How to Create a Sweet Explainer Video on a Budget

Crowdcontent Explainer Video

Explainer Videos are Trending Big Across the Web.

Explainer videos are super effective when done right. If you do your homework, they don’t have to cost $5,000 — we did ours for $650. Use freelancers and manage your own project. When writing your script, focus heavily on the problem you are solving up front then talk about benefits not features! Do all this and keep it under 1:30 and your audience will be glued to the screen. Read the full article below for full details.

You’ve seen these videos out there, and you really want one. You know the videos I’m talking about – they hit you in the face, grab your attention, and get you excited. They’re quick, probably animated, and use a fun voice that makes complicated things sound simple.

I’m talking about the “explainer video”.

Explainer videos are trending big right now because they allow you to deliver a large amount of information in a bite sized format. Your audience appreciates this – they save time plus they get a more complete understanding of what you’re offering them.

BUT – explainer videos only work if they’re done right. A poorly designed explainer video can have adverse effects, leaving the viewer confused and turned off.

Last week, we launched the new Crowd Content explainer video. We think it turned out pretty good. We’re sharing our process below so hopefully you can take a few pointers to help with your next explainer video project.

First, Let’s Talk Price

There are tons of video creation companies out there today. They all want to make your video. Some of them are really good, too, but, some are also really expensive.

You can see a list of the top video agencies here.

We shopped around and found the going rate to be anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 for a 1:20 (that reads 1 minute and 20 seconds) video. Yah, pretty steep.

But, it doesn’t have to cost that much if you’re savvy person and somewhat resourceful. Keep reading to see how we produced our entire video for $650.

Be Your Own Project Manager

Agencies are expensive because they handle the entire production process for you. Just take a look at Demo Duck to see what this entails:

  1. Project Research
  2. Script and Creative
  3. Voiceover Recording
  4. Style Frames and Storyboarding
  5. Video Production
  6. Sound Design
  7. Publishing and Marketing

Anytime a company packages multiple processes into one offering, they have an opportunity to create margin (mark up prices). They also have to pay the salaries of the people at their own company who manage everything. That’s where your big price comes from.

By managing your project yourself, you don’t have to pay anyone’s salary (except your own) and you pay cost for the needed parts.

The tasks and responsibilities should be broken out like this:

  1. Project Research – You do this
  2. Script and Creative – You do this
  3. Voiceover Recording – Outsource
  4. Style Frames and Storyboarding – Outsource
  5. Video Production – Outsource
  6. Sound Design – Outsource
  7. Publishing and Marketing – You do this

Find a Freelance Video Producer

This is your first step. Once you find this guy, he will take care of steps 4, 5, and 6 in the list above (they all go together).

You should be able to find a decent video producer on any freelance platform or by doing a few Google searches. Just make sure they have a few examples that you can check out to ensure the quality and style works for you.

This is where you save the bulk of your costs. Our freelancer charged less than $400 to do our 1 minute and 20 second video, but he would have done up to 2 minutes (not recommended) for the same price.

Create Your Script

Demo Duck says the script is the most important part of your video and I agree with them. The script determines many aspects of the final video like what information you will communicate, what style of voiceover will be used, and the visual feel.

Here’s how to create your script:

1. Forget about your video for a minute and just think about your company (or product/service). Put yourself in the shoes of your audience. This could be customers or investors. Then ask yourself, what problem am I solving for my audience? If you understand this problem and the pain it causes your audience, you can create a compelling script and video.

2. Start your script by telling a story about someone (yes, you can make this person up) who has the problem. Refrain from doing anything else at this point other than talking about the problem. Show how big the problem is, how frustrating it is to have this problem, how much money it costs to have the problem, how much time it wastes. You get the idea.

When viewers see you talking about a real problem that they face, they listen. They get excited, anticipating that you will reveal a solution to that problem! And, of course, you will.

You should spend the first quarter to third of your script talking about the problem.

3. Introduce your company, product, or service as the solution. Continue telling your story about the person who had the problem. Talk about how easy his life is now because he is using your solution. How much money or time is he saving? How happy is he? Try to quantify things with real numbers if possible.

IMPORTANT: focus more on benefits at this stage than features. You will be eager to talk about all the cool features you have – resist. Understand that people with problems do not care about features – they care about benefits. If you don’t understand the difference, look here.

4. Explain your secret sauce without really explaining it. After you show them all the benefits of your solution, your audience will have some questions and maybe some doubts. You don’t want to answer all of those questions at this point. However, you should touch briefly on the big picture of how you can do all of this for them. This usually relates to some kind of special technology you have developed or how amazing your people (you) are.

