How to find direction and focus as a motion designerwith Ross Plaskow
As a motion designer, it’s likely you have a lot of different skills.
But knowing which projects to invest your time and energy in can be overwhelming.
This week’s guest has a successful YouTube channel and Patreon account. But he wants to spend more of his time creating games as that’s what he really enjoys.
Join Hayley as she helps Ross to find his direction and focus as a designer.
About Ross Plaskow
Ross started out his motion design career by doing an animation degree at the University of Portsmouth before getting a job working for an agency – the first one he ever contacted!
He worked there for a number of years before leaving that job to go freelance full-time
How to land that first job once you go freelance
In typical freelance fashion, the road to freelancing success wasn’t straight-forward for Ross. It took him 6 months to get his first freelance gig.
Ross attributes this to not tailoring his approach when it came to approaching clients – his portfolio was very diverse and he feels he should have been more selective in the examples of work he sent over to potential clients.
It took him 6 months to really perfect his showreel and once he did, he found that getting work became a lot easier. Therefore you shouldn’t be afraid to niche down, even at the beginning of your career.
How to diversify your revenue streams as a motion designer
Ross started his YouTube channel in 2016 making cartoons and tutorials. Things started out positively but he hit a wall with creating content when he got too busy with his freelancing.
He almost gave up entirely, but then he hit a quiet spot in his freelance career and made the decision to create very niche tutorials and put them on the paid content subscription site, Patreon.
He now has over 200 paid members on the platform and his YouTube boasts an impressive 105k subscribers.
Ross says that the reason his YouTube videos have done so well is because of good SEO – using common sense and researching what kinds of video titles are already out there and filling that void. His first tutorial video now has over 2 million views!
How to balance freelancing full-time with other ventures
These are impressive achievements. However, Ross voiced to Hayley that despite his successes with YouTube and Patreon, he finds it difficult juggling his freelance career with these other ventures and knowing where to invest his time and energy.
Even though he has built up an impressive number of subscribers, Ross finds himself falling out of love with YouTube and wanting to pursue his real passion of making games instead.
Picking between what you can do and what you enjoy doing
As a freelancer, it’s likely that you can do a lot of different things. But the way to achieve better job satisfaction is to spend more time doing the things you enjoy doing, rather than the things you can do just to get paid.
Even though Ross spends the majority of his time animating characters for other people in his work, he feels that his true passion lies in making games, however, he is doubtful that he could make a living doing what he loves.
Hayley explained that once you take control of these limiting self-beliefs, you’ll see that there are unlimited opportunities to make money as a motion designer or animator.
Ross and Hayley discuss the different ways in which you could carry on working whilst still working towards your dream of doing what you love full-time.
How to find direction and focus
Hayley recommends picking a focused goal for each and every year – such as Ross’s current goal of saving up to buy a house. That helps you to prioritise and focus your mind.
She also gives her advice on what she would do if she was Ross to combine her dream of making games whilst taking advantage of the large YouTube audience he already has.
She says you shouldn’t under-estimate the power of sharing the journey and behind the scenes with your audience. It’s an effective way to not only add value to your audience but also spark their interest in the project you’re trying to launch.
Sharing your goals with your audience will also help to keep you accountable and creating a proper plan will help you to keep on track.
If creating a plan for the year feels too intimidating, break down your goals into Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4.
Are you brimming with ideas but you struggle to know which ones to invest your time in? Do you believe you can make a living doing what you genuinely love to do? If not, why not? Leave a comment on the episode page and let us know!
In this episode
- Ross explains how he built his career as an animator and got a job after university [1.43]
- Ross details his journey into freelancing full-time and what advice he’d give to other freelancers who are just starting out [2.51]
- How you can network safely during the pandemic [6.52]
- How Ross build his YouTube channel to 100k subscribers and successfully made money through Patreon [8.02]
- How to pick between the work you CAN do and the work you WANT to do [16.03]
- How to overcome your limiting self-beliefs [18.30]
- How to support yourself financially whilst you pursue your dreams [23.00]
- How to pick a focused goal for the year [26.41]
- How to take a YouTube channel in a different direction if you’ve fallen out of love with your existing content [32.20]
- How to set SMART goals that you can stick to [41.00]
- Why joining a Mastermind can keep you accountable and help you to achieve your goals [42.21]
- Ross’s number one piece of advice for animators and motion designers who are just starting out [43.09]
“I was really interested in character animation so I just chose to get better and better and better at that one specific thing.” [4.54]
“I feel like we’re made to feel like we need to resent the day job – like it’s holding me back from doing what I want to do. But if I choose to, I can really enjoy this.” [17.05]
“You have to book in time for yourself and your passions – if you don’t you’ll wake up in a few years with money and a house but you won’t be doing what you truly want to be doing.” [25.28]
“I feel like a lot of animators want to make games but they’re scared of coding. It’s way simpler to make a game than people assume.” [33.52]
“Everybody has the same amount of time. You have time outside of work to pursue your passions if you really want to do it. Set yourself up with some SMART goals to help.” [34.56]
“Nothing will get done unless you actually plan.” [40.16]
“You have to make your goals SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.” [40.40]
“Work out what kind of animation you want to spend all your time making and then just make that.” [43.16]
“Just concentrate on what you want to do and eventually people will pay you to do it. ” [44.47]
We live in a world where most people don’t just have one job, passion or source of income. It’s common for people to have a side-hustle, or to use their day-job to fund what it is they’re truly passionate about.
