“Staying unique can be a challenge. So many authors create great products and basically out-compete you, but fair competition is great and it pushes you to research and push harder, which is always better for the client.”Anps
Our latest interview features Anps – a talented Power Elite Author from Slovenia and their experiences in the world of Theme Development. Check out their story, their learnings and advice to fellow authors in an innovative and ever-evolving landscape.
Tell us a bit about yourself/your team.
I am a 35 year old Designer from Slovenia, Ljubljana. Along with my team of four – rather, family or four – we are Anps, a team dedicated to creating beautiful designs and high quality coding.
Theme development and selling on ThemeForest is our primary business. We also work on client projects including: websites, e-commerce sites, branding, digital marketing, etc.
To what do you attribute your success – how is your business unique?
Besides cliche reasons like hard work, quality, design etc.. there is also a persistence and analytic approach to our work. We also have to factor in pure old fashioned luck or being there at the right place, at the right time (which most people ignore).
Being totally unique in our business is something that is desirable but not 100% necessary in most cases. Persistence with client relation and care for what you do sets a good foundation on which you should build your business, but of course – it depends on the business itself.
At what point did you decide to pursue your business?
Before all of this, we were working with a few big clients. We offered consulting, developed their website, self-care portal and helped in marketing with design. After the 2008 recession, our contract was terminated and I had to let go six of my workers. This hit me hard and landed me back on ground zero.
Luckily, knowledge and experience is not lost with broken contracts. We were aware of ThemeForest back then, but did not have the time and will to take the leap. This would have been the perfect time to upload our first item as there was a lot less competition and no Power Elite Authors yet.
Finally in 2012, I decided to upload my first PSD template. It proved quite difficult to get accepted. It challenged my ‘designer’s ego’ and forced me to reevaluate my skills. Shortly after the first template was approved, I successfully uploaded another one. It was number two on the top PSD weekly templates for a while. That is what got me started, the rest is history.
What do you love about your work and why?
It grants us freedom to create what we want, without the pressure of clients. We can dedicate as much time as we want to a single product. This allows us to spend more time on features we think are important. We also love seeing what our clients build with our themes.
What is the most challenging thing about your work?
Staying unique can be a challenge. So many authors create great products and basically out-compete you, but fair competition is great and it pushes you to research and push harder, which is always better for the client.
What or who inspires you and why?
That’s a tough one, there is no single person. It’s mostly certain events, all the random acts from people in and around my life. I tend to leach on certain moments to get my buzz and compare it to past, present and the future. That is what builds me and I »vibrate« to people around me in my personal and business circles.
Is where you live a good place to be a creative professional and why?
Absolutely. Capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana is a beautiful city in a beautiful country. I think our country brings a kind of serenity, a peace of mind which I think is crucial to be creative.
What are some of the biggest lessons that have impacted your work?
Well as I mentioned, persistence is the key – and not ‘blind persistence’, if that’s a phrase at all. Rather, it’s about analyzing your past experiences and implementing changes in the present to better shape them for the future (and in the process, not stomping on others).That can be challenging since sometimes, sacrifices are required move forward.
The loss of business also got me here. The first was before those big companies, and that was just a wakeup call. I started regularly working while I was studying (well, at least trying to study). I was working in telecommunications, some construction, down to earth dirty jobs, which were also a lesson in itself to respect and strive to be the best as you can be in any kind of work. Those sorts of experiences pushed me to where I am now or where we are now.
What is your advice to other authors on how to create a successful portfolio?
Well, that’s a hard one. Nowadays, there is no single recipe. To be unique, well, you have to ask yourself can you be totally unique. And, what is unique? I would say, being persistent, consistent and analytical. What also matters is how you define and approach your success. Divide it into stages and give your 100% and the rest should fall into place eventually, either in the theme business or somewhere totally unexpected – just don’t give up.
Quite a few people know me from the forums (well at least I think they do) and often it seems like I blame other factors for our losses, however, the truth is that in the end, it’s all about your service and products (and a smidge of luck).
Look into your business, analyze and evaluate. External factors will always be there, so either navigate through them or move away to another »universe«. A bit of fighting, or should I say ‘pushing back’ to bring a bit of reasoning is always good as long as you keep it civilized and constructive.
Apart from yourself, who is your favorite author?
Here I would like to mention two guys. The first is Gljivec, a fellow Slovenian author who we have known from early on and keep in touch with. We provide each other helpful data/info/statistics, share advice and we have a deep respect towards him/them since they do not deviate from their path!
What tools and resources do you use (online and offline)?
We currently use: Adobe suite, Zeplin, Trello, Slack, Freshdesk, Github, Visual Studio Code, Atom, Netbeans, Brackets. We are all Windows users but we have one MacPro, iPad, iPhone and some Android devices for testing and usage purposes.
How do you balance work and family life?
My personal philosophy is that work is part of your life and if you treat it as such, you can have a perfect harmony. My family knows that this is what brings food on the table, so they support us. We do work mostly 8 hours per day (no weekends) so, it’s not that hard.
What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?
Relaxing. We play basketball, we have a fitness guru – and we like reading, watching movies etc. That’s about it. We are mostly average joe’s, but I can personally say that what we do at our company, feels like some kind of a hobby.
What are your plans for the future?
To provide quality products with quality service and support. Gutenberg is something that will shake everything around, so this is something that we all have to prepare for.
The second plan is to have our own shop (on a hold for now) around analyzing current developments of WordPress against other platforms.
The third is to offer a tailored service for clients including custom projects, digital marketing etc. It seems that there has been more demand for that in the last year, and maybe it’s something that will pass but experience from that would really helps us to develop new themes and features.
Ultimately, we’re always brainstorming for new ventures – so stay tuned! :)