making your video look pretty – these are all things you need to do later on in the process. Doing them upfront is going to slow down your editing software and your computer because it has to process all the things you’re doing.

Plus it can slow down your own process in case there’s extra footage or audio you need to source.

Color grading tools inside video editing software
Focus on the content first, add effects later

So your video editing process should look something like this:

  • Step 1: Import footage
  • Step 2: Drag your primary footage into the timeline
  • Step 3: Remove all the bad takes from your footage
  • Etc.

Interested in our video editing process here at Primal Video? Check out the step-by-step Primal Video Method.

#4 No File Management

Number four is not having a file management or file organization system for your video files in place.

You want to make sure everything you need for your video editing project is organized in and located in a logical place.

A folder called 'Footage' inside Finder on Mac
File management is something most new videos overlook!

Ideally, all of your assets and footage should be in one folder. In this folder you can have:

  • Footage
  • B-roll
  • Music
  • Sound effects
  • Anything else you’re using in the project!

Spending a little bit of time upfront to make sure everything is organized will make things so much easier for you when you’re in the thick of editing.

If you need to quickly find a video file, you know it’ll be in a logical place.

Folders for YouTube videos inside Mac's Finder window
Having a filing system in place will make your life so much easier

Plus if you need to come back to the project at a later date, you don’t need to remember where everything is located. If you’re working with another editor at some point, there’s a process in place for where things will be. There really are so many benefits to this!  

#5 Not Learning Keyboard Shortcuts

 Mistake number five is not taking the time to learn and understand simple keyboard shortcuts.

A man's hands on a keyboard
Not taking the time to learn keyboard shortcuts will cost you lots of time

There are awesome shortcuts like:

  • Play forward
  • Play backwards
  • Stop
  • Trim the top off your clip
  • Trim the tail off your clip
  • Ripple edit left
  • Ripple edit right

If you’re not already using them, these shortcuts will change the game for you! It makes your editing so much more efficient and saves a ton of time. What would take multiple mouse clicks you can do with just a single key press on the keyboard.

A keyboard command editor inside a video editing application
You can check the keyboard shortcuts inside your video editing software

To find out the keyboard shortcuts in your specific video editing software, go to Help inside the application and look for Keyboard Shortcuts. Or you can do a quick Google search.

PRO TIP: The top shortcuts we recommend checking out are J / K / L which are reverse/pause/play.

#6 Using The Wrong Music

The sixth mistake on our list is using the WRONG background music in your videos.

Using music is the easiest way to make your viewers feel something while they’re watching your content.

So if you have music that is mismatched for your content, is too loud or too distracting – it will make it hard for your viewers to consume your content.

Two people riding horses on the beach
You don’t want to use music that’s completely unrelated to your video content

In terms of setting the right volume for your background music, this does come down to personal preference and the type of video you’re creating.

Come back to the goal of your video: What do you want your viewers to think, feel and do after watching the video? How can music help or add to that?

If you want some help on finding the best background music for your video projects, check out our guide on the Best Royalty Free Music Sites.

#7 Over Editing

Mistake number seven is over editing videos! This includes making way too many cuts, removing every single pause and basically just adding cuts for the sake of adding cuts.

Or you might go the over way and add in way too many transitions and effects. All this does is annoy the viewers, distract them and make it hard for them to continue watching your content.

A blurry video effect on Justin Brown
Don’t go overboard with your effects – this will distract your viewers!

Stick to simple cuts when you edit video and just tighten things up when needed. Don’t go overboard. The more you simplify your edits, the easier they’ll be for your viewers to watch. You don’t want to overwhelm them by adding unnecessary noise to your videos.

#8 Not Saving Backup Versions  

Number eight on our list is not saving backup versions of your timeline as you progress your edit.

Most people (especially beginners!) will work on the one timeline from start to finish. But this gives you nowhere to go if you need something from a previous version. You’d have to go back to the original raw video footage.

A man at a computer with a video editing software open
Don’t forget to regularly back up your video editing timeline

We recommend saving out a version every time you move onto the next step in your editing process. Then if something bad happens like the project gets corrupted or you need to view a previous version, you can quickly go back and access everything.

#9 Using The ‘Wrong’ Video Editing Software

Mistake number nine is a real procrastination point for a lot of people!

It’s thinking that you’re using the wrong video editing software. Or that the software you’re currently using, isn’t the one you should be using. Basically that there’s a better video editor out there.

A man using a video editing software with headphones on
Find the video editing software that works best for you

This slows down and stops a lot of people. People think that some other video editing application will let them edit faster or have more effects or something like that.

But the grass is always greener!

Video editing software is just a tool to help you edit videos. Whichever one lets you quickly and efficiently do everything you need to do, is the best one for you.

Some have advanced video editing tools, some may render faster than others, some may have extra effects or better video stabilization – so it’s just about finding the one that best suits your needs and workflows.

Footage of Justin Brown inside a video editing application
Video editing software is just a tool to help you edit videos

You don’t necessarily need the video editing software with the most advanced features – sometimes basic editing tools is all you need. Maybe a free video editing app is all you need at the moment.

If and when you’re hitting the limits in that video editor, then you can start considering other options out there like paid video editing software or other more advanced tools.

First of all, focus on learning editing as an art form and as a process. That way you can apply those fundamentals to any video editing application.

If you’re at the point where you ARE looking for a new video editing software for beginners, check out our roundups on the Best Video Editing Software For Mac or Best Video Editing Software For PC. We’ve included free video editing software options and paid, so there’s something for everyone!

PRO TIP: You’ll find that there are some video editor applications with a free version that is better than some paid video editing software!

#10 Pro Tip: Techniques To Edit Faster

A lot of people go through their edit from start to finish, based on how they recorded their content. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s a really slow way to edit.

There are some things you can do while you’re FILMING to help speed up your editing process.

The first thing is to leave yourself markers. While filming you could put your hand in front of the lens or clap loudly to set visual or audio markers to grab your attention while you’re editing – then say a short note e.g. use the first take not the second take here.

Two audio markers in video editing footage caused by claps
Clapping twice is a great way to set yourself audio markers in your video footage

This might sound silly but a simple reminder like that can really speed things up and saves you from trying to remember everything

We take this a step further. Justin will only ever move on to the next point, paragraph or section of the video once he’s happy with the last take.

Make the last take your best one. Then when you jump on to do your editing, you know that the last take is always the one you want to use.

So then, instead of editing from start to finish, you can edit your video clips BACKWARDS. Sounds crazy, we know but it really is a game changer.

Video clips on the video editing timeline
This way you can edit backwards and know you’re always hitting the best take first!

Go to the very end of your timeline and start editing from there. That way you’re hitting all the best takes first. It’s a much, much faster way for you to edit down your footage.  

So there you have it, those are the top 10 mistakes that new video editors make.

If you take on this advice you’ll be up there amongst professional video editors in no time!

Don’t forget to download your own copy of the Primal Video Method, so you can learn the exact video editing process we use here at Primal Video to edit videos quickly and efficiently.


Recommended Gear & Resources

Check out an up-to-date list of all the gear, software & tools we use and recommend right now at Primal Video on our resources page here!

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