Q: Why aren’t you trying to monetize updates instead?
A: We are not ruling this out at some point in the future. As I mentioned earlier, our current thoughts on updates are:
- Authors update items in many different ways…some only do basic updates and security patches. Others try to continuously add value through new features. Some do both and everything in between.
- Buyers are fearful of having to pay for a basic updates/security patches in the future and some have said they would not buy that item if they had to meaning the author may not get the sale in the first place.
- To get around this, we’d need a major/minor versioning system – major for value-add updates (possibly paid) and minor for basic/security patch updates (possibly unpaid) – this would add a lot of complexity and considering that authors update in very different ways would be hard to manage.
It seems like Envato is thinking we want to charge per update. That would be excessively complicated for buyers. Selling updates as a service should equate to “X months of access to updates”. I’d favor 12 months because that gives the author enough time to decide if they’ll continue support before buyers need to think about renewing access.
It shouldn’t matter if I release five small fixes, then a major feature rewrite. As long as the buyer has a valid license for access to updates, they should get them for X price (I think renewals should cost the same as the purchase price — it’s that valuable and dirt cheap compared to hiring a freelancer to maintain it). When your access ends, you can purchase an extension to the license, or support the product on your own.
It’s true there are differences between authors in how frequently/passionate updates are released. This shouldn’t dissuade buyers though. It would be obvious if any author is providing worthwhile updates or not from anyone using the software and paying attention. The buyer always has a choice to update or not.
Lastly, of course there will be buyers who claim they wouldn’t pay for updates or buy products with paid updates. Nobody wants to pay more. I truly believe if this were implemented the revolt would be small and shortlived. Customers will stick around because the products are good, and the new revenue will surpass the loss of some buyers. This is exactly what happened when WooThemes made the switch from lifetime updates to paid updates.
GravityDept saidGood point actually. Not sure buyers will be thrilled with it though.
[...] Updates are much more valuable than support a year after purchase. If I’m going to charge customers beyond the initial purchase, I want to charge for what provides the most value to them and me.
As a buyer, would you rather pay for updates/improvements or pay to ask a question? Because Envato thinks the latter is how to solve the sustainability problem. I think that’s dead wrong.
There are buyers who will kick/scream if updates were paid. I simply don’t want those customers. I think they’re the minority and they’re definitely low value. Most buyers would love never writing another “theme I bought 3 months ago is abandoned, now I’m screwed” thread. Here’s one from today: http://themeforest.net/forums/thread/there-is-only-1-reason-why-envato-sucks/146222
Recurring income for updates is the only incentive that can fix the problem for both sides (plus Envato).
UBLThemes saidI’m just wondering why would you want to opt out from this if you can get extra income through support? I mean, you are still providing support anyway, indefinitely but free of charge.
What happens if we opt out of this, but still support on our sites, legally you can not stop us from doing this, so our question is how can you stop this from happening?
I don’t want to charge for support. Support should be free. The limits need definition.
I do charge for customizations. I think authors/buyers have little to no issues with this.
I want to charge for updates. Paid updates scale as a service because they’re don’t restrict my time.
Updates are much more valuable than support a year after purchase. If I’m going to charge customers beyond the initial purchase, I want to charge for what provides the most value to them and me.
Wasn’t quick enough to add these comments to the Google Doc before this was published, so I’ll just repost my thoughts here:
My biggest concern
...is that Envato is monetizing the wrong support service. Q&A / bugfixing provide minimal value to buyers in the long run. These are a cost of doing business as an author, and simply good business. That’s why 99% of authors provide this type of support.
What relatively few authors provide is long-term item updates, and this has maximum value to buyers. As long as Envato is planning to give away item updates for free to all buyers they’re not solving the sustainability problem because they’re not charging for value. It’s very true that support requests taper off after six months but I have many buyers from years ago who continually download and thank me for providing updates year after year.
Authors have almost no incentive to do this because unless you stay in the top sellers list, you absolutely need to bang out theme after theme to keep revenue up. Charging for updates is an obvious solution, and one that I’ve been fighting Envato for on the forums for several years now. I have very little concern about whether Q&A, support, customizations are made mandatory (I’m going to handle them how I always have). But I’ve already begun a path to toward charging for item updates and unfortunately it sounds like that means not funneling that business through Envato.
Related to the blog post
I’m concerned that we’ll see a very rapid divide between items with support and without that have the same price. Depending on how hard Envato emphasizes this difference it may become impossible not to opt-in (basically coercion).
The terms cannot be “provides support and guarantees 6mo commitment” or “zero support”. There are authors (myself included) who will provide support but won’t commit to supporting a product for 6 months (potentially 12) after it’s obviously not profitable to sell. Why would any business accept that stranglehold of ability to direct resources freely?
