How to Sell Your Flash Templates Without FlashDen

“Why don’t you use FlashDen to sell your Flash templates?” I’ve been asked that question several times since starting Warm Forest. In this post I’d like to explain why I choose to sell my products independently and show how easy it is for anyone to create their own site selling digital goods – whether it is Flash templates, WordPress themes, E-books, software, etc.

First off, I have nothing against FlashDen. I think the whole Envato collection of sites is wonderful for the creative community. I actually used to sell on FlashDen back in the day before eventually deciding to go off on my own with Warm Forest. For me it came down to having control over everything (pricing/marketing/support) and just the fact that it’s more fun for me to do things myself.

What I don’t like about FlashDen

FlashDen has 200,000+ users. That’s a huge market to pass up. But there are a couple of reasons why I choose not to sell through them…

They tend to focus on quantity over quality

Do you want to search through 1,172 Flash menus to find the right one to use in your project? Me neither. I think their logic is that the more options people have, the better. If there are 1,000+ options, then there has to be the perfect option for you, right? In reality I think people would rather see a small handful of really great options to choose from. Have a few options that are flexible and easy to customize and that’s all you need. Marketing studies have shown that having more choices of products makes consumer actually buy less. When presented with too many choices consumers feel overwhelmed and simply choose not to buy. For a great book that discusses these topics I recommend The Paradox of Choice.

It’s hard to market your files on their site

When you release a new file on FlashDen you get brief exposure on their homepage in their “Recent” section. After a few days though your file gets removed from the homepage and buried in the thousands of other files on the site to make room for the next new files. To have your highly polished, super-customizable template that you spent weeks and weeks planning and building being replaced on the homepage after a few days by an animated lobster SWF that someone threw together in 30 minutes would be frustrating. There are some very nice files on FlashDen but they tend to be mixed in with tons of products that aren’t very useful or very appealing from a design point of view.

They price their site templates too low and they take a large cut of the sale

I know, I know. The whole theory of stock sites is to sell lots of products at low prices. Having said that, getting a complete Flash website for $30 seems to me to be crazy below the market price. Any kind of professional who wants a website would probably have a budget of more than that I would hope. The max price they have for any template is $40 so no matter how nice of a template you design that is the most they will sell it for. I think customers would be willing to pay more for something that is really well designed and thought out. As far as their payment rates, you can earn from 25% up to 70% of each sale. They have expenses for running and promoting FlashDen and of course deserve to earn a profit and that’s fine. For me though, I would rather just price my products myself and get 100% of every sale.

Ok so I had a few gripes with FlashDen – how hard could it be to create my own site to sell my products?

How to sell your Flash templates or digital goods yourself

These days the barrier to entry is extremely low for any kind of web-based business. Hosting is cheap. Domains are cheap. There are all kinds of online services that will handle your shopping cart, process your payments, track your expenses, manage your advertising, etc. Everything is simple to setup and dirt cheap. There is no reason not to have an online business.

It ended up being surprisingly easy getting my own site, Warm Forest, up and running. I did a lot of research on the best way to set things up and the following is what I ended up using.

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E-junkie

E-junkie for my shopping cart
www.e-junkie.com
Cost: $10/month

No need to code my own shopping cart system when there are tons of ready-made services that will handle everything for me. E-junkie hosts my file downloads securely, then sends a temporary email download link to the customer after they make payment. It was super simple to integrate their shopping cart into my site. I like them because they don’t take a cut of each sale and instead just charge you a flat monthly rate depending on the number of products you have for sale.

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PayPal

PayPal & Google Checkout for my payment processing
www.paypal.com
Cost: Small percentage of each sale

E-junkie actually doesn’t process any payments – they just integrate with PayPal and Google Checkout. Lots of customers already have PayPal and everyone trusts Google so it makes everyone feel secure in the payment process to use something they are already familiar with.

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BSA

BuySellAds.com for my advertising
www.buysellads.com
Cost: varies (but generally great prices)

BSA pretty much came out of nowhere to become the default ad system for tech/creative websites and blogs. It seems everyone uses it now to setup and manage their ads. The price of ads is cheap right now due to the recession and all so it’s a great time to be promoting your site through banner ads. You get a lot of bang for your buck and it’s easy to target the exact market you are looking for.