But how do you decide which side-hustle to focus on? How do you divide your time between what pays you money, and what it is you actually want to be doing with your time?
Join Hayley as she mentors Ross through some of his current struggles and how you too can find more focus and direction as a motion designer.
Learn more about Client Quest.
Learn more about using accountability to achieve your goals through a Mastermind group.
Ross Plaskow (00:00): How do I become freelance animator? And I said, well, do this, do this, do this, do this, build up your showreel make it really nice. And then email every single studio that you like to look at their work. And you think that you'll be a good fit. And then there's freelancer lists. And if a producer gets an email, if your work is good enough, they usually put you on the list and then if they need you, if you've gone after enough companies, inevitably, eventually you'll get one.
Hayley Akins (00:42): Hey Hatchings and welcome to episode 82 of the motion hatch podcast. This is a podcast where we talk about the business side of motion design and animation. So on today's show, we have Ross Plaskow. So Ross is a freelance animator, and he's tried his hand at many things. He's grown a YouTube channel, 200,000 subscribers. He's made a game and is freelancing full time. I'm a big fan of his work. So I wanted to bring him on the show. The conversation turned, how he has lots of ideas, and sometimes he finds it difficult to focus on one. So in this episode I coached him and I helped him through this problem, which wasn't what we originally intended to do. But a lot of the things that Ross was struggling with and contemplating is actually what many of us struggle with. So I thought this would be extremely helpful for everyone to hear. So let's jump right in. Hey Ross, thank you so much for coming on the show.
Ross Plaskow (01:37): Thank you for having me.
Hayley Akins (01:38): So do you want to start by telling us a bit about yourself and your background?
Ross Plaskow (01:42): I grew up in Essex, which is near London, and then I did an animation degree at the university of Portsmouth. And then at the end of my degree, they gave us this little book and it was called the animation directory. And I turned to page one and it's basically like the phone book of all the companies in England that were animation related. And I turned to the first page and the first name, which was 12 foot six, because there's a number 12 and I called them up and they gave me a job straight out of university. And that was it. So that's how is it is it's exactly how easy it is for everyone. And then I worked there for about three years and then I went freelance and uh, Oh, I did a little course in Denmark at the animation workshop, uh, just to refresh a kind of course, which was really, really good.
Ross Plaskow (02:40): Actually. I feel like it made me a much better animator. And then when I came back from there, I went freelance while I lived at my parents for six months, took six months to get my first freelance job. And then I was freelance and I've been freelance since then. And I think it's been about five years, maybe.
Hayley Akins (02:56): So talk, I'd like to talk about that six months that it took you to get a job. Like how, what kind of things were you doing to try and get a job? And why do you think that you didn't kind of get a job straight away? Is it just because it takes time?
Ross Plaskow (03:18): Looking back on my work quality, probably it was, it was a bit all over the place. Like I had some motion graphics, I had some like text animation. I, I had some 3d, but what I was doing in my spare time was 2d after effects, character animation. So I had, what I should've done was just fill my showreel with just that. And then only apply to places with just that. I mean, I was actually only applying to places with just 2d after effects, character animation, but I didn't quite realize that I should just send them that stuff. And B be niche, uh, for them once I built up a good show reel, uh, it really was only after the six months that I actually had a decent show reel and then people were giving me jobs.
Hayley Akins (04:09): Ah right, I see.
Ross Plaskow (04:13): It's interesting because I think a lot of people that I talked to, um, are a bit scared of like being a bit more niche, but you're saying you think that is like part of why you're successful or, you know, it'd been an animator is kind of just concentrating on, you know, just the character animation part of it. Maybe I at the time, cause this was like five or six years ago. I feel like I did, there was a little bit of a niche. Like there weren't actually that many, that there was a lot of motion design and motion graphics, but there wasn't much character animation in there. And I was only really interested in character animation. So I just chose to just get better and better and better at that specific thing. And then people decided to get me on for just that. I got a message from a guy in Iran, I think on Instagram.
Ross Plaskow (05:05): And he was really, really good at 2d after effects character animator. And he was like, I want to go freelance. And he's only like 17, I think. Um, but he's really, really good. And he said, how do, how do I become freelance animator? And I said, well, do this, do this, do this, do this, build up your showreel make it really nice. And then email every single studio that you like to look at their work. And you think that you'll be a good fit. And then there's freelancer lists. And if a producer gets an email, they use, if your work is good enough, they usually put you on the list and then if they need, you will inevitably, if you've gone after enough companies, inevitably, eventually you'll get one. And so he did that. He had, you sent me a, an Excel spreadsheet of all the producers that work at all of the different studios that he liked. And it was about 40 different studios. And then he said, okay, I've emailed them all. And then I said, Oh cool, congratulations. And then three days later he said, I don't think the strategy has worked. Nobody's getting back to me. I said, how long has it been? He said three days just needs to be patient.
Hayley Akins (06:21): So you think that, um, from your point of view, then it sounds like, you know, patience is key, which I think I, I would agree with too. And I think it is about the, what you were saying before, where, you know, you can build up your work and, you know, work on your skill, but then also making sure you are putting stuff out there and put your work out there and, and contacting people and networking and things like that.
Ross Plaskow (06:46): Hmm. I don't really know how people network now that Corona virus has happened and we can't meet up in pubs and stuff.
