How Much Do Freelance Animators Make? A Complete Guide




How Much Do Freelance Animators Make

Becoming a freelance animator could be your ideal career if you have a knack for bringing characters and stories to life. But how much do these creative professionals earn? In this resourceful article, we will break down the typical earnings of freelance animators, factoring in experience levels and types of work. Dive in to explore the potential profitability of this vibrant craft!

Key Takeaways

  • Freelance animators make money per hour, day, or project. They can earn between $39,000 and $260,000 a year.
  • The earnings depend on the animator’s skills and what projects they do. Junior-level animators might earn $20-$35 per hour. Expert-level ones can ask for up to $150 an hour.
  • Stop-motion animation needs a lot of work but makes good money, too. An animator may charge $50-$100 an hour or about $400-$800 each full day.
  • Earnings also change by how much you need to live well, your client’s project scope, and avoiding common pricing mistakes.
  • Your brand as a freelance animator matters a lot. It helps clients see why they should hire you over others. A strong portfolio with high-quality works is key for good branding.

How Much Do Freelance Animators Make Per Year, Month, and Hour

The average annual salary of a freelance animator in the USA is $60,000. 

Freelance animators can make money in different ways. They get paid per hour, day, or project. Their yearly income is between $39,000 and $260,000. Each month, they earn from this sum, too.

Let’s talk about the hourly rate first. New animators start with a wage of $20-$35 hourly, while those with more experience get between $35-$70 per hour. The most trained workers can even ask for up to $150 an hour! Daily income also varies by how good you are at your job.

For example, junior animators make around $150-250 daily, but expert ones can make up to $1,000 daily! Weekly earnings follow the same rule – beginning staff gets between $750-1,250, and top-level staff goes home with a cool sum of up to 5,000 dollars every week! So, working as a freelance animator can mean good money if you put enough time and effort into it.

Understanding Freelance Animation

Freelance animation is a job you do on your own. You work when, where, and how much you want to. You can take jobs from anywhere worldwide if they pay well enough for your time and efforts.

In this job, people make cartoons or moving pictures on a computer. They use these skills in ads, TV shows, video games, and movies. The animated videos made by freelance animators are also used on websites online.

Many tools help freelancers do their work easier and faster. Some popular ones include Adobe Animate CC and Toon Boom Harmony for 2D animations, Autodesk Maya for 3D animations, and Dragonframe for stop-motion animations.

The money freelance animators make depends on how good they are at their work and what kind of projects they take up. As per some facts we have gathered, Junior level animators may earn $20-$35 per hour, while expert-level animators can earn up to $70 – $150 per hour.

Factors Affecting Freelance Animator Earnings

A photo of various people and items related to financial statements.

Delving into the earnings of a freelance animator, several variables such as time invested, cost of living and the job hunting process can significantly impact income. Discover how these factors interplay in animation by continuing to read on.

Time & Effort

Freelance animators set their pay scale based on time and effort. The more skill, time, and hard work put into an animation project, the higher the fee. Much work goes into creating different animations, like character design or stop motion animation.

Planning out a job shows how long it takes from start to end. This can make you good money if you are fast and skilled. Keep track of billable hours with tools like Chronos Time Tracking to get paid well for all these tasks.

Charges considering both time and effort will be fair for the animator and the client.

Cost of Living

Living in a city or town costs money. Rent, food, bills, and transportation are all things you need to pay for. These costs can change depending on where you live. In some places, it may cost more to live than others.

A freelance animator working on a tablet with colorful sketches.

This is called the cost of living as a freelance animator. You get to decide what to charge for your work. When deciding your rates, You should consider how much it costs to live.

If living is expensive where you are, you might want to ask for more money for your work.

Job Hunting Process

To find jobs as a freelance animator, use many methods. Job posting sites are one way. You can join groups like the Computer Graphics Society or Society For Animation Studies.

Social media is another tool you can use to find work. Be sure to show your best animation work on these platforms. This way, potential clients will see what you can do.

Overview of Common Freelance Animation Jobs

A cartoon character animator surrounded by sketches and animation software.

Diving into freelance animation can expose animators to various unique, exciting jobs. Popular roles include character design, where animators bring their characters to life by focusing on details like body language and facial expressions.

Take 2D and 3D animation positions as another example – these involve creating movement in two-dimensional or three-dimensional spaces, often for video games or animated films.

Then, there’s stop-motion animation, which requires painstakingly photographing objects in different positions to create the illusion of motion. Story development roles are also integral; they involve crafting compelling narratives for animations.

Animators looking for large-scale projects might delve into animation for computer games or television shows, while those interested in cinematic work could turn to feature film animation.

Regardless of their chosen path within freelance animation, all these jobs share one thing: they demand high levels of creativity and technical skill from the animator. The variability is wide-ranging, but therein lies vast potential earnings from diverse clientele –everything from individual clients who need an explainer video to corporations seeking slick motion graphics for advertising campaigns.

