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Advice For Selling Themes
WordCamp 2009
My Background
Marketplaces        Commission   Affiliates         50% - 80%     30%         50% - 70%     30%         Flat Rate    20% +
Theme Anatomy• Unique Design• Backend Control:   – Slider   – Colors   – Home Layout   – Portfolio Layout• Utilize Latest ...
Theme AnatomyFlexibility   Usability
Theme Anatomycudazi asks:How do you balance providing unique templates vs. sticking withstandard layouts to play it safe?
Theme AnatomyPerformance         Preference
Niche Focus
Niche FocusMoving from flexibility toward specialization over time is a   pattern observed in the evolution of ALL systems.
SatisficingIt is often preferable to settle for a satisfactory solution, rather than pursue an optimal solution.
Theme Updates
OptionTree
Theme Life Cycle
Marketing• Personal Site• Paid Advertising• CSS Galleries• Portfolio Galleries• Social Networks• Branding
Apple App Store
BuyersReseller                    End User
Supportsevenspark asks:What are the best practices for providing support and managingbuyer expectations?
Support• Documentation         Setup instructions                        Theme-specific features• Videos                ...
Support Warning!
Demo Sites• Multisite• WP Super Cache
Read This Book!
Q&A
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Advice For Selling WordPress Themes

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This is a presentation given at WordCamp Seattle 2011. The title of the presentation is "Advice for Selling Themes" and covers topics including marketing, theme anatomy, support and other related topics. Some of the marketplaces discussed are ThemeForest, WooThemes and Mojo Themes.

Chris' work can be view on ThemeForest under the username 'themolitor': http://themeforest.net/user/themolitor?ref=themolitor

