Is ThemeForest a Good Place to Sell Your WordPress Themes?

Hi, I'm Ben from Freemius.

As of the release of this video, ThemeForest, the most popular marketplace for WordPress

themes on the web, powered by the mega-company Envato, has 11,917 different themes available for sale!

And I'm sure that by the time you are watching this, that number is already higher...

There is no doubt that as a WordPress theme developer who wants to create a profitable business,

selling through ThemeForest should be a big consideration for you.

After all, it's pretty straight-forward and quite easy.

Obviously, there are pros and cons for choosing this platform to sell your products, and basically,

it all comes down to the business goals you set for yourself and the plans you have for

the near and distant future.

In this video, I'll go through all the details you need to know to help your business prosper

and to be in line with your long-term goals and aspirations.

Will you go into the forest or will you choose a different path?

Let's plug-in!

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Selling through ThemeForest is exactly like opening an eCommerce shop on Amazon.

The Only difference is that while you can sell almost anything on Amazon - on ThemeForest

you only sell themes.

ThemeForest can potentially create a lot of traffic for your theme’s listing.

Between 2008 and 2016 it generated around 360 million dollars in sales -

and 80% of that was exclusively from WordPress themes.

That is a lot of money coming from a lot of people!

Another big plus for selling through ThemeForest is that your only concern is to create an

awesome theme - and they take care of the sales using their traffic and marketing capabilities.

All of that is, of course, only in theory, because with so much competition, if you just

add a new product and don't market it, the chance that you'll make a living from it (these days) -

is zero.

ThemeForest also allows you to create really cool demos of your theme

so potential buyers can test it before buying -

something that you can't do on the repository, for example.

Lastly, since it is a very popular marketplace,

ThemeForest is committed to a very high standard of products,

so they allocate experts to review your code to make sure it is up to their standards.

It’s definitely nice to have this reassurance about the technical level of products sold

through their marketplace.

All of that sounds perfect - so why not sell through ThemeForest?

Here are a few reasons why:

First - with a lot of traffic comes fierce competition.

There are thousands of other themes to choose from and getting noticed is very challenging.

In addition to that, customers tend to go with popular themes

that are displayed on the "most popular" page.

And they cannot be blamed...

The bottom line is that popular themes stay popular - and new themes like yours, which

are as good as the popular ones get ignored...

Another thing is that you, as a seller, don't have a direct connection to your buyers.

Even if they really like your products and come back to the marketplace again and again

to buy them - you have no idea who they are, and you don't have any way to contact them

in case you decide to move out of ThemeForest, for example.

This works the other way around, too.

You don’t know who your users are - and they don’t know who you are.

When you sell through ThemeForest, your personal brand remains pretty much behind the scenes.

Many users will recognize your theme as another ThemeForest product, not yours.

This obviously affects your brand recognition in the long run.

When people buy your theme through ThemeForest - they get unlimited updates from you - forever!

and there is nothing you can do about it!

I’ll explain.

Even though you are committing for giving support for six months - you’ll always have

to keep supporting users who update your theme no matter when they bought it.

Let’s say that you released an update for your theme and some lines of the new code

completely broke a few customer’s sites (and that happens to all developers at some point).

Now you have a user who bought your theme 3 years ago but it destroyed his site…

Think of the huge damage to your brand’s name if you don’t fix it and how bad will

it sound if you tell them that they need to buy a support package just to get their website back?

Some will even call it a ransom.

Now think of it happening to dozens of users that some of them might have bought your theme

a long long time ago…

If you want to build a sustainable business, we encourage you to bind the support and updates

period for the exact same time frame.

When there are no automatic renewals or recurring payments - you’re forced to keep working

hard on updates for your customers for free!!

ThemeForest protects their customers this way, but this basically means your hourly

rate gets infinitely close to “zero” in the long-term.

Another limitation is the fact that you can’t sell multiple licenses in one purchase,

which means agencies and anybody with more than one site can pay for your product once and

use it on as many websites as they want!

And you have to support every single one of them!

Multi-site license sales are non-existent in the ThemeForest platform.

You can also earn a lot less money if your country doesn’t have a tax treaty with the United States.

This is because of all kinds of tax issues, but basically, sellers from outside of the

US might have to give 28% of their earnings to the IRS in addition to the

30% commission taken by Envato.

Well, there are pros and cons for selling through ThemeForest and making the right decision

is not easy.

What is sure is that if you choose to sell through this platform - you'll be very limited

to its rules and regulations.

By choosing a more independent path, you'll be freer but to make up for it,

you’ll need to spend more time on marketing.

But, what other options do you have?

This is the million-dollar question we get asked a lot about and that is exactly what

I’m going to answer - so keep watching!

First I want to talk about a middle path - not going full-on ThemeForest or independent,

but somewhere in the middle.

For developers who just finished creating their first few themes, I'd recommend giving

them a “trial run” on ThemeForest - to see what kind of interest your products generate.

Use this popular platform and its marketing and distribution opportunities to experiment,

get user feedback, and tweak your products if necessary.

After gaining this insight- you'll have a much better idea of how to go from there.

Another "middle of the road” option is to sell only some of your products on ThemeForest.

That way you will be able to enjoy the best of both worlds.

If you choose to do this - pay close attention to the fact that Envato has a strict exclusivity

policy that forces you to pay them 70% of your income if you don't sell your products

exclusively through ThemeForest.

Think of that - 70%!

Why should they be paid for 70% of your time and effort?

Like I said before, being totally independent by opening your own online theme shop will

make you your own master and will allow you to do whatever you like -

but don't forget that you'll also have to: have a secure payment system, set up prices for different themes

and plans, handle refunds, create discounts or coupons, have a licensing mechanism, host

your store, calculate VAT for European customers and much more...

Oh! and don't forget to update and maintain your products and create new ones...

Do you think you can handle all of that by yourself?

This is where Freemius comes in.

By using Freemius, you'll be able to stay independent, but you won’t have to worry

about sales and licensing.

Freemius can be considered a “monetization team” that provides you with all the tools

you need to handle every aspect of selling your products - while you have a direct link

and connection to all of your users.

The valuable data you can see about the people who purchase and use your products allows

you to market to them when you have new features or release new products.

All of that comes in a fraction of the cost of ThemeForest.

And the best part is that we encourage Freemius partners to build subscription-first businesses

that allow you to receive recurring income and get paid for the ongoing support you might

have to provide for your users.

Not only does this justify the time you spend on support and continuous development of your product,

but it also allows you to create a sustainable business with recurring income.

To conclude - ThemeForest is definitely a popular place to start selling your themes.

If you need more independence and freedom - you might want to check out the features

and capabilities Freemius can provide for your business.

If you liked this video, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to get more insights

and best practices on how to better sell your WordPress plugins and themes.

Also, go and check out our blog on our website at for really useful insights

on every aspect of running a plugin and theme business.

Freemius is here for you!

See you next time!