Back to Blog Index

Incorporating Your MoGraph Company: Do You Need an LLC?

No items found.

What type of business should you setup for your creative services?

Thinking about going freelance? Let me be the first to say, congrats! Going freelance is a huge step toward taking your career into your own hands, but with that comes a lot of added responsibility...besides doing your creative work. Managing your cash flow, dealing with taxes, and protecting yourself from unforeseen setbacks now take a front seat to buttery smooth mograph.


If you follow any part of the motion graphics industry, you’ll often find a hotly debated topic on LLCs and incorporating. If you’re anything like me, you probably told yourself that—since you’re just starting this self-employed journey—you don’t need to deal with the hassle of setting up a business. Well, maybe it’s worth a second glance...

In this article, we'll be covering some important information:

What is an LLC?


An LLC is an acronym for limited liability company. Hopefully that didn’t just blow your mind. LegalZoom defines an LLC as “a separate and distinct legal entity, meaning that an LLC can get a tax identification number, open a bank account and do business, all under its own name.” LLCs combine characteristics of corporations and sole proprietors (freelancers) and are generally very easy to setup.

Benefits to incorporating as an LLC:

  • Fast and easy to setup
  • Simple business structure
  • Generally inexpensive to set up
  • Established at the state level

Why should a motion designer incorporate?

Incorporating does a few things for you as a solopreneur—most notably giving your personal assets some legal protection by making you (the motion designer) and your company separate entities.

Keeping your business and personal life apart is vitally important if you ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation of a lawsuit. The party suing can only go after your LLC’s assets and not your personal assets, like your car/house/retirement accounts or kid’s college get the idea. The cynic in you may think, “I make dope videos for a living. Who wants to sue me?”

In one simple scenario, imagine that you created a piece and used a popular song as a temporary music cue. You intended on swapping it for royalty free library music, but mistakenly forgot and delivered the project to your client. The client then posts online or (worse) broadcasts it on TV. The song’s record label then sues the client who in turn sues you for damages. Ugly scenario to be sure, but entirely plausible.

not a myth            

This unfortunate event might bankrupt your company, but thanks to incorporating you and your family are safe.

Enough of that reality check—back to cool things. LLCs can also provide tax benefits in a variety of ways. Depending on your situation, your LLC can be taxed on your personal tax return or as an S or C Corp (more on those later). A good CPA can help you there.

Incorporating also gives you the added advantage of looking more legit than other folks. And looking too legit to quit is half the battle...

How do you set up an LLC


1. File Paperwork

Setting up an LLC is actually pretty easy – outside of dealing with the bureaucratic nightmares that are government websites. Luckily, there’s folks that help with that. ZenBusiness is a lifesaver of a website that walks you through the process and files all of the necessary paperwork to form your LLC for only the cost of the fees your state charges.

They do this for FREE, but offer expedited services for a fee. ZenBusiness’ model is they help you here in hopes that you’ll use them for some of their paid services after you’re incorporated. After the paperwork is filed, you should receive a confirmation of your incorporation within a few weeks, unless you paid to expedite the process.

2. Get an EIN

An employer identification number (EIN) is basically a social security number for your company. Many sites exist that will charge you a fee to get an EIN for you, but you can do it for free on the IRS’ website. After submitting the form, you’ll receive your EIN immediately.

3. File a DBA (maybe)

If your name is Keyframe O’Malley, but your business is Shape Layer Magic Inc., you’ll need to file a 'Doing Business As' (DBA) form with your state. This basically means a vendor can pay Keyframe O’Malley for the work that Shape Layer Magic LLC did. If on the other hand Keyframe O'Malley's business is Keyframe O'Malley LLC, then a DBA is most likely unnecessary. The process for filing a DBA varies by state, but searching for something like “Florida DBA” is a good place to start.

4. Open a Business Checking Account

In line with separating your business and personal life, you’ll need a business checking account for your LLC. Even if you already have a Business Checking Account as a sole-proprietor, you’ll need to open a new one since it ties into your EIN and DBA (if you have one). Do your homework on which bank you choose as many offer cash incentives for opening a new account.

5. Get a CPA

Set up a meeting with a CPA to discuss your new business and how it should managed through the year and treated when tax time arrives.

What About S Corp or C Corp?

If you’re setting sail down this waterway, you absolutely need to get a tax professional to captain you along.

