I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or not! But my favorite dish is tacos! Congratulations to Envato on entering new markets!
Hey all! Lots of great questions have been coming in, and I’ve gone for a mix of grouping them into some themes and topics to write general answers, and some specific replies. While I don’t promise the answers will totally satisfy everyone, hopefully they will give you a bit of insight into how we (and I) are thinking:
Subscriptions and Market Sales.
It is a huge difference, and a big insight into how digital content markets move. When I started out in this industry, “Rights Managed” was still a type of license. After a while ‘Royalty Free’ came along and it felt tough for creators who saw it initially as less money for more licenses. However over time the volume of these new cheaper licenses made up for the lower prices. Then ‘Microstock’ came along and did the same thing to royalty free, making it way more affordable (think like $300 photo licenses vs $1). Then subscriptions. And more recently you have Unsplash and all the free sites.
The other week there was a great quote from the new CEO of Getty, about their erstwhile rival Corbis, who refused to move with the times:
“Craig Peters, the new CEO of Getty Images points to Corbis Images, Getty’s one-time crosstown rival, which Getty acquired parts of in 2016 and which, Peters notes, was tenaciously sticking to an outdated pricing model “right up until the end.” - Seattle Times
Those same industry forces are at play on the content types we sell at Envato. Right now subscription economics are moving quicker than ever across the industry. Not a day goes by that I don’t see news about a new unlimited subscription, or a new ‘free’ site popping up.
It’s easy to get disenfranchised and think its just a race to the bottom. But for me, the lower prices and increased affordability, is also growing the total addressable customer base by huge leaps. Again, when I started out, the only people who used stock assets were well paid agencies. These days it’s really anyone with a creative project. Even the ‘free’ sites have a part to play here where more people get introduced to the idea of creating using stock and assets and templates.
I see our job as being to innovate with the market and make sure that wherever the industry goes, we have a viable option for authors from a company that is committed to community earnings.
Anyhow to your question on Market sales, they’re holding up better than we’d hoped, though they are down year on year. Internally we look at the combination of Market and Elements both in gross revenue (which is up) and in authors earnings (which is up). But Market itself is down a few percent on this time last year, and that looks like an ongoing trend (though one that’s not as steep as my worst fears at times!)
It’s tempting to think the driver of Market’s changes are Elements, especially as we drive subscription customers over. But we’d been mapping the trend of the sales curve for years prior to the launch of Elements and had been seeing changes before we ever launched into subscriptions, because of the movement of the industry, first to ‘bundles’ and then to ‘subscriptions’ and ‘free’. From what I can tell the bigger forces on Market are actually industry ones.
There are always people who want to buy things in single doses, especially in the ‘templates’ end of the market. And Envato Market is a huge traffic net, and the majority of our work goes to maintaining that traffic (we spend a lot of our developer and product time on ‘seo’ for example).
Overall though we are definitely moving to a world where Envato Market is just one part of the overall Envato ecosystem of offerings, and while Elements is still the junior player, it’s coming up fast and creating overall more earning opportunity. I think that’s a better picture than if we just stuck to the one model and refused to move with the industry. I think there’d be some short term gains for individual Market authors, but overall it wouldn’t be a good idea for the community or Envato as a whole.
One of the biggest focuses for UX change on Market has been around discoverability, and I know this is also a source of some major frustrations, especially as it relates to ‘new’ content.
As you all know, we first tested whether just showing ‘best sellers’ as the default sort was going to drive more sales. It did, but we did also see a decrease in sales on ‘new items’ (not as big a decrease as is sometimes touted in the forums, but there was a decrease). This suggested that customers are often interested in things that show hallmarks of quality (sales, reviews, etc), so that when we show them more prominently they result in overall more sales. However it’s also not a good idea to have no exposure for new and up-and-coming items.
This year we’ve rolled out new category pages that are working well to balance new items along with best selling and other quality items. We can now show a wider range of the library instead of one long list of items with a single sort.
On ThemeForest for example, with the new Category page, new item sales increased significantly by 50% compared to the old single list of items with Best Selling sort, while maintaining the same conversion rate. This design also allowed us to show on sale items for Cyber Monday and helped customers find relevant items on sale.
We still have more work to do in discoverability on Market, as well as tools for authors to manage prices, and get exposure.
General Answers …
We definitely are starting to open the Elements doors to more authors, though we’re trying to go slowly and cautiously. Sometimes that’s been good, other times there’s been authors with proven track records that would be a good fit who have had frustrating experiences. It will get better in time. Our Content teams have really shifted focus to try to create a more frictionless experience as we know there are a lot of issues from joining to upload to feedback.