Hayley Akins (06:56): Yeah. Well, I think it's, um, well, from my point of view, like a mixture of things, so like there's a few like online virtual events and festivals and things like that, which sometimes they do facilitate for a bit of networking, but it definitely is harder. I mean, we have like some mastermind programs and stuff like that, which is really good. Cause they were built online before, you know, we had the whole coronavirus thing. So they're already kind of primed to network online anyway, and this kind of people from all over the world in those. So I think those kinds of things, you know, like going to events, going to like zoom, networking, meet ups and stuff like that. It sounds a bit icky, but I've done a few of those kinds of things. And I think it's quite fun sometimes. It's
Ross Plaskow (07:43): Good, but is it good enough? Hmm.
Hayley Akins (07:47): Well hopefully we can do both soon so we can do online and in-person, that would be nice. So, you know, while I was researching for this show, um, and kind of, you know, I noticed that you do a lot of stuff, you did a lot of different stuff, which is really interesting to me and I find it fascinating. So a couple of things are, you've got YouTube channel, a Patriot, and I think you made a game, you had a pilot for a cartoon, obviously you're a freelance animator. I also noticed that you'd done a Skillshare class as well. So do you want to tell me a bit about those and, and kind of how that all fits into your career?
Ross Plaskow (08:30): So I started the YouTube channel in 2016, uh, with the intent of making cartoons and tutorials and that went well for a while. Um, but then I don't know the, it wasn't about the money, but the money just disappeared. Uh, I think maybe I, I think I just got too busy. I just started working. And so I had no more time to do any tutorials and then basically almost gave up on the YouTube channel and just started working. And then there was a little dip in the work and I thought, Oh, why don't I make some really niche tutorials and put them on Patriot? And then, so I did the Patrion for about a year and then, and then, uh, and then I started working. I started getting even busier. So now I haven't uploaded anything to the Patrion for about a year, maybe over a year, uh, which feels quite bad. But, uh, I haven't been taking anyone's money. I've just been pausing the payments every single month. So no one's paying anything. So it's kind of just there, if any one wants access to the tutorials, you just pay once and then you get access to everything, but they're there. I was almost gonna delete the Patrion and upload everything to YouTube for free, but then I feel like that would've cheated people out of what they paid for.
Hayley Akins (09:50): I think this is really interesting because so you're like saying, Oh yeah, I tried YouTube. And then I tried patron and stuff like that, but like comparing you to a lot of, you know, other people who've tried that stuff you've actually got, I would say, quite successful in this stuff. I know whether you would consider that, but like your YouTube channel has a hundred thousand subscribers. If that was my YouTube channel, I would read carrying that on. And also, um, with the Patrion, I think you have a valet 200 and odd. I mean, it's really rare to have more than about a hundred dollars a month coming in from Patrion, because like I've done a bit of research and stuff like that. Most people in the platform have under that. So, I mean, it seems like you've got a big opportunity there and I just wonder where your focuses and stuff like that.
Ross Plaskow (10:45): I feel like it is, it's like half work started building up, so I really don't have time to do it, but then sometimes I do have time to do it. And then, so it's half that and then half self destructive tendency. Like as soon as the YouTube got to like a hundred K I just lost interest. And then as soon as the Patrion hit a certain amount of money per month, I just didn't lose interest. I just, all of the ambition just drains out of your soon as you hit a goal, it's like, why, what am I doing this for anymore? You know, it feels like I should carry on those things, but then the work just keeps coming in. And
Hayley Akins (11:28): I mean, you could be, you could be doing more YouTube stuff and you can make money from that. I mean, where was the money from the YouTube stuff coming from originally? Is that just like the AdSense, because with a hundred thousand subscribers, you could definitely pick that up and do stuff again and make money from it and all that kind of good stuff.
Ross Plaskow (11:47): But I dunno, I dunno whether or not you can, well, I don't know whether or not I could make any money on the YouTube. I tried a couple more videos and they only really got like 25 thousands subscribers, um, 25,000 views when there's 105,000 subscribers, I feel like maybe YouTube isn't targeting the view is very much, or maybe they're just not interested or maybe the, the, the thumbnails just aren't interesting. Or maybe just people aren't interested in the titles. It's just, maybe I'm just not good enough. Haley. Maybe I'm just not making content. That is interesting enough for people to even click on.
Hayley Akins (12:24): This is really funny. Cause I feel like I'm, you know, telling you what you should do, but basically, um, I think, you know, you can make money from sponsorships. You could, you know, make affiliate money. You could build your own course and all of that stuff. If you built your audience by, on YouTube, I mean, you already have a big enough audience. It's just about utilizing them. And you've proven that you can utilize them and pulling them over into the patriarch and like giving them more value, you know, on there. And they, people will pay for that obviously because they have been paying for it. So I think it's about, um, you know, focusing on what you want to do, how, and whether you want to do that or not. I just think it's fascinating because I saw that your, I think it was like your first tutorial had like 2.6 million views or something. And that just blew me away. Like, I don't know how you went about that in the first instance or whether people are just drawn to you or something like that.
Ross Plaskow (13:24): I really don't know. I think it was just good SEO at the time. I was just like, I, I thought, what would I look up for a tutorial? I probably would type in like how to animate. And then I typed that in and there was just nothing there. So I said, okay, I'll make, I'll make a, Oh how to make a cartoon. And there was no video. It was called how to make a cartoon, but obviously that's what people are going to be looking for. So I just titled it that, and then that one did do the best out of all of them, even though it's the worst, it's terrible. And I, and I thought I was really funny and by swearing and being edgy at the time, it was just really cringy now. But that was four years ago. I'm a different person. No, that God, five years ago now, maybe even six.
