Since 2006 Melbourne-based tech company Envato has paid designers around the world over $180 million in commissions for using its community to sell amongst other things WordPress Themes.
Envato is actually the parent company of ThemeForest – you may have heard of them – it gets over 20 million visits a month and is the go-to place if you’re looking for website framework.
Designing WordPress themes is a huge business and while the company which offers one of the biggest platforms to move the themes started in Australia, its biggest markets are the US and Europe.
The amount of money paid out to designers is snowballing quickly, about six weeks ago it was sitting at $170 million.
Designers earn money from Envato by creating graphics, templates, themes and music or offering up web development or freelancing services, to one of the company’s marketplaces, the commission they receive starts at 50% and goes up to 70%.
The company has 17 people who have sold over $1 million worth of designs which when you think a WordPress theme is usually about $50 that’s a huge amount of sales.
Of those 17 people three have sold over $2 million worth of designs and two who have sold over $3 million.
The highest selling theme, Avada, has made its duo creative team who call themselves ThemeFusion about $4 million. Company CEO Collis Ta’eed describes it as the “Swiss Army Knife” of website themes.
“It does everything,” he said. “The WordPress themes tend to be the largest component of the business.”
Apart from generating some big dollars for smaller designers, Envato also has an incredible rewards program when some big sales milestones are hit.
Below the million dollar mark the company will do some online marketing for you, send you a t-shirt and some snacks but above that threshold is where it gets interesting.
If a designer sells $1 million worth of themes or templates the company will name a day in your honour, send you out an Envato Elite ring which is made by the same company that makes the Superbowl rings for the Dallas Cowboys, and does about $5000 worth of marketing for you.
There’s a few perks in between the $2 million and $5 million milestones but if you hit $10 million the company will fly out the designer and their partner first class to Melbourne to be picked up in style by the Envato CEO himself.
“When you get to $10 million, nobody has managed to do this yet, we’ll fly you first class to Melbourne and I will go to the airport and greet you,” Ta’eed said.
“When we wrote the rewards program I was like ‘this will never happen’.
“Our highest person has just passed $4 million so they’re on the way.”
The idea came from the George Clooney movie ‘Up In The Air’, where Clooney’s character is aiming to rack up 10 million frequent flyer points so he can meet the chief pilot and have his name plastered on the side of a plane. Ta’eed said after seeing that he thought “that’s cool, we should do that”.
Plans are now in the works for a $25 million reward, at this stage the company is thinking it will send the huge earners into space.
“It seems very impossibly far away but includes sending you into space,” Ta’eed said. “I thought the $10 million one was really far away but you never know, these things creep up on you.”
“I sort of wonder if we’ll get them back [from space] though, these are the best earners!”
There’s more here.