Ep 102

This motion designer made $500,000 in his first year

with Kevin Rapp
Watch this episode: https://youtu.be/9XKMBGpwHvc

About this episode

Kevin Rapp made $500,000 in his first year freelancing after discovering the value of content systems and passing this on to high-profile tech companies.
Kevin is an award-winning, multi-disciplinary creative director with vast experience ranging from start-up disruptors to Fortune 500 companies.

In this episode, Kevin shares his unique approach to building video content systems. We also discuss strategies for attracting clients on LinkedIn and practical tips for motion designers to transition to a more business-oriented mindset.
Since recording this episode, Kevin reached an astonishing $1 million in sales!

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How Kevin made $500,000 in his first year as a freelancer
  • What are scalable content systems?
  • How to shift your mindset into the business side of motion design
  • How to get clients using social media
  • How to efficiently get clients from LinkedIn
  • How to negotiate with clients

Follow Kevin: Website | LinkedIn

Free resources to grow your career:
💸 
Get your next client in 5 days!
📲 
Download our free social media guide

Connect with Motion Hatch:
✉️ Subscribe to our newsletter
📸 Follow us on Instagram
🖥️ Find more free resources on our website

Transcript

Transcript:

[00:00:00] Kevin: I realized that I hadn’t really just built a video department within a startup. I’d really kind of built a business model. Within my first year, I made over 500, 000 worth of sales, which is still mind boggling to me.

[00:00:11] Hayley: That’s Kevin Rapp. He came up with a system that helped him to create half a million dollars in his first year as a freelancer.

[00:00:18] Kevin: Talking about money is hard, especially with creatives. It feels like a really nebulous space. The way I thought about it when I was first starting is. Oh, dear God, how do I do this? Uh, I think it was the first paralyzing thought. So for the motion designer who is looking to expand their business, who is looking for additional service offerings that they can put together and how they can market it, the things that I would recommend Our,

[00:00:49] Hayley: in this episode, you’re gonna learn how Kevin made 500 K in his first year.

[00:00:53] Kevin: Typically, when I’m looking at like a systems based project, it usually starts in the range of around 25 to 40,000.

[00:01:03] Hayley: A system that you can steal to make more money

[00:01:06] Kevin: if you market that you can do everything. You’re really marketing that you can do nothing.

[00:01:10] Hayley: How to attract clients on LinkedIn in a non cringy way.

[00:01:14] Kevin: By leveraging my expertise on LinkedIn, that has been one of the biggest drivers of business for me.

[00:01:21] Hayley: And how you can create content easily so that you can grow your business.

[00:01:26] Kevin: I’ve spent 15 years building other people’s brands and now I had to go, Oh, so what’s, what’s mine?

[00:01:33] Hayley: So Kevin, do you want to tell me how you made 500k in your first year of business?

[00:01:39] Kevin: Uh, yeah, absolutely. I’m excited to be here. Thanks for having me. So I started a motion design and content development business about a year ago. And, you know, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. Um, it’s my first time being on my own. I really liked working for other companies where they took the risk and then paid me steady paychecks.

That was really, really nice. But I decided it was time for me to try and do my own thing. I had learned a lot from a lot of my various experiences. I’d started as a motion designer and worked my way up through the studio pipeline to becoming a director. And after about 10 years of working in the studio pipeline, I then got the opportunity to work in house at a really, really fast growing startup.

And I learned a ton from that experience. First, I learned how to deliver value to a business, not just how to execute a creative brief, but really figure out what work delivers the most value to a business. And I also learned how to optimize my own creative processes so that I could create systems of content that would speed up development.

Would reduce the budgets would overall create more value to the brand as a whole. And after a few years of doing that, I realized that I hadn’t really just built a video department within a startup. I’d really kind of built a business model. I had built something that I could see being really scalable and providing a lot of value to other brands.

And so I went off on my own and started marketing the services that I had to offer, which was creating systems of video content that delivered more value would help Companies test ideas would help them learn what type of creative was performing for the business and helped them do it really efficiently because I was developing not just here’s 20k for one explainer video, right?

And I was helping them get more value out of the content. So they would get lower costs per video deliverable and they’d get more content and they’d get more opportunities. To try out different channels to test out different creative messages, all sorts of things. So it gave them a lot of opportunities as a business.

And I found this was a really marketable service. So I was showing up on LinkedIn and I was marketing these fairly unique service offerings. There weren’t a lot of people. Out there doing this kind of scalable content systems. I was able to leverage my network to make a lot of sales without even really having to sell.

It was really I was talking about the work and talking about the value of what I was doing and people were coming to me for it. And as a result, within my first year, I made over 500, 000 worth of sales, which is still mind boggling to me.

[00:04:49] Hayley: Yeah, it’s crazy. And it’s, it’s really good. Like, I’m so impressed.