Hayley Akins (14:08): Yeah, it was, I think it said seven years ago, but then you did a tutorial where you did it, like the quickest we'll look cycle or something. I think that's when I first found out about you. And I thought that was fantastic. I loved that.
Ross Plaskow (14:22): I just thought, I think the problem, I think why I abandoned all of these tutorial projects is making tutorial. I don't, I don't like speaking into a microphone. Uh, you can probably tell from this podcast that I get a little nervous with public speaking and I forget what I'm going to say. So making a 20 minute tutorial actually takes about three or four hours of like gut wrenching pain and cringing every single sentence that I say and having to like redo everything like three or four times. And it's just, it's just a big pain to make tutorials for very little. I mean the YouTube money just completely went to zero and then Patrion is like, it's like a good amount, but then I could just be working. Um, and then, uh, I wouldn't have to be making a tutorial and I could be animating and working and making more money than that. And eventually I was just like, how am I going to feed my feed, my family, you know? And by feed, I mean three big Macs a day and my family, I mean me.
Hayley Akins (15:42): Yeah. So let's break this down a bit. Cause I didn't know whether this is interesting to everyone, but I feel like this has gone in a bit of a different format and I quite like it. So this is a problem that I think people listening will have. And the problem that you have is, you know, you're like, cool. I can do a lot of stuff. You know, I can animate, I can make tutorials that people want to watch. Obviously you've proven that you can do that, but it's like, what do you enjoy doing exactly. And what are your goals? Exactly.
Ross Plaskow (16:17): I've been thinking about this a lot. What am I working towards? Like I'm doing freelance animation. And a lot of the time, I like a few days ago I was working and it's not on my own thing is it's like a commercial project and I was doing the most boring part of it. I was just drawing shape layers. I was tracing some artwork for animation and usually I would think, Oh, I just gotta get through this. But then I sort of slowed myself down and I was like, wait, I'm actually in a really good mood right now. Like I'm enjoying myself. Like usually I feel like it's like inbuilt, maybe just for me, but to, to kind of resent the way that you make money. Like you feel like, well, I feel like I have to resent the day job. Like, Oh, that's keeping me back from doing what I want to do.
Ross Plaskow (17:08): But then I was like, wait, if I choose to, I can actually like enjoy this. I can listen to a podcast. I'm relaxing. I'm on the couch. I can, I can eat whilst I'm working. I can pet my dog. Like I can actually have a really good time doing this, but what ultimately am I working towards? Do I want to be a director? Do I want to make little films? Do I want to carry on doing what I'm doing? Am I kind of like what I'm doing? Just, just animating characters for other people. But ultimately the thing that I think I enjoy the most is making games, even though I've only made one game and it was only a very, very small, silly game. I feel like if I stopped working, if I retired right now, I probably would spend all my time just making games. So why don't you do that then? Well, I have to keep working and save up, save our money and stuff because I don't feel like I would be able to make any money making games. The game that I did make made zero money. I, uh, I think I put it up. I think it had ads on it first and that had like, that made like $3 or something. So I just thought, okay, I'll get rid of the ads. I'll just put out for free.
Hayley Akins (18:22): I think it can't make money or do you know? It can't make money? Cause this is what I come across as well with people. There's a lot of like limiting beliefs. And I think with what you're saying is a little bit like that as well. So with your YouTube channel, you're like, I'm not going to make money with that YouTube channel. I'm not going to grow it and get lots of years when I know for a fact that you can
Ross Plaskow (18:40): Do that. It's self destructive tendencies. Exactly.
Hayley Akins (18:45): Yeah. I mean, this is very interesting because I think a lot people think like this and it's like a lot of stuff that we talk about and I must mind and stuff as well because we get people in there and then we're like, well, why aren't you doing that? And then they're like, because of this and it's like, well, you know, but you can solve that problem. Do you see what I mean? So it's like, I mean, it's interesting that you think that your
Ross Plaskow (19:06): Holding yourself back almost, it's kind of fascinating to me. I could definitely do more, I guess it's, I guess I have the luxury of having work and making my work be the excuse for not doing the thing that I'm most interested in, but then to be like, I like trying things out. I feel like I did tutorials at the beginning just to see whether or not I could, like, I want to see if I could make a tutorial. Okay. That worked. Okay. What's next. I want to see if I can make a game. Okay. That worked what's next or you're saying is you should take these things that you have a success in and build upon them and build businesses out of them. But what I'm saying is once, once I've done it, I just lose interest except for making games, which I want to continue, but I need to make, uh, make a living, um, to be able to do that. But then by making a living, I have no time to make games. So it's like a catch 22.
Hayley Akins (20:14): So what, um, what, yeah. So what are you doing to like build towards your goal of making games?
Ross Plaskow (20:21): Exactly. So work as hard as possible. So I'm 30 to work as hard as possible, make as much money as possible. I know it's crashed to talk about money, but we live talking
Hayley Akins (20:33): About money on this podcast
Ross Plaskow (20:35): All about that's good. Like how do you actually make money? Can you make a sizeable amount of money doing animation?
Hayley Akins (20:44): I mean, for me, like if you're, if you're me about like, you know, kind of freelancing and can you make a lot of money and that kind of thing, I think you can. I think that what you get to a certain point where you kind of hit the ceiling though. And then that's where I think potentially either like hiring other people or, you know, building alternative revenue streams and all of that kind of stuff. Um, then that can kind of open it up a bit more to you. And it's just about, um, which direction you want to go in and kind of what you want to do, I guess.
