How to Create a Sweet Explainer Video on a Budget

Crowdcontent Explainer Video

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.

[ctt template=”4″ link=”o15D0″ via=”yes” ]Explainer videos don’t have to cost that much if you’re savvy and somewhat resourceful. #digitalmarketing[/ctt]

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!

[ctt template=”4″ link=”G3JCn” via=”yes” ]Keep the cost of explainer videos down by outsourcing key elements to professional freelancers. #videomarketing[/ctt]

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

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 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, send it to your video producer, but don’t make your payment on 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!




Article by

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.

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71 thoughts on “How to Create a Sweet Explainer Video on a Budget”

  • Avatar

    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?


    • Avatar
      Vincent Moore says:

      I think it depends on what your expectations are, budget, target audience, reach, etc. I hired a freelancer on Fiverr to do a 2 minute whiteboard How-to video and I was very satisfied. There’s different needs for everyone.

  • Avatar
    Clayton Lainsbury says:

    Hi Mark,

    Good question. I would suggest going to 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


  • Avatar
    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.

    • Avatar
      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.

  • Avatar

    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…


  • Avatar

    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…

  • Avatar
    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.

  • Avatar

    Hi Clayton,

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

  • Avatar

    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??



  • Avatar

    We did our explainer video using PowToon (but it’s not up anymore). Costs is less than $200 after we paid a guy on 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.

    • Avatar
      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.

    • Avatar
      Georgia Potts says:

      I never would have thought of using Fiverr to find someone like that! That’s a good way to find a lot of content helpers, I suppose!

    • Avatar
      Corbin Bartoli says:

      Another option for voice overs is to hire out a voice actress or actor from a dubbing studio. There are many to choose from if you know the right places to look. It’s true that such an opportunity is location based, but it shouldn’t be ruled out. If you happen to be located in Texas, for example, Funimation (A dubbing studio) might have a voice actor or actress that isn’t being used at that moment in time. There are many dubbing studio’s nation wide, that was just one example. Never hesitate to look into that route as well.

  • Avatar

    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


  • Avatar
    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

  • Avatar
    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

  • Avatar
    Emma Chapman says:

    Clayton, making an explainer video for only $650 sounds like an excellent way to advertise and save money at the same time. Businesses are starting to realize that videos and video advertisements constitute a growing marketing trend. With more people using cell phones at various hot spots, explainer videos offer quick ways for consumers to find out more information about various products and services.

  • Avatar
    Mackenzie Adams says:

    Nice article! I loved the point about the length! Everyone has shorter attention spans today. I know I hate watching a video that is more than a minute or two because it feels like a big time commitment.

    • Avatar
      Corbin Bartoli says:

      I’m the strange corollary to the rule. If I’m watching videos I personally enjoy, then I’m more apt to watch them over and over again. I actually enjoy the ones with more length. Depending on one’s market, longer length is actually key. For more information on what I’m talking about, Game Theorists comes to mind. If you happen to be making a video about history, video games, cultural relevance, or the education system, longer may in fact be better.

  • Avatar
    Charmaine Lady says:

    I am fresh to this site and generally do not just hurl myself into the limelight without being forced or blackmailed into it. Yet, my introverted nature has kept me far from EVER tackling a video explanation or blog but your article intrigued me and settled my nerves enough to finally debate it. I appreciated the direct voice and wording that gave the creative process new clarity through it’s simplicity. Honestly, I’m not sure if it’s the difference in earned pocket change or if you truly swayed this steeled spined Lady into believing that the hassle could be worth the new endeavor. Regardless, you deserve acknowledgement and I will be searching out this post again if I decide to brave the miniature film industry and let my inner *STAR* out.

  • Avatar
    Explainer Video says:

    Interesting article thanks Clayton thanks for the share however theres nothing quite as professional as professionally made explainer video..after all its your first shot at the market and first impressions are the most important right ?

  • Avatar
    Anthony Smith says:

    As always, a well written and information-packed article! The voice that you choose for a commercial or explainer video can be as important as the script. As a writer, I’m loathe to say such a thing, but the facts don’t lie. The voice you choose is directly related to your target audience. Heuristic persuasion, or the psychology of empathetic salesmanship can help provide an intrigued audience who are well informed and action oriented. James Earl Jones may sport the deepest, most authoritative voice profile, but Steven Hawking might be more likely to actually bring traffic to your online Junior Scientist Supply Boutique. The voice you use should mimic the voice of the people with whom you mean to speak . Similarly, script writing style can provide that voice with colloquialisms and mannerisms that help your intended audience feel comfortable, informed and involved. Bringing a personal, yet authoritative tone to a video with non-threatening humor and heuristic persuasion more intimately involves your audience in the product or service provider. Most products or services could be found elsewhere, and if you don’t involve the audience they won’t find one better than the other. People have a natural desire to feel involved. Coke and Pepsi have been masterful throughout their long histories in providing a voice and script that involves the audience so they are predisposed to internalize the product provider (although the product formulas are quite similar). The most lucrative audience is always an involved audience. Heuristic persuasion is right tool.

    • Avatar

      I love your well-thought out response, and so obviously not canned 🙂 As a fellow writer, finding your own voice and being able to embody it in your writing (and scripts for oral presentations) is very difficult.

      If you write your own script for audio, make sure you read it out loud, even record it and tweak it for awkwardness and unrealistic word choices. The spoken word is very different from the written word. Also listen to the audio with an ear towards the desired audience. Here’s another article on this site that discusses profiling your target customer: — once you have given them “life”, then you can judge whether your imaginary perfect customer would respond to what you’re saying in a test recording.

  • Avatar
    Catherine Small says:

    I throughly enjoyed reading and learning from this article. I enjoyed the clear and concise information regarding this topic. Very well written material that is easy to follow and remember. Thanks

  • Avatar

    We needed an explainer video for our company last year. We have tried to be on a budget. After all investigations I believe you have 4 variants: You can order an explainer video from a famed company and receive a good result. It will cost from $4000. You can also find a lot of companies (using Google) who produce the animated videos on a budget from a country with cheap resources (India, China). We have ordered our explainer video at and it was about $1100. You can order a video from a freelancer. You save your money but be ready to spend time and even to change a couple of them. And finally you can use a service with animated characters and templates like and receive a good but not original result.

  • Avatar
    Victor Peters says:

    The key thing that i have noted in this presentation is that you do not have to hire someone to be the project manager.You can be your own product manager and save a lot instead of hiring a production company t manage the project on your behalf.

    • Avatar
      Corbin Bartoli says:

      YouTube and Veoh makes it so that anyone can become a successful project manager. Video editing is easy, and quick to do.

  • Avatar
    Corbin Bartoli says:

    Great post Clayton. Something to consider is that many professional YouTube channels hire freelancers. If you happen to know of a channel that utilizes a particular art or music style, you might want to reach out to them. A few simple private messages can really boost your network, and it can give you a vast pool of freelancers to choose from. If nothing else, a little word of mouth advertising can never hurt either.

  • Avatar
    Charlotte Noble says:

    Clayton, your video is great and I love the tips to produce one in this article. The suggestions about length are super-relevant as my personal attention span is less than 30 seconds unless it is exactly on topic and teaching me something I cannot read about. With so many videos out there I am wondering how I include everything without looking like everyone else? Suggestions?

    • Avatar

      In order to get an original video time needs to be spent on the concept and research. A lack of originality is one of the biggest downfalls of pretty much all affordable animation companies; their internal deadlines restrict the time spent on every stage of the video process. It makes sense that the time frames are so tight, the work required to make an animated video is quiet extensive and so the margins are minimal. Honestly, to get best bang for your buck you need to find a company desperate for work and with lots of experience. I am willing to spend the hours required to make quality original videos at very low prices. I am willing to do this because I am desperate to build up a portfolio of very happy customers and unfortunately, most of the work I have done over the last 10 years has been for competitors and so it cannot feature on my site. Please visit and I will make the original and quality video you want. Promise.



  • Avatar
    Lynne Futura says:

    I am a member of a site called “” that allows you to create animated explainer videos or any other kind of animation using their online template, actors, voices, and props. It’s a great tool I recently discovered and I have created my own explainer videos using that format. The result is very professional. Of course, it helps that I’m a professional video producer too so I can just edit further if I want before producing to the final product. But it’s definitely worth checking out. It’s free for the introductory version. But if you want to save videos in HD, it will cost you $39 per month. Hope this helps!

  • Avatar
    Vincent Moore says:

    Great advice! In my experience an explainer video is a great way to build authority for a niche website while boosting rankings in the search engines!

  • Avatar
    Peaches VanDyke says:

    Clayton, you have given some good ideas for ‘how-to’ videos. Explainer videos are good for reaching people who learn better visually instead of by written word.

  • Avatar
    Brandy Kendrick says:

    Clayton, Well written post! I’m really impressed by the way how you have clearly and simply detailed up this article. Sharing my perspective, I would say that as videos are the new growth marketing trend, it has got more convenient for an entrepreneur or a startup to get the attention of their target audience with this unique trend. I won’t deny with the fact that videos can be self made and the process required in it can easily be out sourced but a point here to notice is that outsourcing is risky when you completely depend on it as outsourcing too many things won’t be easy and reliable.
    With my experience I know that video has a lot of processes to go through starting from the script, to the story board, with the voice over artist till the illustration and animation phase. Acquiring all these with different people (freelancers) will create lots of issues as:
    Firstly resonating your work mind mapping will be very difficult, as for them to connect the story which other person must be thinking won’t be easy. Secondly outsourcing things from freelancers can be cheap but not at all reliable.
    To overcome these scenarios why not to connect with one company that will handle all of these processes within your budget working professionally . Video Explainers is one of those companies that will work the best for you and giving you the results that you need. It creates from cartoon animation to white board animation, 2d animation, live video, info graphics and so much more.Just enter your budget and get a free consultation.
    I hope this will help out.
    Cheers 🙂

  • Avatar

    I’m launching a new product and service and this article was useful in finding out exactly what is needed to produce an explainer video with true cost efficiency.

  • Avatar

    Another way to create a professional explainer video on the cheap is to use a service like ( I’m the founder). We help everyone on budget to start his own business, even if you dont have money , we will help you 🙂 our main goal is uniqueness and customers satisfaction 😉

  • Avatar

    I know marketing budgets are tight, but you get what you pay for! If your company/you have the money, it is absolutely worth it to pop for a higher quality video. YouTube is now the second largest search engine in the world, and your explainer video is a representative of your company. Would you hand someone a badly executed business card?

    In addition, if you go lower quality (less money) now, it’s very likely your company will outgrow the video, and another will need to be produced. Like any other profession, Professional results = professional prices. If you HAVE to penny pinch on a video, find someone who just graduated from art school with a mountain of debt. They will be eager to prove themselves, and the price will be lower, but you have to realize you will not necessarily be getting professional results.

    Outsourcing the work to other countries via the internet is also a poor choice, as quality is usually quite low, and it hurts the industry.

    Just my thoughts!

  • Avatar
    Anthony English says:

    Personally, I offer video script writing at Fiverr and had some fantastic experiences as a result. It is awe inspiring and very refreshing to be involved in any given project. I agree with what was said, that you should not over explain your concept, but keep it short and simple, yet effective

  • Avatar

    I have been making videos on my own for a few years now and this is great advice! You can also get a good camera, a tripod, free audio editing software and make one yourself using Microsoft Movie Maker or any other free video editing software. I found that once I learned how to do it, the process was fun.

    • Avatar

      I would very much appreciate it if you took a look at my business, I make high quality videos at a very low price. My costs are low because my business is a start-up; however, I am a professional, I have been making videos for other large animation agencies for years. My prices are going to remain low – pretty much zero margin – until I get some presence in the market and so if I were you, I would take advantage of my desperate situation. Currently, I make videos for one of the UK biggest online retailers and so I can assure you, I am a safe pair of hands.



  • Avatar

    Wonderful article! Thank you for giving a “formula” for how to make an explainer video and all the information to make it work! Script work sounds tough – definitely succinct writing needed!

  • Avatar

    This is a good description of the process, but the $650 is out of pocket – that doesn’t count the cost in time, which is why companies usually opt for the agencies.

    When all is said and done, even the “expensive” agency price is less than literal weeks of your own time that (usually) you need to be investing in your own organization. Reputable companies have all of the resources at hand, so you’re not rolling the dice on a freelancer that 1. takes time to hunt down, and 2. could just as easilly be a nightmare, or charging you for every second of every revision, driving costs higher. They also have the experience necessary to craft the message and designing the output to be influential in all the right ways.

    If you want an explainer just to have one it’s fine to experiement, but if this is going to be a resource for your business, ask yourself if you’d spend $650 on a first year accountant instead of $1,500 on a 25 yr professional. Or $650 on a mechanic that read a book on car repair one time over someone who has been fixing cars since he was 16.

    Those agency rates can result in sticker shock, but agencies aren’t out there just padding their wallets with your cash. You often DO get just what you pay for.

  • Avatar
    Janet Beatrice says:

    Please don’t underestimate the importance of the writing. Your advice on how to write a script is great, but not everyone will have the skill to do this well. If not, it’s well worth it to hire a writer, preferably someone who is skilled at copywriting (i.e., persuasive writing of marketing materials).

  • Avatar
    Janet Beatrice says:

    Please don’t underestimate the importance of the writing. Your advice on how to write a script is great, but not everyone will have the skill to do this well. If not, it’s well worth it to invest in hiring a good copywriter.

  • Avatar
    Emma Megan says:

    A very detailed share of budget costs for making a worthy video to promote your brand. Making videos can be done within the time frame on a small budget. Making it simple and engaging is an important that must be focussed. A good share of information. Thanks for the post.

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