New Theme Development Company Makes First Sale Minutes After Being Approved on ThemeForest

Warriors Of Code is a new WordPress theme development shop in Australia. An employee who goes by the name Genesisfan on Reddit, published a post explaining how the company recently had its first theme accepted on ThemeForest and was willing to answer questions others had about the experience. According to the post, he spent the better part of six months with a designer he hired while working a full-time job developing Broadsword.

BroadSword Single Page View
BroadSword Single Page View

When asked what he thought of the ThemeForest submission and review process, he responded, “We were pleasantly surprised with how quickly they turned around our review, and the level of detail they provided in their soft rejection. Aside from some technicalities that we’d missed (being more specific about what features we supported), the biggest issue was that we were missing some data validation in our files. Make sure you use the esc_ and sanitize_ functions provided by WordPress!”

Once the issues were addressed, ThemeForest approved the submission and the team made its first sale within minutes of it going live. When asked what makes their theme different in the marketplace, he responded, “We kept the theme options to a minimum. We were both pretty tired of themes that include a thousand options and tend to be more like frameworks than standalone themes.”

Based on stats that highlight how well ThemeForest is doing, it’s not surprising that Warriors of code made their first sale within minutes of going live. However, the company used social media to its advantage, so it’s possible one their followers purchased the theme based on tweets. In fact, the company explains how they handled promotion:

Regarding promotion, we’ve been tweeting it out and liking the facebook page we’ve set up and luckily, it’s now trending on ThemeForest. It helps that I’m on the east coast of Canada and my partner is in Sydney, Australia, so we’re able to pretty much cover comment replies quickly at any time of the day. I think that goes a long way to helping promote a positive vibe about the theme.

After 24 hours, the company has six sales at $43 each. It’s not a huge amount, but it’s a start. The big takeaways is that ThemeForest reviews are catching insecure coding practices and making the first sale is a quick endeavor, especially if you already have a social media presence. The company answers several other questions related to the experience.

We know that in this instance, ThemeForest did its job to discover insecure coding practices during reviews. It’s also refreshing to hear from an up and coming theme company that they’re tired of theme options. I haven’t used their product so I can’t confirm if its claims are true, but it’s a step in the right direction to see other ThemeForest sellers make such statements in public.

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15 Comments


  1. It’s not a new theme shop. They released the first template on Themeforest in December 2013. I like their approach though, I find themes with endless options a real headache.

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    1. Hi Naweed. Yes, to clarify, this is the first WordPress theme we’ve developed, and it’s where we’re focused for the future. The only product prior to this was a photoshop template. Thanks for your comments!

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  2. I’m impatient to see what would the numbers be in a week, month, and three months. This story seems to be one of the fewer examples of good developers joining ThemeForest and not wanting to build 100-in-1 themes, but having 7 sales in 2 days may be the indicator of what customers actually want.

    It’s great that Envato’s reviewers cover security issues and other compliant problems, but with a monstrous theme with 5 sliders, 3 galleries, WooCommerce support and 150 theme options it’s not possible to catch most of the potential gotchas. And that’s what most people sell since customers are looking for that.

    Also, let’s not forget that 7 sales for $43/each is $301, and Envato charges 50% for new authors, so it’s $150 worth of sales in the first two days. For a theme being developed for 6 months by two people as Jeff said, if sales don’t multiply by at least 100 (which won’t happen for sure), I don’t see it as the best investment myself.

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    1. Hi Mario,

      Thanks very much for your comments. As was mentioned in the article, this is the first theme we’ve put together, and so took a fair bit of time simply due to a bit of a learning curve. That, coupled with a regular job and family obligations, tends to drag out the total dev time a fair bit ;)

      As for the money side of things, while we’d love for this theme to sell hundreds and hundreds of copies in the first 30 days, we’re also very realistic about where we are – new authors with no real following (although it’s starting to grow, in no small thanks to this article!), with a theme that doesn’t come bundled with dozens of plugins. We’re quite happy to be accepted, and our plan all along was to grow the business slowly and organically – work has already begun on our next theme, and hopefully we can take what we’ve learned, and are learning, and use it to decrease the total turnaround time while at the same time keep (and improve) the quality of the themes we produce.

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      1. Thanks guys. Again, let’s see how it goes with the sales over the next month or three. It’s still an interesting question, but I’d like to comment more on that once we get how it goes.

        I don’t really agree with your point about the expected low sales at first. ThemeForest has a market of 4,000,000 members (and more) and the main reason they charge what they do and people submit there is the MASSIVE marketing opportunity. Being a new author is a bit odd – if the same marketing opportunity exists for everyone, why should “recognized” authors be way more popular? Isn’t it the same as if you’ve submitted that on your own site?

        What I’m saying is that if you commit to Envato’s rules for fees and such, you should (theoretically) get the very same attention that everyone else gets. Which means the same number of viewers and everything. If the sales are low, I don’t see the reason of the marketing thing itself. If you submit 10 themes, you’ll get more downloads – that’s right, but is it any different than starting your own shop there?

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  3. Why does this feel like a Themeforest native advertising spot? Was there any money or promotion exchanged around this piece? We have a right to know.

