PatFlynn

Anyone have success selling MOCs?

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Hi Rebrickable community! First post here, thanks for the warm welcome!

Question for those selling plans for your MOCs? 

How successful, if at all, have you been selling your MOC plans here on Rebrickable? I'm interested if it's just "small change", or if anyone is actually out there making a living doing this. 

Do you also get a commission from Brick Owl or whereever else the parts to your MOCs are sold, too? 

Thanks for the heads up.

Pat

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2 hours ago, PatFlynn said:

Hi Rebrickable community! First post here, thanks for the warm welcome!

Question for those selling plans for your MOCs? 

How successful, if at all, have you been selling your MOC plans here on Rebrickable? I'm interested if it's just "small change", or if anyone is actually out there making a living doing this. 

Do you also get a commission from Brick Owl or whereever else the parts to your MOCs are sold, too? 

Thanks for the heads up.

Pat

I don’t know if anyone makes enough to quit their day job but designers definitely make money.

You just have to be realistic. People won’t pay silly money for instructions, especially for smaller MOCs. I’ve heard a couple of people complain they don’t sell anything but are trying to sell a 200 part MOC that could easily be reverse engineered from images for $10. 

 

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3 hours ago, jaredhinton said:

I don’t know if anyone makes enough to quit their day job but designers definitely make money.

You just have to be realistic. People won’t pay silly money for instructions, especially for smaller MOCs. I’ve heard a couple of people complain they don’t sell anything but are trying to sell a 200 part MOC that could easily be reverse engineered from images for $10. 

 

Thanks Jared, that makes sense. I just bought my first plans for an MOC (a Tesla Cybertruck that I thought looked really cool), and was excited to know I was helping out a fellow creator in doing so here. It was about 700 pieces, and definitely worth the price, but what was really expensive was the part list.

I hope I can find a designer or two with some decent earnings coming in, I'm just super curious about what's possible.

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Hi Pat,

I've been wondering the same thing.  Sometimes it's a lot of extra work to take a model I designed for myself and make into something with high quality instructions for others to have an enjoyable build, and it would help motivate that extra effort to have some sense of, as you say, what's possible in terms of purchases.

Before I say how many downloads I've had, I would like to preface it by saying that when I look at the top MOCs page, I see a lot of Star Wars and a lot of cars, and my MOCs are neither of those.  So thematic content seems to matter.  Also, maybe my MOCs just aren't very good.  I'll let you judge that for yourself.  I should also say that I haven't really promoted them beyond simply uploading them to Rebrickable until recently.  

I have 13 MOCs up now, all of them added this year.  The free ones have had a total of 200 (exactly) downloads, and the premium ones have had a grand total of 1 download.  I do find those 201 downloads gratifying, and the thousands of views as well (not to mention likes and comments),  but what I'd really love to see are MOC photos submitted by users who have built their own from the instructions.  That seems to be an underutilized feature on the site. And of course, a few purchases would be nice.

Thanks for asking a question I've been wondering about myself.  Hopefully others who have had more success will chime in. 

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I can comment on Fan Photos: I approve somewhere between 20-30 photos per day, so the function seems to be used by users. I don't know how that measures up against the number of daily downloads tho.

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On 12/27/2019 at 12:44 AM, PatFlynn said:

How successful, if at all, have you been selling your MOC plans here on Rebrickable?

I'll give a bit of my experience. I used to have only free MOCs, but then the rebrickable hosted MOCs were introduced and more and more Premium MOCs started to appear, which I did not like. There were MOCs I wanted to build, but I thought it was unfair that I should pay for them while I offered my MOCs for free. So while still disagreeing with this whole instructions market thing, I ended up offering some of my next MOCs for sale. Solely to use the money for purchasing other instructions.

For my MOCs I chose a popular topic and sold them for a price way below similar competing MOCs. Ideal combination for making big sales? Lol no. I had a modest amount of sales since then, like 20 to 30 overall. I did not expect more and it was enough to finance those MOC purchases that were my goal, so I'm not complaining. Funny enough I made it to the 50 Top selling Premium MOCs list more than once. Sometimes just by having 3 sales in one week! So my guess is, those MOCs at the top of the list, they probably make some money. But those at the bottom and the thousands of MOCs who never appear in the top 50, well I guess the money they make is not worth talking about.

