I worked for a lot of productions studios (animation, VFX, film etc…), and I’ve studied their business model. It’s mostly based on having a minimal staff, getting clients, then hiring as many freelancers as possible to deliver the client work and repeat. Here’s why I swore not to use this model for my animation business.
The client based business is based around constantly chasing new clients. It’s not about building long term assets, but more about survival. Now, I’m not saying it’s not possible to make a lot of money and have a very successful business this way, but mentally, for me, it’s too similar to having a job. A job works very similarly – once you stop showing up the money stops coming in. Plus, to make things worse, you’re not even working on your own projects! You’re doing stuff for other people.
That’s why I decided that no matter what, Bloop Animation will be a self sustained animation business, one that will never rely on outside clients. This might mean things will take more time to happen, but this is ok with me.
We do have customers, though. Here’s the difference:
Clients vs. customers
Clients and customers might sound like the same thing, because they’re both basically outside people or entities who pay you for your services/products. However, there are 3 main differences that are crucial to understand:
1. The method of acquisition
In general, clients are something you need to hunt for, at least at first, and then slowly build your roster and hope that a word of mouth will get your more. Customers, on the other hand, usually find you. Yes, you can spend time and money acquiring customers through ads and social media marketing, but it’s more passive than acquiring clients and it lets you focus on doing great work.
2. Who dictates the terms
This is a big one. When you have customers, you are the one deciding on what the product will be. As an animation studio, I will be the one deciding on the art direction, the story and all other aspects, unlike a commercial studio which needs to serve the client’s taste, while advising as best it can.
Not to say that clients are not loyal in general, but they also have bosses, and they need to find the best studio they can for the best price. Good studios come and go all the time. There will always be a newer, younger more creative studio coming up the pipe, and eventually, even loyal clients might change the studio they usually work with. It’s not personal, it’s business.
With Bloop, though, I’m trying to make it personal. I want people to wanna watch our films just because they were produced by us. Just like you know that a device will be great because Apple made it. I’m trying to build a fan base that will love what we do, and that kind of loyalty isn’t something that you usually get in the commercial world.
It’s not a questions of better vs. worse
I’m not trying to take away from client work, but this blog is meant for me to talk about how I view the world of business and art, and this is a serious issue for me, one that I’m passionate about. I wanted you to see the thought process that went behind the attitude I’m trying to take with my business.