This topic couldn't come at a better time for me, as I'm also in the process of launching a WordPress themes project. I currently still have a few themes on ThemeForest, where I recently passed the $75K mark in total sales. Yet, I'm not happy with quite a few things there (review process, inability to set my own pricing, etc.) and decided to try other avenues a while ago.
I considered Creative Market, which doesn't seem to have some of the issues I have with TF, but offers way less exposure. Also, one of the things I appreciated initially, the quality of most themes, seems to have gone downhill lately, with many authors very low quality designs or slight font variations slapped on a Genesis child theme. I'm not sure I want to be thrown in that mix, but I haven't given up on CM yet. I think there still might be a way to leverage a presence there.
So... enter freemium! This is where I'm currently sitting. I'm almost at the wrapping point with the theme development, but I have a lot of other additional things that I need to work on. Because what I would like to try is to submit the theme to WordPress.org and then focus my efforts on marketing the benefits of paying for a "premium" subscription. This includes dedicated support, in depth video tutorials and guides, etc.
I'm trying to not have a lite version, but rather the full featured theme. It will definitely be a challenge to convince people to pay for a subscription, but I hope that will filter my audience a bit. I'm targeting beginner to mid level WordPress users, hopefully solo professionals and creative people who want a quick and easy way to showcase their work and services. At the same time, the theme will be developer friendly, built on top of Underscores, so I'm hoping to build some buzz and do my best to give back to the community that has thought me so much so far.
Last, but not least, 2015 marks my comeback to doing freelance work, so I hope to use the theme as a starting point in my projects and save a whole bunch of time and effort. So there will be a huge push to hire me for more complex customizations.
Sorry for the long info dump and slightly off topic points, but hopefully this can be of help to anyone having the same struggles. I'm super excited about this project and I hope to share more info about my journey really soon!