This article is not paid, nor does it contain any affiliate links. The only purpose of this article is to help other theme and plugin developers getting started. This article was written early 2020, the commissions, sales & other information might have changed since then.
We started making WordPress themes and plugins back in 2014, as I’m writing this guide. We have been in the WordPress business for more than 6 years. We have had dialogs and tested almost every theme marketplace available. We have also quit most of them for different reasons. If you’re starting out as a new theme/plugin company then it’s an awesome idea to showcase your products on WordPress marketplaces.
At first it seems like a simple task to find a marketplace where you fit in. Just pick the biggest marketplace with the highest amount of sales and lowest fees, right? If that’s your tactic then you’ll get disappointed quickly. Most marketplaces are looking for a certain type of theme/plugin developer. For example if you look at Envato or MOJO then you’ll quickly notice that they rarely accept new plugin & theme authors – there’s a reason for that.
I’ll be going in depth with every single marketplace available in this article. Let’s get to it!
Envato: ThemeForest & CodeCanyon.
High fees, Time consuming & profitable. That’s how we would sum Envato up. If you have been paying attention to Envato the last couple of years then you’ve seen that they have changed their business strategy: Quality over quantity. They rarely accept new developers. They only accept multi-purpose themes with lots of demos and a unique landing pages designed for them – that sucks if you’re working alone or in a small team!
The bright side of Envato is the amount of sales you can get there. Their affiliate program is extremely popular, they are pretty much the only marketplace available where you can get a good amount of sales without doing any marketing yourself.
One of the downsides is that they review every update you make, that’s great for the users but releasing a minor new feature can be a pain, it can easily take a week or two to release a code update. That’s a nightmare if you’ve found a critical bug that you want to release ASAP.
Now let’s talk about fees. If you decide to be a non-exclusive seller (which we highly recommend), then they’ll take a 55% cut – that’s a lot. Exclusive author fees range from 12.5% – 37.5%, but let’s be realistic, for most people it’ll end up being a permanent fee of 37.5% unless your sale skyrockets. The chances of that happening are low, unless you’re going to be promoting the hell out of your theme yourself. But if that’s what you’re doing, then it makes more sense to sell it from your website so you don’t give away close to half your revenue.
TLDR; Envato has super high fees, requires a tremendous amount of time, have strict rules and a lot of limitations – but they do all the marketing for you. It’s the WordPress marketplace with the most sales.
Beautifully designed medium-sized marketplace with high requirements & fees. If you have your website hosted at iPage or Bluehost then you might have noticed MOJO. They advertise their themes and plugins through hosting companies. When comparing Envato (Avada) and MOJOs bestseller (Highend), data shows that Envato has 1300% more sales than MOJO Marketplace, which makes MOJO a medium-sized marketplace.
MOJO Marketplace has about the same requirements as Envato. They have the same requirements quality-wise, so if you can get your theme on MOJO then it’s also high enough quality to be released on Envato. You can consider joining both of them, if you have the time for it.
However MOJO is a great bet for the future, they spend a lot of resources on design. They present products in a beautiful & more user-friendly way, which results in a higher conversion. They also prioritize customer support more than most other marketplaces. I believe that within a few years MOJO will be bigger than Envato. So even though I might be harsh when talking about MOJO, I don’t mean it that bad. The partnerships they have with hosting companies will make them stronger over time, however I believe they need to invest more in their affiliate program to beat Envato .
MOJO’s non-exclusive author commission is 50%, that’s 5% cheaper than Envato. If you sign up as an exclusive author, then the commissions are high. The exclusive author fees are following:
- 0-200 monthly sales: 50% Commission.
- 201-500 monthly sales: 55% Commission.
- 501-1000 monthly sales: 60% Commission.
- 1001-2000 monthly sales: 65% Commission.
- 2001+ monthly sales: 70% Commission.
TLDR; MOJO has the same standards and requirements as Envato. Envato’s most popular theme has 1300% more sales than MOJOs bestseller. However I believe that MOJO will beat Envato over time due to their customer support and focus on partnering with hosting providers.
