After taking a look at Mojo Themes last week, it’s now time to turn our attention to ThemeForest.
The marketplace for selling WordPress themes is big business, and since 2008 the Daddy of the scene has been ThemeForest.
Built in 2008 by Australia-based tutorial site provider Envato, who were formed in 2006 by Collis Ta’eed, Cyan Ta’eed and Jun Rung. Their plan was to create great websites that helped people acquire the skills they need in their chosen fields, and then provide the opportunity for them to sell their goods via their marketplaces.
It’s paid off pretty well so far, and shows no sign of slowing down in a hurry.
ThemeForest is one of Envato’s biggest success stories. The WordPress theme marketplace is by far the biggest, with over 2,100 WordPress themes in 12 top-level categories. But don’t be surprised if there are more by the time you’ve finished reading this. But to date, the categories are as follows:
If you don’t want to stay with WordPress, ThemeForest have plenty of other options for the CMS of your choice, including Joomla!, Drupal, and Magento. There is also the option of just having HTML/CSS/JS too.
The choice is pretty extensive, and works as a platform for sellers, similar to eBay in that way. You could argue that ThemeForest has targeted a niche. But when the niche is as huge as WordPress themes, why not take advantage of the gap in the market? The Envato marketplaces have over 1.9m members, and 6800 items specific to ThemeForest. It’s very unlikely to dry out any time soon.
Folks who are new to web design or buying themes will be shocked to hear that you can purchase the blueprint for what will become a stunning and effective website for between $25 and $50 USD. As you might expect, the less money you spend on your theme, the less features you’ll have to play with.
Conversely, the top dollar themes are extremely feature-rich, perhaps even to the point you’d find it hard to use most of them. Though, even in the case of cheaper themes, the quality is still set to a standard, as all themes undergo reviewing prior to being available for sale.
It’s important when you’re making your decision on whether to go with the cheaper end or higher end of the theme scale that you consider your own abilities before you hit the ‘Purchase’ button. There isn’t much point in having the very best facilities for blogs, images and video if you don’t even understand how to use the features. There are always guides to help out, but you want to make the best possible start with your theme, so know your limitations and choose wisely.
The classic theme design has been a big slider and three columns for a few years now, and there’s no sign of a change on the horizon. Not that there particularly needs to be, as what is being created now is working, creating a great and unique experience for the user and generating huge amounts of revenue for Envato and the Authors.
And while the fundamentals haven’t drastically changed, the themes have kept up with current web design trends. Notably, there are more responsive templates available now than ever before, though many, perhaps most, adhere to the slider and columns.
We all need a little help sometimes, and especially when it comes to technology, where we may not be as gifted as the people who create the themes are. With ThemeForest, authors are under no obligation to provide technical support to buyers, and Envato do not provide technical support either.
This is a bit of a drag, but one could argue that Envato would be investing so much more of their time on support if they opened themselves up to it, and that could take away time and resources that could be spent elsewhere. In the majority of cases, the web is filled with forums and blog posts that are easy to follow and understand and will help out even the most clueless of users.
However, there is a little glimmer of hope for people. Some of the most popular and successful authors tend to provide theme support, and many of these authors employ staff to provide support. But if ThemeForest’s review staff can prove that the theme or an element of the theme is faulty they can issue a refund to the user and the item will be suspended until it is fixed.
ThemeForest for Authors
Every author wants to be acknowledged as such, and ThemeForest goes out of their way to ensure that the author gets a lot of credit for their work. A lot of the traditional work that takes place – and by traditional, read “boring and time consuming for techies” – is taken care of in house.
This includes the marketing of the product. Authors don’t want to focus their time and efforts on this, and ThemeForest is aware of that. Authors are not required to provide theme support, but as mentioned earlier, a number of the most successful ones do. It helps with their reputation and allows them to converse with their customers and find out what people are struggling with and what they love about their work. It also helps that authors also have a highly customizable profile page, where a lot of HTML and CSS is supported.
Here is an example of what can be done with an Author page: One of the top ranking authors is Kriesi, and his profile page includes links to updates via Twitter and Facebook and links to their best works.
A Couple of Issues…
Nobody’s perfect, and ThemeForest is no exception. The Home Page is extremely frustrating, as it features the latest files that were approved but there doesn’t appear to be a particular system and they are shown in order. This means that if many items are consecutively approved, the same number will be pushed off, meaning the net time each author has is not equal.
There are also a number of complaints from authors regarding the slow implementation of requested features. Authors are well within their rights to air their discrepancies if they feel the need, but it should also be remembered that there are many people making a living out of these marketplaces, though Envato’s founders and staff are making a living out of the marketplaces too.
