New "free files" landing page: Free WordPress Themes

We’ve just launched a new initiative for ThemeForest, with a brand new Free WordPress Themes landing page. This is an evolution of our existing Free Files strategy, aimed at maximising organic traffic (the single largest source of visitors to all our marketplaces) from web searches.

Free files play an important role in attracting new customers, and in showcasing the types of items that they can purchase on Envato Market. They’re also a powerful tool for introducing customers to author portfolios, helping those authors to benefit via cross-selling opportunities.

How are the free themes selected?
All themes featured on the new landing page are drawn from the existing ThemeForest Free File Nomination topic in the ThemeForest forum. If you have an item that you’d like to nominate for one of our promotional campaigns, you can find links to all the current nomination threads here.

How often do the items on the landing page change?
Free themes will currently be offered for ~1 month, using a similar model to our long-established Free File of the Month promotion. We’ll be refreshing the content in this page as each new batch of items are ready for promotion.

Why does it only feature WordPress items?
This is an initiative driven by our SEO team, aimed at increasing our ranking for the free wordpress themes search term. This is a highly competitive term to rank for, and so we’re trying a new approach to our offering in this area.

Will all the other item categories get their own version of this?
At this stage, we’re focused on carefully measuring the success of the WordPress landing page, and learning from this. The results from this test will help us determine the best approach to using free item promotions in future.

Will this replace the Free File of the Month?
Not at this stage - you can still find all current Free File of the Month items on the front page of each Envato Market site. However, the Free WordPress Themes landing page will provide us with valuable data that will help us to optimise the Free File of the Month system.

If you have any questions about the new landing page, please let me know.


I think WordPress on Elements will do exactly the same thing :wink:


Brilliant Idea by the SEO Team. Especially since tag word is also used by … :zipper_mouth_face: Great idea guys! This should increase views tenfold.


Great idea

@BenLeong I see one really glaring issue on that page, why are the item author names so non-prominent, and worst of all, unlinked?

The top copy needs updating to reflect that these items are being given free of charge by the generous authors of each item. Right now the authors participating have no real means of promotion, not even a link to their profile on the author names.

EDIT: @BenLeong – just saw that authors names are now linked, that’s a positive change, nice one.


Because people searching for “free WordPress theme” are really apt to navigate from that landing and spend $60 on another theme, brilliant…

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Actually they do, it’s a basic marketing technique proven to work time and time again. 99.9% of “free anything” websites do this, and have “premium sections”. You can get the free version, limited or unlimited, or you can get the premium version, 10x more powerful with perk1, perk2, perk3. It’s actually a brilliant tactic, considering that keyword is making a lot of negative impact in other more … silent areas! :wink:


2 Questions.

1: Going forward can you at least make sure the themes that are being offered have been updated this year? It is WordPress after all, updates are crucial to keep a theme useful.

2: Can an affiliate showcase the free themes on their own website and link back to the Envato free themes page like with other free files of the month?


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Hi @ThemeCompare. That’s great feedback - thanks!

Items featured on the Free WordPress Themes landing page (or as the Free File of the Month) now require an additional security audit with the ThemeForest Quality team, before they’re approved for the page. That helps to pre-empt issues with outdated code, though the age of the theme and time since last update are still important factors. The August free themes have all been updated within the last 12 months, but one of them hasn’t been updated this calendar year.

Affiliates can absolutely promote these themes, linking to the landing page :smiley: Just make sure you add your affiliate tracking code to the URL as normal, and you’ll receive the standard affiliate commission from any new customers that you refer to Envato Market if they make a purchase or deposit within 90 days of arriving via your link.

To @tommusrhodus’ point on more visibility for author profiles, we’ve also added Author Profile links to the author names on the landing page - that change went live in last Friday’s update.


Hi Ben! We didn’t realize that the new “free files” landing page wouldn’t be mentioned at all on the main Themeforest page. I should have read this thread before getting so excited, because I understood from the email that our item would be featured (as-in on the homepage AND on this new free files page). So that’s my bad for not double checking.

But now that our item is up for free, I don’t see any way to find it on Themeforest. Wouldn’t it make sense add in all the free files in the “Grab September’s free items” section? Or at least add a link to “View More Free Files”? Like this (which would be consistent with the other page sections):


I think the reason why most authors are willing to offer up their premium items for free is for the chance to be featured in some way on the homepage for a fresh burst of traffic to their portfolio. I understand why Themeforest would want a page that ranks for “free WordPress themes” - but with the way it’s setup right now I don’t see how the author is going to benefit. As @tommusrhodus mentioned, not much credit is given to the authors (other than a grayed-out link), and the text on the page comes off as more of a marketing pitch about Themeforest instead of being about the themes…


Totally agree.

Hi guys. Thanks for all the feedback so far - I’ve raised it with the team working on the Free WP landing page.

While the Free Themes landing page isn’t currently linked to from the ThemeForest home page, there are a few other exposure mechanisms that it’s worth mentioning in a bit more detail, as they won’t be as obvious to people outside those channels (new customers, various email segments, etc):

First is a new automated email series, which we have begun sending to all new ThemeForest customers. On Aug 31, a new email was added to that sequence featuring the Free WordPress Themes landing page. This is aimed at customer retention, as the overwhelming majority of TF customers historically buy a single item.

It’s very early days so far, but early results (from the first few thousand recipients) have been very strong: the open and click-through data are among the highest we’ve seen. Helping to transition one-off customers into regular buyers is a big win for the marketplace, as we’d all like to see more repeat purchases :slight_smile:

Second is growing the number of good quality backlinks to the page from places like the Envato Blog (see this high-traffic article for example) and our social media profiles, with many links now added to other blog articles where the free theme page is relevant. That’s helping with the broader SEO-driven goal of ranking for one of the most hotly contested searches affecting our customers - I’ll be sharing details on this once we have more data, but the early results there have been promising.

Third (on a similar note) is some work that our Affiliates team have started doing, particularly where they work directly with affiliates to help them optimise what they’re doing. Our top affiliates already use free files intensively as lead-generation tools, and many of them have begun linking across to our landing page now we’ve confirmed that referral links will still function as normal for any new customers who go on to make a first purchase or deposit on Envato Market.

We definitely aren’t ruling out more ways of making that landing page visible, but the current Free Themes landing page is focused around our SEO and Traffic teams (aimed at bringing brand-new people to ThemeForest), with a secondary goal of helping retain new customers after their first purchase. The market homepages have a different goal: once people arrive, the ThemeForest homepage needs to be optimised for converting new visitors into paying customers.

Hope that helps to shed some light on what’s happening behind the scenes! More feedback (on the forums, or via PM/email) is always valuable - I can make sure it reaches the right teams, and we’ll keep on evolving and improving this process.

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Great feedback. In cases like this, transparency reports of this kind would go a long way if they were included in the initial announcement, or perhaps a sidenote that they would be coming after a month or two of results. There’s a feeling these days that Envato does a lot under cover of darkness, and this kind of clear explanation goes a huge distance to removing that feeling. Nice one @BenLeong!


Thank you for replying Ben! It’s nice to know someone at Envato is listening. Even though we still think a link on the Themeforest homepage would be a welcome addition that’s great that Envato is promoting the page through other channels.

One other random question though - is there any tracking for the downloads of free items? Just curious :slight_smile: