I am mostly writing my thoughts, maybe other authors share the same feelings.
NOTE: I am an author only on CodeCanyon, so my points might not apply to all the other marketplaces.
The Envato Marketplaces were and are a great place to easily get started with selling digital products and the Envato team is doing a great job with growing the community and company, but as a marketplace author I felt neglected for the past 2-3 years.
I will get straight to the point: I think that the advantages that the Envato marketplaces offer have diminished over time, while the commission rates stayed the same and the author experience got worse. I am seriously considering moving to another platform, but I like this community and don’t want to throw away 8 fun years of gathering badges, working for good reviews and commission rates improvements.
My main reasons to think the commissions are too high for what the platform offers:
NOTE: Most of this list is the result of the fact that we are told and see that we do have to market our own items if we want to increase/maintain our sales.
Analytics: Currently my biggest issue is conversion tracking and optimization. I know I bring buyers to my CodeCanyon product page that have the intention to buy, but they don’t and I have no idea why. There is no easy way (that I know of) to even know if a user I brought myself to Envato buys my own item or not.
Traffic: The amount of traffic and number of sales generated by the traffic coming from the marketplace itself has decreased over time.
Commission rates: Currently from a sale of $59 I receive $43, that is ~25% commission rate. Using a payment provider the commissions are around 5%, so I would receive around $56. Linked to the traffic issue above: the difference of $16 could be used to market the product and get way more traffic than the one coming from the marketplace.
Referrals: The new affiliate platform (impact) sometimes fails to register conversions. I know I bring customers that create new accounts and buy my own products, yet I don’t always get a commission. Because of this it’s hard to trust the platform and plan budgets for ad campaigns. The older system was also a lot easier to use ?ref=authorName.
Envato elements: This has been said many times before, showing a banner on our own product pages when we bring our own users is not really author friendly. We don’t really care about the numbers, if it affects our sales or not, it is just that the majority of authors said they really don’t want something, yet our voice was ignored.
Missing important features: We have asked for some of those features for years, the lack of which vastly limits our marketing possibilities, features like:
- Coupon codes.
- Discounted prices (show that item is 30% off).
- Better/easier to integrate analytics (as mentioned above).
- Integrated item support system (why would we send customers to a different platform to get support for an item purchased on this platform?).
- Better item upload/update experience. (outdated item editor, when updating an item the changelog is only visible to the reviewer, not the customers, no API to update items, etc.).
We were told that most of those features couldn’t be implemented because the platform codebase is really old and every new feature is like mixing even more the spaghetti code. How should we as authors and users of the platform feel about using an archaic system that has little to no chance of being updated any time soon? Why shouldn’t we switch to a platform whose future looks brighter than this?
Exclusive authors have 0 flexibility. As an exclusive author I feel really limited because:
- I sometimes want to offer my items for free. For example I want to send my WordPress plugin to a blog publication for review, yet there is no way to do that within the current license without the blog owner actually creating an account on Envato and purchasing the item. This could be solved with the coupons feature or with a less strict exclusive policy.
- I want to sell different versions of my items (one for basic users with minified code, one for developers with documented code and dev builds). The current licenses/terms don’t allow for that.
Extra steps for buyers. If I bring a lot of users to my product’s landing page and they decide to buy, they go to the Pricing page of my site and then choose a version/license of the product. Once they click buy they are drive away from my site to the Envato site where they have to click a few times, create a new Envato account where they have to fill like 7-8 fields, then fill in their billing details, etc. The idea is that this flow is very bad for the conversion rate, people who wanted to buy the item now have tens of reasons to drop the purchase. Why is that form so cluttered? Can just ask for the email and fill the rest later, after they make the purchase. Why even send the user to a different site? It could just be a modal popup for the user to enter email/payment info and then get the item without ever leaving the site. I know that the point of the marketplace is to sell the items within the marketplace, but we are also advised to market our own products, but how can we market it if we can not track properly the conversions and have to rely on a less-than-perfect check-out experience.
This list could go on and on, for me the overall feeling is that the Envato Marketplaces have stagnated for too long and the improvement rate is really, really slow. During this time the rest of the digital goods ecosystem has evolved a lot more than the Envato Marketplaces did.
My main reasons to stay:
- Staying here is the easy way, as I don’t have to research, test and get used to a new workflow or setup new accounting systems.
- Profile: I have a lot of cool badges and good profile rating.
- You can still sell a lot without marketing thanks to the huge customers base, but this is usually the exception to the rule, as I can bet that the average revenue/item has decreased drastically in the last few years.
In conclusion I just want to ask two questions:
- @Authors: How do others feel about this? Are you happy with the current state of the marketplace and the communication between authors and Envato?
- @Envato: Considering all the points above, why should authors keep creating or even selling their existing items exclusively on the Envato Marketplaces? Non-exclusively might still make sense, as in most cases it can just be extra income brought by the marketplace traffic.
I did and will not post any links to alternative marketplaces or payment providers for digital goods, but there are endless examples of both, I am trying to see why would I choose Envato over them.
Sorry for the long “ranty” post and I don’t mean to belittle in any way the value that Envato as a company provides; I am genuinely trying to make the best for my company’s future and thought others might be in the same position as me.
Thanks for reading!