As an animator, you’ll have your hands full, ensuring your animation projects run smoothly and according to your animation client’s vision. After all, running a successful animation studio would require more than a one-man team.
You’ll need to hire a reliable and skilled team of people with the ability to carry out specific creative visions, and among those people are your scriptwriters.
The Importance of Scriptwriters for Animated Videos
Scriptwriters or animation writers are the people who translate your clients’ creative briefs into animation scripts.
With the right scriptwriter, your animation projects will have a clear story alongside a convincing message. This will allow you to deliver the best-animated videos and help your animation clients’ businesses grow.
However, hiring the right scriptwriter can be tricky and can take a lot of effort. If you’re still starting out and lack the know-how, you might end up wasting precious time and money on an employee unable to match the needs of your animation business.
As a matter of fact, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, even skilled businessmen struggle in hiring the right employees. An average of $4,129 per job application process in the United States is usually being spent.
In this article, we share with you eight steps for hiring a scriptwriter as an animator.
1) Decide on Hiring Either a Freelance or Full-Time Scriptwriter
Establishing whether you're looking for full-time or freelance animation scriptwriters beforehand is especially important if you plan on having a big animation studio. It’s crucial to weigh the advantages and disadvantages that come with both positions.
Hiring a freelance animation scriptwriter has its advantages for your animation business in terms of costs, convenience, and accessibility. Freelancing allows your scriptwriters to work at their most productive hours and deliver their best output.
Freelance scriptwriters are constantly building their reputation and client list, so you can be assured that freelance writers would deliver quality content.
Additionally, hiring freelance scriptwriters is also more cost-effective. There is a lack of financial risks because you’ll often pay your freelance scriptwriters per word or on a project-to-project basis.
Unfortunately, freelance scriptwriters also have their share of drawbacks. For starters, they have a generally lower investment for one company as they are constantly multi-tasking different projects with other companies.
As stated by human resource expert Riia O’Donnell, “Your company's individual success is not their priority.”
Apart from that, you may have difficulty in training or directly supervising a freelance scriptwriter because they may sometimes opt to perform their tasks outside regular working hours and aren’t accounted for in your monthly payroll.
On the other hand, when it comes to hiring full-time scriptwriters, you can enjoy advantages like employee loyalty and the ability to train them. Tied together by a contract, full-time scriptwriters are solely committed to your animation business and would guarantee you complete company focus.
Additionally, you can train your full-time scriptwriters. This will soon give you more time to focus on other animated projects.
And as your animation company expands, you can eventually give them more responsibilities and heavier tasks resulting in higher rates of productivity.
However, like hiring freelancers, hiring full-time animation writers has its disadvantages and drawbacks for your animation company.
For one, full-time employees entail specific work hours, typically from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., which may hinder animation scriptwriters from producing their best content as creatives usually do their best at their own pace.
Second, with full-time employees legally tied to your company, you will need to consider the additional costs like covering overtime hours, paid holidays, and employee insurance.
And lastly, full-time scriptwriters can be more prone to suffer from burnout which will affect both their writing performance and the overall environment of your animation company.
Both positions come with their share of benefits and challenges so it’s important to evaluate the kind of scriptwriter your animation company needs before anything else.
2) Create a Job Description for Scriptwriters
After deciding whether you need a freelance or full-time scriptwriter for your animation business, the next step is to lay out a clear and realistic job description for your animation scriptwriters.
A job description, also known as a JD, is a summarized version of the essential activities, skills, and qualifications required for a role, along with a statement of company details. There are certain aspects to consider when crafting a job description that attracts the right candidates for your scriptwriting position.
First, when stating the job title, ensure it is specific and reflects the purpose of the job. Keep the title searchable by using the keywords “freelance animation scriptwriter” or “animation writer”.
Following the job title, list a specific set of duties and responsibilities assigned to the job. Keep the job description simple, concise, and direct to the point with the intent of helping potential candidates envision themselves in the role.
In doing so, remember to avoid using company jargon as that would confuse and drive away potential candidates.
Next, indicate a salary range you’re willing to offer to meet the animation scriptwriter candidates’ needs.
Compensation is one of the most important parts of a job description. Experienced candidates in the job market even feel discouraged to apply to jobs ads without a salary range as they aim to make more money than they did in their previous position.
Salary transparency from the get-go will increase your chances of attracting more job applications, as said by Hailley Griffis, Public Relations Head of global social media startup, Buffer.
In his YouTube video, digital marketer Niel Patel mentions that the amount the scriptwriters will be paid will depend on the kind of content you expect them to write.
If you’re hiring a scriptwriter for 10-30-second animated videos, you don’t need to spend as much as for 60-90-second animated projects or animated videos.
Since technical scripts require more research and sometimes extensive effort, scriptwriters for such animated projects are usually paid more.
And finally, if you choose to hire a full-time scriptwriter, you’ll have to indicate the employee benefits to be offered by your animation company.
Health benefits and other insurance plans, like life and dental insurance, paid holidays, and paid sick leave are the general benefits indicated to be paid either discounted or in full to ensure the scriptwriter that they will be well-taken care of by your animation business.
3) Post Your Scriptwriter Job Ad Online
While you can use offline advertisements, like posters and flyers, and have effective word of mouth, the most advantageous way to find scriptwriters is to post job ads on social media websites and marketplaces such as Facebook, Indeed, LinkedIn, Scripted, Upwork, and Fiverr.
