Learning from Failure at ThemeForest

Last Friday I submitted my first theme to ThemeForest.net. Last Friday my theme was denied by ThemeForest.net. Being entirely realistic my theme would either be approved or denied. Considering this was my first try at the process of theme submission for ThemeForest I had more going against me, than for me. Failure would undoubtedly be a learning process.

When I found out I’d been denied, here is what I first saw:

“Thanks so much for taking the time to submit this template. Unfortunately, due to our current quality standards, your template has been declined. Here are a few improvements you might consider making before resubmitting:

1.This template is not aesthetic ready for TF and it will be very hard to be improved and get accepted. It required many improvements in term of design, visual hierarchy, typography, layout and its aesthetic quality.
2. You need to provide a more decent help file: http://blog.themeforest.net/site-news/building-better-template-documentation/
3. You need to provide the new wordpress GPL license within the download.”

That information from the email helped me greatly.  ThemeForest has content about how to create proper documentation, and also information about proper licensing for WordPress.  Had I not been denied, I would not know about those resources.

Failure allowed me to look for constructive criticism.

After I was denied I tweeted about it.  By tweeting about it I found out people were intrigued.  People wanted to know not only why I was denied, but what I had submitted people asked for screenshots.  After sending off some screenshots and talking with a few folks the suggestions started coming back to me.  Why did I code it for WP?  Why not just a template?  A template was honestly something that was something I didn’t even think of.  I’d helped develop with a similar static version of the theme for a friend about a year ago.  The reason I’d done it in WordPress is because the static version was clumsy, & my buddy liked it, but he had trouble updating his portfolio.  Choosing WordPress, I was able to modify the static version and allow users to easily add or modify their portfolio using the easy to manipulate WordPress backend.

After looking at my work, being honest with myself, and thinking of my reasons, I concluded one thing; The portfolio theme I created works, but it is NOT for the TF WordPress section.

Drawing conclusions from my failure

First off, ThemeForest is a tough site to get into.  There is a level of quality which your work must have in order to be accepted.  Everyday work just wont cut it.  Second, document the hell out of your work.  If you work gets accepted, other people will look at your work, and the WILL WONDER “What the heck was this guy thinking?”  Documentation helps answer anyone’s questions, and hopefully save you as the developer from answering those questions after the fact. Third, this is all a learning process.  I’ve learned what NOT to do, now next time I can only work to improve.

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