And obviously that’s why I wanted to bring you on here. But I, I guess when you talk about scalable content systems, can you dive a little bit deeper into that and tell us more about what exactly that is or what it might look like? In a certain project.

[00:05:10] Kevin: Yeah, absolutely. That’s a great question. I mentioned that I worked at a startup.

I worked at a company that when I first got brought on, I was brought on to run their video department. And at the time, the company was only 100 people. It was a series B startup. And within three years, it was an 1800 employee public company. The Largest IPO in the history of the state of Ohio. So it, it just massively, massively scaled.

And because of that, we had to create a lot of content. We had a tremendous amount of value in video as a medium. It was our highest performing ad channel. We had a lot of content that performed really, really well in the video space. So in order to produce the volume of content that we needed in order to sustain the business, we had to be really strategic about how we created content.

And so instead of just creating whole cloth, New content just like brainstorming a new concept every time we made a new video We started getting more content systems in place And what I mean by that is instead of creating a shoot for one specific concept where we storyboarded it out And we executed something for one concept we said What if we did a five day shoot where we captured just a huge swath of content so that we could essentially own our own stock library of footage?

So, we would capture a bunch of product interactions, we’d capture lifestyle footage, we’d capture driving footage, because it was a car insurance company. And we would just get as much content as we could so that we weren’t just editing one video. We were leaving a shoot with enough content to make hundreds of videos.

And we did the same thing on the motion design side. We built templates, we built just a bunch of internal systems so that we have transitions, type builds, illustrations, all sorts of things. And one of the things that we did most effectively is we transitioned our graphics from 2D illustration over to 3D.

The reason we did that is Most people immediately think, Oh, 3D. It’s so much more cost intensive, time intensive, so much harder. It takes so much more effort. And it does if you’re thinking about a short term project. But if you’re thinking of a long term brand, something that’s going to live for years, once you create those models, once you set them up, once you have the rigs, it’s a lot easier to create new illustrations or create animations around them once you already have those built.

So, for example, If we wanted to have a car at multiple angles, what’s easier, drawing a car eight times or taking that model and then just. Repositioning it and having another camera render it out that was so much more efficient for us in the long run and saved us just so much time and money by the end of the process.

We ended up saving about 5 million a year in production costs because we were developing a system. of content rather than creating each piece of content whole cloth from the jump.

[00:08:29] Hayley: Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. I guess what I wonder about and what potentially people listening will wonder about is how do you convince someone up front to, I guess, put more money up front in the first place so that they have this system over the long term?

[00:08:46] Kevin: That’s right. How do you sell it? Right? Is, is, is the question. And the way I do it is, is usually by easing them in. Because usually when they’re coming to me from the first project, they’re usually saying, Hey, can you make me an explainer video? Hey, can you make me these performance ads? Something like that, right?

They’re, they’re coming for a initial project where they have a low investment that they’re trying to just get one individual asset out of it. And so the way I approach that is to explain to them the value that they’d get if they started thinking about systems early. And so instead of just optimizing one specific piece of creative, because 5, 10 years ago, that’s what you do.

You would make one explainer video that was around 90 seconds, and it would be 16 by 9, you’d put it on YouTube, you’d put it on the website, you’d put it everywhere, and you’d have a 30 second cut down if you wanted it for broadcast. That was pretty much the standard play. But now, there’s Facebook, which needs things in 4 by 5 aspect ratio to be successful.

And there’s YouTube, which, you know, a 6 second bumper. Might be the most appropriate deliverable for that channel. There’s so many different channels out there, which have entirely different specs and entirely different needs. And so if you’re thinking about, what’s the one deliverable that I need for this video campaign?

You’re setting yourself up perfectly. For failure. So I start by helping them understand that that there’s a lot of opportunity if they think about this in a more systemized way. If they don’t just build creative for one deliverable, but build creative in a more modular way. So that they can optimize all of the content for the different channels.

And then I explained to them that there’s even more opportunity if they start testing messages. So what if they tried five different six second bumpers, and then they find out which of those messages is their highest performing message, then they can take that. And carry that through in the next campaign that they make, there’s lots of opportunities for them to learn as a business, what performs from a channel perspective and what performs from a creative perspective.

Those kind of learnings are worth way more the investment that they put into the project. I use the term meal prep as an analogy a lot. Because when you build every meal from scratch, of course it takes longer, of course it takes more effort, but if you spend your Sunday and you cut your peppers up, you cut your onions up, you cut your mushrooms, you’ve got enough to make a bunch of meals throughout the whole week.

And. It saves you time, it saves you money, and it makes things a lot easier throughout the entire process.

[00:11:34] Hayley: Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. So, are you asking them more about their businesses and like the problems that they’re trying to solve and then almost saying, Okay, this is the package that I would recommend for you or something along those lines?

[00:11:49] Kevin: 100%. Because a lot of the times when they are asking for an explainer video, they’re asking for, Can I have the things that I know will convert? Right. That’s typically the ask is traditional marketing. Well, we’ll tell you that an explainer video is what you need to have a high conversion asset. That is the best tool that we have in the toolbox to tell our story.

And they’re not really thinking about how that plays out today. Cause again, five, 10 years ago, they were right. That your explainer video was the perfect thing to throw it on the web and get Gain some traction. But now our channels are much more diverse. The way marketing is done today. Digital marketing is done today requires a lot more proliferation of your brand.

You have to show up in different spaces and you have to show up natively. And so. I really try to understand what the brand is trying to do, what their actual goals are, because if they’re trying to raise awareness, I have a different recommendation than if they’re trying to get conversions. And so, yes, then I will recommend a package for them that will get them the most conversions.

Valuable content that will help them achieve those objectives.

[00:13:06] Hayley: Yeah, it makes perfect sense from someone who kind of dives a lot into marketing and geeks out on this stuff. I love this. This is really exciting, but thinking like from everyone who’s listening to this, he’s more creative. He’s like, okay, you know, this sounds great.

Like I want to make lots of money like Kevin too. And obviously you’re really excited about this marketing stuff, but how can a motion designer who. You know, maybe it’s like more focused on the creative and things like that. How can they kind of make baby steps towards this kind of thinking? And, and would you recommend it necessarily for everybody?

[00:13:44] Kevin: Absolutely. I think this is something that’s really scalable because, you know, I’m a creative too, right? Like I, I come from a creative background. I just spent a lot of time with marketers. And so I, I started to understand how businesses actually implemented the creative work. That I was creating, and I got a sense of what things actually performed and what things didn’t.

So what I’d recommend to motion designers is to do that, too, is to spend time with their their clients and ask them questions. How are you actually implementing this creative? Because if they’re saying we’re putting it on a mobile feed and your recommendation is to give them a 16 by nine video, Remember, that’s only taking up a small portion of the screen on a mobile feed, right?

A 4×5 or a 9×16 is going to be something that performs better, because as someone’s scrolling, it takes up more of their screen. So, for motion designers, the thing that I recommend is Really understand what your clients are asking you to do, understand what they want out of the work and use your best judgment on how you can tailor your work to help them meet those objectives.

[00:14:58] Hayley: So can you tell me a little bit about how each project looks in terms of like from revenue and then also if you have people helping you to kind of achieve.

[00:15:10] Kevin: So the, the way my business is structured is that I am the only full time employee, but I have lots of really great and valuable partners that I bring in.

Uh, I liken it to a heist. You know, I have my explosives expert. I have my con man expert. I, I bring the right experts in when I need their expertise. And so I have a collective of a bunch of great motion designers. Designers, production companies, things like that, nimble resources that can work with me, that understand the way that I work, and that I have a really great comfort with, and know that they can execute the types of things that I, that I need.

When I’m bidding on a project, you know, I will typically run creative direction and overall strategy and usually copywriting, and then I will bring in the right resources to help me execute everything else.

[00:16:04] Hayley: Yeah. So what do those budgets look like and how, how can you like account for all those people?

Because I think people find it hard to go from, you know, It’s just me on my own. And then how am I kind of, you know, accounting for, Oh, I need to bring this person and that person in.

[00:16:19] Kevin: Yeah. The really hard thing is how do I charge for my time? How do I, do I decide to charge overhead for, you know, managing, bringing in an external contractor.

All of those are really, really hard decisions to, to figure out. And ultimately, they’re, they’re business decisions. They’re business finance decisions. And those are, those are hard ones to make. So the way that I’ve Structured it is that I have a fixed day rate for for my services and then I have fixed day rates for all of the contractors that I work with and I typically try to charge a little bit more than their average day rate because I want my contractors and my team to really love working with me.

And so I raise their rates to work with me because if they have an opportunity to work with someone else or with me, I want them to choose to want to work with me. Because I think the only way to do the best work is to have the best talent, and the best way to retain the best talent is to treat them fairly, pay them as well as you can, and set them up for success as best as you can.

When I’m talking about budgets, of course it varies, because everything varies, but Typically, when I’m looking at like a systems based project, it usually starts in the range of around 25 to 40, 000. That’s, that’s about an average, like, hey, we need to do an explainer video, but we want to convert it more into a systems approach to give you multiple different deliverables.

And so the average cost per deliverable is usually around 3 to 5, 000. Beep. When I’m creating video content, but the overall project might be somewhere in the range of 30, 35, 000. Then, you know, I have other service offerings where it’s like more of a one off project where they might just need me to come in for strategy, or they might just need me to come in to direct a shoot or something like that.

