Posted on

10+ reasons why I removed all 9 plugins for sale on CodeCanyon

What's This?

I’ve written this post as ‘An Open Letter to Envato’ to be honest and transparent with my decisions and to do something that scares me.

All plugins are now available on the store, we are working on enhancing the item pages to better link through to Demos (and then onto optimisation of the demo pages themselves).

Dear Envato,

Why did I remove my plugins for sale on CodeCanyon? There’s actually quite a lot of reasons which I’ll go into in this post as well as what it means for Epic Plugins going forwards. This is quite a long read so sit back, grab a coffee and nod along as you agree with my reasons (or, if you don’t I’d love to hear why in the comments)

The reasons are in no particular order, some are more significant reasons than others.

1. Envato take a huge cut of each sale

For new Authors on CodeCanyon they take a huge (50%) cut of the sale, even more if you’re not exclusive (33%). This used to be in exchange for the following benefits:-

  • Targeted traffic – millions of buyers are registered on their marketplace
  • Standardised item pages with easy links to demos
  • e-Commerce capability (handle store, checkout, etc)
  • “You do the creative, we do everything else”
    • They do customer help / support (optional by authors)
    • They set the price for items
    • They process refunds (and pay for them from their share of the sale)
    • They pay the tax (VATmoss)

In exchange, they keep the customer details (email) and you get 50% (increasing to 70% as sales come in).

2. Envato pushed compulsory support onto Authors

While also splitting the price of the plugins for sale on CodeCanyon between x% for the plugin and y% for ‘author support’ which is compulsory for 6 months after the sale (extendable to 12 months). This has been done without the commissions changing. This change was unpopular with Authors (the seemingly ‘low priced’ stock marketplace was turning into a give 6 months support for $2)..  without any proper means for a support site.

For buyers, heck it was confusing too. There’s comments, there’s the ‘contact the author’ link via the profile page. There’s then the support (offered usually by Authors on their own platform). Where do you actually go for support. Managing pre-sale comments and post sale comments isn’t easy for Authors.

It’s also quite a crafty move for them as you only need to pay VATmoss type tax on digital products that are delivered automatically, anything that requires manual input (such as support) they don’t need to pay VATmoss for. Yep, they’ve silently and sneakily slashed their VAT bills while giving authors more to do… (without giving us a bigger slice of the pie).

3. They call us Authors… and price our products like eBooks

Hmmm. Always been a bit of an annoying one this, I’m a software developer. Not an Author. The very nature of the CodeCanyon website means products are technical in nature and quite rightly sometimes buyers need support in setting them up. But can an experienced software developer offer 6 (to 12 months) of setup and support for only $2?

Also the very nature of WordPress plugins mean they’re not like eBooks. However we are forced to sell them that way. Which of the following requests from a buyer sound reasonable / unreasonable

Hey, Stephen King. I bought your eBook from Amazon. While you described it well, I’m afraid I didn’t like the third chapter on Scary Clowns. I wanted a Scary Doll to show up. Not a Scary Clown. Please refund me my money as this isn’t what I expected when I bought the book – eBook

Hey there. I bought the plugin from CodeCanyon. While it was described well, when I’m using it with my theme which shows pictures of clowns, it doesn’t look as good as when you used it on pictures of dolls. It must be a bug. This isn’t what I was expecting when I purchased it as it doesn’t look good on my site. Please refund me my money as this isn’t what I expected when I bought the plugin – WordPress Plugin

Hey, I bought this book but I cannot read. Please can you spend 30 hours reading it to me please Mr King. I don’t want to have it read to me all at once, but one chapter at a time please over the next 6 to 12 months? Will I pay you? But I bought the book, surely this means you’ll read it to me? – eBook

Hey, I bought this plugin but I’m not a developer. Please can you spend 30 hours setting it up for me on my website and making sure each release is compatible with each plugin I install as I build my site over the next 6 to 12 months? Will I pay you? But I bought the plugin this means I get support, right? – WordPress Plugin

Phew. I could go on. But you can probably guess which type of refunds are expected to be honoured, or the service expected from CodeCanyon ‘Authors’.

