ThemeForest Stats and Trends from Envato's Ben Chan

(Leland Fiegel) #1

So yesterday at #PressNomics (which I’m really bummed to not be attending), attendees learned some interesting stats about the ThemeForest marketplace from Ben Chan.

Ben Chan, according to the Envato Market team page, is their Director of Growth and Revenue.

Thankfully @Jeffro was there to live tweet it! Some choice quotes:

"Only 4% of themes in the marketplace have earned less than $1k in their lifetime”

This is a pretty decent floor. It’s worth noting that this number is before Envato’s cut. ThemeForest has some pretty strict guidelines to maintain the quality of the marketplace, but it’s good to know if you get in, it’s highly improbable you’re going to have goose-egg sales.

"Automotive theme on ThemeForest had 300+ sales in 1st thirty days = over $15K”

It’s also nice to know the ceiling is very high. Judging from the sales numbers I just searched for, it’s done pretty well after that. Along with the HTML template, it’s generated over $50k in sales up until now.

“79.8% of people search for themes based on functionality while 17.6% search for product. remaining search based on features.”

Not sure I get this quote. The two numbers leave 2.6% left. So 79.8% of searches is functionality and 2.6% is features? What’s the difference? Also it sounds like that 17.6% search for specific products, a pretty nice chunk.

“79% of themes say they’re responsive but make up 93% of overall earnings”

Not much of a surprise. It shouldn’t be an option these days to not be responsive.

Envato marketplaces display sales numbers per item, so much of this wasn’t a big secret if you were willing to dig. I think it’s a pretty cool feature, as it shows potential sellers (on ThemeForest and elsewhere) what is popular so they can make more of it.

I guess that brings us back to one of the older discussions here on WPChat: You’re starting a theme business. Should you sell on ThemeForest?

Did anyone else attend with some additional insight to share?

(Nate Wright) #2

This is really cool of ThemeForest to share their numbers. They even have a whole site for it.

I have two thoughts on the stats which I wouldn’t expect them to answer but would still be curious about:

  1. $1k is the total sales, of which an author would take home $300-$700. That’s pretty paltry for what ought to be probably a month of work for a fairly basic theme, plus supporting ~50 customers. It’d be great to know what percentage of products provide the author with $2k takeaway revenue. That’s a critical threshold for me personally.

  2. The ceiling at ThemeForest is huge if you can get a theme that sells. But I wonder how much of it is tied up by high-ranking/long-standing accounts. When I was looking into it over a year ago, it seemed to me that all the themes that were beating a 200 sales average in my niche were from long-established shops in the market. The prospects of a fresh face doing well looked pretty slim.

(Leland Fiegel) #3

Whoa, never seen that site before. Awesome.

Good point. I’d also be interested in hearing the amount of the $2k number of author takeaway, not just overall sales before cut.

I’d be interested in digging more into this. I wonder how much of it is because the long-established shops just have more experience and know how to sell. Or buyers see the social proof of previous sales and are more likely to buy because of that.

(Nate Wright) #4

Yeah I definitely think there’s a strong component of that.


btw. you can see many details if you use search there, even detailed stats for each autor also with % and exact amounts.

(Benjamin Intal) #6

I’m super interested to see people’s search terms. I just finished a WordPress theme and thinking whether to sell it in ThemeForest or try and make it solo. I’m leaning towards ThemeForest since their share of 40% (at my current level) would just be like investing 40% of all sales into marketing.

(Brin Wilson) #7


these amounts are really impressive, not small business :wink:

(Leland Fiegel) #9

Not quite the same, but Mojo Themes posts their top 10 keyword searches sometimes. Here’s the most recent that I can find:

Never thought of it like this, but it’s a good way of looking at it. One of my biggest complaints about ThemeForest is the high fees, especially for new and/or non-exclusive sellers.

But it’s clearly the marketplace with the most marketing punch behind it, so it makes more sense if you’re looking to get your work in front of a ton of eye balls without (directly) paying for advertising upfront.

40% of a much big pie is more than 70% of a small pie. Although you’ll be supporting a lot more customers. Hmm. Pros and cons.

