The success of the Divi theme is unquestionable, and that success can be measured in the number of third-party plugins and themes that came out every day on the market.
These numbers are so big that it would be impossible to know the new products and make a good choice if not for the marketplaces.
Today we will glad to present you one of the creator’s of Elegant Market Place, the biggest Divi themes and plugins marketplace.
We are talking about Andrew Palmer and in this interview with Juan Francisco, we will try to reach the keys for its success.
Can you please introduce yourself?
My name is Andrew Palmer and I own Civitas Marketing Limited the holding company of; Elegantmarketplace.com, Layoutscloud.com and Somebodyshero.co.uk. I am a digital marketer, SEO advisor and help thousands of people connect via social media and the above websites.
When did you start your WordPress journey?
Before I had a web business I owned and managed a Print and CD Replication Company in the UK servicing the likes of NTL – Now Virgin Media and Talk Talk among others.
In 1998 – I transitioned to web as I felt it was the way forward. I was a Joomla and HTML specialist and was introduced to WordPress by my mentor and still my friend to this day, Mark Copeman (http://markcopeman.com/) – I drove him mad for months trying to get to grips with WordPress and have both never forgiven him for introducing me to the platform and will never be more grateful that he did.
Why did you start with Elegant Marketplace?
The idea of The Marketplace was not mine – as I was asked with 6 others to form the business. Most others have gone on to make their own Divi Based businesses and are doing just fine.
What were your first steps to build the company?
We all invested $100.00 each, I registered the domain names and others set about building the site it was my job to do the seo side and I still do to this day – the site is now in its 5th iteration and is undergoing some significant design changes with UX and a much more simplified process to purchase what you need, when you need it. So, watch this space 🙂
What was the most difficult task?
Finding Vendors and making sure everyone involved in the business actually did some work towards the business rather than just talk about it.
When did you know – if you did, that the business was going to be successful?
I think we all knew that we were going to have at least a sustainable business for a while – The 16 hour days took its toll on the partners and the fact we didn’t take anything out of the business for the first year didn’t help peoples commitment either. It depends how you measure success. The fact we have 50,000 registered users, 150 vendors, and hundreds of products running a very tight ship is important to me. I’m not sure we are a success yet – even though the distribution of commission of the past two years comes to around $800,000 – I would love it to be at least that amount every month.
How many members have the team and what are their skills?
The full time team of the Marketplace is just 2 people – led by myself. I maintain the site, approve vendors, approve products, deal with payment issues and do about 30% of first line support, manage the advertising and along with my bookkeepers and accountants, make sure we have cashflow to do the things we want to do with the business – so far – it’s working out 🙂
Mahesh Pandy is my Lead Support guy, css expert, jquery and general good guy. He works hard to keep us all happy with support and vendor liaison too.
Layoutscloud is made up of 6 people including Sean Barton, Myself and Mahesh.
We also employ Designers, Developers and Virtual Assistants on an ad hoc basis to add new services, build solutions and manage blog authors.
How do you select the staff?
They come to us generally and suggest ways in which they can help us. I personally interview everyone that helps us achieve our goals and then gradually they get more access to the site when the trust is built up. But as you can see, we run a tight ship so full time staff is limited to just the two of us.
What is coming next for EMP?
A new UX, better search facility and categorisation, more WordPress related items rather than just focussing on Divi and Elementor and of course an opportunity for Service providers to offer ad hoc work like installing themes, wordpress and providing web related services too.
What do you think are the keys to success in WordPress markets?
I think customer support is key. Any vendor or marketplace that offers 2nd class support will not last long – it’s my main priority and one I talk with vendors about literally – hourly.
We also needed to up our game on the quality of products and vendors who offer supreme support – we are getting there as we have some of the most outstanding plugin and theme suppliers out there – many of whom are committed enough to us to be exclusive on our platform – that says a lot to me of their commitment to their customers too. But, we must remember, we are a small business and resources, both physical and financial are limited as I like to keep some in reserve for a rainy day or development of new products and services. We have invested over $70,000 in the business just last year.
Do you have or plan to launch other business related to WordPress?
No, because I think with layoutscloud, we will expand that to other page builders that allow json importing including Gutenberg – The Marketplace is always expanding its offerings and that will never change. Running two pretty busy websites that offer subscribers opportunities to build faster and design quicker for less, is where I want to be – it’s a great feeling when you see someone build their business off the back of yours whether that is another marketplace, website business or design studio – It’s a big wide world out there and there is plenty of room for anyone as long as they make sure their offering is as good as it can be, they are honest about the services they provide and put their customers first rather than the next big thing.
You can keep up with our progress on our own exclusive facebook group that keeps our customers and vendors in touch with each other along with offering free and premium help across WordPress