If you are thinking of selling WordPress products, you have two options: list on a marketplace, or sell through your own site. I’d highly encourage you to sell on your own site, here’s why.
Giving Up Control
Listing on a marketplace means that you are totally dependent on them for your traffic and sales.
This is tempting in the beginning because if you don’t have any traffic they can provide it for a fee. 50 percent of a few sales is better than 100 percent of no sales, right? This is short-term thinking.
Consider three years from now when you’ve built your brand on their platform, and sales are coming in regularly. You’ve hired a team to help you with support and development.
Now you and several others are depending on this revenue for their livelihood, which can be taken away at any minute. If the marketplace changes their rules, which happens all the time, your livelihood is at risk. For example, Envato recently changed their rules so that exclusive authors cannot sell related products on their own site.
If you are an exclusive author, you have no choice but to comply, giving up, even more, control over your brand. What if they decide to change the way they display products and yours gets pushed to the bottom? You’re out of luck.
Most Marketplace Authors Don’t Make Millions
Another thing to consider is that a marketplace is not a golden ticket to success.
In fact, most authors don’t sell much:
- 76% of ThemeForest themes earn less than $1,000 per month
- Only about 11% of Code Canyon plugins have “high” sales
- Most of the top-selling Code Canyon plugins are priced below $50, Most of the top selling themes on ThemeForest are at or below $60
Let’s say you sell a theme for $59 as an exclusive author, and they take a 37.5 percent commission. That leaves you with $43.13. You live in the US and you have a 20 percent tax rate. After paying Uncle Sam, you are left with $34.50.
Many marketplace authors offer free support for six months. I’m not sure how you value your time, but I would venture a guess that if a customer sends in a couple support tickets, you are being paid close to minimum wage to deal with them. If you sell over 20 Million like the Avada theme, you will be doing just fine, but that’s not the normal experience.
I’m picking on Envato, but the same thing goes for a marketplace like the wordpress.org theme and plugin repository. If your theme was pulled by the review team, would your business be toast? Even if you rely heavily on someone else for the majority of your sales, you need something to fall back on. Selling products from your own site gives you that assurance.
Sell On Your Own Site
Selling on your own site is difficult, I’m not going to sugar coat it. It takes time and money to set up your site, and it’s hard to get traffic. It’s worth the extra effort to build a brand that you have full control over. You won’t be trapped on a marketplace that can change the rules at any time, and you don’t have to rely on anyone else to cut you a check.
What does selling on your own site look like? There are three major steps.
1. Setup Your Site to Sell
It’s easy to setup a WordPress site to sell products. You can use Easy Digital Downloads to sell plugins and themes, WooCommerce, or just add a simple buy button and do the rest manually.
Make sure you offer support for credit cards and Paypal, as well as any other major gateways in your country. I’d highly encourage you to start with automatic renewals, as this will allow your business to grow steadily.
2. Build Traffic to Your Site with Quality Content
You won’t get much traffic to your site if it’s just focused on your product.
The best way to build your traffic is with great content that will attract shares and links.
Create a blog and start writing high-quality content focused on keywords related to your product. It will take about six months to get organic traffic, so don’t worry about if your traffic doesn’t grow much at first. Try to get people to share your articles on social media, and start building your email list.
I’d suggest going for quality over quantity. There are 2 million posts published every day, you need to stand out. If you can release one awesome post per week, it’s better than a sub-par post three times per week.
This is my strategy for my new popup plugin Holler Box. It’s a ton of work and you won’t see short-term results, but keep at it. You are building something that will last, you’ll be glad you did.
If you want more content marketing tips, I’d highly suggest Brian Dean’s blog.
3. Write, Market, and Improve Your Product
Keep writing, even if you don’t see results right away. Remember, it will take about six months before you get an organic bump in Google. In the meantime, talk to customers and improve your product. An awesome product is marketing in itself.
Explore other ways to get the word out. Go to WordCamps, demo your product to anyone who will talk to you, get active on social media.
Selling products on your own site is not easy, that’s why many people start on a marketplace. If a marketplace works for you, that’s great. Just know that they are in control, not you.
Selling on your own site gives you the final say on what to do with your traffic and brand. To build a company that can grow untethered, you need to be in full control.
Getting traffic and sales on your own site is hard, but can be done over time. The sooner you start, the better.