Looking for ideas for 3d Models ? Like any serious artist selling on 3D marketplaces, you want to create 3D models that sell... Right ?
So what's holding you back ?
3D Model Ideas - Get Inspired
Another week has gone by and you've made zero progress on that new model you absolutely promised yourself to do. You marvel at what other artists have achieved, and so you set yourself a goal to build another 10 fantastic models just like them.
So why aren't you making any progress ?
The truth is you don't feel inspired.
We've all been there. To be honest, even the most successful CG artists struggle to find good ideas.
So how do you find the inspiration you need to become the popular and successful seller you dream of becoming ?
You need a plan.
The Most Simple Business Plan Ever
The mistake a lot of people make when looking for inspiration for their commercial models is they don't think about things from a business point of view.
In his book 'How To Be F*cking Awesome' Dan Meredith talks about the world's most simple business plan. It highlights the steps you need to undertake if you want to create a successful business. It goes something like this:
Let's adapt that slightly to be consistent with the 3D model marketplace:
Easy... Right ?
The process seems simple on the surface, but each step requires time, effort and a good method.
The Right Way to Find Ideas
Now, before we get into the nitty-gritty, you need to be sure you're looking for the right kind of ideas.
Finding good ideas for the 3D market is not just about satisfying your own interests, however brilliant they may be. The problem you need to figure out is...
what the heck is popular ? What kind of 3D assets are in demand ?
But you can't just wait for a flash of blinding inspiration. It's not a light switch you can turn on and off.
It’s a process.
Finding inspiration means you have to do your research, and identify ideas that actually sell. That means basing that research on what is popular.
There are a couple of ways to exploit what is popular. The first is to identify what is selling. The second is to identify what is missing so you can provide models that have little competition.
Below you'll find a list of tools and methods that I use regularly to help me research and organize new ideas and sell more 3d content. You can use these to help you spot popular content, and find inspiration for 3d models that sell.
How to Plan Your Next 3D Model Idea
1 - Get a Notebook or Bullet Journal
I want to start with a simple tool that will probably become your best ally.
You don't know when a great idea will hit you, so it's important to have some way of collecting your precious thoughts. And over time you'll collect so much data and ideas that you need a good way to dump your brain !
I don't go anywhere without my notebook, (OK maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration). But its probably the most essential tool I that I use on a regular basis apart from my computer ! And I love putting paper to pen. Using a notebook is an incredible way to store and organize your thoughts and ideas, and for collecting important data.
And also I don't forget stuff!
My absolute favorite is LEUCHTTURM1917. I use the dotted page version because it makes it easy to make notes AND draw sketches. And they use a numbered page system with a blank contents page. You just fill in the blanks. Organizing your jottings is really simple ! Use whatever notebook you prefer, but I highly recommend getting into a habit of using pen and paper to organize your ideas.
2 - Turbosquid Popular Page
Turbosquid is the largest global market for 3d models. According to Similarweb estimates they get a massive 5.2 million visits per month. So its probably a good idea to make use of the information they provide... Don't you think ?
Not everyone knows about the Turbosquid Popular page, so its well worth mentioning. The advantage of this resource is that it shows 3d assets that have actually sold. It's a snapshot of products that customers have recently purchased.
And although it doesn't show everything that sells, it gives valuable insight into the current state of the market.
The best way to use this page is to visit it regularly.
If you get into a routine of browsing this page you will start to notice trends in what sells well. You might see certain artists popping up again and again. Take a look at their portfolio to find inspiration.
On top of that, you get to see some of the amazing work done by fellow artists!
3 - Turbosquid Marketplace Reports
To access these reports you need to be an exclusive member at Turbosquid.
Personally I prefer to browse the Top Customer Keywords. These are keyword searches that customers have used prior to actual sales.
Set the time frame to "Last Year". Larger sample sizes allow more accurate statistics, so this is a better representation of best selling search terms. A one week time span will give you a limited idea of what is selling regularly.
I like to create a list of anything related to my chosen niche... Hint - Add this to your notebook.
I've always used keyword research in my work pipeline. And you don't just have to rely on Turbosquid's metrics.
You can get some very useful keyword data using other methods...
4 - Using Keyword Popularity
Frustrating isn't it ?
You think you've found a top notch 3D model idea. You build it, publish it, then sit back and wait for the money to roll in...
But no one buys it.
If you build a model that no one wants, you're just wasting your time.
Using keyword popularity research can give you an important advantage. This is a technique used in SEO (search engine optimization) to select the best possible keywords for your target market. You do this by comparing data about monthly search volumes for various keywords.
This is an excellent method for finding best-seller 3d models. It can guide your choice of what models to create. You can apply this kind of research to broad categories, or fine tune your ideas by searching popular specialized keywords.
