If you’re searching for how to sell website templates then I imagine you’re interested in perfecting your web design and development skills, generating recurring income and maybe even getting some qualified freelancing inquiries from template buyers.
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It’s a constructive online hustle that can be executed either full time or just on the side. We’ll dive together in each topic but before that here are the steps for how to sell website templates:
- Choose the website templates type
- Identify trending template subjects
- Build your online traffic sources
- Create the website templates
- Publish the website templates for sale
- Connect traffic sources to sale pages
The following steps will help you achieve meaningful results in a reasonable amount of time. They will also guide you to overcome the most common pitfall for beginner template makers -> focusing too much on building and too little on research and marketing.
1. Choose the website templates type
Creating website templates starts with choosing a niche. Depending on your profile you could be spending all day graciously maneuvering pixels in Figma or brutally crashing code bits in PHP. There are template types for everyone from designers to full stack developers.
To avoid unwanted headaches I recommend you take into consideration your current skill set together with future objectives on your learning journey. When problems pile up it helps to be passionate about the path you’ve chosen so you can find motivation to push through.
Here are the website template types you can create and sell (with revenue expectations $$$):
- Website design templates ($). The package you deliver contains design files and no code. We’re talking mostly Figma, Photoshop, Sketch or Adobe XD files. No development skills required. Design knowledge and creativity take center stage here. Examples of website design templates on Creative Market and ThemeForest
- HTML templates ($$). These are design templates turned into frontend code. You need to know graphics software to design the layouts and master HTML and CSS to create the templates. The initial design files are not required to be included in the delivered package. But some makers include them as bonus. Examples of HTML templates on ThemeForest
Read more: How To Create And Sell HTML Templates
- Bootstrap and Tailwind templates ($$). Same as above only this time you are creating the templates for these specific frameworks. Besides design, HTML and CSS you will need to know your way around CSS frameworks obviously. Code quality is what these templates are all about. Examples of Bootstrap templates and Tailwind templates
- Joomla templates and Drupal themes ($$+). Template makers for these CMSs are seasoned developers which probably know what diskettes are. The same tech stack applies like in WordPress case. But it’s certainly not a market for fresh developers just starting out. Examples of Joomla templates and Drupal themes
- BigCommerce templates, Magento and OpenCart themes ($$+). These CMSs are for ecommerce what WordPress is for blogging. Powerful platforms which provide all the backend functionality for online stores together with friendly admin interfaces. The frontend is customizable with themes for different types of shops. Examples of each on ThemeForest
- Website builder templates ($$$). There’s an entire gang of apps which allow non-tech users to build websites visually without any code. Wix, Squarespace, Carrd, Weebly, Webflow just to name a few. You can build example websites inside the apps and save them as templates. Examples of Wix templates and Squarespace templates
These are the main website template types you can create to sell. Choose the category wisely based on skills and objectives. Visually inclined template makers go for those based on frontend code. Which in our case means all categories up to WordPress.
While backend developers which don’t mind wrestling with difficult code go for WordPress and below categories. Of course not including website builder templates which for the most part don’t require any coding.
2. Identify trending template subjects
After settling down on a template type you should check which subject is in demand. We’re basically narrowing down on specific use cases by doing research with publicly available tools. Here are some examples of trending subjects so you get an idea about what we’re looking for.
- For HTML, Bootstrap, Tailwind templates some of the most popular subjects can be “html website templates”, “ecommerce website templates”, “bootstrap admin template”, “tailwind admin template”, “tailwind ecommerce template”
- For WordPress themes they might be “restaurant wordpress themes”, “hotel wordpress themes”, “elementor wordpress themes”
- For Shopify there will be naturally related to clothing, electronics and dropshipping
- For visual website builders subjects can be related to business, portfolio, blog and so on
These are just some suggestions for you to understand what template subject refers to beyond the initial template type. You will do your own research and figure out which ones are valid at the moment you read this. Here are my suggestions on how to research.
Visit the biggest template marketplace and sort item display to Newest. Then check the first couple of pages for items with bigger number of sales. Get them in a file and see which subject repeats more often. It can be multipurpose, SaaS app, dashboard.
If you are a freelancer just think about the project your customers asked you to create more than once. That’s a good place to start. It can be landing pages, app dashboards, ecommerce frontends. Or ask a freelancer buddy if you have one available.
Google Keyword Planner
Best impartial tool. Open Keyword Planner choose Discover New Keywords. Write the keyword e.g. “react templates”. Then just below the input field change language to English and location to worldwide by deleting the selected country. Click on “x” to remove it. Then Save. And click on Get Results.
You will see the suggestions together with their monthly search rates. You can sort the results in descending order for a great overview. Some subject ideas will be “react admin template”, “react dashboard template”, “react website template” and “react ecommerce template”. These are basically searches made by potential buyers on Google each month.
