Today should mark the anniversary of my business partnership with Rohan Gilkes, a famous serial entrepreneur, and that is why I’m writing my first blog post and posting it on my personal website. I hope it will be helpful for you as it’s meant to help you have a better view of business. Sorry if it’ll take up some of your time to go through the post since it is a bit of a long one.
As you probably already know, I’m the founder and CEO of Theme Street, premium HTML and WordPress marketplace. Theme Street started as a side project of my NO SOLUTIONS company at a time when we were just a group of front-end developers.
With a lack of high skilled designers in that time, and, of course, money, we started making some of the first HTML templates. That was two years ago. I think we were lucky because our designer and we, as front-end developers, obviously did a great job since it was our first submission on ThemeForest.net and guess what? We were accepted. WOOOHOOOO! After a few months, ThemeForest featured our WDA template and we started making some money. We all were extremely excited and proud of what we’ve achieved.
But, then some problems arose – real problems with a lot of customer support tickets, and again, lack of money! Since we are not exclusive authors on ThemeForest, it means we are getting ONLY around 36% net of revenue, while ThemeForest takes the remaining 64%, which means if you sell one HTML template for $15 USD, you will get around $5 USD (or below, depending on tax). If you divide that amount of $5 USD among your partners, you can expect $1–$2 USD / sold template. Also, if one out of three customers lodges a support ticket, you need to respond to it. If you throw into the equation that time equals money, and that each email you need to read and respond to takes approximately 5 minutes of your time (put in mind that in most cases, that ticket will not be solved in a single message but several), and depending on your hourly rate, your time is worthless …
Since we were occupied with our other projects, our premium HTML templates and WordPress themes were still a side project. Then, my partner left that business and I decided to move forward in the next few months. I hadn’t seen my girlfriend (today my wife) for a whole weekend and told her that I needed to change something in my approach of the business. I dug into Reddit, read again all those posts I bookmarked and I spent the whole weekend researching which micro niche I should target and tried to find my new business partner for my themes as well.
And – BOOOOM! The author of the posts I was reading, the great serial entrepreneur Rohan, received on a Saturday night an email and a Reddit private message from me. The content was along the line with: “Hey. My name is Nikola, and I’m the founder of ThemeStreet.Net marketplace. I noticed on your website that you are selling only design (Photoshop files) for your Launch27 business. I’m interesting in becoming your partner and in creating HTML templates and WordPress themes from your design, and we can create new ones later. Let me know if you are interested. Cheers.” Since, Rohan and I are in different time zones, I got a response on Sunday morning: “Hey Nikola. Nice to meet you.. I added you on Skype. Let’s get started!” After getting up, I checked my Skype and shot him an instant message, and in the next 15 minutes, he granted me root access to his dedicated server where some files were hosted and one of his multimillion dollar businesses as well. The trust he gave me at that moment was something I can’t even start to describe. I knew we’ll work together not only on that business and that I’ll not let him down. We were speaking about the price for each template/WP theme, and I told him about my experience with ThemeForest. I told him that my team and I are ready to be 24/7 available for our new customers, and that we’ll give all our skills, knowledge and experience to make easy to use, plug n play themes for his Launch27. We decided that a single WordPress theme will cost $450 USD and an HTML template $300 USD. With that price, we were sure we’ll be fully dedicated to our customers. We had helped so far more than 300 different people to grow their businesses. With regard to our costs (in comparison with ThemeForest), we only paid FastSpring transaction commission fee, and that’s all.
We started on March 18th 2015. He has one of the best designers (Mighty Mike as I call him), who provided us with around 20 different designs throughout a period of 1 year. All of them were for local service businesses (maids, painters, car washers, lawn services, carpet and window cleaners).
Results were amazing:
- 1 year of great partnership
- Less support requests
- 20 different WordPress themes for local service businesses
- More than $100k USD revenue generated only from selling WordPress themes + additional work for our customers
- More than 300 satisfied customers
- 4 new businesses with my partner Rohan (Groove Learning, Groove Experts, Groove Hiring and ZAARCH)… and counting 🙂
- More than 30 new customers for services we are providing at NO SOLUTIONS (web and mobile design and development)
- Butterflies in my heart that I helped more than 300 people grow their businesses
- I met many great people during our journey of 1 year and became really good friends with them (even though they are at the other end of this World)
- Only few “pain in the neck” customers
All of you people with your own businesses can start thinking out of the box and find your “micro niche” for your type of services you are familiar with. And don’t try to compete with big fishes like ThemeForest… Create your own Universe, your own prices even if they are 10 times more expensive than the standard price of $45 USD for a WordPress theme on ThemeForest. And, of course, listen to your customers and try to stand out from the crowd; they will appreciate that 100%.
Remember that customer support is one of the most important things in your business – whatever you are doing. If you make a mistake, own it, apologize, fix it, and make your customer happy. And don’t forget that you are here because of your customers.
Finally, don’t hesitate to ask for a high price for your products, even if it’ll be several times higher than other competitors. Just stand up for your product and price and make everyone happy and satisfied, and of course deliver nothing but high quality!