On Market, we’re doing our best to use customer feedback to guide the decisions in what to show. Unsurprisingly, customers like affordable and value offerings, and where we’ve shown items that are a bargain they get a lot of pick up. That’s not to say there isn’t a place for higher priced or premium items, it’s just that there’s a mix.
I’m sorry to hear our communications have felt like closed doors. We’re actually working to be more communicative, especially with our in person events, and more staff working in the Content area than ever in our history.
@tips4design - That’s an interesting point! I had been thinking about just the profit share component, but you are right staff are also paid salaries! I’ll give that some thought for next year. We did actually think about profit sharing with authors, but there are so many authors that the profits don’t go very far. Put another way, author earnings is way larger than profits, so as a % increase it’d be super small
Great question styleWish! We sure do:
On international, we’ve been slowly translating Elements into more languages, and then working on traffic (customer) acquisition in those languages. That’s a slow but steady part of the plan. For example Tuts+ has 40% of its traffic in non-English, and it is the largest referrer through to Elements. We haven’t gone to Chinese yet though! Actually there’s a company in China which I came across recently called iBaotu which is a bit of an ‘envato’ in china which is interesting!
On other opportunities, we’re opening WordPress ‘Template Kits’ up to authors this year. We’ve been trialing them for a year first for free, then for Elements subscribers, and we think there’s real earning potential there. Also we’re opening up for Elements authors to have their mockups, icons, videos and other things piped through to Placeit, for the team there to rework them into the tool and create some more earning.
And lastly the Content team here is looking at introducing other new categories into both Market and Elements. It’s been a while since we added a major one (the last was Premiere Pro). That said, many promising platforms are actually quite small when it comes to comparing to the bigger ones like Adobe and WordPress. But if you have suggestions, they’re always welcome!
An annual report of everything we didn’t do would be VERY long The truth is we’re constantly trying to figure out how to do more internally. When we were a lot smaller (like ten people at Envato), I used to laugh at bigger companies and how slow they seemed. These days, I have a lot more sympathy as I’ve come to understand how hard it can be to work with big large codebases, sometimes with legacy problems that make them hard to change, lots of scale of traffic and customers meaning everything has to be done very carefully, and of course lack of people to do all the things you could do. That all said, we can and should do better to deliver more value to authors (and customers)!
OK that’s it for now!
Responses to more questions are on their way! Feel free to post more as well, and I’ll aim to have another batch of answers on Monday!
Hi @collis ! Thanks for the answers! So, the question after this would be: What are you going to do to revert this? or are you abandoning the Market? Because lately, as many pointed out, it seems that there are no changes or upgrades to revitalize the market. No one is saying just focus on the Market, but personally, we can think of a lot of ideas, that if you want we could share with you, to make the Market a great place for authors again!
Hi @ajperf! We’re leaving this topic open until December 19 - that gives people a bit over a week to see this post, read through the report and ask their questions. After that, some of our team will be taking leave over the New Year period, and Collis will need to get back to running the company
Thank you, great ideas and insights on what’s going on.
Thanks for the detailed Statement & Glad to see the reply for most of the questions.
We are Proud to be one of the Power Elites, we are team of 25+. Its interesting to overcome the challenges of category and SEO Results Changes (mainly pointing to bestsellers for all searches)…but as you said when we are initial startup with fewer than 10, we were capable of failing again and again, but todays situation is different since we have to meet the bills and salaries.
Even though we have 160+ items and many of them of niche based, we are facing 30-40% decrease in sale. Hope many authors are feeling the same.
At least consider providing more analytics and expose some tools for the theme review part.
May be eliminate multipurpose themes in niche searches (ex: a best selling multipurpose theme in a category without even a demo for handyman or gardening, but just a term in description can kill a 10 demos and functionality rich niche theme)
We are doing our best with SEO and trying other aspects to sustain. Not Living happily as in early days (may be until 2016-17 also better).
- We have tried to reduce the price to $29
- Tried to bring our items in search and succeeded to but no changes in sale
- You can see we have a strong track record in terms of Review almost all themes have 5 starts
- We have created more niche themes than multipurpose
Not helped in recent changes all of these were good in old days and converted well.
Now we are working on a website to increase SEO Score, Planning to spend on Ads etc., hmmmmm, i can speak for days…
Hope you only can try to balance the Ecosystem. Today its like Humans killing or ignoring other small creatures.
