Stop Doing 3d Printing Jobs For Free Please

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by joie, Jun 15, 2017.

  1. joie
    joie Well-Known Member
    If someone asks for directions and I give them to him, I'm not working, don't compare things that can't be compared, please. Stay on focus.
    I'm talking about working.

    For example, as a hobby, I play the piano and I can do a concert on a bar. Then I will ask to be paid, at least something because they are making money from my hobby (people will be drinking or eating while listening).
    But, I did a short concert for my doughter's kindergarten and I did it for free because they are not making any money or selling anything, I was colaborating.

    So I know the difference.

    And my question is still unanswered..., if you work for free because still learning for example, when will you decide start getting paid?, and when you decide that, will your consumer be willing to pay you for something he can get for free?.

    I really hope consumers will understand that a quality product deserves a price. But that won't happen if we don't respect ourselves first (I mean our work).

    By the way, I'm making this request because it's very common to find people asking for a sculpted figurine ready for 3D printing for something like 50$ and that's not fair. But I can't blame him if there are people willing to do that for even less money.
  2. barkingdigger
    barkingdigger Well-Known Member
    There's a bunch of different issues floating round in this thread! The fact that others can offer to take a modelling job for free or for peanuts is just the way the free market works - grumbling about it is a waste of energy. I'm sure they all have their reasons - the student looking for a school project, the philanthropist offering a hand-up to novices, or the pro just looking for a kooky challenge to offset the hum-drum day job - but there's little point worrying about it. Sure, it means serious pros lose out on potential jobs, but what can we do?

    The issue of how we value our own hobby time is separate. I design things for my own hobby, and then offer them for sale afterwards as a way of offsetting my hobby costs. I used to take paid commissions, but quickly learned that most folk are not willing to offer enough to make it worthwhile - they all assume it's only an hour's work to design a complex item, so balk at paying more than a few tens of dollars. Of course, if it takes me a week to turn out a decent design, that's nowhere near the cost of my time! So unless there's a serious client with realistic expectations (a true rarity in the Requests forum!) I just pass and let others fight over the crumbs. I'll sometimes offer help if something is interesting, or if a noob is stuck on a minor detail, but as this is not my day-job I keep it low-key.

    Your mileage may vary...
    bobsavage and Ontogenie like this.
  3. kaadesign
    kaadesign Well-Known Member

    How many free Apps do You use on Your Smartphone? Or "open source" tools on Your computer?
  4. Schmeagle
    Schmeagle Member
    You stop promoting yourself when you feel that your work is of high enough quality that someone will actually be willing to spend that much on your work. Your clients will always be looking for a cheaper designer. It's up to you to convince them that your work is worth the cost.

    If somehow you convinced everyone to stop doing jobs without pay and they started working for $1, how long until you are back again demanding that everyone charge more for their work? cannot change the market. You can ask or demand as many times as you want for others to operate differently, but we each decide what is best for us.

    It is up to YOU to convince potential clients that your work meets their needs. You need to evaluate the market and evaluate your clients. Some clients want cheap and moderate quality, others are willing to pay a lot more for quality work. Not every client is best for you, just as you are not the best choice for every client. If a client wants something quick and dirty that just works, he isn't going to pay $200 for it. On the other hand, if the client wants a beautiful piece of art, he'll be willing to spend whatever price is necessary to ensure it is done right, and he will find someone with a good reputation to do it.

    Where does your work fit in? Are you producing at the same level as those that are doing jobs for free? Or are you a skilled craftsman producing top quality work? Evaluate your own work and compare it against others. How do you compare against others offering similar services and quality?

    What can you do to convince clients that your work is worth it over other cheap or free offers? Higher quality? Guarantees?

    Compare your situation to a lawn care business. You are evaluating a neighborhood. You notice that many people mow their own lawns. Some neighborhood kids offer their time and mow lawns for a couple bucks. Then there are lawn care companies, ranging from the cheap end to the expensive end. How do make a profit in this neighborhood? Do you go and tell the kids to stop? Do you tell the cheaper lawn care companies to raise their prices? You can, but nothing will come of it.

