“The internet is everywhere. I’ve worked in African deserts, New Zealand mountains, on Fijian islands, near Vanuatu’s volcano, in Asian forests, Amazonian jungles, the Galapagos, Namibia, Alpine meadows in Switzerland, mysterious black sands of Iceland, the lights of Las Vegas and amazing Rio. I even worked in the Antarctic. The world is very interesting and Envato gives me the ability to explore it.”Sizam.
Introducing Sizam, a small team from Ukraine with big goals. In this interview, they give us the low-down on constantly learning, working around the globe and why listening to your customers is one of the most important things in business.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from, what do you do for a living?
We are a small team from Ukraine, developing WordPress themes, plugins, apps for Adobe and 3D programs.
To what do you attribute your success – how is your business unique?
We always try to make something unique and provide complex solutions for buyers that solve their tasks. I also use my own products – you get to know much more about your products when you are an active user.
It was 10 years ago when I discovered WordPress. I was a web designer and wanted to start a blog. It became quite successful, bringing in additional profit, so I wanted to improve it with new features. To do this I started to learn WordPress codex, forums and StackOverflow and I discovered that I like to create code. You know, “Code is Poetry” is the first thing you see when you open WordPress and this is true for me.
After meeting someone from my country who was very successful on Codecanyon, he told me about his earnings on Envato, and I thought “why not” and decided to sell something myself. I got a hard reject on my first attempt, but being a very purpose-oriented guy, I made it my goal to get something approved on Envato. Then, after a soft reject and many changes, the theme was approved. I think it took about one year after the first reject and I completely recreated my design several times.
At what moment did you decide to pursue your business?
I had a good job as a senior web designer in a big company with the best team. We were like a small family. Selling on Envato was just additional income to start with, but it was slowly growing. And then one day I realised that I’d spent only one hour supporting and updating my products on Envato, but I had received 50% of my main salary from it. This is when I decided to make Envato my full time job. It’s strange, but a week after my decision, the company where I worked was merged with another company and almost 70% of the team lost their jobs.
What do you love about your work and why?
I like that I can concentrate on the creation of something. I don’t have to spend too much time on promotion, SEO, payments, etc. I also like that I’m not connected to any location and I can travel at any time, and work when I travel. I’ve done this now in almost 80 countries, on all continents, in all natural areas. The internet is everywhere.
I’ve worked in African deserts, New Zealand mountains, on Fijian islands, near Vanuatu’s volcano, in Asian forests, Amazonian jungles, the Galapagos, Namibia, Alpine meadows in Switzerland, mysterious black sands of Iceland, the lights of Las Vegas and amazing Rio. I even worked in the Antarctic. The world is very interesting and Envato gives me the ability to explore it.
What’s the most challenging thing about your work?
Time! There are so many cool ideas and I know that I can make them successful, but when I start to calculate the time that I need to spend on these ideas, I understand that it’s too much for me.
Is where you live a good place to be a creative professional and why?
I tried to live with family in several countries. We lived in Cyprus and I also spent a lot of time in Spain. We visited Italy and lived there for a few months. But currently, we’ve decided to stay in Ukraine. It’s a cheap country and at the same time there are good services for anything you need in your life. Ukraine has many problems nowadays, but it has big energy. Ukraine doesn’t stay in the same place and we try to find our own place in this world, it has many surprises!
What or who inspires you and why?
I like to find inspiration on Behance from 3D artists. Trizz.tv and Future Deluxe studios are my favorite. Their works are like the magic of colors and forms. Another cool inspiration is nature. You can just take a photo of something aesthetically pleasing and incorporate them in your products.
What are some of the biggest lessons that have impacted your work?
Your customers know more than you. I think the most interesting features that I’ve implemented in my products were the ideas of my customers. I think 95% of customers are novices, but 5% are professionals in their niche. They know the best trends and secrets and give you news and ideas which you should follow.
What’s your most memorable client/customer story on Envato?
I had one customer who wrote to me from time to time through support. One day I found out we lived in the same country, and on that day I was travelling through the South Islands and discovered he was also travelling nearby. So we decided to travel together for a few days. We met 20,000 miles from our home country! He’s a very interesting person – usually I travel for 3-8 weeks and then I head back home, but he’s been exploring the world for 5 years without ever returning home.
What is your advice to other authors regarding how to create a successful portfolio?
There are so many competitors nowadays, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t be a top author. Just make something unique. Maybe something that has a cool design, or unique features and technology. Don’t try to copy other successful cases, find your own way to be the best.
Apart from yourself, who is your favorite marketplace author, and why do you like them?
I like LiquidThemes – creators of AVE. They have a very cool theme for landing pages, which we also use on some of our projects.
What tools and resources (online or offline) do you use?
How do you balance work and family life?
It’s a hard question, because I spend a lot of time at work. Well, maybe not all for work – I think I spent around 3-4 hours each day learning something new. I.T. is very fast-moving and I need to keep my skills fresh. My solution is to have some special time for the family each day, and make this a top priority. For example, when you read fairy tales to your kids at night. You can work a full day, but you must have some time for your family and this time is a holy time for me.
What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?
Videography and traveling. I try to create video memories of the countries I’ve visited – not just video clips, I tried to make them interesting with cool transitions, pictures, and editing. When you have 10 TB of video, you will never watch all of them, but it’s easier to watch when you make them 2-3 minute videos…I like to refresh my memories from time to time. You can find some of my videos on this playlist.
Another one of my hobbies is movement. I like everything related to movement: dance, gymnastics, acrobatics. I even had my own group of young acrobatics. Now, many of my pupils are working in theaters, circus, and dance studios.
What are your plans for the future?