Ross Plaskow (21:18): Mm. If I can speak completely, completely transparently, completely bluntly cut everything out that I've said in this entire podcast, except for this here is the goal, the ultimate goal. And I'm being completely transparent and honest. Okay. So, and this is completely flawed plan as well. This is basically gambling, but how much money can you live on any year I living very frugally. You could probably live on about 25 to 30,000 pounds a year. Maybe even less, maybe 20,000 pounds a year. Depends whether or not you have kids or a dog, or how many people that you're helping or supporting. But I feel like I'm living pretty frugally. That that's about right. If you were to put it, if there was a way for you to put money into, let's say an index fund that makes about 10% a year, then to get 20 grand a year, you'd only need to put in about 200,000 pounds into this index fund.
Ross Plaskow (22:28): There are index funds like the oldest one, I think is the S and P 500 that makes on average for the past 60 years, that's made about 10% on average per year. So all I need to do to support myself forever is to save up 200,000 pounds and put that into an index fund and then take off the interest and basically retire forever and live off of 20,000 pounds unreliably, but maybe reasonably reliably, forever and retire and make games all year and maybe work like one or two months a year to supplement the income, you know, is that, that that could be the ultimate goal, you know? And then I could make games. I'm rambling a lot.
Hayley Akins (23:10): Yeah. But this is, this is really interesting because right. Well, I thought you were gonna say, this is how I would approach it. If I was you, is I thought you were going to say, okay, I'm going to just freelance. And I'm just going to make like 20,000, not 30,000 or whatever you could do that very easily freelancing in London. I'm sure you're making more than that and then not work the rest of the time. And then the rest of the time that I'm not working, I work on my game stuff. So I like basically do part time, freelance animation stuff, and part-time games stuff. That's how I thought you were going to approach. See, now I would
Ross Plaskow (23:46): Do that, but uh, completely transparently. I'm saving money to, uh, for a deposit on a house. So you have all of these different things. So I have to work full time for this. And then when I have the house, maybe I can save up and put the 200 K or 300 K into, uh, the S and P 500 index fund. Maybe you get, and then maybe you can retire after that and just make games all the time.
Hayley Akins (24:15): Yeah. Or you could get the house and then work part-time as an animator. And part-time when your games stuff, I'm just trying to like thinking, like, how can you bring your goal closer to you? You know, I'm sure you have time as well outside of work where you could be doing mini steps. Like if you don't want to do the patrons stuff, you don't want to do the YouTube stuff. That's fine. But like pick the game stuff and be like, this is what I do. This is my like side hustle. You know, this is what I do instead of watching Netflix on a weekend or, you know, I spend like what, like five hours on a weekend, every single week doing it you'd make progress. It would be small, but it would be something.
Ross Plaskow (24:54): Yeah, that's true.
Speaker 5 (24:57): Yeah.
Ross Plaskow (25:00): It's, it's so hard to say no to work though, right?
Hayley Akins (25:03): Yeah, it is. But you have to book in time for yourself and your passions and where you want to grow, because otherwise you're never going to do that. And then you'll wake up in five years and be like, okay, I have like a house and I have this money and stuff, but actually I'm not doing the thing that I really care about.
Ross Plaskow (25:21): See, I was like this, I was like this the whole time I was working, I was resenting what I was doing. And I was like, I just want to make a game. I just want to make it a coloring book. I just want to make, uh, uh, tutorials that that's what I want to do. And then I go and do that. And then once I've done it, I'm like, okay, back to work. Now I just lose interest in it.
Hayley Akins (25:40): So you feel like you're, you're worried that you lose interest in the game?
Ross Plaskow (25:45): Yeah. Well, I did do that for a while. I, I said, uh, I said, Oh, I'm only going to work six months a year. And the rest of the time I'm going to, I'm going to work one month on one month off for the whole year. I think I did this a couple of years ago. And then I made a game and I made some tutorials and I had loads and loads of free time. And I went on holiday and everything. But then at the end of the year, uh, I couldn't get a big enough deposit for a house that I wanted. You know, I, I need to earn a specific amount to, to increase the quality of my life. And I was thinking, what is more important to me, the quality of my living standards, like my actual life, or, you know, like going and making a tutorial. And then after I make the tutorial, I'm, I don't even like it or making a game and it doesn't even make any money, you know?
Hayley Akins (26:37): So what I do is I pick like focuses for the years, or like for seasons that I'm in something like that. So, you know, when you talking about like, okay, cool. You know, I was saving to buy a house. I can't do this thing now. It's like, fine. So then that's what you do for a year. You know, maybe you spend a year or even a couple of years, if you live in London and stuff like that, you know, like saving for a house, you're saving for a house. And you're like, well, I need to keep my accounts in order. So I'm going to make as much money as possible. And so you do that for a couple of years. And then after that, you're like, cool, well, I've done that now. So what season of my life or my next, you know, what kind of do I want to go towards next?
Hayley Akins (27:13): And now maybe you don't have to work as much. And then maybe you kind of, you know, concentrate your goals on something else. So for example, when I started this podcast, I was said to myself, I'm in this podcast for a year, no matter what, no matter if it's some people don't listen to it, people don't care about it, you know, or whatever. It doesn't matter to me. I'm just going to commit to at least doing it for you. And to be honest, I didn't think that many people would listen to it and it would be, you know, turn into what it is today. But, um, I think by doing that, you know, focuses your mind and you're not as bothered about the feedback. And I think listening to feedback. So it was good, but I mean, like, you know, maybe no one will like showing up or no one caring and all that kind of stuff.