    To summarize, people are going to do what they want to do. And honestly, what right do you have to tell others how to operate? If it is affecting your business, it is your responsibility to adapt.
    bobsavage likes this.
  5. IntelXeon
    IntelXeon Member
    when i make something if i see profit in it, depends on 2 factors is it easy to model can i get it done within a hour time? if so yes i just add a fiew mark ups to the print im selling,
    anny other special projects that are complex i charge 15 euro per file , when shops are asking for files i ask 50 euro for a file since i know they are selling it to earn there own cash from my designs , i used to work whitin the game moding industrie, i know what a typical model cost with textures ect , i also fucus mainly on the airsoft market, copying broken stuff, and that no longer made by orginal manufactures
    i even made some truck parts for a client
  6. Youknowwho4eva
    Youknowwho4eva Shapeways Employee Community Team
    Personally, I do "free" work if there is value in the product. So, I'll make the model, but in the end it's mine to sell. The other times, as Stony pointed out, is for a good cause. I'm a softy. Occasionally I'll have someone come to me, and I just can't charge them for it, such as the soldiers sleeve. The other free work I do, is when someone I know says "hey can you make this for me" and then I make it, and they don't buy it ... -_- So I don't do that much anymore.
  7. joie
    joie Well-Known Member
    Yeah, what's the point on paying for a model not buying it?, Amazing.
  8. MrNibbles
    MrNibbles Well-Known Member
    Figured I'd post this here rather than dredging up an old thread or starting a new one. An interesting comparison of making money in the "sharing" economy. Mildly interesting since they are including Etsy and some task services, which might possibly include 3D design offerings.

    More info at the link:





    Ontogenie likes this.
  9. joie
    joie Well-Known Member
    Very interesting, thanks.
  10. MrNibbles
    MrNibbles Well-Known Member
    It would be interesting to know how this compares with Shapeways, but I'm not sure if the management would care to share such detailed information. Extracting the data could also be a problem in terms of separating active members and shops from those that just threw up a couple of items years ago that never sold yet their store remains in place. Even an active member might have few to no sales depending on their interest area. I assume a similar problem applies to analyzing Etsy although it comes down to the screening methods the researchers used to obtain worthwhile data.
  11. southernnscale
    southernnscale Active Member
    I don't think Shapeways would release any details! I know I started around 2013. I have had quite a few sales but I'll never get rich because I fine most people won't pay the high price for some of these plastic materials since most break easly if not handled right. I worked in mostley in Z scale 1:220 scale in model trains and that is even worst. but I still have sales because I keep my prices down so people don't mind buying them. Your chart is interesting! just like the change in FUD cost! I think there is a reason for this since this material does show better detail and a lot of folks use this material to sell items in the small world. just think about it! I have had several people request a model and if I can do it I will and I haven't charged them. First is, I wouldn't sell something that I know that it wouldn't print! Most of the time it might print once then not again! which isn't fun doing them for free spending all the time making it then not printing!
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
  12. MrNibbles
    MrNibbles Well-Known Member
    It would be interesting if at the end of each year a shop could get a measure of where they stand relative to other shops. Perhaps in an items sold and/or $$$ margin earned ranking out of the total number of shops. Then we could have a Shapeways Valedictorian appointed each year to give a speech or write a blog post.
    Malwen likes this.
  13. Ontogenie
    Ontogenie Well-Known Member
    Interesting data, MrNibbles, thanks for posting. I'm pleasantly surprised to find that I'm in the 3% for monthly Etsy earnings. I would not have guessed that, but I think it's definitely a situation where there are a lot of shops that just aren't putting in the effort, or they're offering something that's offered by 1000 other shops and the customer can't decide who to buy from. I think the lesson is that the more niche you are, and the more effort you put in, the better your chances are of being found on Etsy.

