Working with video seems like an expensive hobby. You need a fancy camera to film with, a fancy microphone to record with, professional editing software to edit with, and of course all of the best premium templates and presets!

But these things aren’t actually necessary, and you can accomplish a lot with free or budget-oriented tools, without making any sacrifices on the quality of your content.

Here are the 5 best ways to edit videos on a budget and save some money on your productions. Cover photo by Jakob Owens. View Jakob’s FilterGrade profile →

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Spend your money where it counts

With a limited budget, you’ll want to invest in gear that gets the job done and has a big impact on your productivity.

As big of an expense as it can be, buying a computer with a good CPU, decent GPU for rendering effects, and a lot of RAM will save you hours of time in the long run. The difference between editing on a good computer versus an old laptop could be measured in hours. Scrubbing through footage should be snappy and instant, effects shouldn’t cause your timeline to lag out, and rendering should take minutes or hours, not days.

Other gear may be useful as well, like a keyboard and mouse with lots of programmable keys for editing shortcuts, or a nice microphone to record voice-overs.

Use free video editing tools

When you think of video editing, expensive software like Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro may come to mind. However, there are excellent free editing software options that provide a wide range of features. DaVinci Resolve is one such tool that offers professional-grade editing capabilities. It includes advanced color correction, audio editing, and even visual effects.

TikTok also has the free Capcut editor for desktop that is very powerful and has a ton of features optimized for social media content. There are plenty of other free editing tools out there, but these are two of the best for either professional movie editing or social media content.

Use royalty-free stock media

Adding visual elements like b-roll video, images, and music can enhance the quality of your videos. While purchasing or licensing that media can be expensive, there are several websites that offer royalty-free resources for no cost. Platforms like Pixabay, Pexels, and Unsplash provide a vast library of high-quality images and videos that you can use in your projects.

Websites like Bensound and YouTube Audio Library offer free music and sound effects. Utilizing these resources can make your videos more engaging and professional, all without spending any money. And if you want to level up your music game, services like Epidemic Sound offer more professional music libraries for a reasonable monthly cost.

Make great edits without fancy effects

Sometimes you can’t afford a computer that can render out fancy effects, or you can’t afford the templates and effects that make videos look cool and trendy. But you don’t need any of that! Those are just icing on the cake, but they’re useless if the cake itself is bad. Above all, get good at being an editor – this means knowing when to cut, knowing what to cut out and what to keep, and overall how to create good flow and viewer engagement. These aspects of an edit are more important, and good clients will recognize this if you have the right skills.

Speed up your editing

Time is money, they say. If you’re editing on a budget and getting paid per project by your clients, or if you’re producing your own content, you’ll want to reduce the time it takes to edit as much as possible. Here are a few quick tips for editing faster.

  • Create an organization system of folders and assets for each project and stick to it. You’ll always know where to put new assets, and where to find old ones.
  • Use keyboard shortcuts for common clicks, like the razor tool. Think of all the times you might move your mouse and click on a button, and how many hours a keyboard shortcut will save you over several months.
  • Save presets and common effects so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you work on a project. Each editing program is different, but you should be able to save animations or text effects that you can apply to a new project with just a click.
  • Know what you’re working with. When a client sends you their footage, watch all of it through, maybe at double-speed. Make notes of good takes or bad takes as you do so, but most importantly you should get a sense of what content you do and don’t have. This might give you ideas of what direction to take the edit in.

Overall, it’s not impossible to edit videos on a tight budget. There are so many tools available to editors now, and for little to no money they can accomplish things that editors even 10 years ago couldn’t have dreamed of. That also means you have no excuses! If you have the drive and are willing to put in the work, you can be an amazing editor. Good luck on your journey, and don’t let your budget hold you back.

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View next: How to Identify High-Paying Video Editing Niches

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