By using freelancing websites and communities, you can attract and potential animation scriptwriters in a convenient and time-effective manner.
Different websites also include helpful features for hiring animation scriptwriters. An example is LinkedIn’s “Jobs You May Be Interested In” or “Suggested Professionals'' feature, attracting qualified candidates.
Some websites, such as Craigslist and Fiverr, also use the review section that can help set apart the different candidates and immediately give you a sense of each scriptwriter’s work ethic and writing style.
When posting the job ad, it’s key to include the exact job location in order to optimize the ad and make it appear in more searches. As a call to action, the advertisement must conclude with having the candidates for the scriptwriting position submit their cover letter, resume/curriculum vitae, and portfolio.
4) Filter Job Applications
Once you receive job applications, start filtering the top qualified candidates. The best way to filter them is by going through their experiences and portfolio.
Thoroughly evaluate the scriptwriters’ education and work experiences, and check whether they’ve had a history working or writing in the field of animation. You can then go through their portfolio to determine whether their writing style, voice, perspective, and skills align with your animation business.
Don’t hesitate to contact the companies or references they listed in their curriculum vitae if you need anything verified. But if you’re hiring freelancers, you may skip this.
5) Schedule an Interview
If the scriptwriters appear to be good candidates on paper, you can proceed with sending them an email and setting an interview date.
The interview is your chance to personally meet the candidate, listen about their work experiences in scriptwriting, and get to know them as a person. While you can add your own set of questions to the list, here are a few that will help you better determine whether the candidate is qualified.
Interviews are often done when hiring long-term scriptwriters. In the case of freelance scriptwriters, interviews aren’t always necessary.
“Tell me about yourself.”
- This question will help you learn more about the candidate’s personality, capabilities, skills, and even relations. As an animation studio owner, you can ask this question to gauge how well they’ll fit in the culture of the animation business.
“What can you bring to the company?”
- This can help you assess their possible contributions and skill level.
“What made you interested in writing for us?”
- This question will either exhibit the candidates’ knowledge of your animation business and your animation projects or their willingness to engage in a new environment.
“Tell me about your weaknesses and strengths as a scriptwriter.”
- Asking this question will allow you to observe how well they know their skills, capabilities, and areas of improvement. If you know their strengths and weaknesses, you will know what kind of animation projects are fit for the scriptwriter.
“What kind of scripts have you written?”
- This question will offer you a clearer picture of the writer’s experience in scriptwriting. The fact of the matter is, not every scriptwriter can write for explainer videos. Some writers are better off as content writers, screenwriters, lyricists, or novelists.
Among the aforementioned questions, you can also ask situational questions, which will help you gauge the candidate’s ability to think creatively and manage pressure alongside their workload.
When you interview the candidate, it’s key that you connect with them as they will be working closely with you. You must pay attention to their level of enthusiasm and willingness to learn and converse.
By the end of the interview, allow the candidates to ask their own questions, which will help them see whether they’re actually fit to write for your animation business or project.
6) Require a Test Script
Hiring scriptwriters require more than an interview as their skills are better proven on their output. So, to help you gauge their scriptwriting abilities, you may ask them to submit a sample test script with directions and a deadline.
Take note that some companies require test scripts before or instead of an interview while other companies give a paid test project, so you may opt to do either if you believe it would be better for your animation business.
7) Evaluate Test Scripts
Now that you’ve received the test script, it’s time to evaluate the content, grammar, and structure. You must observe whether the applicants followed the scriptwriting guidelines and whether their writing style and creativity are in line with the animated video concept you aim to produce.
Granted your animation business already consists of a team, the test script ensures not only your opinion but the opinion or approval of your teammates.
Overall, the test script will help you reach a clearer decision on who is best suitable for writing your animation scripts. If the scriptwriter’s work has lived up to the standards of your animation business, you can finally onboard the scriptwriter and discuss rates and guidelines.
8) Require a Trial Period
Each full-time scriptwriter you hire will undergo a trial period. The trial period, also called a probation period, occurs at the beginning of an employee’s employment.
It allows you to observe and evaluate the attendance, punctuality, personality, submission to authority, and overall skills and performance of the scriptwriters.
During this period, you can also assign the writer with more specific writing tasks and engage them directly with your teammates for a fixed number of months, usually not extending six months.
By the end of the trial period, you will be able to determine whether or not they’re suitable for your animation business in the long term.
If the scriptwriter was unable to match the needs of your animation business within the trial period, you may dismiss them by sending an email stating such and thanking them for their time and effort.
Why You Should Find Scriptwriters for Animated Videos
It’s essential to hire the right scriptwriter in order to successfully translate your animation client’s creative brief into an animation script.
With the right animation scriptwriter, you will be able to help your animation clients grow their businesses by delivering exactly what they need. Not to mention, you’ll be able to build and maintain a successful animation business.
It may be tricky if you’re still new and at the beginning of building your animation business. To start off, decide whether you want a freelance or full-time scriptwriter so you can craft a concise and targeted job description that will be posted in your job ad online.
Once the candidates submit their applications, thoroughly look through their portfolios and resumes. You may set an interview date or require your potential scriptwriters to submit a test script. You may even hire them if you already find them qualified and have them undergo a trial period –– the choice is yours.
When the test script is complete, review it to determine whether the scriptwriter is a good fit for a job in animation. If they aced all of the stages in your hiring process, you can proceed with onboarding them, discussing rates and guidelines, and giving them their first project.