All the Best for all of envato to super 2020 and upcoming years.!
It’s interesting to read about your thoughts @collis . There is no doubt subscription is a big and important change that Envato needs to be part of. And of course recurring revenue is every company’s wet dream, so it’s not hard to understand why so many subscription services are popping up everywhere.
From my perspective I am not that worried about Elements and subscription models in general, as you say yourself not everybody wants to subscribe. Nor is it possible to find everything you need in sub models nowadays. I think with healthy and more segmented customer prices sub models can work for a bigger author pool as well.
I am much more worried about the lack of staff resources/priorities of the markets. In last years topic about 2018 public Impact Statement we got told the AudioJungle was the fastest growing market, so I guess things could not have been that bad at the Audio side of things.
If you consider all the undeniably customer unfriendly moves Envato have made on the market last years (removal of credit system, transaction fees, lack of specialised market renewal etc), I am pretty sure you and the team are scratching your heads why migrating is not happening faster and sales are still happening relatively strongly at the markets…!
It is obvious to me that the markets would be stronger if staff were actually assigned to working on them in a more specialised matter. Just as an example we have items from 2014 on the front page of AudioJungle (source files). It certainly looks as AJ staff jumped ship to Elements some years ago. Is it so much to ask for having staff assigned to both platforms? Would it not benefit Elements as well to have more traffic going through the markets?
It’s totally understandable that Envato sees Elements as upselling because of the recurring revenue. But from an authors perspective it is of course totally opposite, upselling is driving traffic to single item purchases. That’s why it is so hard for me to understand why you block links to Elements authors market profiles, where more premium and unique items could possibly be found. As well as why you won’t prioritise market links to Elements Video templates containing AudioJungle music (or a system for crediting AJ authors). Years go by and there is simply no cross over marketing, it is only 1 way.
Thats why it is extremely disappointing to never get any answers and solutions to questions like this:
The simple solution of providing authors with a direct link to item pages without the banner could fix this as mentioned by several authors before. Maybe then we would not see big affiliate authors as MorningLightMusic jumping ship and driving traffic to his own website instead. Of course this makes sense anyway if you have such a huge YouTube channel, but the current affiliate system did not exactly beg him to stay.
I guess I can only speak for myself and it is sad to spend all my marketing efforts to other sites because of the mentioned issue above. And I am sure I am not the only one thinking in these lines. So maybe it is time to implement a more respectful system for authors who do the important job of driving traffic to the markets?
I would also be interested to hear the answer @collis. I would like to more seriously engage in the promotion of my portfolio through the YouTube channel, social networks, as well as paid promotion in order to attract more traffic to my items here, but I can not do this (even if I would like to) because instead of my portfolio here I will work for the traffic of Elements, because there is a banner that catches your eye on any page of the Envato market “all unlimited for monthly fee.”
I am the author of which is not on the Envato Elements.*
Thanks for the honest answer, I appreciate it.
I do have a hard time processing the fact that author earnings are up, when around me so many have seen theirs dwindle.
I know you have to move in the directions market is going, but sometimes they’re dead-ends. The subscription model is not sustainable for authors, and now that everything is turning to subscription, it soon will no longer be sustainable for customers either. There will come a point when they simply won’t be able to stack any more subscriptions. Then what?
Anyway, wish you to succeed through this turmoil, as for me I know I’m defeated.
@collis We couldn’t be more happier than this at the moment. Congratulations to all of us here. Envato has been the trusted platform to count on. This year was big for us. We gained momentum with our Codecanyon portfolio, expanded our niche category themes and became a power Elite Author. Let’s make 2020 even better and bigger!
I also can confirm that combined VH and Elements earnings are much better (Almost twice times better) than solo VH earnings for me. And now I can compare my income with the best years income here on Envato and it feels like there is plenty space to grow further! 2020 should be great year!
Hello @collis !
I’m just curious what is the purpose of Audiojungle when Elements exists on the market?
What is the purpose of these two products being on the market at the same time?
If the Audiojungle disappears soon, we would like to know this in advance from Envato to take according actions, because for many authors this market is the only income.
@collis GODZILLA SIZE CONGRATS TO YOU AND YOUR TEAM ALL OVER THE WORLD!
It’s has been a super exciting last year for us. Some of the major milestones we achieved that we would love to share with the community.
We are so grateful that we were able to achieve all this with a single theme, thanks to Envato and our team.
