How to Get a Low-Budget Startup Video Animation

Animated explainer videos are a hot marketing tool. Many start-ups and also bigger companies use them to explain their concept or their product to their customers or use them as an internal change management tool.

Working on my startup, I was thinking: I could use an animation to explain my concept and showcase my company! However, professional animations don’t come cheap. Professional firms easily charge you thousands of euros for a 1 or 2 minute video. These usually come with script writing services, custom made characters, voice-overs and high quality support, service and communication. But, just like any other early phase startup, I did not have the budget for such a video. The quest for the 100USD animation video started!

A video animation for my startup

Without much preparation, I first posted my call for an animated explainer video on freelance websites. The quotes I received ranged from €500 to over a €1000. While talking to other young entrepreneurs I quickly realized the key to this project:

Some things come cheaper if you have one party do it all, other things come cheaper when you break the work into little pieces.

Here I explain you which pieces I broke the work into, which parts I performed myself and how I got to a $60 animation video with which I’m really satisfied and that represents my company in a great way!

Step 1 – Write your script – YOU – $0

The most important part of your video, and the part you want to start with, is the script. The whole animation will follow the script so think carefully about the storyline. Voice-over and animation designers charge per word or per minute. Make simple, short sentences. A 140 word script will last approx one minute. Also, usually animators won’t start designing the animation until they have the script – make sure you have the script and voice-over ready before hiring a designer.

Step 2 – Get a soundtrack – YOU – $0

Finding a soundtrack for your startup animation video is not easy. It needs to be royalty and licensing free and you should be able to use it for commercial use. The place I found my free soundtrack is Audionautix.

Tip: check other animation videos to see what music would actually fit your animation. It may not necessarily be music you normally like. (I ended up with an Ukulele song  🙂 ).

Step 3 – Get a voice-over – THE PRO – $10 + $5 bonus

This is where the fun part starts! Picking the voice to represent your company. These days it’s quite easy to get a voice recording simply through your Iphone, but I found out that it’s incredibly cheap to get a professional voice-over, recorded in a studio with good equipment by a native speaker and delivered in the right format. I got my voice-over on for only $10! Because my freelancer mixed his voice-over with my soundtrack for free, he received an extra bonus.

Tip: Be very specific to the person doing your voice-over whether you want the voice to be cheerful, relaxed, professional or any other tone that fits your company. Also, make sure there are no difficult words and spelling mistakes in your script. For 10$, people will only read your script and not think about the content. Alterations in the script are not possible afterwards unless you pay again.

Step 4 – Create a storyboard – YOU – $0

If you hire a professional animation company, they will most likely support you with creating the storyline and the storyboard. If you want to have the animation done cheaply, you will have to put in some hours yourself to exactly outline what you expect to happen in each scene. You can just use Powerpoint to make rough sketches of every scene, explain how the animation should align to the voice-over and how you want the transitions to work.

Tip: Deliver a colour scheme/branding guide to the animator. Include RGB colours and a high resolution logo (and other graphics if applicable) such that the designers know exactly what colours and graphics to use.

Step 5 – Design the animation – THE PRO – $35 + $10 bonus

This is the a difficult but exciting part of the process! Finding a freelancer / animation company to create the video animation for your startup for a (super) low budget is not easy. I posted my job to both UpWork and PeoplePerHour and stated quite firmly what my budget was. This resulted only in a couple of reactions, but I gave it a shot!If you are really creative, you can try using GoAnimate and create your own startup animation video.

Depending on how busy your animator is you can expect your animation to be finished between a couple of days and two weeks. When  my video was delivered it was beyond expectations and really fun to watch!

Tip: Make sure it’s clear whether changes and revision are included in the price or not. You will need at least one round of changes after you’ll receive the first version.

Tip: Request a screenshot/1 second animation to check on the characters and style used before your designer starts animating. This will prevent major changes after the first version is delivered.

And then.. *drums* there is the moment you find your video in your email! Exciting :)! Find my video (the result of the above process) below. Curious to know what you think 🙂

Creating a startup video animation yourself is a fun and cost-effective solution but it is a quite a time-consuming process. Writing the script and looking for the voice-over and animation designer can easily take hours, if not days. Professional agencies will not only be able to help you with these things, but also provide guidance on your script, storyboard and content.

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