It is a question that most people will ask when they learn about an application like Blender and what it can do. Can learning to use Blender actually get me a new source of income? Whether that be as a little side hustle, a consistent passive income, or even a full-time employment in the animation or games industry.
Blender is a great way of developing new skill sets to earn income from a variety of different sources. Below is a shortlist of some of the ways you could use Blender to earn money:
- Selling 3D Assets And Asset Packs
- Creating AddOns To Sell To Other Blender Users
- Becoming A Character Design Artist For A Game Developer Or Animation Studio
- Using Blender As A Video Editng Tool
- Creating Rendered Of 3D Scenes And Selling The Artwork
- Creating Courses For New Users Of Blender
- Becoming A Youtuber That Spreads Educational 3D Content
These are the most significant methods of attaining an income learning Blender. Most people love Blender because it is free to use for almost any purpose, and that opens up a host of possibilities for what you could do for the software.
Selling Knowledge VS Selling Products
Ultimately there are three paths that you can take if earning an income with Blender is a goal of yours. You can either sell products that you create using Blender 3D or selling the knowledge that you have acquired to pass on to new users of the software.
Or you can take the third route and build a portfolio of projects that will get you to work in an industry that is related to using 3D applications and creating 3D assets, allowing you to get a job in a professional company or attain work as a freelancer, which is a common rote for many Blender artists.
All pathways have their pros and cons, and all share one con in particular… competition. As a consequence of blender being a free, open source software, it has long been identified as a way of making a potential income by thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs around the world.’
As a result, all pathways are saturated with competitions everyone gets a piece of the action with what is easily one of the most popular applications that people download today, especially in the fields of creativity and technology.
If you choose to sell products, there are an unlimited number of 3D objects that you can design and create, and then there are the industries in which these assets can be used. It’s not just limited to 3D products, as you can also sell rendered artwork, asset packs, Blender addons, and animation shorts if you want to branch out.
Selling courses on the other hand allows you to sell what you know instead of what you create. There is a massive market for online education that is not going away any time soon and for learning an application like Blender online learning is a much more feasible option compared to actual university degrees or equivalent accreditations.
Below we break down each method of creating a potential include stream using Blender in some capacity, allowing you to decide which approach may be best for you if any.
Selling 3D Assets And Asset Packs
This is the first thing that comes to mind when you are thinking about creating money from an application such as Blender. The ability to create 3D models and then sell those 3D models to others for use in their own projects. You can also create entire packs based around a specific them and then sell those as a set.
We recommend that you consider the approach of selling asset packs rather than single models, as this creates a better impression on the potential buyer when it comes to value for money.
The red flag that we need to raise is that this is an extremely competitive field to enter as it is very easy for someone to download Blender, create a model or set of models and then put them up for sale on a digital marketplace such as cgtrader.com.
To be successful in any field, you need to be able to identify pockets of opportunity where it is not as competitive. For example, character models are very popular, but there are so many of them around that there is just no space to enter the market.
On the other hand, focusing on an area like fish for example might be more suitable as it remains a popular type of asset but with nowhere near as many models.
- Easy to get started making models
- The whole process is basically free from creating the model to uploading it
- There are a host of platforms that you can use to sell your models
- Extremely competitve space
- Would need significant research to find areas of opportunity
- Some websites allow for the download of 3D assets for FREE like blendswap
Selling Your Rendered Artwork
Selling Your Art is a fantastic way of growing your reputation as an artist and generating a little money to go with it. Imagine your artwork hung up on someone’s living room wall as a canvas print, or on a mug or other physical products. You can just as easily sell your artwork digitally as someone’s new favorite wallpaper.
In this field marketing and social media become crucial factors in your success. There is a need to, first of all, make a name for yourself by developing your portfolio and promoting your work across all of your social media channels.
Also, remember this very important rule when it comes to money, value is perceived by the customer, it is not a fixed number.
This means that if your artwork is not very good, or does not stand out compared to other artists, then its value is reduced in the eyes of the customer and they will be less willing to pay a high price for it.
If you want to sell your artwork, then you can create your own website with a platform like Shopify or you can use a third-party marketplace like Etsy. You can do this for both digital products as well as print on demand.
- Ability to develop your own portfolio which can help open other avenues
- You have control on what you want to sell and where
- Build a reputation as a recognized artist
- Need to reach an advanced level where you can create unique, high quality designs
- Cost applies to setting up your own online store
- Need to be very active in the marketing and social media aspect
Creating And Distibuting Addons
This method allows you to stick within the Blender community itself. The base functionality of Blender is excellent and continues to grow with each passing update. But if you want to improve Blender in some way then there is probably an add-on for that, or an opportunity to make one yourself.
An addon is a python script that adds certain functions to Blenders core code but does not replace it. There are 100’s of addons already available and they range from being able to add new base objects to enhancing your workflow for material creation.
Creating your own add-on requires you to develop knowledge of Python, the coding language used to build Blender from the ground up. This is a completely different set of skills compared to 3D modeling and has a steep learning curve.
You can however learn how to create python scripts within Blender itself, then test them in your own projects before selling them on a marketplace like Gumroad.
The trick is to identify an area of Blender that you think could be improved, for example, you could create your own nodes for building PBR materials or add a library of lighting presets. The possibilities are only limited by what Blender is capable of, and it’s capable of a lot.
- Always a market for new addons
- A great new set of skills to learn
- Can create addons that even improve your own Blender experience
- Learning Python takes time and is very different to 3D modeling
- Many addons are available for free
- Easy to find bugs that may be difficult to fix if you don;t know how.
- More competitive a market than you may think
Working For A Company As An Artist
It’s a big question, can learning Blender help me to land a job at a professional company? The short answer is yes, but with some caveats. Blender itself is not considered an industry standard, and for major companies, they will be using other applications like Maya with no intention of changing their pipeline to begin using Blender.
It also depends on the industry that you want to work in. Outside of Disney and Pixar, Blender is becoming an increasingly popular choice for smaller companies in 3D animation. the dame is true in the game industry, where younger companies understand that there is a larger workforce of Blender users compared to Maya or 3Ds Max, and don’t need to worry about making drastic changes to their existing workflow.
The 3D printing industry is much newer, and Blender is used by companies in this industry, but there are again other solutions that take that title of being the industry standard, such as AutoCAD.
Many of the skills that you learn in Blender are transferable, so you could learn how to create a 3D model for a video game, and then bring over that skillset to Maya, if you are looking to learn the skills without having to fork out for the software.
- There are alot of industries that look for people with a wide gambit of skills that can be learnt in Blender
- Many smaller companies use Blender because of the larger potential workforce
- The learning pathway is relatively inexpensive comparedto alternative software
- The major companies in the big industries do not use Blender as the standard tool for modelling
- Does not allow the freedom that alternative income streams have
- Need to create a significant portfolio focused on the role you are applting for
Working As A Freelancer
If you don’t want to work for the man, and I don’t blame you, then you can work for yourself as a freelancer instead. This approach offers a lot more freedom and gives you the ability to pick and choose what projects you want to take on.
There are several sites where you can promote yourself to be contacted by potential artists such as Fiverr or Upwork and you can even apply for roles that customers post to earn income.
This is a great way to earn money from home using Blender, but while you do have the freedom of what projects you want to take on, you will be restricted in what you can do and how long you have to complete the project based on the client’s specifications.
It is also a difficult route to get started in and you may have to start out offering your service for little money just to get some clients and potentially reviews to build up your reputation.
- Can charge what you want for your service
- Control over when you want to work
- Great for promoting your rep in the industry
- Still restricted to the tules set out by the client
- There are a lot of freelancers out there
- A race to the bottom with how much artists charge on the bigger websites
Being An Educational Youtuber
At first glance, you might not even consider this to be a source of revenue, but it can be if you work at it. There are a fair few YouTubers who focus on teaching Blender to a global audience and many of them do very well. You can monetize your channel with ads once you reach the threshold of 1000 subscribers and while not that lucrative per view it can build up to a nice passive income.
You can also use your youtube channel to promote other products and sites that you may own, for example, you can promote your online course business or advertise your addons, so it can work well in combination with other revenue streams too.
