In part two of this week’s Week in Review, Jeffrey Way (our rockstar Site Manager) has graciously agreed to answer a few interview questions. Here’s what he had to say.
“The Man” – Jeffrey Way
First let me clarify what I mean by “The Man” in reference to Jeffrey. For those of you who may not know, Jeffrey is the editor of Nettuts+, as well as the site manager for both ThemeForest and CodeCanyon. So he’s the boss but he’s also particularly good at what he does. For this reason, I thought it would be a great opportunity to ask Jeffrey a few questions.
Q #1: You manage two successful blogs and two marketplaces (among personal projects). You’re obviously a very busy guy. How do you find time for it all?
Jeffrey: I get this one a lot. Truthfully, it just doesn’t seem that bad to me. Keep in mind that you’re being a bit generous with the word “successful,” in reference to my personal blog. That site is rarely updated, and I’m sure the content bores the readers to pieces! Postings on that site generally occur late at night, when I can’t fall asleep – so I can’t vouch for the quality level!
Now Nettuts+ and the other two marketplaces, ThemeForest and CodeCanyon, are my digital babies. The problem with developing such an attachment to a WordPress installation – in Nettuts+’ case – is that, even when I go on vacation, I don’t feel comfortable asking somebody else to manage the site for a couple weeks. As a result, I typically just continue to manage the site on the go; though sometimes, that can be difficult. I’m looking at you iPhone WordPress App!
I suppose it doesn’t feel like work…because I’d be hanging out on the forums even if I wasn’t a site manager. The key is to be in love with your job – and I certainly am.
Q #2: Everything you manage seems to become quite successful. Do you have any tips or advice you can share that you believe has contributed to your success?
Jeffrey: Though I’d love to take credit for the popularity of these sites, I unfortunately cannot. At most, I might steal credit for an assist!
For example, when we launched CodeCanyon a couple weeks ago, a promotional blog post went up across every Envato site – that’s a huge number! Or, if you’ve read the last handful of Nettuts+ tutorials, you might have noticed that we’ve concluded every article with a quickie CodeCanyon promo. This is free promotion, and is vital to our success! That’s the wonderful thing about Envato; we’re our own advertising network!
Now to speak more generally about building a successful website, I believe our CEO, Collis Ta’eed said it best: “It’s all about good content.” While on Nettuts+, for example, we could offer our authors less compensation, and post a quick tip every day, we instead focus on high quality articles, and exclusive screencasts which cover the wide spectrum of web development.
So, if I was asked to offer advice to an up and coming blogger, I’d ask them to chart out exactly where they want to be in a year. If you want 10,000 subscribers, that’s perfectly doable, but you must put in the work, and create the content to warrant such a figure! Simple five paragraph quick tips won’t do, I’m sorry to say!
Next, find your niche. If there are hundreds of quick tip tutorial sites around the web, what makes yours stand out? Who knows; maybe you focus exclusively on a rarely covered framework, like Kohana. Or maybe you utilize screencasts to separate your content, as in my case. It doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as you find a niche, and embrace it!
Q #3: At the ripe old age of 24, you have quite a bit of wisdom that you continually share. I assume much of this comes from experience, but do you have anyone you look to yourself for words of wisdom? Or are you just an uber genius?
Jeffrey: Ever notice how the more you learn, the more you realize how little you know? I’m the perfect example of this. I do have a fairly solid understanding of my field, but I’m continuously floored by the talent of our community – to the point of depression, sometimes!:)
Now who do I look to for advice (excluding the generic family reference, of course)? Take a look at who I follow on Twitter to find out! On a business level, Collis and Cyan (Envato founders) inspire me to an enormous degree. To review what they’ve been able to achieve in a few short years is astounding…really astounding! I’m honored that I’m able to learn from such brilliant minds.
Q #4: As you’ve seen ThemeForest grow, you’ve also watched authors from many skill levels become incredibly successful on ThemeForest. What would you say are some of the primary qualities responsible for their success?
Jeffrey: That’s an easy one: perseverance. Jarel, you’re quite familiar with the authors who upload a subpar item, are rejected, and immediately assume that we don’t know what we’re talking about. I suppose such a reaction is understandable. This is how we keep ourselves “safe.”
Now on the other side of the spectrum, we have authors who refine their items, and continue to resubmit. Often times, they’re rejected even again! But ultimately, when the item is finally accepted, the author has only himself to thank, and pockets to fill! The old saying that the best advice always hurts your feelings is beyond true.
Q #5: As the ThemeForest site manager, you have a more detailed view of the “hot” areas (categories, item features, etc). What categories or what features would you recommend authors work into their next items?
Jeffrey: I won’t recommend any specific category, however, the most popular items are always the ones which offer the most options. Why submit a one page static template, when you could put in the extra effort to submit something really special? Why stop with just one color theme? Why not add multiple column structures. Yes – it requires more effort, but it invariably pays off!
Q #6: You’re a frequent writer and web developer. How do you overcome creative blocks and/or where do you find inspiration?
Jeffrey: Creativity blocks? That’s easy; I can show you a hundred tutorial sites that will provide an instant remedy. If you’re referring to how I come up with tutorial ideas, that all comes down to picking up a new book. I have an insatiable appetite for web development books, and have a large stack on my bookshelf. The biggest sin we can do is to allow our minds to become stale – if that makes any sense. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, stop learning.
Q #7: Can you give us any sneak peek information on any upcoming features for ThemeForest (or CodeCanyon)?
Jeffrey: Hmmm… Sure!
We’re rapidly moving towards offering a system whereby two authors can collaborate on an item, and then have the profits automatically split between their two respective accounts. This has been a hugely requested feature, and one that I’m very excited about. But don’t tell anyone yet!
As we’ve only just launched a few weeks ago, we’re still in the “see how it goes” stage! So far, I’ve been super happy with the progress we’ve made; though, I’m upset to see that the Java category hasn’t been contributed to yet. With that said, the marketplace is very young, and we’ll be growing in leaps and bounds over 2010.
Other than that – notice how CodeCanyon doesn’t have its own blog, like the other marketplaces? There is a reason for this. We’re currently in the process of migrating all of the blogs over to a more efficient, Twitter-like blogging system. More details to come early next year!
Thanks for the interview, Jarel!
Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions Jeffrey!