Maximizing Revenue Streams: Diversifying Your Animation Studio’s Offerings

This article explores the importance of diversifying revenue streams and provides actionable tips to help studios achieve financial success.

22 days ago   •   7 min read

By Gwénaëlle Dupré
Photo by micheile henderson / Unsplash

slug: "maximizing-animation-revenue-streams"

Introduction

The animation industry is experiencing a golden age: from feature films and television shows to video games and streaming services, there's a skyrocketing demand for high-quality animated content. This is a fantastic opportunity for animation studios if you can handle the unique challenge of managing a growing number of projects simultaneously and efficiently.

This article explores the importance of diversifying revenue streams and provides actionable tips to help studios achieve financial success. We'll dive into various strategies studios can implement to expand their offerings, juggle creative vision, tight deadlines, and resource allocation across diverse projects, and navigate the ever-evolving animation market.

Why work on multiple productions

Maintaining a steady flow of work keeps teams engaged. Skills can go underutilized as studios move through different phases of the production pipeline, while working in waves, with smaller projects in different stages keeps everyone involved. While one team finalizes a 3D animated commercial, another one can dedicate time to storyboarding and character design for an upcoming 2D animated series.

By taking on projects in various genres, studios expand their reach and appeal to a broader audience. This not only attracts new clients but also establishes them as versatile players in the industry. A studio known for creating action-adventure films could for example decide to produce a heartwarming children's show, showcasing their ability to cater to different markets while attracting families and young viewers. Diversity fosters innovation: working on projects with distinct styles and requirements pushes creative boundaries.

Working with other studios can also foster a cross-exchange of ideas and resources, paving the way for co-productions benefiting everyone involved creatively and financially.

Inversely, it's worth noting that taking on too much can be detrimental: spreading resources too thin can lead to burnout and compromised quality. One must find the right balance between keeping teams engaged and leaving room for down time to foster creativity. To do so, consider the following strategies and tactics.

1. Prioritization based on deadlines and client needs

Effectively prioritizing tasks is necessary to not drown in multiple projects running concurrently.

  • Real-time progress tracking - Use tools like production trackers to get real-time updates on each project's progress. It'll allow you to keep your communication with clients proactive, keep them informed and foster trust. Studios can identify potential bottlenecks early on and adjust course to prevent delays that could impact deadlines and client satisfaction.
  • Creating project pipelines - Develop clear project pipelines outlining the specific steps involved in each project's lifecycle. This visual representation helps identify dependencies between tasks and ensure a smooth flow of work with well-defined priorities. Create detailed timelines for each project, factoring in task durations, resource availability, and client expectations. This ensures that deadlines are realistic and achievable, minimizing last-minute scrambling. In Kitsu, for example, you can create custom workflows for each project, ensuring that each task is completed in the right order and on time:
  • Monitoring progress across different projects - A tool like Kitsu allows studios to centralize information for all ongoing projects to provide a holistic view. By constantly monitoring progress across projects, studios can identify areas needing additional focus or adjustments in resource allocation to move forward efficiently.

2. Resource management and allocation

Task management is one thing, but you also need to make sure to assign the right people and tools to the right tasks at the right time.

  • Cross-training and versatility - Cross-functional teams represent a powerful approach to break down departmental silos and leverage the diverse expertise of team members across various disciplines. Investing in cross-training enables team members to contribute to a wider range of projects, increasing overall flexibility and adaptability. This allows the studio to strategically allocate resources based on fluctuating project demands.
  • Using specialized tools - As we previously mentionned, production trackers help visualize resource availability, identify potential conflicts, and ensure optimal utilization of personnel and equipment across projects.
  • Agile project management - Employing an agile project management approach allows for flexible scheduling and adjustments as needed. By breaking down projects into smaller, manageable tasks that are regularly reviewed, teams can adapt to unforeseen changes or client requests without derailing the entire workflow.
  • Continuous communication and collaboration - Kitsu allows teams to collaborate together effectively, either through asynchronous communication channels like comments and annotations, or through in-person reviews thanks to the review engine. This ensures that everyone is on the same page while giving more independence to each animator to maximize both individual and team contributions:

One of the most important aspects of working on several projects at once is to empower team members with the autonomy and resources needed to complete their assigned tasks effectively, by setting clear expectations regarding deliverables, deadlines, and communication protocols. If you make it easy for them to do their job, it'll be easier for them to work on multiple projects at once because each task will have clear context, input and expected output.

