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David Heller
David Heller
Editorial and site information posted from the ShareCG Team

An open letter from the founder of ShareCG

 
September 23rd, 2007 by David Heller

Dear ShareCG Member:

ShareCG was conceived in 2007 at my son Jacob’s insistence. Jake’s now a lawyer, but even then his debate skills and logical thinking convinced us that there was a need to  develop an open sharing site to bring together worldwide artists and animators of all levels of expertise.  Our goal was to provide a friendly and graphical platform that would be easy to use and perfect for presenting art, animation, 3D models and for delivering tutorials and other educational materials to help the site’s users display their creative achievements and become more proficient in their craft.

We believed that if we provided a great platform ‘they would come,’ and you did.  But, we also had to find a way to fund our efforts so that we could continue to build out the site to meet the needs of a growing audience.  We succumbed to the idea of funding our efforts with banner advertising even though we would have preferred to have a site that was free of advertisements.    I have personally heard from hundreds of users complaining about the site’s flashing and distracting banners and I agree with them 100% but felt that we didn’t have a choice.

Now, after five years of experiencing the banner ad model we have yet to generate the revenue needed to pay for this site.  In fact, ShareCG has been running in the red and only kept alive and supported by re-directing funds from our other properties.  But, just chugging along without being able to provide timely new innovations to our audience is not a solution for either us or for you.

We are considering changing the ShareCG business model from banner ads to a subscription model.  I am proposing that members subscribe at just $9.99 a year for a banner free ShareCG that will have the resources to add services that will make the site a better place to visit and that will bring the community closer together.  We have a number of projects planned and ready to go that will:

  • Add ‘Friends’ to bring true social media and collaboration to the site
  • Provide expanded statistics for each user so you’ll know when and who viewed your video or downloaded any of your uploads
  • Re-design and expand the home page to include the latest uploads and blog entries, ‘user speak’ editorial, trial software, challenges, industry and educational newsletters,  SCG social buzz, news, reviews, jobs and more.
  • Add the ability for you to sell your creations like 3D Models and Poser and DAZ assets directly from ShareCG.

Most importantly we will encourage and facilitate on-going open discussions so that we can continually be even more responsive to your ideas and suggestions.  As a subscriber you will become a stake holder and part owner of ShareCG with a vested interest and a voice in making the site a better place for you.

This is a critical make or break moment for ShareCG and I need to know that whatever we decide to do is in your interest and in the interest of making ShareCG the best it can be.  So, please leave your comments here!

Thank you very much for being a ShareCG member and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

David Heller
President
Internet Business Systems, Inc. (ShareCG)

PS:  Mechspot.com is a new AD FREE site that we’ve been working on in our spare time.  It’s got some very cool new functions, like allowing users to tie related assets together.  This link shows how this capability is used to take the user through 9 video lessons:  (http://tinyurl.com).   And, this link shows how a video and two pdf brochures are linked: (http://tinyurl.com)  Think about some applications for ShareCG 🙂

Mechspot looks like SCG will look as a subscription model.  Of course SCG by its very nature will be much cooler.  [Mechspot is in Beta testing and login is disabled, so although you can get a feel for the site, you won’t be able to watch movies or do anything that requires login.]

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136 Responses to “An open letter from the founder of ShareCG”

  1. Marcelo Teixeira says:

    Hi David, I agree with the annual subscribe and I will be happy to pay for that. I am thinking in add all my free stuff to SCG and just use link in my site so all things can be concentrate in just one place, but yes it need to be redesigned and more social so we can talk to others users. Not a new forum, please! Its very hard to follow more foruns… just a way to post and see galleries and free stuff in a more separeted way. Maybe a way to search free stuff and gallery separeted will be great.

  2. chaylastorm says:

    It’s a sign of the times, everyone wants to be social.
    I would be quite happy to pay the yearly fee to keep this site open as long as you don’t become like certain other sites that seem as they have got larger and had to have more monitors to keep an eye on things, it sometimes seems like the right hand doesn’t know what the left’s doing.
    This is a great site and I would hate to see it go the same way some of the smaller ones have gone.. gone for good.

  3. SidheRose says:

    You have to do what you have to do and I would hate to lose the site and it’s resources. I like the idea of interaction, and the possibility of selling there. I don’t think $9.99 a year is a big deal for what you can potentially get through the site. It’s fine with me!

