The Business of Selling WordPress Themes: Where to Start and Is It Worth It

For years WordPress themes were a side income for designers and business owners. But now that people start seeing it as a legitimate business model, it’s time to break it down into pieces. How do you sell WordPress Themes? What does WordPress theme development entail? Where to start? What are the obstacles and risks?

In this article, we’ll explore all these questions and provide a comprehensive overview of the business model.

The total number of WordPress themes offered on Themeforest has reached 9000 in 2017. Clearly, the supply is high, as well as the demand.

But demand isn’t the only point of consideration that worries the business owners. Such things as overhead costs, scalability, and long-term prospects have to be taken into consideration.

So here is a detailed breakdown of pros and cons of selling themes on WordPress.

Selling WordPress themes as business

Apparently, WordPress isn’t the only CMS out there. A custom designed website is still an option, but WordPress business certainly has its own advantages:

  • Pros
    • Low overhead costs. There is no prior education required or expensive software to buy. WordPress is an open-source platform, so the initial investment is low.
    • WordPress is popular. Fewer people invest into custom designed websites and, as we’ve seen earlier, the popularity of templates soared through the rooftop. The market demands quick and easy solutions and WordPress templates deliver.
    • Passive income. Once you upload your theme, you’re pretty much done. Just sit back, relax and enjoy life. WordPress business is perfect for someone who runs multiple businesses as well as someone who is just starting.
  • Cons
    • Competition is high. 9000 themes is a high number. It’s getting extremely hard to beat the competition in the oversaturated WordPress themes market. Yet, once you gain the momentum, you’ll leave most competition far behind.
    • It takes some time to start making money. Because WordPress is a specific market with its own rules, it takes some time to learn the ropes, understand technical requirements and stay on top of the updates.
    • Most effort goes into marketing. While we did mention that you can sit back and relax, marketing your WordPress themes still requires some effort. But marketing is fun and every business owner knows it is an inevitable part of running a business.

What makes a successful WordPress theme?

Now that you know the pros and cons, it’s time to get down to work.

Premium WordPress themes are designed with a price point in mind. If you want to sell your theme for a premium price, you need to ensure the theme is worth paying for.

Some people attempt to design and develop themselves, however, it can save you tons of time if you hire a WordPress design and development company. Having a dedicated WordPress team will ensure seamless ThemeForest approval process and raving customer reviews.

Here is what it takes to create a Premium WordPress theme:

Make it unique
There are tons of themes on ThemeForest. Why do people choose one over the other? The design is the key to earning customers’ love. Even though customers understand the concept of templated design, they still want a great design, that stands out from the crowd.

Responsive design
Whether you are a mobile user or not, the whole world is shifting towards mobile phones and carry-on devices and your template better be optimized for all sizes. In fact not having a mobile-friendly template can affect website’s SEO rankings, so it’s a major selling point for the business.

Customization options
Customization options are another selling point for WordPress themes. Users expect to have a fully customizable theme with lots of extras and plugins included.

Good demo
A demo shows how the theme can be used in many different instances. When making a demo, the general rule of thumb is to show how the theme fits different businesses: for example, an agency, a freelance business, a software company and etc. That way the customers will associate themselves with the theme and will be more eager to buy.

Documentation
When a user has a question about the theme where does he look for the information? If the theme doesn’t have documentation, the users will be bombarding your support with millions of petty requests. With proper documentation, they can make minor tweaks and customize the theme on their own.

Now, let’s look at where you can sell your themes.

Selling your WordPress themes

There are three places you can sell your themes at:

Themeforest and similar marketplaces
These marketplaces are considered to be the best for first time WordPress entrepreneurs. They provide access to the established audience and guide you towards a better final product since in order to be accepted by the marketplace your theme must pass the approval process.

Having said that, the marketplaces are highly competitive, charge substantial fees and you end up relying on their customer service.

Own site
Having your own shop enhances the customer experience while also giving you the chance to charge what you deserve. Showcasing demos and having a full control over your brand are two other advantages.

Your own selling site requires constant maintenance and support. You need to invest in SEO, analyze traffic and develop efficient customer communication touch points.

WordPress.org
Another marketplace, but this one is built into the WordPress user interface. The majority of WordPress users still install templates directly from WordPress, so you get access to a large audience.

We have seen some complaints that the themes take a long time to get approved. Additionally, there are not many marketing options so it’s hard to beat the competitors.

Best-selling WordPress themes on Envato

To create the best premium WordPress theme, do proper research and look at your competitors as well as the best-selling themes on the market.

These are the best-selling themes on Envato as of September 2017:

Avada

The7

BeTheme

Enfold

X Theme

Marketing Tips

As any type of business, selling WordPress templates requires heavy marketing and promotion. You need to drive traffic to your site and increase awareness of your brand.

Once you launch your theme get a marketing strategy in place. The marketing strategy might include getting a blog and writing content, launching a Youtube channel with helpful or fun videos, running weekly podcasts for WordPress lovers and so forth.

You can also try influencer marketing and work with designers and developers. Some of them get periodical requests for website design and when the client wants to get a WordPress based website they are expected to make WordPress themes recommendations.

How to support your theme

Support is another major cost that your business will face. You might think that support will bring a new source of income, but most businesses who choose a template don’t have budgets for additional tweaks.

However, they still expect you to fix the bugs and issues and provide extensive information on the theme capabilities. Decide which services you’re going to handle free of charge and which you want to get paid for.

The WordPress customer base is very varied, meaning you’ll encounter experienced WordPress users as well as complete novices, who will try to use your theme in countless creative ways.

If you want to provide high-quality support and customer experience, invest into support software. That way you’ll be able to automate some tasks and make the users feel cared for.

Summary

Selling WordPress themes is a great business. Is it an easy business? Not really.

As with every type business, you’ll need tons of motivation, willingness to invest time and effort and some serious marketing skills.

The WordPress business space is saturated and as the market is moving towards templated solutions there will be more players coming in, meaning more competition, but also more customers. So get on the bandwagon, design and develop your theme, learn marketing and get creative. There is never been a better time.

Have further questions on selling WordPress themes? Or have a WordPress project in mind? If you have an immediate WordPress web design project, we can provide a free, no-obligation cost estimate. If you have future needs, you can send us an email to determine if we are a good fit – so when a project does come up, you can have all the information at hand.