And that that’s where I just work on my normal day rate of 1, 500 a day. So that’s, that’s how I typically approach pricing. I typically build the projects in a way where. You know, there’s minimal overhead for my business because it’s just me. So I don’t really do a ton of marking up of the time of my other freelancers.

I really just try and give as much of that extra revenue over to them. Um, so that I can. Have really great relationships with my vendors as well as my clients.

[00:18:56] Hayley: Yeah. Thanks for being so honest and open about that and explaining it to us. Cause I think it really helps everyone to get to know the behind the scenes, like of how people do stuff.

Right. And like how you’re getting to this number, you know, of like half a million over a year.

[00:19:12] Kevin: Yeah. Yeah. And, um, just, just for, you know, Transparency. I think transparency is really, really important because talking about money is hard, especially with creatives. Um, it feels like a really nebulous space. Um, so I typically sell about a project a week.

That is usually, you know, I, I’m up to about 60 projects now, and I am, you know, just about 60 weeks into this, so I’m averaging selling about one project a week, and not every single one is 35, 000, right, or, or more, some of them are 1, 500 a day, because somebody needs me to come in and help them, Write a script for, for a day.

So there’s, there’s a lot of variation in what I do. And because people see the content systems and understand that I have a lot of different service offerings, I’m not really leaving money on the table. Um, you would think because I’m getting so granular about the one thing that I do that, Oh man, I’m not really marketing my copywriting service, or I’m not marketing my ability to direct a shoot, but people still know that I do that because they see.

That that I’m capable of all of these content systems that they’re still willing to reach out to me for these other projects. So that’s, you know, I’m even working with other production companies and other agencies who who still see the value in what I do. So it’s it’s hard to niche down and select something that.

You want to do because you feel like you’re I’m not marketing this other thing that I can do and I can see it making money. You don’t have to, you know, you can still be very, very clear about what you do and and be for a very specific audience and still show that there’s other services that you have without really.

Truly marketing them as full force as you do your, your key offering.

[00:21:02] Hayley: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Thanks for clarifying that. I wanted to ask you at the moment, like what is, does your revenue look like in terms of what you would consider the content systems and what you would consider your kind of. I guess like more bread and butter stuff that you’ve kind of been known to do?

[00:21:19] Kevin: Yeah, I would say it’s probably a 50 50 split. Um, in terms of like, if we’re looking at 500k a year, there’s probably about 250k of it that is more systems oriented work, and then 250k of it that is more You know, one off projects or something that’s more execution focused. I, I look at the systems work as, as the more strategic work that, that I do.

It, it, it involves me being a lot more strategic about how I approach the work. And then, so, so the other half is a little bit more executional in nature. Um, I, I would say it’s about a 50, 50 split right now. And you know, how much of that goes to me versus how much of that goes to contractors and the other people that I bring in.

I’d say, I think it was around. 200, 000 went to external contractors and then around 75, 000 of that went to like business expenses, you know, all of that fun finance stuff. So that’s, that’s about how, how that Revenue breaks down, um, in terms of the finances of it.

[00:22:24] Hayley: So my next question I think then would be, okay, so who are these brands that don’t have, you know, a whole agency behind them, but are kind of big enough that you can make enough money working with them and things like that.

Is that kind of like a sweet spot or a level or a way to find those types of clients?

[00:22:45] Kevin: That’s a great question. The majority of the clients that I’m working with are in that tech space. That’s where I’ve had the most experience myself. And I find it to be kind of a sweet spot for me because they have a product that’s pretty defined, but their marketing usually isn’t.

So companies that are in the series B funding stage, which means they’ve gone through two rounds of venture capital funding is usually around that sweet spot. For me, there are companies that really don’t know how they want to market yet. And so they are very eager for lots of content to help them test and learn.

And they’re usually more willing to let a partner. Help them take the lead. So how I’ve been able to acquire those clients is of course, knowing people in the industry, people that I’ve worked with in the past that have gone out to other tech places, but also by leveraging my expertise on LinkedIn, that has been one of the biggest drivers of business for me is by talking about these types of content systems.

And I’m talking about the problems they’re trying to solve, which is. They are trying to find high performing content, right? That’s what a company at that stage is. They’re trying to find what is the formula for a high performing ad. So for the motion designer who is looking to expand their business, who is looking for additional service offerings that they can put together and how they can market it.

The things that I would recommend are start to understand. Who you are serving right? Understand clearly who would get value from me offering a service like this. Who would get value from a systems based approach? Who would, who would like to get the type of content that I can offer? And start to. Message that and market it the way that you would market the work that you do for, for other clients.

So market yourself the way that you market other people. That’s how I’d recommend a freelancer or, you know, a small motion design business to start thinking about those services. Think about who would get value from it and figure out how you can develop a service offering that meets that type of client’s need.

