Before September of last year there were no Sketch Templates on Themeforest. Initially, this section was experimental and closed for the majority of the authors because Envato was not sure of the need for Sketch templates. They sent letters to worthy authors (in their opinion) with a proposal to develop templates for this category. Thus, they filled a catalogue with high quality products. Even though Sketch is relatively young, the steadily growing army of many millions of users, most of whom are UI / UX designers, has created a demand for this type of product.


There Is No Reason Not To Be On Top

By the time the Sketch Templates category appeared, there were no approved templates on our ThemeForest account. We were actively working on our first HTML template. I decided that the creation of a Sketch Template was a good opportunity to showcase the account as there was some weak competition and an increasing demand for templates. I even wrote a covering letter with a request to add a template to this category. However, the answer was clear: ‘Unfortunately, the Sketch Templates category is in beta stage.’ This means that templates can be added to the category only by invitation.

It made us a bit sad. However, in early January, we received the long-awaited approval for our first HTML template (I wrote about it in my article “How to Sell a WordPress Theme at ThemeForest – Part 1”). Once the ball got rolling things got a little easier: we re-submitted the form in order to add the product to the beta category and almost immediately received a soft rejection, which meant that finalization of the Sketch template depended on increasing the number of layouts.

The contents of the first soft rejection:


The first soft rejection was followed by three more. The critical feedback concerned ‘larger screens.’ As a result, our file of several art boards grew to the following state:


It is hard to escape the conclusion that this category exists primarily in order to buy extensive UI kits, and only thereafter  —  to buy designed layouts. We were not counting on some special sales of the template in this category. We considered the Sketch template solely as an opportunity to improve the design of the future WordPress template. This is almost a third of the path, as the whole review process is quite extensive. The algorithm of the template review process by Themeforest’s moderators is shown below:


Brief Excursus on Rejections, Their Types, and Reasons:

What is a “Soft Rejection”?

When you get “Soft Rejected” it means that your product is almost ready for sale in the marketplace but minor improvements are needed. The list of these improvements is described in the letter or in the user panel in “Hidden Items” section in the History tab.


You just need to read them carefully and correct or modify your theme.

“Soft Rejection” letter:


What is a “Hard Rejection”?

“Hard Rejection” — the rejection of your template without a description of the reasons. You should not lose heart, just continue to improve. We received hard rejections dozens of times. Each time without explanation. After each hard rejection we were tempted to think “that’s it, forget about ThemeForest.” But we still got back to work again.

“Hard Rejection” letter:


In any case, do not despair. Yes, of course it is difficult to continue to work on the template if you have no idea of the reason for the hard rejection.

Where to Get “Nice” Pictures?

Long ago, our company realized that beautiful pictures sold much more easily. Most people are visual and they largely make purchases under the influence of emotions. So, where can one get these “nice” website pictures, especially in such a narrow category? It is always a huge challenge for any designer or content manager. I believe these collections of free stock photos will come in handy:

<li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">unsplash</a></li>

<li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">stocksnap</a></li>

<li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">littlevisuals</a></li>

<li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">deathtothestockphoto</a></li>

<li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">lifeofpix</a></li>

<li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">imcreator</a></li>

<li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">nos.twnsnd</a></li>

<li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">tumblr</a></li>

<li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">jaymantri</a></li>

<li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">freestocks</a></li>

<li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">mmtstock</a></li>

<li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">flickr</a></li>

We cannot do without plug-ins for Sketch. We recommend using Invision Craft and Content Generator to generate text messages and pictures in set parameters. It’s hard to decide which one is better as they work in different ways. For example, one pulls content from unsplash, the other — from flickr. Therefore, it is better to use them together.

Here are some useful resources to select color palettes for websites:

<li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">color.adobe</a></li>

<li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">colordrop</a></li>

<li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">uigradients</a></li>

As for icons, you will always get the individual pack with the theme. This is probably the best situation. However, Line Awesome is fine for prompt decisions.

Regarding fonts, it is better to use solutions from Google. Skyfonts is the best utility to work with them.

Here are some interesting resources with a wealth of useful assets:

<li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">sketchappsources</a></li>

<li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">graphicburger</a></li>

<li><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">uiuxassets</a></li>

How we Chose the Theme for our Second Template

Once our first template Profi Theme hit the Corporate category, we decided that our next template should be sector-specific. We conducted a bit of research and decided that the category of Real Estate was quite suitable: less than 100 WordPress templates and sales of the most successful ones were in the thousands. As I wrote earlier, we decided to start with a new category of Sketch templates. We had some material on the theme of property rental, so the only things we were left to do was to promote a theme and prepare a Sketch file for release. After soft processing, which consisted of increasing the template volume, we finally uploaded our template to the market.


Based on our previous experience, we decided not to pay extra attention to the HTML version, and immediately started development of the WordPress template. After a month of productive work, the first build was ready for review. We were aware that it was not perfect, but we decided to try for a Soft Reject. During the review, which took about two weeks at that time, we were going to elaborate the remaining nuances.


We believed we had entered the home stretch, but Themeforest’s reviewers thought differently. The review of our template took more than two months — 63 days to be exact. Fortunately, this was not a subjective attitude towards us, but the general trend of the market. This topic was actively discussed and debated on the forum, as reviews of WordPress templates did not take more than 35 days for a long time.


63 Day Review! What Should We Do?

During the review of our template we almost completely rethought its direction and increased its size and functionality threefold. To begin with, we decided that it would be nice to create a Brooks Theme-based online store using the WooCommerce plug-in.


Then we remembered that initially sites on WordPress were used as blogs, and it would be foolish to create a template without optimizing all blog pages and widgets.


I agree that 63 days is long enough. During this period we managed to develop a portfolio of architectural offices and interior design studios. Moreover, this folio can be easily optimized for photographers, artists, web designers, graphic designers, and other creative professionals.


Having made all the modifications, we understood that such an extensive template did not belong in the Real Estate section. It was necessary to change the category and try to enter the Creative category, which was a highly competitive niche. We had to receive the review from ThemeForest and upload the template with a request to transfer it to another category.

Our plan began to take shape on June 29th when we got a soft rejection. However, even we did not assume that it would take as long as 2 months and 5 soft rejections before our template finally hit the market.

Our Five Soft Rejects


In each of our letters, apart from fixing bugs, we asked the reviewer to transfer our template to another category. Reviewers were changed and we received no answer. They sent us just another list of bugs and improvements. Sometimes they were ridiculous, for example, ‘please check everything again’ or ‘WordPress is written with a capital W and P.” They were similar in essence, but different each time. Why can’t all the comments be sent in one letter? What’s the point of delaying the process? Sometimes you get the impression that reviewers are paid for delaying the review process. However, our concerns that the template would remain in the original category proved groundless. After long-awaited approval, our WordPress template “Brooks WP — Creative Multi-Purpose WordPress Theme” was automatically moved to the desired category.


About the author:
Oleg is CEO at ION Digital. Engaged in the development of web services and mobile applications since 2010. He wanted to share his extensive experience in development of digital projects with our professional community and became an author at Icons8.

Try free tools for creators by the Icons8 team

Icons8, a library of about 120K+ free icons and free clip art images
Lunacy, free graphic design software with built-in design resources
Photo Creator, free collage maker with AI-based technologies to make custom photos for your story
Fugue, royalty free music for videos of any kind
Pichon, the desktop app to download icons and clip art and use them offline
Icons8 Photos, the big collection of free stock photos designed to work together
Ouch!, a library of free vector illustrations

Also, get the lists of free vector software and free photo editing software.

Subscribe to
Icons8 Newsletter!