Hence it makes absolute sense that freelancers with years of experience tend to earn top dollar in this industry!

Necessary Skills for a Freelance Animator

A freelance animator working on a computer with detailed animated faces.

Being a freelance animator needs more than knowing how to draw. You should be good with computers too. Programs like Adobe Animate or Maya are often used in this job. Some animators make art from clay, paper or other things for stop-motion jobs.

Knowing different types of animation will help you get more jobs. If you can do 2D and 3D work, your skills are valuable! Also, understanding character design and story development is key.

These skills let you create characters people care about and stories they want to watch.

One big part of freelance work is finding the jobs yourself. This means being social online and off to meet new clients who need your skills. One last tip: don’t forget to keep adding new works to your portfolio regularly! That way, potential clients can see just how skilled you are.

How to Determine Your Charges as a Freelance Animator

Determining your charges as a freelance animator involves understanding the project scope, accurately calculating costs, and avoiding common pricing mistakes to ensure fair compensation for your talent and effort.

Explore this section to learn more about crafting a winning pricing strategy in the animation industry.

Understanding the Project Scope

Getting the project scope right is vital. It sets what work you will do as a freelance animator. Talk with your clients about their needs and wishes for the animation project. Find out how long it might take, what type of animation they want, and whether character or storyboard creation is required.

Ask about music and voice-overs, too. All these details affect your workload and should be part of your charge. Knowing all this helps you to set a fair price that covers your effort and skills.

Calculating the Costs

To determine how much to charge, freelance animators must count all their costs. This includes living costs like home billscar paymentsfood and health care. Extra money for fun things should also be part of the plan.

All these are added together to determine how much money is needed each month to live well.

The next step is checking job times. Track the hours spent on a project using tools like Chronos Time Tracking. This tells you how long jobs take so that you can set your hourly rates right.

Don’t forget taxes, as they’re also part of running a business!

A freelance animator working on a tablet with colorful sketches.

Avoiding Common Pricing Mistakes

Think about the best way to price your work. Don’t sell yourself short by setting lower rates to get jobs. Value your time, skills, and effort! It’s not good money if you work all day for very little pay.

You also don’t want to overcharge and scare away potential clients. Look at what other animators with the same years of experience are charging in the United States or your area.

This will help you set a fair day rate. Keep track of how much time each animation project takes you so that next time, you can charge an accurate per-hour fee based on true billable hours tracked.

Examples of Animation Project Prices

Costs for animation projects can change a lot. They depend on the type of work. A 2D video costs $200 to $500 per minute. For a 3D video, you have to pay more. The price starts at $1,000 and goes up to $5,000 per minute.

Video ads cost even more. An ad can be from $2,000 to over $10,000 per second! Web design has other charges, too. The rates run low if it’s simple but go high for complex designs.

In stop-motion animation work, an animator might charge between $50-$100 an hour or around$400-$800 for each full day of work.

Much depends on what the clients want and how long an animator will take to do the job right.

Prices vary, so talk with your client before working on any project.

The Importance of Branding for Freelance Animators

Branding is a big deal for freelance animators. It sets you apart from other animators. It helps clients know what to expect when they hire you. An impressive brand can bring more jobs your way.

A strong brand starts with high-quality work samples in your portfolio. Your works show the type of animation styles you excel at, and it allows clients to see what unique skills you have that others might not offer.

Networking also builds your brand as a freelancer animator. Using social media platforms can help spread the word about your services. Remember, good branding can open doors to exciting job opportunities for freelance animators!

Some additional info about freelance animators

Motion animators, digital or D animators, are visual artists working at animation studios to create special effects and animated videos. They use computer software to generate 2D and 3D animation for films, video games, and other media. The average salary for a motion animator in the US is around $75,000, though freelance animators may make more or less depending on their contracts. Many animators start as graphic designers and then transition into animation roles as they gain experience. 

The career path often involves starting as an assistant animator and working up to lead animator over 5-10 years. Motion animators may work long hours, especially before a project deadline, but generally have benefits like paid sick days and vacation time. Their specialized skills in visual effects, character animation and computer graphics make motion animators in demand at large studios and smaller creative firms.

In recent decades, digital animation and special effects have greatly expanded in films and media. Major animation studios employ teams of talented motion animators, sometimes numbering in the hundreds on a single movie. These visual artists use computer applications like Maya, Blender and After Effects to transform storyboards into fluid CGI (computer-generated imagery) animation. Motion animators may focus on character modeling and rigging, background layout, physics simulations or final rendering. 

Their creative work breathes life into computer-generated characters and shapes the visually stunning worlds we see in movies, TV shows, video games and commercials. Motion animators have skills in drawing, design, movement and acting, combined with technical expertise in animation and visual effects software. It’s a rapidly advancing field that requires continuous learning and passion for animation.


Freelance animators can make good money. But, the amount they earn changes with their skills and time on the job. It’s key to know your worth and set fees well. Keep growing in your craft to increase what you earn.

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