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How to Keep Your Freelance Animation Business Growing!

Posted by rubberonion - March 5th, 2016

Use these links to check out the other parts: Pledge anytime on Patreon

... there's also a "Too Long Didn't Read" section at the bottom if you just want the gist! Listen to this blog post as an iTunes podcast!

Listen to this episode in full right here on Newgrounds!

Or via SoundCloud if you prefer...


  • ... you have more work opportunities coming in than you can actually do
  • ... the time spent working on the projects you do have is crippling your ability to pursue other work and raise your profile.
  • ... your real talent (say, character design) is being held back by the need to divide your attention into other areas where you are less proficient
don't grow too fast.two types of people
  • People who compliment your skills (i.e. they do what you can't or don't want to do)
  • "Mimics" (i.e. someone who can act as your exact clone)
optionsthree levels of tasksbusiness
  • an entertainment lawyer (on a case-by-case basis) to look over contracts
  • a CPA (certified public accountant) to do your taxes and help with things like becoming/maintaining an LLC
  • virtual assistent to do basically everything you can think of: travel research for a film fest (flights, accommodation, etc), inputting business cards you get into a contact sheet, schedule organization, and even google image search for design work
  • designing a color palette
  • making character packs off your designs
  • minor client revisions (changing colors, shifting some timing around after an audio change, etc)
  • cleanup (line/color)
  • background/character design
  • compositor (AE lighting/multi-plane effect)
  • completing a full animation project off of your storyboards
  • What part of your day do you like the most?
  • What part of your day do you hate?
  • What part of the animation process do you like the most?
  • What part of the animation process do you hate?
  • When in the animation process do you tend to slow down?
find out where your speedbumps are in your career as a Freelancer.HATE LIKE HATE LIKE SLOW minehire a virtual assistantanimator who can ink and paintanimator to do lipsyncartist to design backgroundsYou smooth out the speedbumps by hiring specialists to take on small and mid-level tasks which would normally slow you downhire

"You do animation? That's fantastic, can you build my website?"

You and I both know that these are not equatable. I mean, sure, I probably could... but that's not my job.

In this case you can form one type of relationship with a freelance web designer and/or developer that I call the "That's Not My Job" Relationship. Simply put, you strike up a deal with this other Freelancer that when these types of jobs come in that you will pass them directly on to him/her, and when they get a job prospect in animation they pass it onto you.

This is very similar to the previous one in that you're passing work on but it could be anything. However, in this case, the deal is that the Freelancer passing the work onto the other takes a kind of "finders fee" cut of whatever the total budget for the job ends up being.

Many Freelancers like this and will agree to this because it assures a proper weighted balance. If they bring you more work than you bring them, they're getting proportionately more money for the arrangement.

Effectively, it's like a monetary acknowledgement to the Freelancer passing on the work that the reason that job opportunity came to them in the first place was due to all the effort they have put into getting their name and brand out there and seen.

In this case, you're teaming up with another Freelancer who gets work at times you don't. For instance, if you tend to get more work opportunities in the winter than you can actually take but your summers are slow and you meet someone who's experience is the opposite, then you give each other the work you can't do in your respective heavy load times.

It's a mutually beneficial arrangement that appeals to the Freelancer's desire (and need, let's face it) for some financial consistency.

your programmer friend does what you can't do and you do what they can't.loose combination of efforts to break into a market that both of you would otherwise be excluded from.
This 4-part Freelancing School series is part of an ebook I'm releasing this month which will have more detailed information on exactly how to build your freelancing business. The ebook will go into areas that I didn't explore in these blog posts like (in this week's case of expanding your business) passive income and other revenue streams. By becoming a Patron at any level on my Patreon page you'll get the ebook as a perk or you can buy it as a single download on this blog (coming soon). Thanks for supporting!
  • Fixed-cost (aka overhead) - "Business expenses that are not dependent on the level of goods or services produced by the business. They tend to be time-related, such as salaries or rents being paid per month." In our case, this also refers to subscriptions to Adobe Creative Cloud, dropbox, hosting services, url registration fees, business phone lines, etc.
  • Variable-cost - "Costs that change in proportion to the good or service that a business produces." This can be things like sound effects, music or images purchased for use in a project which won't be reimbursed. For the purposes of this blog entry, this will refer to the cost of hiring other people like those referred to above.
The basic strategy is this:(stay with me, here, because it could get a little hard to follow... here we go!)
  • Your fixed monthly cost = $3000 (technically this would be a goal, because maybe you need $1500 in expenses and want another $1500 to "earn a living"... but a goal is a goal so you should treat it as a need)
  • You tend to produce 3 minutes of animation per month, on average.
  • That means you can/should aim to charge $1000 per minute of animation completed.
  • It takes you 3 days to complete one-minute of cleanup animation, you may decide to hire a Freelancer to do that.
  • Your variable cost of hiring the Freelancer is $250 per minute of cleanup animation completed.
  • It's a bit simplistic, but basically your per minute rate is now $1250.
  • You've now saved yourself 3 days of work per minute of animation would would normally complete in a month.
  • Therefor, you've effectively given yourself 9 extra days per month to find work or even animate an EXTRA full minute of animation!
  • 4 minutes of animation produced in that month
  • Earned $4000
  • Paid Freelancer $750
  • Total profit = $3250
you've deepened your client networkincreases your profile as an established brand in the industry.

I hope this 4-part series helped you to either start your own freelance animation business or refine the direction of the one you already have. If you're in one of those two categories, please send me a message and let me know your story because that always brightens my day! THE EBOOK will be on sale this month or you can become a Patron at any level on my Patreon page and get it as a perk! If you signed up for the Newsletter in the month of January and before, you're getting a copy for free... thanks so much for following! As for becoming a Freelance Animator, the bottom line is that nobody is going to invite you into it. If you want to get into the game, you'll have to jump right in. While I do advise you to make a plan to follow through on, you should absolutely revisit that plan as you progress and adapt to the new opportunities and personal experiences that are presented to you. If you want more help than is in these four blog posts (1 2 3 4) and podcast episodes (1 2 3 4), I am available for consultation at $100/hr Skype chat or an hour chat every month for $50 via Patreon.


I have an animation tutorial book coming out in March through the respected art book publisher Focal Press, it's available for pre-order now and is fully updated for the new Adobe Animate CC release! Click the image to check out the Amazon page if you like this and other blog posts and the way I explain things           TL;DR Hire people to take on tasks that you can't or don't want to do (i.e. taxes, scheduling, background design, cleanup animation), form a cooperative relationship with another Freelancer to trade work, and use these options to open up your day and provide more time to search for new job opportunities and complete bigger projects. This is part 4 of 4 in a "Freelancing School" series. Check out the other parts using these links:


Hope this post/podcast gets linked and shared a lot, information is power! I would like to add, "Expect the unexpected" because the gear you rely on, may suddenly take a shit, right when you need it most (like in my case lol). Always keep a weather eye out for replacement gear.. I know lately, there always seems to be someone raiding electronic recycling bins, to recondition and sell what others simply throw away.

Thanks, I appreciate that! And I completely agree about being able to shift gears, I actually put that in the previous post in the series and I talked about Lateral Moves

>> http://www.rubberonion.com/making-more-money-getting-through-your-freelance-plateau/#lateral <<

Thanks for the comment!