Congratulations to Andy Wilkerson (Parallelus), who has reached Power Elite status by making one million dollars worth of sales. He works in a home office and makes snowmen with his daughter when he gets the chance, and through hard work and a strategic use of time, he’s made a mark on the Envato Marketplaces that’s an inspiration for other authors to follow.
Happy Parallelus Day!
In our first-ever Power Elite video interview, we asked Andy a few questions about the journey to the $1,000,000 milestone. Read on to discover how he minimizes the interruption of sleep on his work time, makes naming his items a priority, values the Envato community, and how it feels to reach one million dollars worth of sales!
Interviewer: Josh Janssen, Envato
Interviewed: Andy Wilkerson, Parallelus
JJ: It’s Josh Janssen from Envato here. Happy Parallelus day, and we’re are really excited to have Andy Wilkerson, who has just hit the $1m milestone on the Marketplaces. How you doing, Andy?
AW: I’m really good. How are you?
JJ: How does it feel to be a Power Elite author? Did you expect to be so successful when you first started, and when did you start?
AW: Let’s see. I started, I guess it was four years ago. What year is it now? (smiling) It was December 2009, almost 2010, and I actually did not expect to make it to this point. I really did not know what the future would hold when I got started with Envato, so I was very surprised with the success and the luck and a lot of the things that happened. It’s been an amazing experience though, especially a lot of the people I’ve gotten to meet, and the Envato’ees.
JJ: What does a typical day look like for you?
AW: I guess it depends! If I’m starting a project or trying to finish a project, the day can look very different. Trying to finish a project usually means I have about a month of work left, and I have got to work about every day and every night of that month – so those days are long. So I actually sleep in my office a lot, ’cause I’ve got a sofa, so I just throw a pillow on and cover up with a blanket, ’cause it’s a lot easier to get three-hour naps and get back up and get back into it, rather than getting up and going up stairs getting into bed and all that stuff—before you know it, you’ve lost like six or seven hours of time to work!
JJ: When it comes to all of your products, which one are you most proud of?
AW: Ummm. Most proud of… Let me see. Salutation is one that I, that I was very proud of It was a different experience for me in a lot of ways: I had never completed a project that efficiently that I still love, in fact.
But I have a new one coming out that I am still very proud of. It’s a much bigger undertaking, and it’s a theme that will hopefully be coming out the same day this video goes live, so everyone will be seeing it by now. But Salutation would be the one from the ones I have out there, is the one that is you know, I say represents me really well.
JJ: How do you come up with the names for your items?
AW: I actually put a lot of time into that. I get annoyed when I see people not trying on their names, or using names that already exist—I’ve posted on forums about it. It actually gets under my skin a little bit, because I think branding your product is so important, because you want, when people search for your theme, you want them to find only one result, hopefully, on the Envato Marketplaces. And beyond that, doing a Google Search or whatever, you really do want yours to come up if they look for it, and not be confused by 50 others.
So I try to look for words that I think represent the overall look, the feel, or some sort of functionality that ties in. And if I can get a name that matches that, I go to the thesaurus a lot, and I look for synonyms to things like that, or maybe break the work apart.
I do like to try and use real words, but you know it’s not necessary, you know. I don’t have any kind of rule that I have to, but names is important to me. I think it should try to represent the product, and I always try to look for names that are not in use already.
JJ: We are only a few days out from this video being published now. Do you have your new theme name already?
AW: Oh, yeah! I had the name six months ago, and it still hasn’t been used. I’ve had a number of times when I had a name that ended up getting used because I take so long. I can be just ridiculously slow at getting these things out there, but I’ve had it happen before, where the name got used and I changed it.
JJ: Wow, so was it used after you put it up online already?
AW: No, I came up with the name too early in the process, and I guess because I probably had three months of work to do, and somebody else used it in the meantime, so I changed it. I don’t remember what theme that was, but I definitely did it at least once. I’ve scrapped a theme or two also where, not because the name was used, or I just ended up not using theme, but the name, I realised along the way early in the concept phase, was already in use. So I had it kinda flagged as a note to be sure and change the name before you finalise it.
JJ: What is you favourite part of being a part of the Envato Community?
AW: I love having access to such a large pool of peers and customers. It’s not the kind of thing I have access to on my own. I don’t have like a blogging community or my own sites, really, where I build an audience and have that sort of connection.
So the Marketplaces give me access to that. They give me access to both authors and customers, and whatever lies in between. That’s something that is important to me, to have that. I can’t do my job without it, but I don’t like doing those other things like blogging and that kind of stuff, very much so its a huge resource. I enjoy that, it gives me something.
And also getting to work with the Envato people, you guys. I’ve been so surprised how much that made a difference to me. They—you guys—have given me tons of opportunity, and just being involved with you, and the times that I’ve met with you in person, and gone to events, and things like that, those have been massively useful resources for me. I would never have gotten done some of the things I did without having you guys, to pick your brains, get your thoughts and your feedback, etc. So it’s a big deal!
JJ: And what advice would you give to someone who is just entering the community? It might have been their first few weeks. What sort of advice do you give now, as a Power Elite author?
AW: Yeah, Power Elite! I would say that being Power Elite sounds a lot bigger than it is, but um… I would say, find your voice, find your niche, how you’re going to represent yourself, brand yourself, and really try to carve out your own little footing early on. Don’t try to compete with everybody with the multi-purpose-everything theme right away.
I think there have been people that have been successful in doing that in the last couple of years, but they are definitely the minority, and there is a lot of room for these micro-niches to, you know, find some unique little specific thing that you want to build up and then branch off of it. I think that’s a place where there is a lot of room to grow.
JJ: I guess we haven’t spoken yet about where you live, and that kind of thing. So where are you right now?
AW: It’s about 11am, and I live in Huntsville in Alabama, and I’m currently looking out at snow! We don’t have a lot of snow, yet it’s been snowing all week here, so I made a snowman with my daughter this morning.
JJ: That’s awesome. So you spoke about events and that sort of thing. So are there many WordPress or Envato events in your town?
AW: I don’t know of so many here in Huntsville. I’ve never been to one, but I’m probably going to be going to one in Nashville, because of some guys I met from there, and they run a WordCamp or something like.
I’ve been to Pressnomics this past year, and you guys, well you invited me to that, so that was how I ended up going. And that was a pretty awesome experience, and I’ve been to, I guess, two meetups, one in Nashville and one was Chicago. Yeah, that was the first one.
JJ: Awesome! So other than this next new thing that comes out the same time as this video, what else do you see coming out in the next few months or in the next year?
AW: Ooh… I have a big project I’ve been working on called Runway. It’s an open source WordPress framework. It’s the one we use to build our themes, and I’ve put a lot of time and lot of effort into that. It’s pretty massive in its overall capability, and its something that I’ve been trying to find the time to really put it out there… Right now, its kinda out there for people to find it, but I’ve made no real push to get it known or to build a little community around it, and that’s probably the next big thing for me.
The Feedback we have gotten on Runway has been phenomenal. I kind of didn’t expect it. I thought that it was something for people like me, that they would like it, but it turns out other people really do like it, and they have had a lot of success with it already.
I’ve talked to some web firms that use WordPress as their methodology of doing their products for their customers, and a couple of them have adopted it as their framework of choice, now that they’re building all of their products on, because of the way that it’s structured, and the tools it gives them, and that’s what I thought I would do with it. But I didn’t really picture other people doing that. I thought it was specific to the way that I want to do things. But I guess along the way, I was able to, in really trying to, I was able to make it kind of more universal. You can do what you want with it.
JJ: Fantastic! Well congratulations on the amazing achievement, Andy!
AW: Thank you!