A cheaper medium-sized marketplace with design as focus. TemplateMonster is a great marketplace if you don’t have the coding skills or resources to get your themes released on Envato or MOJO. If you compare Envato bestseller with TemplateMonsters bestseller, then you’ll notice that Envato’s bestseller (Avada) have sold 4600% more than TemplateMonsters (Monstroid2).
TemplateMonster has standard commissions when it comes to exclusive authors, they range from 30%-50% depending on your sale. Their non-exclusive author commissions is 40%. That’s more expensive than both MOJO and Envato.
However it’s much easier to get a theme on TemplateMonster than Envato or MOJO, it also requires less effort to update them. TemplateMonster has lower requirements than both Envato and MOJO. TemplateMonster focuses on design and uniqueness of themes, customers can find more niché themes on their website and you can release your products easily. They don’t require you to have 10+ demos like MOJO & Envato. That’s awesome, it’s honestly a pain to get a theme/plugin accepted on Envato & MOJO.
Even though it might sound like we are bashing TemplateMonster we really aren’t, they’re a great choice of you submit your theme multiple places & have your own theme shop website – perhaps even the best marketplace to do that if you only have premium themes.
TLDR: TemplateMonster fees aren’t much different from ThemeForest & MOJOs. They have a lot less sales than both of them, so it’s a medium-small marketplace to be exact. However it’s a lot easier to get your themes accepted.
Awesome community, lots of exposure, Lots of requirements & long queue times. We love WordPress.org. After 6 years of experience, WordPress.org is our favourite place to submit themes. They only accept free themes, most people submit freemium themes (free versions of their premium themes, with possibilities to buy more features).
They have a nice community you can join on Slack & kind reviewers. The downside is that it’s run by volunteers only and nobody is paid, that makes their review times long. Chances are that an inexperienced reviewer will be looking through your theme before a moderator. As I’m writing this review, the next theme in line to get released has been in queue for around 6 months.
Beside that they have a bunch of requirements, you can find them in the Theme Review Team Handbook. You want to go over all of them carefully before submitting, because everything will indeed be checked & if you have more than 3 distinct errors then you’ll have to start over in the queue.
I’m pretty sure you get more exposure on WordPress.org than on Envato (Haven’t fact checked it though). The most popular theme gets over 4.000 downloads a day. Now all these users won’t purchase the theme of course, but they are potential customers!
TLDR: WordPress.org is our favourite community & place to submit themes. There’s a great community with kind moderators & funny chats on Slack. It’s overall a wholesome experience to be an author there. It’s free but their requirement list is long & so are the queues. But it’s totally worth it, it’s our favourite community.
There’s a bunch of small marketplaces we won’t be going too much in depth with, however we’ll give a small opinion on all of them.
Codester sells cheap HTML templates, their price ranges are usually $5-$20. However they sell WordPress themes as well, they don’t show how many sales each product has made, so it’s hard to get an exact idea about their size. The commission is a flat 70%, no matter how many places you sell your products – that’s awesome! If you sign up to Codester, you’ll most likely need to get all traffic yourself.
You can buy pretty much anything on Etsy, it’s a great place. They have WordPress themes & plugins but that’s not their focus, they mostly sell physical goods. The WordPress themes on their websites have a few sales, however it costs money monthly to have each item on Etsy, they charge a 7.5% fee as well. Resulting in that if you don’t have any sales, then it’s an expense only, at least it doesn’t cost money monthly to be on the other marketplaces. There is however a decent theme sale on Etsy when it comes to feminine design WordPress themes: Example.
Creative Market is a great website for selling pretty much anything, not WordPress themes though. We have had our themes on their website, after about a year we had 1 sale. They charge 30% each sale. It’s a decent choice if you don’t want to build a website for your products or if you’re going to get the traffic yourself.
Wrapping it up
There’s a lot of marketplaces to sell digital products such as WordPress themes and plugins. None of them are perfect, and that’s alright. I might have been tough on some of the marketplaces throughout this article, but it’s our honest thought about each individual one. I sincerely hope this post helped you decide where you want to submit your themes and start your career as a WordPress plugin & theme developer.
Feel free to leave any feedback in the comments, we love to hear your opinion and experience on the marketplaces, especially if we missed one! (I know there’s like 50 marketplaces but 99% doesn’t have any visitors & sales).