Where To Sell Your 3D Models - Which Marketplace is Best?

How to Successfully Sell Your 3D Models Online - Part 2

We've given you a list of the ten best places to sell 3D models online, but which one should you choose? Which sites will give you, as an artist, the best chance at successfully making money from selling your 3D models?

There are a lot of ways to answer that question, but in the end there are three factors that you want to look at to determine which 3d marketplaces are worth your time and effort:

  1. Royalty Rates
  2. Traffic
  3. Competition
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Royalties

3D model
Freder/Getty Images

First thing's first. Let's take a look at which sites pay the highest non-exclusive royalties to their artists. The sites that pay the highest royalties take a smaller cut, which means you'll make more money per sale.

Keep in mind, we're looking at non-exclusive royalties. Almost all these sites offer higher payment in exchange for an agreement that you won't sell a specific model anywhere else. Exclusivity contracts are something you definitely want to consider once you've established yourself, but in the beginning we recommend you don't limit your options.

Here are the royalty rates, from best to worst:

  1. The 3D Studio - 60%
  2. 3D Exchange (tie) - 60%
  3. Creative Crash - 55%
  4. Renderosity - 50%
  5. Daz 3D - 50%
  6. Turbosquid - 40%
  7. Falling Pixel - 40%
  8. 3D Ocean - 33%

Notice I left two markets off the list.

Shapeways and Sculpteo both employ a flexible royalty scale where the vendor sets a price based on how much it costs them to manufacture the 3D print. The artist then chooses how much of a markup they want to add.

Although you're free to set an 80% markup at Shapeways, you run the risk of pricing yourself out of the market. In general, the relatively high price of 3D printing means you'll probably make less per sale at Shapeways and Sculpeo than an all-digital vendor like 3D Exchange or The 3D Studio.

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Traffic

The reason we look at traffic as a factor is obvious—the more traffic a site gets, the more potential buyers your models are exposed to. There are a lot of ways to measure site traffic, but the Alexa rankings are well established and provide an accurate enough measure for our purposes.

 

Here are the Alexa rankings for the ten 3D marketplaces that we looked at. A smaller number means more traffic! We also included the sites' raw traffic information from January 2012 in parenthesis.

  1. Turbosquid - 9,314 (118,166 visitors)
  2. Daz 3D - 10,457 (81,547 visitors)
  3. Renderosity - 16,392 (66,674 visitors)
  4. 3D Ocean - 19,087 (7,858 visitors - eighth in raw traffic)*
  5. Shapeways - 29,521 (47,952 visitors)
  6. The 3D Studio - 36,992 (38,242 visitors)
  7. Creative Crash - 52,969 (21,946 visitors)
  8. Falling Pixel - 143,029 (15,489 visitors)
  9. 3D Export - 164,340 (6,788 visitors)
  10. Sculpteo - 197,983 (3,262 visitors)

We compared the sites' Alexa rankings with freely available traffic statistics from January 2012. Looking at a single month's worth of data can be misleading, but we wanted to determine whether there were any major discrepancies between the Alexa rankings and the raw traffic data.

For the most part, traffic statistics (unique monthly visitors) were accurately reflected in the Alexa rankings with one very notable exception.

3DOcean, despite having the fourth best Alexa ranking on the list, was actually ranked eighth for monthly traffic. Our best guess is that 3DOcean's close affiliation with the very powerful domain Envato.com falsely bolsters it's Alexa score.

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Competition

The last measure we'll look at is competition. Low competition is desirable for obvious reasons—fewer options for buyers means they're more likely to choose your model.

 

To determine competition, we simply looked at the total number of 3D models for sale in each marketplace:

  1. Turbosquid - 242,000 (High)
  2. The 3D Studio - 79,232,000 (High)
  3. Shapeways - 63,800 (High)
  4. 3DExport - 33,785 (Medium)
  5. Falling Pixel - 21,827 (Medium)
  6. Creative Crash - 11,725 (Medium)
  7. DAZ 3D - 10,297 (Medium)
  8. 3DOcean - 4,033 (Low)
  9. Renderosity - 4,020 (Low)
  10. Sculpteo - 3,684 (Low)

The marketplace at Turbosquid has the most offerings, boasting a selection more than three times larger than it's closest competitor. However, Turbosquid also happens to have the most traffic. Let's do some analysis.

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Analysis & Suggestions

The ideal 3D market has high royalties, high traffic, and low competition

 

Which sites fit the bill?

Eliminate: Right off the bat, I'd remove 3DOcean and Falling Pixel as options for your primary marketplace. They both have frustratingly low royalties and low traffic. Even though competition isn't heavy at 3Docean, you'll make almost twice as much per sale elsewhere.

Recommendation for 3D Printing: Shapeways

If you're interested in selling 3D prints, it's almost a wash. Shapeways has far more traffic than Sculpteo, but the competition is also much stronger. I gave Shapeways my recommendation for two reasons:

First, printing costs tend to be lower, which means more profit per sale. Second, the high level of traffic at Shapeways means there's more potential upside if your models get featured on the front page.

Analysis for Regular 3D Models:

If you're already into DAZ Studio and Poser, then Daz 3D and Renderosity are a no-brainer. They both have high traffic, low competition, and reasonable royalties. If you're willing to wade through their stringent quality control requirements and successfully get your work into their stores, there's a fantastic chance you'll profit from it.

If you're like me and you're not into the DAZ/Poser scene, you'll want to look elsewhere. The 3D Studio and 3DExchange have the highest royalty rates, but 3DExchange has surprisingly low traffic and an awful lot of competition.

Going by the numbers alone the best options are Creative Crash and The 3D Studio.

Creative Crash has by far the lowest competition for the amount of traffic they receive—honestly, it isn't even close. However, I voiced a concern earlier and I'll mention it again. Creative Crash has an enormous library of free models. I'm willing to bet that free downloads account for up to half their traffic, which means their competition may be more similar to Turbosquid and The 3D Studio than the numbers imply.
 

Final Recommendation:

Focus your primary efforts on The 3D Studio, and then turn your attention to Turbosquid and CreativeCrash. Despite Turbosquid's low royalties, they get an incredible amount of traffic, meaning if you do manage to carve out a niche there you can make some real money.

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Keys to Success

It's one thing to know where to sell your models, but another thing altogether to know how to do it successfully. In the final article in this series, we discuss five essential strategies for successfully selling your 3D models online. Read More >>