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  • Hi, My name is Chris. I’ll be sharing advice for selling themes. This is by no means a “this is what you should do” lecture. I’m simply sharing some of my findings and experience selling themes.
  • You may remember me from WordCamp 2009. I did an ignite session on finding the perfect theme for you or your business. The video was on the WordPress.tv popular list for about a week and I can’t figure out if it was because of the actual video or because of this snapshot they used. I’m thinking people clicked it because they wanted to see what the heck was wrong with this guy.
  • A little bit of my background…I started using WordPress in 2005. On my lunch breaks, I made Chuck Norris comics in MS Paint. I thought it would be fun to share these with my friends. I saw WordPress being used on a couple blogs I visited so I thought I would check it out.I started customizing themes in 2006 just for fun. I purchased the CSS upgrade, and quickly realized I had no idea what I was doing. I learned HTML & CSS so that I could change colors, etc. Later I purchased my own hosting so I could install WordPress myself and play around with plugins and themes.I started selling themes in 2008 to generate leads. I didn’t actually think people made a living selling themes like this. I quickly realized how wrong I was. Recently, one author broke a record by making $40,000… in one month. All I can say is IT’S NOT ME! Not by a long shot.
  • There are a lot of marketplaces out there where themes are being sold. Most of them are run by a single person selling their own themes, so what I want to do is focus on the marketplaces where you can actually go and submit themes for sale. I believe there are a few guys here running their own marketplace, so if you want some details on doing that, you should definitely chat with them…Mojo Themes: 15,000 sales gets you 80%ThemeForest: $75,000 sales gets you 70%Woo Themes: Design only. – if a user renews their subscription, you will earn a further 20% every month when they do so.
  • Here are some characteristics of popular themes.Authors are still making the backend so that users can control a lot of the theme from the admin panel. The only thing that has changed in this regard is that authors are giving users more and more control of the theme elements. They are allowing users to change font style, color and size, logos, sidebar location, etc. etc.The slider is probably the most notable feature of a theme. It wasn’t that long ago that sliders weren’t widely used. Once they hit the market, they HIT THE MARKET. You use to get away with having a real basic slider, but these days it’s common to see a popular theme with up to 5 or 6 different slider options. The slider has definitely evolved.A similar thing happened to color control. A couple years ago it was cutting edge to have a couple color variations of your theme. Then later authors started providing 10 different variations. Today, it’s extremely common to see themes allow you unlimited color control of the theme. This is partly due to browsers fully supporting transparent PNG images, so that devs can give users control of the background color, while maintaining the design elements of the theme.The home page is another factor that has evolved. When it was common to have a few different home page layouts, today some themes allow you to completely control the home page using widgets. Noticing a trend here?The portfolio also has experienced some changes as well. You can see themes with 5 different portfolio layout options. Grid layouts with 1,2,3,4,5 columns. Utilizing the latest WordPress features is probably the most important feature of popular themes. When WordPress 3.0 introduced the menu control system, themes that adopted this right away definitely benefited from increased sales up until it was common place to have this control.
  • One thing we can observe here is that the flexibility of themes appears to be increasing as time goes on. We need to be aware of this because as the flexibility of a theme increases, its usability decreases.Grandparents freak out.It's a common design mistake to assume that designs should always be made as flexible as possible. Flexibility has costs in terms of decreased efficiency, added complexity, increased time, and money for development.
  • I solicited questions on the ThemeForest forums, and Cudazi, an author on ThemeForest, asks…This is actually a really good questions because…
  • … there is a tug of war between performance and user preference…We all recognize the QWERTY keyboard on the right, but some of us maybe have never heard of the Dvorak keyboard on the left.The Dvorak keyboard is estimated to improve typing efficiency by more than 30% over the QWERTY keyboard. The DVORAK never caught on though, because users were too accustomed to the QWERTY keyboard. The lesson to be learned here is thatdesigns that help people perform optimally are often not the same as the designs that people find most desirable.Users are bad at choosingbetween features they like vs.features that actually enhance performance.This might sound backwards, but we shouldn’t rely on reports of what people say they have done, will do, or are planning to do in the future regarding the use of a theme design. It’s always going to be unreliable because of this performance vs. preference dilemma.
  • So how to we play it safe, but come up with something unique? I personally think the answer to that question is having a niche focus.When a user can clearly anticipate needs, specialized designs that target specific needs will be more successful.Hick's Law:"The time it takes to make a decision increases as the number of alternatives increases.”
  • Something we all need to consider is Satisficing…… the idea here is that as business, you don’t have unlimited time and resources for your themes. At some point you have to stop adding features or tweaking the design and actually release the theme. Luckily there are some actions we can take to address this reality…
  • theme updates.Updating your themes is not only good for addressing the satisficing issue, but it’s also good for users to see that you’re actively supporting and improving your themes.In some cases, users view this as an added benefit to buying the theme because they can anticipate any issues being addressed and even getting some new features that make using the theme more enjoyable.
  • OptionTree is also a good solution.OptionTree is a admin panel plugin that allows users to add additional theme options to their theme. As a developer, if I were to buy a theme, I would love this feature because I could add functionality that my client needed and customize the theme to their needs.Just to be fair, some buyers don’t like having to install a plugin for the control panel, but the plugin is constantly being updated and new features are added on a semi-regular basis, so I personally think it’s worth using.
  • Intro: work closely with early adopters to refine and tune theme. Growth: focus on theme performance. Maturity: focus on customer satisfaction through performance enhancements and improved support. Decline: focus on facilitating the transition to next generation theme. Note that the development cycle for the next-generation theme begins DURING the growth stage of a current-generation theme.
  • MeeCSS.com
  • Consider things that influence you to buy apps on the app store:Are the reviews and ratings good?Is the app listed in the popular items list?Can I find the app if I search for it?
  • Andy Dufrane – end userRed - reseller
  • Be warned that you may encounter the occasional customer that needs more support or help than the average buyer. Be sure to set expectations as much as possible, but realize that no matter how much effort you put into it, some buyers will expect more than you provide, and sometimes you just have to deal with it.
  • Transcript of "Advice For Selling WordPress Themes"

    1. 1. Advice For Selling Themes
    2. 2. WordCamp 2009
    3. 3. My Background
    4. 4. Marketplaces Commission Affiliates 50% - 80% 30% 50% - 70% 30% Flat Rate 20% +
    5. 5. Theme Anatomy• Unique Design• Backend Control: – Slider – Colors – Home Layout – Portfolio Layout• Utilize Latest WordPress Features
    6. 6. Theme AnatomyFlexibility Usability
    7. 7. Theme Anatomycudazi asks:How do you balance providing unique templates vs. sticking withstandard layouts to play it safe?
    8. 8. Theme AnatomyPerformance Preference
    9. 9. Niche Focus
    10. 10. Niche FocusMoving from flexibility toward specialization over time is a pattern observed in the evolution of ALL systems.
    11. 11. SatisficingIt is often preferable to settle for a satisfactory solution, rather than pursue an optimal solution.
    12. 12. Theme Updates
    13. 13. OptionTree
    14. 14. Theme Life Cycle
    15. 15. Marketing• Personal Site• Paid Advertising• CSS Galleries• Portfolio Galleries• Social Networks• Branding
    16. 16. Apple App Store
    17. 17. BuyersReseller End User
    18. 18. Supportsevenspark asks:What are the best practices for providing support and managingbuyer expectations?
    19. 19. Support• Documentation  Setup instructions  Theme-specific features• Videos  HTML structure• Forums  CSS structure• Emails  Explain scripts used• Comments  PSDstructure
    20. 20. Support Warning!
    21. 21. Demo Sites• Multisite• WP Super Cache
    22. 22. Read This Book!
    23. 23. Q&A
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