- We spoke at Envato Worldwide LA event and shared our story. (Thanks to @jamesgiroux for making it happen)
- Crossed 10,000+ Sales
- Crossed 1000+ 5 Star Reviews
- Archived Elite Author Level 5 (Just one Level away from becoming POWER Elite)
- Official YellowPages Serbia using our theme.
@collis my question to you is that are there any plans to improve the reviews system to detect users trying to abuse the system. It really takes a lot of resources.
Also what are we doing to fight people selling our products on other sites?
This change was so needed, but while it seems to be balanced, i don’t think it is.
Looking for example on popular marketplaces such as Mac AppStore, the Discover page is based on content quality, not best-sellers. In their layout, Top Paid is at the very bottom, while the rest of the page is dynamic with lots of staff picks based on quality and worthiness.
Bestsellers already have a loyal customer base and they sell regardless. I mean most still look like in 2012 and they still sell insanely. Also bestsellers are not necessarily better in quality. Most of them inherit legacy code from 2013 or have features that are outdated. Their top advantage is their support, compatibility with popular extensions, and author establishment. I read on popular Facebook groups calling many regular authors “shady”, so it’s definitely an advantage to them as they’re considered a safe buy.
Since this change was made, i noticed even more disparity between new items and bestsellers, up to the point where bestsellers have gained a monopoly and there’s no incentive for others to add new, better content, even by dumping the price. This problem however should be taken care by discoverability and Staff picks.
Now based on my observations in the last couple of months Handpicked by Envato block seems to be stuck, with no manual input from staff. Even now, there’s a 2 star item in the Handpicked block, for at least 3 months in there (since i’m tracking), in which this whole time it barely got 3 sales. It’s obvious this one does not convert and also affects Envato’s reputation by recommending a poorly reviewed item. Nobody wins. Sure, this is an exception, but again, the content is stuck with the same items. It should be dynamic, continuously updated.
I worked for my item for 1 year, it’s modern, it looks amazing and it’s currently one of the best-selling new items (relative to others), but it keeps getting ignored by the staff. From down here it’s super frustrating to see that.
My assumption is there’s no manpower to handle staff picking and manual checking, but maybe reviewers could step in and make recommendations too.
In my opinion, keeping things as they are, will prevent innovation. This is probably what will eventually make this market irrelevant, relying on low priced poor items or best-selling ancient-dinosaur themes.
I have an idea how to stimulate authors to promote their own products.
If authors who post links to their own products on social media generate new clients through these links they should have an increased percentage of the price of the product while the percentage for Envato drops.
The author should get more money and Envato should get less because the author has created the product and has found the client all by himself through his social media marketing.
I’m talking about self-promotion. Authors promoting only their own items without becoming affiliate partners.
What do you think?
And all those weak-not-far-sighted authors, pls, read some economy books.
Hi @GrandTerr !
I think it would be better to attach some facts (arguments) to your criticism (what exactly does not suit you?) Because not everyone understands what you are talking about specifically.
Do you find the offer on the categories page BALANCED and WORKING GOOD?
Most of the offers on the new pages are best sellers (because sorting is set as best sellers in most markets).
It is well balanced for Envato only. Your promotion strategy brings profit reduction (I think these are the main culprit elements). And Envato is simply trying to compensate for the money loss at the expense of the market (bestsellers). This is the main reason for changing sorting and new category pages. How long?
Another thought - a money report is good. But your main asset is the authors. Your aggressive marketing and ignoring the authors may deprive you of your main asset in the long term.
I also have a big question!
Why every year, you are more and more ignoring community issues. I constantly see many topics with questions, suggestions and requests that go unanswered.
The community is ignored even in official topics! More and more forum threads are created to automatically be closed after a short time.
Ignoring is now the company’s official position?
Also you did not answer anything to the account of the banner of elements
- First it’s literally the best alternative for Premiere Pro (and in many cases for After Effects). Many users start to switch from Premiere Pro to DaVinci Resolve, mainly because of a lot of bugs and instability in Adobe software. Also Resolve is a leader in color correction.
Browsing the Internet I saw people say only one reason why they still hasn’t switch to Resolve - it’s lack of templates. DaVinci Resolve with built-in Fusion gives almost the same opportunities as After Effects. But why there is no templates for Resolve… because there is no popular place where people can upload their templates.
- Second reason. DaVinci Resolve is free. Only Studio version (which gives some more features) is paid.
Clients can literally buy only templates and didn’t bother themselves to have any other licenses. So the audience for such category will be build not only from professionals, but from anyone, almost like a Placeit.
It would be great if you would consider this request.