Efficient landing page templates

How to Get Your HTML Template Approved for Sale on ThemeForest

Category : Templates
Date : September 5, 2016
How to Get Your HTML Template Approved for Sale on ThemeForest

Tips from personal experience and recommendations directly from Envato’s Quality Team on how to get your HTML template approved for sale on ThemeForest.

As a passionate web designer I think there are three major ways of going about your work. First one, make a nice career out of it in a great company that you love, second one, become a successful freelancer or even run your own creative agency and the third option, create web related digital products as an enthusiastic individual or a well-balanced team.

Of course you can also work on multiple fronts and combine them but I will focus in this article on the people committed to one of them. Which one? Well that’s an easy question… the last one for sure because from my perspective it fits my circumstances and my work style better.

I’ve worked for someone else as a freelancer and employee my entire life and producing great work to help others build their projects can be satisfying to a certain point, especially when you get paid and recommended to others but let me tell you guys there’s nothing like designing, building and continuously developing your own projects/products.

At least that’s the case for me. I love building upon previous work and there are also some economics principles that work towards financial safety when you create a great product that can be purchased by hundreds or thousands of customers.

Now, besides the beautiful part of creating a great product there is also the scary part, especially for newcomers like me, of finding people that would pay for it and actually selling to them. Fortunately, the web has been around for quite some time now, providing numerous ways for designers and developers to sell their digital products. Basically you can create and market HTML templates for custom websites or themes and plugins for any of the existing CMS’ on the market: WordPress, Magento, Shopify, Ghost… and make a comfortable living out of it.

Trial and error

Because I currently work alone and my skills gravitate towards design and frontend development I started to build HTML templates and planned to outsmart all the established marketplaces and their sales commissions by building my own theme shop based on a tried and tested creative portfolio theme with WooCommerce integration.

While the decision to create HTML templates as digital products still is one of the best I ever made, selling them exclusively through my own shop is a strong contender for the worst. And it’s not just the money part that’s really worrying when you don’t make any sales, it’s the lack of feedback about your products that gets you down.

I had 3 HTML templates for sale in my shop on Inovatik.com and was doing some moderate marketing on Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube but couldn’t break the ice with the first sale so I made the unhealthy decision of offering everything for free just to increase the traffic on my website and at least get some feedback on my products.

Guess what happened after 1 month, traffic and downloads skyrocketed and I was flooded with feedback from happy visitors. Nope, not even close. My radical marketing strategy of “everything for free” didn’t disturb the flat traffic line indicator in Google Analytics and didn’t generate more than 10 downloads or any kind of feedback.

I became desperate enough to admit that maybe I was wrong and I should reconsider the initial sales strategy and start approaching the top digital marketplaces. So I gave ThemeForest a shot and submitted the best HTML template I had in the portfolio just to receive a hard reject 16 days later. The feedback was very polite but an overall terrible bad news. Not only they weren’t really impressed with my template but they were kindly asking me not to resend the same item again even if improved. The message went something like “Thank you for your submission but your item doesn’t meet our design standards and it didn’t pass to code analysis. Please don’t try to improve it and resubmit, instead make a new and better one from the ground up”.

Devastating hard reject. I felt like in primary school when I asked a beautiful high-school girl to go out with me: You’re cute shorty but come back in 4 to 5 years from now 🙂 I carefully reconsidered my options, quitting wasn’t one of them, and went back to the drawing board.

Digital marketplaces

After completing some great web design tutorials from Adi Purdila one of the best instructors on Tuts+ I improved my existing templates and decided to get them on Creative Market the best marketplace for graphic resources but not so popular (at least at that point) for themes and templates. That meant less competition and more chances of getting accepted.

Creative Market has a different approach to item submissions. They analyze your profile, portfolio and motivation, basically reviewing you not so much your submitted item. If you are accepted as author/seller, then you can upload as many products as you want and have them published instantly.

It didn’t take long to receive a positive answer from Creative Market and I was in heaven. I just opened my first shop on a top digital marketplace. Other good signs included encouraging feedback from market users and other sellers, but nothing compared with the satisfaction of the first actual sale.

It’s like when the girl kisses you back after you stole the first kiss to keep these childhood romance references. The first sale went to Spain and I’m grateful for the positive feedback from that customer because he gave me all the confirmation and motivation I needed to carry on.