And finally pricing
This is a dealbreaker. We know Envato wants to set a global policy, so it’s consistent for buyers. I can’t see a scenario where this is equally economical for a person living in Switzereland vs Senegal.
From a buyer perspective (someone who is not a developer but running a business) consistent item updates are at minimum or greater value than the initial theme price. When you’ve invested time and resources to customize a theme, you don’t want to start over every year because the item’s author abandoned it. That’s valuable. If Envato comes back with 6-months of support at 50% of the item price I’d be very disappointed (even assuming they don’t start allowing updates to be monetized).
Long story short
Same opinion I’ve held for years on pricing. This is a step in the right direction, but I think it falls short of sustainable digital products.
Figured out that some ad blocking plugins prevent the charting data from loading.
Analytics just spins and spins. I checked it last week and the same thing. Is it just hyper slow or broken?
Sometimes it takes 30 seconds and sometimes it just never loads. Not really unusable considering how much you need to drill down to get info.
I really like the way Harvest tells users what local time for their team is when you submit a request, and when they’re next in the office.
Envato should work toward offering something like this for authors (so each can specify their timezone and normal business hours) because many buyers do not realize this is a global marketplace. This would go a long way toward preventing their frustration when they realize that author is rightfully asleep.
BTW: Harvest is a great product.
Take a careful look at the buyer expectations: https://speakerdeck.com/envato/buyer-survey-key-results-item-support
also note the level of support your competitors offer; most have forums and no limits on support, especially for wordpress themes, as it’s necessary and expected.
well over half your customers expect solid, timely, one-day turnaround professional support to be included. Particularly if we’re paying way up at $60ish for a single WP theme for a single-site restricted expensive license like you sell.
If you don’t provide expected reasonable support, we’ll buy elsewhere. At least half of us. There’s no shortage of WP theme sites. I’m a top buyer who’s been here from the early days. Agree you need to control for unreasonable 10-questions-a-month people, but for most of us we may have 5-10 support questions a year max, which is reasonable. Many times when I request support it’s for a bug-fix, which the author makes… we end up bringing problems/bugs to author’s attention, which also need help.
On that survey, note that 78% of TF buyers expect response turnaround within 24 hours…because that’s the service standard your Competitors, most other WP theme sites offer; often with author responses within 2-4 hours. Some authors here are awful with lack of support; I don’t buy if i see slow multi-day response times in the comments/support area. You get paid, you’re expected to support what you sell.
I hear a lot of whining from lazy greedy authors who want to charge for support, or not support what you sell. In today’s competitive marketplace, especially WP themes, you’re expected to support what you’re being paid for. Period. Other buyers feel free to speak up. The thread here seems to have a lot of whiney-lazy authors, let’s hear from the people who pay everyone, us buyers. Google “wordpress themes” and see how well the other marketplaces/themeshops support, with dedicated forums.
Some authors, usually the topsellers (like avada, the7, revslider etc authors), provide great support (thanks!). That’s good, and so they get my repeat business.
P.S. In my own business, I have thousands of customers and reply to All customer service requests within 4-12 hours, I have for the 15 years I’ve been online fulltime, and I am one of the most financially successful and top-reputation people in my industry. I work my a__ off 16-hour days for my customers, because I VALUE my customers. Not whine.When it comes to support, as Yoda says, “Do, or do not. Do not try. There is no try.”
Do your customers compensate you for working 16-hour days for them?
Because 10 questions per year x 3 minutes per question x 2500 buyers requesting support / 60 minutes per hour = 1250 hours per year on unpaid support
Average US worker clocks in 2087 hours per year. That leaves less than half your time for actually building and improving products, learning, running your business, etc. After the first year, you’re supporting all those customers + new customers…with zero recurring revenue. And you need to hire a support staff to manage it.
It’s not sustainable. What other theme shops do is irrelevant. You’re assuming they’re successful and not heading out of business because they’re also not making recurring revenue.
This isn’t whining (be a little more respectful). It’s economics plain and simple.
“You do creative, we do the rest” – Envato needs to listen more to authors and stick to what they’re preaching. But at the end of the day, we are micro stock authors and we don’t earn enough per sale to make any promises on support – end of the story.
Amen, with one small change: “item updates” are support (and super valuable). That’s what Envato needs to/can monetize within the marketplace without breaking the microstock model. Selling “support packs” for our time is not reasonable because it doesn’t scale. No author/team can provide time-based support over thousands of buyers and growing every year. Micro stock + paid updates scales beautifully. Everyone gets value from it (authors, buyers, and Envato).