Ask an audience
Just straight up ask your audience if you have a bit more followers on social media. Don’t have an audience? Ask a friend with audience to help out. Don’t have friends with audiences? You need to get out more. I mean open Twitter more. Or Reddit, that will do too.
Do this research right and you’ll avoid a ton of mistakes. Do this research right and you’ll achieve your objectives faster on the long run. Template making is a long run game. You need at least a couple of months to see real results.
That’s why I’m recommending to align this effort with your tech learning journey. Because in the end even if you don’t make a living from template sales you will have learned the tech that you wanted. It will be no problem to get well paid freelancing gigs or join a startup.
Here are a couple of examples on how to align with learning path. If you’re just starting out and know HTML and CSS -> templates can be HTML and Bootstrap. If you’re an intermediate developer and aiming for advanced JS and Node -> templates will be React/Vue/Nextjs. If you’re after PHP/MySQL -> WordPress themes.
3. Build your online traffic sources
To actually make sales you need visitors on your sale pages. Sale pages can be on marketplaces or on your own website. In either case you need to direct traffic to them from somewhere. Marketplaces have the advantage of providing some initial traffic but it will only last for as long as your item is on the front page as new submission.
That means no longer than couple of days. Or a couple of hours if we talk about WordPress themes on ThemeForest for example. Authors are uploading themes there like crazy. This huge volume of competing items reduces exposure time on the front page to insignificant numbers.
It wasn’t always like this. Only since the past few years, because of the increasing number of authors. The solution is to create your own traffic sources. For top efficiency you should start them even before working on the actual website templates.
By doing so you will learn more about user needs, what features to implement and what can you do to stand out from the competition. But most importantly you can connect these sources to the sale pages as soon as the templates are completed.
Start a tech blog and write articles about your experience, common issues in the niche you’ve chosen, brief tutorials. Anything that potential buyers would be searching on Google and is connected to web design and development.
I suggest a dedicated blog not a presentation website with a blog attached. This way you can use the standalone blog to promote any future projects. Website templates will not be the last type of products you’ll build.
Write as many articles as you can and by the time you complete the templates you can easily plug a link to the sale page in every article on your blog. It will direct at least 20% of your blog traffic to your templates.
To create the blog you can use WordPress since it’s easy to use and awesome for SEO. When deciding what to write about use Google Keyword Planner like mentioned above to spot what peers ar searching on Google.
Choose your preferred social network. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, YouTube. Any of them will work. And start growing your audience and raise your engagement levels. It will provide huge bursts of traffic when you launch your templates as long as you have a decent number of followers.
Building a tech blog, building the actual templates, learning to improve skills and now growing a social audience. You probably feel overwhelmed. Let me share a few important tips to increase your efficiency on social media.
- Post only in English to target the global web templates user base
- At least one post per day and even more if you feel inspired
- Write your post ideas down beforehand to prevent creator’s block
- You can use scheduled posts feature when you’re not available
- Make as many positive and constructive comments as you can
- Engage with comments accounts that you like and you see are active
- Place your tech blog link or your templates site link in the bio
You’ll have to keep growing both of these traffic sources which I call constant (articles) and burst (social) throughout the template building stage. It will reward you with relevant exposure for your products and make a big difference in terms of revenue.
This is a vital stage of how to sell website templates. Without traffic on sale pages your templates will be dead in the water. No matter how good they are. Growing your traffic sources is actually more important than making the templates.
4. Create the website templates
If you’re a web designer or developer this should be the most enjoyable part. You get the chance to do your thing and impress the world with a useful digital product. You established the template type, you’ve settled on the subject, now you can start making it.
A good process involves the following steps. Sketching on paper or wireframing with an app. Designing to convert sketches into final layouts. Development is where you breathe life into the design. Testing to see that every feature works fine on all screen sizes.
For design inspiration I recommend you take a look at established websites in the niche you selected and similar templates that you’ll find on marketplaces. Take what you like through your own vision and always try to improve it or add your own twist.
Never copy blatantly because you’ll end up labeled as copycat and this will lead to loosing your entire online reputation. It will not only affect your work up to this point. It will harm your future efforts of doing anything entrepreneurial.
5. Publish the website templates for sale
An important part of publishing are the Live Preview links where visitors can check out your templates in action. If you’re selling design templates then image files with full screenshots will be enough. If you’re selling HTML templates, WordPress themes and anything with code you’ll have to provide live demos where buyers can check out the templates in action.
You can use the blog if you created one previously or go for a dedicated branded website. Either will suffice as long as you can copy the template demo links and insert them into your sale page. The Live Preview is an essential part of the sale process. Very few people will make a purchase without seeing one. And you are not even allowed on some marketplaces without one.
