How to Sell Animation for $50, $500 and $5000

topics May 01, 2021
 


In this post, I’m going to share my experiences on what it takes to be able to charge more for your animation videos.


As an agency owner, I made the mistake of charging too little for too long - until I learned how we could sell an animated 2D explainer video for $5000 or more.


This might sound like a lot, and maybe even as impossible if you’re selling on Fiverr or Upwork today. But it is possible to move up the price ladder if you know what you’re doing.


At the end of this video, you’ll have a list of concrete things you can do to be able to charge more as an animation freelancer or agency - no matter where you are today.

Fired up? Ready to go!


My Story

You might not know this, but my animation career started out as a student marketing assistant who got the task of finishing up a half-baked Vyond video.


I knew nothing about animation, and still, I ended up becoming the video guy.
After a year, I thought I’d try to offer my animation skills to the world.


I first thought about platforms like Fiverr and Upwork, where a lot of people were already selling animation videos for around $50.


After a bit of research, I decided NOT to enter that “race to the bottom” (I’ll come back to why later), and I, therefore, started selling videos through a friend's website agency instead.


When he sold a website, he offered a video for the front page as well, and if the client accepted the offer, I made the video.


Later I “broke out”, and started to get my own customers and I also hired my first helping hand on a “per project” basis.


One year into that setup, we charged around $500 for a project; meaning scriptwriting, voice-over, and animation.


During the next couple of years, we built up a strong portfolio of explainer videos, a base of satisfied customers, and a skill level that gave us the confidence to approach larger corporations.


At the time before I chose to close down the agency, our prices were in the range of $5000 and upwards for a complete enterprise project.


Looking back, I see a couple of factors that made it possible for us to move up through the price ranges. My recommendations for you as an animation freelancer or agency fall into 3 categories, based on what “game” you want to play.

 

The $50 Game

If you want to sell a lot of low-priced videos on freelance platforms, you need to keep your cost down, which means; choose a cheap tool.


Although Vyond is the best animation maker out there, you probably can’t afford it, charging only $50 per video.


Powtoon, Animaker, and Toonly are cheaper alternatives that still get the job done - with Toonly being the cheapest.


When you animate, you want to utilize scene templates as much as possible, and not make too many custom changes to them - to save time.


Although, a quick and easy value-add is to change the colors of backgrounds and objects to fit the client’s website.


If you resell your videos on platforms like Fiverr and Upwork, you run the risk of getting your account closed, if you don’t have your reseller rights figured out.


For example, Vyond charges a per-video rights transfer fee of $99, so that’s out of the question if you only charge $50.


Other tools ask you to upgrade to a higher plan if you want to resell and to not risk having your seller account closed, you probably want to do that.


It’s hard to build a business around a $50-per-video model. It’s a race to the bottom, where clients choose the cheapest option with the best rating.
That’s why I recommend that you work towards entering the next price range.

 

The $500 Game

To play this game, you have to realize that simply offering animations has become a commodity. Opportunity lies in helping with the complete video process.
This means that you now help your client with scriptwriting, voice-over recordings, AND animations.


I teach all three disciplines right here, but I’ll happily give you the quick run-down now.

Script-writing is all about converting what the client wants to say into something much more concrete and information-dense.
Choose only a couple of core points to get across in your video - and structure the script with a strong intro, an entertaining story, and a specific call-to-action at the end.


Voice-overs are sticky business, but the way I did it first was to find a handful of talented voice-over freelancers on Fiverr, favorite the best, and work with them again and again.
They deliver a recording, and you have to learn to master and edit that audio to make it sound good and have the right pace for an explainer video.

If I am to sum up my voice-over course in 1 or 2 sentences, I’ll say that voice-overs generally need a tighter cut with only ⅔ of a second between sentences and a bit of equalization; add a bit of bass and treble, and lower the mid-levels.


Finally, you get ready to animate the whole thing - you know how to do that already if you’ve played the $50 game earlier.


Although to step up your animation game, you need to customize the animation tool’s templates much more.