Hayley Akins (27:59): Cause you're like, well, it's fine. Cause it's just my project for this year. You know, this is what I'm focused on. I've wanted to make a YouTube channel for a very long time, but I'm awaited to really go for it until this year because I wanted to get everything in place. And I wanted to give the podcasts a chance to like really, you know, get good at that and make that really good and then kind of move on to the YouTube stuff. So the, so I'm not just following like the shiny objects, if that makes sense.
Ross Plaskow (28:28): If after a year of doing, of making the podcast, if after a year nothing happened from it or just like you got no reward for it, would you stop or would you carry on going?
Hayley Akins (28:54): Well, it depends whether I felt like I was getting anything out of it. So, you know, like in terms of a podcast, there's lots of different things that you can get out of it. Um, you can get clients from a podcast, you know, you could like go out and interview your clients who you want and be like, Hey, do you want to come on my show? We talk about this. And like use it as like a lead generation thing. One of my friends is doing, um, or, you know, like this turned into like a full business, you know, because people are asking me more questions, they wanted more stuff and kind of had to make a decision. Well, is this something that I actually want to do? Full-time
Ross Plaskow (29:32): Right. So you were able to use the podcast to further your career? I feel like what happened with me was I would pick these projects, like meet mysteries. I spent a year on meat mysteries and then just nothing happened with it, you know? Or I spent like four months on a game and then nothing happened. I feel like maybe I let it just defeat me, you know?
Hayley Akins (30:01): Yeah. Like originally is like the perfect amount of time or anything. It's just like a big undertaking, but you said that, but like the YouTube channel, I just want to keep coming back to that. Cause I think it's fascinating that you have a hundred thousand subscribers. You never post any content. Like, I don't know whether that's because you got in really early and like maybe it was easier to kind of get more subs and you're just kind of building over time off that. And even though, you know, I mean, I don't think you're getting new subscribers at the moment, but abuse picked up again. You could easily like build on what you already have. I think like, to me that is a success for you. And I think it's interesting how
Ross Plaskow (30:52): You
Hayley Akins (30:53): Haven't carried on with that, but I can understand. And I'm sure people listening as well and descend that you're like, well, that's just not my passion.
Ross Plaskow (31:00): You know, passions change interests, change. There's people with like 2 million subscribers and they just, they haven't uploaded in three years. People move on, even when it looks like they have the opportunity to do something, if they're just not interested in it, they'll just go do something else. I also have the opportunity to be working full time. So that's that lessons, the guilt of the abandoning possible? Like what would you, how would you let's say, okay, let's say you have a hundred thousand subscribers on a YouTube channel. The YouTube channel contains tutorials and cartoons. So people are expecting tutorials and cartoons, but you don't want to make tutorials and cartoons anymore because tutorials are really painful to make, especially if you're self-conscious and I'm sure, you know, have you, have you tried making tutorials before?
Hayley Akins (32:04): Uh, yeah, I've got a course, so, I mean, there's, there's a side story. Um, how was that like an animation tutorial?
Ross Plaskow (32:13): Makes sense. Yeah. So similar. So if you were in my shoes, what would you do with the YouTube channel? If you really didn't want to make cartoons or tutorials? I guess the, the way I want to further my career would be to start making more games. So how can I use my YouTube channel in relation to game?
Hayley Akins (32:41): Yeah. So I would start making, what I would do potentially is start making the game and then maybe record like the behind the scenes of making the game and see if that audience that you already have finds that. Interesting. And I imagine it might not work out by imagine the existing audience would have some interest in that and yes, like some people would, and maybe you'd lose them. You could potentially make a new YouTube channel, but to be honest, I would just try and utilize that audience. Cause it's so like connected, you know, like, um, it's like how can an anime to make a game? Like that's interesting to animators, you know, I was thinking maybe
Ross Plaskow (33:25): Like a small, I know I just said that I hate making tutorials, but the only thing that I can think of doing would be to make a sort of 12 part course. And uh, the way I made my game was like really, really simple code. And I feel like coding is just like really scary for people. I feel like a lot of animators want to make games, but they're scared of coding, but they feel like they probably wouldn't be able to learn it, but it's way simpler to make a game than people then I assume. And I feel like I could make a course and put it on YouTube and like call it something like baby code or something like that, or how to make the game with like really, really simple coding. I, I do feel like, uh, I could, uh, do that, but then I'm really busy working and you know, I just don't have the time.
Hayley Akins (34:25): Yeah. But, um, so you know, everybody could say that I have the same amount of time as you, and you know, everybody has the same amount of time. Right. But people can, you can do stuff. I know that you do have the time, like you don't have any kids or anything, you know, like you're a full-time animator. Like you have time outside of work to do this. If you wanted to do it, it's about setting up, setting yourself up with some smart goals and like breaking them down.