3. Reusable assets

Pre-made assets like character rigs, backgrounds, props, or animation sequences can be easily repurposed across multiple projects to save significant time and effort instead of reinventing the wheel with every new production.

  • Plan for reusability - From the outset, design assets with reusability in mind. Consider modularity, generic themes, and adaptability for maximum flexibility across different projects. Create a well-organized and searchable asset library to make it easy for teams to find and reuse existing assets.
  • Meticulous documentation - Document each asset clearly, including how it was made, intended uses, and any variations available. This information will help teams understand the potential applications of each asset.
  • Version control - Implement a robust version control system to track changes to assets and ensure that the latest versions are always used. This prevents teams from using outdated or incorrect assets.
  • Quality over quantity - Focus on creating a core set of high-quality, versatile assets rather than a huge collection of niche pieces. This ensures that the assets have broad use cases and can be adapted to fit a variety of needs.

Kitsu can act as a centralized repository for all your assets, independently of the digital creation tool used to create them.

4. Specialization Strategies

A studio specializing in creating explainer videos can efficiently onboard new animators familiar with the specific software and techniques required. Niching down brings a host of benefits:

  • Identify your niche - Focus on mastering 2D, 3D, stop-motion, or another specific animation style, genre, or target audience. A popular Youtube channel like Kurzgesagt makes huge numbers by focusing on motion graphics and educational content, for example.
  • Specialization leads to standardized processes specific to your niche, saving time on project setup. Deep expertise translates to quicker turnaround times and to more projects. A studio specializing in 2D character animation can create pre-built templates for character rigs and animation cycles, allowing them to focus on the creative aspects of new projects.
  • Attract ideal clients - Become known as the "go-to" studio for your chosen niche to make finding clients easier. For instance, a studio renowned for its stop-motion animation for children's content can partner with educational channels and toy companies.
  • Command premium rates - Standing out as a leader in your specialized field allows you to charge higher fees while reducing competition. For example, a studio specializing in complex 3D creature animation will have more leverage for negotiation than a studio without this deep expertise in a bid for a horror movie.

Remember: specialization isn't about limiting options―it's about strategic growth. By focusing your expertise, you make it easier to find clients, hire, and work on multiple projects in parallel.

5. Diversification Strategies

Inversely, diversification allows studios to tap into new markets and experiment. By carefully considering their strengths, new audience opportunities, and strategic partnerships, studios can responsibly broaden their offerings:

  • Expand within your core competency - A 2D animation studio could explore different styles (hand-drawn, vector, or motion graphics alongside their existing skillset), formats (shorts, series, features), or target audiences (from kid animation to young adults).
  • Strategic partnerships & acquisitions - Collaborate with studios offering skills that enhance your own, or partner on larger or diverse projects to leverage combined expertise and resources. Examples: Studio C, specializing in 2D animation, partners with Studio D, known for 3D animation, to co-produce a hybrid animated film. Studio E acquires a smaller studio with sound design expertise, expanding its service offerings.
  • Offer additional services - A studio specializing in pre-production could provide concept art, storyboarding, scriptwriting, or animatics. Another studio could expand into post-production, offering editing, sound design, color correction, or VFX. Studios can also leverage original characters or content for merchandise and licensing deals.
  • Invest in team development - Equip your team with new skills and software capabilities, or undertake small projects in new styles or techniques to build expertise and attract new clients.

Diversification isn't random expansion, it's supposed to empower you to build a more resilient business by creating new revenue streams and expanding your reach.

Conclusion

For animation studios, navigating the content boom requires a multi-modal approach. Maximizing revenue streams goes beyond operational efficiency: studios must be proactive and strategic in their approach. Embracing multiple productions allows for exploration, increased productivity, and financial stability. And it doesn't imply taking several projects from A to Z all by yourself―less can be more.

In any case, a production tracker like Kitsu is key to stay afloat in a sea of projects. It helps you keep track of progress, streamline your production pipeline, manage your assets, and keep your team in sync, no matter how many projects you're working on at once.

If you're interested in learning more about how studios work on multiple projects, make sure to join our Discord and ask away! We're more 1000+ experts in the animation industry, and we're always happy to help.

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