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14 Side Hustles For Animators - How To Make Easy Money

Once upon a time, an animator just like yourself could earn a living, afford a house and a spouse and a dog and even two-point-five kids from one animation job at one place! No need for side gigs or nights where you lay awake in bed and think of ways to make extra money. 

I know, I know. This is such a far-fetched tale. Who could ever believe that the world once worked like that? Can you imagine not googling “profitable side hustles for animators” four million times a week?

Certainly not! Poor, poor Gen Z/Zillennial animator. You’re just finding your style and prepping your wings to leave the nest, and you already have to look for digital side hustles and other ways for animators to make money.

Business Insider would have you believe that Z’s “obsession” with side hustle culture is unhealthy and bad for the economy. There has never been a better time to pull out this handy little phrase that the youngins coined: say it with me now: “Okay, boomer.”

Does anyone honestly believe that an animator looking for creative side hustles, does it out of anything but a pure necessity? Come on! We’d all rather be doom-scrolling Reddit while not really watching some new serial killer documentary. Just me? Okay.

If you are one of the “obsessed” and you would like to spread your wings into the wide blue yonder of animation as a side hustle, or just you just want to find ways to make money online, keep reading: 

Why Animators Are Side Hustling

You can find an endless list of articles about how some animators and other artists used their free time to develop their style and work on their creativity.

The unfortunate truth is, so many animators are forced to reevaluate their employment conditions, and overall, the consensus is that most salaries for animators were found wanting. 

It’s nothing new - how can we keep pushing artistic high schoolers to delve into eternal student loans just for them to end up flipping burgers with their animation degrees?

Not only did the lockdown result in many job losses, due to the Great Recession, Millennials and early Gen Z job seekers already had to start on the back foot

an empty bank representing the need for side hustles for extra income especially for animators

Image by Jason Pofahl via Unsplash

The Great Recession meant some of the worst job-seeking conditions since the depression. It resulted in higher levels of debt, lower starting salaries, and fewer job opportunities for animators entering the job market any time after 2008.

What other option is there but to take your animation career into your own hands? One way of taking responsibility for your income is through a digital side-hustle that exploits the amazing talents you already have.

One difference between the effects of the Great Recession and the pandemic, is the surfacing of hustle culture under the younger generations.

A survey done by the US Bureau of labor statistics shows the sad reality that 15% of Gen Z were unemployed in January 2021, compared to 9% of Millenials - and animation was as hard hit as any other market.

You won’t believe it, but side hustle has been a term since the 1950s!  It’s obvious that people have had to supplement their income since time immemorial, or whatever. Can you imagine Disney animators selling little Mickey greeting cards as a side hustle? They probably didn’t, but I can totally see it.

Any service or product you sell to pay for things that your primary occupation can’t cover is considered a side-hustle. 

The etymology of “hustle” is pretty cool too - it comes from an early Dutch word meaning “shake”. 

A survey done by SunTrust of over 2000 US adults showed that 64% of Millenials had some kind of side hustle going and that they made an average of $10,972 per year.

If you look at the amount of Gen Z artists and animators on TikTok, Youtube and Etsy it is obvious that side hustle culture is like a second language at this point.

When Etsy decided to buy Depop - they certainly had their eye on that sweet, sweet 90% Gen Z demographic.

You’re forever hearing how an animation career is not sustainable, but the BLS would beg to differ. The average yearly income for fine artists as polled in 2020 was $49,120 with the top 10 percent banking more than $112,930! Yeah… 

With so many animators doing side gigs or creating their own platforms, it’s easy to see that it’s possible to reach surprisingly high animation salaries if you are keeping all the right balls in the air.

BLS also projects that the employment numbers of fine artists, such as animators, should grow by 14% from now until 2030 which is way better than the growths that other occupations can expect. So. There.

a mug  that says "world's best boss" as animators also want the independence to work for themselves - why you can do this through side hustles

Image by Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash

This generation is definitely bargaining on being the captains of their own ships, just look at the numbers from Girs With Impact’s annual report: more than half of all Gen Z participants (55%) expected to be their own bosses. This number is significantly higher than 2019’s 43%.

Now that we know what this whole side hustle thing is about, let’s check under the hood to see if you have what it takes.

Benefits Of Online Animation Side Hustles

It might all look a bit doom and gloom, but damn, did you draw a winning card in the digital age. Animators and other digital artists already have a foot in the door to the boom of online side hustles. 

Those in the “safe” professions that their mom insisted they study (see: lawyer, accountant, etc.) are scrambling to find a way of translating the skills they just had to have “to survive in the real world” into something consumers are happy to pay for online.

Let’s take a look at what you bring to the table:

As an animator, you are well aware that you take your knowledge of shape, form color, and line and apply it to create work that just blows people’s minds. You might not think about the fact that your ability to imagine a finished product is something that is not common to the average bear. 

