After one year on Themeforest we've come a long way, made Elite, learned a lot of lessons and best of all made $97,000 in total sales

One year ago me and Arnar, my partner in crime, were working on small web development and design projects for local businesses here in Iceland. We've always liked doing the work but dealing with clients was the worst part. First we needed to get a client then we had to go to meetings, create mockups, get them approved and then we finally got to start building stuff.

It's a process many freelancers and web development companies are familiar with and I bet many of you know what kind of frustration comes with it sometime.


We needed a new way to get clients so we started looking around and I remembered since I had purchased some themes there years before and after a little bit of reading on their page it immediately fascinated us.

We could create products that we wanted to create and sell them to the masses. No need for meetings, sending design screenshots back and forth, just build it and sell it.

There's huge competition on the ThemeForest marketplace and we didn't know if we could build anything worth a damn since we hadn't really made any big websites that were worth showing so we needed to start small.

The First Item

The big money on ThemeForest is in WordPress themes but we didn't know how to do that yet, we knew PHP but had only used it in other frameworks and I was a Joomla guy back when I started developing.

We decided to make an HTML Admin Template since it required no complex server side coding and it was something we could build fast and test this marketplace without wasting too much time.

We uploaded it and got approved after a few soft rejects and sales started coming in, it was unbelievably exciting. The template was priced at $16 and we started with a 50% commission rate.

Soft Reject

Soft reject means that the review team at ThemeForest feels that the item is almost ready to go up for sale on the marketplaces but it needs some improvement.

First sales

First months of sales with one Extended License ($800) purchase in April

WordPress and time wasted

By the end of May we were finishing up our first WordPress blog theme which was just a simple personal blog called Keilir and as soon as it went live we were hooked. The sales started coming in fast and the price tag for the theme was $40 so we profited much more on each sale. Our commission rate started to increase as well because for each $3,750 you sell you receive 1% more of each sale.

Our next move was a mistake, we looked at the top selling authors on ThemeForest and saw what they offered in their themes. They had Page Builders, Video tutorials and support for a bunch of popular plugins. We thought we had to do that and wasted a lot of time building a theme with a custom made page builder that had all kinds of cool features. We worked long hours to finish something that ended up being rejected.

We decided to cut our losses and took a step back and started building what had been successful before.

Word of advice, don't go to big too fast, it's the equivalent of ignoring the minimum viable product strategy, you can build a huge app with all kind of features and once you launch it might be a huge fail and time waster. We've now come to the conclusion that we need to build up our framework, one theme at a time. Each WordPress theme is built on the foundations of the other so the code is battle tested and new features are added along the way.

First sales

No matter what you do, always make time for some pool...and music festivals

Support means everything

We've always put a lot of emphasis on supporting our items. It's not required of authors by ThemeForest but it's definitely worth it. We've seen buyers purchase our themes more then once, purchase because they noticed we were going out of our way in helping people on the comments section and our item ratings are pretty good because of it. Plus, it's very satisfying having people thanking you for what your doing each and every day, it really brightens the day which is especially needed here up north with only a few hours of sunlight.

The year in sales

We have 5 items in our portfolio now, 4 WordPress themes and 1 HTML template. We have had over 2600 individual purchases which make a total of $97,000 in gross sales.

We started with a 50% commission rate but gradually increased our part of each sale and topped at 70% by the time we made $75,000. At that time we also became an elite author which was a great confidence boost.

Out of all that we earned $60,000 but most of that came in the latter part of those 12 months so I can definitely say that this year will be even more awesome.

2013 in sales

12 months of sales


Working on ThemeForest has been great, it's a lot different than the way we used to work before but it fits us perfectly. We look forward to building new themes and putting them out there in the years to come.


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About the author

Ivar Rafn is a web developer and co-founder of bluthemes. Bluthemes creates WordPress themes and sells them exclusively on Check out the theme portfolio right here.

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