5. Finish your script by reviewing the 3 most important things you already communicated. This could be (1) the problem, (2) the benefit of your solution, and (3) your secret sauce (why you?).

6. Include a call to action at the very end of your script. This video will probably be on your homepage or on your landing pages. It might also get shared around the internet so don’t pass up this opportunity to tell your audience how to get your amazing solution! Sign up now! Create a free account! Buy, buy, buy!

Script and Video Length

I’ve seen explainer videos as short as 30 seconds and as long as 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Basically, you want your video to be as short as possible. If you can communicate everything in 30 seconds, then leave it at 30 seconds.

In my opinion, 2:30 is too long. I wouldn’t go over 1:40. We opted for 1:20, but now I’m thinking we could have stuffed it into 1 minute.

To help you condense your script, review the points above about creating your script. Benefits are usually easier to explain quickly and easier for people to understand. Features and processes are long-winded and viewers will become bored easily.

To help you match your word count with your desired video time, look at this table from Voices.com.

Hire a Voiceover Talent

This is the fun part. You get to hear your script come to life through a professional voiceover talent.

We strongly recommend using Voices.com for this part of the process. They allow you to post your job in front of hundreds of great voices. You can specify the style of voice you are looking for (we used the “guy next door” – great for tech companies), which narrows your results.

Voiceover talents will respond to your job posting and actually read a snippet of your script back to you. We had 64 responses, but it didn’t take long to preview the sound of each candidate and narrow it down to a few finalists before selecting the winner.

You can specify a budget, but you will get a range of quotes from the different applicants. We saw anywhere from $100 to $300. In the end we opted for a candidate quoting $250, which was higher than we wanted, but his voice was just too good to pass up!

Put It all Together and Review

When you get the voice file from Voices.com, send it to your video producer, but don’t make your payment on Voices.com yet. Leave the job open until the video is complete in case you need a few small revisions.

Your video producer will create the scenes, match it with the voiceover, and then add a few sound effects to spice it up. At this point, you’ll want to watch it several times. More importantly, get someone who wasn’t involved in the production process (or who doesn’t yet know about your company) to watch it. They will offer a fresh perspective and let you know if certain parts are too confusing.

When you’re happy with the product, get the final video file, close up all your payments, and start spreading the word!

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About Clayton Lainsbury

Clayton is the Founder and CEO at Crowd Content, a content marketplace for clients and high performance writers. He enjoys writing about marketing ideas and content trends.
This entry was posted in Content Marketing, Resource Center. Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to How to Create a Sweet Explainer Video on a Budget

  1. Pingback: Writing That Pesky “About Us” Page | e-CBD Blog

  2. Pingback: Explainer Video Best Practices - Video Maker Tips

  3. Aaron says:

    Thanks for this article. I wanted to get some tips on making a video for my product.

    • Paul says:

      Hi Clayton, you mentioned 650 dollars, but it means a lot of work on our side. Maybe worth trying a simplier approach such as a complete solution from adsurf.net, where it costs under 200 dollars. Maybe not that impressive, but they do everything for you. Great article.

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  5. Mark says:

    So “video producer” means alot of things to alot of people. Most google hits I’m seeing are for guys to go out on location and create live videos. Can you be more specific as to where you found your producer?

    Thanks

  6. Clayton Lainsbury says:

    Hi Mark,

    Good question. I would suggest going to oDesk.com and doing a contractor search for “animated video” or “explainer video”. You’ll see a few guys pop up there. Just check their examples and you’ll know right away if they can do what you need.

    If you want to know who we worked with, feel free to contact me at clayton.lainsbury at crowdcontent.com.

    Thanks.

  7. Animated Explainer Video says:

    When it comes to Explainer Videos, the cost will really depend on a lot of factors like length, quality and purpose to name a few.

    For me it is not how expensive or cheap the explainer video can be but rather how effective it was in sending a message.

    • Clayton Lainsbury says:

      Yes, effectiveness is certainly the most important result of your video. However, if you can deliver an effective message while still keeping your costs down, it’s a win for your marketing efforts AND your wallet. That’s what we’ve tried to demonstrate with this guide.

  8. Ziad Tannous says:

    Hello Clayton,

    Awesome post covering how you can produce a quality animated explainer video on budget!

    What’s the length? Timeline? Level of customization? Do a customer wants a script and voice over to be provided by him or by you being a freelancer of video production house?

    Many factors affect the price…

    Cheers,

  9. Media Whale says:

    Hi Clayton,
    Nice article and you make some great points. We are extremely competitive on our pricing and beat 90% of the shops out there. We develop all of our explainer animation videos from scratch and base it around your website and script. We work with our clients on developing an effective script and also audition their scripts for them. Our videos cost just below $2k which is a great deal if you consider all the effort involved.

    Your video turned out nice…

  10. Zank says:

    Great article! I just noticed this site. I wish I had it when I had made mine. It would have really helped. If you’re interested in another link, please feel free to include this one.
    Good luck!
    -Zank
    http://imzank.com/2012/11/how-to-make-an-explainer-video/

  11. Pingback: How to create an Explainer Video on a Budget | Animated Explainer Videos

  12. Nate - Think Video says:

    Hi Clayton

    Great post. In your opinion when should a person/business consider an animated video over a live action one. Explainer videos are great because you get scale it easily and produce it anywhere, but people tend to trust a ‘real person’ with a video according to some research.

    • Clayton Lainsbury says:

      Hi Nate, thanks for your comment. That’s a great question. We’re starting to push some ideas around for our next video, and we’re thinking we might move away from animation for it. It might depend on what stage the company is at. For example, we’re about to release some major upgrades to our website/interface and we really want to show it off as is (hence, no animation). However, early in the “start up” process, we didn’t have as many features or a stunning design to show off, so using animation made more sense at that point. What’s your opinion on when/where a company should make this transition, if at all?

  13. Andrew says:

    Hi Clayton,

    Another way to create a professional explainer video on the cheap is to use a service like http://videorascal.com (full disclosure, I’m the founder). We enable anyone, no matter their technical expertise, to create a video in a matter of minutes.

  14. Solly says:

    Hi Clayton,

    I am positive that you can find a lot of animation studios who would do all the mentioned steps within $1000 budget. We create premium quality animated explainer videos in a budget and have local liaison in US, UK, India and Australia.

    It is more convenient for a startup to connect with one company rather than going to a script writer, voice over artist, illustrators and animators separately. One stop solution animation studio can take these responsibilities and let startups focus on other important tasks like development, operations, funding and marketing.

    What do you think??

    Solly
    http://www.sollylabs.com

    Channels
    http://www.youtube.com/sollylabs
    http://www.vimeo.com/channels/sollylabs

  15. Michael says:

    We did our explainer video using PowToon (but it’s not up anymore). Costs is less than $200 after we paid a guy on fiverr.com to do the voiceover and the syncing.

    I’d also like to point out that at my last company, we A/B tested a home-grown video vs. an agency video, and the home-grown one converted A LOT better than the one we spent $15k on.

    • Clayton Lainsbury says:

      Hi Michael, you mention a great point. Higher cost doesn’t always mean higher quality, or higher performance for that matter. PowToon looks interesting — I’ll take a look at it.

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  18. Patricia says:

    Great post Clayton. Talking about budgets, where as a custom explainer may be something that medium sized businesses can afford, there are a lot of mom and pop or rather one man operated websites that have a good product or service to sell and cant afford even $400. With such people in mind we created template based videos that cost just $65 ( Disclosure: I work at Killer Explainer Videos)
    Most people seem to miss the point is that its the script that does the selling. No matter how slick the video production, without an engaging script you are not going to have any conversions

    Pat

  19. Explainer Video Production says:

    Majority of explainer video production companies create videos that are of high cost and with low quality. They do not give more time in script writing and only because of this, they loose their customer in high volume. All the steps in producing animated video are of equal importance and should be implemented wisely.

    Explainer Video Production

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  21. Pingback: How to Make a Professional Explainer Video (Page 1 of 3) - I'm Zank

  22. Explaininja Studios says:

    Thanks for sharing your post, indeed it was very helpful. However, you forgot to mention the benefits of dealing with Animation Studios compared to just outsourcing the project to some freelancers. Peace of mind comes first since professional animation studios are very conscious about their brand and image. They make sure that clients are well taken care of from consultation stage to production up to the finishing touches of the video.

    We at Explaininja Studios provide high quality and engaging animated explainer videos at very reasonable price.

    We offer free script! Its yours to keep, regardless of whether you hire us. All you have to do is book your Free Consultation.

    From full cartoon animation, to whiteboard animation, stick figure videos, and cut out animation, we give you the style to match your marketing needs.

    Visit us at http://www.explaininja.com

  23. Pingback: The Hidden Cost: DIY Explainer Videos | IdeaRocket