July 3, 2014

On selling themes

by The Evolve team in Thoughts

Lately we’ve been reading some posts advocating segmentation in the WordPress themes and plugins market.

Segmentation means raising standards, creating for niches, and pricing things according to their value, in order to separate them from the growing mass of poorly conceived products.

We’ve been in the themes business for three years now, and we kid you not: we’ve failed more times that we like to remember.

Our experience at times looked more like a fight between what we think a so called “premium” product should be, and what marketplaces allow authors to do.

We think that the word “premium” has little to do with the word “money”: premium is what solves a problem, not anything priced more that $0.

As simple as this concept is, it took a while to understand that at the end of the theme selling business there’s real people, whose needs and expectations must be met. With such concept in mind, we’re working on a path that eventually will lead us to create and distribute products that better resemble our vision.

We feel that the problem with selling themes today is much like big malls killing little shops, by aiming at low priced mass sales instead of quality.

Hypothetically, if the price of themes went up, you’d probably still be dealing with the same problem: “Why should I spend $150 on theme, when I can probably find a developer that converts my mockup to WordPress for $200?” one might ask?

If you think mass sales, prices and quality go down. If you want to stay in the business and you’re like us, making a living out of WordPress themes, you’re forced to play a game you didn’t choose.

Your efforts are essentially directed towards creating more products that give you less pain, in terms of support and maintenance. Incidentally, we’ve found that optimizing how our system works, having solid and tested backend and frontend tools helps cutting times and products benefit greatly from that as well, but that’s not the point.

The right question shouldn’t be “How can I sell my products to more people?,” but rather “How can I sell my products to the people they’re intended for, at an appropriate price?

As long as the game will be pretty much all about price instead of quality, things aren’t going to change. In order for things to be different we must embark on a collective effort, one that would lead to the creation of better products, restoring the product culture around all things WordPress.

Whatever the use customers are going to make of what they buy, they deserve more than a sub par – albeit cheap – product, created to please a multitude, without really satisfying anyone.

If you’re a developer or a customer, what do you think about this? Would you be willing to pay a higher price for a product that would better meets your needs? Let us know in the comments!

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6 comments on “On selling themes”

  1. try it. I think if people are going with theme forest they probably care too much about price. Have you thought about doing the opposite? take your framework, and build many cheap stripped down themes with no support offered? I could be wrong, but i feel like there must be a market for “fool proof” themes, where there are simply not enough features or options to allow the customer to fuck up.

    I don’t know. I just dropped by to say thanks for answering questions on your themeforest comments, you save me a bunch of time. I sometimes have to hack apart wordpress themes and its infuriating to have to sign up for support forums.

    btw disqus’s permissions are horrible please stop using it.

  2. I am willing to pay what a theme is worth..the problem is if the other themes that are just as good are a third of the cost! Then I will go with the cheaper theme.. that is the issue.

  3. Charging more isn’t a bad idea, if your products are of sufficient quality. I’ve been dismayed by the sheer volume of junk out there, and it can be really hard to distinguish the gems from the turds when everyone is racing to the bottom on price. I’d rather pay triple-digits for great software that’s well supported than 20 bucks for junk.

    But… it has to be *really* great software.

  4. Saw a great theme on a site recently and it said “BigFoot”, after searching for it, it seems to have disappeared.

    1. Was that theme done by you guys? Seems to have been
    2. What happened to it/where can I get it?

    BTW, it was a free theme.

  5. The money, in my opinion, at least for me, is not in “theme development”. Heck I’m an “ok” programmer, no great by any means. But why reinvent the wheel when I can purchase an excellent theme (with license) for $50 and put together an E-commerce website for my customer for $3500 – $7500. I think the whole theme market is wonderful for someone like me and I have absolutely “no” complaints. It might take me a year or longer to program all the things that an “end” customer wants in WordPress, yet a great theme like those at THB already have “all” those features. The majority of small businesses in America do “not” have the technical background or patient to install WordPress + Theme + Load all there products in their store + configure the theme + learn about payment gateways… the list goes on. So they are “more” than willing to pay $3500+ for a great looking “basic” E-commerce website. Actually I was shocked at the level of pre-made programming I could find on ThemeForest for $60 or less. It’s a shame that the Theme Developers have to split so much of the profits with ThemeForest. Anyway, just y opinion.


  6. I can tell your right now that paying a little more for a premium product doesn’t bother me. What bothers me though is having poor documentation of how to implement your product which is the case in my experience using your themes. How do you set up the blog page for example? Who know because there aren’t even instructions…I’d pay more for a premium product for sure if that would included detailed instructions for people on how to set up your web site. As is, your support response is just: load the demo content. That’s not good enough and as a result I would not keep using your themes.

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