[00:25:16] Hayley: Yeah. So there’s a few things in there that I want to unpack. Great. So the first thing is, um, That you said almost market the service, how you’d want your clients to market, right? I feel like this is something that we never speak about, or people like really don’t know how to do because, you know, traditionally we’re creatives.

We’re not marketers, but I feel like. Now, more and more, we kind of have to get more into that space. And especially if we want like the bigger budgets and things like that, because raising yourself up, I think, to like a strategic partner level is, it seems like from you and, you know, from other people that I’ve worked with as well, that is kind of what is going to get you there.

So in terms of that, first off, can you explain. explain a little bit about, you know, zoom back kind of to a year ago when you were kind of shooting out on your own, like how you thought about that and how you really got started doing that.

[00:26:13] Kevin: That’s a great question, Haley. The way I thought about it when I was first starting is, oh dear God, how do I do this?

Uh, I think it was the, the first paralyzing thought. The next thought was, okay, who am I really for? Who would get the most value out of what I do and what is it that I do that isn’t just a set of skills, but is a marketable service that I can build a business around because I have a wide range of experience.

I’ve directed campaigns. I’ve directed tons of different pieces of video content. I’ve done visual effects, motion graphics, you know, there’s a lot of different avenues that I could go down. The problem when you have a lot of skills, uh, that you could go down different paths is which one do you take because you always feel like you’re leaving money on the table if you don’t market everything you do.

But if you market that you can do everything, you’re really marketing that you can do nothing because you don’t truly communicate who you’re for. You communicate that you can do all sorts of things, but Everyone then wonders, okay, but what do I actually hire this person for? So I recognize that I had to get more strategic and more specific about what my actual value was.

And when I look back over my experience, when I look back, I, Was trying to figure out what is the thing that makes me unique in this space, right? Because I’m no longer just competing against, you know, other creative directors. I’m now competing against studios. I’m competing against every freelancer that’s out there.

I’m competing against agencies. So when I looked back at my experience at the startup, the thing that really made me unique was I was able to save them 5 million a year by developing strategic plans that helped them create over 1, 500 video deliverables each year. And the overall video cost was around 2, 500 per video deliverable, which is, I think, pretty low for the quality that we were producing.

Those results We’re pretty powerful, and I felt that I could communicate those in ways to say, Hey, we can cut your budgets in half. We can cut your timelines by a quarter by implementing a more systemized approach to the way we develop creative and. That to me was kind of my hook that was the thing that I provided that was unique in the space that I was approaching things differently than other people in the space we’re doing and so I really just started leaning in on that I started leaning in on the systems and I started leaning in on the value of the the approach that I brought that was unique and I started marketing that in you The channels that I had and since I wasn’t going to be paying for ads and I wasn’t going to be doing billboard campaigns anytime soon.

The best channel for me to market that was on social. And so I started putting things on LinkedIn. I started with small investments where I would just do text only posts on LinkedIn and I would start to just test the waters to find out which messages were resonating. And I started to see a return on that investment of my time.

I saw clients coming to me. I started to sell work. Just through my posts on LinkedIn. So then I invested more and more time into it. I started, you know, taking the messages that I saw working and building some carousel PDFs around it. And I started creating videos around it and I invested more and more effort into building my presence on that platform.

That was really what I mean by marketing my own personal business the way that I market somebody else. I would always recommend. Start by testing and learning what messages is perform and then scale up, scale up your efforts based on what is actually working double down on what’s working and that’s how I’ve really built the business that I’ve built today is really getting granular about what my services, the one that’s unique, the one that’s differentiated in the marketplace and scaling my marketing efforts around.

[00:30:48] Hayley: Yeah, and I think you’ve done such a fantastic job. I, what it makes me think about is obviously like everyone who ever has listened to this podcast or watched any of my YouTube videos knows how much I love LinkedIn and especially right now. Um, and I think what everyone struggles with is how am I talking?

Directly to my clients, you know, and, and like potentially the rest of the motion design industry too, right? It depends on who your client is that you’re trying to attract, but how were you sort of thinking about that? And were you ever worried about how that would kind of come across?

[00:31:26] Kevin: Absolutely. I’ve spent 15 years building other people’s brands and now I had to go, Oh, So what’s, what’s mine, right?

What’s my story. And all of us are going to find that we are the worst clients because we are the pickiest and we pay the least. We are nightmares of clients for ourselves as creatives. So yeah, there was a lot of how much of my own personality shows up in my personal brand. How much of this is communicating to my target audience, which is like a VP of marketing or a.

Chief marketing officer at a series B startup and how much of it is going to be communicating to my fellow creatives, which is I’d love to help them as well. That’s that’s a big part of my linkedin’s presence is to give them some of the tips and tools that I’ve learned over my career. So there’s lots of things that I’ve had to balance in order to figure out how to communicate in my own marketing presence where I’ve landed.

