Why You Should Never Buy or Sell on Envato/Themeforest


Have you ever heard of Envato or Themeforest? Are you considering buying or selling on these websites? Then keep on reading. I will explain why you should stay away from them and what are the best alternatives.

Please note: this article is based on my own experience and stories shared by other web developers who I worked with or I know personally. Also, this post contains affiliate links, read the disclosure here.

What is Envato/Themeforest?

Envato is the company that runs multiple marketplaces for buying/selling digital assets, including Themeforest, Codecanyon, Graphicriver, Envato Elements, etc.

Themeforest is one of their biggest marketplaces where you can buy premium WordPress themes, website templates, PSD templates and many more.

Authors sell their works on Envato’s marketplaces and users buy those products. This business model proved to be very successful for Envato and some of their top authors.

In reality, it was the right project at the right time, which capitalized on the huge demand for premium templates for WordPress and other platforms. This allowed them to expand their business and launch new/similar marketplaces.

I remember that in 2010 – 2012, premium templates were selling like hot cakes and everyone was looking to profit from it. Some succeeded, some didn’t.

Well, these days things are completely different. I would not recommend to anyone to buy or sell their works on Envato. This creepy online giant is simply killing the market with its cheap, low quality, all-in-one products.

Stay away from Envato and Themeforest. They’re not worth it anymore. I will explain why.

Why it’s not worth selling on Envato/Themeforest

  • Exclusive/non exclusive fees – you can choose to sell exclusively on their website or sell elsewhere + on their marketplace. You will get around 40-70% from the profit, depending of what type of exclusivity you choose. That might sound like a good deal. However, in reality you won’t earn much. Why? Read below.
  • Amount of products – they offer a myriad of digital products, which means that your product will be lost instantly within their huge selection of items. Just look at the most recent products and the amount of sales they have.
  • All-in-one products – you will compete with behemoths like Avada, which offer a ton of features and options. These top items have been purchased by thousand of users. Lots of them buy out of curiosity, others buy because “Why not? It has everything that I might need”. The truth is: Avada is terrible in terms of performance and has lots of bloat.
  • Review process – one of the most obscure review processes in the market. The process is not transparent, there are no up to date guidelines, the review might take days or weeks, the same item can be reviewed by multiple so called “professionals”.
  • Aggressive pricing – authors can choose whatever price they like. This race to the bottom leads nowhere. You might have a great product and might want to price it decently, but there will be hundreds of other authors charging less.
  • Affiliate program is a joke – never ever recommend their website or sign up to their Affiliate program. If you refer a user and he buys on Envato/Themeforest, but has visited their sites in the past, you won’t get a dime.

Why it’s not worth buying from Envato/Themeforest

  • Bloated products like Avada and Co. – stay away from these all-in-one bloated, slow, poorly coded themes like Avada, The7, Jupiter, etc. They want to provide anything to anyone and pack their themes with useless stuff.
  • Outdated technology – lots of templates are powered by outdated page builders like Visual Composer (also knows as WPBakery). It probably was a great builder, 10 years ago. However, things have evolved and these builders are not relevant anymore. There are better alternatives like Elementor or Kadence.
  • Quantity over quality – Envato is a commercial project and their goal is to earn as much as possible. They don’t focus on quality and will sell whatever generates a profit for them.
  • Refund policy – if you’re not satisfied with a product and would like to get a refund, good luck with that. While theoretically you can get a refund, your chances are minimal.
  • Low quality support – support is provided by authors. Meaning that you never know what kind of support you’ll get until you buy a product and have some issues. Lots of the times support is just poor.
  • Singe/commercial license – any item can be only used on a single end product. If you need to use the item on several projects/sites, you’ll have to buy it all over again.

There are decent alternatives to Envato and Themeforest. There is no need to spend your valuable time understanding or dealing with their creepy system or endlessly browsing their huge directory of items.

Update: In June 2022, Envato laid off 100 of their employees out of 700 of their total staff. At the same time they have recorded a 76% growth in profit for the previous year.

Lately, they offer some huge discounts on Themeforest. Looks like things aren’t going very smooth for them and they are getting desperate.

What other brands by Envato should you avoid?

The short answer is – avoid all their brands. Do me a favor and don’t give them any chance to earn some extra $ from you. Here is a list of Envato products to be ignored:

  • Themeforest
  • Codecanyon
  • Videohive
  • Audiojungle
  • Graphicriver
  • Photodune
  • 3docean
  • Envato elements
  • Envato studio
  • Envato tuts
  • Placeit
  • Milkshake
  • Mixkit
  • Reshot

Most of these products are dead anyway (or slowly dying), but I listed them here for reference.

Where should I sell my products or services?

My answer is – create your own website and sell on it. In this case, you’ll get the whole profit and will be able manage/adjust your site however you wish.

Yes, this is not an easy task. It requires more time and resources to build your own site, set up an ecommerce solution, list products, create content and visuals, promote the website, etc.

Alternatively, you can start by selling your products on other marketplaces and gradually switch to your own online shop.

Where should I buy premium WordPress templates?

My suggestion is – support individual/independent creators and companies providing niche products. Test their products and learn more about them, read reviews, check their support options, etc.

Here is a list of WordPress page builders and themes that I personally used and recommend.

Favorite WordPress page builders:

  • Elementor – it’s easy to use, has plenty of options and is affordable
  • Beaver Builder – more technical, reliable and easy to use
  • Brizy – similar to Elementor, but with a clean design and less features

Favorite WordPress themes:

  • Astra – fast, lightweight, SEO friendly and easy to use
  • Kadence – lots of features, fast, easy to use
  • GeneratePress – lightweight, fast, handy options
  • Blocksy – lots of features, elegant, fast

That’s it folks, I hope you’ll find this info useful and will never buy/sell on Envato or Themeforest again. Let me know in the comments below: what is your experience with these marketplaces and have you ever used them?

2 thoughts on “Why You Should Never Buy or Sell on Envato/Themeforest”

    1. Hi Mark. I don’t know if there are any decent marketplaces, so I would recommend you to set up your own website and sell on your own. Those marketplaces will get the vast majority of your profit for the exposure they offer you.

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