This is the ultimate (and ever-expanding) guide to explore all the different options you have for making a marketing video for your startup. Whether you are looking for an affordable DIY option or have a budget of $50,000 or more, this list is here to provide the pros and cons for all the different video production options there are for you to make a ‘startup explainer video.’
Free / DIY / Low-Cost Options
Working on a shoe-string budget and still want to use video to explain and share the message of your startup? You can make a decent looking video using presentation software like PowerPoint, Keynote, and Google Slides. Using a combination of text, images, clip art, and icons, you can use the presentation software’s built in animations and transitions to make a video for free and export it into a video format. Want to sync it with a voice over? You can get a good quality audio recording using your computer or phone’s built in microphone if you cover yourself with a blanket while recording the audio. This gets rid of the outside white noise and makes for cleaner sounding audio.
Pros: It’s free and you can do it yourself on your own time.
Cons: There’s a limit to how eye-catching you can make your video using the templates in PowerPoint/Keynote. You’re also limited to the level of motion design you can create – for example, you probably won’t want to spend the time to make it look like a character is walking across the screen but you could have the image of a person slide from one side to the next.
Services like Wideoo, GoAnimate, and PowToons offer large libraries of pre-created characters, items, background scenery, and other templates which you can use to construct your video using their online editor. Some of these services offer free accounts with the option to pay $19-50/month for premium features and the privilege of exporting your video without the company’s watermark.
Pros: Low cost + you can make the video in your free time. Large libraries of pre-made characters, scenes, items, and other assets which you can use to create the video instead of hiring someone to create custom visuals for you.
Cons: There are limits to how much animation detail you can create using these programs. Also, because these services use stock libraries of pre-made characters, it’s possible that other people will see videos similar to yours that use the same scenes/characters, etc.
Whiteboard Animation ($50-$1500)
Whiteboard animations were a thing for a while – you can make them yourself for the cost of a whiteboard and pen or you can hire a studio or freelancer to make it for you.
Pros: Relatively inexpensive and quick to produce. Simple way to visualize new ideas without having to get professional graphics produced.
Cons: They all look the same – it’s hard to make your video stand out visually.
Animation Studios ($500-$100,000)
Most startups end up hiring a small animation studio to do the production work for them. This Quora post links to many of the popular studios which help startups make their explainers: https://www.quora.com/Who-are-the-top-Explainer-video-production-houses-Why
Pros: The studio has experience working with other startups so they can work with you to not only produce the video, they also have experience helping startups hone their story to make it engaging and show that your business demonstrates value.
Cons: Finding the right mix of production quality vs production cost is tricky to optimize. Most studios don’t have standard prices so you will need to shop around and get a bunch of quotes. Also, working with a studio typically involves over 100 emails to communicate all the details of your project from script through final draft.
Video Production Marketplaces ($500-$25,000)
Video Brewery, Video Pixie, Wooshii & SmartShoot are video production marketplaces where you can post the description for your video project and receive bids from different video production companies to make your video.
Pros: Large availability of talent. Project and payments are managed online.
Cons: You will receive many pricing and production proposals from studios that try to underbid each other rather than focus on production quality and helping you tell your story.
Many animators work as solo/freelance operations so if you come across a portfolio you like on Vimeo, chances are they can help you produce a video of similar style. Craigslist, Freelancer, and Upwork are other places you can seek out video producers for your project.
Pros: Sometimes you can find really stellar talent that’s more affordable than hiring a full studio.
Cons: Working with one individual means they usually specialize in a specific visual or production style so you will have to do more hunting around to find someone whose style matches the style you desire for your video. Also, you can’t always guarantee 24/7 responsiveness from freelancers.
Video Igniter ($1000 or $2500)
Video Igniter is an on-demand video production service with set production prices. Post a description of your project online, calculate the cost of producing your video (you can pick between custom design or ‘premium’ design for more high end visual quality). Once the storyboard and script for your video are approved, you receive custom art samples and voice over auditions created for your video so that you can tell the video producers which style and tone are best for your video.
Pros: Standard pricing means less shopping around because you can look at their production examples to see what kind of quality you get for custom vs premium production quality. All the assets created for your video are presented online which makes it easy for you to provide feedback and review the revised assets before the video goes into production.
Cons: Not ideally suited for making videos over 10 minutes in length or Pixar-quality 3D animated videos.
Artella/Nimble Collective ($500-$50,000+)
If you want to make high end 2D animations or a Pixar-quality 3D animated video, Artella and Nimble Collective are here to help. You post a project online and can hire character modelers, lighting effects, conceptual artists & animators who work together under your direction to bring your vision to life.
Pros: You can make literally any kind of 3D animation you want. The global talent pool pulls all technical resources into one online service so you can engineer any visual style you desire.
Cons: This is going to be the most expensive and time consuming production option. Also, since this is your project, you will be in charge of managing production and if you have never made a video before, you probably won’t know how the lighting and shading and character rigging people are all supposed to work together.