Is my personality is, I think, a plus and an attribute, not something to be feared. I don’t fear making myself super buttoned up for LinkedIn. I don’t, I, I think the content that I don’t like on LinkedIn is the stuff that feels very, uh, Sand blasted, like all the personality is completely filed away in order to appear as professional as possible.

Um, I think the fact that I am a little looser and, and more genuine in who I am is an attribute that helps other people understand what it would be like to work with me and figuring out how to message and be clear about how I split the content that creates some being more towards sales. And so I’m being more towards providing tips and advice and recognizing that every piece of content that I make is just one piece of a larger overall story in the same way that I’m building systems for my clients.

I’m building systems for myself, and I’m thinking about different stages of the marketing funnel. Right? So I’m thinking about some of the content that I make is for awareness. It’s to get eyeballs. It’s to get people to just know the highest level who I am and what I do. That’s it. And then something is more of a conversion post, where I’m going to explain a little deeper about how I approach A case study right giving more detail on the content systems approach and what I do that’s unique.

And then some things are messaging that messaging for conversion where I’m just trying to say here’s the value that you get out of working with me or here’s. A happy client or here is a portfolio piece that I just finished, right? So I’m understanding that every piece of messaging that I create is part of the overall funnel, part of the overall story, and I’m doing my best to communicate my overall value.

in different stages of that funnel so that people would know what it’s like to work with me, know what they would get and find it to be valuable.

[00:34:39] Hayley: Yeah. So do you have a way to kind of keep up with all of this? Because it’s a lot of work, right? Putting all this stuff out and, and also people are shy and they, they kind of want like, what’s the, you know, what’s your system and what’s the kind of, An easy way that people can get started to

[00:34:57] Kevin: the best recommendation that I have is, you know, everyone will tell you just start.

Just do it. Just get out there. Just do it. Just post things. And, you know, not everybody’s up for posting. Not everybody’s feel super comfortable putting themselves out there, especially on a platform like LinkedIn. What I would recommend. Is start small, start with minimal investment. You can post once a week and you can start by just, you know, sharing a portfolio piece or sharing a quick six second motion sample and explaining what you did.

Maybe you do like a quick breakdown of, you know, style frame to motion tasks, to composite, to full animation, right? There’s lots of different things that you can do. You have to offer that people will be interested in. I think all of us underplay ourselves and think, well, I’m just not the person that people want to listen to when every single person that puts on there, whether they have hundreds of thousands of followers down to 10, they all have a story, and they just Put it out there and, and tried to communicate to other people.

There are people with giant accounts that, you know, maybe don’t resonate with me, but there are people with really small accounts that do resonate with me because they’re telling a story in an interesting way that, that connects with. What I’m interested in, so I would, I would recommend to start small, just put some posts out there about things that you think are unique, things that make you unique, show your actual personality as you do it, because your personality is a huge attribute, not a detriment.

on a channel like LinkedIn and be willing to stick it out for the long run, right? Like, don’t expect immediate return on social. Don’t put two posts out there and expect, you know, huge million dollar clients to come in. But if you stick with it in the long run and you place yourself, necessarily build a system for yourself, but give yourself The opportunity to be consistent about it and start to learn from what you see is working and what isn’t and are willing to put the effort in.

I have seen a tremendous, tremendous return on the investment of time that I’ve put into it. So I, I would highly recommend that others do it too.

[00:37:26] Hayley: Yeah, definitely. And I love, I love all of your stuff. And if anyone’s watching this on YouTube or listening on the podcast, we’ll make sure we put a link, um, either below or also, um, maybe in the show notes of our social media guide, cause I think that’s like a really good free resource just to get started because it’s got 52 examples of different posts from real motion designers.

So I know that that’s helped an awful lot of people. So I think that’s one thing as well. I wanted to mention here and another thing that I think has helped a lot of our students too, is just like starting to comment on other people’s stuff, like on other people’s posts, because I think engaging with others as well as really helpful.

And even like some of our students have got clients just through like commenting on other people’s posts and stuff like that, because obviously at LinkedIn pushes you up in the feed and shows you to other people, even if you’re just commenting. So kind of just wanted to mention that here as well. Um, as kind of a good starting point.

[00:38:25] Kevin: Yeah. 100 percent Haley, the LinkedIn as an algorithm rewards you for how much you engage in the relationships that you build. And yes, that’s great for visibility. I should have mentioned that. You know, an awareness play for me is commenting, right? That’s a huge awareness play because that is what gets you in front of a bunch of different eyeballs.

It also helps you build relationships with with people. I’ve met some really, really great people that I now consider friends. Great people that I now can consider clients, um, purely because I have made an effort to Communicate with them to ask them questions when I think they’re posting something interesting and You know just continuing those conversations.

