My Journey So Far as a PA (Commercial 3D Content Creator)

The PA Sale 2015 is well under way, so I hope you are all picking up some great bargains! I have something coming up later in the sale which I hope will appeal to those of you enjoying Genesis 3.

It’s hard to believe, but I’ve now been a PA with Daz 3D for a whole 6 months! I felt I should write a post to mark the occasion. In many respects it’s an achievement I’m proud of. After all, I’ve been an active vendor since that time, continuing to create and publish new products and improving on my skills. It’s an amazing feeling too to know that people are using and enjoying those products.

Has it been time well spent? In terms of monetary return… not yet. I’ve put in way more work than I’ve earned back in dollars, even adjusting my expectations to be very modest. I know it’s tempting to be swayed by what the top sellers say as they enthuse about their success. Just remember that success has been hard-earned over several years. Few of us are an overnight sensation. You can bet that those who do have paid their dues elsewhere.

The reason I’m sharing this is that I know there are many 3d model artists out there wondering if you can make it as a brokered 3D content creator. Well, it depends what you mean by ‘make it’ and how long you can afford to give it. This is no ‘get rich quick’ game. I’m in it for the long haul myself, but tenacious as I am, it can definitely be disheartening to compare your own sales figures to those at the top of the pile.

During the 6 months I’ve been listed as a PA, I’ve released 5 products, and as I mentioned there’s a 6th one waiting for release. Some did better than others, but not necessarily those that took the most work. I’ve used these early products as a chance to try new things and discover what I find most enjoyable and can be most proud of. With each project I learn something new.

Testing can be a frustrating experience, but it’s so important to catch any issues before they end up in front of the customer. Even better, try and catch the errors before the tester does and then you can fix them beforehand and have a much easier time of it!

However, the real emotional rollercoaster hits on release date. Excitement at knowing someone chose your product is mixed with disappointment when the sales figures don’t stack up the way you’d hoped. There’s a particular kind of heartbreak that all but the luckiest PAs will experience, when the product you put your heart and soul into falls flat. And knowing the work that goes into every product that makes it to the storefront, I’d say they do all deserve to do well and at least pay their creators back for the time that went into them.

Unfortunately it’s all too easy for a product to fall flat for reasons beyond your control, such as a brand new generation (Genesis 3) or exciting new render engine (Iray) being launched just before or after your release. Or you share your release date with a super-popular PA, or a highly discounted DAZ Original, or it’s the week before a big sale and noone’s buying.

Worst of all, I think, is when you found an untapped niche and created the perfect product, only to find someone else had the same idea and that their product is launched right before or on the same day as your one. I’m sure you’ve seen recently a series of similar products come out and maybe wondered which to buy. A sad coincidence for the creators of those products, who rarely know what anyone else is working on or what else is awaiting release.

In fact, it’s better to expect just this kind of unlucky coincidence as they happen all the time! Genesis 3 was released 48 hours after 2 of my products, and Iray hit the store after I had submitted a 3Delight-only set that I’d been working on for many weeks. It hits that bit harder though when it’s one of your first products, before you get into a steady workflow and find more efficient ways of taking a model from idea to release.

Of course, nobody said it would be easy, and if you love what you do and have enough determination, you’ll power on past the 6-month milestone. It’s more realistic, I think, to give it a year or two. That’s where I’m heading. Meanwhile, I’m learning ZBrush and anything else that can help me along the way.

So my message today for anyone else feeling a little despondent is to keep working hard, keep believing in yourself, and maybe a year or two from now we’ll be looking back at those difficult first months and thinking “We made it!”

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About Indigo

As a digital artist on a budget, I'm fascinated by what happens when art and technology meet, and love discovering affordable ways to make that happen.
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6 Responses to My Journey So Far as a PA (Commercial 3D Content Creator)

  1. Les Henderson says:

    Hang in there. Having such goals and expectations forces you to hone your skills to new levels, regardless of sales.

    I do wish there was a way to contact you directly.

    • Indigo says:

      Thanks for the encouragement Les! I’m excited that my first complete outfit will be along soon. Sales have been OK, and believe me each and every one of them is something to celebrate. Unfortunately early products will take a lot longer than later products of similar scope, so in terms of ROI it’s going to be tough for any new seller. A good chance though to learn a lot, understand how the market works, and figure out the balance between creating what you love and creating what people buy.

  2. John Jones says:

    I watched your Filter Forge video. I use 3D to do my work too. What is the very first filter? or better yet, can you name them off for me as the video progresses? But I really like the one at timestamp :06

    I will check your site out more later tonight. -John

    • Indigo says:

      Sorry for the delay, John, I hadn’t checked in here for a while. I like that filter too. From my notes, it looks like it was Old Book Illustrator by Gene S Morgan. I’m not sure which preset, but in any case it looks like I modified it. But Old Book Illustrator is the one to start from.

  3. Kathy McGraw says:

    You have worked hard, and I am really proud of you and your accomplishments. It\’s so true we can put our heart and soul into something and never see a monetary return. But there are more ways to be successful, and being able to do what we enjoy is one of them.

    Hope your next 3 D release brings you the fulfillment of a job well done. Oh, and if it\’s meant to be hope it\’s successful in the marketplace also.

    • Indigo says:

      Hey, I was just thinking of you and here you are! Good to see you, friend, and thanks for the kind words. A job well done, yes, and a whole lot of new things learned each time… Though if we continue to learn, as most of us will, we look back and also see things we could do better if starting over. As to success, I’m coming to see that can be measured in many ways, regardless of magic numbers I’ve seen quoted. If people are buying and enjoying something (and never mind the pirates and copycats who are like death and taxes) and you can be proud to say you made it, then that’s a success. If something pays the bills and gives you money over to play with, that’s a success too. To have all those things, well, that doesn’t happen overnight but it sure is worth working towards!

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