    As for the 'Shapeways valedictorian,' Shapeways has always been super secretive about which shops are the most successful. I think the reality is that there are many roads to success (and failure) here, and comparing shops is like comparing apples to oranges. Some shops have better designs, while others are out there doing a better job hustling their social media. If you declare one or more shops as the biggest earners ever...then there's going to be a lot of copy-cat action and feelings are going to get hurt, and rightly so.

    As for whether you should give your work away (the original topic of this thread), I'm reminded of the old adage 'you get what you pay for.' Customers need to realize that it takes time for us to create these one-of-a-kind objects and that we deserve to be paid for our time. I've been burned so many times recently on custom projects, I've decided to cease all work for private customers. Friends, yes. A design suggested by someone that fits my brand, yes. Work for museums, charities or other organizations, yes. Everything else, forget it. Not worth the stress.
  14. MrNibbles
    MrNibbles Well-Known Member
    I wasn't exactly advocating a public listing of shop rankings for everyone to compare. It would be more like an email giving each shop owner a heads up about how they are doing relative to others. Maybe they could do the same for the designers-for-hire assuming they are able to harness such data. For example something like this:

    It doesn't have to be made public unless the shop owner wants to do so.

    The Valedictorian thing was more of a joke than a serious suggestion, although it's not unusual for Shapeways to highlight certain designers and their shops in the blog, and very likely they reflect product classes that Shapeways has found to generate a lot of revenue or they think can generate more revenue in the future. Any attention is probably going to get copycat designers to do their thing. In the past Shapeways has posted lists of the top 10 selling items and some other nebulous sales information such as total models sold or mark-ups distributed in a year, etc. Not sure if they bother with that anymore for whatever reasons.

    As far as the original topic goes my viewpoint is that everyone should charge as much or as little as they want to charge in fees. I don't do custom designs either so I don't really commiserate with the designer-for-hire portion of the site. It's hardly the sum total of people on the planet that do 3D design work that use Shapeways as a designer nexus so I'm not even sure how many designers would even hear the plea to not design for free. On the other hand I hope every 3D designer and shop owner here will find a way to earn $1,000,000 each and every year.

    Ontogenie likes this.
  15. seriaforma
    seriaforma Well-Known Member
    Me too!
  16. Ontogenie
    Ontogenie Well-Known Member
    I kind of figured you meant the valedictorian remark half jokingly. ;) A little ranking info would be fun, but I don't know how useful it would be for steering your shop or your business model. I always found that top ten list completely disappointing because it was populated with tech accessories and almost never jewelry, but I guess that's what is selling in large volumes.

    And damn right, we're all fabulous! We should absolutely all be making a cool mil a year.:D
  17. MrNibbles
    MrNibbles Well-Known Member
    I do have models, but not a single business model to speak of. :confused:
    Ontogenie likes this.
  18. woody64
    woody64 Well-Known Member
    Maybe in this discussion you have to differentiate two different ways of doing business here:

    1) Making items for something, where the customer don't care that this is done via 3d printing. The only measure here is reaching the target market price the customer is willing to pay. Here any means of doing marketing is interesting also doing a design for free (but maybe earning money later on, when other items were sold).
    Here the labour going in one item is never reflected in the item price. Only the chance of selling more items of the same type or other similar items is the driver.

    2) Designing something special only targeted for one or very few persons: Here the design work is more the base for costs. (if the customer is willing to pay for that). In that case I would support the initial request of at least asking for a $ or a donation.
  19. joie
    joie Well-Known Member
    In fact I usually don't add any margin to Shapeways price since I'm getting paid for the job, NOT the model.
    I put a price per work hour and, when finished, I put the model at my shop and the client buys it.

    In the "real world" you just pay for the product because you have no choice on having your own design, so a company makes millions of single products and they have good prices. But if you want something unique, you have to pay for it. Even if it is a small and irrelevant piece. It is unique because you had an idea (simple or complex that doesn't matter) and you asked someone to create it.
  20. stannum
    stannum Well-Known Member
    If the client paid for the model, shouldn't the model be provided instead of placed in a shop? If SW goes under, the client loses the paid "blueprint".