Would be interesting if rebrickable were to display the number of sales for each MOC :D

One surprising thing I've learned from my MOC sales is that most buyers are pretty inactive users. Nearly none of my buyers had MOCs of his own, and most of them never gave a comment or uploaded a photo to any MOC. That's interesting because I always though it was a big community of people designing and building MOCs, but instead there seem to be a lot of people who are only silent consumers. It's somehow correct that people who are not contributing to the site should contribute by giving money. But I'm really missing some internal currency/reward scheme that benefits the users who contribute with their time spend to design MOCs, so that they don't have to contribute with money also. But I also see why this would be difficult to implement, because you cannot objectively measure each persons effort, so if such a system would exist people would take advantage of it for example by flooding the site with low quality MOCs.

On 12/27/2019 at 3:40 AM, jaredhinton said:

You just have to be realistic. People won’t pay silly money for instructions, especially for smaller MOCs. I’ve heard a couple of people complain they don’t sell anything but are trying to sell a 200 part MOC that could easily be reverse engineered from images for $10.  

That's true. I myself am most likely to purchase instructions for medium to big Technic MOCs. If I were to reverse engineer them instead, which is a tedious task, my time spend doing that would be worth way more then a few bucks spend.

Also I have a rule for myself that I will not buy MOCs with a price more than one cent per part. E.g. a 1000 piece MOC for 10 Euros would be okay. But since this is the upper limit for me I'm also expecting PDF instructions in this case. There are a lot of high quality MOCs which completely satisfy this rule, so anyone trying to sell for more is illusive. Still I see why rebrickable is not enforcing such a limit, because people would circumvent a rule like this by inflating the part count (supplementary builds, unnecessary details).

On 12/27/2019 at 8:11 PM, seejay said:

but what I'd really love to see are MOC photos submitted by users who have built their own from the instructions. That seems to be an underutilized feature on the site.

I agree with that. I love to see these photos too, and people should use it more. I have MOCs where it is clear from the comments that people have build them, but not a single photo was uploaded. This is sad. On the other hand if there are already 10 user photos I get why many won't bother to upload another one.

Edited by gumalca

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Hello, let me first react to some of you:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
On 12/27/2019 at 8:11 PM, seejay said:

...  So thematic content seems to matter.  Also, maybe my MOCs just aren't very good.  I'll let you judge that for yourself.  I should also say that I haven't really promoted them beyond simply uploading them to Rebrickable until recently.  

...  but what I'd really love to see are MOC photos submitted by users who have built their own from the instructions.  That seems to be an underutilized feature on the site. And of course, a few purchases would be nice.

It's sad but true that the theme does matter. In fact, it IMO very much drives the success of the moc. Especially if you don't have some pre-existing audience (e.g. youtube channel, rich flickr fellowship). There are only a handful of designers that I know of who are successful with generic moc designs. The one who stands out the most I think is Jason @JKBrickworks but he also has all (but one) of his MOCs for free. The promotion of your creation, or rather a lack of it, is another massive factor. I don't think any of my mocs would get much attention without a shoutout on AFOL related forums and in my flickr feed. I am looking at your mocs and I clearly see what you mean by the effort you put in being disproportional to the interest. The truth is, however, that if I just saw the thumbnail of any of your builds in the MOC list, I would probably skip over. I had to take closer look at some to really appreciate them. And I don't even think your thumbnail pics are bad. It's simply the topic of the model that is not... clickbaity enough I guess. (Btw I love your House moc and I think the marble maze is the coolest I have seen. I would love to hear that you were able to actually get some plans sold for that one...)

Regarding the sales, I really think there is a certain bottom size limit where it starts to make sense to even consider monetized instructions. I would absolutely love it if people understood paying $1 for a nicely done manual to little simple model as a nice way to contribute to the author, but somehow this is not happening. That's why I would always offer small models for free (even if I took good care with the instructions) and perhaps suggested to the people that they can give me some donation (which so far never happened :D). Fact of a matter, if my choice is that merely noone would buy the instructions for a buck, or some people would download and appreciate them for free, I always choose the latter.

When it comes to larger more substantial mocs, where the design is really something that is worth putting a price tag on, there is still a question of whether plenty people would actually desire for such a model, and whether I can reach out to them by some means of moc promotion. Only if I can check all the boxes, I put a price tag on the instructions.

On 12/27/2019 at 9:29 PM, TobyMac said:

I can comment on Fan Photos: I approve somewhere between 20-30 photos per day, so the function seems to be used by users. I don't know how that measures up against the number of daily downloads tho.

I can see you approve a lot. Still it somehow feels like the feature is not used enough. It seems like the way it's designed on the moc page motivates few people to even click on the bookmark tab to see the MOC Photos, letalone actually uploading them. I wish I could bring some good ideas on the table about how to make it better, but I really don't know. One thing I know is that I have a MOC where 20+ people positively built it to date and most of them actually sent me the pictures via email, but only 4 of them uploaded the MOC photo. IDK, seems like it's either inconvenient or appears irrelevant to people... I can only speculate. But I agree with others, to me as a creator it would mean a lot to have more pictures of the replicas, nicely displayed on the MOC page. And I would frankly also consider it a strong reinforcing factor speaking for the quality of the model. I sometimes see MOCs with many like and plenty of generic comments but no MOC photos and I then have my doubts about how good the design actually is, if people actually build it with success.

