Essential Strategies for Selling Your 3D Models Online

How to successfully sell your 3D models — Part 3

Apprentice with 3D printed part, close up

Monty Rakusen / Getty Images

In the first two parts of this series, we focused our attention on the 10 largest 3D model marketplaces, and which ones will give you the best chance for success selling 3D stock resources.

Knowing where to sell is fantastic, but it's also very important to know how to sell. In this article, we'll go through five strategies you can use to set yourself apart in the 3D market and help you generate a steady stream of sales.

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Exclusive or Non-Exclusive?

Out of the sites we talked about in the previous two articles, seven of them offer higher royalty rates if you choose to sell your models exclusively in their marketplace. 

Do not do this right off the bat — exclusivity will only limit your potential in the beginning. Here are two reasons:

Selling exclusively in one marketplace shrinks your potential clientele.

If you decide to upload a model exclusively to TurboSquid, it means you have approximately 130,000 potential buyers per month. However, uploading that same model to TurboSquid, The 3D Studio, and Creative Crash effectively doubles your audience.

Even under exclusivity contracts, higher royalty rates don't kick in until you reach a high enough sales volume.

Therefore, it doesn't make any sense to choose exclusivity right from the beginning. For example, TurboSquid advertises up to 80% royalties with their Squid Guild program. However, you're not eligible for this rate until you've already made $10,000 dollars worth of sales.

Test the waters first.

If you've been at it for a few months and you notice that 70% of your sales are from TurboSquid and only 30% are from other marketplaces, then you might want to start thinking about exclusivity, but make sure you run the numbers before jumping into anything.

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Find a Niche and Dominate It

There are differing opinions on this, but our opinion is that it's better to dominate a specific niche than trying to find success with the scatter-shot method of content creation.

If most of your models share a unifying theme, you're more likely to build a reputation as the go-to medieval weapon guy, or the best vehicle modeler in the business. If you occupy a specific spot in the consumer's mind-space, they'll be more likely to return directly to your store, rather than wading through hundreds of results in a general search.

The opposite thinking is that it's never a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket.

CGTrader did an interview with one of the most successful 3D stock sellers in the business (he makes over $50,000 a year selling 3D stock models). He goes into depth about what sort of models to sell and recommends selling in a wide variety of categories. You certainly can't argue with his success.

A nice strategy might be to diversify early on. Find out what's working best for you and what's generating the most income. When you've got a clear idea which types of models are selling, then make a serious effort to establish yourself as a leader in that niche.

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Presentation Is Key!

If you want your model to stand out among thousands of others offered in any given marketplace, set aside the necessary time to make it look really, really, good.

Most people include one or two rendered images and call it a day. Go above and beyond. Take the time to set up a really great studio lighting rig, and follow these tips to make your renders as photo-realistic as possible.

You can never give the customer too much information, and once you have a good studio rig you can re-use it for all your models. Include images from every conceivable angle, and even think about rendering on a turntable.

Finally, upload as many file formats as you possibly can. This will make your offerings more versatile and attract a wider range of customers. At the very least, always include an .OBJ file, since it's relatively universal.

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Drive Traffic From Off-Site

Almost every single one of these sites has an affiliate program, which means you get an extra chunk of the sale if you bring in the traffic from off-site.

Start establishing yourself on a few of the social networks, especially Facebook, Twitter, and DeviantArt. Whenever you upload a new model, post your work with an affiliate link back to your primary marketplace. Start posting around CG forums and put links to your store in your forum signatures.

Marketing yourself off-site will help you gain exposure, and the connections you make are more likely to become repeat customers.

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Quality First, Quantity Later

The first instinct with this kind of freelancing is to try and get as many models as possible out into the marketplace as fast as you can. The more models you have available, the more sales you'll generate — right?

Not necessarily.

Even if you've got hundreds of models for sale, you're not going to make a single penny unless they're good enough to warrant a purchase. Most people that are willing to spend decent money on 3D assets are using them professionally, which means they want to buy high-quality work.

It's tempting to churn out little three or four hour projects that are "good enough," but it's honestly not going to get you anywhere unless someone is willing to buy them.

Rather than focusing on quantity early on, take your time making your first batch of models as good as they can possibly be. Investing some extra time upfront will help you gain a reputation as a quality modeler. Later, when you've established yourself, you can focus on building up your quantity.

Hopefully, we've left you with some solid insight into how to successfully make money by selling your 3D models online.

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