It's been a while since my first post of the year; mostly because I have had a few things change in my life which mean my free time becomes quite limited and since posting this blog was something I did in the evenings, it's now on the receiving end of neglect. Not to worry though- I will try to condense the last 5 months into this post.
The year didn't begin well for us in terms of sales. Our main seller, Project Box, received a lot of competition in the January months, with lots of similar products cropping up and existing ones becoming updated which made us lose quite a lot of our sales. The decline was quite an eye-opener and reminded me of how relying on something like a marketplace for income can be quite volatile.
But there has also been a general slump in sales overall for the Envato Marketplaces. I don't seem to be have been affected by it too much- I'm probably down about 20-30% of my regular sales income as last year, but it's easy to see the signs. January to March was really bad, but it picked up in April due to me updating my existing products which helped them be more competitive.
The slump in sales has continued for quite a lot of authors it seems. Of course, not everyone was affected, but I haven't (in my two years on the marketplace), ever seen such discourse on the forums from fellow authors about lack of sales. I think quite a few of us have been disenchanted by the marketplace for some time, due to Envato's predilection to change aspects of their site without considering the feedback of it's authors. Many times they open up threads on their forums asking author's for feedback on recent changes and in the end it turns into a thread of many author's voicing their frustration whilst waiting for painstakingly overdue replies from Envato staff, usually ending in the locking of the feedback thread. I don't think that has caused the slump in sales; but it certainly hasn't helped authors feel like Envato Marketplace is the place to be earning your living.
If we look at some data, we can attribute a slump in sales down to a few things. First is traffic. Looking at Alexa.com, we can see that Envato's traffic has been in a downward spiral for a while now, and obviously less potential customers means less potential sales. The reason for the dip in traffic could be a number of things- Google recently updated their page ranking algorithms which could have made a difference- it could be that Envato isn't advertising the site as much (just mindless speculation)- it could be that competing marketplaces are taking up some of Envato's traffic. There could be a lot of reasons, but there has definitely been a decrease in traffic to the site.Next up is Envato changed their own internal search system for products. This could have quite drastic changes to item sales since now some items will find it harder to appear at the top of these rankings. When performing searches on my own items, I didn't find they were too bogged down in lists, but for things like themes and websites which have common keywords, these might take a big hit.Another turn off point could have been Envato's decision to introduce VAT to their items. Envato didn't really have a choice in this decision, since they were required by law to add VAT to the items they sell- but the added increase of VAT to item prices might have turned off potential buyers of products.I think as an author myself, we just have to keep trying to make the best products possible. I know some authors cannot continue to work as hard as they are and earning so little sales- I'm in the fortunate position that Envato isn't my main source of income so a slump in sales doesn't affect me drastically. But I still see products selling well- and these are good quality products which offer real value to customers. The slump in sales at first demotivated me to make products since I didn't think it was worth my time, but now I feel more inclined to make better and more refined products to make sure that what I'm offering gives value. I think as long as the product is unique, has a good design and offers good functionality that is useful to a product owner then it can still do well on Envato.
I hope things pick up on the marketplace; I still think it's a great way to earn a living and it is still one of my goals to become a full-time Envato author. We'll see how the next 6 months go and hopefully I'll post a few blog posts with some product previews and updates.