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ThemeForest.net themes marketplace review

By   /  April 4, 2014  /  4 Comments

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Let me try to describe and write down my thoughts about ThemeForest.net, which is now the biggest themes marketplace on the planet Earth. Again, this is my personal opinion. And yes, I got quite frustrated when a WordPress theme I’ve submitted got rejected 6 times :)

theme-forest-review

But, if you are thinking to sell themes, Theme Forest is definitely an option. Let’s see why.

  Audience & Member base

Clearly Theme Forest is number one here. Now it has almost 3.7 million registered members. Only here we can see authors which had more than 50K item sales and earned several millions in $. Yes, that’s at least impressive.

envato-network-members

  Content

Well, more than 5 million items on sale make them the number one marketplace in terms of content. And, more than this, each uploaded item is reviewed before approval, so buyers can expect quality here. The downside here is that it gets harder and harder for authors to get their items approved for sale. Plus support demanding customers on which authors’ products’ rating depend on are a minus.

The focus is on WordPress themes and in case you want to submit a PSD design, the following scenario can happen: you’ll get your item rejected with the suggestion to code it as a Site Template (HTML/CSS) and resubmit. Even if you do that, you might get a new rejection on submit with the suggestion that you might get better chances if you make a WordPress theme out of it. The sad part is that you don’t get any warranties that even if you submit the WordPress theme, the item will be approved.

Also, Theme Forest is only a part of the huge envato network, which has several other sites for selling other types of digital content. So you can try your luck on other websites from their network, like CodeCanyon or GraphicRiver.

  Product Prices

theme-forest-upload-item-interface

On the other hand, only here you can see authors publishing products which include more than 100 .PSD files for a ridiculously low price of $12. Or a Drupal theme cheaper than a WordPress one. Or a HTML/CSS Site Template for $3. And that’s not because the author wanted to do that. That’s because Theme Forest establishes the price tag for authors. The lowest sale price is $3 and the highest is $99 (for a few Magento themes). So, authors can’t expect from Theme Forest $100+ price tags. And that’s bad, in my opinion.

Here’s what Brian Gilley (founder of the ThemeSnap.com themes marketplace) says about this:

“There are a myriad of reasons prices should be managed by sellers for their own products. I think the occasional suggestion of pricing to an author is OK. Prices are meant to be adjusted for the “sweet spot” and where an author gets enough to cover theme updates, and more importantly, for theme support.”

– Brian Gilley

There is no product price tag field, as you can see in the snapshot. Your product’s price is set by a moderator.

  Exclusivity

If you are willing to publish your themes for sale on Theme Forest, then be aware that you won’t be able to sell them elsewhere (on other marketplaces or on your own themes shop) without getting penalized. Theme Forest has different payment rates for exclusive and non-exclusive authors.

non-exclusive-theme-forest-author

On Creative Market, for example, you are allowed to sell your products on their marketplace and elsewhere, wherever you want to and you get the same treatment (payment rate) as an exclusive author. Plus you can setup your own price. Mojo-Themes gives a 50% payment rate to their non-exclusive authors:

mojo-themes-non-exclusive

  Payment Rates

In case you publish your themes only on Theme Forest, you get a 50% share from each sale, right from the start. Gradually, your share grows to a maximum of 70% from each sale in case you sell products for at least $75 000.

exclusive-authors-theme-forest-payment-rates

I am not much of a fan of this policy, but who am I to decide? Reasons:

  1. Why the percentage is exactly 50%? Is there any reason for that? How it was calculated?
  2. Why from the start authors are disadvantaged and they earn only 50%? Why it isn’t a flat 70% rate set from the start?
  3. Why are the authors punished with the 33% rate if they decide to sell elsewhere their own products? And to this add the fact that you, as an author, are not able to setup the price you desire.

The good news here is that Creative Market has better payment rates. On Creative Market you get right from the start 70% from each sale:

creative-market-advantages

So, as you can see, Theme Forest doesn’t offer the best payment rates or non-exclusivity authors treatment.

  Features

It’s a robust script with everything you need to get your item published properly. Though they lack a lot of features that would be really great for the authors and members.

  Design, UI & UX

There is a lot to talk about here. But, superficially, my opinion isn’t that good, though they began to change lately some aspects of the interface. I will get back with an in-depth review of the user interface when I’ll get some free time. They lack a lot of tools which would empower users to browse products by several attributes. Compared to Mojo Themes and Creative Market, their upload a product interface, at least, isn’t better. Or, for the My Account compartments:

theme-forest-my-account-sections

That is a really bad solution, at least in terms of Informational Architecture (an overwhelming number of sections which mix user’s public profile with his account). But, as I said, I’ll come back with an in-depth article about many aspects of the UI not only with criticism, but with solutions too.

  Affiliate System

They do have one and it consists of 30% from a new referral sign-up first purchase on envato network:

theme-forest-affiliate

  Conclusion

Theme Forest is the market leader. As an author you benefit from advantages like instant audience to your themes. As a customer, you benefit from a huge amount of quality content for a good price.

But, on the other hand, for authors, Theme Forest is a harsh environment in which they can’t set prices for their products, they are giving 30%-50% from each sale and they are not allowed to sell elsewhere at the same payment rates terms.

In terms of features and UI they still have a lot of work to do.

Check the marketplaces comparison to see where is best for you to sell themes.

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About the author

Radu

Author

UI Designer, Founder of RT Design Studio, themes author and in the themes business since 2009.

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