Ideas and Validation November 15, 2020

The challenge of selling digital templates

Felix Wong @felix12777

The challenge of selling digital templates

They said it is a red ocean. "No one will buy a digital template again.", "You can easily get it for free.", "Pay someone on Fiverr."

But why do people still make icons, illustrations, website templates?

If you look at those popular marketplaces. Most designs come from 10 years ago. That's awful.

People care about quality, and design trends never stop. Validate a niche!

The more specific, the higher chance you can stand out.

Focus on quality. Don't jump into the price war.

I still make presentation templates these days and am happy because my customers like it.


  • What are your thoughts on selling digital templates?

  • Where are you standing in the red ocean?

  • How do validate there's a need?

  1. 3

    I have been building a web ui components library for almost a year in my spare time (with many months of pauses in the meantime). I think there is a huge demand for good template products of any kind, but there is also huge supply like in many entrepreneurial areas. So it all boils down to marketing - reaching lots and specific people who need the templates and making the design of your template product outstanding.

    Personally I try to get around from using any marketplaces because they take huge cut of your revenue but then I have to pay a huge price (not specifically in money - but more as a time investment) into the marketing side, so if someone can't decide whether they should start with a marketplace or build up their own brand I would say do both. Start selling on maketplaces initially and build other better products in the meanting and brand them on your own website.

    1. 1

      What kind of templates do you make? Like pre coded HTML components or something? Or pre designed things

      1. 1

        Currently I am working on bootstrap and vue admin dashboard and components library

        1. 1

          Oh ok cool! So you just create many different dashboards with vue and bootstrap?

          1. 1

            At the moment I am working on marketing and building up the website more than on the actual product.
            The template product is actually nicely designed components library (things like styled checkboxes, select dropdowns, collapses, accordions, datatables, etc) but to make a clearer use case for user I sell it as a "dashboard". You can check it out here if you wish https://enzymeui.com/demo

            1. 1

              Cool stuff. Making the website simple is another super important and critical task. How’s your progress so far?

    2. 1

      Good observation and totally agree with your point of view in terms of the marketplace.

      How's your performance so far and what's your biggest learning while building UI components? @Mantelijo

      1. 1

        Biggest learning is that you need to do a lot of marketing and reach out to many people. Also it is very important to refine your target audience and know where these potential clients hang out on the internet.

  2. 2

    I started 5 years ago with selling icons on my site flat-icons.com ..for the first few years I didn't focus much on the project, but the last 2 years or so I started to ramp things up and expanded the team to 30 people.

    It's a very competitive market but what I like about it personally is that I'm not too dependant on Google with this business (my other businesses rely mostly on Google) and that it's not a physical product you're selling.

    1. 1

      Is this 30 part time freelancers or 30 workers creating content full time (contract or salary)?

    2. 1

      30 people is insane! What was the winner factor back then?

      1. 1

        Build a machine! You need good processes. Each icon goes through the same process and every person on the team knows exactly what to do. I feel we still have a long way to go with optimizing 'the machine', but that's how you grow this imo.

  3. 2

    Well, it is not dead.

    I sell website wireframes/templates on wickedtemplates.com.

    The sell little because not every developer works this way.

    What am I doing to answer that? I am redesigning the whole concept and building modern and fully customized templates.

    Is still in production but here, is a sneak peak of the landing page and templates page.

    A part of that I am working on other kind of templates, also with Tailwind.

    Yes, people can get them for free somewhere else but, what's the quality?

    1. 1

      Spot on @Michael_Andreuzza I’m curious how would you validate the demand before putting into a refreshing design?

      1. 1

        Oh, I decided to work on it because I had many potential customers asking for completed templates...
        ...like, the ones are up now are not really templates,..there is a market because I have sold them...

  4. 1

    I remember people making similar comments (to the ones you heard) which is why I didn’t initially pursue the idea.

    But I have been creating PPT and more importantly Canva digital templates to sell and have seen great early sales indicators.

    I doubt it will rival the courses I am/have produced but it is an easy passive income stream once you get a hang of figuring out what people want and performing platform specific key word research.

    I have listings on Etsy:
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/BloggingGuide

    But I primarily sell my templates through my website/Gumroad:
    https://gumroad.com/bloggingguide

    The two main strategies I employ are building a relevant audience to sell to through my writing and studying platform search engines to make sure my listings have decent visibility.

  5. 1

    It certainly is a crowded niche, but I still think there is opportunity for people doing a good job.

    For me personally, I hesitate to purchase unless the template or kit is quite deep. I've seen lots of templates with only a handful of pages, or icon sets with only about 100 or so icons and those ones I normally skim past.

    I have purchased LOTS of templates that have 100+ pages, and icon sets with 1000+ icons. Great documentation and examples is also a must, as is clean code (where applicable).

    Templates, kits and icon sets are a great way to get something off the ground quickly, but I am wary of ones where you will quickly hit the limits and have to start reverse engineering existing components in order to build new ones. If the framework is completely flexible and expandable (e.g. Tailwind UI CSS kit) then I will be far more willing to spend money, time and energy to pick it up.

  6. 1

    My honest opinion...I never have and never will pay for a web template ever...I just think there are too many options that may not look that good but they are enough and get the job done.....

    It can also be bcoz I have not artistic talent...I made nodesign.dev specifically for that reason..

    Then again my products have not been successful enough to think about how good they might look to users..

    But I see plenty of people who do see the value in beautiful templates and there will always be ppl like that ...So your in a good position ...in fact your in a fantastic position to make a lot of mula...

    1. 2

      I get a lot of traffic from nodesign.dev to colorsandfonts.com

      Good one buddy!

      1. 2

        Also I am looking for sponsors...you interested...

        1. 1

          I might be interested! Shoot me an email if you can: --> paul AT flat-icons.com

        2. 1

          I am also looking for sponsors on unicornsefeed.com I think i featured it once.

          I could have a look.

      2. 2

        checkout wannahireme.com and make a post on productionreadyapp.com to return the favor...LOL...I am glad it's useful...

    2. 1

      As a designer who just had a look at nodesign.dev - good job there, that's an awesome resource. :)

      1. 1

        I will be adding some login functonality soon so you can see your favourites anywhere...be sure to check it out...

        Also if you like nodesign.dev..checkout wannahireme.com and if you can, make a post on productionreadyapp.com

  7. 0

    Hi Felix! Great idea!
    It is not dead niche, we are selling mobile templates on https://code.market and our customer happy to pay and use it !
    Keep moving!!

    1. 1

      Awesome @double_pablo - how do you validate if there’s need and what’s your biggest lesson so far?

      1. 1

        We made "custdev". And we are experts in cross-platform mobile app development like react-native and flutter we know what needs every developer when the project is starting.

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