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dreamer1986

Is it realistic to expect to make money in Unity Asset Store/UE4 Marketplace?

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The idea of making money by creating objects to sell in the Asset Store is very appealing, especially since for my own game design projects, I would need to buy some assets in the future, to get items I can't make myself.

 

I found different reddit threads saying that you could make some money, but those people were already pretty experienced even before they started making assets, while I'm a complete beginner in game development. I wouldn't quite enjoy investing my time making things that no one would purchase.

 

Is it realistic to expect that you can earn something in these Stores, if you work hard enough, and try to deliver quality products?

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I wouldn't quite enjoy investing my time making things that no one would purchase.

Nobody would enjoy this, but are you willing to take the risk ? If not, then this kind of business is likely not suited for you.

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Well, see, you might both be late to the party and just coming in at the right time...

 

You might be late because by now, the asset stores are quite crowded with expierienced hobbyists and professionals who are delivering assets of incredible quality... can you compete with them?

 

You might come just at the right time as the Unity and UE4 community has also grown quite a lot in the last few years, and you might find more people willing to spend something on the asset store now than some years ago.

 

 

2 things to keep in mind:

 

1) Selling 3D Assets on a single game engines asset store will not make you rich. Most probably you will hardly sell anything, if you are not hitting some sought after niche (for example you were the only one selling a fully rigged zombie 3D model at the start of the Zombie-craze some years back).

You will need to branch out to as many different stores as possible to reach as wide an audience as possible. That includes engine asset stores, but could also include sites like turbosquid and similar 3D model stores.

Even then, be realistic with what you can make... there was a thread lately were someone was talking about what he makes with selling his 3D models in different online stores... I think he was talking about 150$ a month. I have no idea how many 3D models he has for sale, what his price point is or how many stores he sells them through, and of course 150$ could be plenty if you are just looking to stock up your budget for creating your own game. Some extremly awesome Thirdparty assets on the Unity store that I see as absolutely essential for high end Unity development are under 100$, so over the course of a year you could get everything you need with that kind of income.

 

2) Like any maturing market, selling stock 3D models is becoming a hypercompetitive market. I am amazed sometimes what quality you can get for quite a cheap price... So while I don't think there is any harm in trying, be realistic. Your first dozen models most probably are not worth much, as any buyer would have to fix a lot of stupid nooby mistakes you are likely to make with them. Make sure you price them right. There is always place for low quality, cheap models on the market... but given that you can get enough decent quality models for free, again, don't expect too much.

 

 

Last thing to add: look around in the stores. Find a niche, something nobody has made yet. Create models for that, see if you can sell it. Don't be number 1000 of 3D model makers who try to sell the same old plain zombie model in the same store and wonder why they seldom see anyone buying their model... be the only one that sells <insert your niche product here>, even if that thing is really a small niche, you might get better sales than with the done to death zombie model. And if you are lucky, your niche turns out to be the next big thing....

 

 

 

 

are you willing to take the risk

There is very little risk in making high-quality game-ready 3D models and textures. Adequate triangle count (100-4000 for most objects, may be less), optimized flat surfaces (no pointless subdivisions), well-shaped triangles (not too thin), stretch-less UV maps, power-of-two-sized and sharpened, well-packed textures (don't use 2+ where one is enough) etc. - such models are in a rather big demand. Bonus points for normal maps and specular maps, multiple levels of detail.

 

And, of course, presentation has to be solid. All models should be rendered with nice lighting both separately and in a scene. But that's extremely simple in both Unity and UE4.

 

P.S. I have no data from the profits of those stores. But I've bought some assets and seen other people buy assets as well - that is what they look for.

 

And, for additional profit, you might want to search the forums for what people would like to have but can't currently get. It's easier to profit from making things in sufficient demand (can't just listen to one customer, need to hear the needs of many) that have been overlooked by others.

 

Also, it's more likely to make a sale by selling sets of models and textures (included animations and rigging for character models), instead of individual assets. Stylistic coherency is appealing, and customers like to buy using the "shotgun method" (try many things at once so that it's more likely that something is immediately useful from the purchase)

 

 

Depends on how you do it... if its a hobby and you are creating the models anyway, no risk at all.