(Benjamin Intal) #10

In the long run, they would only take on 30% of the sales. Personally, that’s not a bad amount to “invest” in marketing and getting eyeballs on the product. I’m assuming of course that a theme would be priced at $45-$55.

In my opinion, support is relative. I’ve you’ve packed in a ton of your own features, introduced new functionality, then support-wise, you’ll definitely be in trouble. But if you simply removed all the functionality aside, stuck with the standards, recommended dependable plugins, you’ll have a good foundation and you’ll get rid of a lot of bugs and a lot of unnecessary support inquiries.


From my view difference between own business with themes and marketplace is also different buyers.
Personally I just don’t buy anything from marketplace does not matter what is it and how good is it.
I love when I land on beautiful well designed home (website) of designer, where he introduce his jobs, his way and I have closer contact with him. I m glad to pay 100% or more to him instead of buy something cheap in ‘‘supermarket’’.
It is maybe bc. I never buy just product, I m looking for value (story behind it)

Especially with themes, theme is like jewel on website, it transforms all lines of code to something nice. I don’t want tesco bag on my bmw :slight_smile:

(Kakoma) #13

That’s very interesting @Peter; you are the reason small businesses thrive. Rock on!

(Stephen Cronin) #14

It’s probably worth pointing out that exclusivity is per item, not per author. So you can be an exclusive author by selling one theme on ThemeForest, as long as that one theme isn’t sold elsewhere. You can still sell your other themes elsewhere. I didn’t realise that until I started at Envato.

Really most people would be best to make a new theme just for ThemeForest (if they want to keep selling elsewhere), so that they get the higher rate.

(Eric Daams) #15

I was not aware of that. Interesting…

(Stephen Cronin) #16

Hmm, in hindsight, it can be a little more complicated than that. I don’t want to mislead anyone, so here is the full explanation:

If an author sells Themes A and B through ThemeForest exclusively and Themes C and D elsewhere (but not on ThemeForest), they are an exclusive author, as all items sold through ThemeForest are exclusive.

If they sell Theme A through ThemeForest exclusively, but Theme B on both ThemeForest and their own site, then are not an exclusive author (as not all items sold through ThemeForest are exclusive).

So exclusivity is per author, but only for the items they are selling on ThemeForest. They can still sell other items elsewhere (as long as they aren’t also being sold on ThemeForest).

Authors ARE allowed to have two different accounts: one exclusive (all items in that account get higher rate) and one non-exclusive (lower rate obviously). So they can sell some items non-exclusively without affecting the exclusive items.

Overcomplicated I know! Hurts my head and I work here…

If anyone has any questions about their individual circumstances, hit me up. I’m always happy to help.

(Leland Fiegel) #17

Interesting, had no idea this was allowed. How do sellers who do this usually pull it off? Two separate theme/design company “brands”? Or one brand and one “personal” account? Or is it really not all that common?

(Stephen Cronin) #18

I tried to find a good example in the WordPress space, but couldn’t find one easily. It happens a lot on Audio Jungle. On ThemeForest / CodeCanyon, I see people wanting to move items from one account to another (which we can’t do just yet), so I know it happens - I just can’t find a good eg of it.

Most people don’t bother because of the low rate of the non-exclusive item. If you want to sell on ThemeForest and somewhere else, probably the best way is to be an exclusive author and sell one theme exclusively on ThemeForest and sell a different theme in the other locations. Of course it has to be different enough to be considered a separate theme. :slight_smile:

(Jeff C) #19

Thanks for documenting my tweets in this post. I spoke with Ben and asked if he would make his slides public, at the time, he said they wouldn’t be. I’m not sure if that’s changed or what, but at least we have some photos of the stats and a couple of people tweeting them. Huge numbers for sure.

(Stephen Cronin) #20

It took a while, but Ben wrote a post covering his talk here:

(Tony Bui) #21

Hi Stephen,

I’m always was curious with “Trending search queries” in search filters. Is there any places you share it for authors or maybe “Elite” authors? So they get to know and understand better what potential customers are looking for? So we can optimize our sales channels.

Tony from WooRockets Team.