Taking the Plunge

Some of you might have noticed that I’ve been working for Blender Guru for the last few months. It started back in February when Andrew asked me to write a single article for him, and soon became a more permanent job. My task was to produce articles and short tutorials for the site, including management of other contributors.

Now I realize that for most beginners, and probably some of the more professional Blender artists too, working for the Andrew Price sounds like the perfect dream job. You get to stay at home all day and make awesome crap with an audience of thousands of people, right?

Perhaps… but it’s not for me.

It’s taken me 6 months to realize this, but I’ll never be satisfied working full-time for someone else. At least not permanently.

My freedom and independence is important to me, so rather than devote a good portion of my youth to a job that I don’t truly enjoy, I’ve resigned from Blender Guru.

But… what now?

While I’m still living with my parents and have relatively few expenses, this is the perfect opportunity (financially speaking) to try out some of my own business ventures.

I don’t care much for fame and fortune, but I know eventually I’ll need to survive on more than the few bucks I get from the Blender Market each month.

So here’s the plan:

  • HDRI Haven. Yes, I’m going to sell some HDRIs, but don’t worry too much, the low-res versions will always be free.
  • Add-ons. I’ll continue developing Blender add-ons, and selling a handful of those that are the most valuable.
  • Training material. I’m pretty confident that I can team up with CG Masters or CG Cookie again to make some tutorials, or possibly even the Blender Cloud.
  • Freelance. This goes without saying really.

The thing that excites me most about working for myself is not the fact that I can wake up whenever I want and play Skyrim all day without feeling too guilty, it’s that I’ll finally have the time to work on my own projects, whatever they may be.

23 thoughts on “Taking the Plunge

  1. wow Greg, It couldn’t have been an easy thing to just give up your position at BlenderGuru. I respect the fact that you’re able to make a hard decision like that. I for one am really excited to see what comes of your future “business ventures” ;) Hopefully it means we’ll be seeing more awesome HDRs and useful addons in the near future, so I wish you the best of luck :D

  2. Go for it, mate. You’re a well-recognised name (and authority) in the Blender community. I respect your knowledge and am excited to see which direction you might go!

  3. It takes guts to make a career decision and deciding to forge your own path must have taken considerable thought. However, with your skillset and eye for quality you will no doubt be successful in time. All the best with this venture and know you have the support of the community.

  4. Sounds like a good decision to me, it’s important to feel good at what you’re doing. The interesting part of course is, if it is really possible to make a living this way: you obviously have plenty of talent so actually the free lance part will probably work out for you (and I sincerely hope it will).

    As for the other stuff (HDRis , add-ons,…): there is a true market developing (and Blender Market is really helping people getting started here) but at this moment I share your observation that it is just a ‘few bucks’. I have a full daytime job in a completely unrelated business so it is not really important how much I earn from my add-ons and books but I am eager to hear whether other people succeed in making a real contribution to their income this way,

    Anyway, good luck! :-)

  5. Greg,

    I’ve always enjoyed your tutorials and other insights on lighting, composition, color, etc. Thanks for all the good advice and help.

    Fifteen years ago, I grew tired of working for corporations and so I quite and formed my own consulting company. I’ve been self-employed ever since. I have worked out of my home office the entire time. What do I do? I provide consulting services of various kinds to new technology programs.

    Like you, I love the freedom, I have control over my life most of the time, and I don’t have to put up with corporate politics, promotion checklists, back stabbing, et al.

    However, I think you already know that there can be some down sides to self-employment. It’s not like you receive a paycheck every month for a known amount. Some months can be feast or famine in terms of a revenue stream. Marketing yourself can be a challenge. And clients range from difficult to easy to spacy to support. There can be long gaps in finding new contracts. And there is good news and bad news with regards to working at home. The good news is that you get to work at home. The bad news is that you work at home. When working at home, it is difficult to set the work down for the day. Instead, I end up working far more hours than I get paid for–even though I’m paid well when I am working. I haven’t done much Blender modeling because of the time necessary to keep the business going, make repairs around the house, and take care of the thousand other distractors in life.

    I’m sure there are people out there living the dream. But in the vast majority of the cases, it’s difficult to make a decent living. In the corporate environment you start at the bottom and you don’t get promoted unless you play their politics and bring in new contracts for which you get little credit. Being self-employed is also a monthly struggle to string along new work. It’s more like a roller coaster, but if you are good at it, you will average out at the end of each year.

    I have been on the self-employed roller coaster for some time now. It’s not easy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    You are especially well suited for being self-employed if as you stated that you are not in the business for fame or fortune.

    Best of luck to you in your new endeavors and I look forward to you new products–whatever they may be.

    • I know what you mean about working from home being both a good and bad thing. The commute is great, but you’re stuck in the same place for extended periods of time. It’s great to have control over everything and be free to make your own choices, but at the same time that’s a heavy burden to bare, being completely responsible for your success and survival.

      Anyway thanks mister, I really appreciate your advice and support :)

      • Greg,
        I have one other bit of advice for you.

        No matter what the sacrifices might be, do the things you truly want to do and enjoy while you are young.

        I’m 70 years old now. I’m in good shape, I work out 6 days a week, I weight about 5 more pounds than when I was 30, and I feel more like 40 than 70. But I realize that the time I have left is limited–very limited.

        When I was in college, the Vietnam War and the draft were breathing down my neck as I didn’t have a draft exemption and I wasn’t going to change my life just to avoid the draft. Instead, I joined the Marine Corps to avoid being drafted into the Army. At least I had control of my life instead of the draft board.

        I served a year in Vietnam (1968-1969) as an infantry platoon commander. It was a tough year and I lost some good Marines. But I also had the honor of serving with some of the finest young men in the world. Marines who would not give ground while those on the left and right were still fighting. When the situation was desperate and the end seemed close, I knew my Marines would hold, and they knew I would hold. It was a life changing experience for me.

        But I really didn’t want to be an infantry officer. I wanted to be a fighter pilot. Unfortunately, I have poor eyesight and so a Marine infantry officer it was to be.

        But I became a private pilot on my own. I earned my commercial and instrument ratings. I competed basic, intermediate, and advanced aerobatics. I earned my glider pilots license. I became certified in amphibian aircraft, float planes, and completed both ski and mountain flying in Alaska–the mountain flying was hairy.

        I learned to SCUBA dive and take underwater photographs. I’ve dived across the Pacific in the most interesting places you can imagine. I dived the Japanese ships sunk in Truk Lagoon in February 1944–All 66 of them and many of the 250 Japanese planes that had been shot down. It was the most serene two weeks in my life.

        I also dived Wake, Midway, Johnston, the Philippines, Guam, Okinawa, and all of the Hawaiian islands (the Kona Coast is the best diving).

        When I lived in Hawaii, I learned to sail and I’d sail around the islands. Some of my best memories are sailing at night under a full moon and a bottle of wine. There was nothing but the sound of the wind, the waves, and the ruffling of the sails. Magic. I’d anchor in a cove and in the morning I’d go diving, cook breakfast in the galley, and sail on. Magic.

        I skydived for a while.

        I cross country skied, did winter camping, white water canoeing and rafting.

        I did free climbing–scary stuff.

        I owned three motorcycles and put a total of 70,000 miles on them–mostly on long trips across country and into Canada.

        I learned to speak Spanish fluently (though I’m very rusty now). I served two years supporting counter insurgency operations in Latin America.

        And along the way I learned to enjoy plays, symphonies, operas, and ballets. I’ve seen the greatest performers in each category in person. I remember being awed by Mikhail Baryshnikov in the Nutcracker Suite. His grace and moves that defied gravity were unbelievable.

        I’m a history nut and so I’ve visited every major historical site in the United States and everywhere I’ve been on vacation/business around the world.

        Except for Africa (no offense to South Africa), I’ve been to every major region in the world multiple times. I’ve enjoyed the histories, customs, traditions, foods, and entertainments of each country. Some were better than others, but all were memorable.

        When I was assigned a job to be the project officer to automate a system, I had no prior experience with computers in any way. I didn’t even know what they did or how they worked (1978). But I bought parts and instructions and in my basement I soldered together two computers from individual parts just so I could understand how computers worked. Eventually, I became an expert in one language (the precursor to SQL) and competent in five other languages. Oddly, I like Assembly the best because it was so lightning fast–but very difficult to manage memory. It was also incredibly difficult to master.

        I once drove my MGB sports car from Long Beach, California to Washington DC with the top down regardless of the weather. Why? Because I wanted to. It over heated in the desert. It filled with snow driving across the Rocky Mountains. I was rained on countless times. I was a silly idea, but a lot of fun and adventure.

        I became an expert marksman in pistol and rifle, including black power pistols and muskets. The expert marksman in current arms was courtesy of Marine Corps training, but the black power expertise was courtesy of my interest in history.

        I enjoy fine wines. I’ve been know to spend more than $400 on a bottle of wine such as Chateau de Y’quem (any year) or Bertani Amarone 1968. There are others, but those are my two favorites. The Y’quem is like drinking white velvet and the Bertani is like drinking red velvet. It’s a very long story how I got involved in wines, but it became an integral part of my life.

        So I’m 70 now. Have I done everything I’ve wanted to do? No. I have a bucket list that would take 50 more years to complete. But on the other hand, I’ve done a lot other than sit around working for a living, playing video games, and watching TV.

        I have an epic adventure in planning that will make everything else seen like recess in grade school. I only hope I can find the money and time to make it happen.

        I have so many unbelievable memories–most good, but some not so good. I wouldn’t trade them for all the money in the world because money can’t buy experiences–at least not the ones you accomplish on your own with hard work and sacrifices.

        I would do it all again if I could.

        What’s my point?

        Try to accomplish your dreams of success, but don’t let those dreams prevent you from creating memories you will cherish until you die. Remember, God never said life would be fair, successful, or enjoyable. He only said it would be better after you die. So go out there try to be fair, successful, and enjoy life while you can. You may not live to be 70 and I may not live to be 71. That’s my point. I intend to make my life as enjoyable as possible for the next year because I don’t know when I may not be around any longer.

        I’ve felt that way most of my life, and so I embrace every day as if it might be my last. It may sound silly, but give me a different formula for happiness.

        Take care. Sorry for the diatribe, but perhaps you might see some wisdom in my personal experiences–work to pay the bills, but live to enjoy life.

        • i just wanted to say that i found your story awesome.
          if i remember correctly, you also posted in blendernation about the “battleship yamamoto”.
          i wanted to reply to you then, and it slipped away. so i tip my hat to you now.
          i wish you all the best on your next adventures!

  6. I whish you good luck, Greg! You’re trully a cg master! Keep follow your dreams!

  7. I think you made a great decision. A mentor once told me “my only regret, was I didn’t do it sooner”. I went solo soon after he told me that, that was 8 years ago and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve always appreciated your humble attitude and well made content, I think you will do will and I will happily support you.

  8. one word for u :)
    good luck ;)

  9. I can understand that totally. And to be honest you could have done the same thing working for yourself any way. You are a talented and approachable teacher all you need is exposure time and a lottery win.
    All the best mate .

  10. Hello Greg,
    I had been reading your posts for quite some time now. All of them were great. I must say you made a wise decision. Guest posting actually takes away freedom. Moreover, many a times I myself thought that your articles had been written by Andrew Price.
    Reminds me of a quote: ‘Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs ‘
    I don’t remember who said it but you really made a mature decision.
    Good luck.

  11. Sounds great man .. keep it up ..