How to grow and scale your 3d business

Photo by Samuel Zeller

You’re pretty well doing in your freelance 3d business? And now you think about growing or scaling your business?

I always think about how to grow and scale the business.

There are many different ways to get your profession to a next level. In this article I will try to show you a few ways how to do so. I classify the list by the difficulty to implement it.

  • raising prices/change price model
  • stock/asset/licence sales
  • selling courses/tutorials
  • printing 3d products
  • employing more people/outsourcing work
  • from service provider to service consultant

Raising Prices/Change Price Model

This one is pretty obvious. Of course, you can raise your prices. But you should also think about increasing your quality or the service you offer. At least for the clients you have been working for. Otherwise there could be a big chance that they look out for another company who does it cheaper than you. Of course this shouldn’t be the case when you increase your prices every few years to kill the inflation. Anyway you should think about charging more every time a new client knocks on your door. Let’s use a short example to show the effect of raising the prices. Let’s pretend you do have 4 clients coming in a month, every client wants a project which earns you 5000$. Including in this 5000$ bill you have a profit of 10% that means you’ll have 2000$ profit on these 4 projects with 20000$ coming in. But it also means you do have to hustle and get all the projects done within the deadline. Let’s say you increase your prices by 20%. That might lead to 24000$ monthly income. But maybe for one client that increase is too much, so you don’t get their project anymore.

Now there’s the funny part. 3 projects, each 6000$, profit on every project is up to 1500$. In the end you end up with 4500$ profit.

Now you “only” get 18000$ into your bank account, but you make 2500$ more in profit. Another positive side effect is you only have to work on 3 projects. So you shouldn’t be as stressed as before and you can provide better quality work.
I know this is only an example in a “prefect” world, but I think you get the idea behind it. More projects and money isn’t always equal to more profit.

Stock/Asset/Licence Sales

The second chapter is about reusing your produced work. There are many different ways to get an additional income from your project. As you are the person who created the work, you do also have the possibility to reuse the work you did for a client. But be careful sometimes you aren’t allowed to use it. For example if you signed some NDA contracts etc.. But have you ever scrolled through your thousands of files and thought “what to do with all these renderings, models etc.?” There are many ways you could earn some kind of passive income with these files. For example, you could upload your rendering on AdobeStock, Shutterstock, 123rf etc.

I do know some people who get more than 1000$ monthly income through stock sales.

If you produced a 3d model which you didn’t find in any of the 3d online libraries you could think about putting it on the internet. Charge an amount you think people will pay and you can (hopefully) watch the money coming in. The amount of money you can make via these resources is pretty much up to the time you invest in it and the algorithm. Personally I started around two years ago and it adds up to around 10–20$ monthly. I know this isn’t much but it pays my telephone bills. So I don’t complain about it as it also very easy to start. But as always there are things that change over time. The return on download was a lot higher in the past. There is a rally for clients throughout the agencies. More and more agencies offer subscription deals for their costumers and one downside of it is that the prices per download are dropping. We will see where the journey will go in the future and if the trend will stop someday and quality will be better than quantity.

Selling Courses/Tutorials

This topic isn’t for everyone. There are people out there who are pretty talented in explaining what and how they do their work. For these people it could be an easy way to spread their name and knowledge via courses or tutorials. In the 3d business there are different people around who kindly tell you how they achieved a result. Some do it for free, others charge a few dollars so you can watch and learn. I do also think about creating written and maybe in the future also filmed tutorials in which I explain the way I work.
But selling courses can also mean you are booked by an agency or company who wants to teach their employees. So you prepare a presentation/talk in which you try to teach the people listening how to improve their work.
For example, you are earning 100$/hour when you work on a standard visualization project. Think about multiplying this rate. If you prepare for example a course “how to do an interior rendering from the beginning until the finished rendering” and you charge 50$ for the course you can reach your daily rate after selling 16 courses. (When you’re doing it in front of the people you should of course charge more, because you can not work simultaneously on any projects). When you publish your course online the amount of people who can learn from it is pretty much endless.

Think about 100 people buying your online course.
That will bring 5000$ into your pocket.

But despite the fact that teaching/coaching might not be for everyone, there is definitely a chance to get your name out and money back.

Printing 3d Products

Due to the fact that in the last few years the number of cheap/DIY 3d printers have massively increased there could also be a place for you. If you are, like me, working in the field of arch-viz the chances you do have a completely build 3d model of the house is high. So why not use this model to sell your client also a 3d printed model of their architecture?

It shouldn’t take a lot time to prepare the model so you can print it.

In the end you could charge your client an additional fee and they might be happy to show their potential clients how the house is going to look like.
If you are more into product visualization, why not print a little product mockup? You could also think about printing little items people can give away, for example (jewellery, smartphone cases, etc.)

Employing More People/Outsourcing Work

This part can be a tricky one. Not everyone is a born leader. But if you employ someone who works for you or your project you, at least, need to have certain qualifications. You should be very clear what you want from the person. Also, it needs to be clear how and when you want to have the work delivered to you. A finished project which isn’t up to your standards isn’t worth a lot. You also gain nothing when you receive the work but it’s too late and the deadline was already missed. Anyhow, outsourcing/submitting work can be another way to multiply your income. Let’s pretend you land a project but you also do have another one in the pipeline. Both projects have a deadline which is pretty much at the same date. You could of course work overnight but as we all know that shouldn’t be the answer.

So how about talking to someone who is talented and let her/him do the work?

Of course the person shouldn’t charge more than you do for the project. If this isn’t the case, you can happily earn money while working on your other project or doing something different. But at the end you need to trust the other person because they do not only work for you but also for your company and its reputation.

From Service Provider To Service Consultant

In the end I want to talk about another method to grow your business. This chapter isn’t really about selling more. It is about changing your business. Most creative people who have their own company see themselves as service provider. The client calls and wants something from you. Normally you listen to them and start working. In the end you deliver the finished product. But what you do right there is being a commodity. There’s nothing really special in your work. Maybe the client likes your style or the fact that you aren’t too expensive.

You need to be aware that your work can be done by someone else.

How can you avoid being replaced by someone else? Make yourself indispensable. But how do you get to this point? Well it is pretty simple. Listen to your client and be a nice person to work with. What does he really need? Is there something he doesn’t know he needs? Be open and tell your client what you think. Provide the client with different solutions to a problem or even say “no” to some ideas. Analyze the project, the circumstances, the company, the future. Try to move yourself more into the position of a consultant. Luckily this doesn’t mean you really need to work on this actively. Most of the time your position related to your client changes over the years. The more confidence you gain and the more you get to learn your client the more chances you do have to bring in your own ideas. Trust me, the client doesn’t always know what to do. Often they throw the ball and hope you don’t just catch it but throw it back.

What are the steps you took to grow your business?

Take care and be creative.

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