Hello everyone, this is probably a stupid question, BUT. I have been doing 3D modeling for some time, and decided to think about future earnings. I live in Ukraine, so for hire it will be difficult to get a job, so I’ll think about freelancing for a start. Tell me which direction is better to focus on in order to start earning at least $ 400 a month? Architecture, or more promising game development etc. I plan to give up work and move into the 3D industry in about 1 year, when I am already confident in my abilities.
At least 400 USD a month freelancing is a decent chunk of money. Granted, 3D work can be more expensive, you could probably get away with having one major client and project a month and make 400 dollars that way. There’s just a few things to consider.
Most freelancing isn’t actually doing the creative work, at least 80 if not 90% of freelancing is marketing, networking, selling yourself and what you can do, and competing with the many thousands of other people offering the same thing as you. How are your marketing skills? How, and where, do you plan on getting clients? What makes you different or better than your competition- why should your client hire you over someone on Fiverr who will do it for half the price? What’s your portfolio like, and how can clients access that portfolio?
Freelancing also requires laser precision in time management. You have to meet your client’s deadlines, while accepting that there’s going to be lots of revisions that take more time than you expect, while simultaneously making time to market yourself. How’s your time management? How much time do you have? How easily do you get distracted? What distractions are in your life that you’ll need to eliminate to be able to focus on your freelancing? (These are hard questions, but very important ones. You have to be honest with yourself as you think about them. You don’t have to answer anything here, but you need to think about all these questions for yourself.)
What’s your experience with contracts? What’s your strategy to make sure clients don’t steal your time and not pay you? What’s your revisions plan- how many revisions does a client get before they have to pay more? 2 revisions? 3 revisions? (To be helpful, 25-50% upfront, the rest on completion, with 3 revisions is pretty standard for creative work.)
How much time does it take you to complete a project? If a client asks for something in a week, can you get it to them? If not, can you clearly communicate that you’ll need more time to complete it?
How’s your communication? Can you communicate professionally and clearly? Can you explain problems to a client? Can you understand a poorly worded request? If you can’t, can you ask a client for clarification without upsetting them? How about under pressure- how’s your communication when everything is going wrong and you’re stressed out? Can you keep a cool head?
I’m not going to answer your direct question- architecture or game development- because I don’t know either industry super well, nor do I know your experience. These questions I’m asking you are far more important than what kind of freelancing you do. Your soft skills are way more important than your 3D abilities in this case. Even if you’re the best 3D modeler in the world, there’s 100 people on Fiverr and Upwork that will do the same work for half the price, and another thousand people on ArtStation with excellent portfolios and tons of existing industry connections. You’re a very small fish in a very big pond full of sharks, and you’re all fighting for the same clients. I don’t mean to discourage you- my point is, you need to nail down your soft skills, your marketing, your business plan, all of that, if you want to compete
Thanks a lot for your detailed answer. I just spend quite a lot of time learning and I don’t want it to be wasted. Thanks again for your reply.
Hi Vladyslav, I can talk about video game industry, portfolio is really important to enter it.
The bigger the company , the more specialized you have to be in a given topic. For example you can find hair artists, or cloth artists with dedicated software such as Marvelous designer.
Hard surface modeler for vehicles or weapons, character artist with good knowledge in anatomy… Environment artist, lighting artist…
For smaller or young companies, artists tend to cover several topics, and need to be more multitask than specialized.
Maybe you should consider working for a videogame company, or subcontractor company before starting as a freelance. Work from home is more and more widespread.
But your portfolio has to be solid for this.
The question is : what do you like to do ? Characters, props modeling, animation, solve technical problems … ?
Thank you for your answer, the fact is that there are few game development companies in Ukraine, therefore, I want to start freelancing. Of course, I would like to start by working in a company in order to gain experience from experienced 3d artists, but it is difficult at the moment. I only worry that if I switch completely to work in 3D, I will receive much less than now. Although I do not count on large sums, at least at first.
For game dev freelancing, you’re going to need prior experience in order to earn a sustainable living:
Conversely, if a career is an aspiration then your portfolio must meet the recognized industry standard and by that I mean comparable too artists already working professionally:
Also one other route I think worth further research, is exploring what the EU or UK has to offer in terms of potential vacancies in an established CGI hub, albeit possible relocation would be a more viable option at this point.
Either humanitarian - refugee assistance, hence I believe streamlines the bureaucratic process for those Ukrainian passport holders seeking to contribute their particular skillset toward a prospective host country’s economy.
thanks for your reply. Until the end of the war, I will not even think about moving. Yes, and to become a professional artist, it’s too early to think. To begin with, I am considering, at a minimum, the transition to the 3D industry, but at the same time not to beg, but to start earning at least something. thanks for the links
But at the same time, I think that for starters, maybe start with architecture? I think I could, for starters, start making money there, because in gamedev, I think it will be very difficult to start making money.
At this current point in time, your main focus will be to become really strong and skilled. You need to put a lot of hours daily (about 4-to-8) and start building projects in a consistent manner.
Not just rendering cool pictures, but do actual problem solving and research, showing the process. etc… (good to study: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fPq1AF7v0E)
By the time 1 year passes and is 2024 you might have great mass of work to display and post online and figure out how to proceed.
Perhaps you might consider that getting employed might work as well (especially in Kiev, I see there are great companies, even Ubisoft – however this is a requirement to move on-site – which is a challenge if your are not from the area), or continouing as a freelancer.
The point is that if you are a freelancer, you are
director + businessman + artist at the same time, so you have a lot of saying and you can control everything you do and how you work and in which projects you are interested to participate in. You have the benefit to declining job uninteresting offers, is not always expecting to work).
So as you can see working as a freelancer, is a very open-ended subject, you can do everything and nothing at the same time. Everything depends on some good people who are willing to pay you some money for some purpose.
So either you have an order to fulfill, a patreon to fund your project, an asset store link, an NFT, or you make Youtube tutorials, etc, etc… Everything goes in but still is a matter of chance, nobody knows what is going to happen.
Thank you for your answer, in any case, as I understand it, the primary task is the skills and portfolio.
Another thing you could consider is selling assets on platforms like CGTrader or Blender Market.
There is a lot of competition but it is possible to get sales.
Many people use assets for architectural projects etc so if you have a library of decent models you could get some “passive” income, do not expect to get rich quick.
I am sorry, but that doesn’t happen, not in this industry. Because the skilled competition for jobs is high, you can’t expect to learn basic and intermediary skills on the job. You’ll need to do that on your own time.
One thing you can do now is to do research. What game companies exist in your locale, or somewhere you could conceivably relocate to if necessary? What are their requirements for hiring entry level 3D artists? What other companies that do work you’d be interested in exist? What do they require?
That’s roughly where you can look towards as a freelancer as well, though you can grow into other areas, but that skill level is what you need to have. And the less you’re certain what to specialize in, the more you have to know in broad areas, so you don’t get stuck in a niche that might collapse before you even get there. Talk with freelancers – what areas do they work in, how specialized are they, what level of skill do they possess? Also talk to those who don’t make a full living at it, because you might be able to ease your way into the change by first supplementing your regular income and making connections. The latter can matter a lot because it cuts down on the marketing you’ll need to do.
I understand not wanting to waste your time, that the choices seem overwhelming, and making “the wrong” choice looms large. This is a more philosophical thought, but IME nothing I studied that I was genuinely interested in has been wasted. I didn’t set out to make money at it when I classified it as a “hobby” or “just an interest”. But surprisingly, I usually have made money off my long-term hobbies, unexpectedly, and I could even make a living off some of those. This has also been true for my main career area, where I have moved around quite a bit (computer programming is a huge domain); my personal interests have led me down paths I hadn’t foreseen originally. You don’t know where sudden opportunities might grow; being enthusiastic about something isn’t a waste of time.
Thanks for the answer. I didn’t think about it. Indeed, the competition is very high. Yes, the truth is that you need to think more about improving skills, and not about money.