Originally published at: https://community.envato.com/sevenstyles-went-become-first-australian-author-earn-1-million/
The size of a bodybuilder, Brad Goble, 30, - better known as SevenStyles - doesn’t look like someone who has made a career from behind the screen of a computer. Yet, he’s the first Author on GraphicRiver to cross the million dollar threshold, and the first Australian to do so on any of Envato’s marketplaces.
On the day I meet him in Melbourne he’s travelled an hour from Heathmont - a small suburban town in the city’s east - to meet me for coffee. But as we’re about to leave Envato headquarters, he’s commandeered by the team putting together Envato Elements - a new service offering an unlimited subscription of graphic design assets.
They’re aiming to get Brad to submit some of his content, but are finding him reluctant to commit to joining at launch.
As Brad listens to them attempt to win him over, I can see him switch from his shy, reserved personality - uneasy with the attention focused on him - into a confident and tactile professional. As the Elements team explains the product to him, his curiosity flares up wildly and he begins asking questions in quick succession about its user interface, and business model.
While his enthusiasm for the product’s design is on show, so too is his genuine anxiety about the subscription model potentially cannibalizing his GraphicRiver sales. And although the has tried to quell his fears, the discussion comes to a close with no clear outcome as to whether Brad will come onboard at launch or not.
It was only around five years ago that Brad was working a retail job at local office supplies store, Officeworks, pining for the freedom to quit and do something creative.
One night while searching for a new way to make money he came across a flurry of stock photography sites. But it was the variety of different categories on GraphicRiver that captured his attention.
He was also intrigued by the respectable amount of money one Author had been able to make from what he termed a “really average flyer template”.
Having used Adobe programs since he was in high school and looking at the lackluster job this Author had done with his item, Brad had an epiphany that lead him to start his own GraphicRiver account and begin creating flyer templates a lot quicker and better than anyone else.
“He was self-conscious. He knew what he wanted, but he didn’t know how to get there.”
“I tried to get one out every two to three days”, he told me. “I’d come home from work or from uni and just design, design, design and push them out. And I remember, I ticked over the point where I was making around $200 a week, which was enough for me to leave Officeworks.”
Leaving his retail job freed up a number of hours in the day and for two years from that point Brad would release a steady stream of flyer templates and quickly become the top seller on GraphicRiver.
But producing flyers wasn’t necessarily Brad’s dream. “I initially wanted to be a 3D animator, and so that’s one of the reasons I wanted to do multimedia design”, he explained.
He attended Swinburne University in Melbourne, studying as he produced for GraphicRiver. The course touched on 3D modelling, animation, visual effects and more. “I was enjoying the video production side of it, because you can be really creative. You can implement stuff and they’re still visual effects. And I was using After Effects as well”.
He found this new avenue of creativity so satisfying that when he finished his course, he decided to start a business with a group of fellow students that made use of those skills.
“We made a skydiving video for a business in Melbourne and the owner came to us with a hard-drive of footage and said, ‘Can you guys do something with this? Just do whatever you want’.”
Wanting to do something different they slowed the footage down and made it look like skydivers were floating in mid-air, uploaded it to Vimeo and got 300 thousand views on the first day. It’s gotten over 3.8 million views to date.
The group had hit it big on their first try and they made an even bigger splash on their second. They built a website curating high quality action sports videos which started getting around 20 thousand visits a day.
But two years in the cracks in the business began to show and disagreements in a change of direction lead to the group parting ways.
For the duration of the video business the money Brad was earning from his items on GraphicRiver had kept his head above water financially. But with no new items uploaded to his portfolio for nearly two years his sales had dwindled to the point where - without a paying salary - he was going to struggle to get by.
“At that point I was borrowing money off my family. I had nothing. I was in trouble.”
From a high of $5,000 a month, his GraphicRiver earnings had dropped dramatically to around $1,000. There was a new aggressive competitor in the flyer templates category Brad had once dominated, and with that market having reached saturation he was struggling to find a new product category in which he could gain significant ground. “I was about to apply for jobs. I basically needed a miracle.”
"At that point I was borrowing money off my family. I had nothing. I was in trouble."Then out of nowhere a message arrived in his old company email account. It was from a U.S. based startup asking him personally to do a project for them. They wanted a sports compilation video and they were offering $20 thousand (AUD).
The timing was perfect. However the budget they’d given him to buy footage was modest. “Even for thirty seconds of HD footage it’s around $1,000”, Brad tells me. “I was thinking, ‘God if I buy all these clips, I’m going to end up with no money’.”
Luckily, Brad had developed some relationships with a number of filmmakers and companies during his time in the video business. “So I used my contact list to get in touch with a whole heap of different filmmakers to ask permission to use their footage for free.”
In the end he only had to spend around $3,000 on footage, making a decent profit on the project and stabling his finances. At least for now…
For most of that year Brad had been trying to save up to attend his sister’s wedding in Paris, which was now just around the corner. But after his video company shut down it seemed doubtful he could afford to go. Knowing this, his sister offered to pay for the trip to ensure Brad and his partner Charlotte were there on her special day. But Brad didn’t want his sister to have to foot the bill and as a result chose to pay for the trip himself.
While the profit Brad had made off of the sports montage meant that he could technically afford to attend the wedding, it also meant that if he did he would basically have no money left to come back to.
According to Charlotte, him, his brother and sister have always strived to make their own ways in life.
Their parents always encouraged the Goble children to push themselves to find great success, as evidenced by Brad’s sister’s career in international finance in Hong Kong, his brother’s career in the Australia Army and his own career in video production and graphic design.
It even extends to the other things in life he wants to see happen. Whatever it is he wants, he wants to create for himself.
Whatever it is he wants, he wants to create for himself.
Paying his own way to attend his sister’s wedding fit into this mantra but as expected it cost him dearly. When he returned home he had little more than $1,000 left in his bank account.
“It ruined my holiday a bit thinking about it. So, I came back and jumped onto GraphicRiver and I was just thinking, ‘I have to do something. Something that’s going to have a big impact’.”
While he still had the number one position on GraphicRiver by about 20 thousand sales, he knew it wouldn’t last unless he did something different.
He scoured the marketplace looking for an untapped area with big potential for growth. It was in this search that he came across something he found interesting.
“A guy had done a really basic photo effect action. It was like a hand drawn sketch effect.”
A photo effect “action”is a series of commands that allows you to automate an effect. Seeing that someone had turned this into an actual item you could sell gave Brad the same feeling he’d had two years earlier when he’d stumbled onto GraphicRiver for the first time.
“Again the bells just went off in my head that I could do these a lot better and I could do a lot of them.”
He quickly started researching popular effects people wanted to create. Noticing that dispersion effects were in high demand Brad took that style and figured out how to make a Photoshop action out of it.
“I remember it just exploded when I got it done.”
“Dispersion” started getting fifty downloads a day and Brad quickly caught on to the potential he’d unearthed. “I remember telling Charlotte, ‘You’ll have to trust me, but I’m going to have to work really hard for the next year or two. But it’s going to be worth it’."
With countless more ideas for actions in his head, Brad instilled a rigorous working schedule - essentially turning himself into a human production line in order to release a new action every week.
“I knew if I worked harder and faster, I would be so far away from the competitors that by the time they figured out how to do one, I would be the leader in the area.”
As he picked up speed his sales continued to increase with one of his items even going viral on social networking site, Tumblr, netting over 100 thousand notes - the site’s equivalent of ‘Likes’ and comments.
By early 2015 Brad’s hypothesis had proven correct and he was the overall leader on GraphicRiver and far and away the leader in his category.
Brad’s business was on the up and up and his finances were finally stable and growing. But the intensity of his work schedule was taking its toll on his body and by May of that year his eyes were beginning to hurt.
A condition he’d had since his twenties was preventing the muscle on the right hand side of his left eye from contracting movement to the right. By June of that year the pain had gotten so bad it was becoming unbearable.
Unable to make it through a full day of work looking at a screen he feared the worst.
“I was thinking, ‘I’m done… I won’t be able to do graphic design ever again’.”
Doctors discovered the muscle responsible for contracting movement to the right had completely died away. So on July 31, 2015 he had an operation to correct the problem.
They took the muscle from the left side of his left eye and folded it over to the right, then adjusted the right eye to be in line with his left one. It was a success. But the recovery process left Brad unable to work for two months.
“…they couldn’t get the operation 100% correct”, he tells me. In fact Brad still has to turn his whole body when looking to the right. Even at coffee as I sit opposite him he says I’m a fraction blurry.
But having the operation has allowed him to continue doing the work he loves. And although it inhibited his ability to create new items for two months, it barely made a dent in his sales.
“I was thinking, ‘I’m done… I won’t be able to do graphic design ever again’.”
Brad is now officially an Envato Power Elite Author, surpassing $1 million in earnings and becoming the first Australian on the Envato platform and the first GraphicRiver Author to have done so. An incredible feat when you consider his items sell for between $4 and $6 USD each.
And he’s far from done.
When I ask about his future on the Envato marketplace it’s clear Photoshop actions aren’t his endgame. Yet he’s tight lipped about what might be next.
“Photoshop could make a big change in the next year or two where they mess up how actions work and none of my items work… But I’m aware of another potential opportunity in Photoshop. I’m just holding off to see how this all goes first.”