Interview with Site Manager Jeffrey Way of Envato
Most of you are familiar with Jeffrey, for those who are not, Jeffrey Way is the manager of leading web templates Marketplace Themeforest and the editor of the most popular web development blog Nettuts. He is a well known personality and recently was the guest on the jQuery podcast.
1) First of all thanks for the Interview. Can you tell us how did got started in this field and first came across envato?
Sure. I, probably like many web designers, got started in this field after agreeing to build my parent’s website without a single shred of experience. Needless to say, the “great business idea” never took off. Anyhow, the next day, I walked out of a book store with “Eric Meyer on CSS,” and some other HTML book, $80 poorer. But, as we all know, these books quickly pay for themselves.
My position as Editor of Nettuts with Envato came out of shear luck. Around May of 2008, I contacted Cyan Ta’eed about contributing some articles to Nettuts. However, it just so happened that I soon, serendipitously, discovered that Envato were currently in need of an editor for the new site.
After I submitted my first two articles, “15 Resources to get you Started with jQuery from Scratch” and “Solving 5 Common CSS Headaches” , she offered me the editor position — total luck. Luckily, this role allowed me to continue writing tutorials and recording screencasts for the site, which I really love. (More tuts from Jeffrey )
2) You are the manager of Themeforest, CodeCanyon, editor of Nettuts, you have your own blog and you have written a book recently. How do you find time to manage all these things and your personal life?
A few ways. The key is automation. I often joke that I waste so much time researching productivity tools, but the truth of the matter is, these tools have served me quite well. As an example, I use TextExpander religious, and utilize it for all my code snippets, as well as one liners, such as when answering ThemeForest support queries. This is essential; if you find yourself rewriting the same sentences over and over again, you’re doing it wrong.
Beyond that, I use tools like Forklift to expedite working with the file system and S3; and then there’s Teux Deux, which is laughably simple, but is the perfect solution for scheduling weekly tasks. For Twitter, I use a combination of HootSuite and Echofon to schedule tweets, and interact with the community.
But honestly, we find time for the things we enjoy. I genuinely enjoy working on these sites; so it doesn’t feel like work. Isn’t that the goal when searching for a job? Find something that you’d do for free…and then make money from it!
3) Many Authors on themeforest are making high incomes, what do you find in common in these authors?
The differences between the big earners – meaning the guys that earn five figures every month – is that they treat this as a full-time job; it’s a business to them. The wonderful thing about ThemeForest, or any of the Envato marketplaces for that matter, is that it can be whatever you want it to be. If you’d prefer to sporadically upload a new template once every few months or so, that’s perfectly acceptable.
Passive income is fantastic. However, with that said, some authors go above and beyond what’s convenient — and their efforts really do speak for themselves. This consists of constant promotion on social networking sites, continuously improving and updating older themes, promoting items, via BuySellAds.com, and plenty of other creative avenues.
4) Recently Themeforest surpassed Templatemonster, what is the success factor that is making TF go so well in such a short span of time?
To clarify, ThemeForest recently surpassed TemplateMonster, in terms of page rank. If you examine the graph below:
…you’ll realize just how far ThemeForest has sky-rocketed, when compared to even five months ago. Needless to say, we’re all really excited, especially when ThemeForest was, in response to this new data, declared as the “new king in web template marketing.” On a lower level, this means that, whether you’re a buyer or author, ThemeForest has proven itself to be the premier website for your needs.
So what’s the reason behind our success? I’d ask your readers to tell me even three different marketplaces to sell, for instance, their WordPress templates. It’s not quite as easy as you might think. Many of the popular marketplaces around the web are subscription based, and don’t necessarily appeal to individual WordPress authors. ThemeForest, and its siblings, fills that niche quite nicely. Beyond that, cheap prices, and a strong community are always helpful!
5) What do you think, the future of web development is going to be? Will digital stock goods dominate in the near future?
I think I don’t know! If you had asked me a few years ago, I would have wagered that Flash was really the way to go. It was booming in popularity at the time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still doing quite well for itself, but, between jQuery and HTML5, I think Flash has a tough road ahead. We’re specifically seeing this prove true in the last week or so, with the Apple/Adobe battle in full steam.
Speaking of which, what was Adobe thinking when they, in their global launch video, continued to promote their Flash -> iPhone feature. Shouldn’t that have been edited out? Apple’ not going to suddenly pull a 180 and change their mind. That one baffled me.
Okay, so I really haven’y answered your question. The truth is, I’m perfectly happy letting those far smarter than me determine what the future will be for our industry.
6) What are your hobbies? I know you love playing guitar, what are your favorite songs and any chance of launching guitar.tutsplus.com?
Growing up, the plan was to be a studio musician. I went to an arts high school, called Nashville School of the Arts, and was on scholarship at Middle Tennessee State University, where I studied music theory. But, life never goes according to your plans. Thankfully, I’m very happy with the way things turned out. Guitar can remain a hobby… an hour or so per day.
So yeah, I jokingly made a comment on Twitter one day about wanting to launch guitar.tutsplus.com. I strangely received a lot of positive feedback on the idea. It would definitely be fun for me — think… the weekly Nettuts video tutorials, except for guitar; things like, “How to Mimic Billy Gibbons’ Playing Style.” But, I doubt that the bosses have any plans at this time. It doesn’t quite fit in with our other Tuts site. But who knows, maybe in a couple years, I’ll convince Skellie!
7) CodeCanyon is almost 4 months old, how is it going and what advice would you give to new authors?
CodeCanyon is doing quite well, but we’re only now just beginning to dig in our heals. The first step is with our newly launched Plugins category. While we’ll be updating this with multiple subcategories over the coming months, we’re launching with Magento extensions (as a companion to our recently launched Magento themes on ThemeForest), and will soon be moving on to a new subcategory, that I’m certain the community will be happy about.
The advice I’d give to new authors is the same advice I always give: solve problems. As an example, we recently received a PHP script submission that could be used to determine if a particular website domain name was available for purchase. Whether or not this item was coded well is moot. Who needs such a script, when there are a variety of free options online? Solve a problem, and the sales will roll in. But that’s the challenge…determining where the problem lies!
8 ) Sneak Peak at new websites or features coming to Envato?
Absolutely. We’re all really excited about our upcoming Sessions website. At the beginning of each month we’ll be launching a two-week Session on a creative topic. Sessions will cover everything from digital illustration, to typography, to web design. The articles in each Session aren’t like your usual Tuts+ content. Instead of step-by-step tutorials, they teach the theory behind the techniques and practices. You’ll learn the Whys, not just the Hows.
9) Some quick questions:
- Your favorite OS – Mac
- Your favorite game besides Mass effect 2 😛 – “Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past” will forever be my favorite game of all time, if only for the nostalgia. I still play through it once every year.
- Your favorite IDE – Ahh, tough one. More than any other code editor, I find myself using Textmate the most – if only because it’s so dang fast; but that’s not really an IDE. If I had to choose right now, I’ve been super impressed with WebStorm, from the JetBrains guys, though it’s still in Beta. http://www.jetbrains.com/webstorm/index.html
- Your favorite Themeforest and Codecanyon Author – Can’t show favorites.
- Your favorite Nettuts Author – Again, no favorites. But I am truly thankful for people like Siddharth, Jeremy McPeak, Andrew Burgess, Burak Guzel, Dan Wellman, and James Padolsey, who consistently submit incredible tutorials and articles.
10) Once again thanks for your time!
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