Here are some of the best marketplaces to sell website templates:
- ThemeForest is the largest templates and themes marketplace in the world. The review process is demanding and few items make it in
- TemplateMonster is a big marketplace where each item is checked by a software reviewer. Once you understand its demands it becomes easier
- Creative Market requires an initial author review where you have to present a small portfolio but doesn’t check your files at all
- MasterBundles is a great place to sell design templates in deals and bundle packages. Each item is checked but no longer than 24h for approval
- WrapBootstrap is a great marketplace for Bootstrap templates. Thing is you always have to submit with the latest BS version
- Etsy is a marketplace for any type of digital files. It’s one of the few sites where you can sell website builder templates like Wix or Squarespace
- UI8 is awesome if you’re planning to sell design templates for websites, web apps and mobile apps
Marketplaces will offer you some exposure and can generate sales on their own. They take the lion’s share which is usually around 50% or more if you’re a new author. But their exposure will not be enough and that’s where your own traffic sources come into play.
When you’re tired of directing traffic to marketplaces you can consider building your own sales channel. More on this below.
Your own website
When your templates start to pile up it can be a good idea to build your own niched templates shop. You can use it to host the Live Previews too. There are numerous ways to create such a website. Here are the most common:
1. Static website:
- A static HTML website where you use Gumroad to power the sales and delivery process. It’s extremely convenient for beginners because of how easy it easy to accomplish. On the template description page you use the Gumroad item link on the Buy button.
- The customer is redirected to a Gumroad sales page which you created for your item and they are asked for payment details. Card or PayPal depending on the preference. Gumroad handles the payment securely and sends the buyer an email with a download link for the template.
- Gumroad also provides customer information like name and email which you can use for marketing. You don’t get that on all marketplaces. Gumroad doesn’t provide exposure but handles payments and delivery like a charm.
- Besides that it only charges 9% of the sale price as opposed to around 50% on marketplaces. It’s a viable option for beginner template makers to start their own shop.
2. Dynamic website
- Dynamic website powered by Stripe for sales. If you are an advanced developer you can build a dynamic website for your templates shop and integrate it with Stripe for payments. The main advantage besides having a much more professional looking site is that Stripe charges less than Gumroad at around 3%.
With both services, Gumroad and Stripe, as you make more sales the commission they take will drop to lower rates. This is their strategy to keep you loyal and it’s win win for everyone.
Keep in mind that on your website you are not tied to other makers prices like on marketplaces. Bump them up a little bit compared to what you see on marketplaces. Those prices are not set by customer demand. They are simply the result of price war between authors.
Customers afford higher prices and surprisingly will feel the product is more reliable and efficient at a higher price point. A 30% price increase is the least you can go. Even higher. Use this to your advantage. You have less exposure but you are free to set your price.
6. Connect traffic sources to sale pages
Once you have completed the templates and published them for sale you can start monetizing the previously built traffic sources. You will need to build them up for several months before they have enough traffic to generate sales.
3 to 5 months of article posting on your blog and consistent social audience growth will provide the perfect launch pad for your website templates. Here is a list of things to make sure at this stage:
- Place links that direct to your template sale pages in all your blog articles
- Make sure you inserted links to your templates in your social profiles
- Post details about your templates on your social networks
- Asking for feedback is a great way to get engagement for your posts
- Ask the friends you made online during this time to retweet/share your posts
Everything should come together now and with a little bit of luck your efforts will be rewarded with a good amount of sales. There is no bigger joy than recurrent revenue from digital products. Sales happen without your involvement while you sleep, on vacation or even while you’re at your day job.
As soon as you get your first users do everything in your power to get ratings and reviews. Depending on the platform they can be awarded by customers in different ways. The best time to ask is after offering some support or if customers get in touch with you for any reason.
This is huge if you’re selling on marketplaces because 90% of customers check the ratings and reviews. Gumroad also has a rating system so it’s useful for selling on your own website too. Ask for them and also provide the steps on how they can be awarded so that customer has no excuse.
At this point all that’s left to do is to evaluate if this is something you’re willing to invest more time. If the answer is yes listen to your users feedback, keep an eye on market opportunities, build new templates and constantly grow your traffic sources.
The above recommendations are structured in such a way to help you create a modular system. The components work well together but also independently. So if sales don’t go as planned you can use each component to advance on your journey. For example:
- The templates you created will attract freelancing requests as long as you are active on social media. They are also awesome portfolio pieces for getting jobs
- If you go heavy into freelancing your templates will be huge time savers and make work easier. Also you save the money you would have to pay to buy from others
- The blog is a tremendous resource for promoting any future project you decide to build. You can even get paid for writing articles if you discover you enjoy that
- The social audience is amazing for promoting future products, getting freelance requests via Direct Message feature of each app and even full time job proposals
- You will also make a lot of connections with influential people which can lead to friendships, partnerships, jobs and a better version of you