Our Business is Almost Died and Here are the Reasons

This is prety, prety ridiculous. Our business is almost died and here are the reasons, before that, a bit of reflection regarding ThemeForest from 2014:

2013 - 2014

Everything was going healthy and fine, ONLY top quality themes accepted and a limited and stable number a day to keep the market fair competition and success.

No silly USA move, just smart and proper decisions

No pricing game, authors really put value on their efforts and offered their theme by a price fair and proper for their efforts and support coverage.

No ADP, this shit thing only break the WHOLE theme market not just ThemeForest but the entire industry.

Author success stories, a lot of them!

2015 - 2017

Funny USA move that would bring us more sales. It is a lie! the sales have gone down! Simple as that… and on our back taxes, a lot of taxes.

An endless waterfall of cheap approved items, everyday dozens of new themes, as result no proper exposure, no sales, no profit, no success.

ADP, finally the most silly decisions of all, if you give full price control for a global community, the result is what you are seeing, race to bottom, and now even power elite authors entered the silly pricing game. As result no sales, cheap items everywhere, no value over efforts. It is unbelievable when authors decide to offer their themes for $13, they pay $12 for envato and get $1 per sale. How funny is this? Only to break co authors, only to break the market?! Why don’t you offer your items for free out of ThemeForest?! Authors here have families, have kids and need to pay our bills, please don’t break the whole market.

I saw small market places decided to keep fixed price and this is smart, this protect the market, it is done in authors favors. Envato doesn’t think in authors, as long they eat their $12 in every item sale, the authors suffer the issues of finding some alternative job, and this is RIDICULOUS!

Another monster arrived: ELEMENTS, another thing the break us, they invite silly authors to work for pennies and put elements banner everywhere, even authors who make paid ads is paying for envato when they lead traffic to theme forest and visitors see the colorfull banners and are directed to Elements, this is ilegal and unfair!

Now the race to bottom from power elites. We have reached the end!


  • Stop ADP,
  • Stop the waterfall of endless new item approvals everyday, this could increase exposure of items and improve the overall sales.
  • No banner of elements on authors pages.
  • Elements only for graphics items not themes.
  • Increase quality threshold for WordPress themes acceptance.
  • Fixed and Fair Prices for Everybody.
  • Delete all the 2 stars rating or too old items with less than 10 sales.

I also have to chirp in and give my 2 pennies because I have been thinking about the effects of “ADP” for a while…

I 100% agree with you, but I have to say that I think ADP is the worst move, and also on Envato’s behalf financially - I mean, it just does not make any sense.

ADP is not just devaluing WordPress themes on ThemeForest, it’s devaluing “WordPress Themes” as a whole, as ThemeForest is by far the major player in this market.

The question is WHY would you want to take something like a WordPress theme, which is the majority of your business, and decrease it’s value from $60~ to ~$20.

Before ADP a WordPress theme in general was worth about $60 USD, now we are working on devaluing themes in general to a point where customers WILL only want to purchase themes for $15-$20.

I mean it is ridiculous, if you look at the marketplace and see that a whole chunk of WP themes are priced at $15… Come on guys - well done… (sarcasm)

Even for Envato to make a business decision like this, that devalues WP themes that is the biggest part of their business, makes no sense to me.

I am so grateful to Envato for everything this business has and does offer me, but I feel like the future is very possibly unstable - for a lot of us.

I am finding I am waking up in the morning, and am almost “demotivated” to work on some of my Themes. So I am also beginning to invest time into other personal online business’s and projects.

ADP and the “devaluing of WP themes as a whole”, it’s disappointing to see, it’s demotivating…

If we are not going to get rid of ADP, to preserve the general value of a WordPress theme for every author and also Envato’s sake, we could:

  1. Either remove ADP and set item prices at a default (still freeing Envato staff time).
  2. Set a minimum that a theme can be priced for, something reasonable such as $39.

This would benefit everyone…

Anyways there’s my thoughts on the whole ADP situation, hopefully if we can get more authors to speak up on their thoughts about this, Envato will either remove ADP, or make some changes to it.

We just logged into our account at ThemeForest and quite frankly are shocked by what is transpiring. This price cutting that is occurring to grab marketshare is insane, and we cannot fathom why ThemeForest is allowing this to occur. There should be a floor for each type of theme, and in fact the multipurpose themes (of which our sole theme at ThemeForest is one) should have a min price with the author able to go higher, but not lower.

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Only reason that Envato is very happy about whats is happening is money. They slapped fixed 12$ per theme sale and cash it on every sale while all authors race to bottom.

I hope that authors will leave Envato for other markets and that will force their hand. There is few markets now that give non-excusive 70% from price and generate more sales at higher price.


The thing is, I don’t see how even Envato is profiting from this.

By reducing the value of a WordPress theme (on a rough scale) from $59 down to $20~, both authors AND Envato are losing money.

ADP makes absolutely no sense.

But they are profiting, if by lowering prices number of sales goes up high enough they make more money and authors get shorter end of the stick.

