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: Lincoln on April 3rd, 2009

Category: Blog, Design

Tags: , ,

  1. sticktacular says:

    I agree with you that Theme Forest takes too much commission, BUT, you have an error in your argument above. To earn the 70% of your sales, you must sell $300,000 worth of stuff, which I’m sure the leading person has done, instead of 300,000 actual sales like you said above. There is a huge difference, because everytime you make a $30 dollar sale, you would only have to make 10,000 sales instead of 300,000 sales to reach the 70%. Good article though, I liked it

  2. Lincoln says:

    Thanks for pointing that out sticktacular your absolutely correct that it’ s $300′000 of merchandise and not 300′000 individual sales, my mistake sorry was a long day when i was researching it :p. I thought it said Sales Volumes when it said Sales Volume $, thats what glancing at things can do to you. They might be also better adding a $ in front of the individual sales volume total figures as this would be easier to instantly recognize it’s a cash amount.

  3. Jarel says:

    I see where you’re coming from on this and I certainly thought the same way when I started out at ThemeForest (the rates were lower when I started). What you are completely ignoring though is the amount of attention an author gets at ThemeForest or another Envato marketplace. I only have 9 templates for sale and I’ve had so many freelance jobs come from ThemeForest that I lost count long ago. You get so much advertising and traffic to your templates that it can do a lot for an author that the author otherwise might not have been able to do themselves. This is just one aspect you didn’t mention. There is a lot more you get from these marketplaces as well.

  4. Alan says:

    Good article with some pertinent points being made by both the author and commentators to date.

    I agree with Lincoln that commission rates are way too high at ThemeForest for what they actually provide.

    I also agree with Jarel that it might gain you a little more exposure as a designer. The downside to this though is the fact ThemeForest have devalued you work so much perspective clients may want you to re-design the world for as little as $15 due to the price of you work on ThemeForest.

    Personally however i feel that ThemeForest ultimately devaluates a designers work by setting their prices for them, which themeforest choose coincidentally without any input from the original theme’s designer and set far too low in 99% of cases. ThemefForest is doing the same damage to theme design as many a $5 logo has to logo design over the past few years.

    ThemeForest want far too much control over my work legally and financially for them to be an appealing proposition and whilst the world is inovating with business and media on the web, Themeforest seem to have adopted more of a outdated Record Company, Movie Company mindset to their business approach. You do the hard work, we take the cash, we tell you what to do and what it is worth, very draconian and not a great business model especially for designers although i am sure ThemeForest are delighted at the revenue they make from others hard work.

  5. The most expensive customer is the first one..I agree totally with Jarel…once your name is out there and people like your themes, the “aftermarket” sales more than make up for the lowball cut you get from Themeforest.

  6. All you sales links form your themes are going to your own site… are you collecting paypal logins or have you been hacked?

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