How to make over 50000 dollars a year selling 3d models – tips from a top seller


The following article is an interview with one of the top sellers in the 3d stock world. Although he does not want to reveal his true identity because he does not want to risk having his collection copied, he has revealed a lot of valuable information and shared some great tips that will prove useful for 3d artists who to make money selling 3d models on turbosquid, the3dstudio and other 3d marketplaces.



Cgdigest:First of all, tell us a little bit about your background and experience with selling 3d models.

Seller: I have been educated as a visual artist and I am a self taught 3d modeler. I have began to learn 3d studio max when it was at version 3 but I started to work as a professional in 2003.


Cgdigest: How large is your collection and how much money do you make per year selling 3d models?

Seller:      I have more than 600 3d models in my collection and I make about 50000 usd a year.


Cgdigest: That’s quite a lot. I am sure many sellers aspire to that goal. Have you modeled all of them especially for selling on 3d marketplaces or they were part of paid projects?

Seller: When I first started selling 3d models, they were all modeled as part of my freelance projects. After having seen the potential for additional income I started making models especially for selling whenever I didn’t have paid jobs to work on.


Cgdigest: Do you think that making 3d models for selling as stock content is a sustainable business?

Seller: To be honest, I don’t. I believe that the key is to find clients to “finance” your collection. Looking at my all time statistics, about 30% of the models that I have in my collection have never sold. On the other hand, I have a few models that have sold more than 30 times, so it’s a bit of a lottery. The bottom line is that if I take into account all the hours spent modeling, and overall income, when I calculate the hourly rate, it turns out to be about half of my usual freelance rate. Luckily as I have previously stated, many of the 3d models in my collection were initially modeled for paid jobs, so this is just additional income.


Cgdigest: From your experience, what type of models/categories sell well?

Seller: This is a very complex subject. The most important advice that I have for everybody who wants to make money selling 3d models is to be original and think outside the box. I say this because every day I see people “copying” models that already exist and price them lower expecting to make millions over night. The only thing that they are going to accomplish is to devalue this industry. What will happen when all the big sellers would get tired of this and price all the items in their collection at 5 dollars? The correct approach would be to model things that are not currently available and put them up for sale at a correct price.

Regarding the categories that sell well (judging by what I have in my collection) I would split them into 3 main ones:

  1. There is the electronics/cell phones/gadgets category which sells really well but they have a rather short life span.
  2. The modern cars category also sells well, has slightly longer life span than the previous one, but it is heavily under priced.
  3. There is the architectural/historical/antique category, which doesn’t sell as well as the first 2, but has a much longer life span.

Having this said, it all depends on that your goal is. If you want to make money faster, than the cell phones/electronics/gadgets category is the one for you. Keep in mind that this is a very dynamic area and you always need to stay updated with all the new things that appear on the market and model them even before they hit the shelves. Advertising agencies from all over the world need these models for commercial spots, prints, etc.

The competition in this area is tight though, so don’t be surprised if you will see 5 new models of the same item in one week.

Also, don’t forget to take into consideration the fact that models in this category will only sell for one or two years max.

I also hear from some of my friends that anatomy 3d models do really well, but I have very few of them in my catalog so I can’t tell you from my experience. For example, I am sure this human body anatomy 3d model sells very well.


Cgdigest: There are a lot of sellers that specialize in just one subcategory. What’s your take on this?

Seller: I always think that it is not a good idea to keep all your eggs in just one basket. Having a large variety of models raises your chances to make more money.


Cgdigest: Many new sellers are getting confused when it comes to pricing their own 3d models. What are the factors that need to be considered?

Seller:  First thing I do before publishing a new model is to check if there is already another version of the same item available for sale. If my model does not have a correspondent from another seller, than I set the price to about 70% of what I would charge for it as a freelance project.

If my 3d model has some competition, than I compare it to the products that already exist on the market. If the level of detail, quality of the mesh/topology and texture quality is better, than I set the price higher than the competition.

Finally if the quality of my model is similar to the others than I set a similar price, but never under cut.

Vendors should understand that buyers get a really great deal when buying stock 3d models. Not only the cost is lower than what they would pay if they did it in-house, but also the fact that they get the model immediately is a huge advantage. If people continue to under cut each other, in a few years this won’t be a lucrative business anymore.

A much better approach would be to concentrate on making better products and better presentation instead of setting the cheapest price.


Cgdigest: Speaking of presentation, what advices do you have for 3d stock sellers with regards to this?

Seller: Needless to say that having as many presentation images as possible is a must. Also, don’t forget to show at least a wireframe so that the client can see the topology.

Having animations or turntables is also a plus.

Last but not least, when rendering presentation images take into consideration the format of the thumbnails that 3d marketplaces use. Most of them show square thumbnails and many vendors seem to forget this. If the model will only use 25% of the thumbnail space, people might even not open it.


Cgdigest: What do you think about turbosquid’s squid guild program? Do you think it is a good idea to sell 3d models on only one marketplace?

Seller: Though question… My impression is that it depends on what type of models you are selling. There are many top sellers that have joined the guild (3d molier, Frap, ES3dstudios, etc.), but on the other hand there are several others that say they make 40-50% of their income on The3dstudio, so the guild wouldn’t have worked for them.


Cgdigest: Thank you for your time. I am sure your advices will be appreciated, especially by less experienced sellers.

Seller: It was a pleasure. If the tips I’ve shared have convinced at least 2-3 3d stock sellers not to under cut, than I will consider it a success.


Note: If you are interested in selling 3d models, make sure you also read the interview with Matt Anderson, founder of The3Dstudio



1 Comment
  1. Thanks for interesting article! Glad to see 3d sellers start helping each other. After all, the goal for all of us is to make this industry more valuable and make more sales.

    One tip that draw my attention was that revenue from selling online was [B]half[/B] of freelance rate.. so if we succeed and eliminate commissions then many artists might choose selling 3d over freelancing which is quite stressful job.

    For those who are interested in higher royalty rates, check out . It uses flat-fee activation system which lets you earn as high as 99% of the sale!

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