We aren’t Authors. So when Envato set the price, us doing the creatives and them doing everything else worked a little better. Well, it actually only really worked when they started out doing graphics and sounds (AudioJungle etc).. but WordPress is a bigger market so they expanded and kept the same (flawed) operating model. A model which doesn’t help Authors Software Developers and doesn’t help Buyers.

It forces us to cross subsidise high resource draining customers who have difficulties with those who don’t. It also can impact the service to customers. Not good at all.

4. I had two accounts making it harder to manage

Since the acquisition of Social Gallery, I have been running two CodeCanyon accounts. This meant needing to switch logins all the time, manage comments across two sets of accounts and with the introduction of us handling refunds and reviews even more switching around. It also meant that I have one account maxed out (70% commission) and another sitting somewhere around 61%. So giving quite a high proportion away in fees for the mikemayhem3030 account.

Check out the following graphic for April 2016.  This links back to the first reason but having two accounts made the decision to move away a bit easier. I could still keep my main account (epicplugins) removing my second account (mikemayhem3030). There’s also the added bonus that my profile page stays there linking back to the plugins page on this site.

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 07.51.01

Now let’s take a look at the same graphic for a year (1 February 2015 to 31 January 2016), funny period, but CodeCanyon only started producing this type of graphic since 1 February 2015 (following the introduction of VATmoss, I think). Anyway, here’s the figures for a full year of sales

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 07.52.44

So over the year, that’s almost $2,000 given to Envato for their system. I’m under no illusion that this should be free, comparing this to PayPal’s fee structure though (with the same Gross figure over the year) gives the following fee structure

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 07.57.37

Let’s take a minute to pause here and have a look at those side by side (p.s. yes, I know it’s a 30p per transaction, so add roughly $225 per year  for transactional costs, taking it down to about $1,500 difference).

  • CodeCanyon: $1,880.78
  • PayPal: $210.89

That’s a pretty big $1,669.89 difference to sell the plugins via CodeCanyon (based on commission at the 61%), but hey, bear with it you’ll eventually get up to 70% ‘Elite’ level, which will lower the impact slightly (but you’ll still give them at least 30%, forever, for what).

It’s quite shocking that I was paying almost as much per month in fees to Envato, as I would be via PayPal for a full year.

But taking the example above based on the plugins I had on that account. The question was am I really getting the value from CodeCanyon that’s worth almost $1,500-1,700 a year (at current sales levels). Especially given the wholesale changes they were making to the platform that I signed up to in 2012.

5. They won’t provide buyers details 

This is a big one for me as I focus my attention on growing epic plugins (and epic themes). I have (had) some pretty popular plugins on CodeCanyon and each sale brings with it a customer who either loves (or hates) the plugin. Given the issues with support on CodeCanyon and it not being easy to find where to seek support these customers may have felt a little lost.

Wouldn’t it be great if I could drop them a note to see how they’re getting on and if there’s anything they need help with. It would also be good if I could see which customer has purchased from me before and that way contact them with special offers.

Also, it would help me grow my email list as I could offer them access to it through an introduction email highlighting all the benefits of being on the list (discounts, new product release news, general news and hints and tips etc). An informative post about capturing your users emails from your plugin is here.

But don’t just stop at emails, you should start capturing your leads into a CRM and market them from there, Zero BS CRM is the perfect choice (and there is an Envato extension for seeing your sales history)

6. Envato have pushed Refunds onto ‘Authors’

It used to be that Envato processed any refunds if a customer had an issue. As the site grew it meant it got too much for them to keep a good service to the purchasers. So they decided to push this onto us to handle for them. While you may see this as a good thing (you can liaise with buyers via their system) it still didn’t allow you access to their details and more importantly, Envato didn’t adjust the commission % to reflect the fact they were giving the ‘Authors’ more to do.

