Premium WordPress Themes?

If you are looking for a good PREMIUM WordPress theme, why not check out my newest project, Proximity News Theme. Check out all the cool features. It won’t disappoint!

Although there has been quite a bit of “hoopla” over the recent announcement from Matt Mullenweg indicating that we could see a premium theme marketplace for WordPress.com users in the near future, I’m going to save the commentary on that front for another day.

Today, I want to focus on the now … the immediate … the present. What’s hot right now seems to be the business of selling “premium WordPress themes” for a small fee (usually around $60-$100 USD). This is a lucrative business because it opens the possibility of making many times what you could have made doing a single custom theme, for about the same amount of work.

As far as I know, Michael Pollock of solostream.com was the first to successfully sell his themes for a small fee, capitalizing on people’s willingness to pay money for themes of a certain higher quality and customization potential. Michael’s themes are, in all seriousness, absolutely wonderful. I’d love to see the kind of numbers he pulls in … although without the aid of WeblogToolsCollection links, he may or may not have had wild success.

But it really hit the fan when Brian Gardner, free theme factory super-human, released his Revolution theme. Although it may seem like a meager theme, it was indeed Revolutionary … not necessarily because of it’s design or structure, but because it started a movement of sorts. In fact, it could be argued that Brian’s success with Revolution may have inspired the idea at Automattic to open the premium theme story. Who knows …

Since the launch of Revolution, we’ve seen Brian add a few new themes to his arsenal of premium themes, and I doubt he’s done. Also, designers from all over are catching the bug. Small Potato, of wpdesigner.com, released his own premium theme, Showcase, as a WordPress solution to showcase sites like many of the CSS galleries out there.

But more recently, he weighed in with his own magazine style theme with Jello-Wala-Mello … and he released it for free. I’ve heard more than one designer call SP crazy for doing so, and even though it may look like it on the surface, SP has a cunning that is unpredictable. For some reason, I have a feeling that he might actually have something up his sleeve that none of us could predict.

And he’s not the only one releasing free “premium” themes. There are quite a few quality magazine themes out there available for free. Mimbo, The Morning After, and Grid Focus.

Each and every iteration of these news and magazine creations seems to trump the last. For instance, although I consider his previous attempts as “johnny come lately”, Adii’s latest creation is actually quite good! There are a good many features on the Premium News Theme that I find very attractive, although I highly doubt the homepage degrades well because of the heavy reliance on javascript, but looking at the demo makes me want to peek under the hood more than a simple view source would allow. Adii has taken the best of the best features of the other premium news/magazine themes out there, added a couple of javascript effects and made himself a pretty good looking theme with a good many features to make you drool a little.

Is this good for the community? Sure. Is it for everybody? Nope. In fact, on a number of the designers’ blogs I’ve listed above, you’ll see comments from users expressing their interest in joining the premium movement. But there have been surprisingly few people actually take the leap. Maybe they’re busy, or maybe they just don’t have enough exposure, but there seems to be only a few people doing it with any success.

So Where Does Nathan Rice Into This Market?

Good question! Although I have limitations in my ability to design an aesthetically appealing theme, I do know how to make WordPress do whatever I want it to do. For the last 3 days, Cory and I have been developing our own little contribution to the premium market. And during the process, I’ve been brainstorming ideas for features that I think would be attractive in a premium theme.

Wouldn’t you like to see that list :-) Sorry, no can do :-D

We’ll be releasing these themes over at RockinThemes.com (which we own), where we can leverage the traffic of that site to our advantage. The first release won’t be “revolutionary”, but it will give an interesting perspective on highlighting featured content. As our first attempt to distribute a theme for profit, I think it’s going to do quite well.

Check back here for updates on new premium themes. Take my word for it, we are going to WOW you with the way we stretch WordPress. Some of the things we are planning on making it do, I doubt very many people even know can be done. In fact, we’ll probably have more downloads from developers looking to figure out “how’d they do that?” than anything else :-)

Stay tuned…

Comments

  1. says

    Already I can’t wait to see!

    I’ve had the intention of joining in the premium theme market for too many weeks, shamefully, but distractions, a family issue and my recent platform switch has kept me from reaching my initial goal for a Nov 1 launch of my first premium.

    I’ve been following Michael’s work for a while now and it’s indeed impressive. I also scoped out Adii’s theme when he launched, and honestly I’m still on the fence about it. There are some clever features – I like the featured post swapping via thumbnails, and the tabbed content module which is so popular right now. But the drop down nav bugs me, and the design seems a little busy even for a news theme. I think it’s the chunky gray boxes of the main area that throw me off.

    Anyway, at least he’s put it out there and that’s more than I can say for myself right now!

  2. says

    I have also been seeing an uprise in premium themes, and I think it is a good thing, because there are so many bad themes out there atm.

    I started making a few free themes myself, but my last is going to be a premium theme. I am unsure as to what market there is for premium themes, so I don’t know what price is reasonable.

    Have a look at my premium theme in action: http://wordpress.jepson.no/

  3. says

    just a heads up but the link for solostream needs to be corrected…(has an additional http)

    to me premium themes will be what keeps the www from turning into myspace. wp themes are far to easy to modify and edit so even if a theme is used multiple times, lil tweaks will keep things from becoming stagnant.

    thanks for the good read

  4. says

    Your post makes some good points

    I am all for premium themes as I believe they differtiate quality blogs from the mass. I am getting a 404 error on rockinthemes.com. Is there an issue with the site?

    Thanks
    Graham

  5. says

    Good post. I have been looking at premium themes recently myself as potential total site cms solutions for my clients and have had difficulty trying to understand who the premium vendors are. I ended doing a post and eventually creating a permanent page of ones worthy of mention here:

    http://www.mayurjobanputra.com/index.php/free-stuff/my-running-list-of-the-very-best-premium-wordpress-theme-providers/

    Its a very hand picked list as I am quite discerning about who I add to it.