This morning I received an email from Envato. It’s an announcement that starting next week, Envato will include WordPress products in its annual subscription plan at Envato Elements. This is definitely great news for Envato and a huge upgrade to Elements. However, this can also be seen as a new high point in the race to the bottom within the WordPress economy. It will be interesting to see how this affects sales on ThemeForest in the long run.
In 2016, Envato, Saint Kitts and Nevis B2B List the company behind Theme Forest, Code Canyon, and other popular marketplaces for digital products, introduced Envato Elements. It is a subscription service where customers can download unlimited digital products like stock photos, fonts, and other assets for a single monthly fee. Customers pay as low as $29/month to get instant access to thousands of digital products. They can also cancel their subscription at any time.
How will this change affect authors on ThemeForest and CodeCanyon?
While this business model seems fine for non-support intensive products like stock photos, Envato is now starting to add software products like WordPress themes and plugins. It is not yet clear how support will be handled for these products. But in its June 2017 announcement, Envato said support would not be available for products delivered through Envato Elements. It is doubtful that customers understand why they do not have support included for their purchased product. It can even lead to frustration and negative PR for the authors of the themes or plugins involved.
Sell WordPress Theme and Plugin Authors
It’s probably too early to tell how this will affect sales on ThemeForest and CodeCanyon. However, when checking comments on the June announcement, many theme and plugin authors seem to be deeply concerned. In my interview at Indie Hackers a while ago, I already said that it might not be a reliable business strategy to make your business dependent on third-party marketplaces. This now seems to be truer than ever.
We do not sell our WordPress themes on ThemeForest or Envato Elements. Therefore, I can’t say if it’s still worth it. However, I have spoken with many ThemeForest authors recently and most of them are suffering from declining sales. It’s not just because of the saturated market environment, but also because Envato continues to introduce changes that don’t always seem to be in the best interests of their authors and contributors.