Ross Plaskow (34:53): But then there's the problem of, uh, uh, because now I have tried so many different things. I have the YouTube and I have the Patriot. If I'm making, if I'm spending all my spare time, making tutorials for YouTube, now I'm neglecting the Patriots. And if I make tutorials for Patrion, now I'm neglecting the YouTube. And so I've just decided to just focus on, not do either and just work really hard so that I can save up enough money so that I can have spare time all the time. You know,
Hayley Akins (35:28): I would, what I would do is I would pick what you want to do. And then I would tell, say to the people on the YouTube or the Patriot or wherever you want to it, Hey, I'm doing this thing over here. If you want to come over there and do that, or like you can do the tutorials on YouTube and then say like, you know, say, Oh, I'm happy to do some extra stuff for people on Patrion. If you want to do that, if you don't want to do that, just get rid of the Patrion. Like it's just, you know, you don't need like an extra distraction because you're going to get to the place that you want to go to quicker. If you're like, right. Get rid of all of this stuff, let's just focus and like go down this path. Why would probably do, if I was you, I would say, Hey, I'm going to do this new series on YouTube.
Hayley Akins (36:15): It's about building a game as an anime. You build the series around that, you know? So you're giving people behind the scenes and stuff like that whilst you're also making your game, which is going to make the game more successful because then people know about it before you bring it out and all that kind of stuff, they followed your journey. They're part of it. You know, that's an exciting to people. Hopefully people are listening to this, going Russia make a game. And you know, if you are new, you think you should get in touch with them and make them make the game and show you all how to do it, because that would be fantastic. Um, and then what I would do is I would do something extra for the Patrion people. So maybe they, you do a Q and a like once a week of bell, if people want it, if they are interested in making a game and they want to do that, then if you subscribe to the Patrion, they can like ask you some questions about it or something.
Hayley Akins (37:03): See, now that sounds like a very good plan, but now, already in my mind, I'm like, but Ross, you should just be working and you shouldn't be taking time to do this if you're not entirely interested in it, because what I'm interested in is making the game, not making the tutorials. But then at the same time, I feel like the tutorials will be really useful. Well, it's just because, um, if you, it's a way to launch your game as well, isn't it, it's a way to get people interested at front and to build that audience for the game too, as well as giving some value, you know, you are right, Hailey, you are entirely right. It's just so much doubt in the mind. You know, there's, there's so many different reasons not to do things and not to try things. And it was why I was angry at people about earlier. Like, why aren't you trying things? Why don't you go do this? And in my mind constantly, it's like, no, don't do that. Don't do that. Focus on this. Can you carve out a small bit of time every week though, to do this? Like, could you work out okay, how long is it going to take me to realistically put consistent content out on YouTube whilst making this game and stuff like that. And could you actually plan that into your week, but while, while not affecting your kind of freelance animation stuff, I don't really know.
Hayley Akins (38:25): I really don't know because a freelancing, I do take on a few evening jobs as well. So it's so hard. I need to do that live like it's absolutely vital or like is, uh, my feeling would be, I would just say, like, at the very least I'm going to spend like a few hours on the weekend dedicated to this. You can make a plan from a after April, you know, when you get your house. So, um, you're like cool. After April, um, I'm going to spend April doing this bit of it, and then I'm going to spend like me doing this bit. I break it down into quarterly goals as well. So like a bit, you know, so have like a goal by the end of the year, then break that down into quarters. So like obviously is the, I think April is the start of a new quarter. Yeah. Q2. So then go from Q2 and be like, okay, this is what we're doing that. And then Q3, Q4, and then like break that down into months about what you're going to do, then share all of that online and be like, look, this is my plan. This is what I'm going to do. And then get everyone to give you accountability. You know, the audience gives you accountability. The motion hatch listeners are going to give you accountability.
Ross Plaskow (39:41): See that's the scary part having to fit, feeling indebted to followers. Sometimes I see people posting on Instagram saying, sorry, I haven't posted in so long. And I think, Oh no, they feel like they have to, when you should just create when you want to create. But then what you're saying is you should be regular with this. You should actually have a plan and not just be a sporadic, creative mind floating through the universe, creating when you want, you need to, because otherwise it's true. Nothing will get done unless you actually plan that should be the title of this podcast.
Hayley Akins (40:21): But I think, um, you know, we have kind of done that and it's about, you know, D basically setting goals and you should make them smart. So, you know, go through, I know the you're familiar with this acronym. I think it's called an acronym, the smart goals thing where it's like, you know, you have to make it specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound, I've never heard of this. Yeah. So every time you think of a goal, it's really good because everyone's like, cool. Yeah, I'm going to edit my reel. And then that's I go? And it's like, well, obviously you're not going to retain that goal because you haven't given it any like constraints or anything. So, but then if you turn that goal into something like, okay, in February, I'm going to finish my show reel. I'm going to work on it for an hour every day in the morning on a, you know, on the weekdays.
Hayley Akins (41:15): And it's going to be done by like the end of February. Then that's much, you know, about a smart goal because obviously it's relevant. Cause your anatomy to you want to kind of make a new, real to get more clients it's specific because you kind of, you know, you're saying when you're going do it and by when measurable, obviously like you've got a deadline attainable, like it, can you do it in that time? Yeah. Relevant time bound. Obviously you've got a deadline. So do you talk about this stuff in your mentorship? Yeah. So we have a course called client quest. So I have not teed Ross up for this. And also, um, the MoGraph mastermind program, which is we have an eight week program, which basically helps you to achieve your motion design career goals. Right? So yes, this is what we do. You're basically in a peer group with other animators or motion designers and you have a mentor which talks through this kind of stuff with you.