It was clear to me at that point, that going solo with my own shop right from the start was a bad idea and I was now enjoying the exposure that an established marketplace has to offer. Armed with a lot more confidence I said to myself why not open up more shops until I had a product ready for ThemeForest.

So I gave MOJOMarketplace a try but didn’t actually make any sales in a couple of weeks. I guess it wasn’t a long enough period of time or my product wasn’t aligned with MOJOMarketplace customers’ needs. I also tried BootstrapBay which politely rejected my submission and ShapeBootstrap.net which took too long to answer and I canceled the submission.

All these marketing actions were secondary objectives as my primary efforts went into creating a digital product that would rise to ThemeForest’s high quality standards. So I continued to learn from Tuts+ while investing long hours into the digital product that had to receive Envato’s Quality Team approval. At least that’s what I hoped and worked for.

I designed and coded a beautiful 3-in-1 landing page template that basically incorporated the previous 3 that were for sale on Creative Market: business, event and mobile application. Here is the beauty of product development as opposed to custom work. You get to build and improve on the previous products taking them to a quality level that enables volume selling rather than working for the satisfaction of just one customer.

The good news came exactly 22 days after I submitted the finely tuned template, complete with demo selection page and HTML documentation. It was a dream come true. I finally had my first item accepted on ThemeForest, the greatest and most demanding digital marketplace for website templates and themes. Here are the improvements I’ve made to my submitted item which I think made a difference and got the item accepted.

Improvements

  • Created a multipurpose template for business, event and mobile app each with two design variations dark and light
  • An elegant design inspired by current industry trends with a personal touch for colors and fonts
  • Smooth animations that complemented the design
  • Real text related to each theme’s scenario – no lorem ipsum
  • Clear call to actions and working contact forms
  • Well organized and commented code
  • Thoroughly checked the template on all major desktop browsers, actual smartphone browsers and solved all display bugs in detail
  • Checked and solved all errors in Google Chrome Console
  • Included size-optimized PSD files: uncheck Maximize Compatibility when saving and rasterize some of the layers in Photoshop
  • Created a well sorted HTML documentation file as opposed to just PDF
  • Created a nice demo selection page not actually included in the package but submitted as live preview link

All these elements only got my item accepted as a strong contender but to actually get my template published, the Envato Quality Team gave me a big list of aspects I had to improve before the item would actually appear on ThemeForest and start selling.

When I submitted the template I thought there wasn’t anything that could be further improved and everything is more than perfect but after going through each item on the list I realized that every recommendation was important and Envato goes all the way to offer only the best and well refined products to their customers. And clearly this is the reason they developed so well over the years and customers love them so much.

Their quality standards are really over the top but once you start working to meet them you realize they’re not asking for the impossible but they demand all your best.

Here is the list with recommendations from the Quality Team that once implemented got Pavo Multipurpose Landing Page Template accepted on ThemeForest, the most popular website templates and themes marketplace.

Recommendations from Envato Quality Team

  • Check and validate your HTML files with http://validator.w3.org
  • Make sure you are using the latest version of jQuery, and it is included in your download as a local resource. I used jQuery v2.2.4 because newer ones triggered a Bootstrap incompatibility error
  • Eliminate redundant JavaScript events and consolidate all code that should occur within a single event. Multiple $(document).ready() events or multiple $(window).load() events are not allowed
  • Proper event binding. Consider using the preferred .on() method rather than .click(), .bind(), .hover(), etc. For best performance and concise code use event delegation whenever possible. Tutorial here
  • All JavaScript should be written with “use strict” mode on
  • Make sure that your jQuery is properly formatted, commented and that you are caching and chaining whenever possible. Increase jQuery performance tutorial
  • Make sure the CSS file is well documented with proper table of contents. For more information, check out proper CSS formatting tutorial
  • Don’t overuse animations. Animation is a tool that should be used sparingly to help enforce the concept of your design. Please consider where you are using animations and their purpose
  • Provide an uncompressed version of your CSS file. If you are using WinLess as a Less compiler make sure ”Minify by default” is unchecked.

Conclusion

If you implement them in your HTML template, you will surely be one step closer than I ever was to getting your product published on ThemeForest. And some quick numbers to show you it’s worth the effort. I sold 2 templates on Creative Market in 6 months and 10 on ThemeForest in 2 weeks.

Don’t forget to leave your comments in the designated area below and Share this post if you found it useful.

By Lucian Tartea

I love to create landing page and website templates that help people build amazing online projects.

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