See, you can use your basic design skills to do merch creation for online celebrities as an easy but profitable side hustle - pins, stickers, shirts and even plushies are being snapped up left and right.

You might not be considering that your ability to plan, experiment with new ideas, and do cost-estimation could mean the difference between successful side hustles or just a part-time fancy.

Iain McCaig, who showed his outstanding character design skills in Star Wars, has this to say about why artists are successful: “...an alloy of curiosity, imagination, passion, talent, craft, hard work, not giving up, doing the impossible, and being in the right place at the right time, with the right stuff.”

coloring pencils organized to look like a graph representing why animators are successful

Image by Markus Spiske via Unsplash

When pursuing your own animation business, it is desperately important that you build off what is already available to you.

Skillshare is of the opinion that there are 9 Qualities All Great Artists Share. These personality traits can be summarised as perseverance, passion, inquisitiveness, and flexibility. 

If you can take your passion for animation, open yourself up to learning and trying new avenues, be willing to adjust your animating business when things don’t work out the first time, and, most importantly, KEEP GOING NO MATTER WHAT there is no reason why you will not succeed.

A client will never want to pay for a service or product that they can provide themselves. The fact that there are so many part-time animation jobs and side hustling opportunities available for animators shows exactly how important you are to the growing landscape of online life.

The most important skill that you as an animator looking for part-time jobs have and that every potential client is clamoring for is Artistic sense.

Cleverism.com suggests that Artistic sense is a skill that allows an artist to trust their intuition. How many million-dollar ideas were left on the cutting room floor because no one had the vision to go through with an idea that seemed naive?  

Your artistic vision as an animator allows you to approach every problem from an original angle. You can achieve extraordinary results because you can see the value that others cannot. 

Online Animation Side Hustles You Can Try!

blank notes ready for animators to start animating and trying these online side hustles

Image by Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash

The list of side hustles is absolutely exhaustive since there is no rule to establish what can be profitable as an online side gig and what can’t. The side hustle opportunities for animators are only limited by your imagination and your ability to predict what the market wants.

Let’s look at a few that might spark your creativity:

The 5 Most Common Side Hustles For Animators

  • Create an Animation Youtube Channel

There are so many animators who have giant followings on Youtube for whom their channel is their main source of income. Unfortunately, this is desperately time-consuming and you are always left at the mercy of the dreaded algorithm. It is, ultimately, a great way to make money online.

a youtube page showing the possibility for animators to start their own animat

Image by NordWood Themes via Unsplash

  • Patrons on Patreon

You can’t imagine the impact that Patreon has had on the animation community. The amount that Patreon had paid to its patrons by the end of 2017 was a cool $250 million. No wonder every artist and their mother have a Patreon page.

  • Offer Your Animation Services on Etsy

Launched in 2005, very few people could imagine that Etsy would eventually have over 1.8 million sellers! The profit range of an Etsy seller is between $8.50 and $5,000 per month, with the average being reported as $291.

  • Find a Gig On Fiverr

If you’ve ever wondered why it’s even called Fiverr, it’s because when the website first launched, all gigs were originally priced at $5. It’s not the case anymore, since the average hourly rate on Fiverr is $59 per hour - which is a pretty good part-time salary for an animator.

an animator finding a gig on fiver for extra income as he side hustles

Image by Malte Helmhold via Unsplash

  • Become an Animation Tutor

If you are uniquely talented and have a good grasp of your craft, there is no reason why you should not help inspire students to become great animators as your side hustle.

Surprising Side Hustles That Artists Had Before They Gained Success

  • Jean Michel-Basquiat, Postcard Maker

Before Andy Warhol changed Jean Michel-Basquiat’s artistic career, he designed and distributed postcards, signed with his name.

  • Richard Serra, Steelworker

In a lovely example of foreshadowing, Richard Serra worked in steel mills where he had ample opportunity to come to grips with his main materials - lead and steel.

artwork by richard serra - a side hustle of his before being popular

Richard Serra, “The hours of the day” (2020) via Creative Commons

  • Keith Haring, T-Shirt Creator, And Nightclub Busboy

Starting his career as a busboy in the same club that Madonna found her feet, Keith Haring paid his dues by creating and selling political T-shirts before making his mark as the face of 1980’s street art.

As these legendary artists show, you don’t have to have a side hustle that corresponds exactly with your career as an animator. It would be nice, though. Read on to find a few ideas.

Our Recommended Animation Side Hustles

It is almost impossible to narrow down specific animation side hustles since there are so many to choose from. We’ve decided to categorize them according to profit vs. time.

You don’t want to spend more time creating extra income with your side hustle than your main job - for now.