Hayley Akins (42:15): And like, if you want to work on a project and you need accountability, you know, then you can join our mastermind. If you want to go freelance and you've done a where to start, you can join our mastermind, all that kind of good stuff. I feel like this is a big problem for a lot of people that they start projects and never finish them. Definitely. Yeah. Which the accountability part is huge. And that's why I'm really passionate about masterminds and stuff like that. I'm in mastermind myself, you know, because having those other people around you, even your peers, you know, can really help motivate you. And I think that's why I'm still doing this podcast and have this business because I've had these kinds of people around me who were doing similar stuff, you know? Cool. Well, can I ask you one last question before we wrap this conversation up? Um, so if you're just starting out as an animator, now what's the one piece of advice that you'd give yourself, uh, work out what kind of animation you want to spend all your time making and then just make that. So for me, it was character animation. Forget about text or motion graphics. If you become good at one kind of animation, the skills that you've learned. If someone asks me to do motion graphics, I I'll be able to do the motion graphics because I've gotten good at character animation, you know?
Speaker 5 (43:47): Yeah. Just
Hayley Akins (43:48): Get better, just get better at the thing that you're interested in. And then eventually people will give you jobs in that. Yeah. And don't let all the other stuff distract you, like learning a new software that you don't really need and all that kind of stuff. Um, like what, like, cause a lot of people are like, Oh yeah, I know after effects, but I, I feel like I should know cinema 4d because that's what everybody else does. I kind of attitude. I had that. I had that exact problem a few months ago. I saw there's like a, not a trend, but there's a lot of new, cool character animation being done in cinema 4d. And I thought, Oh, that's where the industry's going. Should I should
Ross Plaskow (44:32): Learn cinema 4d? And then a week later after a cinema 4d courses, I was like, I can't do it anymore. I have to go back to after effects. It was just too much. Yeah. Just concentrate on what you want to do. And eventually people will pay you to do it.
Hayley Akins (44:49): Yeah. Great. Well, um, thanks for coming on the show. Do you want to tell everybody where they can find out more about you and your work?
Ross Plaskow (44:57): It's just my name.com. It's Ross klasko.com. And then on Twitter is Ross Glasgow. And then on Instagram is Ross plastico, but I don't really use social media much anymore because of, you know, we're all telled to use it less. So I'll use it less. Are you using it less now? I guess you have to use it a lot. Yeah.
Hayley Akins (45:18): I use it a lot for emotion hatch, but I don't use it personally. Yeah. I think it's good to use it for your career sometimes, but like really monitor when you do it and use, um, things like buffer and stuff like that to do posts automatically. So you don't have to be looking at it all the time. Every day. You know,
Ross Plaskow (45:37): I really, I wake up and I I'm straight into looking at Instagram. I, I, I thought I was doing better, but this year, I guess, because so much has been going on in the news, like the first thing I do is look at my phone. It's awful. I probably spend an hour just scrolling through Instagram and Twitter in the morning. It's so bad and it feels bad when you're doing it. Like why, why am I even doing it? Sorry, this is meant to be the end of segment.
Hayley Akins (46:01): No, it's fine. Um, well I've got another little tip for you and everyone else, if this is helpful. Um, I wrote a book called the miracle morning by Hal Elrod, which, um, it sounds a bit, you know, Oh yeah, we have to have a more morning routine, but it does actually really, really help because it stops me from picking my phone up instantly and doing that. And basically he talks about just doing a tiny bit of exercise, having a bit of silence. So whether that's like meditation or praying or whatever, like people want to do, um, doing some journaling, um, there is basically a thing called the savers. So it's another acronym. I'm all about acronym stirred in a way it's like S a V E R S. So it's silence, affirmations, visualizations of visualizing what your, um, you know, you want your life to be like, um, E exercise. What's our, again, our reading. So read something every morning, not Instagram, like a book or something. And then the last S is scribing. So generally I think that's right. I've probably missed one out, but we'll pay everything in the show notes and everyone can find everything there, links and stuff.
Ross Plaskow (47:23): Okay. I've written that down. That's good. I'll read that.
Hayley Akins (47:26): Cool. So thanks so much for on the show. This is
Hayley Akins (47:30): Awesome.
Ross Plaskow (47:31): It was, it was, it was very eyeopening.
Hayley Akins (47:36): Thanks so much again to Ross for coming on the show and being so open and honest about his current struggle and finding direction and focus. I highly recommend you check out Ross's work and tutorials. He is really an incredible character animator. And if you want him to make his game and to teach you how to meet your own game, then please do reach out to him and let him know. We would also love to hear from you. Did you enjoy this episode? Should we do similar episodes in the feature where I coached them onto an issue they are having I've lived here from, you can always contact us at hello at motion hats, shot com or on Twitter and Instagram at motion hatch. If you're interested in getting coaching yourself or joining our MoGraph mastermind program, then please head over to motion, hatch.com forward slash mastermind, where you can apply and be part of our next session. Thanks so much for listening all the way to the end. I appreciate you.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.
Thanks for Listening!
To share your thoughts:
To help out the show:
Podcast music licensed by Big Waves
Podcast production & marketing support by the team at BE MORE Media
Some of the links above are affiliate links. Basically, this means that if you decide to make a purchase through one of these links, we will earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. You can be sure that we would recommend these products whether or not we made any commission on them. Please don’t spend your money on them if you don’t think that they will truly help you improve your business, although, in our experience, they will.
Recent podcast episodes:
Should you niche down as a designer? We’ve all heard this advice! So, does niching down help you to win more clients or empower you...
When Motion Hatch first started it was a side hustle, now it's a company! Have you considered starting your own motion design...
Charli Marie is a YouTuber, podcast host and Creative Director. She provides guidance on how to create a motion design side project that complements your day job.