Love at First Revision

Make money. That’s the first button on Theme Forest Site. Short and direct, this caught my attention and I decided to create a theme and release it on this market. About 3 years ago I had no idea about the specifics of this matter. There are several things that are very useful, in my opinion, and that would have helped me a lot if somebody had explained them to me when I started. I was unintentionally doing everything the same way like when I used to work directly with customers.

Direct work with customers and release of a successful theme in Theme Forest are two fundamentally different things.

No control.

One of the main differences is the approach and attitude towards the customer in both situations. If I am a freelancer or work in a studio and somebody contacts me, he has already received some information. He made a research, I might have been recommended and having gained his trust. This is a really important stage, especially for incompetent people that need a web site but have no (or some) idea what they’re looking for or who could help them. By making the decision to work with me they show they trust me and they have at least the minimal patience needed. Of course, different customers have different trust levels.

Once the project has started they still feel uncertain if it is going to work in the best possible way. Most probably their vision of things does not coincide with yours. The tough part starts here. I have to convince them that what I do is the best they can get. Despite the difficulties I have the power to influence the customers and realize my vision.

In Theme Forest I am nobody. An anonymous person. I have no control. Let’s imagine the way a customer thinks and how he decides to buy my theme. It’s about a great number of people seeing many various thumbs. Their decision to choose my thumb is influenced sometimes unintentionally by the shape, color and text of an 80x80px image.

If your thumb attracts them,
If they hover it,
If they read the description,
If they get interested in the theme preview — the customer is already on the page of your item.

In one of the good scenarios the user would read a part of the description and the advantages of the theme. 2–3 sentences — if you are lucky. There comes the key point — the user clicks on the live preview and you get less than a minute of his attention! I am still nobody. A drop in the sea of authors and themes, the customer’s trust is low and to catch his attention I have less than a minute in which I have to prove that I am better than the rest. If I fail — one click on the red button and his attention re-directs to the next theme.

But what is this “thing” on my site? Why is it all in Latin?!? Who is this Lorem Ipsum?? Get these things off my site, I don’t want to see such nonsense!

Have you ever led such kind of conversations with your customers? Explaining that “Lorem Ipsum” will not remain forever on the site? I have. But afterwards I have the opportunity to explain to them that this is just an exemplary text which will be removed once the site is up. Let me repeat it — I have the time to explain! In Theme Forest I don’t. My demo must be prefect. Looking at the design people imagine their site in it and even a slight mismatch with their vision might disappoint them and make them close your theme tab. All small details play matter. Colors, logo, texts, pictures and contents are all controlled from the backend and can be adjusted according to the user’s needs. But if you have failed to achieve their appropriate combination your overall work quality will be low and you will lose the customer.

Let me give you an example — I’ve noticed that in our themes many people use the default color for the color of their site. Although the theme has unlimited color configuration options it is mostly purchased by people that need blue color. This is because one minute is not enough to notice the demo panel from which you can switch colors. Many people that need red have dropped without realizing why — they just don’t feel it appropriate. Analyzing the reasons why the theme does not correspond to what they look for, why they don’t see all available options — it is not their business. It’s not their fault — it’s mine.

As “Don’t’ Make Me Think” says — Demo should be viewed as a highway billboard. People pass by it at 100 km/h and if I am lucky to have them look at it I should not let this slip away. They could read one sentence, not 10. I have to summarize everything that matters in this sentence so that they could feel why I am better than the rest.

Be honest. Are you really better?

When I have an agreement with a customer he can’t make a research learning all tendencies and making a competent judgment on my skills. But when my work is viewed alongside others the level stands out. At Theme Forest I accumulate invaluable experience showing if I can really compete with good designers. When witnessing failure and success of others, answers and solutions seem obvious. If you decide to make your own judgments, then things get different. Much more difficult.

By entering the Theme Forest market you have to consider on your own which new technology should be introduced, which accessory would be useful and which one — obsolete. Correct decisions are not enough. You have to make it first!

Competition is high. Those whose items become popular earn tens of thousands of dollars per month attracting designers from all over the world. If I want to succeed and attract attention I have to learn very quickly all new tendencies, I have to be different, I have to be the first, but most importantly — my design has to be practical and applicable for the mainstream.

Your backend part has to be very good as well. I have to make a careful review of competitive authors and think about the possibility to be at least as good as them. By working at the Theme Forest market I am obliged to improve myself. Even not being among top authors, thanks to this competition I acquire and develop a lot of new skills.

File / New… and now what?

When having an actual customer, there is a particular problem that requires a solution. I receive direct feedback as to what solutions the site should offer. That helps me go though the process of product planning and execution much more easily. The creation of a theme for Theme Forest is completely different. I have to make my own research on the respective theme field and make my own judgment on which features to implement. No matter how hard I work such a research will not give the useful information that could be provided directly from a person in this field.

Now, there’s design that pops!

The most important advantage of being a Theme Forest author is that I don’t have to negotiate, explain, persuade or argue with customers about my work. Personally I find this part of the customer project co-operation rather hard and exhausting. It is extremely time-consuming! Thus, I might easily start hating the particular task so much that the end product could ultimately turn rather disappointing. When doing something that you hate there is no way to get a good end result. It’s impossible.

Love at first revision.

Once having reviewed all qualitative designs and decided to buy my theme — the user practically shows a great impression with my work. The biggest advantage! It is not necessary to explain why this, but not that way. I work with content customers only! Those people want nothing to be changed — they need the site the way I created it. Great satisfaction! In every venture people need to see the result of their efforts. Reaching the end within the defined time limits gives fresh powers. To me this aspect of Theme Forest work is sufficient to accept all other disadvantages. That helps me look adequately at what I have done, think about my weaknesses and try to avoid mistakes in my next projects.

Of course, that’s a free market and anything is possible. There is always a risk that the theme will not be selling well or even turn a total failure. If you really believe that you are not worse than the most successful authors you should not give up. The satisfaction you will get from defining your own deadline and work schedule on your own design is incomparable once you meet your goals.