Financial Management Tips for Freelance Animators
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 8 min read


  1. Set a Budget
  2. Track Income and Expenses
  3. Separate Business and Personal Finances
  4. Save for Taxes
  5. Plan for Dry Spells
  6. Invest in Yourself
  7. Get Insurance
  8. Plan for Retirement

Managing your finances as a freelance animator or motion graphics artist can sometimes feel like animating a particularly tricky scene — it takes patience, attention to detail, and a clear plan. The good news is that with a few simple financial management tips, you can navigate the world of freelance finance like a pro. Whether you're a seasoned veteran or a newbie to the freelance game, these tips are designed to help you streamline your financial management and focus on what you love most — creating incredible animations.

Set a Budget

Setting a budget is like sketching a storyboard — it gives you an overall view of where you're going and helps prevent any unwanted surprises. Let's break it down:

  • Know your expenses: Start by listing out all your monthly costs. This includes everything from your internet bill to the coffee you drink while working on your projects. Consider using a basic spreadsheet or a budgeting app to keep track of everything.
  • Factor in your income: Once you have a clear picture of your expenses, it's time to look at your income. As a freelance animator or motion graphics artist, your income may vary from month to month. Try to calculate an average based on your earnings over the past year.
  • Plan your spending: Now that you have your expenses and income laid out, it's time to plan your spending. Subtract your expenses from your income to get an idea of how much you have left over. This will be your discretionary income, which you can use for savings, investments, or other financial goals.
  • Review and adjust: Remember, a budget isn't set in stone. Review it often and adjust as necessary. Maybe you landed a big project and have more income than expected, or perhaps an unforeseen expense popped up. Regular reviews keep your budget relevant and effective.

Just like crafting the perfect animation, managing your finances requires time and practice. But with a well-planned budget, you're already on the right track towards effective financial management for freelance animators and motion graphics artists.

Track Income and Expenses

Just like keeping track of each frame in an animation, understanding where your money is coming from and where it's going is key to financial management for freelance animators and motion graphics artists. Here's how you can do it:

  • Monitor your income: As a freelancer, you'll probably have multiple sources of income. Keep a record of every payment you receive, no matter how small. This will not only help you understand your earnings better but also make tax time a lot less stressful.
  • Record your expenses: Likewise, make sure to document every expense. Whether it's a new software subscription, an upgrade to your workstation, or even a coffee for those late-night work sessions, keep track of it all. You'd be surprised how quickly small costs can add up!
  • Organize your records: Keep your financial records organized. Use folders, spreadsheets, or financial management apps to sort your income and expenses. This way, you'll have all your financial information at your fingertips whenever you need it.
  • Analyze your financial data: Regularly review your income and expenses. Look for patterns, identify areas where you can potentially save, and plan accordingly. This analysis can provide valuable insights into your financial habits.

Remember, tracking your income and expenses is like creating the keyframes of your animation — it sets the foundation. The better your tracking, the clearer your financial picture, and the more control you have over your freelance finances.

Separate Business and Personal Finances

Think of this like layering in animation. You wouldn't mix your background art with your character animation, would you? The same goes for your finances. It's important to separate your business and personal finances. Here's why:

  • Clarity: Just as clean layers make for a better animation, clear financial boundaries make managing money easier. You'll know exactly what you're earning from your freelance work and how much you're spending on it.
  • Professionalism: Having a dedicated business account not only makes you look more professional but also simplifies transactions with your clients.
  • Tax benefits: Separating your finances can also help you take advantage of tax deductions for business expenses. This could mean more money in your pocket at the end of the year.
  • Less stress: Finally, by keeping your finances separate, you avoid the headache of untangling personal and business expenses when it comes time to file taxes or review your finances.

So, just like you wouldn't want your animation layers merging unexpectedly, keep your business and personal finances separate. This is a simple but effective step towards better financial management for freelance animators and motion graphics artists. After all, a well-organized financial portfolio is just as satisfying as a well-organized timeline in After Effects, isn't it?

Save for Taxes

Let's be honest, tax season can be as daunting for a freelance animator as the thought of rendering a complex 3D scene on a low-end computer. But, it doesn't have to be that way. The trick is to plan ahead and save for taxes.

As a freelance animator or a motion graphics artist, you're responsible for paying your own taxes. That means the income you earn isn't tax-free. If you don't want a rude shock at tax time, it's best to set money aside throughout the year.

  • Plan ahead: Determine your estimated tax liability. There are online calculators that can help you with this. Once you have an estimate, set this money aside. You don't want to scramble for funds during tax season.
  • Save regularly: Just like you save your work frequently to avoid losing progress, save a portion of your income regularly to avoid financial stress during tax season.
  • Look for deductions: As a freelance animator, you can claim deductions on expenses related to your business. This includes software subscriptions, hardware purchases, and even a portion of your home's rent if you work from home.

Remember, when it comes to financial management for freelance animators and motion graphics artists, it's all about being prepared. Saving for taxes might seem like a hassle now, but it's definitely worth it in the long run. After all, who wants a tax bill to be the plot twist in their financial story?

Plan for Dry Spells

The life of a freelance animator or motion graphics artist is much like a storyboard — it has its ups and downs. But unlike a storyboard, you can't always plan and control the lows. There will be times when work will be scarce, and these periods are what we call 'dry spells'.

Financial management for freelance animators and motion graphics artists becomes crucial during these times. So, here are some tips on how to navigate through them:

  • Build a rainy day fund: This is a savings account you set aside specifically for times when income is low. A good rule of thumb is to save enough to cover three to six months of expenses.
  • Have a diversified income: Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Look for other income streams. This could be selling digital assets, teaching animation classes, or even taking up part-time work. The idea is not to rely on a single source.
  • Reduce unnecessary expenses: Look at your spending habits and identify areas where you can cut back. Maybe you can survive without that premium software subscription, or perhaps you can use a less expensive brand of coffee.

The key to surviving dry spells is preparation. Just as you would prepare and plan for an animation project, plan for these financial lows. Remember, it's not about if they will happen, but when. And when they do, you'll be ready.

Invest in Yourself

Let's be honest, as a freelance animator or motion graphics artist, you are your own most valuable asset. Investing in yourself is one of the most fruitful financial decisions you can make. This could mean honing your skills, learning new techniques, or even upgrading your equipment. But how do you go about it? Let's break it down:

  • Training and Courses: The world of animation and motion graphics is constantly evolving. Staying current with the latest trends and techniques is vital. Consider setting aside a portion of your income for online courses, workshops, or even books that can help you upskill.
  • Quality Equipment: You know the saying, "a bad workman blames his tools"? Well, in the world of animation, the quality of your tools can make a difference. High-performance computers, professional software, and even a comfortable chair can make your work easier and more efficient.
  • Health and Wellness: It's easy to overlook, but your health is a crucial part of your success. After all, you can't create great work if you're not feeling your best. Regular exercise, a balanced diet and ample rest can do wonders for your productivity.

Remember, investing in yourself isn't just about money. It's also about time and effort. So, make sure you're giving yourself the best chance of success in your freelance career. After all, financial management for freelance animators and motion graphics artists is about more than just dollars and cents—it's about investing in your greatest asset—you.

Get Insurance

Insurance might not sound like the most thrilling topic, but it's a crucial part of secure financial management for freelance animators and motion graphics artists. Think of it as a safety net—something you hope you never have to use, but are grateful for when you need it. Let's take a look at some key types of insurance you might want to consider:

  • Professional Liability Insurance: Sometimes, things don't go as planned. Maybe a project goes off track, or a client isn't happy with your work. Professional liability insurance can help protect you from the financial consequences of such scenarios.
  • Equipment Insurance: As we touched upon earlier, your equipment is a significant investment. What if your computer crashes or your software fails? Equipment insurance can cover the cost of repair or replacement.
  • Health Insurance: Freelancing doesn't come with the perk of employer-provided health insurance. But that doesn't mean you should go without it. Make sure you have a plan that covers your health needs.

Insurance might feel like an added expense, especially when you're just starting out. But it's an important part of risk management. It's about being prepared for the unexpected so you can focus on what you do best—creating stunning animations and motion graphics.

Plan for Retirement

Retirement planning might seem like a distant concern, especially when you're in the creative zone, spinning out animations and motion graphics. But let's face it: someday, you might want to take a break from the rigors of freelance work. And that's where retirement planning comes in handy.

So, how do you go about it? Here are a few things you can consider:

  • Start saving early: The earlier you start saving for retirement, the more time your money has to grow. Even if you can only set aside a small amount right now, it can make a big difference in the long run.
  • Consider a retirement account: There are plenty of retirement accounts specifically designed for self-employed individuals like freelance animators and motion graphics artists. These accounts often offer tax advantages that can help your savings grow more efficiently.
  • Invest wisely: Your retirement savings shouldn't just sit in a bank account. By investing wisely, you can potentially earn a higher return over time. Just remember: all investments come with risks.

Retirement planning may not be the most exciting aspect of financial management for freelance animators and motion graphics artists, but it's a critical one. After all, who doesn't want to enjoy a worry-free retirement, reminiscing about the dazzling animations and captivating motion graphics they created during their career?

If you're looking to improve your financial management skills as a freelance animator, don't miss Ginevra Grigolo's workshop, 'How to Work as a Freelancer and Get Clients'. This workshop not only covers essential financial management tips but also provides valuable advice on getting clients and growing your freelance animation business.