Introducing Active Content

Back in July 2016, our CEO Collis announced a big internal reorganization at Envato. In that post he outlined how our teams were being rearranged in a way that put the focus on a few key things:

  • Growing customers
  • Improving content
  • Targeting SMBs
  • Supporting the company

The first one is pretty straightforward. The more customers you have, the more opportunity authors have to earn a living, doing what they love. The second item however, is a more difficult to define and measure. What does “improving content” mean, and what does “improved content” look like?

At the time, Collis outlined our plans (at a very high level) to tackle the review system and better manage the incredible library of content from our author community.

Since then, the “content group”, as it has come to be known, has been working behind the scenes to help authors better understand how their items (their content) are performing.

If growing the number of customers is what our customer group is doing, growing the size and quality of our content library is the chief goal of the content group.

Today, we want to introduce you to just one of the concepts the content group uses to measure success. The idea is active content, a term we use to describe those items which have been sold in any given period. For the purposes of this post, let’s say of 90 days.

Why active content?

What is it about an “active item” that makes it an ideal key result for us to work on improving? For starters, items that sell are increasingly likely to sell more.

When a customer sees that an item has already been purchased, that little bit of social proof takes down a barrier to future sales. Previous sales activity communicates trust, quality and sustainability to future buyers.

Selling well (or being active) also has implications for exposure too. For example, an item that is active could end up trending, or attract the attention of Envato’s marketing team.

Another reason why we’re focusing on active content is that generally, it means that authors are earning money from their items. We want to know which items. We care both about the number of items that are active and the percentage. These together give us a great feel for how a portfolio, category or marketplace are doing in helping our community to earn a living.

Finally, active content is something that enables better decision-making and clarity for the Content Group. We’re all working toward the same goals and key result of improving active content.

Is there anything that an author can do to improve their active content?

One of the quickest and easiest ways to improve active content is to self-evaluate. Ask the questions, “are there any items here that haven’t sold in a while or ever? Are they likely to sell in the future? Is there anything that can be done to increase that item’s exposure and potential for sales?” In other circumstances, it might be right to ask if it’s time to retire an inactive item.

We’d love to hear what you think about active content. Check out the article on the Author Hub here and comment below to share your thoughts or questions. Thanks!


Ask the questions, “are there any items here that haven’t sold in a while or ever? Are they likely to sell in the future? Is there anything that can be done to increase that item’s exposure and potential for sales?


And I am suggesting “Dead content” - if no sales in last 12 months, remove it from the market.



Sorry, a BIG disagree from me!

On the other hand some companies already have similar concepts. It would be better to put those files in to a sort of B-class items (with max price allowed, bigger discounts, better prices for bulk downloads (more items at the time for one buyer), bigger free section and not a free section of 5, 10 files every month, etc).

If following your suggestion, there would at the end only be top companies (authors) with most expensive arsenal of equipment, actors, subjects, places, … selling let us say video clips. With good or with bad quality. Niche items would vanished, authors would vanished, etc. Community ruined.

Nope! Not on so hard way as you suggest. :wink:

No hard feelings! Only tried to explain my position, my POV to suggestion of removing ‘dead’ items from market.

Of course there are also good points of your suggestion; market would be more clear, easier to found items, etc. It is not everything so bad.

Something in the middle would be fine. I am elsewhere, other companies, and trust me, they have good solutions how to make a real cash from let us say B-class items (slow or no selling one).

What bothers me even 10x more is review time … Sorry, I know - wrong section …



In the last two years this is what happened:

  1. Downgrade the average authors earning of min 30%.
  2. Fill and saturate the market with 80% of trash themes or plugins that are approved also if they are of very low quality.
  3. Promote only the quantity instead of the quality.

Very good work!

About the decision to remove old items that don’t sold, I agree. But I think the best thing is to move them to a separated section with only contains these old items at very low prices ($2-5 for templates for example)



In my opinion, it is a bad idea to use sales as a classification criteria.

Let me explain myself:

I worked for several weeks on

I have excellent user feedback, 5 stars (5.00 average based on 8 ratings) but very little sales. The low sales are due to a great lack of visibility on Google, itself due to very strong competition on the terms “jQuery Slideshow”, etc…

I work with difficulty on this SEO. If this item was removed or downgraded it would be a great disappointment, and it would seem to me unjustified.