[00:39:12] Hayley: Yeah, I think that’s awesome. And that’s how you ended up on this show as well. Which is really cool

[00:39:17] Kevin: Exactly. Exactly. It’s

[00:39:20] Hayley: Yeah, I think there’s a few more things that I want to dig into, particularly around like exactly how, because we talked a lot about the marketing and the systems and how that can be attractive, but like, how does someone become a client of yours?

So are you. Looking out there and sort of saying, Oh, there’s a VP of marketing. I’m going to follow them. I’m going to DM them. Are you like doing any of that direct outreach or is this all coming inbound?

[00:39:47] Kevin: It’s all coming inbound. Um, because I don’t feel good as a salesman. I don’t think I would be good at that.

Particularly the managing a lot of. cold outreach and, and sending awkward requests for like, Hey, can we have a conversation? I would be bad at that. The thing that I’ve been good at is, is marketing. That’s, that’s honestly what my skillset is. And so I’ve put more of my effort. into building a brand that other people would want to come to me for.

And that has been how I’ve sold every piece of that 500, 000 plus because I have really been trying to leverage my skillset as a marketer and as a creative to build a brand that communicates what my value is and help other brands understand who I am. the, that they would get a return on the investment that they put in me.

That has allowed me to attract the types of clients that I want.

[00:40:54] Hayley: So are they reaching out to you on LinkedIn via DM or something like that? And then where do you take that conversation from there?

[00:41:00] Kevin: Yeah. From there, I have a couple of standard decks that I’ve built. So if somebody says, Hey, do you do an explainer video?

I say I do, but here’s the way I do an explainer video, right? Here’s the way I would do it. I would give you more opportunities to test. I would build you a system and here’s the types of deliverables you would get. And then I show them, here’s some overall price ranges based on. The amount of deliverables you get.

If you want a full 2D animation, here’s what it would cost. If you want 2D with some 3D accents, here’s what it would cost. And if you want full 3D, here’s kind of the overall range of what it would cost. Then I, then I would take that over to email and just say, Hey, let me walk you through this presentation.

If you’re looking for an explainer, if there’s somebody who’s looking for more performance ads, I have. Again, the same type of approach where I would walk them through a deck of, here’s the way I would approach that type of work, and here’s how I do it in a way that delivers more value to the brand. Some people bite.

Some people don’t. Some, some brands will say, no, we, we really just need an explainer video. And I say, okay, cool. I can execute it that way. Here’s how I do it. And then some people go, okay, I really see the value of what you’re offering. And I’d love to talk more about that. And most of the time, my clients kind of stick around and bring me back for, for more work.

Uh, so I’ve, I’ve been very, very fortunate that, uh, You know, most of the clients that I bring aren’t one off project clients. They, they tend to recognize the value of what I do. And so they, they tend to bring me back for more and more projects.

[00:42:37] Hayley: Yeah, that’s awesome. So once you kind of get into that negotiation stage, what, tell me a little bit about like, What that would look like.

So I’m imagining, you know, maybe I’ve got some budget for an explainer video and you’re saying, okay, Haley, but I really think that you should build out this content system, which maybe that’s going to cost me a bit more on upfront, but give me more return later. How would you go about that?

[00:43:02] Kevin: I would kind of explain to them.

It’s like, okay, sure. Let’s say you’re, you budgeted around 20 K. You’ve budgeted around 20, 000 for a, an explainer video. Here’s an approach that instead of getting, spending 20, 000 on one video deliverable that you can test one time, right? You can only test this one time. thing in all of the channels that you are trying to put it in.

What if instead you got 10 video deliverables for around 30, 000? And I just give them kind of the understanding of how the money breaks down and why that’s a better investment. And I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t think it was the right approach. And if I didn’t see Perform really, really well over time.

That’s how by developing this approach, that’s how we found all of our highest performing pieces of creative by testing and learning. And typically marketers understand that language of test and learn. They understand that, Oh, I can see what I can do with that. And then sometimes they say, Nope, 20 grand is the most of God.

And so I say, okay, cool. Then let’s make the best explainer video that we possibly can.

[00:44:08] Hayley: I think that, you know, where it really takes me to is really thinking about, okay, yeah, that makes a lot of sense, but what if they have other people who in their company who are like the stakeholders who are like, no, but we really just want this, you know, this is always the battle that we’ve got to do.

Right.

[00:44:25] Kevin: Yeah. You, you never know what the internal politics of a business is going to be like. You never know. There are times when you’re going to be like. I have no idea what that decision was based off of. They just told me this is why, and you never know how that stakeholder, you know, put it up the chain to the other people that they needed to get buy in from.

There’s so many elements that you cannot control. In the work that comes to you, the thing that you can control is how you message what your value is. And if you feel confident that you have an offering that delivers value, put it out there, you know, you will attract the clients that vibe with it.