When you do this kind of research you can identify two types of opportunities. You can find keywords that are SO popular that you shouldn't have trouble selling that kind of 3D model - AND you can identify keywords whose 3D models are missing from the market, so you can fill in the holes in popular categories.
There are many tools to help you do this kind of analysis. The most well known is the Google keyword planner. I used to use this regularly but not any more...
The reason I changed was because of the deceptive results you now get from Google keyword planner and the recent loss of accurate, free keyword data.
But I recently changed to a tool called KWFinder by mangtools.
In a future article I'll show you in more detail how I made over $1500 in sales
from one simple 3d model by using this tool...
I think KWFinder is awesome for the following reasons:
On top of that it's incredibly easy to use, with one of the most intuitive user interfaces that I've seen. There are no complicated charts and stuff that you don't really need. It's been tested in reviews to be one of the most reliable in terms of results. And it's one of the cheapest keyword research tools you can buy. Believe me I checked - and it's 10 times cheaper than some other premium tools.
You can give it a try here :
To be honest, I use this tool all the time - I'm not sure what I'd do without it.
5 - Turbosquid Categories
Turbosquid Top Selling Categories are another valuable set of metrics to help you understand the marketplace. Look for them on your dashboard.
What's the advantage of this report ?
On a single page you can see which are the highest ranking categories on Turbosquid, the average price that models are selling for in each category, and the size of each category (this gives you an indication of how much competition there is in any given category - lower competition can mean higher sales opportunities).
This is important to keep in mind - if you identify a category with low competition, you can potentially exploit this to your advantage by creating 3D models that others have missed.
When used well, this is all great information for helping you find good niches for your next 3d model !
6 - Pinterest
A lot of people consider Pinterest to be just another social media platform.
But it's actually a search engine!
Every month 200 million people across the planet are using Pinterest to find and save useful ideas !
And its not all about baking and hobbies anymore. The site delivers content across all industries, so it is a rich source of information for spotting trends.
Let's say you want to build a new 3d model of an armchair, but you're not sure what style to build. Pop over to Pinterest and do a search.
The Pinterest search algorithm shows pins as "best first". You used to be able to see the number of 'repins' for each pin, which was a good indicator of popularity but these have been removed. But from experience I can tell you that a lot of the higher ranking results you see are pins that have a high number of 'likes', and therefore high popularity.
Keep in mind, some of the content in your search results are fresh pins, and results are also biased according to your location. But if you search on a regular basis you will spot some images being shared multiple times. This is a good signal of popularity.
If you click on a pin, you will get a list of related pins. If you see your armchair example being pinned multiple times, then its probably a good signal of its popularity.
I use Pinterest all the time when searching for inspiration. For image based search its got to be one of my favourite resources.
One word of warning though - don't get sucked into the Pinterest black hole !
I've found myself wasting tons of time while browsing. One thing leads to another - you start hunting for one subject and you end up looking at something totally different !
My advice...? Fix yourself an objective, and set your phone timer.
7 - Keep a Digital Scrapbook
This is something I do on a regular basis while browsing my favorite sites. Whenever I come across photography or a project which I think might be useful for a future 3D model, I put it in my scrapbook.
You can do this in a number of ways, but be sure to organize your scrapbook so you can easily find your inspiration later. Create categories for different types of ideas. Believe me, after a while, you collect so many ideas. Good organization makes finding stuff less of a headache later !
You can either download images directly to your computer, or use a product such as Evernote to save from web pages. The advantage with Evernote is you can quickly find your saved ideas with their built-in search feature. And you can access your data from any device...
The Evernote web clipper plugin lets you clip and save images (or any screenshot you like) from any website. You can easily collect and organize your inspiration for later !
8 - Calculate Your Own Best Selling Models
This last tip is something you can do every few months if you're struggling for ideas.
However, you need to have an existing library of models that are selling to do this kind of analysis.
The basic idea is to find which models in your portfolio are giving you the best returns, and then build more models like them !
These kinds of metrics aren't directly available on the Turbosquid dashboard, so you need to do a little work to figure this out. The place to do your forecast is on the Turbosquid Publisher page
You're going to calculate the average monthly revenue for your most popular models. At the top of the Publisher page, click on 'sales' or 'total sales' and sort your products by descending order, with the most sales at the top.
Start by calculating the lifetime of your top ten models by looking at the date they were added. You want to know the number of months since publishing.
Here's an example from my portfolio - The calculation I use goes like this:
I now know that this particular model provides me with $124 dollars per month of sales revenue (the amount you get paid depends on your royalty rate). Do the same calculation for your top ten models. Among other things this will tell you which is your all-time best selling model in terms of generating sales revenue !
My philosophy ?
If its works, rinse and repeat, and build more of the same kind of 3D models for increased sales !
What about you ?
Do you have any unique ways of finding inspiration for your commercial 3d models ? Share your ideas in the comments below: