Need advice in making a living/business using blender! Dont have many options in life left

Well first of all, thank you for your service. I did not serve, but I did work at USAA for many years and had the chance to help many awesome men and women of the armed forces. :slight_smile:

Anyway, I only occasionally freelance these days as I got sorta burnt out on it years back. So I’m probably not keeping up enough to give the most solid advice on where the market’s at now.

That said, I do want to touch on the aspect of “being a master” and judging the worth of your work.
I’m of the school of thought that you should fake it til you make it. Take, or bid on, a commission you feel confident in delivering on, don’t be shy about your price, and just do it. Any thoughts of “Maybe I’m not good enough”, or “Maybe I’m charging more than I’m worth.” is just going to hold you back. You need to get some small commissions under your belt to boost your confidence and get a feel for it. You might even fail, but that’s a learning tool as well, and you’ll have done it.

One of my first freelance gigs was when I was maybe ~16. It wasn’t 3D. It was a website design for a small pizza joint. Charged the guy 200 bucks and told him I knew exactly what I was doing… I had NO idea what I was doing. The site looked like crap. But I got paid, I learned some stuff, and I felt more prepared for the next gig. I think that pizza joint went out of business a few months later, though…

EDIT: And if ALL else fails, and you’re ever in a position to leave the area (or look at their work from home opportunities), try to get into USAA. It’s not as glamorous as design, but the pay and benefits are fantastic, they don’t discrminate vets, and they don’t expect prior experience in that industry. I don’t work there anymore for reasons not to do with the company, but I still recommend them to anyone looking for job opportunities, because the company is just bad ass! Many of my colleagues there took massive pay cuts in management positions to start over with them for the benefits alone.


Yes, “thank you for your service.” I would suggest that you look around the Orange County area – ask the Chamber of Commerce for leads – for companies that are right now doing 3D work. (It doesn’t have to be movies.) Try to join forces with any of them as an employee. If this is important, you can probably work from home. (But: see below…)

CG work is naturally very labor-intensive. It takes a lot of people working together. That’s why I suggest joining forces with an established firm.

Secondly: "treat ‘depression’ seriously, as a dangerous medical condition." (Because it is.) Leveraging whatever medical resources are available to you as a Veteran, seek qualified help and counseling and stay in very close contact with them. This particular mental illness is particularly insidious because it can ruin your life even if it does not kill you: it’s particularly notorious for “interfering with its own treatment.” You need to keep in close contact with an outside point-of-view, provided by other people. Working in a conventional workplace where you are daily surrounded by other creative people can be of great benefit because the people who surround you aren’t affected by the condition that quite-naturally clouds your perspectives. When you interview and when you’re hired, don’t conceal that you’re battling depression.

In closing: "Thank you again for your service. You’re gonna make it through this, and prosper."

I was an 84B and then a 19k MOS myself. Look around and see who is using 3d in their Advertising/Field. There is the obvious Architectural renderings. But keep in mind that’s not just full houses or large buildings. Interior decorators may need 3d also.
There is medical/Science animations. Product Demos and advertising. 3d for corporate videos/Presentations.
I would learn how to do motion graphics.
I see more ads for mocap artists than 3d.
You need to target your audience. For example you approach a local small advertising firm for work. Do some research and see what they have done before. Do some examples in a similar style or tone.
The hardest part is people don’t “get” 3d and they are not very imaginative. If they are looking for Zebras they want to see Zebras. If you have a animation of a horse they may think about it as long as you have other animals on the reel. If all you have is cars they won’t bother.
The point is people are only looking for what they specifically need. Your job is to figure out what they are looking for and convince them you can provide it.
Practice, pratice pratice, Look at other stuff and duplicate it. The only way to get better at 3d is to just keep doing it. Figure out what you love doing and be known as “the” person for doing that.

Seems like none of the responses were a direct reply which won’t activate a notification so I thought I would kick that off.

At any rate best of luck.

This will be a long journey with plenty of ups and downs.

Aside from that advice is best ask for and given on a one to one basis.

Either way you will need to interact with ideas and suggestions. So hopefully you’ll come back.

I’m mostly parroting what others have said, but here’s my take on things.

  • Seek help for your health issues. CG work can be very mentally taxing due to the numbers of decisions you’re making over the course of your work day. Also, as a business owner, you have to spend a lot of energy getting contacts and dealing with people. And if you’re naturally introverted, then that’s a lot of energy to spend. If you’re able to, then getting the resources you need to help build a solid foundation will help you in the long run.
  • Speaking of getting contacts, find the local Blender user groups, CG meet ups, etc. Make yourself known among your peers, and if you impress people in those groups, then you may get a friend or two vouching for you at studios or potential clients. If there are no user groups in your area, and you have the energy to host, then do so! I’m a co-host of the Vancouver Blender User Group, and there’s been quite a few times when I’ve seen people get jobs by participating in the group, and improving their skills.
  • Continue to work on your portfolio. Always keep improving yourself and your work. Seek feedback from people you trust and respect, and explore what are the options in the CG field. For example, if you want to do 3d modelling, try doing hard surface modelling, cartoony characters, realistic animals, humans, etc. Being able to be flexible is powerful, but also being a master of one thing (for example, hyper realistic mammals) is also a good thing. Also, I recommend trying animation, FX, compositing, programming, etc. The path you think you should take may not be the path you should actually take.
  • On the business side, don’t price yourself too low. If you need $100 per day to live, then that’s what you should get at minimum. Some people will expect you to charge $1 per day, and you should walk away from those clients. Also, you need to figure out what you bring to the table. If someone needs something super specific for their project, they probably won’t be able to get it from a 3d model repository. If they find someone that will charge them $1 for an asset, then they will get $1 worth of that thing. If they find someone that charges $1,000 for the asset, then it will be likely worth $1,000. You want to make sure you price things in a way that makes sense for your needs, and also provide the appropriate value to the customer. So, if they want something that you can’t deliver, then make sure they know well in advanced. A reasonable customer will appreciate your honesty, and will either say “thanks, but no thanks” and walk away, or accept what you’re able to provide.

Anyways, in short, my advice is to work on improving your health, improve your skills and get feedback as much as you can, and network like mad. It’s going to be tough, and you’re going to have bad days and crappy customers, but do your best to provide what services you can while not breaking yourself.

Wow thanks guys for the kind words and advice! I’m taking notes from everyone replies.
I set up profiles on a bunch of freelancing sites, so I can start bidding on leads.

As a freelancer/3D contractor what are the legal forms you need to conduct work? Like templates for drafting contracts, tax forms and any other documents one might have if create models for clients?

I guess it would be good to have your legal documents templates ready to to go? And to have a metric to stick to in terms of what to charge people? I was thinking basing it off a government website that shows the average 3d artists make in a year for example.

Honestly, don’t know about what legal forms you need (partially because I’m not a freelancer, and partially because I’m in a different country). Probably a good idea to talk to an accountant and lawyer to get things set up. There may be a government service for small businesses that you can go to and get the details you need to get things started. Also, the average idea sounds good. Probably take an average for the level you think you’re at and add some amount on top to cover things like the cost of running a business itself. Just make sure that what you charge per day is what you need per day.

Either way, I hope you succeed! It’s going to be hard, and you’re likely going to have to find work elsewhere while you find clients, but make connections and art, and you may find you have a freelancing business on your hands. You got this. :slight_smile:

As freelancer you will more than likely be paid without any taxes being taken out. Which means you get a W9 form from each company you work for. When you get paid take 30% or 40% and set it aside for taxes. DO NOT fail to do this. The State of California will hound you to death.
Find some examples of a simple deal memo. That outlines what they expect to get from the project, what you expect to get paid and when and things like who owns the assets at the end, How many changes can they make, when is the project due etc. A lot of online deal memos are for on set crew people so you won’t need the travel, lodging, mileage etc. parts.
Most payment terms are 30 days. Meaning you expect to be paid within 30 days of delivery of a final product.
DO NOT do work for free. If they can’t pay now the sure as hell won’t pay in the future. Don’t accept every job that comes along,. If they ask for “Spec” work, meaning speculation, “hey do this job for free to show me what you can do” walk away.


Yes, “Work for exposure” is another one I can’t stand.


There are two situations I have run into that needed legal contracts. And in both types of cases I left it up to the client. The first is an NDA. And that is not very unusual in general but also kind of rare. I usually just have the client provide it. And then sign and return.

The second is when I did some contract work for a large corporate firm. There was quite a lot of red tape to go through in order to get signed on as a contractor. And in this case, it was all just letting them provide whatever legal paper work I had to sign and just signing.

The other main thing I need. And this is all the time. And that is an invoice. In the case of the corporate thing, I have information on there that they requested. A PO number for example.

And then for other clients I have a basic invoice that I use. It just describes the work I did and the rate (if applicable) and final price.

Also it is sometimes necessary to do some kind of “deal memo” which describes the work to be performed and the rate or quote.

The longer the time frame and the more the money, the more critical this can be. (And even required for the party shelling out a lot of cash - not to mention you investing a lot of time).

But it is good to get whatever the agreement is, in writing.

That is it as far as most legal stuff.

In the USA there will be the added necessity to fill out forms for taxes if you are contracting with a company. And if the work you do is over a certain amount in a year they will file a 1099 at the end of the year.

The remaning tax stuff is up to you.

There is a whole host of do’s and don’ts as well as general advice. But I am all typed out for now… :slight_smile:


Ahem… this is something I will cover at some point. Stay tuned for a more in-depth explanation.

But in the mean time this is the kind of “general advice” you can not take or give without a bit of qualification. EDIT: (qualification as in additional information or within what context)

Suffice to say there is a time and place for everything.

More later.

Who says I don’t have the qualification for such advise? I might not be working in the industry full time these days, but I do have almost 2 decades of experience. I’m not a fan of “work for exposure” for a variety of reasons, not least of which I feel that it hurts the industry. However, that’s really outside the scope of the thread. :slight_smile:

I would look at selling model on game engine like UE4 or any other game engine asset store since there is good money to be made there if you are talented of course.

Some friends of mine are making more than a 100k a year doing so but they have a nice collection of assets and they continually add more to them.

