by veteran Cartoon Character Animator content developer – Garry Pye
Being able to draw or animate does not guarantee success when it comes to making money from your talents. Having been a content developer in Reallusion’s 2D Marketplace since 2014, through hard work and good customer relations, I have built my own brand and have enjoyed considerable success, to the point that I was able to sell my family business and fulfil my dream of making content development my full-time profession.
Simply put, success does not happen overnight. Building a name for yourself in the Marketplace takes time, dedication and perseverance just as much as it takes artistic skill. If not more. I see many talented animation artists frustrated by their lack of success and sales, and I’ve seen artists with limited skills flourish and thrive. In other words, being talented is just the beginning.
I wrote this article because I am often asked “How can I make more sales?”. And I believe that there are a number of factors that developers need to focus on and maintain in order to be successful, all of which rely more on your customer skills and business logic than your ability to draw — and I want to share these ideas with others in the hopes of helping them reach the success they dream of.
I assume you have already set yourself up as a content developer in the Marketplace. If not, check this article on how: https://bit.ly/3u9o85L
What do I need to be successful?
This article will cover the 6 key points I focus on every day which has helped me become a successful Reallusion Content Developer.
- Social Media Presence
- Stay Current
- Hard Work and Attitude
Coming from a background of 31 years in the retail industry, I treat my time in the 2D Marketplace exactly as I would if I was operating a store in the real world and dealing with customers face to face. I believe every customer deserves your undivided attention and should be made to feel like they are your only customer. I take the time to respond to or answer every single message, thread, post and email that is sent to me.
It is not enough to simply load your content to store, sit back and wait for the money to roll in. You need to make yourself available to people and engage with them. Not just your customers, but others in the animation community you come across on social media who are looking for help or advice. Be open to engaging in conversations about the industry that can present opportunities for you to attract new customers. On many occasions, I have taken time out to help a total stranger who was so appreciative that they became a loyal customer.
Your audience will first start to build because people like your animation work. They will continue to support your animation work if they learn to like YOU. Making yourself available to your audience and your customers allows them to feel connected to you, and in return, they will support your animation work because they want to see you achieve.
Be sure to nurture your audience. Don’t run the risk of losing loyal customers by assuming they will always be there while you go off in search of shiny new ones. Pay attention to the customers you do have and more will follow. The customers you already have are the most important asset and deserve your attention.
Social Media Presence
My main promotional platform other than the 2D Marketplace itself is Facebook. Facebook is a very visual platform that encourages deeper conversation, engagement and feedback much more than other social media platforms in my opinion. I do use other platforms like Instagram and Twitter, as it is good to spread your presence across them all to reach the largest possible demographic.
As I run my animation business full time, I am always at my computer and Facebook allows me to engage with customers in real-time. As a customer, there is nothing more frustrating than waiting several days or even longer to receive an answer to a question. Having Facebook on my computer and phone means I am always available to my customers and my reply time is very fast.
Social media gives you the power to be your own marketing guru. You can create ads, both free and paid for, as well as behind the scenes features and articles that give unique insights to your customers about your content creation. Use social media to create a buzz around the release of your next big content pack and let your audience know what’s ahead, as well as entice potential new customers to check out your work.
Consider publishing animations that incorporate your content and even videos of you talking to the camera about your work which will help your target audience connect with you as a person, rather than just a retailer. In my experience, videos attract a much higher rate of engagement than static images with text.
The 2D Marketplace is a visual guide to what’s new, what’s selling and what’s most popular. A bustling, fast-paced community that is consistently being updated. However, a content item you post today may only last a day or two before being lost in the crowd of new inclusions because the page is updated daily with great new content, and if you are not constantly visible on the Marketplace page, people are less likely to think about you and buy your content.
There are seven key areas of the 2D Marketplace where your content can appear, and if you plan your releases, you can ensure you are always visible to potential clients.
First up on the Marketplace page is the “What’s New” section, and as the name suggests, this is where all new releases feature first. Because every single pack released appears here, your newly uploaded content will most likely disappear quickly and the only way to stay in this row is to produce content at a fast pace, which is my strategy. Another way of ensuring that your work is always visible in the “What’s New” section is to monitor the page and stagger your releases, adding new content as required to ensure your name always appears in this section. And finally, a small discount on new release content for the opening week or month is a sure-fire way of attracting potential customers. After all, who doesn’t love a bargain!
The next row, “Reallusion Certified”, showcases the best content packs in the Marketplace, handpicked by the staff of Reallusion. This is content created by developers whose work can be relied on as the highest quality and customers know they can purchase with confidence. Once you prove yourself as a quality developer, your work may automatically appear here.
Next is “Top Trial Download”. When you load new content to the 2D Marketplace, you have the option to set it as ‘Trial Enabled’ in your Content Uploader. This allows potential customers to download your content to test it, but it will remain watermarked until it is purchased. A good way for you to allow customers to try before they buy. “Top Trial Download” represents the best selling content that is trial enabled.
“Top Paid” content is that which has had the largest volume of sales, and if you are fortunate enough to have your packs featured here, this means your work is selling and you are making money!
A very important section of the Marketplace to feature in constantly, and also the easiest to appear in is the ‘Free’ section. Everyone loves a freebie, and the ‘Free’ section of the 2D Marketplace is one of your best assets. By giving away free samples of your work, potential new customers get to test out your content quality risk-free, and if they like it then they know where to find you for more. I always make sure I am listed in the free section because it is the first place most customers look.
Once you have built a reputation for yourself as a trusted developer, there are two more sections of the Marketplace page you may find yourself. First is the “Developers Recommended”, again chosen by Reallusion. These are developers with a solid reputation for work quality and quantity. Once added to this section, your thumbnail will take customers directly to a page featuring only your content.
And finally, we have the “Featured Stores”. If you are invited by Reallusion to have a Featured Store, then you will be recognized as one of the top independent developers for Cartoon Animator. The number of Featured Stores is very limited and a goal you should strive for if you want to reach the highest level of success.
Staying current means reinventing yourself and your art so that your customer base sees fresh material all the time. Don’t get stuck in the rut of doing the same thing over and over. It’s great to create a series that has a large volume of material with a consistent look and feel, but you will attract a wider audience if you offer variety. When I started contributing to the Marketplace, my focus was on creating only props and backgrounds for 2D animation, however as time progressed, my greatest success came from cartoon character creation. So be open to the possibility of a variety of content.
How to price your content is hard for anyone to offer suggestions for. After all, who is to say what an artists time, talent and work are worth. The digital sales of the Marketplace work very differently from retail sales in the real world.
For instance, in the real world if you make a pizza and sell it for ten dollars, then you have to make another pizza before you can make more money. This takes time and resources. But in the Reallusion Marketplace, once you make a content pack, you can sell that same item indefinitely. The same item sells over and over and over again. That’s why the price point is so important. You need to set your price in a way that is competitive in the Marketplace and sales are constant.
If you put in a week’s worth of work on a content pack, and you ask for a weeks pay for that one pack, it’s unlikely it will sell. You need to think of it in terms of passive income. Once you create that pack, regardless of how long you spent making it, it will forever sit quietly in the Marketplace selling, and you never have to do another thing to update it. So it is better to have a low price and sell high volume, as opposed to a high price that sells low volume.
I can spend a week on a pack and sell it for $12 USD. But remember, if a hundred people buy that pack at twelve dollars each, then that time and effort is now worth twelve hundred dollars. And that’s a good payday! So my advice is to be careful that you do not outprice yourself.
Potential customers have an abundance of great content to choose from in the 2D Marketplace and only a limited amount of cash to spend, so they need to be selective about the animation artists they spend their hard-earned money with. They might see your content and like it, but have to choose between your content and another developer work. So how do you make them choose your content? I treat my Marketplace store as if it is a chocolate shop, with me standing out the front handing out free samples of chocolate to entice people to enter my store because when you give someone a sample of your content for free, they now have your content in their toolkit, can test it out and if they like it and use it, then chances are they will want to expand on their collection of your work for future projects. Not only that, but they now see you as a generous developer and are more likely to support your work.
Free content is eye-catching and can keep you current on the marketplace page in the ‘Free’ section where even more people will see your work.
It is not just potential new customers you should focus on when handing out free content. Reward your most loyal customers and followers with free content as a way of thanking them for their support. I have given away thousands of dollars worth of content, and the more I give away the more money I make because it attracts people to my content. I want to make sure that every visitor to the Marketplace leaves with some of my content, so they can work with it and come back for more.
Hard Work and Attitude
You are your own brand now. This is a business. Just like any other major corporation in the world. The only difference is, while big corporations have hundreds, if not thousands of people running their businesses each day, you are only one person. Imagine your local retail giant. This company has a multitude of people for every job that needs doing. But you have to do them all yourself. Design, production, marketing, customer service, advertising and promotions. Every job performed by an employee inside a company, from the janitor to the CEO is your responsibility. So you need to focus and work hard to fill each of these roles. And you have to do it every day with a smile on your face that keeps your customers happy and engaged.
The right attitude to your work is just as important as any artistic skills you can bring to the table. I wake up every day excited about getting to my home office and starting work, and the biggest challenge I face every day is knowing when to stop because I love what I do. The saying I live by is “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” If you enjoy what you do, then you’ll automatically work harder and produce better results.
If you work hard, results will follow. But do not expect this to happen in your first week or even first month. Becoming a Marketplace Developer should be a long term pursuit. You are going to start your journey in the 2D Marketplace with a single content pack, but as you produce more and more content you will increase your chances of attracting a loyal customer base. Just like you, I began seven years ago with a single content pack, and at the time of writing this article, I now have over 5,000 items listed in the Marketplace, all of which sit quietly earning money each month with absolutely no additional work required by me. For any animation artist prepared to put in the time and effort, the 2D Marketplace is a gold mine.
You cannot underestimate the value of hard work. Becoming a content developer for the 2D Marketplace might be a fun hobby, but you still need to approach it like a nine to five job. Your little corner of the Marketplace is your own personal retail store, and as such, you are the owner/operator, manager, advertising guru, customer service desk, information hotline, shelf stacker and cleaner. You have to do be able to do it all to be successful. Creating new content, completing these tasks and fulfilling these roles will take time and effort and focus. And you’re playing the long game. Success will not come overnight. Initially, you will join the Marketplace with a single content pack and will be vying for peoples attention against other successful, established developers with thousands of listed items in the Marketplace. However with work hard, quality content and a little bit of luck, in time, you too can dominate the 2D Marketplace.
Best of all, the Marketplace is open 24 hours a day all year round. So while you sleep at night, your content continues to generate a nice passive income for you. I wish you the best of luck in your new venture as a Reallusion 2D Marketplace Content Developer, and if ever you would like to discuss further how you can achieve success here, never hesitate to contact me at garrypye (at) reallusion.com
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