Aug 26

Co-founder of Obox Themes. Designer. Racing driver when I have time. Crazy about cars. Love tech. WordPress is my bread and butter.

Tips to Selling Digital Products – Part 1

In our latest series on the Obox Blog we will be speaking about our experience with selling digital products. There have been many challenges along the way and we want to share some of those with you.


We kick off the series with advice on distributing your products on as many sites and marketplaces as possible. It’s been a key strategy of ours since inception and has worked incredibly well ever since.

Starting a new company is seriously tough and finding your customer base is even more difficult. We infamously made one sale in our first full month of business in the theme world. One sale!

When the reality sunk in we realised that in order to get our products out there we had to be on as many sites as possible, however at the time our scope only included blogs.

After a year of selling WordPress themes we spotted a gap in the ‘micro-blogging’ theme market that had yet to be filled – a time before Tumblr had a premium theme garden. We decided to put our dev and design boots on and create themes for both Tumblr and Posterous which we would sell on our own site.

When we launched the new products it barely shifted the needle. In hindsight we were too early by an entire year but we didn’t realise that what we’d done was position ourselves perfectly for the micro-blogging rush which was about to happen.

Once the market started to form we were best placed to serve anyone who needed a premium theme and since we were developing for Posterous and Tumblr, we were able to develop a solid relationship with both and got listed as premium providers.

Before long we were being mentioned in blog posts on both sites and one of our themes even got airtime on the Tumblr home page for months. The exposure was huuuuge and to this day we still sell themes on Tumblr.

Our deal with Themeforest increased our revenue by 200% in less than 18 months.

By listing our themes on as many marketplaces as possible we were essentially tapping into brand new markets that we could cater to.

Fast forward a year and Collis Ta’eed from Envato had received word of us via our friend, Roger Byrne.

Collis proposed that we sell our themes on the Themeforest marketplace in a non-exclusive deal. Initially we were worried that it would rob us of critical revenue however we soon realised that their customers were very different ours.

The result meant that products which weren’t necessarily suited to customers were in fact perfect for our Themeforest customers. That deal alone doubled our revenue within 18 months of signing. You can view our Themeforest portfolio here.

Here are the benefits we see with a distributed sales structure:

  1. Spreading your products exposes you to different kinds of customers that you may not have reached before.
  2. Getting listed on different marketplaces gives you to the opportunity to get free marketing via blog posts and bundles.
  3. A company like Themeforest invests in its Authors via advertising and promotion. This costs you nothing and can lead to a big jump in sales.
  4. By widening your net on other marketplaces you are able to pull them into your main site via premium upgrades and services which can turn them into valuable lifetime customers.
  5. Most importantly, if you do it right you will increase your revenue considerably.

That being said, there are some cons:

  1. Some customers will get confused when it comes to contacting you.
  2. Price variations on different marketplaces will require careful thinking and justification on your behalf.
  3. Creating a central support system will involve clever design and administration and it’s not cheap to do.
  4. If you sell the same product on four different marketplaces it can be difficult keeping them up to date. Multiply that number by 30+ products and you can quickly see the complexities involved.

Ever since partnering with Tumblr all those years ago we have been one of the few companies in our industry to sell our products on as many sites as possible. We consider ubiquity a unique feature.

If you’re new to selling digital products online I’d suggest adopting a similar strategy to us.

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