On the other hand, I regularly browse through items and find 404 errors on previews, missing images or miscellaneous errors: it seems to me much more relevant to sanction or remove these items rather than considering the number of sales.

An idea would be to use a simple engine like Xenu ( to detect 404 errors, contact the authors to update their item, and then downgrade or delete it if the author doesn’t do the necessary.


It depends if you have the search engine on your side. I have some items which sell good, but have original titles. The problem is that nobody will see them because their titles are not keywords. You’ve said you want to encourage authors to make more valueable and unique items. Start with the titles and bring a focus on the tags.


I don’t understand this post, and I usually understand all of them quite clearly! Sorry to be critical, but here are my thoughts…

  1. You’ve provided a name for something that already exists. That’s fair enough, being able to define something is always a good thing when it comes to monitoring data and keeping an eye on trends and the like. But still… active content existed before the content group came along, there just wasn’t a name for it.

  2. Now we have a name for it, we have a defined metric that can be focused on. Good stuff! But there’s no mention in the announcement of how you’re going to focus on these items. Do you have anything in mind? Will the data be used to focus marketing spend, the allocation of featured items, will the active content ‘score’ of an author alter anything when it comes to levels, commissions, opportunities, inclusion in promotions and the like?

  3. So throughout, there’s no mention of what Envato intent to do with this new active content metric. There is a bit of a flimsy paragraph at the end which mentions how authors can improve active content. And I guess the advice could be used to move non-active content across the border into the arena of active content. I.e. increase your items’ exposure and potential for sales… and consider deleting items that haven’t sold and are unlikely to sell.

That’s all sound advice, but it’s a bit lacking in depth. Maybe an article on increasing an item’s exposure… or an article on increasing an item’s potential for sales, rather than just saying “increase that item’s exposure and potential for sales”. And none of us know if we have active items or not unless they’re selling every day. “Let’s say 90 days…” means it might be a lot less or it might be a lot more. You may have this new metric, but we don’t really know what the parameters are.

And that’s the thing… when we succeed, you succeed and when you succeed, we succeed… but there’s a massive disconnect between Envato and authors. Aside from the technical requirements of an item, the only input authors get from Envato is if an item is approved or if it is declined. Approved: good. Rejected: bad. You have data coming out of your pores when it comes to the technical aspects of the site, the UX, the UI, the sales journey. A/B testing etc… but you have zero data on the main thing that customers come here for in the first place… the items. Or you do have lots of data but have decided not to share, one of the two.

At most other sites, you at least get an annual or monthly email showing top selling areas… ‘dudes shaking hands’ are up 25%, drone shots are selling 50% more than last quarter etc, people are using the keywords ‘space crabs’ more often, we’ve noticed a brand new trend in people looking for themes on goldfish etc etc.

Why not do some kind of ultra mega survey on buyers? A survey to end all surveys. From a video standpoint… we could figure out once and for all what percentage of people are on CS6 and which ones have transitioned to CC, what is the optimal length of a logo sting, what percentage of buyers have Particular/Form, how important is the price when deciding on an item, rank the importance of the thumbnail, preview video, description, what percentage of your purchases are HD vs. 4K and how do you expect that to change next year, do you prefer to go with the latest styles or more classic designs, what is your computer spec, what info is most important to you in a description etc etc etc. Give some fancy prizes to ensure a decent volume of people.

I’ve mentioned this before, but although there are pages and pages of advice for authors on content… it all seems to fall into two categories. Things you have to do, or things you can’t do, to make sure the item is approved (technical aspects)… and things you should do to make sure we come at the top of Google. There’s nothing on the meat and bones of what customers want and how they want it. You must have this kind of info so I just find it strange that you’re not dishing it out so your author base can create what customers need and what they want.

So yeah… sorry to sound critical. I love you all very much, but it just seems like this is coming across as what seems like a big announcement… that doesn’t really announce anything. It’s just a vague suggestion that people might want to take a glance over their portfolio. Is this just the first phase of some kind of ‘content group invasion’… planting the seed for some bigger changes down the line? Maybe automatic deletion of non-active items, potential consequences for author’s with a low ‘active items score’ and potential opportunities for author’s with ‘high active item scores’?