You also go straight for the best tools out there - I believe it’s Vyond - or at least you choose a tool and STICK with it, so you become amazing at it.
This also creates consistency in your portfolio.


Your clients will love you for taking care of the complete process around their animation video, and they’ll happily pay you $500 for it.

Still, after a couple of years of playing this game, we got tired of competing against other animation agencies who did more or less the same as us.
I was ready to level-up once more by OFFERING something more, and here’s how we did it.

 

The $5000 Game

To charge $5000 for an animation video, you have to do everything you’ve learned by playing the $500 game extremely well.


You write super-sharp scripts, you use amazing voice-over talent, you master the craft of sound-editing and your animations are engaging, fun and support the voice-over elegantly.

On top of all that, the $5000 game requires you to focus on a few key assets:

  • Over time, you build up a professional portfolio of your very best work, and you showcase that portfolio upfront on your website, your YouTube channel, and on LinkedIn.
    This is your #1 asset.
  • In addition to your portfolio, you create a “logo-wall” that showcases all the awesome companies, you’ve created videos for. 
  • You’ve got loads of good reviews on Google, Facebook, and Trustpilot over the years, and now people start recommending your services through word-of-mouth.

This is key to exit the competition on price only. When direct, word-of-mouth recommendations happen between people who trust each other, price doesn't matter that much anymore.

Now, when you get that contact and you finally sit down with the client — because that’s often demanded, when you charge $5000 for a project — you need to demonstrate strategic understanding.


It’s a challenging exercise to try to boil all this down in this post, because it becomes so overly simplified, for better or worse. Anyways.


To ensure the client that you are the one to invest $5000 in, you have to show that you understand their business, where they’re at now, and what they want the video to do for them.


Ask questions like;

“What makes you different from your competitors?"

“What’s the ultimate goal with this video?”

“What do you want viewers to know and do after watching the video?”


They talk, you take notes for your scriptwriting later.
And when you get to discuss price, you don’t just shout “$5000”, you present your pricing model. Always have a model.


Our model was a base fee of $2000 for 60 seconds of animation + $15 per extra second beyond that length.


On top of that, we offered to make the video in multiple languages, charging about $500 per extra language.


This requires an extra voice-over and a little bit of timing correction of the original video, but it’s a good value-add for the client and for you.


These moving parts of a pricing model make it easier to get a higher price because it makes sense to the client that it all requires extra work.


It’s like a menu card, and they order what they want. When the bill comes, there are no surprises, cause they chose what they wanted themselves.


Congratulations! You got the sale; now you do all the scriptwriting and voice-over work.
When it comes to the animations part, there’s a final discipline you have to master:
In the $5000 league, you have to have serious “brand guide proficiency.”


It’s a term I just made up, but what I mean is that you have to know how to align the animation video to the client's brand.
This includes uploading custom fonts, applying exact HEX codes to all colors, recreate shapes and objects from their design materials and stuff like that.


At this point, I hired a very talented animator, full-time, who was a much better animator than I was.
He enabled me to spend more time with clients, while he was doing all the animation work.
This ultimately enabled the two of us to break the 6-figure revenue mark — before I decided to take my career in a different direction.

 

A Checklist Summary

To sum things up, the $50 game is won by lowering your costs, using cheap tools and voice-overs, only offering animation, which is heavily based on templates - and possibly run the risk of getting your accounts closed due to rights issues with the tool you use.

 

The $500 game is won by offering COMPLETE animation videos, including all 3 phases. Invest in the best animation tools, great voice-over talent, and time in offering much more customization in your videos, to build up a beautiful portfolio.

 

Finally, you break the $5000 mark by being able to challenge your clients on a strategic level. Your videos look super professional (maybe because you hired someone to help you) and they align with the client’s brand. You have an amazing portfolio and beautiful logo-wall of client companies - that you don’t charge an “all-inclusive” price; you use a pricing model that allows for upwards escalation.

I hope my experiences help you move in the right direction and enter the game YOU want to play.
If you got value out of this post, leave a comment below and let me know how you are in the game of selling animation videos.


Thanks for reading - remember to take care of yourself and those around you.

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