This insider’s guide has been written by Henry Rise, the CEO of ThemeRex, Power Elite Author on Themeforest.

It’s been five long years since we started our ThemeRex account on ThemeForest. I say long years, but we have been having a good time so far. We love what-what we do, and we make a pretty decent living out of it. We’ve released 140+ WP themes over these 5 years and continue to grow.

One of our greatest accomplishments is our ThemeRex framework. It allows us to produce more themes for the market. We’ve speeded up the production in three times. It used to take two months for an average developer to create 1 WP theme, now he can make three at the same period. That is a huge progress for us.

Henry Rise ThemeRex

We are here to teach you guys a few practical things you could use for making your way to Envato’s wall of fame.

Here are a few principles that we believe are the core for succeeding on ThemeForest:

#1. Develop WordPress

Yes, I mean it. As obvious as it is, it has to be said.

Of course, there are other CMS platforms, and you can make good money selling them, but there is WordPress, the highest growing CMS platform that has taken ⅓ of the internet already and will continue to grow. By what we have seen so far, people are obsessed with WordPress and not looking into other ways to adopt anything else. Lots of businesses have changed their course to concentrate on WP now.

Just think about the numbers, WP themes are 30% of all templates on ThemeForest, but they’ve brought 81% of total revenue in 2016. That is just unbelievable. We are developing WP only, and if things are going to continue this way, we are not going to change anything in our strategy. I am not saying that you have to drop everything and leave your prosperous Drupal business, but who are we kidding here? So if you are just starting or still considering your options, that is an obvious choice here.

Don’t rely just on Envato. Do some marketing of your own.

Don’t make that mistake most 2010-2012 big players have made. Lots of our business partners and ourselves, we’ve never thought this day will come. We did, we just did not want to believe in that. We did not want to see that ThemeForest is growing so rapidly that we need to start doing marketing of our own to stand out.

Again, let’s get some numbers up. To maintain the same level of sales for big WP teams like ThemeRex, Envato needs to bring 2 million of new customers in 2017 that are going to buy at least one WP theme. Moreover, that theme should not just be best-seller multipurpose theme by big players like Avada or Theme X. This is huge and leaves room for concerns, but nonetheless when we are talking about Envato, it is possible.

What I am saying is that you should not rely solely on Envato when it comes to your business. Being dependent entirely on someone else’s decision only makes you weak and lazy. And I am not just talking about setting up your website and social accounts here. That is a must-have, it goes without saying, but it is not everything. Run marketing campaigns, use Google Adwords, remarketing campaigns, get to know your customer better. Finally, use your traffic that you are getting on your website on an everyday basis. Like it or not, if the product is the king, marketing is the queen.

#2. Choose Your Business Model

There is always room for the experiment when it comes to business strategies on Envato. We’ve seen lots of them for these five years. Starting from $1M worth, PSD themes just to get ranked first in the price-list or $1 revenue Multipurpose themes that required up to 6 months development and are sold for cheap $13 and give only a dollar to the vendor. I can say we’ve seen many of them, but I am 100% sure we haven’t seen them all.

Every year there is somebody new who takes a leap of faith and does something that has never been seen before. In my opinion, that is what it takes right now to get into the market if you are still not there. If you want to become one of the elite members, you have to play big.

I should also say that we took a different route in 2013. We knew what we were doing and kept our line straight. We’ve aimed for micro-nice WP themes and worked on speeding up the theme-making process. That was a key for us, to get as many micro-niche quality templates on the market as possible. In the overall, you care about the revenue.

There is always this grand clash between multipurpose themes vs. micro-niche themes. Not only regarding the amount of time it takes to develop a multipurpose theme, while you could have made 5-7 quality micro-niche themes. But also regarding revenue and competition. Since 5-7 themes might eventually bring you more sales and twice longer get good monthly sales than one multipurpose theme that you wish it be as good as Be or Jupiter.

#3. Don’t Just Copy the Top Players, but Follow the Trends

Follow Trends

These two are little hard to differentiate from one another at first glance. By definition following the trends is at some point copying what others are doing. However, there is a big difference between copying and following when it comes to WordPress themes. Making a theme with lots of skins is following the trends, using the same features, skins and similar images are copying.

The trends are quite simple these days; you can find lots of articles devoted to this subject. You just have to keep it “flat”! Extra attention to visually appealing design and unique images. Do not forget things like color theory, the Z, Gestalt principle, etc. Like it or not people are paying a lot of attention to color schemes.

They are used to certain colors on certain theme topics, and you have to consider that if you want to create a strong visual hierarchy. What you want to achieve here is a certain style of your themes that makes them stand out. So that your clients can easily recognize it among the other themes on the market. Typography also matters a lot. Things like text alignment and line height (I would say 1.3-1.6em). Practically just cover every base there is in the guidelines, and an add a little pinch of your own.

#4. Concentrate on Design, Code Quality, and Support

Code Quality

These are the three whales of a successful WP theme, not including the elephant in the room, of course – marketing. But we are talking about Envato here, and most of the time you don’t need marketing to get good sales on ThemeForest. It gives you more time to put extra emphasis on things that you love doing.

Apart from the main principles described above, we have to remember that design is a subjective thing and you can play with it how you want, especially if you keep the basics in line. You can’t satisfy all, but you have to make it an eye candy for the majority. That is your target audience here. Do not reinvent the wheel here, just go with the flow. Just stop using “Lorem Ipsum”; it is not cool anymore.

On the contrary from the design, code quality and support have exact criteria that have the greatest value to both customer-developer (that takes the theme for the project for his client) and end-customer (that takes it for himself). ThemeForest is reviewing the themes pretty thoroughly before letting it pass the bar. However, code quality is often overlooked. So it is entirely up to you whether to keep its premium as everything else or do it quickly, thus lacking quality. The same can be applied to support, though customers have to pay for support now and if you are getting paid extra money for that, you simply have to keep on the premium level.

#5. Sell Exclusively on Envato

Sell Exclusive on ThemeForest

It only means that if you are selling your products on Envato, you can’t sell them anywhere else, including your website. You can advertise them on your site or elsewhere, but you are not able to give them away for free or anything else like that. It is also important to check the web for piracy sometimes because if your theme gets stolen and ends up being sold by someone else, it is you who Envato is going to come to with accusations. We’ve had such experience, and we’ve lost too much time, and nerves are fighting it back, so just be aware. And losing exclusivity means sinking from 12.5% Envato’s fee up to 50%, which is a lot of money if you are a top seller.

The most important thing to remember here is that you actually can sell products on your website, these just have to be the other products that are not on Envato. Most vendors forget this and do not use all that traffic that comes to their websites.

#6. The Community Does Matter

WordPress Community

Envato gives a channel of great ideas from the best businessman in the niche, you just need to reach out a little bit, and you will get lots of interesting information. Envato’s forum does not seem to be a very popular place at first sight, nor does it seems very intuitive if you ask me. But anyway, you can see what are other vendors doing, thinking about and complaining. It seems like the top players are not participating in most discussions, because they don’t need to, but you can get a better vision of how other players are doing on the market.

If you are not sure whether to test certain tactics or practices, you can always ask for advice and see what information you are going to get. Most times this has already been done by other vendors, and you might get a clearer picture here. It is also important to give back to the community somehow. I am not talking about hosting an Envato Meetup in your country, but you can always participate in discussions online and share your opinions.

#7. Documentation is More Important than You Think

Documentation Process

This gets easily overlooked by lots of authors, but it is just vital and let me tell you why. You don’t know who your customer is. It might be an experienced developer or a newbie. You still should be able to explain how to edit or customize your theme. Also giving the tempo WordPress is developing nowadays, it often happens that even developers with experience sometimes need explanations. Or it simply saves them time.

At the end of the day, it is all about solving a problem for a client. So if you are telling them exactly how to do that in a simple language with specific step-by-step instructions.

Wrapping it all Up

It will not happen in one second after you cover all the points in this guide. That is not how the market works. But if you follow what we’ve shared with you today, you have a better chance to succeed on the Envato Market. Feel free to ask relevant questions in the commentaries, as there is always more to share when it comes to Envato market.

5-Year Experience on ThemeForest: Insider’s Guide to Must-do Rules to Succeed
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