As I can see the whole idea of Active Content is clear marketplaces and put everything in order.
But,it would be very nice to know how Envato is going to do that.
Is there will be auto-deletion of files,or there will be motivation for authors to delete old items.
It’s good to know how all this Active Content thing will work
Because now it’s look like this:
Delete non-selling items or promote them to get sales.
Question:What is the part of Envato in that process? How it will help to promote bad selling items or deleting them?


Just great, if I re-think. It is mission impossible to upload a new file here. I quit uploading time ago. Waiting half a year? And rejections after that … And now all bad selling or non selling items will be removed?
Biggest players (stock footage companies) (talking for clips-videos) do not delete those kind of items. No way! For now this the truth; perhaps in the future they will do the same. I do not know.

Better to use promotion techniques on bad selling or non selling items to make them ‘live content’. At least for a while, and not just simply delete them at once.

1 Like

They’ve not said that, just to be clear… unless they missed something out from the announcement. They’ve just said that you should consider evaluating your portfolio and consider getting rid of items that don’t sell and are unlikely to do so. Although, it slightly strange to announce something that makes no real change to anything… so it might happen in the future. Watch this space!

Maybe there will be announcement of deleting all dead accounts without sales and new items?
Like If in 1-3 month there will be no activity then account will be permanetly deleted from Envato marketplaces.
Or something like that.

Well … I just started updating old items(3 days ago). That is, there is no sense in updating them? Because they are old and will be deleted?

@SpaceStockFootage: thank you! :slight_smile:

Can you answer if whether having old inactive products can affect your portfolio/other items via something like the Envato Search Algorithm? I.e. are they any detrimental issues that arise apart from a cluttered marketplace? Do you penalize authors who have old items?

Because every now and then I still get 1 or 2 sales from my older items/inactive. I don’t see a point in removing them since they don’t require much work to maintain and at the end of the day, a couple of dollars is better than nothing. But if you can confirm to us, that having these low/inactive items is detrimental to your portfolio, then maybe I should reconsider.


Hmm… Perhaps this is a way to move products to Elements? “We’re sorry your item is not “Active.” We will delete it, or you can choose to have it on Elements where it will be downloaded and you will earn $ 0.2713”


I’d rather update my items ( as I’m doing now ) all of them and add more feautres. I think buyers won’t appreciate the fact that an item they’ve purchased gets killed. Rather give it new life maybe?

But indeed. No mention of items being killed / removed


If the process will systemic than it is a good decision and wise-step. There is so many items with 0 - 10 sales in a year and they are converting the market to full of confusion for buyers and giving, ebay like feeling :dizzy_face:
It will better move them to archive section than the complete removal, so any, who is really interested than he can grab it.


If that would mean 50 downloads per week per clip - I am for it! :wink:

From the ThemeForest author perspective: there are many WordPress themes which do not work on latest WordPress versions. I believe that such themes have no place on the marketplace because you should always keep your WP installation up to date. I guess there is a big correlation between such themes and themes which do not sell anymore. I mean you either have experienced buyers who will never buy such theme, or newbies who may eventually buy it, but they will almost certainly refund it when they find out the theme is not working. I can imagine that such customer may never buy anything here again. Outdated themes like that are just bloating the search results for themes which are up to date and maintained. So please do something about it.


@svgstephen a few questions:

  1. Could you give some more specifics about the implications of active contact with regards to how this will impact authors, your article is EXTREMELY surface and lacks any real meat, am I to assume that non-active items will be relegated in search results?

  2. Will active vs. non-active items be communicated to authors? As in, will we have a visual indicator somewhere that will show us, on our items, which Envato considers “active” and which it considers “non-active”, or will be left to guess this ourselves.

  3. Will there be penalties toward an account having a certain percentage of non-active vs. active items? For example, if a portfolio is above 50% non-active, the entire account will be downgraded in search results etc.

Please be extremely transparent on changes like this, far too much of my experience here is guesswork already, this seems to have the potential to make things more complicated still.

Cheers - Tom