We launched the Blender Market on June 10th, 2014. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, we were excited to launch the first online marketplace for Blender artists and had some seriously high hopes for it; we wanted the Market to be perceived by the community as something of their own, hoping it would change the landscape for independent artists and developers using Blender. So where are we now, twelve months later? Let’s take a look at the last year on the Market; examining everything from financials to market successes and failures. Grab a cup of coffee, a pint of beer, or another beverage of choice and read on.
By the Numbers
Businesses measure success by their profit, return on investment and operating costs - and Blender Market is no different. But let’s look at our visitor stats first; over the last year the Market saw just over 480,000 users. Combined, those users have viewed over 1.3 million pages, with a majority of those page views taking place in the last two months alone. That means things are picking up pace, and that is a great sign! In addition to the growing traffic, the financials continue to look up as well. You may have seen our stats page that highlights some of the key figures, such as total sales and total vendor payouts, but today I want to share some figures which are not published anywhere. During the past twelve months, the site has brought in approximately $117,000 in gross revenue. Out of this amount, we've paid out around $50,000 to the vendors and donated just over $7,000 to the Blender Development Fund through vendor contributions. After vendor commissions and development fund donations we were left with approximately $54,000 in net revenue. After subtracting server costs, web development cost and one full-time salary we saw a loss of about $60,000. So the Blender Market is in red figures after its first year, but that is to be expected of a young business. Our faith in the Market is strong and we believe in its huge future potential as a viable business model in its own right, but also as a platform which can impact the lives of independent artists and developers all around the world. We believe the Market has only scratched the surface of its income potential and are projecting big growth in the coming years. This is why we will continue to invest in the site and have great things planned in the near future. But before we discuss that, let’s take a closer look at some of the activities of the Market.
The Biggest Payoff
The 1st of each month is one of our favorite days. Why? It’s when we process commission payouts for vendors which gives us all a warm and fuzzy feeling. As you may know, each vendor receives 70% of their sales, payable via PayPal or BitCoin. We also send a lump-sum donation to the Blender Development Fund on behalf of our vendors at this time, which has not gone unnoticed by Ton Roosendaal, the Blender Foundation Chairman: “The support we've had via the Market is really amazing - about 1/6th of last year's money came from this source. So you can easily state it paid for an extra half time developer in that period,” says Ton, showing the impact the Market has had on the ongoing development of Blender.
Areas for Improvement
It's not always easy to honestly critique yourself or what you do, but we see a few things that could have gone better this past year. The biggest downfall for us were some of the features on the site which either weren't present or failed to meet their purpose sufficiently.
Ratings and Reviews
A solid product ratings and review system was something that was on the original site roadmap, but through the course of development and deadlines it was put on the back burner for the launch. As the year went on, this important feature got buried under the load of day-to-day tasks that come with running the Market. But now, we are making this one of our priorities. Giving customers the ability to leave meaningful ratings and reviews is a desperately needed feature for any marketplace; I know I personally always look at reviews of products that I'm going to buy, either physical or digital. So it’s official: the Market is finally getting its rating and review system!
Vendor Documentation System
Quality documentation is essential to many products. We also require it on all product submissions. However, most of our vendors will know how much of a pain the documentation system has been. It has lots of quirks and from time to time straight up strips out all formatting on the documentation. After a vendor has spent hours writing up careful documentation, it is incredibly frustrating to lose a lot of the work. Ouch! This is unacceptable to us and we’re going to fix it. We are looking at using Lasso, a brand new front end editor, to power the documentation system in the near future. This should clear up all the previous issues that vendors have had in the past and make product documentation a breeze.
Where we Exceeded Expectations
Now that we covered our areas for improvement, let’s talk about what we are most proud of. The site has done many things really well, but a few really stand out.
Empowering Independent Artists
We have individual artist all over the world selling products on the Blender Market. At this point, nobody is making a living from just the Market yet; however, there are artists and developers that are making some pretty good pocket change. Our top 3 vendors on the site have made between $5,000 and $16,000 so far. Not bad!
It's no understatement when I say that the most important thing for all of us at CG Cookie is customer support. This is no different for the Market. Below is our report on the Markets support system. As you can see, we have talked to a lot of customers in the past year, resolving technical issues, answering questions and being there whenever they needed help.
A unique insight into the Blender community
The Market also offers an interesting peek into the mind of the Blender community. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the sales reveal that the most sought-after products are tools which streamline your workflow and save time, like the bestselling Retopo Flow and Bake Tool. Clearly, our users look for ways to be more efficient and eliminate (or simplify) parts of their workflow which they see as tedious or difficult. On the other hand, the category with the most products offered on the market is Models, indicating that this is what people create most often - and possibly have the most fun with!
All in all, it’s been a fantastic first year. The fact that we made it through the first 12 months with growing support of the community, some outstanding Blender artists joining the ranks of our vendors and hordes of satisfied customers is a huge achievement for us. What is in store for next year? Apart from the new features to be added, we are already discussing a complete revamp of the site. We will begin work in the next few months, so keep an eye out for further news - and for more Market contests coming. We are excited for the next year ahead and look forward to having you on board. To adventure!
Check back on June 10th to take part in our 1 year birthday sale, starting at 8am GMT -6 and lasting for one day only. Get 20% off over 100 selected product. It's our way of saying thank you!