Oh, and not to mention that they also made a change that the refund comes from your account (61% me, 39% them) rather than the 100% from their share which was the situation previously.  Not good.

7. Reviews and ratings are made public

While this is a good thing so that potential customers can see reviews, it also makes it difficult if you’re not in control of the review and rating system yourself. Why? Well there can be reviews which are clearly wrong (1* due to not having a donkey but having a clown) which isn’t fair.

While making the reviews public help somewhat, what they don’t do is give the ‘Author’ the power to approve or deny the review. Sure, if they did give this power ‘Authors’ would only approve the 5* reviews and decline the 1* reviews.

Well, we certainly don’t do that here on the site (we’ve actually had some issues with our review system) but generally find that reviews and ratings are good for things that aren’t demonstrable. I mean, if you go into a clothes shop and try the t-shirt on, you can’t complain that it’s too small. So where can you leave a review in a shop on a marketplace? You can’t (you could tweet the Company though, if a larger chain)…  p.s. tweet us at @epicplugins

8. They don’t allow Coupons and Discounts

This is a pretty big one for me again. I can send out emails to my list offering firesales, or giving  special ‘thanks for purchasing here’s 10% off your next product’ but I can’t do that on the CodeCanyon items. I’m stuck with selling them for the price Envato chose for me. This is inflexible and doesn’t let me offer cool discounts to my customers (if I had their email to give them a discount that is…   hi #5).

9. Their Affiliate System Sucks… Big Time

Did you know they have an affiliate system. That’s cool. Well so do we. But ours is better. We give you a percentage of EVERY SALE. Envato just give you a referral cut on the first deposit of a new member. So if you refer someone to buy one of my plugins that was on CodeCanyon. You’d only get a cut if they weren’t already a customer.

That’s actually really poor. Where’s the incentive for affiliates to keep promoting new products that I released on there? There isn’t any.

10. I can’t time my launch and have to wait for ‘review queues’

OK, by my own submission I’m not amazing at launches yet, or marketing but I’m going to get better as I focus 100% of my time on growing epic plugins limited. CodeCanyon have a review system (like the App Store) to make sure products work as advertised and people aren’t uploading crap on there.

This used to be linked into the refund policy of Envato. “All items are thoroughly checked by our review team, so refunds are generally not available” the products work as advertised, and someone independent has reviewed the fact.

They also have the same with changes, they’re supposed to review changes made to items. However I once had an item approved following an update which had a fatal error (oops) pushed the wrong version. Which meant another update had to be quickly pushed to be approved.

But, there’s no quick approvals, updates take about 3 days and new plugins can take longer. Weeks even. This means timing a launch or doing any sort of plan is too hard with CodeCanyon and Envato.  (A ‘approved and ready to publish’ feature would be a good build – hint hint CodeCanyon).

11. I can’t use Google Analytics on my plugins

Not unless I’m ‘Elite’ level. This means I can’t see how my item pages are converting, I can’t see my traffic sources and where my sales are coming from. It just makes it f**king hard to optimise and see how the sales are coming and whether any marketing efforts are helping at all. Anything?

Sure, when I get to Elite level I’ll get this option to add my tracking code, but until then I’m in the dark. And how much further to Elite is the mikemayhem3030 account. Well it’s sold Lifetime around $45,000 and the Elite level is $75,000 of sales.

Urgh, some maths. This means I’ll have to give Envato $30,000 * 35% (roughly on average over the next $30k of sales) just for the honour of being able to add my tracking code.

That’s $10,500 from now on given to Envato just for the ability to track my conversion rate, and that’s for someone who has already made $45,000 of gross sales.

For a newbie, you’re looking at $75,000 * 40% (on average) = $30,000 or so just for analytics tracking…

*the actual figures will vary as the commissions are tiered between $0 earnings and $75,000.

