I asked myself the same question years ago when I had only a dozen of models published at TurboSquid, and gradually I realized that the number of situations can lead people to buy a 3D digital model could be countless and certainly was growing.
There are innumerable kind of 3D content needed worldwide by film industry, television, architectural and medical visualizations, advertisement agencies, game developing and even YouTube show makers.
3D market offers convenient alternatives for companies, which would have to create them from scratch paying more to an employee, instead they can buy it done saving money and precious time.
Imagine you are a small freelance team, and your client wants you to create an advertisement of scary cartoon cat walking over an old rooftop that finds a delicious hamburger. He needs the work done in 7 days and even though you are an experienced characters animator, there is no enough time to create a full rigged cat and a complex textured rooftop environment. Before telling the client you need 21 days and $2,500.00 in modeling costs; your first steps should be checking 3D Marketplaces and fortunately you will find this great rooftop , this cute cartoon kitten and our already known “expensive” hamburger.
Rooftop ($79.00) + Rigged Cat($149.00) + Hamburger ($39.00) = $267.00
Finally you can start creating animation in minutes after downloading purchased models and costs decreased drastically.
For more real life examples check out these blog posts about uses of TurboSquid models on Bones TV serie and CNN news channel.
EDIT: Adding examples of using my 3D models:
- Baby Care Games created this My Baby Virtual-Pet app with more than 1 million downloads using my Toon Baby character.
Save about 75% of modeling costs. Achieve quality results under tight deadlines. With Royalty Free Licenses you have the right to use the model in your projects for a lifetime. Studying your purchased models you can learn techniques from great artists around the world.
Where to buy 3D models?:
TurboSquid: The largest library of 3D models on the web for every needs, maybe the oldest one too. Some models are inspected and certified by TurboSquid staff. Here you can't contact the authors directly but the support is excellent.
3DExport: Was also one of the first 3D stores I think exist before 2005 (when I started uploading 3D models), where you can buy and sell 3D models, 3d print models textures, and plugins, also one of the largest providers of 3D content.
CGTrader: Not limited to buying 3D models you can also make requests to have the job done by freelancer artists. You can contact the authors directly and if you are looking for 3D-printing-ready model they are well tagged and easy to find.
3DOcean: Sill a young service, but being part of the dynamic Envato marketplaces is good to take a look. Prices are very low and quality may be low as well. You can interact publicly and private with authors and can select from two type of licenses.
There are many more 3D models marketplaces I just mentioned some. Just remember to search first before making everything by yourself, you can find good resources at reasonable price and ready to insert in your project development.