How Does Blender Make Money?

Blender has made life easier for digital artists since its public release in 1998.  It is a completely free 3D digital animation creation site. This platform has changed the lives of so many artists all over the world by allowing them to explore their talents free of charge. Often the cost of getting started is what holds many creatives back, so Blender has been a big help by eliminating costly software.

Building a website such as Blender.org doesn’t just happen overnight though. It takes many hours of hard work and extensive knowledge of everything it takes to build these software programs. The people behind this company are highly trained in what they are doing, which leaves a lot of us wondering “are they really putting in all that work for free?

If these software experts really put all that time and energy into building such an impressive platform, how can they just give it away to anyone for free? I am sure these people have bills to pay and families to feed. So how do they make a profit for their work?

When learning about marketing for a new product or brand, one thing that they will teach you is that giving away something for free attracts more customers to your business. Giving away free samples is a great way to hook new buyers who may not have given your brand a look otherwise. Everybody loves to try before they buy.

Giving away free samples doesn’t hurt many companies financially because what they are giving out is usually just a tester. The customer can try it out to see if they like it but are given just a small enough amount, so if they want more they have to make a purchase.

A lot of other software companies have gotten in on the free-trial movement to attract more buyers. Often video games will give out demos where you can play a free hour to see if it is something you enjoy enough to buy. Other apps will allow you to try a free week or month of their software to get you hooked. They are using the try before you buy method, which can also bring in a lot of unexpected buyers.

Samples and Trials seem to be two keywords here. So, how does Blender make money if they are letting customers use all of their software products for free? First, let’s take a look at what software Blender has to offer.

What Doe Blender Offer?

As we mentioned above, Blender is a completely free 3D digital animation creation hub. Creative individuals all over the world have taken advantage of this free software to explore their talents. They have created videos, comics, video games, and so many more cool animations. If you have even an inch of creativity in your soul then you should definitely take advantage of what Blender offers.

If 3D animation is something you are into, you may be wondering what type of software Blender offers its users. The creators behind Blender definitely want their users to be able to have some of the best options to choose from. So, what software does Blender offer?

  • Modeling
  • Sculpting
  • Rendering
  • Animation ; Rigging
  • Grease Pencil
  • Simulation
  • Video Editing
  • Scripting
  • VFX
  • Interface
  • Pipeline

That is a lot of different services to offer creatives for free! Can you imagine how much it would cost to use all of those features from other companies? It’s no wonder that so Blender has become a staple in every 3D animator’s life.

So, How Does Blender Make Money?

We are scratching our heads over here wondering how the creators of Blender can just give all that away for free. I have a little bit of experience building a website for a blog and know just how much work went into building a small page with very few features. Thinking about how much work went into building Blender makes my head spin.

Looking back at Blender’s history, we found out that the Dutch creators started working on this idea all the way back on January 2, 1994. The first version was released roughly a year later. The finally released the software publicly in 1998 but found themselves bankrupt by the early spring of 2002.

It looks like they can’t afford to just give everything to the public for free after all. Taking one look through all the amazing features on the Blender website shows us that the people behind it are some seriously creative thinkers. If they want to offer such amazing free software to the public, they are going to have to think of other ways to make a profit. After bankruptcy happened, these guys put on their thinking caps and came up with some more brilliant ideas.

So, how does Blender make money? Let’s find out!

Donations

After filing for bankruptcy in 2002 these guys started with the most obvious solution. They have done so much good for the public, maybe some of the public wouldn’t mind helping them back now that they need it. That May, they began the Blender Foundation. The goal here was to find a way to continue the development and promotion of Blender through the help of public donations.

On July 18, 2002, they held a campaign called Free Blender which brought in $100,000 worth of donations from the public. By September 2002 they had raised enough funds to keep their business going and released the Blender Source Code as a way of saying “Thank you” to the public for their support. The public was more than happy to help out.

The Blender Foundation still exists today and it’s very easy to send a donation. At the top of the navigation bar on their home-page, there is a Donation button that will lead you to the Blender Foundation. Once you get there it will show you the different options they have for donations. You can do a monthly subscription, or a one-time donation through PayPal. As of 2020, they have over $109,000 monthly contributions. That is some pretty amazing support!

Blender Cloud Subscription

Blender offers its users so much free software, but every ambitious creative craves more. It offers users payment plans of either monthly quarterly or annual payments. This subscription service offers thousands of extra files to work with and way more content than their free users get to experience.

Some of the extra features with the paid subscription include:

  • HDRI
  • More Textures
  • Ready to Animate Characters
  • Tutorials
  • Featured Movies
  • Extra Services

The free-Blender services are wonderful for beginners, but more intermediate creators can benefit from a Blender Cloud Subscription. The features will keep any expert animator busy for days to come.

Corporate Sponsors

Every independent business starts off with a bit of affiliate marketing on their website to help monetize their page. You never know when someone is going to click on an ad and make a purchase, so it doesn’t hurt to have some ads in place. Even the mention of a corporate sponsor on your website can attract more people to their page.

On Blender’s “About” page they have listed Open Invention Network, Khronos, Linux Foundation, and Academy Software Foundation as their affiliate networks.  They also have several corporate brands, such as Adidas and Microsoft, that are sponsors working with the Blender Foundation.

Merchandise

Every brand needs merchandise so their top fans can represent their favorite company. Blender is no exception to the rest. They have an online store right on their webpage where users can find a ton of cool and helpful products. The online Blender store is also where you can purchase a Blender Cloud Subscription to enhance your animating experience.

I already have a Blender Cloud Subscription, what else can I get there? There is also a bookstore available in this online shop. Right now there are only 2 books available for purchase, but they are essential to help any Blender user grow their skills.

The Cycles Encyclopedia is an encyclopedia that is packed with over 77 material nodes. It will take forever to memorize them all, so with this encyclopedia you won’t have to worry about it.

There is another essential book for Blender users available at this store. It’s called The Art of Blender Open Movies. The author wanted to celebrate 10 successful years of open-movie production. This book is loaded with beautiful illustrations to inspire you and has exclusive interviews with people from the Blender Institution. The Art Of Blender Open Movies is a top seller among Blender users.

When talking about the Blender Store, we can’t leave out the Wear and Swag section. This is basically the gift shop section of the website where you can find all of your favorite products to represent your love of Blender while supporting all the hard work they do behind the scenes.

What items are available at the Wear and Swag shop?

  • T-Shirts
  • Hats
  • Mugs
  • Tote bags
  • Notebooks
  • Magnets
  • Stickers

There is so much to choose from at the Blender Store online. I am really starting to see where Blender makes a profit. Of course, these geniuses didn’t stop here. They had one more bright idea to bring in funds that would also help educate a lot of people.  The Blender crew is always up to something new and exciting after all.

The Blender Institute

The Blender Foundation’s chairman, Ton Roosendaal, came up with the idea for The Blender Institute after the release of the first open-movie project called Elephant Dreams. Elephant Dreams was insanely successful for a first-time project. They employ 18 full-time people who work on crowd-funded projects in Amsterdam.

The Blender Institute also has a studio where people can work on animated films and classrooms where there is space to hold workshops. They have a render farm and a test lab where more work can be done. To top it all off they have even added a small additional store in this building.

Blender has some very intelligent people running the show. It is amazing that they have created this institute as a way to share their knowledge with other people in the community. It really is no surprise that the public is willing to help them out as well when they need it.

Other Ways They Earn

We have gone over some of the ways that Blender has successfully earned a profit even though they offer most of their software for free. There are a few more ways Blender is able to make a small profit.

  • Pre-sales
  • Film Projects
  • Training
  • Use of the Steam platform
  • Community Charity

This brilliant team never falls short on ideas. That includes money-making ideas as well. Their bankruptcy incident in 2002 was a big learning experience for the creators of Blender. They have been working hard ever since to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Final Thoughts

Blender used one of the best marketing ploys to gain users. People love to get something for free, especially if it is something that will improve their lifestyle. Creative animators all over the world love the free software Blender offers them.

Once a user takes advantage of the free resources from Blender they become curious about the other paid service they have to offer. This is where the profits start to come in for this software company.

If there is one thing every business could learn from Blender is to always be there for your client when they have very little because when they find their success they will share it with those who supported them along the way.  Being kind to their users has worked out well for Blender. Animators who have found success have helped contribute to the company through donations. It’s refreshing to see that the clients and the company have each other’s back when it comes to success.

Have you taken advantage of the free software Blender has to offer? What feature did you enjoy the most? Let us know in the comments, we love to hear from our readers.

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