Powtoon Review: The Easiest Way to Make Incredible Animations

powtoon review

About a year ago, I started taking my video marketing seriously.

I’ve had a YouTube channel for years, but never did anything meaningful with it. It was simply a placeholder. And I didn’t even know what place it was holding for me.

I had no idea how to make videos. I figured it was best to stick to what I know:

  1. Web design
  2. Blogging

But, it slowly became clear that the internet is gravitating towards video. Most people don’t have the desire or attention span to read blog posts, let alone long-form and in-depth content. Which is typically the type of content that does best with Google. (for now 😉)

So, I started investing more time and money into getting better with video marketing. Specifically, YouTube.

And that’s when I discovered Powtoon.

Powtoon is an online tool that lets you create amazing animated videos and presentations. No downloads, no software, no confusing and complicated tutorials to follow.

I can safely say it changed everything for me. Let me tell you why…

My Powtoon Review Outline

Features

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what makes Powtoon so POWerful. (sorry, not sorry)

Templates

powtoon templates 1

When creating a new Powtoon, you’ll have the choice to start from a blank slate or from a template.

If you’re a complete newb and are lacking in creative inspiration, Powtoon provides a massive list of templates to help you get started.

Separated into 3 broad categories of Work, Education and Personal, it is then narrowed down to a list of over 20 subcategories.

The list of subcategories includes:

  • Freelancer
  • IT
  • HR
  • Training and tutorials
  • Video ads
  • Explainer videos
  • Company guidelines
  • Holidays
  • Announcements
  • Inspirational
  • and much more…

When all is said and done, you’ll have over 100+ templates to help you get started.

Storyboards

powtoon review

Still lacking inspiration?

One of the most daunting tasks of video creation and marketing is storytelling. Great storytelling is everything. If you can become a great storyteller, you’re guaranteed to succeed at anything you attempt. (not even exaggerating)

This is especially true when it comes to video production.

Powtoon‘s Storyboard feature helps you layout your story in a visual format, breaking it down into actionable steps.

  1. Intro
  2. Statement
  3. Problem
  4. Benefit
  5. Solution
  6. Call to Action
  7. Outro

This outline varies depending on the type of video you’re creating, but you get the picture.

Honestly, how much clearer do you want it to be?

Styles

powtoon review

Powtoon offers 5 different styles to center your video around:

  • Modern Edge
  • Whiteboard
  • Cartoon
  • Infographic
  • Real

You don’t have to use just one style per video. I often mix and match depending on the type of video I’m making.

Audio voiceover and music

powtoon review

Don’t design a single slide until you’ve nailed down your audio first.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but audio always comes before video. You design the imagery to match your words, not the other way around.

  1. Write the script
  2. Record the voiceover
  3. Then start creating the visuals.

Of course, this applies specifically to the types of video that are produced using tools like Powtoon. If you’re going to be talking to your audience directly into the camera, it’s a bit different.

Are you about as creative as a door knob? Good news!

In addition to giving you the ability to upload your own voiceovers and music, Powtoon has partnered with VoiceBunny and WritingBunny to offer professional voiceovers and script writing. (for a fee, of course)

Drag-and-drop editing

powtoon review

Drag-and-drop editing is all the rage these days.

Forward-thinking website builders like Weebly popularized the method. And even WordPress is getting in on the action with an upcoming massive update that promises to dramatically simplify WordPress.

Powtoon does an awesome job with their drag-and-drop user interface, ensuring there’s no need for coding or complicated editing.

Drag and drop images, icons, graphics, videos, templates and more. Edit them further with resizing, colors, transitions and animations.

Timeline

powtoon review

The timeline is where the magic happens. Everything revolves around it.

Your video will consist of a set of slides. (as you can see on the left-hand side of the image above) Each slide can be up to 20 seconds long.

When you add content to your slide, it automatically appears in your timeline at the bottom. That is where you will decide at what timestamp the content will appear and disappear in your slide.

For example, you can see that I have the microphone icon set to appear at the 6.5 second mark, and the headphones icon at the 10 second mark.

Think of it as a visual outline for your slide.

Graphics and icons

powtoon review

Crappy generic stock photos are so 90’s.

These days, it’s all about vector icons and emojis.

Powtoon gives you 1,000’s of graphics and icons to choose from. From food to tech to people to nature and everything in between.

Many of them even come with their own individual animations. (Especially the people. The people can do all sorts of fun things.)

Photos and images

powtoon review

Powtoon integrates directly with Flickr, offering tons of royalty-free images to choose from.

These aren’t generic stock photos. They’re pictures that real people have taken and posted to Flickr.

Whiiiiich is why many of them suck, frankly. I rarely use photos from here. Instead, I’ve got my own list of websites that have genuinely great stock photos to choose from. All for free!

Live-action video

powtoon storyblock videos 1 1 1

Powtoon has also partnered with Storyblocks, the world’s #1 purveyor of quality stock videos. With 10,000’s of videos to choose from, it’s rare that I can’t find exactly what I’m looking for.

Depending on the subscription plan you’ve chosen, these are all included for 100% free.

The value of this cannot be understated. When I first started creating animated videos, each slide had to be its own custom animation. Even to convey the simplest ideas. It was extremely time-consuming.

With the new and improved Powtoon HTML5, they added the integration with Storyblocks, and it completely changed how I make videos.