Per, on a basic level, an s corporation (s corp) is like the lite version of a c corporation (c corp). S corps offer investment opportunities, perpetual existence, and the same coveted protection of limited liability. But, unlike a c corp, s corps only have to file taxes yearly and are not subject to double taxation.  

Head spinning yet? That's why you need a pro to guide you.  As a very general rule of thumb, a conversation on corporate structures with your CPA or financial adviser might be worth the time once you near a six-figure salary.

To wrap up, think of incorporating like a bike helmet.  You might be fine cruising down the sidewalk without one, but when you level up to crushing a mountain bike trail, it's in your best interest to wear one.

Also we have to put this legal disclaimer because... law stuff.

Communication of information by, in, to or through this web site and your receipt or use of it (1) is not provided in the course of and does not create or constitute an attorney-client relationship, (2) is not intended as a solicitation, (3) is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice, and (4) is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney. You should not act upon any such information without first seeking qualified professional counsel on your specific matter. The hiring of an attorney is an important decision that should not be based solely upon online communications or advertisements.

What's next for your career?

Did all that adult talk get you thinking about your career trajectory? Do you know your path through the world of motion design? If not, then maybe it's time to Level Up.

In Level Up, you’ll explore the ever-expanding field of Motion Design, discovering where you fit in and where you’re going next. By the end of this free course, you’ll have a roadmap to help you get to the next level of your Motion Design career.


Dive into real-time 3D with our Unreal Engine beginner's course by Jonathan Winbush. Master importing assets, world-building, animation, and cinematic sequences to create stunning 3D renders in no time! Perfect for motion designers ready to level up.

Explore this Course

Unlock the secrets of character design in this dynamic course! Explore shape language, anatomy rules, and motifs to craft animation-ready characters. Gain drawing tips, hacks, and Procreate mastery (or any drawing app). Ideal for artists seeking to elevate their craft.

Explore this Course

Elevate your freelance motion design career with our guide to client success. Master a repeatable method for finding, contacting, and landing clients. Learn to identify prospects, nurture leads, and develop a thriving freelance philosophy amidst chaos.

Explore this Course

Rev up your editing skills with After Effects! Learn to use it for everyday needs and craft dynamic templates (Mogrts) for smarter teamwork. You'll master creating animated graphics, removing unwanted elements, tracking graphics, and making customizable templates.

Explore this Course

Stand out with Demo Reel Dash! Learn to spotlight your best work and market your unique brand of magic. By the end, you'll have a brand new demo reel and a custom campaign to showcase yourself to an audience aligned with your career goals.

Explore this Course

Illuminate your 3D skills with Lights, Camera, Render! Dive deep into advanced Cinema 4D techniques with David Ariew. Master core cinematography skills, gain valuable assets, and learn tools and best practices to create stunning work that wows clients.

Explore this Course

Master After Effects at your own pace with Jake Bartlett's beginner course. Perfect for video editors, you'll learn to create stylish animated graphics, remove unwanted elements, and track graphics into shots. By the end, you'll be equipped for everyday AE needs and more.

Explore this Course

Revolutionize your Premiere workflow with customizable AE templates! Master creating dynamic Motion Graphics Templates (Mogrts) in After Effects to speed up your team's work. By the end, you'll craft easily-customizable templates for seamless use in Premiere Pro.

Explore this Course
Your download is in your inbox!!!
Check your email (spam, too) for the download link!
Please check the spam folder if you don't see the message within a minute or two. Google likes to hide your downloads, sometimes.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Not sure where to start?

If you’re a beginner, here are some great courses to help you get started:

After Effects Kickstart

Dive into the fundamentals of motion design with our most popular (and recently updated) After Effects course.


Photoshop + Illustrator Unleashed

Master the basics of Photoshop and Illustrator and gain invaluable insights in this introductory level course.


Design Kickstart

An introduction to the design principles behind all great work.


More Advanced?

If you’re a more advanced student looking to up your game, here are some great options:

Animation Bootcamp

Learn the art and principles of creating beautiful movements in Adobe After Effects.


Design Bootcamp

Learn to design for motion in this intermediate-level, project-based course.


Cinema 4D Basecamp

Learn Cinema 4D from the ground up in this exciting introductory C4D course.


Now is the time to learn the skills you need to advance in your motion design career: