Themeforest Or Are You Better Off Selling Template Designs Yourself?

Themeforest is a site run by Envato that allows any designer to place a web template they have created for WordPress, Joomla, HTML, PSD, Flash for sale on their site a great service you may think, well not really if you look closely at the paltry percentage of revenue that ThemeForest gives you the designer upon each item sale. There is no doubt that ThemeForest have become very successful over the past year but is this success costing some great web designers dearly in hard earned cash, here at social cms buzz we think this to be the case.

ThemeForest part of the Envato Network and managed by Collis Ta’eed launched in September 2008 with the aim of providing web template designers with an easy route to market for their creations. You create a template, You list that template on ThemeForest, You sell that template and You Collect your hard earned cash, this would all seem pretty great and a win win situation for designers right? wrong.

Themeforest you see takes a commission as you would expect from a service like it provides as a site needs to monetize, the rate of percentage however that Themeforest takes on each of your template sales is outlandishly high though. Template sellers can expect to get between 40% and 70% of the overall sale price on each template that they sell through ThemeForest, this would mean that a new member who sets their template for sale at $30 would receive $12 for each sale of his or her work. Themeforest operate a tier system based upon overall sale value and to reach a 70% payout rate on each sale you would need to sell over $300’000 worth of templates in total according to their payment page. The would mean having to sell 10’000 templates proced at $30 each to reach a percentage payout level of 70%.

Whats more these payout percentage rates can only be achieved if your template is exclusive to ThemeForest meaning you cannot sell copies of this template through any other source. For any non exclusive templates that are listed at ThemeForest you will only receive 25% of their overall sale price.

Selling Non-Exclusively

The Envato Marketplaces make a great distribution channel for items you are already selling elsewhere. As a non-exclusive author you will receive 25% of any sales made via our sites. Your items do not need to be exclusively sold on the Envato Marketplaces, and if you wish you can at any time switch over to the regular Exclusive Author plan (providing your portfolio is adjusted so that items are uniquely sold here).

Below is more details on ThemeForests Payout Details.


As you can from above see the rates are far from appealing with higher rates being quite hard to attain for sometime. The current top seller on Themeforest “digitalscience” has sold 19336 items which means that they are more than likley receiving 70% of total sale price for each item they sell whilst envato take 30%. It’s also worth noting that the top sellers list does not just seem to count templates, it looks as though it count sales across all envato network sites like ThemeForest, FlashDen, GraphicRiver, VideoHive, AudioJungle.

For a complete list of envato top sellers and how many individual products they have sold visit Envato Top Sellers


Looking at the measly commission’s that you earn from your own work it may be better to setup your own portfolio style site to sell your products and earn 100% instead of 40% you likely to get through ThemeForest. Sure it wil take a little more effort but if you get a good affiliate program and you work is of good standard you will reap the rewards and the profits longterm. A system like aMember for wordpress can provide you with the solution you need to launch you own site with an affiliate system just like WooThemes offer who use the aMember plugin as their system.

What’s your thought’s on the ThemeForest percenatge tiers for designers?.

Update: Made a correction to the article thanks to sticktacular

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Article Details


Author: on April 3rd, 2009

Category: Blog, Design

Tags: , ,

  1. Corey says:

    If you were to sell your theme – will absolutely get you the exposure you need to one day sell your themes on your own. IMHO.

    Follow me on twitter: @coreyeulas

  2. Emily says:

    I guess its a little bit like eBay in that you pay a premium for the exposure they provide.

  3. I agree with this post. I recently posted one of my templates to Theme forest to gain exposure. Sites like Best of Joomla have really helped me get more, but the more the merrier. I would gladly do more business with Theme Forest if they didn’t take so much. If you sell a template non exclusive for $25, you only make $5. That is ridiculous considering all they gave you was exposure.