Prologue

Currently, Envato displays earnings of all authors. This raises serious privacy concerns and could put some authors in real life-threatening danger.

Recently I have created a thread at Envato forums (http://themeforest.net/forums/thread/revenue-badges-put-authors-in-danger/123491), discussing the presence and implications of badges which shows authors revenues. The main point of the thread was making visibility the revenue badges optional.

Seeing the discussion, even if the badges could be hidden, it’s just a little help and it’s not enough. Earnings of author can be calculated from sales.

Moreover, there are additional negative implications of this for many authors:

  • Authors do their business anonymously
  • Authors don’t tell others what they do for a living in their personal life
  • Authors can’t enjoy the benefits of what they do and can’t enjoy their rewards for working hard
  • Author can’t use his Envato portfolio as his reference (for example to put it to Linkedin)

Other facts read from the discussion:

The topic is discussed here: http://themeforest.net/forums/thread/revenue-badges-put-authors-in-danger/123491

After I have created that thread, seeing the discussion made me think.

I have came up with a simple way on how Envato Authors could retain their privacy and be safe. The best part is, that it would not affect Envato’s current ecosystem.

Item Sales Display

This is a concept for how sales and revenues of authors could be displayed on all Envato marketplaces.

This concept wouldn’t change how the system works now. It only adds additional layer on top of it, which would be an option for those who need it.

It’s something like a feature request.

Theory: My hypothesis about what drives the sales

What affects buyers decision:

This is just a brief thought about the buyer’s behavior and about what affects his purchasing decision. This short part is not really important, feel free to skip it.

Primary factors:

  • items price
  • items sales
    • more sales means that the item works and is good
    • too many sales might dissuade the buyer from purchase (there is higher chance that his client might find elsewhere the same thing)
  • items ratings
  • items comments
    • if the author responds in a reasonable time frame (product support)
    • whether there are positive or negative comments

Secondary factors:

The author.
The buyer doesn’t really care about how much money has the author earned. He cares about the product.

There could be said much more on this topic, but it’s not a purpose of this post.

Definitions

Sales Display – how the sales of an item is displayed (Themeforest WP theme, a Photodune photo, Videohive AE Project File…). Right now it’s a total number of sales of the item.

Portfolio – the portfolio of author.

Popular Items – the page with top sellers (http://themeforest.net/page/top_sellers)

Search Result – page with list of items shown as a search results (http://themeforest.net/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&term=business)

Settings for Sales Display

In author’s setting would be a new entry called “Sales Display”.

There would be following options to choose from (choose one of the following):

  • display actual number sales
  • if item has more than 100 sales, show “100+ sales”
  • if item has more than 500 sales, show “500+ sales”
  • if item has more than 1.000 sales, show “1.000+ sales”
  • if item has more than 10.000 sales, show “10.000+ sales”
  • […]

Let’s now look at how would it be actually displayed on marketplaces.

Browsing portfolios & categories & search results

What is displayed depends on what the author has selected in settings.

So if the author has only one item which has 40.000 sales total, with having the setting set to “500+ sales”, it would be possible to see only “500+ sales” and not the total number.

Handling list of items “sorted by sales”

When you browse category, portfolio or search results and you set sorting by “Sales”, it would be sorted as following (actually it would be reversed):

  1. items with 0 to 100 sales
  2. items with 100+ sales (all items set to this sales display)
  3. items with 101 to 500 sales
  4. items with 500+ sales (all items set to this sales display)
  5. items with 501 to 1000 sales
  6. items with 1.000+ sales (all items set to this sales display)
  7. items with 1.001 – 10.000 sales
  8. items with 10.000+ sales (all items set to this sales display)
  9. items with 1.0001 – more.
  10. […]

itemList

Popular items category

Popular Items category differs from the layout style of portfolios and search result.

Popular Items category is powerful regarding to driving sales and publicity to the items. Even if the author want’s to keep his total sales private (using “100+” for Sales Display), he still might want to have his items listed within Popular Items.

Here’s a way to do this.

In settings would be a new entry – a check box: “Show items within Popular items” (By default it’s turned on).

So author would have a choice whether to show his items in “Popular Items” or not.

This option could be enabled even if he has turned sales display to “100+ sales”.

Lets now look at how would it work.

Assume that the author has Sales Display set to display “100+” and he has one item which has 500 sales per week and 40.000 sales total.

If the “Show items within Popular items” check box is:

  • disabled: the item is not listed* within popular items.
  • enabled: the item is listed within popular items. The number of sales from last week is visible, as well as the last 3 months. But still, no one can see the total number of sales.

With this feature, it doesn’t matter how many item the author has in his portfolio. If it’s only one or hundreds, it’s not possible to say how much the author has earned.

As the items refresh every Sunday at midnight of Australian time (I guess?), changes in authors settings would take effect in Popular Items category after this refresh. Not immediately. This would keep Popular Items category stable and not-changing during the week.

Item ratings

Average conversion of purchase-to-rating is around 10%. So from 50.000 sales you get around 5.000 ratings on the item.

If you have Sales Display set to “100+ sales”, ratings would show the exact number until the number of ratings exceeds 100. After 100 it would show “100+ ratings”

So in this situation (50.000 sales, 5.000 ratings, having Sales display set to “100+ sales”) – ratings would show “100+ ratings”. Not the exact number of ratings.

The table which shows “Buyers Rating” – how many people have rated it with 5 stars, 4 stars, 3 stars… – would show percentage.

ratingsTable

Authors Profile

What is there now

The main point of displaying revenues of authors (as it is now) are:

  • motivate the author to earn more
  • motivate other authors to join the marketplace & earn more

But as I described in the Prologue – there is a safety problem. Displaying revenues of authors puts them in serious danger in some situations. This topic is discussed here: http://themeforest.net/forums/thread/revenue-badges-put-authors-in-danger/123491

How to protect authors

To protect author’s safety & privacy, displaying the revenues (revenue badges) would be optional.

Additional features which can be added

There is much more stuff that can be done still with letting authors keep their privacy.

Sales on authors profile

There could be a new, optional features for displaying sales at authors profile.

For example:

  • 500+ sales
  • 1000+ sales
  • 1500+ sales
  • 5000+ sales
  • […]

There is motivation factor in this approach. Take the Linkedin as an example. If a person has below 500 connections, you can see the number. If the person has more connections, you see 500+ …There are more levels, like 900+ and so on. And this system really works.

Levels of privacy

This one was proposed by user dnp_theme.

The revenue badges could have some sort of levels of privacy:

  • public (not recommended)
  • private (only authors can see their own income)
  • community (only registered users can see)
  • B2B (only buyers can see their items’ providers’ badges)

Conclusion

This concept wouldn’t change how the system works now. It only adds a feature on top of it, which would be an option for those who need it. Additional layer of safety.

All this is not a global setting for everyone. It would be optional. By default it would be set to how it works today.

It also doesn’t affect sales of other authors at marketplaces.

There is no evidence or assumption that it would bring down the sales.

If it would bring down the sales to individual author who has turned it on – it’s his choice. Dropping some profit for personal safety is a very reasonable step.

Apple, Ebay or whoever else you can think of doesn’t display the revenues of authors or their sales. No one does. There are reasons for this.

Envato, please, consider this feature. It’s about the safety. I have started this discussion because it affects me and all Envato authors. I have started it anonymously because I’m afraid about my safety. And as I have discovered from the discussion and messages, I’m not the only one. Please, act.

Let’s make Envato a safe place.

~ Anonymous Author