Gifs, animated infographics, and explainer videos have become a staple in web design, opening a new career path for motion graphic designers. Motion graphics are super-efficient at engaging users and enhancing their experience – which is why demand will stay high.
Motion graphics are being used to communicate concepts, ideas, and emotions with users faster than ever. Websites use them for seamless UX journeys, brands use them to grab attention, and presentations use them to inspire their audience.
Whatever the end goal may be, motion graphics have become the go-to design element on every digital medium.
It’s never been a better time to start out as a motion graphic designer. Mograph designers have the added advantage of being able to use their specialty to make themselves stand out professionally!
Whether you already have experience as a motion graphic designer or you’re new to this niche in design, understanding the responsibilities of motion graphic designers will help you articulate your value as a freelancer – which will help you earn better clients and raise your freelance rates.
What does a motion graphic designer do?
The textbook definition of a motion graphic designer is a professional designer who creates animated graphics that communicate a concept or an emotion. However, a freelancer in motion design involves much more than that.
A motion graphic designer acts as the bridge between on-screen elements and reality. By bringing graphics to life, they add an entirely new level of engagement to the user experience.
Motion graphic designers make things like moving graphics for football games, conferences, and of course, websites. They can take brands and make them real, living things that people can recognize and interact with. They bring the digital world to life!
While motion designers don’t focus on UX design, they do add to the user experience. They take you from one moment to another in a way that keeps you immersed in the experience, without breaking any previous UI standards.
Is there a difference between motion design and animation?
As you dip your toes into the freelance world, you’ll see freelance jobs advertised for “animators/motion graphic designers.” There’s actually a big difference between these design roles, and knowing it will help you choose the freelance jobs that suit you best.
Motion graphic designers work on animating graphic elements to transmit an idea. They animate graphics, video, and text using various techniques and rely on design knowledge.
Animators work on animating images to create a flow of events that tells a story. Their animation uses a variety of artistic techniques to create moving images, such as 2D, 3D, hand-drawn, digital, claymation, paint, etc.
The main difference between animators and motion designers is the purpose of the work.
Are you animating to make a point or illustrate an idea? That would be motion graphics.
Are you creating a fluid narrative or telling a story? That’s animation.
The goal of most freelance motion design projects is to illustrate an idea in a quick, engaging way, usually for a brand or company. Motion graphic designers must have marketing and UX knowledge to keep their graphics on-brand and immersive.
Animations projects usually entail creating longer videos containing many moving elements. These projects also tend to be more art-focused, though knowledge of marketing and UX is still helpful in landing freelance animation jobs.
Although choosing a niche is a good step for any type of designer, many designers take on projects from both categories. There’s a lot of overlap between the industries, so there’s no harm in that hustle!
Common business models for motion graphic designers
After getting familiar with the right niche for you in freelance design, there’s still more to customize. To build the successful business of your dreams, you also need to choose the business model that’s best for you as a motion graphic designer.
Becoming a freelance mograph designer
Starting to work as a freelance designer comes with many new responsibilities, whether you do it full-time or not. There are a few fundamentals of freelancing to get on top of, but once your vision for your working style is clarified, you can set up your business to match.
Working as a freelancer doesn’t look the same for everyone. There are a lot of ways you can customize your business to help you alleviate some negative points of the job.
For example, as a motion graphic designer, you could be:
- working for yourself
- working with a design studio
- leading your own design agency
- selling your own products
- represented by an agent
Working 1-on-1 as a subcontractor for clients is the most common idea of what it means to be a freelance motion graphic designer. This model provides freedom of choice on a lot: projects, work hours, freelance rates, etc. Freelancing alone also makes you the sole responsible for more tasks, such as finding clients, filing taxes, and creating invoices. It’s yin and yang. ☯️
The best solo motion graphic designers are those that work well with routines and systems. Creating systems to handle the recurring tasks of freelance designing is vital to a successful workflow, so organization and self-motivation are key.
Working with a design agency
Working with a design agency, remotely or in person, is another job path for motion graphic designers. Being part of a team relieves some of the client-facing freelance duties, but you’ll have less say over your projects, freelance rate, and work schedule.
Most motion graphic designers who work with a design team appreciate the stability in incoming work and paycheck. Creative-minded designers who prefer to avoid total project management work well in agencies. Team players and social animals also fit in well!
With enough freelance experience under your belt, opening your own design agency could also be an option. Specifically, you’ll need a strong knowledge of project development and management to start. Once you’ve got confidence in your execution and a reliable source of clients, you’re ready to strike out on your own.
Of course, there are more business decisions than those involved in starting your own design agency. The best way to reassure yourself is to reach out to fellow designers and mentors in a digital design community.
Selling motion graphics as a product
Since there’s always a demand for new, exciting digital content, motion graphic designers can supply graphic elements as a business model. This model can even become a passive income stream.
They can create their own online shop or use existing platforms such as Gumroad, Design Cuts, Videohive, and TurboSquid. Uploading your templates, icons, and other motion graphics make them available for purchase and re-purchase with no extra work on your end.
This model works as a successful side hustle but rarely brings in enough revenue to become the main source of income for most motion graphic designers.
Working with an agent
Depending on your skill set, career experience, and niche, you could use an agent to find jobs for you. It’s a more common route for established artists, but motion graphic designers can grow their careers this way, too!
Agencies present the work of motion graphic designers to their network of clients. They act as the middle-man between artist and contractor, which is why they spend their time seeking top talent and developing a network of high-paying clients.
Working with an agent can open doors to the best jobs in freelance design – at the price of a commission, of course. For motion graphic designers, these agencies are most common amongst the commercial, TV, music, video game, and film industries.
Tips for freelance motion graphic designers
Now that you’re on track to set up a motion graphic design business, let’s get into some specifics. As a motion graphic designer, you have a special skill set that can help you land your dream clients.
- Create a portfolio directed towards your ideal client. Target your dream clients the work that is most relevant to their industry. Utilize your mograph-making skills to create something that demonstrates the way your style could work for them.
- Put your motion graphics on Dribbble. Dribbble is an online showcase for creative graphic projects of all kinds. Clients browse the website for inspiration but also to search for top designers!
- Make yourself known via social media. As a motion graphics designer, your work will be featured across your clients’ social media channels. Make it work for you, too, by being active on your own accounts. It’s a great way to build credibility, meet other designers, and get noticed by new clients.
- Connect with your peers. Freelancing can be an isolating experience, so get connected with fellow freelancers and share tips, get advice and ask questions. You don’t have to do this whole thing on your own if you’ve got a design community by your side.
With a clear set-up for your future business in sight, you’re ready to go forth and find clients. Put your true self out there and start out on an authentic career path. We can’t wait to hear about your success!
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