 

If you put everything on the line, give up your day job and try to live from selling your models online, you are taking a huge risk. Freelance work might be a safer bet then... at least you know you will be working on something for some months and have a secure income from that, instead of trying to guess what will sell how many copies...

 

Also don't forget that he calls himself a newcomer... I don't know exactly how new he is to 3D modelling, but a total newcomer will have a hard time producing anything of pro grade quality. Reaching that level of skill will take him some time. That doesn't mean he cannot try to sell his first few models... but it might turn out his models are not in such high demand, both because they might just not look so good, and also even if they do look good enough, they might not hold up from a technical point of view. If people buy his models but will have to fix lots of modelling mistakes afterwards themselves, they might choose someone elses models in the future.

 

 

Agreed though, demand is certainly there at the moment, and selling sets is a very good idea.

Edited by Gian-Reto

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Thank you for the detailed response, Gian-Reto!

 

I think that what I want to do could be part of a niche, but I have to check more carefully, I'm glad you pointed out this important research aspect. 150$ isn't that much, but its better than nothing, considering that you are training useful skills at the same time. But I imagine that in time, if you have more models for sale, the income might increase.

 

Also, thank you Snake5, for pointing out what's in demand.

 

Also, there are more stores? So turbosquid is one, but do you know others?

Edited by dreamer1986

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Something that actually bothers me with unity asset store, and honestly I have no idea how it works is the free vs pro version. Apparently if you are using free version, you cannot sell stuff to people using pro version. Also does that mean that if you make stuff with pro version, it cannot be used together with free version anymore? This is one of those things why I have avoided using unity, because the free-pro version asset differences.

 

For me it is very unclear if it is possible to mix free and pro stuff together at all in any shape or form. To my understanding you have pro-version people then free-version people and there is nothing between those. In other words, if you are using pro version, you cannot use free-version assets, but can you use pro version assets with free-version of unity. 

 

This is one of the reasons why I have honestly avoided using unity, the whole free vs pro is very unclear unlike unreal engine 4, where the terms of use are a lot more clearer.

Edited by Mekamani

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A lot of the more successful sellers have their assets for sale everywhere Unity, Unreal, gamedevmarket, graphic river,  here in the market place,  their own website.  Anywhere that sells content really.  Some of these asset stores also give you a number of units sold so you can work out from that how much money they make.

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Something that actually bothers me with unity asset store, and honestly I have no idea how it works is the free vs pro version. Apparently if you are using free version, you cannot sell stuff to people using pro version. Also does that mean that if you make stuff with pro version, it cannot be used together with free version anymore? This is one of those things why I have avoided using unity, because the free-pro version asset differences.

 

For me it is very unclear if it is possible to mix free and pro stuff together at all in any shape or form. To my understanding you have pro-version people then free-version people and there is nothing between those. In other words, if you are using pro version, you cannot use free-version assets, but can you use pro version assets with free-version of unity. 

 

This is one of the reasons why I have honestly avoided using unity, the whole free vs pro is very unclear unlike unreal engine 4, where the terms of use are a lot more clearer.

 

I might need to re-read the licensing agreements, especially as they have changed with Unity 5 considerably, but AFAIK:

 

1) if you make more than 100k gross per year with game dev or with whatever you use the Unity engine for, you need to buy a Pro license

2) If anyone on your project is using a pro licenses, all seats used for that project needs to be having a pro license

3) Of course you only have access to the pro only goodies with a pro license...

 

 

Apart from that, it is pretty much news to me that there would be ANY kind of limitation what you can do with a unitypackage. With Unity 5, Unity has introduced a mechanism that will check the version of your editor and make sure, when you download from the asset store, you will get the newest version fit for that Unity version... in other words, asset devs can now host both a Unity 5 and a Unity 4 version of their asset on the asset store servers, and the customer will get the right unitypackage automatically.

 

Most assets you buy work fine no matter what license you have. Some (very few) used Pro-only built in features like render to texture and thus couldn't be used in the free version (altough with Unity 5, even fewer assets will be affected by that). I haven't heard from any asset that only works in the free version, makes also no sense.

 

 

So as far as I can tell, you have gotten wrong information there... I wonder where this information is coming from? As a frequent buyer on the asset store I can tell you, 100% of the assets I bought imported fine (even though not 100% of them were really good in the end, but that is a different story smile.png ). I am pretty sure not all of these devs paid for the pro version of Unity, why would they if they make less than 100k$ a year selling assets (don't even know if selling assets is included in the 100k$) and do not need the pro only tools (though the profiler can certainly be useful)?

 

 

EDIT: Oh, I forgot... as you might have guessed from the text above, I have a pro license.

Edited by Gian-Reto

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So as far as I can tell, you have gotten wrong information there... I wonder where this information is coming from? As a frequent buyer on the asset store I can tell you, 100% of the assets I bought imported fine (even though not 100% of them were really good in the end, but that is a different story smile.png ). I am pretty sure not all of these devs paid for the pro version of Unity, why would they if they make less than 100k$ a year selling assets (don't even know if selling assets is included in the 100k$) and do not need the pro only tools (though the profiler can certainly be useful)?

 

EDIT: Oh, I forgot... as you might have guessed from the text above, I have a pro license.

 

 

I did some quick googleing around, and it does look like I have had some misunderstandings with the Unity asset stores policies. If I understand correctly, if the thing sold in asset store can be imported into the project, such as sounds, models etc. then it doesn't matter if you are using free or pro version, but if you export something out of unity and then sell the stuff, you cannot mix free and pro version things? Like if something is being made with free unity, like unitypack or whatever, then being put on asset store, this cannot be used in pro version and vice versa? I guess I still might have misunderstood something.

 

How would something like scripts count as? You can make scripts on any text editor, but they are kind of unity specific things still. I suppose they would be just considered non-unity property.

 

As for free version, with Unity5 free version does include profiler as well, so you can use even profiler with free Unity nowadays.

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I am also curious if there are disadvantages when you make objects to sell made with Blender or 3ds Max? I know that the game industry mainly uses 3ds Max, but Blender is free and quite popular among indie companies. Would game developers avoid what I make because I use Blender?

Edited by dreamer1986

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I did some quick googleing around, and it does look like I have had some misunderstandings with the Unity asset stores policies. If I understand correctly, if the thing sold in asset store can be imported into the project, such as sounds, models etc. then it doesn't matter if you are using free or pro version, but if you export something out of unity and then sell the stuff, you cannot mix free and pro version things? Like if something is being made with free unity, like unitypack or whatever, then being put on asset store, this cannot be used in pro version and vice versa? I guess I still might have misunderstood something.

 

How would something like scripts count as? You can make scripts on any text editor, but they are kind of unity specific things still. I suppose they would be just considered non-unity property.

 

As for free version, with Unity5 free version does include profiler as well, so you can use even profiler with free Unity nowadays.

 

 

I don't think there is any such limitation.

 

If you think it through, it would also be quite a bad idea to segregate your asset store audience into two seperate groups... yes, you would force your asset store devs to buy a pro license because they would else loose maybe half of their revenue... but a) Unity already gets their cut from the devs similar to what the app stores do (don't know if its 30%, but something along that lines), and b) most devs would probably not bother as they would have to make 1500$ just to pay off their initial investment.... not really a sweet deal.

 

 

So yeah, AFAIK, there is no such limitation in place. If you are registered as asset store dev and upload a unity package, it doesn't matter if you created that package in the free or pro version of unity. Actually, YOU are responsible to put any warnings into your asset store page if your asset only works with the pro version. I have seen many cases were asset devs were asked for refunds because of that, sometimes the customer just didn't read the asset store description, sometimes the description wasn't clear enough what functions of the asset ned the pro features. Most devs were happy to complete the refund.

 

With Unity 5 and the differences between pro and free license blurring even more, I don't think even this might be a problem down the line.

 

 

Wasn't sure about the profiler though... good to know its also available for the free license.