Wow. Pretty crazy huh. And it’s not like if I give them $11k now they’ll let me have it, it’s based on sales over time. The mikemayhem3030 account was grossing around $500 a month, so to get to Elite level would have taken another 60 months …. that’s another 5 years. That’s frankly too long to wait.

So, why not this crazy idea, move them to direct sales on the site and hook up the Google Analytics now. I could even then throw $10k on a marketing schedule and track how conversions are doing, then also offer a $1000 bonus to the winner of the most referrals / affiliate sales in a year (as well as the affiliate cut)… Hmmm I may just do that.

Do you think I should give away $1000 to a competition winner and spend $10,000 on marketing, then happily track via my Google Analytics account today?

Through making this choice, I can do that sort of thinking now the ball plugins are in my court.

Kind Regards,


OK, so that’s a pretty big list so far and I could go on (I’ll keep adding to this list if I think of anything new) but I wanted to spend a few moments on the DOWNSIDES to not having that account on CodeCanyon, do you remember the list from the top?

Well here it is again, with updates to reflect how CodeCanyon and Envato are today

  • Targeted traffic – millions of buyers are registered on their marketplace
  • Standardised item pages with easy links to demos
  • e-Commerce capability (handle store, checkout, etc) – This isn’t a biggie
  • “You do the creative, we do everything else”
    • They do customer help / support (optional by authors)
    • They set the price for items (low, like eBooks) This is BAD
    • They process refunds (and pay for them from their share of the sale)
    • They pay the tax (VATmoss) For now..

So, what am I left with missing out on?

  • Targeted traffic – millions of buyers are registered on their marketplace
  • Standardised item pages with easy links to demos

Traffic includes the SEO benefits of having your listing tied to CodeCanyon’s domain authority. The decision to remove my items and sell them direct is a tough decision. It may be that I’ve just removed out $500 a month from my income. Shit. Or it may mean that through having full control I can better build that side of the plugins, plus hey, the store looks a bit fuller now it has more plugins on it.

So you want to sell elsewhere, but what are your options?

There’s no shortage of options available if you want to sell elsewhere, the most popular routes as an alternative to CodeCanyon are

  • Sell Directly (using your own website)
    • WooCommerce
    • Easy Digital Downloads
    • Custom built checkout solution
  • Sell on another marketplace
    • Xtendify
    • Creative Market
  • Use a plugin reseller
    • Freemius

You could spend time researching into which one is best, but if you don’t have the time to build your own system, then there’s a great comparison here.

Want to jump ahead and see what we use and how the sales have been since removing the plugins for sale, check out the update below

October 2017 Update: Read 17 months after removing my plugins for sale on CodeCanyon

I’ll spend some time soon writing about my plans to combat the traffic and the item pages in a future blog post but I’d love to hear your comments on the decision.

P.S. Are you a CodeCanyon (or ThemeForest) author or buyer what’s your view?  Do you agree / disagree with my decision.


Join me along the way

Will I succeed, will I fail? Either way I'll be doing what I love. Sign up to keep up to date with my story.

Powered by ConvertKit

35 thoughts on “10+ reasons why I removed all 9 plugins for sale on CodeCanyon

  1. Eloquently explained. There were some good old days on Envato, perhaps they’ve passed. Still happy to see Epic making good things for discerning plugin users, that’s the important bit 🙂

    1. Hi Guys, read this to be aware of Envato and ThemeForest ways of doing business. ThemeForest and Envato are good until you buy something that doesn´t work. They refuse to refund you and if you raise it up to PayPal, they lock you out your account, doesn´t matter how much or how many things will bought from them, in a blink,you lose access to everything and somebody called Synthia Jacob answers you that´s nothing to be done until you close the dispute. I bought a lot of things from them and they´re all good, but one thing didn´t work, so I ask for a refund and now I´m locked out my account. Their support threat me and said that I must close the PayPal dispute, so then they´ll be able to unlock mu account. I have bought a lot from them and now I can no access my account and download my purchases because I ask one refund.