Last, not to completely steal the topic of this post, I can share my personal 'sales' experience. I only have one premium MOC at the moment, it's been up for about 1.5 years and so far I handed out 63 copies. It's IP based (Star Wars) and it was quite anticipated - I think I had about 20-30 people actually looking forward to the instructions, which release I pushed for several years. The rest I assume is people who found it on Rebrickable while actually searching for this type of content MOC. I am not in 'top' whatever list, so there is really no other way they could accidentally bump into my model. And there is no way my earnings come even close to paying for the extra time I spent on top of designing the model. It's still heavily based on the fact that I somewhat enjoyed the work and I wanted to get my MOC out for... I guess personal achievement and community contribution reasons. There might be a few guys out there who manage to get semi-serious income from instructions sales, but unless you love it for other reasons, I think it's not a good business to venture :D. Oh, and about the commissions from BL or BO I know nothing about. I guess you'd have to run your own store to have access to part sales profit. I think the BrickLink MOC-Shop used to work along these lines, but now it's I think different and who knows what's gonna happen now, after TLG acquisition. 

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Thanks Kristof and Gumalca.  Those are all useful comments.  I agree with you about giving away small models.  Only a couple of mine were premium until recently, but I thought I'd see what happens if I take the ones that were getting downloads and put a eur1 price tag on them.  As expected, no more downloads.  The Marble Maze has sold once and I think that traffic came from tweeting about it at JKBrickworks (who designed the original maze set on which it is based).  I also shared it on Eurobricks and Reddit.  I can see in the MOC analytics that all those things helped, and to some degree the increase in traffic seems to be holding, which is nice. 

 

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27 minutes ago, seejay said:

Thanks Kristof and Gumalca.  Those are all useful comments.  I agree with you about giving away small models.  Only a couple of mine were premium until recently, but I thought I'd see what happens if I take the ones that were getting downloads and put a eur1 price tag on them.  As expected, no more downloads.  The Marble Maze has sold once and I think that traffic came from tweeting about it at JKBrickworks (who designed the original maze set on which it is based).  I also shared it on Eurobricks and Reddit.  I can see in the MOC analytics that all those things helped, and to some degree the increase in traffic seems to be holding, which is nice. 

 

Just a tip, you should list your maze MOCs as Mods of the original set so they show up on that sets alt builds tab. Might help them get more exposure. 

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18 hours ago, jaredhinton said:

Just a tip, you should list your maze MOCs as Mods of the original set so they show up on that sets alt builds tab. Might help them get more exposure. 

Thanks Jared. I've done that now. I think I decided not to mark it as a mod originally because it requires the extra-tilt mod of the Ideas Maze set that JKBrickworks published, but thinking of it again now, I guess that was a bit pedantic.  

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On 12/30/2019 at 8:24 PM, gumalca said:

One surprising thing I've learned from my MOC sales is that most buyers are pretty inactive users. Nearly none of my buyers had MOCs of his own, and most of them never gave a comment or uploaded a photo to any MOC. That's interesting because I always though it was a big community of people designing and building MOCs, but instead there seem to be a lot of people who are only silent consumers.

This is my experience as well. Quite some people have purchased instructions for my MOCs, but very few share their experience afterwards. This suggests to me that they are not actively participating in the community.

On 1/7/2020 at 3:41 PM, KristofPucejdl said:

It's sad but true that the theme does matter. In fact, it IMO very much drives the success of the moc. Especially if you don't have some pre-existing audience (e.g. youtube channel, rich flickr fellowship). There are only a handful of designers that I know of who are successful with generic moc designs.

This is absolutely the case! The MOCs that are in the top lists are almost always IP or brand based. This is fine as long as the MOC is not monetized. Otherwise you could argue that a license has to be acquired, just like TLG has to. Having success with generic MOCs is so much harder, but not impossible.

Because I can say that some of my models have sold quite well, but it seems to be either hit or miss and I still haven't figured out why. I suspect much has to do with when and where models are shared. Is it enough to live from? Not at the moment for me at least, but then again I also do not have a consistent output. It does however cover the costs of my Lego hobby.  

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2 hours ago, NKubate said:

It does however cover the costs of my Lego hobby.  

I think this is the goal for most MOC designers. Just trying to fund the habit!

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