how to make money with Blender

How to make money with Blender

With Blenders increased popularity comes the obligatory flood of those wanting to make money. Naturally all manner of bad-actors emerge from the shadows to prey on the uninformed and eagerly naive who inevitably abandon the pursuit in a cloud of rage-quit text on social-media after what they've been told stops working. With a change in attitude, it doesn't need to be like this.

The following is for informational purposes only. Consult an appropriately qualified professional in all matters of law, tax and/or employment etc.

TL:DR; many claim to know the secrets to making money with Blender but promote little more than click-bait and 'get-rich-quick' fantasy. There are no shortcuts.

Same ol' same ol' ^

To not waste anyone's times lets get straight to the point; if this article was found dropping any of the following into a search engine, that is...;

... then [Jedi mind-trick] "the [answers] you were looking for" [/Jedi mind trick] are more-or-less the same now (notwithstanding the exact words or phrases used), as they were last week as much as they were five or ten years ago, and on every web site, all 28,000,000[1] or so, as they are on KatsBits.

Note: results may vary wildly depending on search history, geographical location, time of day, week or year search is performed (such is the nature of Search Engine Results Pages [SERP]).

So for those not wanting to know "the truth about making money with Blender", here are those answers - to make money with Blender you just need to...;

  • sell renders to stock-image or photo web sites.
  • sell artwork on [insert community driven image/print sharing platform].
  • sell 3D models on or to 3D model repository web sites.
  • freelance or do 'contract'/'commissioned' work.
  • sell education materials.
  • become a 'boob' caster (broadcaster)[2].

Whilst all of the aforementioned may be 'true' they're not especially helpful with respect to earning money with Blender, often intentionally so.

“Whilst success cannot be guaranteed, thinking about it differently can increase the odds.”

[Sir F. A. Mous at some point in History]

So how do I make money with Blender? ^

If at this point in the game yo are thinking "okay, so you're not telling me anything useful either" then congratulations on at least realising there might be more to this whole "make lots of money with Blender" lark, namely that you are not being told "The Truth!" about it by anyone (cf. the above).

So here is that 'truth'; you don't make money with Blender, you earn it.

There is a difference, and its not merely a matter of semantics.

The former, those seeking to 'make' money, are 'grifters' who belong to the 'get-rich-quick', 'five-step program' side of things, usually 'asking' after others expertises as they do, because they think, have read or been told, there are quick, simple, easy ways to effortlessly generate an unending stream of money using Blender. The latter, those seeking to 'earn' money, are 'professionals' who understand they are providing a service or producing something that has an exchangeable value others are willing to buy[3]. Choosing one or the other determines long-term success, or not.

But you're still not telling me how to make money with Blender! ^

The point about this is that no-one is obliged to answer demands of others they be shown or helped, at no cost, how to make money using Blender in the same way they are not obliged to help another business make a profit at their own expense, especially when involved expertises and experience might have been very hard won. Understand, they are not being especially 'mean' or 'selfish' when they do this, rather their responsibilities and obligations are to their own actions and interests, not anyone else's. If they do help, it's because they choose to, a fact that should be respected rather than, as is all too often the case, abused by an entitled Zeitgeist.

“'Sympathy' offers a rope to aid climbing out. 'Empathy' climbs into the whole with them.”

[Baroness Also Famous-Person at another point in History]

With that said, and as discussed above, the answer/s are pretty much the same as they are for anyone looking to earn money with Blender; successful artists and content creators use exactly the same outlets as everyone else, the difference between their apparent success and others is one of their being interested in service provision and earning an income, rather than simply making extra cash or a quick buck or two on the side.

To this extent they register themselves as being self-employed (so they can properly freelance and take on commissions and paid contract work) either as an individual or as a business or company owner, or as someone else's employee.

Beyond that, the rest is down to hard work, quality output and being professional, making sure to produce work that's worth selling or purchase, which takes time and often prolonged and protracted effort.

Okay, okay, so how do I earn money with Blender? ^

With all the aforementioned information in mind, below are some tried-and-tested real-world pointers that will at least get you on the right path to a long-term career in 3D, and not just with Blender. In no particular order of importance;

  • Set up a portfolio/web site.
    If you are serious about earning an income with Blender, or any content creating for that matter, you need a convenient presence on the Internet that you have as much control over as possible to host all your material in one place.

    Note: having content in several locations might indicate to the prospective client your being more than a little disorganised. Purchasing services generally means companies are held to a minimum standard of provision 'free' hosts are typically not, even if that's just emailing information regarding pertinent service changes and updates.
  • Don't use free web, image or file hosting services.
    Avoid using Social Media and other free image, content or file hosts as portfolio proxies, Notwithstanding issues surrounding security, privacy and confidentiality when dealing with sensitive business material, it's just not worth the hassle of having content disappear or accounts closed with a policy change, service buyout or bandwidth or link overrun, and that's not to consider someone reporting you for what they perceive as offensive material that's perfectly (and objectively) harmless.

    Note: some common problems using third-party non-dedicated hosting; account signup required for access; content blocked due to excessive bandwidth; blocked for excessive inbound linking; copyright claim takedowns; ToS or policy violations; time sensitive hosting limitations, and so on. Further to this consideration should be given to using third-party services where confidentiality may be an issue - these types service are free for a reason, your privacy and/or confidentiality is the price that's paid.
  • Join a mod team or volunteer your time.
    One of best ways to 'level up' and learn transferable skills quickly (that can monetised at some point down the line) is to join a team modding an existing game, or developing their own (using 'in-house' tech or preferably one of the more popular development kits available). Get to know the tools as best you can so you have a broader understanding of the development process and where the skills you currently have fit in and can be improved to the benefit of all involved.

    Note: not all mods or independent projects are successful but the skills learned often carry over into other areas or future projects. Even the social aspects of belonging to a team and working with others, the interpersonal and management skill you might pick up, are eminently valuable in helping you relate to, and understand, other people and/or appreciate what problems they are trying to communicate to you/have you solve (making whatever it is they commission you to make).
  • Help others learn how to use Blender/make content.
    Whilst this won't specifically earn money through the use of Blender, helping others learn something, or by helping them solve a problem they might be having, is another good way to develop and improve a set of sellable skills. To this end hang out in content creating communities and be sure to provide considered information people can act on and get results.

  • Note: helping other community members create content for an editable game bolsters interpersonal management skills, especially amongst an International user-base. It also shouldn't go without saying being said that not everyone asking for help will be a 'newb' to 3D, they might be an established studio artist switching to Blender in need of instruction, help with which might pay off down the line when they expand and post job/work opportunities.
  • Ask for help/find a mentor.
    When asking the broader community, or a willing mentor, for help learning the skills you need, do it earnestly and honestly (in good faith) without expecting or making demands on others time - you might not be the only person they are helping. Keep in mind also that in a more formal settings you might otherwise be paying for the assistance you get so be appreciative and LISTEN to what's being said, the person helping is doing so because they currently know more than you for a reason so don't be obnoxious. Be mindful also not to throw them under the bus by not acknowledging their help, they may be friends with or know the person in a position to offer you work in the distant future.

    Note: getting paid gigs is as much a consequence of the contacts and networks one might make as it is about skill you can deploy. It helps when connecting to do so for mutual benefit rather just to 'sub4sub' or collect 'industry folks'.
  • Get properly situated with income, employment & tax obligations.
    If you intend to, and actively pursue income selling anything, Blender or not, your local State or Federal Government may stipulate it be declared and subject to tax - whether something is taxed depends on your situation so its important to get this sorted out so you only pay exactly what's due.

  • Note: this is especially critical if you start freelancing, that is to say, working for yourself (being "self-employed"). if you are "making money" to any degree, getting sorted out with respect to tax and employment is VITALLY IMPORTANT so as not to fall foul of the law.
  • Concentrate on quality rather than quality.
    Notwithstanding trying to find a balance between being a quick worker, focus your efforts on quality rather than quantity. Make sure to also understand the context of what you're doing, quality matters for nothing if the results don't work/aren't fit for purpose.

    Note: the only qualifier for genuine long term success is quality (and having a professional attitude), especially so when significant money is at play.
  • Bias your output towards your interests...
    Content creating can on occasion be a hard slog, a reality that can generally be lessened to a degree by engaging predominantly in the production of something you enjoy thematically, for example sticking with character design if you are a character designer. Alternatively develop an interest in learning new skills or seeing if what you already know can be transferred to other aspects of content production and development.