If this was not true they would never set fixed 12$ on theme sale and then allowed authors to dive with prices. ADP in this form makes no sense for authors, but for Envato it is easy money. They switched from quality to quantity.

They even have audacity to take % from selling support of themes.

If theirs intent would be to allow authors to run promotions, fairest way would be system just to manage promotions with builded in limitations and honesty. Now we have all time 50+% off on all themes from arbitrary numbers. But promotions are cut from authors part.


Yeah, if they get three sales at $20, compared to one sale at $60, they make a lot more money.

One sale of a $60 Wordpress theme makes Envato $30.00
Two sales of a $30 Wordpress theme makes Envato $37.50
Four sales of a $15 Wordpress theme makes Envato $52.50

If they’d kept the 20% buyers fee going, then it would look like this…

One sale of a $60 Wordpress theme makes Envato $30.00
Two sales of a $30 Wordpress theme makes Envato $30.00
Four sales of a $15 Wordpress theme makes Envato $30.00

Although it’s unlikely that sales would double, the instant everyone halves the price of their items… so if they’d kept the buyers fee as a percentage, they would have been losing money. This way, they’re covering their backs. So whereas a lot of people are saying that Envato didn’t think this through… it’s pretty clear to me that they thought it through quite considerably.


And there is my only point, authors seems to be naive that Envato is this great company that cares about community and what is happening is simply result of random decision. This is well though decision.

I think they do care about the community to an extent. People need to realise that it’s a business though, not a charity or some kind of cooperative. With any similar type of business it’s kind of like a three legged stool. One leg is the needs and wants of the authors, one the buyers, and the other the shareholders. If you hack away at any one leg too much, then the stool is going to topple over, so they need to find a balance. I’m sure they want their author community to be happy, and fulfilled, and feel that they’re valued, but they also need to keep turning a profit, meet the needs of their buyers, comply with regulations and ensure the financial longevity of the company.

Maybe they’ve been hacking away at the author leg a bit more than usual over the past couple of years… but not enough for the stool to topple over. Authors are still regularly submitting new items, and new authors are regularly signing up. It’s not like any of the changes have been implemented specifically to annoy authors though… they’ve been implemented to make things better for buyers, to ensure they are compliant and to make more money for Envato. And when it comes to the marketplaces… the only way Envato can make more money (without reducing commission rates or reducing operating costs) is to generate more money from sales, which means more money for the author community as a whole.

Individuals might not be seeing more money, but with more authors and more items, there’s only a slightly bigger pie to share amongst a much bigger community. That’s inevitable as the company grows and there’s not much they can do to stop it. I see a lot of comments saying that sales are the same or even less than before Envato moved to the US, which means that it was a failure and they should never have done it. The thing is, without knowing the stats, it’s impossible to say whether sales would have been even lower if they hadn’t have moved to the US. Correlation doesn’t automatically mean causation.

Anyway, just thinking out loud there!


Thanks PlugSoft. It’s like a releasing. You just told everything that I have in my mind for the last years. In 2014 I was so glad to join this “community” and start selling good stuff. Create what you want and sell it, sounds like a dream job to me. I even abandoned freelance projects to completely focus on ThemeForest. First, it was just PSD templates. Then I’ve realized that PSD is not enough for me, so I learned HTML. The first HTML released and boom, gets in a popular first week with about 20 sales. It was a great feeling, so I continued to make good templates, some of them had medium sales, some were best sellers. But anyway, I was satisfied, as my efforts were not in vain.

2015 - 2017
Then, “you know what” happened. HTML is not sellable anymore, PSD, CMS categories are dying and the investments of efforts and time are not worth it anymore. It’s fine, I thought, maybe there is still hope to make money in WordPress, but most of my partners are either disappeared or escaped from Envato in order to survive. So the only chance is to learn WordPress and after this, you could earn cents from it?
Not cool at all. So, for me, this experience looks like climbing the mountain with rocks attached to your back and every month it gets harder. I wish Envato will publish my success story in their blog :mask:

Fun Facts:

  1. I made more money on PSD in 2014 than some authors are making right now in WordPress themes.
  2. Most of my WordPress partners escaped from Envato in order to survive.
  3. You have to learn Design, Usability, HTML, CSS, JS, PHP, WordPress, Marketing and make your item unique and then earn $1 :grinning: (I’m talking about some themes that are priced at $13)

So, I want to ask other authors, what is your future plans, are willing to continue fighting? Do you have a backup plan, if yes, then can you share with others?


future looks scary to me aswell,
but in modern life… you need to keep changing your business strategy every 3-5 (even in simplest terms…websites to mobile apps and tomorrow there may be something like AI apps)

so my take is…
stay as long as its survivable in envato,
when you feel its not survivable…start looking for alternatives (even if you hate some of those jobs like bidding in freelancing sites)
take a breath and think…what other new alternatives you can do.
finally when its not possible to survive at all…simpley run away from envato.

i know this is not as easy as typing but we are forced to do it.


Yes. For most authors, it’s a bad case. But for people who are bringing quality not quantity - it’s good. They just have to stick with quality.

Also for authors who can’t adjust to new game rules.
You should know what customers would need additional to your theme. I have seen more and more theme authors selling add-ons on their site. It’s a smart move.

With cheap theme they get more people buy their theme. More people will need additional things and more people might need add-ons they created. As they sell them on their support page - they keep the money. Smart move.

Yes, ADP screwed quality and market, but it was planned move and everyone who understands the market should expect it. It’s only authors problem that they didn’t prepare.

Best move that is not good for a customer here. Sell cheap and upsell on your website.

This is what happens when a bunch of designers from socialist countries don’t understand basic economics.

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Totally agreed with you.

  • stop ADP
  • approve good quality item
  • remove element ad

Sales are getting low. All hopes are gone !

Good article. But suggest you all just do not sell items. Use this as business platform. Hope you understand. Be a boss do not search for safe employment.

ADP is good. But Envato must take some actions for Authors. I dont understand that, how a so huge company make these faults.
Before going into ADP, they can ask in forums. There are so much clever authors here, and they can find solutions.
For example, my solution is this;

Envato must make some price templates. Authors couldnt change the price as they want.
For example;

Authors can select among these, and cant select any other price… and this will be better for both market and authors.

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You not understand very good this market, the costumers and the authors :smile:

You believe in success stories!? LOL, seriously!? :laughing: … I can’t stop laughing!

I disagree with you, As you said that ADP should be removed there should be fixed prices of items but i think that everyone should have right to set their own price for their item as they only know how much efforts they put to make the item and lets say you want to sell a bundle of php scripts will you sell it on the price ($21-$35) set by the reviewer.So having ADP is not wrong.I agree with all other points you mentioned,you said that there should be no waterfall of new items every day as each item gets only 24 hrs to be sold and then new items replace them.

I’m not an Author, but I am a businessman with marketing skills.

It certainly would appear that ADP is a cause for concern - or is it? Here’s my view.

Firstly, I’m quite confident Envato value their authors. However, its still a business and businesses must often make tough decisions in order to survive in an ever increasing competitive environment. Sometimes, decisions work out well, sometimes they don’t. Envato strikes me a company who would admit a bad decision and reverse it if it was deemed necessary.

If ADP continues as is, then yes many authors may lose money - for a while. Upon realising that a price war is no good for anyone, authors may lift their prices again. However, this could take some time and a number of authors may not survive this period.

Western Australia has experienced a price war in the home building industry for some time. What has resulted from this is less value to the consumer, less pay for the trades people, discounting from suppliers and poor quality homes. This is not sustainable and a number of building companies have collapsed. Maybe its intentional. Perhaps the big builders are doing this intentionally to ensure the smaller builders collapse so they can take their market share - a number of building companies have collapsed.

Here’s the thing. Once upon a time, it seems, Envato was a more viable sales platform for you and you were happy to be an exclusive author. Today, it seems the rules have changed. While registering your concerns with Envato is obviously the best first logical and correct step, perhaps authors need to make changes also. Just as when there is a WordPress update, there is a flow-on effect - themes & plugins must be updated. Envato has changed and you need to adapt to this change. If Envato also suffer as a result of your need to adapt, then Envato will also need to act. Evolution is a time of learning and of growth for everyone.

What would I do in your shoes?

The first retaliation, for me, would be that it no longer makes sense to pace all my eggs in one basket, that basket being Envato. I would realise that I, myself, must have control over my income and not solely depend on Envato.

Next, I would talk with my fellow authors. I would establish if it’s just me and my themes suffering or if it is across the board. If across the board, I would brainstorm with my fellow authors in effort to develop a solution and a plan to execute this solution.

Next, I would create a petition and have as many authors as I could get on board. I would lodge this petition with Envato and give them 21 days to respond. If the response was favourable, all good. If not, I would move forward with my plan to evolve.

If the response from Envato was not favourable, the next thing I would do is become an nonexclusive author.

I would then team up with those authors who joined the petition and move forward with our action plan. This team would consist of a group of very talented & experienced people. What this does is up to the team. However, you build websites for a living, so I’m pretty sure the team would come up with a viable solution with marketing their products and generating sales.

Sometimes, we depend on others so much that we often forget about the value of our own skills, abilities & talent. We forget how to think creatively, solve problems and forget how to market ourselves.

All of you are talented, creative and either yourself and/or those authors around you have what it takes to develop a solution and a plan to market yourselves and generate sales for your products.

Let’s face it. No one is going to do it for you.

You, as an Envato author have direct access to all the talent you need to achieve a desired outcome. One option is to sit still and cry by yourself, possibly ending up cleaning windows for a living. Another option is to take action, embrace the change and move forward while learning new things and growing as a person and as an author.

Everything and everyone you need to succeed is right under your nose.

Change can bring death or it can be used as an opportunity to grow & prosper. It’s all a matter of choice.

Just one man’s opinion. I do hope it opens your eyes to the possibilities.