  4. Rashad Carter says:

    Glad to pay the 9.99 for a full year. I would have no problem subscribing for such a minimal annual fee. Getting rid of banners is a nice thing but probably not necessary to remove, at least for me sometimes I like the banners.

    I think it should be possible to start with a trial membership as some people are reluctant to endeavor into anything that requires too much initial commitment.

    I support this model.

  5. flinky says:

    I love the site but wouldn’t be happy to pay. I wish you had made it obvious that the running of the website was costly I would have happily clicked on a few adverts every visit. As it is, all the time I have been a member I have only clicked on one advert and that was by mistake.

    As obvious as it is the running costs and the websites income were never given a second thought by myself, which I apologise for.

    I hope you haven’t made a definite decision with this and consider other models like renderosity or turbosquid, or maybe just asking members to click on an advert every time they visit the website.

  6. fritz says:

    That is reasonable.

  7. Martin says:

    Thanks for your honesty and openness. $9.99 a year is peanuts (in fact lose the psychological marketing even $10 is peanuts) and I’m more than happy to pay that BUT any sort of charge however small is likely to deter new members unless they get a good taste of what’s on offer so I think the ability to browse the site in full but without being able to download is important. I’m also concerned that any charge (however small) may encourage people to start offering more or their creations for money rather than it being a true sharing site. To put it more bluntly if you are just looking to just cover costs and run the site as a labour of love service then I would hope users would respect this but if you’re looking at making any sort of profit then it’s only natural for users to want a slice of the action.

    Good luck with what ever decision you make.

  8. Roger Bowen says:

    Personally, if a $9.99 annual subscription is what it takes to keep a site like this going then I’m all for it. You can pay that a month elsewhere and not get much return for your investment.

    ShareCG was, and still is, the sole outlet for me to get my work out to the wider community. While I will admit that other hobbies have kept me away from 3D art a bit more than I’d like them to, it is still great to know that this site still exists and I still have a legacy here, albeit a small one and I’d be happy for that to continue no matter what it may take for it to do so.

    I fully support the subscription model.

  9. Medhue says:

    Although times are tough and I dread paying for another service, 9.99/year is reasonable. I’ve not been on the site that long, but I always wondered how it was able to support itself. The only problem that I see is how will new users react to a pay model. I fear that new comers might be scared off by a pay model. Maybe, the pay model can only be for those that want to sell items. Allowing us the ability to sell items is a very good idea. Considering what sites like Daz3d and Renderosity charge to sell items, I’d be more than willing to sell items on ShareCG, and pay ShareCG a commission. Daz and Render take 50%, and give us no control over our own products. Plus, 50% is ridiculous. Even if ShareCG only took 5-10%, maybe even 15%, I’d be very happy to sell items here.

  10. tabbycat says:

    Nothing remains free for very long. I am up for membership at 9.99 a year.

    The ad banners never bothered me but then again I never click on them either.

    Sharecg does a great job and I don’t mind supporting it.

    Tabbycat

  11. cridgit says:

    I like the idea of keeping the base site free but adding a subscription model for people who want the plus services e.g. banner-free. Not sure I’d subscribe if its only to skip banner ads. I’d probably put up with those, but if there are additional benefits then I might. The big thing for me is peace of mind knowing I can trust the assets I’m downloading from the site.

  12. dfsmetsfan says:

    In order to keep the site up and running, $10 is a small price to pay to keep it alive. Ad free is wonderful and the new innovations sound perfect. I support your efforts.

  13. Regina Paul says:

    I think 9.99 a year is more than reasonable for what you can get from this site. I’ve downloaded so many beautiful models and textures from this site that I’d hate to lose to access to it. I will say I have a concern that people will not upload as much here if they have to pay, particularly when they can make their items downloadable from Renderosity for free, in their free stuff section. So, you could find that people such as modelers, texture makers etc. leave and just stop uploading things to the site. I’d hate to see that happen but I do understand the costs involved with upkeep for a site such as this and it can be costly.

    I agree with the one gentleman that said the site should be able to be searched without being able to download by anyone online so people can see what is available, otherwise, they’re just going to go elsewhere. Another thing I think it’s important to keep in mind is that many people post their items at renderosity free stuff and share cg so people are going to go and look at Rendo first before they’re willing to pay even $9,99 a year. I mean why would you pay if you can find the item on Rendo for free?

