Why 3D vendors seldom make it really big

There are many great ways to start selling your 3D products without actually learning to sell.
Take www.daz3d.com or www.renderosity.com as an example.

With a great product that´s niched and unique, you can sell several 100´s or even 1000´s of copies over a few years.

So how come content creators seldom make it big?

Well, the obvious reason is that you give away 50%.

But there´s a more profound reason…

See, there´s only 24 hours a day, and you can only create so many products each month.

Even with a team that produces more products in the same amount of time – you can´t release too many of them, since they will then interfere with eachother.

Well, unless you make all of them 100% unique and without competing against eachother. (Not likely, unless you´re into several niches at the same time)

Regardless, you would have to mass produce new products each month…

Yes, there´s a compound effect going on… As your store gets larger, all the “old” products will start adding to the monthly sales.

No doubt about it…

However, you´re never really free doing that…

I know I never was…

Yes, I quit my job – but only to jump straight into another rat race.

So, what am I really talking about?

Hold on, I´ll explain…

Take a closer look at DAZ 3D… Renderosity… Frankly even STEAM that sell games online.

What the people behind these websites really have done, is to create as sytem for instant delivery. It´s more than a webshop.
It´s support, a community and it´s all connected with the 3D software or in STEAM´s example – with your PC / MAC.

Now, DAZ 3D have a little over 4200 brokered products.

Compare that to creating 1. Maybe 10. Or even 50.

And, I know vendors that have well over 150 products.

So, what´s the issue?

Here´s the issue…

How much time, money and effort do you put in to create a single product?

And you get 50% of every sale – right?

How much time does DAZ, Renderosity or STEAM put – to sell the same product – and still make 50% (I don´t have the exact figure for STEAM)?

It´s probably a ratio of 1/100.



To say the least.

They make THE SAME amount of money, putting in less time, less effort and less money…

And now… Here´s the BIGGIE…

How much sales volume do you think 4200 products can create?

Quite a lot.

THAT´s the difference.


Those who make it big are those who learn to sell and market.

Not content creators…

You can´t compare that to producing one or two products each month,
letting someone else market it for you.

Of course, and I repeat again – DAZ 3D and Renderosity are outstanding. And it´s a great way to start…
But it´s hard to live doing ONLY that…

And it´s even harder when you are out of control and let someone else take 50%.

Take book writers as another example. They make a percentage of each book sold.
How much effort do the publishers put compared to writing a whole book?

Probably 1/100. Or atleast 1/10.

I don´t care what the number is – it´s HUGE no matter how you look at it.

Those who learn the skill of selling, get more with less time and money.


There´s nothing more to it.

Yes, selling is an art. It´s not luck.

It´s a whole science!

It includes getting over the fear of selling, and of perfecting the skills by doing that on a consistant basis…

I would have been out of business a long time ago, if I didn´t learn to sell on my own…

I remember back in 2006, when I released my first big 3D product – the Light Dome PRO for DAZ Studio.
I was scared beyond words and I think I sat 70% on the toilet waiting for DAZ to release it.

And I sat there 90% after the release… 🙂

Ok, lets not end with THAT picture, shall we..? 🙂

What I was saying, is that I´ve learned so much since then and I can see the difference…

I´ll be opening up another blog shortly, devoted entirely to online marketing – of ANY product.
And there will be lots of tips of off-line marketing as well.

I just HATE seeing good people struggle out there!

You can learn to sell, and you WILL see the difference.

It´s just THAT big.

And the best part comes here…

Selling is VERY predictable…

Yes, you read that right…

It´s an art, and like any art – and once you learn it, you gain such powerful control, that you will fall out of your chair…

Frankly, you´ll be asking youself why you never did this before…

Does this make sense? I´d love to hear your thoughts and if you like the post – don´t forget to share it with your friends…

Thanks and until then, have a great weeked!

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23 Responses to “Why 3D vendors seldom make it really big”

  1. Rosie D June 5, 2010 at 11:46 am #

    You are so right ‘sales is an art’ – I’ve been looking at the options available for selling my work so I’m really looking forward to your new blog on this – Thanks!!

  2. crios June 5, 2010 at 12:05 pm #

    Yes, selling is an art, and is really difficult make it. i’ve tryed to create product and submit it to Renderosity, RuntimeDNA and Content Paradise, but never have accepted it, so i’ve started my personal website, selling are not really good but i take the 100% of profit.

  3. Spiritfoxy June 5, 2010 at 12:39 pm #

    Yes, I really must agree with you on this, for you are absolutely right. I look forward to more intersting reading on the subject, thank you *smile*

  4. Doug Harris June 5, 2010 at 1:13 pm #

    Thank you for sharing, I am interested in selling 3D products and your blog and Dreamlight have been the key to showing me how. I don’t know of any other site that does that. that’s why I’m a life member.

  5. preetcher June 5, 2010 at 1:21 pm #

    This is something I have been thinking about for years. I first thought about the cable companies and how much they make. I used to have C-Band Satellite and only paid about $120 per year now I got cable and we pay over $60 a month or $720 per year. They get theirs a whole lot cheaper so think about all the customers they have even at $60 a month some even go as high as over $150 a month.I really think the percentage that these sites charge is way to much given the customer base they have. To me %10 would make you rich. God bless.

  6. preetcher June 5, 2010 at 1:24 pm #

    Also, I would also like to see a site that has a whole lot more religious or Biblical content. I have seen very little lately and if you know of any please let me know. I am a DAZ 3D Studio, and Poser Pro 2010 user just trying to learn so I can tell the Bible story in 3D.

  7. Paul June 5, 2010 at 1:25 pm #

    I’ve always avoided sales roles and situations because of the negative conotations I have with sales and sales people, such as dishonesty, lack of integrity, taking advantage, etc. But I definitely see the truth and wisdom of what you are saying. The math does not lie. It’s just disheartening that being an “artist” isn’t enogh and the creative acttivity doesn’t pay. But maybe the point is if artists also learn the art of selling, they can make the creative part work for them instead of someone else?

  8. theSea June 5, 2010 at 2:33 pm #

    @preetcher – Pappy411 at Renderosity seems to specialize in what you’re looking for.

    Walle – some good points. But DAZ also brings a _lot_ to the table. Most notably eyeballs. Also a convenient secure storefront, QA and support. Don’t get me wrong, I consistently stand in awe of what you’ve done with the club and other things, but the other side of the coin is someone like Stonemason.

    He personally does very little marketing at DAZ. His products speak 100% for themselves. Granted he’s the rockstar of the DAZ world, my point is that quality and usability of products is core of any program, period. Get that right and the rest can follow.

  9. Elton June 5, 2010 at 2:51 pm #

    I think the main reason why people don’t want to get rid of copyright is that they have this subconscious pathological fear of actually selling their own work.

    Taking a look at Nina Paley’s Business Model for promoting [i]Sita Sings the Blues[/i] she has put on a Creative Commons license on the film and spent many, many man hours self promoting it than spent animating another feature.

    In the days of Copyright (which will FADE) you let the publishing company do all the selling and promoting. Often at the expense of your rights to your own work. Now, with the Internet, it becomes possible to self-publish. However, you have to promote your work and your image like nothing you’ve done before.

    Nina has come up with a Business Model to handle it, and it is talked about at length on this website (http://questioncopyright.org/the_cobbler). Basically, with the internet, an artist becomes a self promoter. He has to do everything to promote his work in order to sell big.

    This pretty much means going to conventions (sic!), creating merchandise, and ensuring that his art and work are available for free (besides, releasing your work under a copyleft license kills internet piracy dead!). Whereas, you used to sign your rights away and let the company promote THEIR work — now with the Internet you don’t sign your rights away and you have to promote YOUR work. Simple as that.

    Basically let the audience distribute your work rather than a big company and work hard to promote your own work. And someday, you can afford an advertising agency to do the work. 🙂

    OR — Sell your stuff through another company and take a 50% cut.

  10. Dan Tong June 5, 2010 at 6:03 pm #

    You leave out some very important facts. DAZ 3D not only markets 3rd party content but they make and continually improve Studio which is Free, without which 3D content that they market would have a far smaller customer base (they would have to purchase Poser or something similar).

    As for book publishers, there are some not negligible costs associated with the cost of competent editors, and printing, and distribution costs – especially prior to internet distribution.

    Finally you need to compare 3D content creation with other jobs, such as carpentry, or farming (services) where you cannot sell the fruit of your labors over and over again.

  11. kyoto kid June 5, 2010 at 10:25 pm #

    “but the other side of the coin is someone like Stonemason.”


    …indeed Stefan is one of the few, however this brings up another issue: namely the software tools used to create such wonderfully detailed models. As I understand, Stefan uses 3DS which has a price tag of about 3,600USD + about 1,000USD or so for annual licensing renewal (and he is in New Zealand so most likely it is even more expensive where he is). That is a hefty investment.

    Now take into consideration his Urban Sprawl2 which retails at Daz for 49.95USD. This means after Daz takes their cut, he gets about 25$ on each sale. He would have to sell over 40 units (at list price) of his urban masterpiece just to recoup the annual license fee. Now how many Dazophiles have 50$ burning a hole in their pocket in this economy?

    Others like BadKitteh and LittleFox Designs (whom I liken to being the “Stonemason’s” of clothing content) and Fire Angel (same with SciFi vehicles) also no doubt model in one(or more) of the pro grade applications (Fire Angel uses Blender – a Freeware modelling suite but very difficult and time consuming to master).

    Then there’s texture/MAT creation, and there one application comes to mind: Photoshop (about 900USD).

    The bottom line is If you want to create stunning content that really stands above the rest, it’s best not to scrimp on your software tools (or at the very least take the time to learn Blender).


    OK now to owner’s rights (apologies that this will be a bit long).

    Here I’m not speaking of ownership by the content creator but the party who owns a “Real Life” (for lack of a better term) item one intends to model. Now I am a nut for “authentic” vehicles and aircraft as I used to be a scale and radio control modeller.

    OK, let’s say I want to model a Braniff International Bac One-11 (a short range jetliner from the 1960s – Braniff was noted back then for it’s unique paint schemes and marketing that set them apart from their competitors).

    Now to create a faithful representation of the plane, I need to find accurate technical drawings. These are still most likely in the hands of, a)the plane’s builder (British Aerospace) and/or b licensed/copyrighted technical publications and will not be given out without some form of compensation or royalty agreement. Unless I just wanted it for “personal” use, I could change a few details of its appearance and call it “1960’s British Twin Engine Jetliner” or some rubbish like that and put it in a fictitious airline’s colours, This way I could sidestep any potential lawsuits. However, I plan to sell a real Bac One-11, in 60’s era Braniff colours.

    OK now there’s the matter of the airline’s livery and logo. Even though Braniff hasn’t carried a passenger since the early 1990s, the name and all logos/liveries (paint schemes) are still trademarked. Even the distinctive font and “BI” Logo created for the airline in the 1960s is copyrighted and the license only available for purchase (160USD last time I checked). This hasn’t been used for something like thirty five years.

    Hence to use the logo and livery on my model, I would have to secure the rights from the owners of the trademark and purchase the font license.

    This may not sound like a serious issue but a couple years ago there was a flap over an authentic WWII bomber model that was sold under the actual aircraft’s name. The Aerospace firm that currently owns the plans (through consolidation and acquisition over the last seven decades – the original builder went out of business in the early 50s) claimed infringement and got it pulled from the website. There was even a thread on the Daz forum discussing the matter that I believe was locked because discussion became too heated.

    So there are a few other concerns that a content designer needs to be aware of before saying, “hey that would be neat to model a….”).

  12. Waldemar Belwon June 6, 2010 at 4:41 pm #

    Yes Paul, being an artist doesn´t pay, more than on the artistc side of things… 🙂 And yes, mixing that with selling certainly does.

    Honesty and integrity is number one in any solid business. The internet is no different than any other place, it´s just that the internet makes everything so big…

  13. Rich June 6, 2010 at 5:37 pm #

    The only way to get rich (= more wealthy than others) has always been and will always be to let others – or some machine – do all the hard work.

    And it will remain like that until everyone realizes that their work is just as valuable as the work of the man at the top who earns $1000 an hour.

    Financial succes hasn’t really as much to do with the amount of work you do as with how you think. There are lots of books about all this, like “Think and Get Rich” by Napoleon Hill or “Money and The Law of Attraction” by Esther and Jerry Hicks.

    A quote from “Conversations With God 1”:

    “A true Master is not the one with the most students, but one who creates the most Masters.
    A true leader is not the one with the most followers, but one who creates the most leaders.
    A true king is not the one with the most subjects, but one who leads the most to royalty.”

    You might add: “A true wealthy man is not the one with the most wealth but the one who creates most other wealthy men”.

  14. Nicolas B. June 7, 2010 at 6:23 pm #

    Thanks for sharing openly on your precious experience. This is much appreciated, really.

  15. Colm Jackson June 7, 2010 at 10:20 pm #

    Hi Wal,

    I think this is very interesting. Selling Poser products is an art form and often one full of tears and frustration. Daz and Renderosity offer a 50/50 brokerage but RDNA offers 70% to the broker and this can be incredibly lucrative to our content team. Plus we do treat our vendors with great respect. Being artists and vendors ourselves puts us all on the same level. We also help our vendors to be better content creators, promo renderers and sellers.

    Thanks for an interesting piece.


  16. Waldemar Belwon June 8, 2010 at 10:54 pm #

    Rich, in a way that´s true. I´ve read “Think and Grow Rich”. Awesome book. However, getting rich is done by SERVING others.

    The more people we serve, the richer we become as a result of that.

    We give first, then we get.

    Having people work for you, yes – but they are needed to help serving more people… One person with a vision can only do as much…

    Having a machine work for you – definitelly – and the internet is such a machine! 🙂

  17. esha June 12, 2010 at 6:26 am #

    I’m looking forward to reading more about this topic.
    The advantage of selling at a brokerage is that they do a lot of the legal work for you, they maintain the server, they offer customer support, they do the customer acquisition, they do the marketing. If every 3D vendor had their own store the customers wouldn’t know where to look first for their products. It’s always good to have a big collection of products under one roof because that’s what draws the customers.

    And yes, I’m interested in learning about marketing but I also know my limits (and I think that’s also an important thing, to know one’s limits and to act accordingly). I know that I have not much talent for marketing. And I abhor bureaucracy, bookkeeping etc. so I’m glad when there is someone who is doing that for me. If I had to maintain an online shop and cater to the needs of many customers there would be no time left for me to create products.

    Of course I could make a lot of money if I could program some great software, if I could sing like some superstar or write fantasy novels like some famous authors. But I can’t. So for me the point is rather: Do I want to have a certain percentage of good sales (because a big store is doing the marketing for me) or do I want 100% of nil? I think the answer is clear.

    But as I said, I’m looking forward to read and learn more.

  18. DoodleDesigns June 29, 2010 at 1:45 am #

    I’m on the cusp of releasing my first product after 7 years, so this has been on my mind a lot.

    One big thing that intimidates me about trying to go it alone is the time involved in keeping up my own website. I’ve created websites in the past and they wound up consuming a LOT of time, even though they were only-for-fun web sites. And this didn’t include marketing, promotion, secure payment, research into what is required legally to set up an Internet business, concern with customer support, etc., etc., etc….

    Since time is money, I’m not sure if getting 100% of the sales would come anywhere near what even 50% of sales would get me.

    It seems that, in order to really make the move to independence, it would be more realistic to do it as a team effort. Daz and Renderosity have staff.

    But, then you run into the reality that you will no longer be getting 100% – you have to give your partners a cut of the take. So, not only are you not truly independent, but you have to figure out if going that route will get you more than 50%.

    Yeah, I know that this is pretty much the same thing all small business owners go through, and some of them manage to do it, and quite successfully too. Oh, wish that I were the one to think up amazon.com or Starbuck! But, there are many that do not make it.

    However, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, it’s not as bad as I, and apparently most people, think:

    From: http://www.dol.gov/odep/pubs/ek00/small.htm

    “Although many people believe that 80 percent of all small businesses fail within five years, statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau reveal a different story. The Census Bureau reports that 76 percent of all small businesses operating in 1992 were still in business in 1996. In fact, only 17 percent of all small businesses that closed in 1997 were reported as bankruptcies or other failures. The other terminations occurred because the business was sold or incorporated or when the owner retired.”

    Once again – in reference to the last sentence – oh, that I were the one to think up amazon.com or Starbucks! 😉

    This quote is regarding “real world” small businesses and, according to businessknowhow.com, one of the top seven reasons that this type of business fails is lack of a website! So they don’t have an out as far as the time/cost/hassle goes for that anyway.

    Then, it turns out, the failure rate of online businesses is even more abysmal than real-world businesses – nine out of ten fail!

    From bmmagazine.co.uk:

    ” ‘The internet has made the world a local high street. However, there are so many shops crammed in that it can be difficult to stand out,’ reveals UKFast MD Lawrence Jones.

    ‘You need to know exactly what you are doing or you will come unstuck. The world is full of ‘dot com’ failures.’ ”

    I’m not saying that everyone should throw up their hands in defeat and not even try, just that I, personally, find it very intimidating and am not at all sure if I can do it.

    Still, I might try it anyway, if I could be convinced that I could do it – and get more than that 50%!

    So, Wallie, I wait with baited breath for your insights. 🙂

    Just don’t take too long, or I might have to go with one of those money-hungry, copyright-snatching online vendors. A girl’s gotta make a living.

    Or maybe I should forget being the vend-ee and become the vend-or, and set up my own content website – with 75% going to the artist – so I can snatch the business out from under all my competitors! 😛 😉

  19. DoodleDesigns June 29, 2010 at 1:50 am #

    P.S. – If I DO decide to take the big leap, does that mean that I have to do the Twitter/Facebook/MySpace thing in order to be competitive? I’ve been avoiding that like the plague. It seems to me that getting into that stuff would just consume even MORE time! 🙄

  20. Waldemar Belwon June 29, 2010 at 10:21 am #

    Hey DoddleDesigns,
    Congrats to your first product!

    No, you don´t need to do stuff that you simply can not stand, but yes – when used correctly – Face Book and the like are very good.

    I´m actually about to release a free online marketing course / ebook really soon (hopefully within a week from now), that will reveal all my tactics that I´ve learned during the past years.

    I think that will open your eyes for all the options that you have, and give you a deeper insight of what needs to be done.

    Further more, it will help you design your own way – that works for you.

    As far as the 97% failure rate – this ebook will truly dig deeper into the psychology of success as well, and why some people fail and others don´t.

    There´s no luck involved… 🙂

    Being a vendor is a VERY good start – since it will get you out in the market. However, it will not teach you anything about marketing on your own.

  21. DoodleDesigns July 1, 2010 at 4:54 pm #

    I’m really looking forward to reading your ebook. I’d really like to go the independent route, if I can. I like the idea of being in complete control of my own products.

    Not to mention that 100%. 😉

    And, I was just kidding about being a vendor. That would make me one of the bad guys! 😉


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