Envato Hosted: investing in the future of ThemeForest

Note: The first round of Q&A can be found here

Hi everyone,

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!


You are testing too many new models. These tests have become tiring for customers and writers.


Sorry to be negative but this sounds like another thing that is going to benefit only the top authors, sucks for the other 95% of us because it gives buyers another incentive not to buy our themes :frowning:


Thank you for sharing. Can you explain the profit share model for authors of Envato Hosting? If we are interested in knowing more, who do we contact?

Best regards,

Hi @matthewcoxy

I suggest to include an ecommerce theme especially magento. Most of magento users requires reliable hosting resolution, I am experiencing much questions related to hosting servers.

Regards, Alex

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Hey @Themovation,

We’ve made a decision not to talk about the model with the broader community just yet, the reason being that it’s still something that’s very in-development.

It’s not something that Envato simply wants to impose on authors, it’s something that we’re actively working with the authors currently involved to workshop and shape. We’ll absolutely open the model up to the community once we feel it’s arrived at the place it’s going to stay.

As for knowing more, right now the forums are the best place to ask questions :slight_smile:, once the beta test has concluded we’ll consider opening up a more formal channel for discussions.

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I think we should test it with all themes soon.

  • Author do support for theme, Envato do support for host?
  • Can trial user download theme code?

It’s a good idea, but if I’m entirely honest, I think the landing page is a bit rubbish. Here’s my thinking…

  1. There’s only four sentences next to checkmarks telling you what this is. $19 a month is great, but not many people are going to want to shell out $238 a year with only four sentences to go on.

  2. There’s a bit more info if you click ‘start free trial’, but people will be reluctant to click on ‘start free trial’ just in case that actual button does start their free trial.

  3. There’s insufficient info to explain the different sections on the ordering page. It may be self-explanatory for me, but the kind of customer you’re marketing to might not know they have to go to Wordpress.org and sign up. Or do you sign up through that form?

  4. I know what a domain name is and you know what a domain name is. Will a person who isn’t confident buying and setting up their own Wordpress theme (which is why they’re suing this service) know what a domain name is? Is the domain registration included? If not, how much will that be… can it be registered through you or are they directed somewhere else to pay? Maybe a "prices start from… " tagline would help.

  5. “Instant Theme Setup”. What exactly does that entail? It’s a bit wooly and very thin on details… you’ll probably get people complaining if it doesnt include adding images, text, logos, content etc. Managing expectations is the way to go when it comes to improving the customer experience.

So yeah, at a minimum, I think you should have a bit more detail on the landing page (maybe a video, an FAQ section, a ‘find out more’ area etc), and a little question mark icon above each section on the order page… people can click or hover over the icon for further details “A domain name is the web address that you’d like to use. If you already have one, you can add it here. If not, then you can order one through the link, for a small additional cost” etc etc. Or “You will need to register with Wordpress.org so we can set up your theme. Head on over to Wordpress.org to set up your account and then populate this form with the details they provide you with” etc etc. Needs some work, but I’m no copywriter.

I could be wrong, but that’s the way I see it. People who are confident buying and setting up themes will all know what this stuff means, but people who aren’t confident buying and setting up themes (the people you’re marketing this to) might not know all this stuff… as if they did, then they’d probably be confident buying and setting up themes themselves, so wouldn’t need this service!

Peace out.


Is there anything for new/small author ?
I think this model will favour the selected popular author.
But do you have any business plan for others ?


It’s a really interesting idea and I think once you’ve had a 6 months or so to really get the kinks ironed out, it might be another great source of revenue. Some questions:

  1. Is Envato starting up their own hosting service or are they using a third-party and just using your brand name?

  2. Is support for hosting going to be put on the author? Things like making the domain DNS point correctly, issues with file permissions, upgrading software…

  3. How much control will the end user have of their hosting? Will they get an FTP account, access to phpmyadmin/cpanel? Or is it strictly just going to be WordPress.

  4. Could this model one day be used for something other than WordPress? CodeCanyon seems like a potential choice out of the other markets- but there is no one-click setup like there is for WordPress and would be quite hard to automate amongst all the different code bases. But I could also see some users wanting to have all their eggs in one basket when it comes to buying a script, hosting and domain names sometimes.

  5. Will this be an opt-in only solution? I.e. are you planning on forcing all themeforest authors to have this option one day in the future?

Authors only get $1 per month. No wonder you only have 10 themes that opted-in for this.

This amount has to be increased if you want other quality others to participate.

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Knew about this experiment for a while now. The only thing is that the landing page is yet again empowering the powerful.
I would hold off any specific advertising until its ready for all because it’s yet again giving the unfeair advantage to certain items.

But the merit of the idea depends on of the pricing model. If authors are going to get few $ then it’s useless.
Let us wait and see. Tough I really hoped that by the time this is online we would get a wide spread usage option, or at least some firm dates.


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Is this a fact?

Yes it is. I know couple of other authors who were in the trial periods. They stated that their sales dropped after participating and $1/m was not covering it one bit.

Well, then this yet another disaster that’s coming, and it answers why only the big kahunas can make this worthwhile.

Now the only question here is if that kind of pricing is to stay or it’s just a test.

There is no WooCommerce - eCommerce WordPress theme. We’re interested to join to see how it works in reality.

I’m not providing the link for avoiding self promotion. Just check out portfolio, it’s the ONLY item which we focus right now. Our ultimate goal is to make NITRO WooCommerce theme as the ultimate theme specially for WooCommerce / eCommerce. Will be benefiting ThemeForest customers and Envato as well.


That can’t be right, there must be something else to it. A WordPress sale of $59 plus an extension of support to one year, would net the author $56 if they’re Elite. And what is it for subsequent years of support? $46 per year? And if they go down the hosting route then they get $12 a year, without even the initial $56 to show for it? I can’t understand why anyone would sign up for that. Elements, sure, it’s a much lower price but masses of downloads could net you a decent income… with support sales on top. But earning just $12 a year to provide support when somebody buying the theme outright would get you nearly four times that a year… and you’d have the actual sale of the theme to start with. So yeah, I’m not buying that they get $1 a month and that’s it. Matt mentioned playing the long game… if the long game results in you getting a quarter of what you’d get when playing the short game… then nobody would ever play the long game.

I mean come on…

Author provides theme, setup and theme support: gets just over 5% of the monthly revenue.

Envato provides hosting and hosting support: gets just under 95% of the monthly revenue.

Unless it’s somebody other than the author that provides support, then it could pay off for long term subscribers, but at $1 a month, that’s gonna take a pretty long time.

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I don’t believe it either, Envato surely aren’t stupid enough to offer authors $1 a month to sign up their themes for this, realistically would have to be a minimum of $5 a month to just make up the theme cost. Realistically needs to be around $10 a month for it to be worth it for any author imho.

It’s also not clear on 2 points:

  1. Who provides the installation? Author? Envato? Who supports the site once setup?

  2. What is stopping me signing up for the 7 day free trial, getting my site setup as I require, then I download the data and the theme and cancel? I have a free theme, free demo data setup, will take 5 minutes to move that to my own hosting and I have hours of work done for free and a free theme. Not saying anyone will do this but sounds so easy.

Why are Envato offering a free trial? How many webhosts offer free trials? there just seems to be too many risks involved financially and work wise for authors to get involved imho.


Where did you guys get the idea that the theme author does not get the amount from the initial sale?

The theme author gets the item sale price + $1/month

Thats a bit better but 1 usd thats still bad. Who gets the biggest cut? Envato i guess. Who does the instalation etc.