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    1. No, there wasn’t a dime exchanged for the article. I thought it was interesting to read the experience of a brand new theme seller and how they made their first sale minutes after being approved. I also found it interesting to read that the ThemeForest review process rejected their theme based on using insecure coding practices which gives me hope that their review process is working. It’s just one case however so who knows what the other themes have in them.

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  4. I want to first give praise to Warriors Of Code team for joining our small band of merry ThemeForest authors who are dedicated to keeping our themes lean and mean.

    I’d like to ask though why you’ve chosen the split license versus GPL?

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    1. Hi Jami, and thanks for the warm welcome!

      As for the license, I didn’t actually change anything from the default that came with the _s template I used as a starter. It looks like envato defaults to a split license, but to be perfectly honest it’s something I need to read into a bit further :)

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      1. Underscores is GPL but I’m not sure if that would override the license displayed on ThemeForest. It’s pretty simple to change it to display as 100% GPL though. During your next theme update, you’ll see a license block and GPL will be available from the dropdown:

        http://d.pr/i/1cfva

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  5. Very interesting! Jeff, thanks for posting this. We wonder what goes on in there. :) It bears out what I had been guessing – TF, while it is enormous and daunting, is making some moves to improve, albeit moving with the muck-like speed of any bureacracy.

    I also hope we’ll see an update on this case later on.

    I had flirted with the idea of doing a theme there. In one case I was asked to collaborate, but they wouldn’t divvy up payouts, so I balked. Of course, one could make a separate arrangement with one’s partner if they were highly trusted.

    Bonus points for the crazy Lorem Ipsum text in their demos, which is extremely random and contains a dirty word here and there. :)

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  6. I’m gonna be a bit harsh, but I hope you take this message to heart to improve yourselves in the future (if you ever read this, WoC).

    I personally stopped at “the biggest issue was that we were missing some data validation in our files. Make sure you use the esc_ and sanitize_ functions provided by WordPress!” which was a direct no-no to me.
    Basically, if not thanks to the professionalism and thorough review of Envato (I didn’t think they’d go this far in their review tbh), you would have given your users a theme with security holes in it (that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any left either).

    We’re in 2015 folks, the era of cyber-criminality. When you make web-based stuff, you CAN’T even for a single second leave out the security aspect to focus only on design and functionality. Your theme is a tool that interacts with databases, potentially storing information that could ruin people’s lives if leaked in the wild. You need to understand that you have an very important role in the privacy chain as a theme seller. And no, what I’m saying is unfortunately not paranoid, it’s the harsh reality of the Internet nowadays.

    Now, some people are willing to forgive, some are not. I personally cannot trust a person that delivers their first product with a critical flaw in it (and security is a critical issue), so I probably wouldn’t consider your products in the future. Again, that is just my two cents so obviously don’t take that for a generality. Fact is, their are many developers in the same boat as you on Themeforest (and it’s a shame :( ).

    Now, it would be rude of me to just rant without giving you any pointers on how you can improve the security aspect of your products, which would not only please your customers but give you peace of mind as well (which is just as important and gratifying!).

    – Have a thorough read and understanding of the Top 10 security vulnerabilities you have to look out for :
    https://www.owasp.org/index.php/Top_10_2013-Top_10
    – Perform systematic “penetration testing” on your products (you can look it up on the web) for both the front AND the back ends. You will eliminate the majority of problems there.
    – Audit your theme (the front end) with tools like Sucuri and the like.

    These tasks are time consuming and require a lot of patience. However, by doing this you will greatly increase the trust of customers in your products. And nowadays, trust takes a huge part in the “successful business” pie.

    Best of luck to you guys! As far as UI and UX goes, that’s great stuff.

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    1. Hi Gaussian, thanks for your honest post.

      You’re absolutely right in that security should be top of mind in every web developer. In my defence, it was only a couple of instances that were missed – no excuse I know, as it only takes one vulnerability to let the bad guys in, but I don’t want to give the impression that the theme was riddled with holes.

      What this has done has reinforced in me just how important this topic is, and the purpose of my original post was to hopefully spread the word a bit so that this becomes less of an issue for WP authors in the future. It certainly will for me, as I will be redoubling my focus on data validation going forward.

      The list of tips you provided was very helpful, and I’ll certainly be making use of them on future work!

      I appreciate your feedback very much, and I hope that you’ll give our projects some consideration in the future.

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  7. I was a little surprised to see WP Tavern do a semi-promotion of a Theme Forest theme, but I digress because the fact the reviewer at TF went that deep to find the issues relating to sanitized data is promising. I am quite familiar with their review process, which at best has been very controversial. I’ve seen themes get submitted and within as little as 3 minutes, got hard rejected….basically start from scratch or start a new and different theme. Considering it can take literally months of work to put these themes together can be quite frustrating for the author. I also know that you generally have an estimated 1 in 10 chance (10%) of getting your theme accepted. TF gets so many submissions, it appears they do a quick choice of a few themes and the rest they send out form letters of rejection.

    As for the article here stating you are new, I know you’ve been at TF for 4 years and your first theme is just over a year old there. Still, congrats “Warriors of Code” for getting in with your latest theme. It’ll be interesting to see where things are in a couple of weeks. I’d also like to see the decision to go total GPL, so you may want to consider that.

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