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.
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 :-)