Ultimately, the people who say no are probably just not the type of clients that would understand the value of what I do, and they might not be the right clients for me anyway. That’s okay. The clients that do understand the value, the clients that do value my services, that do appreciate what I do. Those are the people that I want to work with.

And so, I’m not gonna really change or alter my approach in order to get, you know, hopefully more of the types of clients that are wrong for me. I’m gonna be very, very clear about who is right for me. And, Try and market my services to them.

[00:45:48] Hayley: Yeah, that makes so much sense. I think we have a resistance naturally to do this because, um, you know, it’s scary, right, scary to be like, okay, well, you know, that’s fine if they don’t want to work in that way.

I mean, I, it takes me to. Thinking about, well, you could start to test this out. Like we were saying, test and learn, test and learn with some clients, and then potentially see how that goes. And then you can still kind of do the other work and maybe, you know, do this thing where you gradually reduce the other work over time or something like that.

[00:46:22] Kevin: Yeah, there’s, there’s so many different ways to figure out how you want to evolve your business. And the, the way that I look at it is. The media landscape is changing. There are clients that are consistently asking for more content for smaller budgets. That is a trend that I’ve been seeing over decades, right?

Like, that is just the way content has been going. As Companies invest more into social and invest into OTT and all of these other platforms that are out there. They’re consistently needing more content for smaller budgets. So I see first big agencies and then medium sized production companies feeling that squeeze.

And saying, Oh, where are the, you know, million dollar broadcast commercials? Why aren’t those around anymore? And they’re having a harder time being able to accommodate these needs, which is where small companies and freelancers have a lot of opportunity to deliver a lot of value to those companies that have these needs, what I would recommend to.

Any freelancer or small medium sized business is to really understand where is content going, what are the needs that clients have, and how can I evolve my business in a way that helps these companies meet those needs. And for me, the way that I’ve found to approach this is to really invest in systems and invest in marketing systems so that.

That large scale need of more content for smaller budgets is, is really, really attainable for those clients. And, you know, I went full in on it. I, I went, you know, I started off just going, this is the thing that, that I do, and this is the thing that I do well. But that doesn’t mean that’s how you have to do it.

You can continue to run your business the way that you run it. But this might be. A really attractive service offering for a small company or a freelancer because, you know, a company might not have the budget to really invest in a big agency to make this type of social content, but they can invest in this freelancer that they already have a relationship with that they already feel comfortable with.

They, they might feel comfortable giving you more rope to give them a wider. Server software.

[00:48:54] Hayley: Yeah, well, that’s great. I mean, it’s really impressive to essentially have this new business and basically 50 percent of your revenue is like generated from what I would consider kind of like upselling sort of work, right?

Like, people are not necessarily going to expecting that, but you’re, you’re managing to kind of work with them in that way. So I think that’s fantastic.

[00:49:17] Kevin: Thank you. Yeah, it’s been surprising and crazy and It’s just, um, exciting to, to see how the business has grown and recognize that it, it is something that, that companies are craving.

And I’ve been really excited about seeing things work. That is something that I’ve always been really, really curious about. I get really excited when I see new things. A project takeoff and try to analyze why it worked. That’s always been something that just tickles my brain is, is to see something successful and figure out how to reverse engineer that success and replicate it.

So to be able to see that happen with a business and come up with a business model and actually say, I think I have a solution for a problem that’s here in the market and see. Companies respond to it and see ways that I can grow and mature it has been really, really exciting for me.

[00:50:18] Hayley: Yeah, it’s great.

Thanks so much, Kevin, for coming on the show. This has been incredible and I just want you to know that I really appreciate you.

[00:50:27] Kevin: Well, right back at you, Hayley. I appreciate all the things that you do and it has been just an absolute delight to talk to you today.

[00:50:35] Hayley: Thank you so much for listening all the way to the end.

If you would like to, you can check out the show notes at motionhatch. com and make sure you go and check out Kevin’s LinkedIn and give him a follow. You can also follow me over there and I would love it if you’d share this episode of the podcast. If you share the podcast over there, make sure you tag Kevin and I and let us know what your takeaways were.

We’d love to hear from you. Thanks so much for listening all the way to the end. I appreciate you. See ya.

More episodes

About your host

I’ve spent the last 15 years working in the motion design industry. For the past 5 years I’ve been teaching and coaching freelance motion designers and small studios on how to start, run and grow their businesses. I started Motion Hatch in 2017 after being frustrated by the lack of information out there about building a successful motion design business.

Since then I’ve seen the most common challenges that hold many motion designers back. This has given me insight into what works to build a business that’s in your control and gives you the freedom choose how you spend your time.

From coaching and teaching motion designers and studio owners to build the business that excites them, I’ve distilled the best strategies I know down to create this program and help you to build a motion design business that experiences sustainable growth and feels authentic to you.