This is a guest article contributed by Henry Rise, a co-founder of ThemeRex.
The contemporary web has gone very competitive. The number of providers of ready-made WordPress themes is growing at a tremendous speed.
So, surviving in a WordPress business even for such pros as Power Elite Authors at ThemeForest is not that easy. So, how to survive your business and make it succeed? Let’s take a case study provided by Henry Rise, the owner of ThemeRex Power Elite Author account.
The project was launched on ThemeForest 5 years ago. Building a brand presence on a marketplace doesn’t include any extra spending for brand promotion and advertising. That is what attracted ThemeRex team and gave them a push for building their own brand. Since 2013, they have released more than 140 WordPress themes for different niches.
Instead of self-promotion, they had more time to focus on building pro-quality products and enhance the services of the supporting team. Known as a reputable and reliable themes provider, the ThemeRex owner shares an extensive guide with the rules on how to make your business succeed.
Step 1. Decide on the Themes Exclusivity
Envato charges theme developers for every product that is being sold on the marketplace. All themes are divided into two large groups – exclusive and non-exclusive. Based on this and your activity on the marketplace, the fee can vary from 55% to 12.5%. It’s clear that beginner authors might have some difficulties entering the marketplace. It takes time to establish a high-level authority in the field. As the popularity of your themes starts growing, and the number of sales boosts, your earnings from every acquired template will also increase.
It may be somewhat confusing for beginner theme developers to decide whether to be an exclusive or non-exclusive vendor. Envato gives a higher priority to exclusive offers. When deciding to sell items exclusively, you cannot distribute them anywhere else except for the marketplace, thus you get more money for each sale.
ThemeRex tried and tested a number of marketplaces and claim that Envato has a higher level of importance than all other marketplaces combined. Wrapping it up, if you are a beginner web developer and want to create a wider exposure to your own brand, then exclusive themes would be the best choice.
Step 2. Get Your Theme Approved
Getting the theme approved on Envato is one of the most difficult steps for beginner web developers. Envato is known to have a strict theme approval process. Special attention is being paid to the quality of code and the design of the template. It goes without saying that the design should be unique, feature clear hierarchy, proper semantics, etc. In the beginning of the working experience with Envato, web developers can face dozens of theme rejects before the first project is approved. That is why a pro tip for beginners will be starting off with something clear and simple. In such a way, you will get a better understanding of Envato’s requirements as per the guidelines to the code and design of the themes.
One more thing that may be difficult to understand for beginner webmasters is the support system that is not that prompt at times. That is quite clear since Envato includes plenty of authors. So, if you are a new author and search for an answer to some questions be patient and prepare to wait at least for a week.
As you start generating more sales, you climb the Envato Elite ladder, which also brings quicker response times by the customers support reps. The response time for Elite members takes up to 2-3 days, which can seem to be frustrating in the beginning. Still, this is their standard communication mode.
Step 3. Understand pros and cons of Envato
Just like anything else in this world, cooperating with one of the world’s leading marketplaces for selling website templates also has positive and negative sides. One of the biggest advantages of selling themes on Envato is the possibility of getting a bigger exposure and a higher traffic flow, which a beginner webmaster will hardly ever manage to achieve on a different platform. In order to attract the public attention to your products, you do not need to run any kind of promotional campaigns to advertise your offers. Just create a good product, upload it and start selling.
One more impressive advantage is that joining Envato you also join a huge community of web designers and developers like yourself. You can learn from them, share experiences, get inspired with some creative ideas that you never saw before, etc. To be honest, Envato has turned into a large copying machine, where people come thirsty for new ideas, they find ones and enhance those to a greater degree. This has a reverse effect as well. The market got over-flooded with the authors searching for the ways to deliver their products to a wider audience, so they slash the cost of their themes. The good is that more quality website templates are available at a cheaper cost. However, this is hardly a benefit for other authors.
Selling themes on Envato, you attain more than just a steady flow of income, you get an opportunity to expose your products to the broadest relevant audience, as well as meet real people, help them change something in their lives, and see the results of your work, which cannot be compared to anything else in the world.
If you are a new author on the marketplace and you are planning to launch your first theme ever, Envato will provide you with the necessary help to promote your themes and make them more reachable by the target audiences.
However, joining the marketplace also has another side of the coin. As you become an author on Envato, you become part of their community. So, it may become difficult to build your own brand name. On Envato, you are one of the thousands of authors uploading new themes over and over again. So, people will hardly differentiate your name among the others. In a word, if your goal is to build a brand around your name, then the marketplace is not your option.
Envato lets you set the cost of your themes on your own. This is both good and bad for the authors. The good is that you are the only one to set the value of your products. The bad is that some authors can opt for the strategy of selling their themes at the lowest cost, which potentially decreases your chances of being reached by as many users as you wish. This can also decrease your sales since people get more accustomed to buying cheaper products.
Additionally, Envato sets certain standards for its authors. While this may seem quite fair for the online customers, it has an opposite reflection of the WordPress community. Although the “cold war” has never been that tough, the theme providers have split down the middle of the issue. Thus, today you can find authors who sell their themes on Envato, as well as those who use the products from WordPress.org as freemium models. This doesn’t mean that you will be hated for selling your themes on Envato. Still, there are still lots of hardcore WordPress fans claiming that WordPress themes from Envato are of moderate quality and only damage reputation of the fellow authors.
Step 4. Promote your themes
As we have already noted in the beginning of this guide, Envato gives you a certain degree of promotion to your new themes. Some time ago, the marketplace was giving a 1-week boost to new themes. Now, the number of authors has grown manifolds, and the situation is somewhat different. So, if you want your themes to attain a better exposure, then it’s better to think about some kind of additional promotion of your products.
There are thousands of theme vendors that people can choose from. So, being just one of them won’t work, no matter how smart and professional are your designs. The thing that you need to achieve is establishing a closer connection with your customers while building a brand. Even if you decide to sell exclusive web designs on the marketplace, you still have the freedom to build your own site, run your official blog, and become an active social media user. You can also run a newsletter campaign so that your audience remains always aware of your latest news and fresh releases. If you are not limited on the budget, then think about promoting your themes via AdWords and banner ads.
Getting back to ThemeRex case study, one of the first things that they achieved was the launch of their own website. Next, they participated in the community life. Their self-promotion efforts made them one of the Power Elite Authors on Envato, with more than 35,000 of sales.
Pro Tips from ThemeRex for Envato
The ThemeRex brand was taking their first steps when there were already plenty of well-established players in the marketplace. So, it was a really tough task to make a small project stand out as the industry got over-saturated with theme developers. So, the chances for beginner webmasters to build strong and reputable brands around their names are really low. Still, there is still a lot of place for small vendors to join the market and win the hearts of their client base. Everything depends on the strategy that you choose.
As a vendor, you can put all your time and effort into developing niche-specific or multipurpose solutions; you can produce 1 theme per month or release dozens of different products on a regular basis. The approach that will work for you is very individual. So, unless you try several strategies you won’t find the one that works the best. What ThemeRex did was focusing on the development of micro-niche themes. The approach still works pretty well today.
For beginner vendors, it’s probably the most effective advice to start working on your own online strategy from the in-depth analysis of every micro niche. You can enhance the existing solutions or develop new features for the already existing ones. For example, you can build a theme on any of the most popular topics (like sports or business) and add a unique feature to it (like a universal calorie intake calculator). You can create a product for a specific micro-niche that will be ready to go live straight out-of-the-box. In order to give the web audience exactly what they need, run an in-depth marketing research first. In such a way, you will know for sure that you have chosen the right approach.
Moreover, think about the presentation of your product, its marketing promotion strategy, features review, screenshots, etc. Unless you present your product in a way that ensures the web audience that it will bring them an incomparable value, the effort that you put into the process of its development will be simply useless.
Although it’s not that easy to build a successful design shop on Envato today, it is still possible to achieve if you follow the instructions described in this guide. Creating just a quality product in not enough any longer. To make your reach the success, you need to think about a strategy to promote it, develop a plan and possibly find a micro-niche that would make your products stand out from the competition. Pay special attention to details. Think about the development of a unique feature that will make your theme truly universal and ready to go live straight out of the box. Also, do not neglect to build your own website and running an official blog. Initiating an active social media campaign will be a great benefit.
Whatever approach you opt for, remember that establishing a relationship with your customers is a way to success. So, we hope that you find this guide useful and it gave you a hint on how to make your brand popular on Envato. If you have ideas on how else you can make your name more recognizable on the marketplace, you are welcome to share your thoughts in the comments block.