Can You Make a Living with Independent Internet Animation?

So what about money? Without the “suit” that all animators fear, how could an independent internet animator possibly earn revenue? What helped inflate the dot com bubble in regards to animation, was the thought the Internet would be the evolution of television. It would work much the same way TV does where good content brings an audience that would drive advertising space. You put a good cartoon on your web site and Coke will pay you thousands to put their banner ad above it for your audience to see. But the idea didn’t work very well, as banner ads aren’t worth the cost to create good cartoons. Then there was the short-lived pay per view model. But people weren’t willing to cough up dough for an Internet cartoon, even if the price was only a few cents.

There are a few shining examples of cartoonists and animators that have made a living solely from their independent Internet content, but there is no existing business model, other than that of the pornographic industry, who, content subject matter aside, you have to respect as true independent film makers! There, pay per view and banner ads more than compensate for the cost of content. (I’ve even thought of adding some dirty scenes to a typical Family Pants episode to see if it could fall into that business model! But strangely enough, dirty films is one thing, but dirty cartoons seem even dirtier!)

A business model I have created with the help of Jason Sawtelle was the Family Pants Plug a few years back. (Note the non-holding line technique). Here I attempted to sell short cartoons like clip art to other sites looking for good cheap customizable animation. Think of it as comic strip syndication meets 20th century Internet animation. Although artists were interested, paying customers were not. Perhaps my price was too high at $100 per cartoon. Perhaps this idea’s time hasn’t come or like other Internet content models, it never will.

Alas, a market that does exist and has grown is the direct to DVD market. Technology has made it increasingly easy to make your own DVD and even licensing your material. So for now, I’ve chosen to go that route. I feel I’ve made the best cartoon I could and hope for the best by reverse-marketing it now that I’m done!


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8 Responses to “Can You Make a Living with Independent Internet Animation?”

  1. Jaron Says:

    Interesting.I’m trying to find a way to market my work to people.I think you were getting somewhere with marketing toward artist.Every now and then I see animated pieces that are experimental and traditionally done.It’s a breath of fresh air.I guess a good question to ask is How did they get in and present their piece.We are in a motion graphics universe and yet there are a few animators that still breakthrough.What do you think they do differently then most people.

  2. familypants Says:

    Actually, we’re in a “business” universe… and a small part of that business is motion graphics.

    Occasionally that business person is an artist. Think of Walt Disney. Walt was a good artist, but certainly not the best. (He did have a uncanny understanding of the artist’s process, which helped in being the boss. And then again it’s hard to equate his own artistic ability when he worked with one of the greatest animators of all time, Ub Iwerks.) Walt’s greatest strength was his business savvy. He just so happened to be arguably one of the 20th centuries’ greatest businessmen. But if the artist is not a businessman, perhaps the artist golfs with a great businessman.

    I believe half of any artistic success is who you know. (You got to be friends with those businessmen.) They don’t teach you networking in art school, but those “classes” are actually still there. Usually, the crappy artists learning to bull their way through to a passing grade. We all know the teacher’s pet is going to pass, even though they’re may not be that talented. That’s learning how to “sell” and “network”.

    I believe the other half is talent. Businessmen know that a talented jerk is still lucrative. You’ll hear them say, “That guy is such a pain in the rear, but he’ll rake in the dough! So we’ll have to deal with him.”

    So, the solution is to become a businessman or meet a businessman and pitch your idea. Perhaps you’re a terrible artist, but really know how to network, sell, or “bull” your way through to succeed.

    Or become so skilled at what you do, that no one can ignore you.

    Either way, somewhere a businessman is dieing for the next great idea, that you can provide.

    The internet is a great thing because in many ways it’s Mars… uncharted territory. What will be the great oil rush idea that creates an industry? In 1999 people thought internet cartoons will work like TV, sponsor supported. Before that they thought it would be customer supported like magazine or newspaper subscription.

    Funny how in ’99 people talked about short cartoons or “content” SWFs viewed through “Flash Portals”. Today it’s MP4 videos viewed through YouTube type of sites. Will it work this time? I’d say just like then, yes for 1% of the stuff out there…. just like TV, film, and other motion graphics.

  3. P.Murugan Says:

    dear sir,
    I designed 2D animations with flash. I would like to sale my animations through internet and with my friends. I have no ideas about selling with internet… please can u help me…

  4. Animated Emoticons Says:

    If I ever have a blog, I hope it’s as good as this one.

  5. Syndication Idea v. Syndication Investor « Family Pants Blog! Says:

    […] Pixel Pintura, a YouTube user, sent an interesting comment on my YouTube channel about my Family Pants syndication idea.   I couldn’t answer it entirely in the small YouTube comment box, so I’m posting an […]

  6. Serge Honinow Says:

    I make holograms and involved with maya computer animation. Gee !!! Is there a holographic compositing ? Peace, Serge

  7. Family Pants and the Independent Animator - Thinking Animation Says:

    […] has a great entry in his blog called Can You Make a Living with Independent Internet Animation? that talks about how the Internet can open doors for the independent animator. Much like the […]

  8. Thinking Animation | Family Pants and the Independent Animator - Thinking Animation Says:

    […] has a great entry in his blog called Can You Make a Living with Independent Internet Animation? that talks about how the Internet can open doors for the independent animator. Much like the […]

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