It now takes me about half the time to make one video without sacrificing the production quality, and allows me to pump out more videos for my growing YouTube audience.

Efficiency FTW!

Integrations

powtoon review

Powtoon integrates with a number of different apps and services, including:

  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • Vimeo
  • Slideshare
  • Hubspot
  • Wistia
  • Kaltura
  • Flickr
  • Storyblocks

Pricing

Powtoon’s subscription and payment plans are… all over the place.

Personal/Business

powtoon review

These are the plans that most people and businesses subscribe to, and the ones you’ll likely be buying as well. Powtoon uses some heavy trickery with the pricing model, leaning heavily on their annual subscription as opposed to their monthly.

What do I mean by that?

  • Free Plan = Always free, duh
  • Pro Plan = $19/month annually OR $89/month monthly (difference of 79%!)
  • Pro+ Plan $59/month annually OR $197/month monthly (difference of 69%!)
  • Agency Plan = $99/month annually (no monthly option)

See what I mean?

It’s pretty clear that Powtoon wants you to go for the annual version right away, thus paying them upfront for the entire year. And they do this by drastically inflating the monthly price. By comparison, the annual option seems like a no-brainer!

This is standard practice among companies who sell subscriptions to online services, but this is certainly the most dramatic difference I’ve ever seen.

Here’s what I recommend:

Subscribe for the monthly package for 1 month. Then, if you love what you see (and I believe you will), go ahead and buy the annual subscription.

I personally went with the Agency plan because I make a ton of videos for both myself and clients. If you make at least a few videos a month, I recommend the Pro+ plan. For everyone else, save yourself some cash and go for the Pro plan.

Education

powtoon review

Education is reserved for schools and universities. It allows education institutions to buy Powtoon in bulk for their students.

Are you on a school board? No? Let’s move along then.

Pay per video

If you’re on a really tight budget, or only plan on making videos occasionally, Powtoon has a specific option just for you.

Instead of paying a monthly or annual subscription, you can pay per video.

You buy videos in packs of 5, 10 or 25. The larger the pack, the cheaper the price per video.

Of course, you can also still make videos for free. Just remember that your options and features are much more limited.

Enterprise

powtoon for enterprise 1

The Enterprise plans are next-level. Like, Fortune 500 company next-level. It prioritizes unique features like:

  • Increased security
  • Dedicated servers for better performance
  • Team management and collaboration
  • Dedicated account manager for instant customer service 24/7

In order to get pricing, you have to talk 1-on-1 with a Powtoon representative for a custom quote.

If you’re bothering to read this review in the first place, I guarantee that you’re not a C-level executive at a Fortune 500 company.

So, let’s just move on, shall we?

Support

A company is only as good as its customer support. If I can’t call someone up to ask how to animate my face being fired out of a cannon and into the moon, then what even is the point?

Documentation

powtoon customer support 1

Powtoon has a massive library of tutorials and Help Desk content to guide you through pretty much any question you may have.

  • Creating Powtoons
  • Advanced Editing Tips
  • Exporting Powtoons
  • Troubleshooting
  • Account Management
  • Billing
  • and more…

90% of my questions and concerns have been resolved through Powtoon’s Help Desk content.

For the other 10%, we go to…

Communication

powtoon review

I’ll be straight with you here. Powtoon falls short in this area.

In a time when people expect near instant responses to their questions, concerns and problems, Powtoon only offers customer support communication through one old-fashioned channel: Email.

No phone support. No chat. No Twitter. Just plain ol’ “submit a ticket then wait for our email“.

Fortunately, when you do submit a ticket, it doesn’t take too long to get a response.

But, Powtoon. C’mon. It’s 2018. Get with the program. 👀

Conclusion

Like I said in my overly drawn out introduction, Powtoon has completely changed how I make videos. In fact, I’m not sure I’d even be making YouTube videos right now if I never discovered them.

Making your own custom animated videos has never been easier. And now, with the addition of Storyblocks, you can create Pewdiepie-level videos for your YouTube and video marketing strategies. (ok that’s definitely an exaggeration)

If you’re a complete newb to video production, and are anxious to get started, give the free version of Powtoon a try. You’ll be convinced to upgrade to the paid version in no time.

Pewdiepie won’t know what hit him.

FAQ’s

Is Powtoon free?

Powtoon does have a free version of their product. But the content and features are limited, obviously.

Do you have any Powtoon examples I can see?

Sure thing! Just check out my YouTube channel and start watching the Personal Development playlist. Those were all made with Powtoon. 😉

Does Powtoon have a mobile app?

No. It would be too difficult to do advanced editing on your phone.

Do I have to download Powtoon?

Nope! Powtoon is completely hosted online. Just login and start editing.

Does Powtoon have a free trial?

Not exactly. Because they offer a free version, you can just use that until you feel confident enough to purchase a pro subscription and unlock more features.

Are there any alternatives to Powtoon?

Of course. The only one I can think of that is similar enough for a direct comparison is Vyond. (formerly GoAnimate) I don’t know enough about their service to make a judgement on them, though.

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One Response

  1. Excellent review! I’m also an agency-level customer and use the same workflow as the one suggested by you. Supposedly, one additional feature that the Agency plan has is “advanced animation”. Do you know if this functionality is already available and how to access it?

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