A Leap of Faith That Lead to a $1M Theme

Until recently, Phil from Philly (sorry Phil) was a one man band – designer, developer and support guru. He left work full time to focus on his best-selling WordPress Theme – Salient – a real crowd pleaser on ThemeForest with over 22,000 sales. Let’s chat with him and uncover what made him take that leap of faith as an entrepreneur!

Happy Power Elite Day ThemeNectar…

…how does it feel?

Thanks! Honestly when I started as an author here I never imagined that I’d reach this milestone – it all still feels very surreal.


At the time Salient was released I was still working for a company as a front-end developer and in my mind the theme was only intended to provide supplemental income. I worked freelance before the 9-5 position and always preferred the freedom, but got jaded of dealing with clients directly. When I found Envato, I knew it was exactly the platform I had always wanted; something that would allow me complete creative freedom while reaching a broad audience which wouldn’t be easily possible elsewhere.

Phil Martinez - ThemeNectar

After the success of my initial launch I realised very quickly that there was potential to make it a full time gig. Within a month I took a leap of faith and left my day job to begin what will surely go down as one of the greatest ventures of my life.

Tell us a bit about your design space, where you live and your team

I work from a home office just outside of Philadelphia. Weirdly enough I was the only person running the entirety of ThemeNectar until midway through this year where I took on a great support employee, Tahir Marvi. I may continue to grow the team with time, but have always been very efficient designing/developing alone.

How and when did you get started out as a WordPress developer?

I got really interested in WordPress development back in 2010. I used it for a lot of client gigs I had going on at the time and just built up my skills as I went.

I still remember watching some great tutorials from Jeffrey Way back in the day when I starting out. It was pretty exciting to discover just how much WordPress could be moulded to fit a variety of different use cases.


One theme, 20,000 sales, incredible 5 star rating – how do you do it?

The top priority from day one was ensuring the quality was there. I honestly am not satisfied if I release something that I’m not proud of so I will spend hours, sometimes days perfecting the small details in designs until I’m in love with everything. Coupled with that, listening to customer feedback and engaging with the support forum as much as possible has kept everyone happy and the product moving forward.

What made you take the route of going with one awesome theme and hoping for the best back when you started?

It wasn’t my initial plan at all actually, but I came to the conclusion a few months in that I’d rather keep Salient fresh than abandon it for a new idea.


In the end, opting to provide theme updates instead of new themes altogether allowed me to still flesh out new concepts I was excited about and kept the legacy users happy by providing them with consistent new features to play with.

What do you find most inspiring about WordPress development?

There are so many things but the top few on my list would definitely be the fact that it’s open source, easy to pick up and extremely flexible. The community behind it is also one of best I’ve ever seen for a CMS, not to mention the documentation is great. I’ve seldom come to points where I felt lost in my ongoing journey learning it.

Any hot tips for authors starting out?

Never be afraid to take a chance on something you believe in. If you have confidence in your ability to make something worthwhile, don’t let fear prevent what could be a life changing opportunity.

What does ThemeNectar do in its spare time to relax and recharge?

I’ve had a passion for the arts since I can remember so when I’m not wearing my Nectar hat you could probably find me creating some nifty VFX or producing music.
Riding motorcycles has also been a lifelong hobby so I try to get out and do that as much as possible – it really helps for clearing the head.

Top tip for productivity as an entrepreneur?

Focus on what really matters. It’s extremely easy to get distracted, especially when you’re working from home. Goals should be set for tasks everyday in order to keep a solid path.


Let’s talk chill out time…

What’s your favourite TV show to relax to?

If I’m just looking to kick back for a little, The Colbert Report would be up on my list. (Stephen Colbert is the man!)

How about your favourite movie?

That’s a tough one, maybe American Beauty or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

What’s your favourite band/artist/DJ?

Pretty big into electronic/progressive music so I’d listen to anything good in those genres, but also dig some more mainstream music. To name a few artists from a current playlist I have going; Kill The Noise, Au5, Felxprod, Dream Theater, Dayshell, Owl Eyes, Tove Lo..

Anything else you’d like to share?

Just a sincere thank you to all who have supported my work, I wouldn’t be anywhere without you guys.  Also a shout out to my beautiful girlfriend who has put up with all the late nights, you’re the best!


Congratulations ThemeNectar, welcome to the Envato Power Elite Wall of Fame!

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