|Flickr photo by tj.blackwell|
The rate you charge should fall within a range. That range depends on a number of factors including experience, skill-level, speed and familiarity with the tools. For those of you just entering the job market, obviously you'll have a rate at the low end of that range.
Keep in mind that it's important both to you and the existing market, not to price yourself too far below the market range. Doing so sets an expectation that lowers the value of the editing craft. I think a good rule of thumb in determining the low end of freelance rate is to consider the cost of renting the tool. In the Boston market, the rental of an Avid® Media Composer® nonlinear editing system will run you about $450 for the day - that's $45 per hour for a 10 hour day.
It may not seem like a big deal now, but fresh and hungry new editors may consider undercutting the going rates just to get a foot in the door. A lot of times it's on the promise of abundant paying work to follow. A good article about the kind of clients that promise future work instead of appropriate pay can be found on Creative Cow (http://magazine.creativecow.net), it's called "Clients or Grinders: The Choice Is Yours - Understanding the Three Market Types". Although the article was written 6 years ago, it still holds true.
It's true that it's important to build a reel and doing so requires that you work on real projects. Rather than working for nothing on a video that is making money for a production house, consider building your chops on personal or independent projects that are being produced on no budgets. Check out New England Film (http://newenglandfilm.com) - there are always productions in need of help there. You'll be lending your talents to someone who needs it without undercutting the established rates.
The music video below was produced without any budget for a friend.