    Anyway, my two cents. I look forward to seeing what your final decision is.

    Regina

  14. Sanbie says:

    Like all the others I agree ShareCG has giving the community a wonderful place for people who have no other outlet for their items and the $10 annual subscription to keep the site going is a small price to pay…

  15. JAG says:

    You’ve given us much with ShareCG – time we gave back. $10 a year? No brainer, where do I sign up?

  16. Mac Myers says:

    I’m good with it.

  17. Georgehaze says:

    Works for me. Sign me up.

  18. Richard says:

    I know times are tough, we all feel it but I think your proposed yearly subscription price is completely fair esp if it allows us to upload large files. When my Bruno for Genesis is complete it will be about 200 Mb’s total so having an alternate place to direct traffic would be really great. Thanks for your wonderful services and if this gets rid of those annoying banners, hell yes, count me in! lol

  19. Netbadger says:

    I would gladly pay the $10 a year. I am on disability and low fixed income, but I feel the suggested amount is very reasonable (even for someone in my financial situation). The loss of the banner ads would not cause a single tear to escape my face 🙂

  20. Carrie58 says:

    I think that 10.00 is reasonable for an annual subscription.There will always be some that grouse or complain about it though.Have you considered a limited subscription/trial as well for the folks that aren’t yet knowledgeable about ShareCG.When I first started useing the computer/internet with 3D stuff ,ShareCG was one of the first places I found ,and to be honest I don’t know if I would have used it if I had to pay at that time,now I know it is more then worth the price you are asking for a subscription.At this time ShareCG is the only place I put my stuff for downloading,and I like it.

  21. Phil Cooke says:

    I totally understand where you are coming from.
    I would be happy to pay a subscription of $9.99 per year to keep the site as it is (or better) without the ads.
    I truly appreciate all that you have put into this over the years.
    Regards
    PhilC

  22. elvingdon says:

    sad to see, but i feel it was inevitable. with hosting costs going up ( as with everything, lol!!)

    i would be happy to pay a small subscription annually. 🙂

  23. dkwolf says:

    I am up for membership at 9.99 a year.

    The ad banners never bothered me but then again I never click on them either.

    Sharecg does a great job and I don’t mind supporting it.

    its a great site and as times or hard now hope things will get better for all good luck and let me know when you start this thanks

  24. celebritystandin says:

    Will gladly pay. Small investment big reward.

  25. EdenEvergreen says:

    Sorry to learn that the site hasn’t been thriving financially in step with its expanding content!

    Is there any possibility of having both… a subscription model as a way of evading the banners, but still limited access (with the commercials) for free?

    I’m thinking of situations where circumstances may cause lapses in subscription, or my own example of having zero funds until disability income begins.

    If I had income, I would be willing to pay a moderate annual fee. Unfortunately, just now, I don’t have that option. *sighs sadly*

    If folks who do have funds dislike the banners, having membership as an option to be rid of the commercials sounds like a fabulous way to increase income and prevent complaints. 🙂

    My few coppers added to the pile, for whatever they may be worth. 🙂

  26. andolaurina says:

    I agree that we all need to pitch in. My only concern is regarding who will pay and who won’t. I’m not sure who exactly falls under the umbrella of “member”.

    Who exactly will have to pay the $9.99 per year? The content creators who post their freebies? Those who download them? Both?

    I love ShareCG, but if only the people who post content have to pay (and not those who download), I will be switching over to Renderosity’s freebie section or post freebies to my own site. If everyone pays equitably, I think it’s a fair deal. 🙂

  27. 3doutlaw says:

    I think the folks who are more “users” of content will have no problem, cause its not that expensive. I don’t think creators will have problem paying themselves. It’s a fair price.

    …but the creators who are “sharing” their stuff as free here on the site, would have to accept that it is no longer a “freebie” for the community, but freely available if you pay the small subscription to someone else.

    So if I made something I wanted to give as a freebie to the community…would I post it here? That is the question, and I think some would opt out.(i.e. find another free site, or just post to their own site) So you may see a decrease in posts, maybe not?

    That being said, i would probably pay for access to the content on there (probably just pay anyway, as a thank you, for hosting the site so long)…I don’t have a problem with it.

    Another option to decrease costs may be to age out posts? If content is over 5 years old…remove it. Maybe this would help decrease the data storage burden? This day an age, tech is moving so fast that old stuff in many cases is not usable or not applicable.

    Good luck with whatever you choose, and thanks for the site!

  28. AnonArtist says:

    I dont know. Fact is if you cannot run this place on advertising alone then perhaps its not worth it. I cant believe you are continually running in the red. For me its simple. I create decent quality assets and provide them for free. In return share cg hosts my stuff and offset the costs from advertising . If you want me to pay on top of all the free time i give then its just a no go for me. I host my stuff here because its free. I could easily sell my stuff on other websites but i like the free community model. So im afraid i hold the complete opposite opinion.
    If you cant make a profit or break even with advertising on this website there is something very very wrong and its time to call it a day.

  29. jpb06 says:

    A few examples to keep in mind: on Turbosquid, The3DStudio and ContentParadise you can become a seller of 0$ items for free and you can “buy” 0$ items with nothing more than a free registeration; on deviantART one can upload/download content for nothing beyond a free registration.

    When this site becomes pay-for-use why people should remain here? my prediction is that first downloaders and then content providers will leave en masse; the site will become a nothing more than a ghost town and eventually die. Wouldn’t it be simpler to to pull the plug without the intermediate steps?

  30. Stephen Briggs says:

    Ten dollars per year is quite reasonable, IMHO. I belong to a few Newsgroups and that fee is similar to what I pay for access to them. One problem (for me, anyway) is that I do literally *everything* through Paypal. Would there be that payment option available? If not, I would need to withdraw quietly from one of my all-time favorite sites.

  31. Flamewing says:

    I would have not problem with the $9.99 yearly subscription to help support ShareCG.

  32. Beatrice McKeown says:

    I would be very sorry to see the site disappear, so whatever is needed to keep it going I would be happy to see happen.

  33. mikedaddysmooth says:

    I have just started putting my freebies on your site, and have used your site on many occasions and think it’s a wonderful place come for help and would like to keep learning and possibly teach a bit if necessary. I am by no means a master, but just want to do my part. And 10 bucks a month…? That’s a steal my friend, count me in.

  34. Ed Risser says:

    Let’s go with the subscription model. $9.99 per year is no problem with me. Please keep me posted on your decision. Thank you.

  35. markr says:

    I am not in a position to pay for a site where I am giving stuff away. I have cleared my stuff from the site and you can kill my account whenever you like. I dont think paying a subscription fee makes you in any way an owner and certainly a small fee would not give me much of a stake in this site. Good luck in the future, people can catch me at the other sites like rendo.

  36. Angela3D says:

    I can’t say it any better than anyone else already has – $10 for a year is pretty damn cheap, even for a starving artist such as myself. Jeez, for all the amazing freebies on this site I would donate $10 a month and not even need anything special for it. Less than a dollar a month? Sign me up!

  37. lupadgds says:

    Says here really not really what he thinks? My opinion:
    Content posters have made this site great! First we have to get some money for the clicks, then it was discontinued. After two years there was money for clicks again and then stopped again.
    For my part I have left my stuff on the side, but nothing a new set. I have very little money and had to rely on the few dollars. I’ve liked to do. But now, to ask for money and earn money with our content, as I say no.
    I’d like to sell on ShareCG. No question. In principle seems to me that as with the pirate sites that have foreign stuff they stole require a membership fee, so that members can download. For this reason, I then closed my shop.
    If ShareCG charges a membership fee without my having a chance to make money, I’m not using it and will delete all of me and not enter this site again!
    If I have any misunderstood something, my English is not as absolutely good, then it tells me please. This text I have translated only with Google. I hope he understood what I mean.

  38. Steve Rutherford says:

    I’m not too thrilled with paying, but in this rotten economy it’s understandable. I’d be willing to pay a mere $10 per year to keep the site going- it’s worth it!

  39. Trevor Simpson says:

    Thank you for your frank and open letter. Personally, this is a hobby for me but one I’m passionate about. I have a small suggestion.
    I know that there were schemes where, above a certain threshold of downloads, the creator was paid a small amount for each subsequent download.
    Unfourtunately, as the downloaders weren’t actually paying anything for the items, the system was abused by some which naturally led to it’s closure.
    What if you had a system where each downloadable item had a cost of say 50c. If the creator received 25c, they could put these towards their subscription (for the following year) or use them to purchase other items. The other 25c could go to the administration costs. Maybe run through Paypal.
    Obviously, and I assume this done already, the downloadable items would need to be vetted. However, I feel it would encourage new contributions, reward the best work and allow the site to grow.
    Personally, as a hobbyist, I would love the opportunity to have a little cashflow to use to fund my habit.