 

 

I am also curious if there are disadvantages when you make objects to sell made with Blender or 3ds Max? I know that the game industry mainly uses 3ds Max, but Blender is free and quite popular among indie companies. Would game developers avoid what I make because I use Blender?

 

Use one of the many cross-tool formats like obj, collada or fbx, and people will not care too much. If you throw a blender format file into the mix, you might actually make some people happy that want to edit your model in Blender.

 

Just make sure you pack in as many formats as make sense, so your customers don't have to import it into their 3D Package and export it in a different format just because you gave them a blender file when they needed an fbx.

 

Of course, I would expect a professional 3D modeller to make sure their exported files open up in the tools they intended for, or game engines. Make sure you have the free versions of all the important Indie game engines, blender and all other tools that people might be using (Autodesk tools are expensive, but AFAIK there is an FBX converter tool somewhere out there from Autodesk. That tool is free, so I guess if a file opens fine in that tool, it should work in 3DS Max and Maya). Make sure to import and test your models in most of them, not just one.

Many of these file types have their quirks (animations not working properly, differences in axis ordering, and so on), so you will need to learn about that too.

 

 

About having a model made in Blender vs any other tool:

Generally people don't mind, as long as they get the models not only as a blender file (some people also will not mind that). Personally,

 

I wouldn't mind on a model I wouldn't plan to modify down the line. Problem is, Blender is generally a good tool but has some quirks when it comes to smooth shading. Instead of using Vertex AND face normals like practically every other tool out there, blender only saves face normals and approximates the vertex normals every time you change something on the models... that works fine enough (even though in some cases the shading is somewhat strange on low poly assets), but that means that Blender has to use a different method for sharp edges... instead of splitting the vertex normal into two, Blender will instead split the edge into two, doubling the vertex count for that edge.

 

Now, I just guess the exporter scripts convert that quirky way of handling smooth shading and sharp edges to what other tools like Maya or 3DS Max do... still, I personally would take the blender file and open it in blender for modification even though I might prefer Maya over Blender just to make sure that there is no conflict because of weird vertex data created by the converter script that might not be visible at first, but might still hamper any tries to modify the file outside of blender.

 

 

But that is a minor niggle.... just start with Blender, and if somewhere down the road you or your customers are no longer happy with blender / with your blender created files, you always can move to a different tool. There are many out there, not many free ones as complete as blender, but at some point you might want to branch out to using more specialized tools in your pipeline anway (ZBrush, 3D Coat, Mudbox, MoI, Houdini,...), so instead of seeing Blender as the end all and be all of 3D Modelling, see it as your start on a long journey to become a good 3D modeller... maybe you will stay with Blender to the end, maybe you find a different tool that works better for you....

Edited by Gian-Reto

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I am also curious if there are disadvantages when you make objects to sell made with Blender or 3ds Max? I know that the game industry mainly uses 3ds Max, but Blender is free and quite popular among indie companies. Would game developers avoid what I make because I use Blender?

No difference whatsoever.  A game developer wouldn't be able to tell from your finished asset what content creation software you have used.  The only difference between the quality of game assets produced by 3dsMax, Blender or Mays the only difference is the tools user interface and workflow.

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I am also curious if there are disadvantages when you make objects to sell made with Blender or 3ds Max? I know that the game industry mainly uses 3ds Max, but Blender is free and quite popular among indie companies. Would game developers avoid what I make because I use Blender?

No difference whatsoever.  A game developer wouldn't be able to tell from your finished asset what content creation software you have used.  The only difference between the quality of game assets produced by 3dsMax, Blender or Mays the only difference is the tools user interface and workflow.

 

V nice, thank you. I will stick to Blender without worry in this case :) .

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V nice, thank you. I will stick to Blender without worry in this case smile.png .

