As many of you will probably be aware, for the past twelve months Envato has been experimenting with offering Managed WordPress Hosting alongside a small number of themes.
The goal was to find out if ThemeForest’s customers would not only purchasing a theme but a complete website solution.
Today we are announcing that the initial experiments have been hugely promising. On the back of this, we’re now rolling the project into its next stage.
What have we seen?
Working with small to medium businesses is different to working with freelancers or agencies. They’re often not sure what they want beyond a website for their business. For these customers, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of options and complex item descriptions.
If you’re not a technical person WordPress can appear quite daunting. But as we know, it doesn’t have to be. We wanted to provide something that removed the complexity and served these people individually.
What we saw over the past twelve months has been encouraging. It has indicated to us that managed WordPress hosting could have a strong place in our marketplace.
What is Envato Hosted and how does it work?
Envato Hosted is an expanded offering to buying a theme alone. Instead of purchasing a theme for a one-off price, customers have the option to get the theme plus instant setup, hosting, and support for a small monthly cost. It takes a lot of the hard work out so that customers have the website they want sooner. And to make it even easier, there’s a 7-day free trial.
When a customer chooses the “setup and host theme” option on an Envato Hosted item, they pass through checkout where they provide WordPress login details. Once the sale is complete we spin up an instance of WordPress, install the theme, set up the demo (if there is one) and in no time at all, the customer has a functioning website.
What’s in it for authors?
One thing that excites us about Envato Hosted is its ability to generate recurring revenue for authors on top of the sale of the theme itself. Hosting is an industry that focuses on the long game. The value is not simply in making a transaction; it’s in maintaining a customer over many, many years.
The other main benefit of Envato Hosted is the opportunity to target new customers. Rather than just converting existing customers, our aim is to increase the number of customers so that authors end up with more item sales. This won’t happen on day one but will improve as we learn more about our target audience, iterate the on-site experience, and leverage marketing.
What does the next stage of the project look like?
We’ve done a fair bit of work under the hood to allow automatic payments to authors and provide customers with access to download the item. We’ve built a new landing page for Hosted themes and added a new category to the ThemeForest nav (Hosted WordPress).
The aim of this next phase of Hosted is to bring on a small number of new themes and authors. We’ll continue to develop the product and iterate on the customer experience before and after checkout. The easier it is for a customer to complete their website, the longer they are likely to hang around.
Finally, we’re also going to be talking closely with these authors to shape and inform the business model. They’ll help us ensure that we’re appropriately distributing revenue and exploring questions of how support will work.
How have you chosen the authors for the current experiment, and when will there be an opportunity to join in?
A couple of different factors went into the selection process. Some of these authors were amongst our top sellers, others because we wanted to incorporate a healthy mix of theme types. Above all, we chose authors with whom we had a trusting relationship.
Soft launches can be a bumpy ride. We wanted to ensure the authors we brought on board would work through the bumps with us. At the end of the day, these authors will be helping us shape the business of Envato Hosted. They’ll be informing the way that the model will look when we roll it out to more authors.
One of the goals of the next phase is to produce a model for Envato Hosted that can scale. At the end of this process, we’re hopeful that we’ll be in a position where we can start considering expressions of interest from more authors who want to get involved in the project.
We’d love to hear what you think about the new Hosted offering. You can check out the themes available on our new landing page. We’ll be continuing to improve it so stay tuned to this post if you’re interested in keeping up to date.
Thanks for reading!