Quick Interview with Henry Rise – ThemeRex

If you are related to web design and development world some way or another, you have surely heard about ThemeForest. For those who are not 100% sure, this is one of the leading platforms for developers where they can sell their WordPress Themes.

Success stories are inspiring, aren’t they? They motivate us for action, so we are eager to hear/read more of them. This is just such kind of a story. But what’s even better, we will hear it from the source.

Would you like to know how not to get lost in the tough competition? Do you think there is still a chance to become a successful seller with a host of people joining this community?

There is no better way to clarify the situation than have a friendly conversation with one of the top-ranking sellers on ThemeForest – Henry Rise, the founder of ThemeRex.

OK, let’s start.

Hi Henry, thanks a bunch for taking your time to answer our questions. We will try to be brief. However, we can’t wait to explore your philosophy and process of becoming an Elite Seller on Themeforest as well as hear your advice on emerging trends for future sellers.

H. Hi everybody! It will be a pleasure for me to share some helpful insights with your audience.

Could you tell us a little about yourself and the company background?

H. You already know that my name is Henry and I live in Cyprus. Cyprus is amazing. The scenery, the sea, I love everything about the island. When you decide to pay a visit, just tell me and I will be happy to show you the best places.

I have been working with themes for more than 10 years now. I and my team started to work with WordPress 7 years ago. We were a part of another big template company at first. After several years of such experience, we decided that we are ready to run the business on our own. So we started our own company. We joined Envato with our first project, ThemeREX, in 2013. Then we launched 2 other projects, Ancora Themes and Axiom. All of them are quite successful right now.

When did you first stumble upon WordPress?

H. Maybe it’s hard to believe, but I started to use WordPress nearly 5 years ago. I guess a rare person knows this fact. I was really surprised how the engine simplifies the things for me. BTW, it’s a kind of secret, so please don’t tell this to anyone, especially my workers. ;)

What product/website of yours are you most proud of and why?

H. You know, I love to create products that inspire other people. I like the thought that our products live their own lives and help people. Of course, it’s my strong belief that projects should bring not only pleasure but revenue. It’s amazing that you can affect the lives of people you’ve never met in person.

Speaking about my favorite project… I think it’s our first theme uploaded on ThemeForest. This is really funny.

We’ve uploaded several products on the first day, but you know how the process goes, some products are accepted quickly and some have to struggle their way through reviewers. You can never tell which one gets out first. So our first theme was a funeral bureau. It wasn’t our plan, it just happened.

Needless to say that some of our colleagues made fun of us. Can you imagine, that theme was the only one in our portfolio. :) We could not afford to be superstitious then and the theme is selling pretty good for a micro-niche template.

Beacon | Funeral Home WordPress Theme

Have you had any epic fails so far that you’d like to share with us?

H. You know, I prefer not to focus on fails. Everybody fails from time to time. Не that never climbed never fell.

I prefer to call them challenges. My major challenge is definitely repetitiveness. Hate the routine and try to diversify my projects, workflow, and free time as much as it’s possible.

The other factor I find rather frustrating at times is waiting for sales. These days the new items are not being actively pushed by Envato as they have once been and waiting for the first sales takes longer today.

Also, I can’t stand it when the market goes quiet for some reason or another. Sometimes, they are obvious, like the latest Easter sale, for example, but sometimes it is just hard if not impossible to explain the phenomenon.

In your opinion, is the premium themes/plugins market saturated? Are there any opportunities out there?

H. Yes, you are right, the premium themes/plugins market is simply flooded with cool stuff. However, I believe that everyone has the chance. For instance, we have almost completely relied on what Envato gives and simply played by the rules. I recommend the newbie authors do the same because we are totally grateful for what Envato market has given us and we hope to grow further together.

What’s your advice to new theme/plugin authors?

H. I can advise them to be persistent, creative and never lose concentration. It takes only one wrong move to spoil everything you’ve been working for. It is all about the quality and honoring the principles of Envato and the WordPress community.

If you had the chance to add a single feature in WordPress core, what would it be?

H. Well, let’s not forget that WordPress itself is a growing trend and it grows very quickly nowadays, especially if we are talking about ThemeForest. Among all the products at ThemeForest, WP themes comprise only 25-30%, but they are generating about 86% of total ThemeForest income. That is a very big factor one should remember. WordPress is only going to grow, and the trends are changing very quickly.

WordPress is constantly upgrading. Now Gutenberg plugin is merged into trunk. In addition, the default themes are supposed to work well with the block editor and offer the Classic Editor plugin instead of the removed Gutenberg.

In fact, I am waiting for the WordPress 5.1 release and launching of features outside of the block editor.

Is the inclusion of the REST API a decision in the right direction and why?

Yes, absolutely. A RESTful API breaks down a transaction to create a series of small modules. Each module addresses a particular underlying part of the transaction. This modularity provides developers with a lot of flexibility.

What’s your take on project Gutenberg?

H. It is mainly built to allow easy content blocks. At present, it allows theme developers to create easier paths for themes that support content blocks site. Unlike other visual editors, the Gutenberg Editor supports such layouts in a simple fashion. This reduces site load timing by eliminating bulky content blocks.

Furthermore, Gutenberg Editor encourages creative users who want to change themes. Themes that do not support content blocks are compatible with the Gutenberg editor without any changes. This means that a theme of your choice that doesn’t hold an option of a content builder now offers one without any third party installations.

The other benefit of Gutenberg is its compatibility with mobile devices. A lot of content block plugins don’t work well enough on devices. However, the Gutenberg editor throws an excellent technology for the desktop and devices. The same functionality and work are now supported on mobile devices as well.

What’s your current hardware/software setup. Any apps you can’t live without?

H. I don’t want to advertise any particular brands. I think the list of hardware/software I use/can’t live without will be too long to read.

In short, I surely can’t live with my smartphone, smartwatch, tablet, laptop, computer, time management, planning, and team communication software. I also use a bunch of web design and development as well as marketing tools. This is not the full list, of course, but I believe that my set is similar to any manager’s toolkit.

What’s your typical day like?

H. The days are sometimes very similar to each other and that is where jogging and walking come in hand, especially if you have a good walking area around you.

Of course, I work nearly 8 hours a day, but I am easily carried away by new ideas, so it often takes me much more than this. I enjoy discovering new things and picking up new ideas. That’s basically how I got interested in computers and the web. I like challenges. Making something that seemed impossible is really great. And when it is actually helping a number of people improve their business, thus improve their lives, it makes me a much happier person.

Thank you very much, Henry, for this interesting conversation. I am sure that the story of your success will help many entrepreneurs to finally make the decision of their lives, join one of the giant marketplaces, and start climbing its Elite Seller ladder.

H. It was a pleasure to share my experience with the community. OK, guys, bye, for now, focus on developing high-quality themes and providing professional support and hopefully soon I will read your success stories on the net.

3 comments

  1. Sergey says:

    This is a really interesting interview, but I have a number of important questions for Henry. How does ThemeRex and their two other projects (Ancora Themes and Axiom) manage to provide support for more than 500 WP themes up to date? Regarding the quality of the development of themes for WordPress – how does the quantity affect the quality in ThemeRex. To date, ThemeRex has released an incredible number of themes – several hundred. How does this affect the quality of development and support? It seems to me that ThemeRex releases very often WordPress themes (several themes per month) – are all of their themes so good in terms of compatibility and quality of the code? P.S. I am sorry for bad English. Thank you.

    1. Henry Rise says:

      Hi Sergey,

      Thanks a lot for the great questions. Are you the author yourself? 🙂

      Let’s go one by one:

      1. Support. We actually have a team around 15 people that does support only. So we can manage even more themes, if need be. Or hire more people. 🙂
      But in general, we try to concentrate on better theme quality, so there would be less tickets. So far we manage to do that.
      2. Same thing with quantity. We’ve concentrated on quality lately and it has actually slowed us down very much. We release 13 themes per month in 2017 and number has decreased significantly in 2018 because we decided to make our themes bigger – thus more complicated.
      3. We are not afraid of numbers. More themes – more revenue – more people to hire.
      4. Yes, we follow all the latest Envato standards. Not only we want to do that, but we also have to. Envato is checking themes very thoroughly lately, so we are happy it keeps us in shape! 🙂

  2. Boba says:

    Almost 200 items on Themeforest. That’s a business company with a lot of employees.

    I miss the good old days of Themeforest when all authors were either 1 or 2 people.

    Not sure how Henry manages to keep it going considering the amount of employees he must have, the sales are pretty low on TF.

    Here’s my story on Themeforest. Succesful start, not so much the end.

    I was on TF since 2010, partnered up with a designer and we got to be an Elite author after about 5 themes. First themes on TF with a page builder system, was called “Content Composer”, before it became a thing, everyone was using widgetized homepages at the time.

    But then things changed a bit, Visual Composer was released, amount of new themes released per week was increasing rapidly and in early 2013 we decided to stop releasing new themes because sales average dropped for new items and also because we failed to see the potential in releasing the page builder as a plugin.

    Mid 2013 I started working full-time for one of the big authors at the time ( he was also just a regular person, not a business ). Few month later we we partnered up, decided to give it one more shot at page builders, but to change things up we decided to make it live ( front-end ), and Live Composer was released a few months later.

    Got on the first row of top selling on CodeCanyon, until a few weeks later Visual Composer got front-end capability as well, then it started dropping. Two guys can’t compete with a multi-million dollar company.

    We released a few more themes, but the situation on Themeforest changed, it’s gotten even harder to make it profitable, themes were gone from the first page at most 2 days after release. No time for exposure.

    So that ended a couple years ago, since then I went back to client work, not really sure if I’ll be going back to Themeforest and commercial themes in general.

    I recently noticed a decrease in the amount of new items that are getting released on TF so perhaps I’ll give it a try, but it’s not on my list of priorities.

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