If you’ve attempted to access Themeforest or any other site on the Envato network lately, you may have encountered some down time. The company updated customers and community members today, attributing the technical difficulties to a DDoS attack:
Since July 1, Envato has been the target of a sustained DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack. The attacker, whose motive and identity are unknown, has repeatedly flooded our servers with high levels of traffic, causing our services to be unavailable at various times.
The most recent outage happened over the weekend when Envato Market was down for three hours on Friday and one hour on Sunday. This is a significant chunk of time for a market that paid out $224 million dollars to its members in 2014.
The downtime has also impacted WordPress theme authors, who continue to dominate the Envato’s marketplace. According to Ben Chan, the company’s director of growth and revenue, 30 of the 31 sellers who make up the Power Elite wall of fame (selling $1 million+ worth of items) are WordPress product authors.
The power of the WordPress economy on Envato is undeniable, but sales have taken a sharp decline in the past couple of months, even before the DDoS attack. According to PremiumWP, which cites reports from elite theme author Chris Robinson of Contempo and many others, sales have suddenly declined 50-70%.
“Sales have declined over 70% starting from May with each passing day getting worse,” Robinson said in the members’ forum. “I’ve also spoken with other elite authors explaining the same thing. One example going from $1500/day to $700 – sure that’s still a great deal of money BUT what the hell is happening?
“This isn’t just one or maybe twenty authors, it is marketplace wide affecting everyone. A marketplace wide decline in sales of this magnitude doesn’t just happen due to vacations, or other buyer factors. Going through the years of sales data (since 2008) this has never happened, I’ve personally gone from $2-3000/week to less than $700/week…that’s insane!”
With new authors and products entering the market every day, the market share for established authors is slowly diminishing, but members are not convinced that this is the sole cause of the sharp drop in sales.
FinalDestiny of TeoThemes, another author whose sales are declining, blames the one-size-fits-all theme products for gobbling up a greater slice of the market share.
“Everybody is tired of these huge, monster multipurpose themes having the same price as normal themes, and that’s pretty much killing the marketplaces. But Envato couldn’t care less, as long as they get their share,” he said.
In another thread, which ended up getting locked, there are 27 pages of comments from users speculating about why their sales have been dropping. Members cite seasonal buying fluctuations, piracy, Themeforest’s recent drop in Google search rankings, VAT and hidden price additions on checkout, and unfair pricing advantages for monster themes that claim to do everything, among other possible causes.
In one thread, titled “More than 50% sales drop for most of the authors. Does TF care for Authors?“, an Envato community officer offered the following comment:
We don’t really give sales updates over the forums other than to say your sales can go up and down for a multitude of reasons. Try not to assume the sky is falling every time the USA has a long weekend :) We have fast and slow periods throughout the year same as any business, and your portfolio will no doubt have peaks and valleys as well.
This kind of generic reply has left theme authors scratching their heads, despite multiple threads in the forums popping up with concerns from those who are alarmed by the sudden drop. Many WordPress theme authors depend on Themeforest as their primary source of income. In one reply, the Aligator Studio seller sums up their concerns and frustration with the inability to convince Envato of the unusual circumstances that are affecting large numbers of sellers:
We are not talking about valleys and peaks, we’re talking about a general traffic and sales fall, from New Year until now, especially after April. We’re not talking about regular ups and downs (sometimes steeper, sometimes not), due to longer weekends, summer holidays, and general and the usual stuff happening here in the last couple of years.
It’s not a sky falling – it’s inability to pay our bills, we’re not fanatics that foresee the end of the world.
Envato has yet to provide an official statement about the marketplace-wide decline in sales, apart from recognizing the network’s unavailability due to the recent DDoS attack.