It’s relatively easy to set up a channel, but it will take time to reach the 1000 subscriber mark and a lot of effort. Use other social media platforms to help drive early traffic.
- Easy to start up
- Phenominal room for growth
- Easier than creating an online course
- Can be slow progress in the beginning
- It takes a lot of traffic to bring in a sustainable income
- Will require investment for audio and video
Creating A 3D Print Business
This is perhaps the one avenue that has the least amount of competition, as 3D printing is still a relatively new industry, and creating 3D prints is a great way of selling unique real-world products that buyers will not find anywhere else. Despite its youth, 3D printing has become so popular that there is a company called Relativity Space that is designing a rocket to be sent into low earth orbit exclusively using 3D printed parts.
Yes, 3D printing is quite literally the future of space travel and perhaps countless other industries, simplifying the manufacturing process by reducing the number of parts that need to be made. Of course, the models that you create will be slightly smaller than the rocket that they are making.
A good method for starting up a store that sells 3D printed objects is to set up on Etsy, which has several hundred million views each month on its website and is perfect for selling physical items for small businesses and retailers.
- Not as much competition as other fields
- Has potential to become more lucrative in the future
- Blender has add ons that can really improve the 3D design workflow for these models
- You have the abilty to create unique physical products that can’t be found anywhere else
- Expensive to purchase a 3D printer and print materials
- Different workflows are required for 3D printable models
- May also need to other applications that are more suited to 3D printing
- 3D printing takes time per object, limiting the amount that you can create
Selling Professional Grade Courses
Now we use the term professional here for a good reason. The online course industry is very competitive when it comes to learning Blender, especially from a 3D modeling standpoint. However, this is true mainly for courses that focus on teaching students the basics of how to use Blender.
There are a lot of things that Blender can do, and there are certain pockets that can be targeted as there is a lack of content on a specific area of Blender or type of workflow.
For example, you will find dozens of courses teaching you how to create basic objects and understand the Blender interface, but you won’t find a lot of content on creating an object that can be used specifically for 3D printing. We have our own course on skillshare that teaches 3D printing, and it’s one of just two courses on the entire platform for that topic.
Blender itself is developing at a fast pace, with new tools and workflows being introduced every few months. You can take advantage of this by creating new courses based on these new toolsets. For example, we created a course on geometry nodes which you can see here.
If you can do your research and find topics that don’t have a lot of course material then that could be your in. A successful online course has the potential of being the most lucrative option on this list. We know this because we currently average $3000 a month from our own online course library.
Examples of where you can start up your own course catalog include third-party platforms like Udemy and Skillshare as well as creating your own website using a platform like teachable.
- Education is an evergreen source of income
- Their are topics that are yet to be covered
- New updates can make older courses seem obselete allowing you to create a ‘fresh’ alternative
- Has great potential to eventually replace a full time income
- Very competitive in the most common topic areas
- Top sellers on third party platforms like Udemy are already well established
- Additional equipment such as a microphone and camera will be required
- Need to use a video editing software like camtasia or OBS
- Significant learning cureve to creating online courses
Using Blender As A Free Video Editing Tool
This last one may be useful to those who are interested in getting into the field of video editing instead of 3D design. Blender has its own video sequence editor that allows you to import and export video footage even if the footage was not created in Blender.
Many of the traditional editing tools such as cutting, overlays, and text effects are here. Being a freelance video editor has potential as there are a lot of small businesses that hire freelancers to edit their video content.
However, this is my least favorite option on the list because as someone who has used almost every video editing software that there is from Camtasia to DaVinci to Adobe Premiere Pro, Blender just does not compare here to any of the more dedicated options, free or paid.
The learning curve here is ok, but it is not as intuitive and does not have half the functionality that DaVinci does for video editing, even though they both count as free options.
- You have a free video editing program ready to go
- The basics are all there
- You can use the compositor for additional edits like color correction
- Does not receive as much attention from updates compared to other parts of Blender
- Not very intuitive
- Lacks the more advanced tools that you will find on dedicated video editing software.
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