It's a popular question 'how do you start a small animation studio?'
Most every animator at some point in their career or education will have imagined founding and running a cool and successful animation studio. I certainly pictured hanging out with a bunch of like-minded creatives, producing beautiful animated videos that inspire and having a lot of fun in the process. Whilst of course still earning a good living.
Many imagine producing feature films to rival the likes of Pixar, Disney, Studio Ghibli & Sergio Pablos Animation Studios. However there are of course a raft of smaller independent studios producing astounding work, with much smaller team sizes catering to audiences outside of cinema. These studios are producing exceptional work and earning a considerable income as a result of focusing on a particular niche.
Whether it's creating animation for TV commercials, social media ads, UI animation for sci-fi tv series on Netflix, a studios own Youtube series, childrens TV series, art house stop-motion for TV idents, healthcare explainers and so so many more areas.
It's all of these possibilities and a growing audience in every area that makes starting an animation studio a worth while prospect. It's the reason I founded my own successful animation studio back in 2014 at Stormy Studio. Plus setup startastudio.com to help others plan and launch their own animation startups.
But... How do you start a small animation studio?
The normal concerns around the complexities of setting up any business stand true for an animation studio. i.e. What is the required investment to start, what are the day to day studio running costs, how are you going to find enough clients with reasonable budgets, where can you find talented (yet affordable) team members, what marketing approaches are worth while and how can you manage cashflow.
Whilst we answer lots of this in our advanced start a studio course, and some in our free mini video course. I've also shared some quick highlights below to help get you started, plus you can grab our own Ultimate Checklist PDF at the end for free to start planning and ticking off key steps to start your own viable animation company.
6 Key steps: How do you start an animation studio?
1. Is your studio plan viable?
Work out the costs of setup and running your studio. Check out the article here for some ideas on this. Conduct some industry and competitor analysis. Then decide on your studio pricing (with a view to competing on quality and expertise not price). Then check your plan is viable.
2. Name, domain, webhost and all that web stuff.
Think of the perfect studio name that you love and hints that your a creative animation studio. Then grab a great url (.com is still the best extension if available). Select a reliable webhost and choose a CMS (Content Management System) that is future proof.
3. Logo, tagline, ethos
Design a great studio logo that is instantly recognisable and you'll be happy to see for years to come. Include a tagline that instantly says what you do. Develop a company ethos that can help drive your website copy, marketing ideas and overall approach to customer service and animation production management.
4. Legally setup your animation studio
Register your business where ever you are in the world. Organise business insurance so you, future staff, clients and your company are covered if anything unexpected was to happen i.e. legal disagreement. Get an accountant and setup a business bank account. Prepare contracts for clients and talent (i.e. voiceover artists).
5. Marketing your animation studio
Your main priority should be your studio website. Create a great looking and responsive website, include stunning work in your portfolio, with great call to actions to engage visitors and drive enquiries. Be active on your goto social media platforms and consider paid-advertising. We could write for ever about marketing techniques for a small animation studio. It's an area we're constantly adding more to in our online courses.
6. Produce excellent animation
The best way to ensure a successful animation business is to constantly produce the best work you can without going over budget. Go out of your way to deliver on the project expectations and repeat business and recommendations will follow. Which in time, means you can add testimonials to your website to further increase enquiries and your overall studios success.