 

 

Just remember the limitations of Blender I described above (missing vertex normals, thus smooth shading and sharp edge limitations)... this might become important:

 

1) when trying to import models from different tools to blender

2) when using a wonky exporter script to obj or fbx that doesn't handle the conversion correctly (never had a problem with the standart exporters though)

3) when trying to smooth shade a low poly asset (because the vertex normal is always set automatically, the angle might be off, leading to weird shading... in other tools you can manually set the angle of the vertex normal (or if you use a sculpting tool, it will be done automatically for you upon baking to the low oply asset), thus correcting these issues)

 

 

Give Blender a spin, see if it works for you...

 

 

I personally dropped Blender as my polymodeller and instead picked up Maya LT because I couldn't import my 3D Coat sculpted models to Blender without blender completly overwriting the vertex normals, thus messing up the smooth shading. There is an obscure script to save the vertex normals on import, but nobody knows if this is still working.

 

In the end I now pay 30 bucks a month for a polymodeller with an UI just as messed up as Blenders, in a way, but at least I can duplicate meshparts and correct pivot points on imported models without messing up my models for good.

 

Of course, if you never leave Blender during your modelling pipeline, that will not be a problem for you. And the smooth shading problems might never occur to you as they are quite topology dependent (if the automatically generated vertex normal is more or less correct, shading will be fine... if not, a slight topology change (additional polygon, or moving the vertex slightly) might correct the problem)

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Again, thank you very much for the detailed responses, Gian-Reto smile.png . I will use Blender for a while, and if I encounter the problems you mention, I will switch to something else.

 

Just something to keep in Mind... Blender is a fine tool, and if you know about that limitations in advance, it will NOT totally drive you mad when you run into these problems. As said, chances are you never really face them and will be happy with Blender.

 

 

Good luck with your bussiness plans and happy modelling!

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Remember the reason people pay for these things:

 

People will pay when the 'free' versions (usually with attribution requirements) are not up to the standards they need, and the paid versions are cheaper than they could produce themselves.

 

 

For my personal projects, if I need a component to do something, and I estimate the component will take 4-8 hours to create and debug, then I see a highly-rated paid component that does exactly what I need for $5, it is cost effective for me to buy it. 

 

The key to profit is that it must be broadly useful and be much more valuable than what I could make with my own effort.  If you plan on making a part that 1000 people will buy for $5, figure you that you need to invest several thousand dollars of quality into the product.

 

If your asset, be it artwork or code, is not an order of magnitude more valuable to me than the cost I would pay, I will not buy it but instead invest in something that is either a better product than yours or build it custom for myself.

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What you say makes perfect sense, frob, thank you. Making 5$ per sale after 4-8 hours of work sounds pretty good for me .

I'm thinking you didn't read what I wrote, or there was a communication error.

 

Either that, or you routinely write code worth over a thousand dollars per hour.

 

 

If I can do it myself in 4-8 hours, then my own personal value on it would be a few hundred dollars. But to reach that state of general purpose usefulness it will require much more effort. It will need to be vetted against a large number of different uses, become a little generalized or have multiple useful specializations.

 

That would take multiple weeks of development time to create the component. So 80, 100, 120, or more hours for the component developer. Not 4-8 hours, especially if you are planning to make money on it.

 

 

The component needs to be worth several thousand dollars equivalent for me to pay for the component.  In other words, on a personal project, something I could write over the course of multiple weeks of full-time effort I would instead be willing to shell out a few dollars for.

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Okay, I understand, frob, thank you. I don't mind working for a few weeks on a product, but to make 5$ for those weeks of effort, doesn't sound like something you could live on.

Edited by dreamer1986

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If I can do it myself in 4-8 hours, then my own personal value on it would be a few hundred dollars. But to reach that state of general purpose usefulness it will require much more effort. It will need to be vetted against a large number of different uses, become a little generalized or have multiple useful specializations.
 
That would take multiple weeks of development time to create the component. So 80, 100, 120, or more hours for the component developer. Not 4-8 hours, especially if you are planning to make money on it.


What you are saying makes a lot of sense from but, on the other hand there are just as many wanna be dev on the Unity forums who have no clue how long something takes to develop or even how to tell the difference in quality between two different products.

I'd say for every developer like yourself who can weigh up the difference between a several hundred man hour plugin and hastily slapped together 10 line script to make an object rotate, there are a hundred who have no clue but are willing to spend money on the first item that comes up in their search.  Making success on the Unity asset store more of an SEO problem than a how much effort you put into your component problem.

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Okay, I understand, frob, thank you. I don't mind working for a few weeks on a product, but to make 5$ for those weeks of effort, doesn't sound like something you could live on.

 

That is why you need to sell it to 1000 people if you price it like that and spend weeks on it. That was Frobs point above.

 

If you cannot sell it to 1000 people, but you expect only 100 people to buy it, and you spend the same amount of time working on it, you have to raise the price to 50$.... and so on.

 

 

That is exactly why sales statistics or prior expierience with selling similar goods is worth so much... if you price your product wrongly, you will face desaster either way.... you might have created an amazing deal, but because of its niche appeal still only 100 people will buy it. Or you overpriced the item, and instead you loose most of your customers because of that.

 

 

Frobs point is basically to look for the economy of scale. Try to sell it to as many people as you can, and choose your price accordingly (A product that should sell in volume needs to be cheap)...

There is also the strategy to instead target the premium segment and try to create something that is good value to a selected few people even with a high price....

 

In 3D Models terms that would be either "Create something many people need and sell it cheap" (A good strategy, as long as you can either undersell the competition or have the clearly better product, because you will most probably not be the only one targetting that market), or "Create something few people need but is hard to find, and sell it at a high price" (Also a good strategy, though more risky, as you need to anticipate a demand that nobody has yet tapped into, or create an incredibly valuable product).

 

 

A good example for a "Premium 3D model" would be the extremly detailled human models you can buy on turbosquid or similar sites targetted at the advertising / movie sector. These models are sculpted with the highest details, have an incredible amount of polygons and most probably very complex rigs to make them as lifelike and believeable as possible. A 3D modeller might have spent weeks or even months working on it, and the demand for that is most probably not THAT high (these models cannot be used for games (yet), so they will mostly sell to movie makers and advertisers... this is just me guessing, but seeing how these haven't switched yet to a 3D rendering only pipeline, but use 3D renders mostly to enhance real footage, their demand for 3D models will be much lower than the one from game devs). 

 

These models cost 500$ and more.... which sounds very expensive for a stock model. But if you factor in (rough guesses here) 10x the amount of time spent creating it compared to a low poly game character, multiplied by 10 because the amount of people interested in such a highly detailled, but very high poly model is 10 times lower, 500$ suddenly doesn't sound like a bad price anymore.

Edited by Gian-Reto

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Thank you again, Gian-Reto. Yes, what you say makes sense, but since I am a beginner, I imagine I can only aim to sell cheaply what I make. I looked at what is on offer on turbosquid, and its very hard for me to reach that level of quality very soon. Maybe after months, or even years of practice.

Edited by dreamer1986

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Thank you again, Gian-Reto. Yes, what you say makes sense, but since I am a beginner, I imagine I can only aim to sell cheaply what I make. I looked at what is on offer on turbosquid, and its very hard for me to reach that level of quality very soon. Maybe after months, or even years of practice.

 

Yes, that is pretty much what I would have said. You will find lots of very expierienced 3D modellers on these sites, which are basically your competition.

 

So you will need to become a very good 3D artist yourself if you want to stay competitive. See it as a good motivation to keep improving your skills... and in the end, putting your models up for sale is like the best test to see if how your models are rated by others AND if your own rating was right:

 

IF you put it up for 5$ and it sells like hot cakes, getting good reviews, not only must the model be more than just decent, you most probably underestimated how good it was... on the other hand, if you put it up for 50$ and nobody buys it, the model is most probably not that good, and you yourself overestimated its worth (could also just be a niche model not in high demand, but you get my point).

When people need to put spend their money, they tend to be very honest. Brutally so, sometimes.

 

 

See it more as an additional incentive for learning than as a revenue stream for now.... you will most probably not make much at the beginning. But just like the internship of a college / university student, the expierience you gain is much more important than the money you make. Don't let such learning expireiences drag you down... its part of becoming a professional in any line of work.

Edited by Gian-Reto

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