How to sell your digital art? – nuANSWERS

“nuANSWERS” is where we feature an actual question submitted by one of our students and the answer we gave them.

This week’s question comes from Rick, who is looking for tips on how to sell his digital art. Rick wrote:

Hi Lior,

I purchased the Pricing Class and watched all the videos.  It’s great and I’m learning a lot.  I’m going through them again as I have time because for me it’s a lot of new information.

I’m a 3D artist and I work for a well-known TV station.  I freelance a little and I model all the time as a hobby.  I give some of the 3D models away for free that I’m really proud of.  My motivation is I’ve tried selling models on websites like Turbosquid that take 50% commission, but I only sell a few of them a year.

The first big model I gave away for free got downloaded over 20k times and I thought maybe I should make and sell 3D models from my own website.  But I have no idea what I’m doing.  Is there a strategy for this or a business model?

I’m good at this. There clearly seems to be a market for what I have to offer and 3rd party sites aren’t getting it done.

Thank you for your time,

Rick Ellis

My answer to Rick:

Hi Rick,

Many designers try to earn more money by selling digital goods – 3D models, wordpress templates, icons, etc.

If I got you right then:

(1) You’re not sure how to sell your digital art – via your own website or through affiliates.

(2) You’ve got something that people want, but they’ve never heard of you… seems like you need some marketing.

Let’s start with (1) – where to sell your 3D models.

You can try and sell them via your own website using a simple platform such as gumroad. They will allow you to get payments directly from each digital good you’re selling. They do take a commision, but it’s around 5%, which is much better than the 50% that 3rd party marketplaces charge.

If your website is based on WordPress you can even use their plugin so there’s no need to code anything.

You can find 10 more alternatives to gumroad here.

Alternatively, you could try and sell your digital goods in more than one store simultaneously. This will increase the chances of people bumping into your 3D models. Here’s an exhaustive list of 37 marketplaces for selling 3D models (and there are similar marketplaces for any type of digital goods).

Start slow, but don’t wait until you have 10 different products to sell. You can start with selling your biggest hits. The one that was downloaded 20K times? Put a price on it, and next to it write: “downloaded 20K times” – it will help you sell it.

After you figure out how to sell one or two models, and you feel it’s going well, you could do the math and see if it’s worth your time creating and selling more. Business model is a big word, but sometimes we can keep it simple.

And now for (2) – marketing. I think you need to put more effort into marketing. And by that I don’t mean “just pay for google ads”. I mean that you need to get the word out:

  1. Figure out who exactly your potential customers are that could benefit from your awesome 3D models
  2. Where do they hang out? On which websites/forums/other?
  3. Figure out how to be featured in those places where they hang out.

Knowing your customers will help you understand how and where to spread the word about your art, without spending too much energy in the wrong direction.

One last thing: at this point, unless you’re already big in social networks, don’t invest too much time trying to market there. FB and Twitter require TONS of energy, and it takes ages before you get to see results.

Instead, try to find the influencers that can help you spread the word – offer to write a blog post for them, or to help them somehow – make something that their audience would love, and they’ll talk about you. They did the hard work of getting big on social networks, and now you can use them to help you spread the word (in case you have something to give back of course)…

To conclude – don’t worry about a business model just yet. Start really small, and then when you figure it out, you can grow. Small steps are easier and are less scary.

– Lior

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