  40. marcodd says:

    What? Should I pay to make available to the community my creations for free? There are many sites that host the artist’s works for free. Sharecg started sharing revenue with users (and it was a brilliant idea but poorly managed), then that program was abolished. Now we should pay to provide our own content to the site? No thanks, think about something else, or you will surely lose many users.

  41. sisterofdarkness says:

    $9.99 a years sounds reasonable to me. i have found wonderful freebies and great tutorials here it would be sad to lose everything.
    like someone suggested earlier, i also would highly appreciate if i could pay the fee through paypal.

  42. Runtime_Scriptmania says:

    Hi David, I have been a member of this site for sometime and I consider at as one of my top community sites, I would pay to support SCG, it would be a great loss to see this site shutdown, I suppose it’s another sign of the times, so you can count on me for support to keep this site going and to update it to offer the things you mention in the news email, keep up the great work and thanks for keeping SCG going for this long, I always thought it was a matter of time before this may happen, best regards,

  43. RoLoW says:

    Just tried wading through all the comments. For me, I believe the site should have two levels of login access:
    (1) FREE for download only access, and (2) $9.95 annually for upload/download access.
    Everyone likes Free stuff hence level 1, and Artists/Contributors should pay simply because of the publicity and portfolio advantages by using the site hence level 2. Just my humble opinion but I’m sure ShareCG has helped many budding artists on their journey from novice to pro…

  44. TheDeadOne says:

    My little rant, reply, comment or what-ever you’d call it…

    ShareCG is not a site I frequent as oft as I could. I always wondered how things paid for themselves. Now I know they didn’t. As an older member, with very little to show for it, cannot see an issue with a minor charge for the services provided. Albeit, I’d rather all sites could be free for all, I know it cannot be. I’ve paid to be a member at many various sites etc, but this never gave me anything of value. ShareCG is valued, so YES, I would gladly pay the ten bucks you’s ask after per year.

    Thanks for letting us know of the planned route ahead.

  45. Michael Myers says:

    I would be glad to pay the subscription fee – a bargain for all that is available here!

  46. spacebones says:

    Hi David,

    I completely agree with that. I am also only with Paypal and do not have any credit card or the like (because we don`t need such here so far ;-)). So it would be great to find this payment method implemented then, respectively when it comes to the possibility of having a shop system to additional be able to sell some stuff…
    Ad-free navigating will be one benefit, but a far faster loading site would be even more worth it…

  47. adrian says:

    I would hope that you offer a free option for those who are unable to pay the subscription, a download limit perhaps.
    Sure $9.99 isn’t a huge amount to ask each year But the underling idea for the site becomes obsolete as you become yet another commercial ‘pay for content’ club.

    As an artist who shares my content at ShareCG I’m afraid I will be removing them.

  48. Ana Filipa Barreto says:

    Times aren’t easy for all of us. As much as i like this site, at this moment i can’t afford to pay that small subscription. To be honest, the adds don’t bother me right now, and if all you needed was for me to click on them whenever i came here. Why didn’t you ask? Its only a click. Anyway you got to do what you got to do. As i mentioned before i like this site but i can’t pay a subscription for it, sorry.

  49. grimnir says:

    As long as downloaders can still access content for free, I’m okay with a “membership fee” of $9.99 for the content creators. Yeah, I realize that’s punishing the people who create the content, but if downloaders have to pay a fee, the site will die for certain, as they’ll find other “free” venues.

    Having a storefront with “premium” and “free” content side by side is probably a better idea. People who CAN pay, will see premium items for only $5.00 next to a poorer “free” version and go for the premium.

    perhaps having a greater image library and such for the “premium” items as well, to help showcase them.

    Best of luck and profitability to you guys…I love your site, but FREE CONTENT is what makes it get bookmarked to the casual users. If the casual user has to pay for membership, your site is finished.

  50. grimnir says:

    Oh, also…an increased “social atmosphere” would be fine as well. Not sure how much it will help fiscally speaking, but it may, by providing the site with more user info. Either way, “adjustable” interactivity (let users select most or all parameters) between members would be welcome, imo.

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