      1. Wow. That’s pretty bad. Interesting to hear from a customer perspective about them. Please do share this article where you can to help get even more opinions on this.

  2. Hi,

    I can feel your pain. Even, as an affiliate I am unhappy with their first-time customer commission, We can never get an advantage of loyal customers who keeps buying recommended products.
    I can feel your pain as I am a developer as well.

    1. Thanks Dev,

      Glad that this resonates with you. Only time will tell whether it was the right decision. I’m expecting some dip in sales for those plugins but you never know.


  3. Educational read, I didn’t know it worked like that when selling through Envato.

    1. Thanks Tanja, glad it gave you some value. It’s exposure but they make the authors do too much and take a pretty hefty cut.

      1. It’s a good thing you’re transparant about this.
        As a consumer from your product, obviously I too have post-sale questions and perhaps concerns, but I understand there is a reasonable limit. Apparently not everyone is concerned about that and for future publishers of premium content like this (plugins/themes etc) it’s valuable to know what you’re up against.

        1. Thanks Tanja – totally agree and hopefully with more products direct I can better serve everyone 🙂

  4. Hi Mike,
    I truly believe you have made the right decision and in the end, I think this will show accurate. Envato is becoming too big for their britches, as my British parents would say. I love your products, appreciate your efforts and will continue being a longstanding client of Epic Plugins. I will promote your products whenever and wherever possible. I’m tired of seeing in hard working creatives being taken advantage of. Cheers!

    1. Thanks Kelly, that’s cool your parents are from Good Old Blighty 🙂 where abouts? and where are you now.

      Glad you like what I do 🙂 and that you’re along for the ride.


      1. My mom was from York and dad was from Harrogate. We live just north of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Have a great night Mike.

  5. Great overview Mike! Summarizes well the changes Envato did during the years.

    Regarding your PayPal vs. Envato fees comparison, you can’t really compare a gateway to a marketplace 🙂 A gateway like PayPal is just the transaction facilitator, if you use only PayPal as is, you make ZERO dollars. While Envato is driving traffic and sales, and investing millions of dollars to continue growing their buyers’ list.

    I do think Envato’s rev-share is too high. Even the all mighty Apple’s App Store is taking 30%. Having said that, they are de-facto the largest plugins marketplace for WordPress plugins & themes, so they have the privilege to set their own rules and everyone have to follow.

    It would be very interesting to learn how do you perform now without Envato, comparing to the numbers you had before. Would love to have you for a guest post on that topic on Freemius Blog:

    1. Thanks for your comments Vova. I did an update on before and after here

      It’s true you’re paying envato for their traffic but for a new author I would question whether it’s worth the commission.

      Happy to write a guest post 🙂

  6. […] you remember my post where I went through 10+ reasons why I removed 9 plugins from CodeCanyon. In it I covered the benefits of using CodeCanyon. One of the risks was that I probably have ended […]

  7. […] be lead to think it’s all related to selling plugins direct rather than via CodeCanyon (read why I removed 9+ plugins for sale on CodeCanyon)..   I still have my main account though which also suffered a low August (around 30% down from […]

  8. […] to note in the above chart is this excludes the revenue from CodeCanyon sales.  I mentioned in recent rant that Envato won’t provide customer details for the sales I make so it isn’t great that […]

  9. […] decision to move all my plugins away from CodeCanyon (for ‘mikemayhem30303’) – and whether I’ll move the other […]

  10. Excellent read, thank you.

    Has anyone established how much traffic an “Author” can get from a CodeCanyon product page?

    I’m just wondering what value the site has when using it to expose ourselves as a freelancer, our portfolio, and our own sites. I’m certainly considering uploading a lot of WordPress plugins to CodeCanyon and pointing all of them to a landing page of even more!

    1. Thanks Ryan, glad you like the read.

      It used to be decent to use the Author page on CodeCanyon to get traffic to your landing pages BUT…

      It’s actually now against their terms of service. I got an email from them saying I’m not allowed ANY external links on my profile since it breaches their terms. Not even my twitter profile link!

      Pretty bad if you ask me!

  11. Hah. I feel you. Despite internal conflict in my Author team, I think the cut is too big and the support fee is too low for what they say “they are doing the rest”

    1. Yeah, It’s not as good as it used to be. They’re running a business though, if they can outsource costs to the ‘Authors’ they you can see why they do it. 🙁

  12. Excellent post, 100% agree with you,
    I think Envato now focuses only on small range of Authors – on Authors who sell a lot.
    For developers who’s selling numbers are low, after that new envato policy their numbers are becoming much lower, and thats why a lot of codecanyon (themeforest/graphicriver) authors are starting to sell their own – and that is correct decision.

    Now i’m planning to remove my items from codecanyon and to start selling my own too,
    Mike, i have a small question – after that when you removed your items from codecanyon – how you operated with your existing old customers who purchased your items from codecanyon? do you offered them your items for “free”, or they purchased it again from you?

    Best Regards,

    1. Hi Frederico

      That’s a good but hard to answer Question. There’s no way of contacting them unfortunately since Envato don’t give you their emails. What I do though is monitor any support requests coming in and then ask them to repurchase.

      Following their purchase I offer a partial refund, primarily so that the systems on Epic Plugins don’t think it’s a refunded order and they’re kept fully setup.

      I’ve also seen advice and spoke to a number of people about keeping the account on CodeCanyon but selling separately but in a non-exclusive arrangement. That’s what I’m doing with my main account, but yet again sales seem to be down (and I used to be an author who sold a lot regularly, getting Elite in June 2016).

      It’s a constant evolution and I’ll write an update to this blog post as it’s a popular topic. (i.e. a year on from removing plugins, and even ‘how going non-exclusive impacted sales).

      Make sure to sign up to the email list to keep up to date with my story. For the full back story I wrote Growth ( which might be worth checking out.


  13. […] on the back of an increasing frustration about all the changes Envato were making (which made me remove 9+ plugins for sale on CodeCanyon from my other […]

  14. I am in the same position, although I have not sold anything on CodeCanyon but I planned to do so.
    But after reading this, including so many other places, I am convinced not to use CodeCanyon.

    The bad thing is that none will find my items if I start selling them on my own.

    It would be cool if unhappy people like you and me could get together and start our own marketplace. I imagine it being kinda open source and that every seller provides an equally big part of managing cost of the marketplace.

    1. Hi Grymer,

      The bad thing is that none will find my items if I start selling them on my own.

      That’s not true. It just means you need to do a bit of work getting exposure for your products. 🙂 isn’t on CodeCanyon, for our exposure we have the “Core” CRM free on with an extensions model.

      An option would be put some of your plugins up for free, but others premium, or have “Lite” editions.

      It would be cool if unhappy people like you and me could get together and start our own marketplace.

      What would we call such a thing 🙂

  15. I agree about the affiliate system, only on first deposit, what if someone sends someone that eventually buys 100, 200+ items, envato benefts more from that, but the person sending that customer doesn’t

    1. Absolutely. Their affiliate system really sucks. Yet they seem to run affiliate contests with high rewards. Maybe there’s some gaming of the system here, or maybe somehow they have affiliate unicorns in a field full of four leaf clovers

  16. Love this post! Well written and good on you … I actually found this article while searching “removing items from codecanyon” as that’s what I’m looking to do and want to do

    1. Good on you 🙂 what’s stopping you?

      1. I am codecanyon author I dont know if i remove my plugins will they get easily in search and thinking about sales just a theory something is better than nothing …

        1. Exactly, that’s the risk you run of removing them. It puts the emphasis onto you to fully manage all aspects such as SEO and discoverability.

  17. I bought WPeddit on Codecanyon, downloaded it, and now I’ve lost the .zip file

    If I send you proof of purchase, can you send me a fresh .zip?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *