Designers and their clients are constantly asking for new HTML email templates to use with Campaign Monitor, in order to save time, effort and avoid rendering issues in various email clients. With templates, all the hard work that gets put into a solid email design has been done for you – if you choose a great layout, the sky’s the limit as to how you can then customize the template to make it your own.
The good news is that there are now numerous vendors of email templates, some which even encourage designers to make money from their original creations, too. We decided to talk to Jeffrey Way, the Site Manager at ThemeForest about their new collection of email templates, how Envato’s community have embraced email design and the challenges that designers face when offering HTML email to their clients.
Tell us why you extended the ThemeForest collection to email templates. Did the demand come from designers who wanted to sell their work, customers who needed templates, or both?
As we already offer a wide variety of templates on ThemeForest, ranging from static site templates to even Tumblr themes, it only seemed natural to further extend our offerings to include beautiful email templates. As for the demand, I think it was a bit more unspoken rather than a huge outcry from our community. As a web developer myself, I personally despise having to code email designs using 1996 techniques that I’ve long since abandoned. If I dread the process, one can be sure that others do as well. Based on the phenomenal sales from our first few weeks, it seems that our decision to launch this new category was the correct one!
Of course, one of the key factors in the number of sales we’re experiencing is that we offer cheap and high quality templates that can’t be obtained elsewhere. While one might decide against making a $75 purchase, when our templates only cost $8 – $10, the decision is a no-brainer. Do you spend hours compensating for dozens of email clients, or buy an awesome – and cheap – template?
How has the response been, so far? Have you found that this new category, combined with related tutorials, has inspired designers to consider selling email design and marketing services?
The response has been surprisingly fantastic. We had a strong feeling that this new category would prove to be popular, but it’s far exceeded our expectations. The wonderful thing about ThemeForest is that we have a sister tutorial site called Nettuts+. On this site, among other topics, we’ve recently been posting tutorials specifically on email design.
The advantage to this is that, if a talented designer doesn’t quite have the know-how to build an email compliant template, he or she only needs to visit Nettuts+ to learn the key techniques required. We, of course, also have the ability to advertise our ThemeForest email template inventory on Nettuts+ as a bonus!
Like Campaign Monitor, ThemeForest also opens up the potential for designers to make passive income. Tell us a little about your authoring program and why it has been successful.
The key to the Envato marketplaces is a simple one: we sell high-quality and cheap digital goods. As I touched on earlier in this interview, while a $75 theme might be just expensive enough to make a potential buyer reconsider the purchase, when ours only cost around $10 – the cost of your lunch – the decision is a no-brainer.
At first glance, a new author might be upset with selling his hard-work in exchange for such little return; however, once they realize the compound effect of selling their item 300+ times, their concerns quickly subside.
Though ThemeForest is barely one year old, we already have authors who earn five figures every single month – quite a bit more than the Envato staff who built these marketplaces! When an author has dozens of templates, each being sold a handful of times each day, the money rolls in – without any additional work on the author’s part. Additionally, the wonderful thing about ThemeForest is that, from an author’s standpoint, it can be anything you want it to be. While many authors design templates for ThemeForest as their full-time job, others simply use it as a stream for passive income – uploading only a few new designs every year.
From your interaction with Envato’s design community, what are some of the challenges that designers face when designing email templates, either for ThemeForest or for their own clients?
Understandably, the biggest challenge is always developing an email design that works across such a wide spectrum of email clients. I think especially for younger designers – who never learned the 90s way of creating websites with tables and embedded styles – the process can be quite confusing. When everything they’ve learned about web standards becomes, to an extent, irrelevant when creating email templates, I can certainly understand why they sometimes want to rip their hair out!
Often times, we’re forced to reject email template submissions from authors due to the fact that they haven’t yet learned that, for instance, CSS shouldn’t be contained in an external file, or that the width of the layout shouldn’t exceed around 600px, or that some clients don’t recognize the background property. Luckily, thanks to helpful email design tutorials from our sister site, Nettuts+, like 20 Email Design Best Practices and Resources for Beginners, and 6 Ways to Improve your HTML Emails, we help to make the learning curve as gradual as possible.
Finally, what is your advice for designers planning to make a start offering email design and marketing to their clients?
Learn the essentials. You might be a fantastic designer, but if you haven’t learned the basics of email design, you’ll be shocked when you find that your design renders incorrectly in the majority of the email clients, and is often sent to the spam folder, despite your best efforts.
Secondly, my advice would be to simply accept that the process is going to be a tedious one – at least at first. Compensating for a dozen email clients isn’t an easy task if you’re just getting started. There will be moments when you feel exactly like this guy. So learn the fundamentals, keep your designs more on the simpler side, and always utilize tools like CampaignMonitor to test your designs.
On the other hand, if you simply don’t have time to learn the intricacies of email design, that’s what we’re here for! For $8 – $10, you can choose from a wide variety of wonderful email newsletters, which will work across the huge majority of email clients!
Many thanks to Jeffrey Way from ThemeForest for his contribution. We hope you have found this Q&A useful and perhaps, even inspired you to design some amazing email templates. Discover how you can get involved in Envato’s author program.
Want to know more about email templates? Take a look at our WYSIWYG editor walkthrough, make a start using our 30+ free email templates and reference our email template tags. If you have any questions or suggestions regarding our email templates, please get in touch with us either via the comments below or in our forums. Time to get cracking on your email masterpiece!