A bit of backstory. I have been an author on Themeforest since 2011. Haven’t released anything since 2017 because sales went down a lot, for everyone. But now it seems it’s getting worse.
The Good Old Days
You do the creative. We’ll do the rest.
That used to be the “tagline” for the Envato marketplaces (ThemeForest being one of them) and it was pretty much correct. We would build a theme, submit it and start working on a new one.
Since 2008 when ThemeForest launched until very recently, the main focus was on the new items. It was a big incentive to be an author and release themes, since you get a lot of exposure immediately after releasing a theme.
That is no longer the case, the focus has shifted to the top sellers.
WordPress Category Page
Since the launch of Themeforest, this page (WordPress Category) was always a listing of items that are by default ordered from the newest. Which meant you release a theme and immediately get high exposure and as new themes are released and you go down the list that exposure goes down.
It used to be great back in 2012-2013 (if memory serves me right), sales were pretty great. Over the years as ThemeForest and WordPress gained more and more popularity the competition increased, a lot more items were being released so you went down the list faster, which means less exposure and in turn less sales.
And now that page is no longer a listing of themes ordered by latest. Here’s what it looks like.
We can separate that page into 6 sections:
Those link to the subcategory pages showing WordPress themes with the default order by the amount of sales (high to low).
Weekly Best Sellers
The top selling 8 themes. They’re all themes released between 2012 and 2014. Considering the exposure they get now with the design change, sales should increase and it’s very unlikely that they’ll get replaced on that list.
Hot Themes in Specific 2 Categories
I’m guessing the categories change from time to time. Clicking on those takes to the subcategory page with items ordered by the amount of sales.
The 8 latest items. Not much exposure considering new items are released often so an item is on that page for about 2 days. Previous version of this page had 30 themes shown with pagination to go through the rest.
Highest Rated and Trending
Clicking highest rated takes to a listing ordered by ratings. But it’s a bit weird algorithm, a theme with 3 x 5 stars is higher in the list than a theme with 76 x 5 stars and 1 x 4 star.
The trending takes to a list ordered by trending, but not entirely sure which algorithm is used to determine trending
Hot New Themes
8 themes that are selling well. They’re mostly from back in mid 2018.
WordPress Subcategory Pages
The WordPress category page used to look like the subcategory pages still do.
But something changed on the subcategory pages as well. The default order used to be by newest themes, now it’s ordered by sales. Which means by default this page gives ZERO exposure to new themes.
From Envato’s perspective I understand why they would do that, I’m sure the conversions are much better when you put focus on themes that have sold over 100,000 copies.
I haven’t released anything since 2017 but planned to give it another try this year. I have changed my mind, I won’t. And I’m sure a lot of authors are considering whether to release new themes or to go a different path.
Do you have any thoughts on this? Let me know in the comments.