I would not recommend freelancing since it is taking your soul and the paycheck is often poor and deadline can make you have to pay them astronomical fines! Some people like it but most people i know including me were not very happy doing it.

You can also get in a small studio but for this you would need 3ds max or Maya experience since Blender is not(yet) widely use by studios.

You would be surprised about unusual place where you can make very good money with 3D like jeweler who need jewel 3d model to make them on special machine, i did this for a year and the guy was paying me 5 to 10$ each 3d model and i was able to make 50 of them daily.

Lot’s of business are getting in the 3D printing business and this is another place where a friend of mine is selling 3d model for plastic model like cars, plane and ship.

Google is your best friend since you will get ton of results on how to make a living in 3D.

The best of luck to you and fish oil can keep any depression at bay and this you can believe me since for more than 15 years after my second divorce(i know I’m nut)i had only one idea in mind and it was to leave this planet, then a friend of mine told me to take fish oil and after 2 month using it these thought were gone from my mind.

It’s hard to make money in any job in America. Wages are going down for every job. Even doctors get huge student debt and paid less than previous doctors. In the old days in America you could afford a house, family, car, and savings for retirement on a minimum wage job. With 3D it double hard on top of that because of all the competition from around the world. If you can’t be great enough in some part of 3D like architectural, animation, modeling, textures, etc. to the point of making money it’s not going to happen.

I’m not sure of any of you skill in 3D or otherwise so I can’t say what you should go for. I can say personally I am super into 3D, but an not a great artist. I had to go to other things to support the bills. To know if you are good enough you need some honest opinions and these forums are a great place to get that. Post your portfolio and we will tell you what you need to work on. If that list is too large maybe start to think of going into some other field like Uber driver or something you can be good enough in. Again, I’m not sure what field you should go for since I know nearly nothing about you. I’m also sorry that America screws vets now a days.

If you work is good enough I’d say you do need exposure. Social media, friends, friends of friends, jobs from, jobs posted on forums, jobs with game companies, anywhere you can get a job can help get you other jobs. Just don’t work for free. People talk. If you start working and your work is good you will get more work from that work from word of mouth. Also don’t be an ass. Many people would hire someone that can’t do the job as well than hire someone that can do the job perfect, but is an ass.

Hey man relax. I did not mean that definition of qualification.

I meant you can’t say that without additional qualification as to a context. Though I see the sentence could have been mistaken to mean the other.

Aside from that who can say who is qualified to say anything? That sounds like a rabbit hole. So lets not go there. I certainly did not intend to.

My apology for the confusing sentence. I will edit.

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No! This isn’t over till I have blood! Draw your sword, good sir! Haha It’s all good, man. I didn’t take offense to it. I don’t expect you to know my experience, and I’m certainly not THAT thin skinned. :slight_smile:

ha ha ha…

well… the games have just begun… threads like this…lol

Definitely everyone has an opinion on this one. :slight_smile: And they will be as wide and varied and contradictory as there are people.

For freelancing check out CGHero they’re fairly new on the scene and industry connected plus what I’ve heard/read, overall people’s experiences working with them seem pretty positive.

An extremely useful resource with pages full of ideas/offshoots too leverage revenue streams from a host of alternative sources aside from the tried and tested digital storefronts/vendors.

And for business admin:

OP – where’s your website? People might be better able to advise you if they knew the quality of work you can produce.

OK so here is my list of “Keys to Success”.

These are a summarized version of what has been a lifetime of experience (I am now 60) and categorized into the list of “successful actions” that any artist could apply to pretty much anything. Just remember that this is an action list. It is not a theory or concept. These are actually things I did and continue to do but are filtered into a generic form that anyone could use.

Overall as you move through your career you will find yourself at various points along a path of hills valleys and plateaus. In other words times when you seem to be struggling to get out of a low valley, times of climbing into greatness, times where everything is falling apart or nothing happening at all (coming down the hill into a valley) and finally times where you think all is well and you are cruising along at some new level of success. Things are not getting better but they do not seem to be getting worse.

The key thing you have to remember is that at no place along this path will life allow you to keep going at the same level. If you are not moving up, gradually, over time, you are moving down. There is no real such thing as a straight forever even line.

Therefore when you are on a plateau, you should be planning an attack or offensive to move up to another level. In other words the comfortable plateau should be thought of as another valley out of which you need to climb to another new level. And maybe that time is less desperate than a previous valley, but you need to use that time to double down and move up. And it will almost always require an investment of time and/or resources.

Now also, there are overall elevations to consider. For example, you may not have achieved enough success to make a full time living. But within this lower level, you will still find times when you can level up easier than others. Lower plateaus so to speak. That are higher than previous valleys.

And overall, starting out, you need to first set up a plateau from which you can launch your first new offensive. To do that you need to have subsidy. Either from a job doing something else, savings, borrowing money, or some means to make a living, or live and eat, while you prepare for the next thing. And the next thing in this case is your first paying gig as a freelancer. In other words “don’t quit your day job” as they say…lol

OK, so this is not the list yet… sorry. I did not realize it would take as much to explain this sort of outline first. I will come back in another post later when I get more time for the “actionable” list.

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