Authors who are looking to take advantage of the ThemeForest marketplace have two options to choose from as a seller: Exclusive and non-exclusive. Exclusive sellers can only sell their single items on ThemeForest, but they can sell other items on other providers such as Mojo Themes. But when you’re reaching out to the largest marketplace of themes, exclusivity isn’t a bad deal.
There is no time limit for how long a file can be sold on ThemeForest, but the team or the author can remove the file at any time, and without warning. This means that you could lose the item if you have purchased the file but haven’t downloaded it yet. The best way to deal with this issue is by Purchase and Download ASAP, as it’s the buyers’ responsibility, not the author’s, to get your theme up and running on your site.
The commission earned is depends on exclusivity. A non-exclusive seller earns a flat rate of 33%, where as an exclusive seller starts earning at 50%, this scales up to 70% as more is sold.
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Everybody likes a quiz, right? Well in order for potential authors to be able to upload files for sale, they must take a quiz to ensure they understand how ThemeForest works, their understanding of copyright issues, policies and much more. After successfully finishing the quiz, authors may return to their dashboard and commence uploading.
If for any reason a theme doesn’t meet ThemeForest standards, it will be rejected with a non-specific message. The good point about this is that it means that the consumer wins, as they will only be getting their hands on approved themes that have the ThemeForest seal of approval. The good news for authors is that they can resubmit at a later date. Think about a theme like a great novel, it could take time and a lot of editing before it explodes onto the scene.
ThemeForest have a few pretty cool features that help market authors and keep the marketplace buzzing with news. This includes having featured authors and files per week, as well as a free file of the month. This gives authors and their themes a little free publicity.
Naturally, it’s not uncommon to see authors reporting increased sales when their themes are featured on the ThemeForest home page featured items.
It’s always good if you can get your hands on a Badge of Honour, and as a method of increasing buyer and seller activity, the ThemeForest marketplace has a vast range of badges you can earn by buying, selling, referring, and even participating in community events.
Envato also run an Elite Program, where authors are rewarded by earning $75,000, $125,000, $250,000, $500,000, $750,000, and $1,000,000, with on-site promotions, badges, and being featured in promotional newsletters. At the million dollar level, authors receive a care pack including a Superbowl style ring. Additional branding is applied to the author’s profile page, too.
It scales to $2,000,000, $5,000,000, and $10,000,000, with the higher tier resulting in the author and partner being flown first class to Australia for a week, to meet the team. Pretty cool, huh?
Envato run an educational network called WPTuts+ and a more general web-tech tutorial site called Nettuts+. In the case of WPTuts+, authors can submit a tutorial on a variety of subjects, including:
- WordPress Theme Development
- Plugin and Widget Development
- Scaling and Caching
- WordPress Security
- Selling WordPress Themes
Both sites have pretty high standards as to what they expect from writers, but if you get through, it’s only going to be a big help for users, and your name will sky rocket in terms of credibility. If you’re looking to show off your skills both as a developer/techie and as a legitimate source on the subject, WPTuts+ or Nettuts+ are for you.
The Envato Marketplaces offer an affiliate program, whereby affiliates earn 30% of the first deposit of the person they have referred, with banners provided for convenience. If we do the math, that means that if somebody you refer to the program deposits $20 into their account, you get the first $6; if they deposit $100, you get $30. And if they buy a $200 item, you’ll get $60. Not bad for very little work!
Staying up to date
ThemeForest supplies its users with Forums, with high levels of buyer and author engagement, with mostly friendly exchanges! Additionally, the ThemeForest staff are also often active on the forums, and a number of announcements are made there. There are moderators of the forums too, to stop things getting out of hand. There’s nothing quite as brutal as two angry techies going hell for leather on a forum. People can get hurt!
Envato like to keep their fans and colleagues up to date by running a company blog which is regularly updated, as well as featuring authors, delivering news and putting out official updates from company management into the world.
Mojo Themes is the new kid on the block, but ThemeForest are The Rolling Stones (apologies to anyone who doesn’t get poor music references), battling on in the lead and showing the new guys on the scene how it’s done.
While both marketplaces have their own strengths and weaknesses, ThemeForest is the dominant force and will most likely continue to be for the immediate future. That said, Mojo Themes is still growing, and has a couple of great features that stand out. It stands to reason that Mojo could prove a challenge to ThemeForest, but it will certainly take some time. For the time being, ThemeForest is leading the charge.Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share via Email Back to Top