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Basecamp

Media Temple for my hosting
www.mediatemple.net
Cost: $20/month

Media Temple can supposedly handle large spikes in site traffic with their grid service which is the main reason I went with them. Although I have had the occasional problems with site uptime, overall I think they are worth the money. There is cheaper hosting available but I’d rather pay a little extra to go with a well-known and respected name in the hosting business.

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phpBB

phpBB for my customer support
www.phpbb.com
Cost: Free

No matter how well thought out a FAQ you have for your products, customers are still going to ask you a million questions. Even if the questions are in your FAQ they will still ask them. Instead of having people email me with questions, I installed a forum on my site for them to post their questions. I check it every so often and provide answers. That way instead of having to answer the same questions over and over again by email, customers will (hopefully) just search the forum and find the answer. phpBB is simple to setup and maintain.

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Basecamp

Basecamp for my tasks/planning
www.basecamphq.com
Cost: Free

I actually use the free plan on Basecamp to manage my upcoming tasks. I know that sounds cheap but really I just use their To-Do list feature and have a bunch of to-do lists, one for each area of Warm Forest I’m working on. I wonder if I’m the only one who does this? Regardless, it seems to work really well.

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Google Docs

Google Docs for my notes and spreadsheets
docs.google.com
Cost: Free

I’m a big fan of cloud computing – I like to work on different computers and in different locations. With Google Docs, my desktop, laptop, and iPhone can all access the same files from anywhere. I like to have docs for future ideas I want to implement like blog ideas, marketing ideas, ideas for new templates, etc.

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Gmail

Gmail for my email
www.google.com/apps
Cost: Free

Like everyone else, I love Gmail. I use their Google Apps on my domain and couldn’t be happier.

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Google Analytics

Google Analytics for my tracking
www.google.com/analytics
Cost: Free

It’s crucial to know where your website visitors are coming from and how they interact with your site. Professional analytics used to be crazy expensive but with Google it’s all free. Get this setup on your new site right away.

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WordPress

WordPress for my blog
www.wordpress.org
Cost: Free

Getting the word out about your new site is by far the hardest thing so having a blog is a must. WordPress is pretty much the standard for blogging. There are also lots of great themes out there you can buy to get you up and running quickly.

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So it’s really not that hard to do things yourself

In the end I’m pretty happy I decided to create my own site and not use FlashDen to sell my products. Admittedly, the difficult thing so far has been making people aware that my site is out there. That’s always the tough part but the site has been growing steadily. I encourage anyone considering making their own site selling digital goods to just go for it. It’s easy to start things on your own and there is no reason you have to take the established route these days. Ultimately it’s better for me if everyone created their own independent template selling site – that way people will know they can look elsewhere besides FlashDen. I think it’s good that consumers have choices. Hopefully using the above tips others will follow in my footsteps.

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Related posts:

  1. Introducing Type & Grids and My Thoughts on the Future of Flash, HTML5 and Responsive Design
  2. Free AS3 Scrollbar: Fullscreen and Resizable
  3. Introducing Typewolf

25 Responses to “How to Sell Your Flash Templates Without FlashDen”


  1. 1 zedia.net

    Here comes the killing questions; Is it working? How many sales did you make yet? Are you making more money than you did on FlashDen? No need for precise answer just a ball game.

    Also I like the Warm Forest but it didn’t strike me as obvious where I had to click to buy stuff.

  2. 2 Nick

    Sweet! Hope you make your own way and lots of cash.

    Hey btw – how about I sell my flash stuff through your site and you take a cut? :)

  3. 3 Paul

    I would also recommend you playing with google adwords, which might be also very effective – especially if you write a good and catchy ad text.
    And I belive you could fins a cheaper hosting plan, $20/m – is not too high, but for the beggining it could be lower – something about $50/year or so.
    Good luck with your route ;)

  4. 4 Karl Knocking

    Thank you for the article, the idea of selling templates myself never came to my mind.
    Can you say anything about your sales? Maybe not the exact figures but the difference between your time at FlashDen and now? How many visits does you site get?

  5. 5 Fardeen

    How do you drive big traffic to your product ?
    Are you selling anything ?

    Thks for sharing btw.

  6. 6 Jay

    For everyone asking about sales figures, all I can say is that I’ve done ok so far. :) I haven’t quit my day job yet (freelancing) but I make enough sales to make it worth my time. I’ve made much more than on FlashDen but was never active on there very long.

    @zedia.net

    Thanks for the tip about being hard to find where to buy things. I might make the purchase links more prominent.

    I’m open to any other suggestions anyone might have. It’s my first time creating something like this. :)

    @Nick

    Make your own site! It’s easy! :)

    @Paul

    Thanks for the tips – I tried AdWords for awhile but never had much luck with conversions.

    Yeah MT is pretty expensive for hosting – I actually used Dreamhost before them but switched the site over to MT just cos I knew it would kill me if my site ever went down and I lost a lot of sales. Honestly though Dreamhost seemed to have better uptime so maybe I shouldn’t have switched. :)

    @Karl Knocking

    I usually get a couple hundred unique visitors a day – more if my site/blog is featured on a popular site.

    @Fardeen

    Most traffic comes to my blog from Google searches. I still haven’t found a way to drive big traffic yet so I’m open to any suggestions people might have. :)

  7. 7 Paolo Lazatin

    Very interesting and comprehensive article. I have only started learning AS3 this year (stuck with AS2), and I’m starting to get the hang of it. Been trying to make my most flash projects customizable via xml and the idea of making flash web templates crossed my mind (along with FlashDen).

    This post definitely gave me some new ideas/things to think about, thank you. (Of course, I’m not even close to half your level and experience, both in design and in as3. Maybe when I’m better, I’ll also be able to sell templates independently.)

    Looking forward to more of your quality posts.

  8. 8 Mahend

    Very interesting & very inspiring,
    I think if you stick to your plan you can certainly do better.
    All the Best :)

  9. 9 j000

    Thanks a lot for the tip, we are thinking to start our own digital goods sites and this article just made it easy for us to start. My questions to you. Why don’t you sell both at your site and FlashDen? that way people will get to know your products and will follow you to your site and make money both ways!!!

  10. 10 MAD

    Honestly I was expecting to see at the end a step by step approach on how to design a site like FlashDen (disappointed!!). Anyhow, your tips are well grasped and will play a role in our quest to have a full fledged online marketing plan and endeavor. I must say I also admire your courage to go solo.

  11. 11 flashmad

    Hi idea is nice. But can u please reveal the sales volume compared to flashden?

  12. 12 Jay

    @j000

    FlashDen doesn’t really allow you to sell the same products on your own site (they technically do but you are limited to a max of 25% payment rate). Also they don’t allow linking from FlashDen to your own site.

    @MAD

    This does basically show how to create a quick, poor man’s version of FlashDen. Showing how to create a site as complex as FlashDen wouldn’t really be possible in a step by step tutorial.

    @flashmad

    I can’t reveal the exact sales figures publicly but like I’ve said I’ve done much better on my own than on FlashDen.

    -Jay

  13. 13 Jenifer Levis

    Its amazing fantastic idea you have chosen to sell the templates, I never seen before read this article…
    Great mind with a lot of creativity :)
    Thanks & Regards
    Jenifer Levis

  14. 14 bchabrol

    Too bad you can’t say about your sales, I have just launched my own website as well to sell flash sources : http://www.graphic-flash-sources.com. And I wonder how it will do. And i really wonder how you are doing. :)

  15. 15 Donagh O'Keeffe

    Hey,

    Someone posted a link on the FD forums, where I am an author. Congratulations on getting this solo effort up and running. It’s an emormous amount of work, to do by yourself. Kudos. I’m definitely interested in following in your footsteps, as I too share your feelings about pricing and other Flash Den failings. This will be a great resource when I finally take the plunge. I wish you all the best with your sales.

    ( btw Nice Templates!)

    Donagh

  16. 16 Jay

    @Donagh

    Thanks for the compliments and the heads up about the FD link! Hopefully they won’t delete that posting. :) Yeah just getting started was the hardest part – you kinda just have to jump into without thinking about how hard it’s gonna be. It’s definitely worth it. Best of luck with your endeavors.

    -Jay

  17. 17 dimumurray

    Found my way here via the FD forums as well. You’ve given voice to a budding trend; I know of a few micro-stock authors who have branched out on their own as well. I hope to do the same one day but at the moment I’m trying a different tact, selling my wares on as many micro-stock sites I can find :) . So far I’ve had mixed results but the goal is to ultimately establish a brand and then launch my own site. Your site has proven to be a great resource and I’ve bookmarked it for future reference. Who knows, if enough of us strike out on our own we might end up establishing a marketplace independent of its micro-stock roots.

    Here’s wishing you continued success in your endeavor.

  18. 18 pissu

    Yes, it is not hard to sell stuff online, I tried to sell my unapproved templates to templatemonster but they want very high quality stuff and they dont buy stuff from designers, I put my all junk templates and design stuff which did not get approved by clients at cashmyfiles.com atleast some hope to sell one day.

  19. 19 Alexander

    I commend you both for the article and your decision to “stick it to the man”, lol.

    I just had a file (character template)rejected on activden that was previously approved. Reason being, Activeden demands that you include an animated preview swf for your submissions. A couple of months ago I did that only to find out that it was being downloaded and decompiled.

    Someone contacted me on the site and pointed me to a video on you tube where my character was the star of some animated short, and some blog where a programmer was showing a preview of an upcoming mobile game he was coding starring guess who? my guy. I left him a message and he responded by saying he purchased it on activeden, and I told him I am the creator of that character and no one had purchased it yet. Needless to say, my comments where deleted and now he is approving messages before they get posted.

    On a positive note it kind of showed me that my templates work, and people have use for them but the fact that I didn’t get a dime infuriated me and I took it down from active den with plans to sell it on my own.

    Then I started thinking, now I have to set up a cart, site, and get traffic. Basically, I got lazy, cause I have no interest in running a site, coding or anything of the sort.

    So I decided to re-submit, but this time I included a static swf, no animation. Well it was rejected cause of it. So now I am seriously thinking about going solo, which is why I am so glad to have found this article, it is inspiring.

    Another thing to consider, the downside of getting to big, and popular is that you will surely start seeing your work being downloaded in those p2p, torrent sites, so that is a concern. The digital world is great, but nothing is sacred in it’s vast wasteland.

  20. 20 Crz

    Nice article. Everything you did sounds great for the newb except your hosting. Avoid your host like the plague =). If you ever go lateral/up, consider getting a VPS system (virtual dedicated). Much better uptime IMHO. I have had several in the last 5 years (concurrently) and have ZERO downtime. Especially when paired with a watchdog suite that auto starts or reboots in case of any module going down. Much better than having MT send you an email or worse, just hoping that you will not find out that they were down for hours. VPS isyes shared, but the machine specs are usually REDONCKULOUS (12gig, raided etc..) and yes, while you are paying by partition of guaranteed space, the fact that it IS on a huge/backed up server, allows you a very good traffic spike leeway should that ever arise. I’ve even done streaming media serving in a pinch (during overhaul of an actual dedicated server)for THOUSANDS of listeners (for radio station), without issues to that should tell you something about the spiking capability.

    Any ways,

    Best of luck

  21. 21 Tony T

    How do you handle the License? You have to include one right?

  22. 22 Robert Pataki

    Great article man!

    For everyone who wanted to see a step-by-step tutorial on setting up a business: Sorry, but you have to figure it out for yourself! That’s the way it works. I’m pretty sure you can find other brilliantly helpful articles like this one.

    I am thinking about setting up a site for my goods too, I don’t know whether I am on the right way or not – I will see by time.

    Keep up the goods, and good luck for your future plans,
    Rob

  23. 23 Designers Paradise

    We sell flash templates for you guys, we give 70% if you are exclusive or not, best rates on the net.

  24. 24 In-wardha

    Thanx for the Idea, I’ll start my own website as soon as i start generating substantial income.

  1. 1 CSS Brigit | How to Sell Your Flash Templates Without FlashDen

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