LEGIT Make Money Selling 3D Models on these Websites


Bronze Wordsmith
Apr 16, 2018

I’m not exaggerating when I say 3D modeling makes the world go round. Non-designer peeps may not realize it, but so many aspects of modern life start out as 3D models. A wide range of products, from phone cases to kitchen appliances, are first designed as three-dimensional mock-ups. And then there are the models that are prominently used in video games, animation, and live-action movies.

The market is huge for 3D assets. Game designers, animators, and product designers frequently buy models from independent sites. These sites, in turn, get their models from designers such as yourself.

If you’ve got some design skills, or even if just want to give 3D modeling a try, I’ve compiled a list of websites you can sell your models in. But first, let’s talk about the software and resources you’ll be needing.

The Hard Truth About Software

High-end modeling programs cost a lot of money. For example, Maya is one of the top programs available, but you’ll have to pay a yearly subscription fee of $1,505. Fortunately, you won’t always need the Ferrari of modeling programs to start. Blender is a decent option that happens to be free. It has a huge user base (up to 500,000 new users per month!) which means it’ll be easy to look for support online.

Here’s a list of (mostly free) programs you can use. Make sure you download the version compatible with your operating system.

Wings 3D

With that out of the way, let’s discuss where you can sell your work!

3D Model Marketplaces

1. 3D Ocean

3D Ocean is just one drop in a larger family of similar websites run by Envato. This family includes AudioJungle (a stock audio marketplace), ThemeForest (website theme marketplace), and CodeCanyon (code marketplace).

The site charges a commission per item sold. If you’re a non-exclusive author, the charge is 55%. If you go exclusive with them, that charge becomes 12.5% to 37.5%, depending on the price of the model you’re selling.

Link: https://author.envato.com/

2. 3DExport

Exclusive creators here can get up to 70% in royalties while non-exclusive ones get 60%. As with most 3D marketplaces, you can set your own prices.

3D Export pays designers monthly via PayPal, Moneybookers or Webmoney, and there’s a $10 minimum payout.

Link: https://3dexport.com/sell-3d-models

3. Renderosity

Renderosity is one of the most highly-regarded sites in the 3D design community. That said, their royalty rate is 50%, which is a bit on the low side. They make up for it by fostering a large and active community. If you’re only starting out, I suggest Renderosity, because you can always rely on the community for tips and technical assistance.

Link: https://www.renderosity.com/register

4. CGTrader

You can get 100% royalties for your first 100 days on the site! Okay, now that I got that out of the way, CGTrader is the world’s largest 3D model marketplace. That means more buyers, but also more competition. They boast of a 70% to 80% royalty rate, but this is pretty standard for larger sites. The advantage of CGTrader is the size of the market, and that fact that they provide up-to-date market insights. This will help you find, and address, unsatisfied market demands.

Link: https://www.cgtrader.com/pages/sell-3d-models

5. TurboSquid

TurboSquid is perhaps the most famous place for selling 3D models. I’ve been selling and contributing over at TurboSquid, and so far I have nothing but good experiences with them. Non-exclusive designers will get a 40% royalty rate. Go exclusive (be part of the “SquidGuild”) and royalties scale up incrementally, based on your total lifetime sales. At the lowest, you’ll get 50% for total sales of $150. The rate goes up to 60% when you’ve sold $10,000 overall. As you could imagine, I went exclusive pretty quickly.

Payouts are distributed mid-month by either wire transfer, cheque, Paypal, or Payoneer.

Link: https://www.turbosquid.com/PublishYourStuff

Random Tips

Scout the competition

Before you hunker down and make dozens of assets in a single weekend, make sure there aren’t hundreds of similar designs already for sale. To do that, do some reconnaissance. Check out the designs being sold in the marketplace. Is there a surplus of similar assets? Is there a shortage of a particular asset you think would sell well?

Know your rights

Copyright and royalty schemes may differ from one marketplace to another. Before you commit to one website, know their copyright and payment terms. You may have to spend time reading boring terms of service and agreements, but better safe than sorry.

Sharpen your skills

Before you dive into the marketplace, make sure your designs are up to standards. To do that, you’ll have to hone your skills. Here are a couple websites and resources that helped me when I was starting out:

Blender HD: Official Tutorials
Blender 3D: Noob to Pro (Wikibook)

The Verdict: Legit or Scam?

All these sites are legit! They are great venues for selling your 3D models and give you a good look at the modeling marketplace. Make sure you educate yourself on their terms and conditions, and you’ll be good to go.

Your Turn

This review is based on my own experiences selling 3D models online. Now it’s your turn to share. Have you sold 3D models, or other digital assets, online? What marketplaces did you use, and how much did you earn?

Let’s hear your stories!