    Note: to guarantee your success as an individual, focusing on your interests helps mitigate the risks of burn-out and/or being over-worked, two of the most predominate 'negatives' inherent to what can become an extremely stressful, time-sensitive and time-consuming occupation.
  • Bias output to under served or other market demands.
    If you have no particular bias, considering yourself a generalist rather than specialist, you can cater to whatever market seems to provide the greatest opportunity to employ your skills more broadly.

    Note: care should be taken to avoid 'chasing the market' as this rarely allows time for the development of necessary skills - "a Jack-of-all-trades is master of none".
  • Work, because you can be sure others do/will.
    Not only are you competing in a global market against weaker economies, you're also going against others with fewer 'distractions' or greater socioeconomic limitations that literally demand they work else they starve.

    Note: in the global marketplace currency and life-style 'exchange rates' are a significant concern. For more on this read "How much should I charge for freelance 3D modelling or Design? (rates)".
  • Look for work (obviously).
    When actually looking for work do so with realistic expectations. Know your limitations, positive and negative, and don't waste peoples time. Don't apply for 'gigs' you are objectively unqualified for unless, as is often the case for mod teams and amateur game-development, they state experience and skill are not specific prerequisites.

    Note: depending on the type of work being sought, trawl through various game editing or production art forums (small game developers to main-stream CG forums), Steam Workshop groups or other places people might be posting work requests. For more read "Finding freelance jobs & where to look online for game related work". If seeking employment within a studio or company search employment web sites and agencies for appropriate listings.

  • Keep your Résumé or CV up to date.
    Curriculum Vitae's or Résumés are a topic all on their own but whatever the format keep them up-to-date with exclusively relevant information to the job to which you might be applying. Although many sources encourage 'padding' the details, only use information you can back up/show if called upon to do what's stated on paper.

    Note: CV's and Résumés are essentially documents or 'declarations of authority' on the subjects or topics listed - you're not just telling the reader something about your abilities as the information they contain forms the basis upon which legal employment contracts are draw. If you 'lie', and this is discovered at a later date, such contracts are then essentially null and void (because an agreement was made based on a declared falsehood), resulting in your immediate dismissal and possibly industry wide black-listing. Do not lie, its not worth it. Additionally, it may also be useful to make the CV easily available, perhaps a page dedicated on your portfolio web site (be mindful of posting personal information however, e.g. your "doxx").

“Competing against others in economically weaker markets, your advantage might be down to your individual professionalism and quality of service rather than undercutting the competition with price.”

[Lord Famous Business-Person at some point someone forgot]

How to make money with Blender video ^

Obligatory video on the best way to make money with Blender 3D in under 5 minutes!.

Watched how quick and easy it is to make money with Blender...


Footnotes

[1] the most popular search (at time of writing, geographically relative to the UK) for Blender "what is the best way to make money with blender" yields c.26 million hits; for 3DS Max "what is the best way to make money with 3DS Max" yields c.7 million; for Maya "what is the best way to make money with Maya" c.2 million. This order of magnitude difference between Blender and other significantly more main-stream applications is an oxymoron (but nonetheless remarkable) considering Blender is still looked down upon by and as a professional content creation tool, it's still not used nearly as much in commercial environments as the aforementioned applications. In other words the desire to make money with Blender appears to be disproportionately larger by a significant degree than the available demand that might support that outcome - the market is essentially over-supplied or over-saturated with workers.

[2] Being a 'boobcaster' (colloquialism for live streamers or broadcasters who make issue of a suggestive appearance) is probably the one way it's possible to make money using Blender without actually producing a consumable end product. In other words, the Blender user is not creating something with Blender that can be purchased and used independently like a 3D model or other digital asset, they are instead using Blender as a 'service' proxy, that of essentially being a 'broadcaster' and providing customers or subscribers a 'TV Show' to watch.

[3] This is notwithstanding crowd or similar social or 'donation' or 'investment' based funding services or mechanism that facilitate transfer of funds between parties without a service or product purchase/exchange requirement, e.g. the 'client' (person 'donating' or 'investing') is not explicitly 'paying' for something, a 3D model, or the services of the artist as an animator, but is instead 'transferring' or 'investing' their money for other reasons. See "Crowd funding is an investment not a sale or purchase", "Paid Mods & Donations - aka why they don't work" and "Donations to KatsBits (and other web sites.)".

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