I have plenty of experience in selling 3D models online, finding profitable niches, and just procrastinating while my models generate profit.
You might know already that big marketplaces like Turbosquid are full of extremely high-quality 3D models and battling out the competition would be extremely hard, but I will show you two of my methods on how to earn with 3D models and I will provide you with my own results and earnings.
Remember, for the first method to work you need to have the skills to create high-quality 3D models and textures. The 3D models can be low-poly models, but they need to be appealing to your buyers.
Method 1: Selling your 3D models in packs
You'll have far less competition if you sell your 3D models in packs. Either make a pack of one type of models like a zombie pack or weapon pack or make a scene that consists of several objects like a bathroom or hotel room.
Finding a good niche without a lot of competition can be easy. Just use the search of your marketplace of choice and search for everything that comes to mind. When you find a pack or scene with only a few or zero other sellers you'll start working on that.
Choosing a marketplace with less competition, but still with a substantial amount of visitors is important. But if you'll come up with a pack that does not exist in large marketplaces, sure, go for it. It can be extremely profitable. Though, my marketplace of choice for all my packs is Unity Asset store. This one requires some knowledge of the corresponding game engine but not much. You can learn to create these packs on these engines rather quickly.
Here you can see a graph of sales in the first year of the first two packs I released in Unity Asset Store. Both were created in less than a week.
As you can see the first pack didn't really make that much. The total for the first year was about 21$. It has gotten a few sales after the first year but nothing significant. Even though the sales were small, every sale is a win. It adds up when you have multiple packs on sale.
However, the second pack was a great success. A whopping 133$ in the first year and it's still getting a few sales almost every month!
Those first two packs were very simple and had only a few models in them. After the first packs, I started making more detailed packs with 15+ 3D models, which each took about two weeks to make. If you'd work on them full-time you could easily recreate these in about a week.
Here's the same graph, with the next four more detailed packs I made.
Pack 3: 140$/year
Pack 4: 148$/year
Pack 5: 168$/year
Pack 6: 140$/year
As you can see, all of these new more detailed packs sold better than the previous, more simple ones.
Let's put this in perspective. If you'd work full time these packs would take about a week to make. There's a total of 52 weeks a year. The average revenue per pack/year is about 150$.
52 x 150$ = 7800$
That would be about 650$ a month. Good, but not enough? These statistics are only from the Unity Asset Store. You can sell your model in many more marketplaces and maybe even triple your income and by the way, I'm by no means the greatest 3D artist out there, probably not even professional level. There's a very good chance you can do better than me.
But let's say you'd work another year? Then it would be about 1300$ a month.
Five years in total? 3250$ a month.
That sounds better!
I don't want to reveal my exact revenue, but I can tell you these numbers are pretty much accurate according to my sales to date. Also, remember that you'll have a couple of fails along the way that may only generate one sale over their lifetime. You'll also get a couple of big wins, which will cover the fails. Just keep at it.
Selling 3D models is not a get-rich-quick method. It takes time to create a large catalog of assets to sell. You must play the long game, the result is worth it.
Here are a couple more tips:
Spend time on creating the product page
I know it can be tempting to get your first asset on sale as soon as possible, but the quality of your product page and screenshots/thumbnails are as important as the quality of the models themselves.
Don't expect a quick profit
It is possible that your first packs won't sell in the first month or even the second one. Just keep at it and don't give up!
Read and obey the marketplaces guidelines!
I've gotten my models rejected plenty of times. The reason could be as small as having a flipped axis on your model or you've accidentally exported the textures in the wrong format.
That's it! Hopefully, this small insight gave you the courage to start selling your own 3D models!
Method 2: Reselling freelancer work
This one is my favorite. This doesn't even require you to make any models! You'll just pay for a freelancer to create it and then you sell it on a marketplace. Again, my marketplace of choice was Unity Asset Store as it was proven quite profitable in the previous method. To get the most profit out of this I recommend using both methods simultaneously.
First, you want to find a reliable freelancer. Personally, I recommend trying Fiverr as there are plenty of choices and sometimes ridiculously small prices.
Try to find one with positive reviews and great-looking screenshots of their work.
My first experience:
I found a freelancer on Fiverr who had very low prices, great reviews, and beautiful screenshots of his work. I messaged him and told him my intentions of converting the work to unity and selling it on the marketplace. He didn't have any problems with this procedure. I paid him about 42$ for a 3D environment that didn't have any competition in the marketplace. After two days I got my order and I imported it in Blender and started to separate the models. Then I moved the environment to Unity and followed the Unity Asset Store guidelines and finished the product. The total time I used was about four hours.
Here are the results.
710$ in the first year! In just 2 months I had already profited more than I paid for. This is currently still my best-seller and hasn't slowed down even after two years of its release.
This was an example of what a big win looks like. I've also gotten one model from a different freelancer on Fiverr which was so bad that I ended up trashing it after paying another 40$ for it. The rest of the packs I've sold with freelancer work have been pretty profitable. Averaging sales somewhere a bit above the ones in Method 1.
If you don't have any capital to start with. I recommend starting out with method 1 and moving on to utilizing this one when the profits are enough to cover the costs of the possible failed purchases.
Remember to inform the freelancer of your intentions and make sure he will not use licensed texture or models in his/her work.
Also, it's recommended to ask the freelancer to create all the models separately and not just in one mesh to make your after-work easier.
Expect bad purchases from time to time.
If you have any questions regarding this article, feel free to use the comment section.
Thank you for reading!