3 Most Profitable Side Hustles For Animators

  • Affiliate Marketing For Animators

You probably have your own animation platform already, if the list of common side hustles is anything to go by. Why not cash in everyone else trying to make it big by treating your page, channel, or platform like a billboard?  Payscale.com reports that the average annual income for affiliate marketers is $65,800!

  • Selling Animated NFTs

As you know, an NFT is basically a digital version of a piece of art in a private collection. There are many controversies surrounding the selling of NFTs, but the profit is absolutely undeniable: Sarah Zucker, for instance, side-hustled her way into a full-time career by selling NFTs. She has made over $274,000 in NFT sales.

an animated NFT represented in bitcoin

Image by 愚木混株 via Unsplash

  • Technical Illustration Animations

Technical Illustrators can earn up to $91,000 per year, but you’re probably looking at a more realistic $47,000 per year if you are illustrating and animating part-time. More instruction booklets are going digital - and how-to guides are becoming more prevalent. Animators are indispensable in these kinds of videos.

If earning the big bucks in your animation job is the only thing on your mind right now, go ahead and branch out to the options above. If, however, you don’t want to spend every waking hour trying to craft your side hustle, we have a few ideas that won’t eat up all of your free time.

3 Least Time Consuming Side Hustles for Animators

a man sitting on his laptop conscious of time and how he can use it for his animation side hustles
Image by Kevin Ku via Unsplash
  • Google Slides Template Creation

Look, anyone can make a PowerPoint presentation. It’s not rocket science. The difference is that not everyone can create a theme and use color the way you can. 

You’ll also not use the same fly-in and wipe-out animations. Unless, you know, that’s your jam. GraphicRiver.net has the top Google slides templates of 2021 right here.

Furthermore, once you have spent the initial time setting up a template, it’s a matter of minutes to edit one or two aspects and sell it for full price again.

an iphone is held in air displaying the gorgeous theme it has created by an animator

Image by Neil Soni via Unsplash

  • Android Phone Theme Designer

Depending on how much detail you include in your work, creating a phone theme or animated background should not take years off of your life. 

The cool thing is, if you decide to sell your work on Huawei’s platform, you can expect 70% revenue on the sale of your themes. Some people take the personalization of their phones quite seriously and one animated design can sell like wildfire. 

Huawei alone has over 2.5 million users for you to market to. If you pass the design course, you could stand to make even more by joining Samsung’s design platform, all while having only spent a few hours designing the animated theme in the first place.

  • Blender Assets and Add-ons

You’re constantly working on one or another graphics software, honing your craft, creating your own effects or brushes. Why not take what you’ve perfected and mold it into an asset or add on for others to use? If you sign up to become a Blender market developer, you’re halfway there.

There really are so many ways for animators to make extra money online, and it can feel a bit like drowning in possibilities. Here are our pics:

Our Top 3 Animation Side Hustle Recommendations

  • Get Paid for Animation Advice

Your brain is a treasure chest filled to the brim with animation advice that others would pay for. Literally. There are many platforms where professionals will pay you by the minute for your insights. Clarity, for instance, allows you to charge $10 per minute and that’s on the lower part of the pay spectrum. 

anime girl sits on chair giving advice for animation

Image by Anton Maksimov juvnsky via Unsplash

  • Animate for Influencers

Social media is a new storytelling medium, and just like animated films became a staple in the cinema, virtual influencers are taking over social media.

It’s crazy to think that a virtual influencer like Lil Miquela has made millionaires of her creators. Lu Do Magalu,  Miquela Sousa, and Seraphine Song are only three of the hundreds of virtual influencers who have over 200k followers on social media.

It might be time for you to make your animation skills available to these new celebrities as your side hustle.

  • Create an Online Animation Course

Being an online animation educator means taking a slice of an almost $107 billion market. You have the knowledge. You have the skills. Now just spend a few days creating an animation course that will bring you thousands of dollars of pure profit, and you don’t even have to do any marketing.

Udemy is one of the many platforms that can help you reach thousands of people with your content.

image of someone putting money in their pocket as they earned from creating online animation courses

Image by Sasun Bughdaryan via Unsplash

Jumping Into The Side Hustles For Animators

Side hustles are the only way that younger animators can make up the financial backlog that the recession, the pandemic, and the general economic conditions have forced them into.

As an animator, you already have all the skills and traits you need to become successful as a digital side hustler - it’s just a question of funneling your talents into the savviest direction.

There are thousands of side hustle options, but the market is quite crammed. It is important to have a fresh take on what is out there.

We recommend selling your advice, educating others in animation, or taking advantage of the boom in virtual influencers by helping them stand out from the pack with your animation skills.

Shaking out your wings to fly on out into the hustling horizon? Here are two solutions to get your feathers fluffed before you take off. Check out our FREE Masterclass, and get your very own copy of our Marketing Handbook for no additional cost. Go on, you owe it to your future hustles.

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