Competition is a good thing in any business. It drives up quality and often drives price down. Competition in the WordPress theme design business is good thing as well, and we’ve seen some great quality in the premium themes that have been released recently, as I mentioned last week. You can get a very professional site for a very reasonable price, and it has been great for the community of WordPress users. My question is, why can’t we keep this competition friendly?
Tired of combing through pages and pages of themes, looking for something super high quality that will work well for your niche? It might be time to consider purchasing a “premium” WordPress theme. The idea of selling WordPress themes is not a new one, but in the last several months the premium theme business model has taken off, with Brian Gardner’s release of the Revolution theme, which seemed to start the ball rolling, and other designers, such as Michael Pollock, releasing premium themes as well.
Why are designers suddenly selling themes, instead of giving them away for free?
Because theme designers spend many hours designing, coding and supporting their free themes, there is a natural desire to earn some return on the investment of their time and expertise. One way designers have attempted to earn some income from their themes is by selling a “sponsorship”. Because a good theme can provide a large number of backlinks to the sponsor via a link in the footer, it is an attractive offer and has been a decent way to earn a few bucks for each theme design for those who sold these footer links.
However, there was quite a backlash this spring against the proliferation of theme sponsorships and the end result was that many designers stopped selling sponsored link spots on their themes so they could continue to offer them in the main WordPress theme repository. As sponsorship loses it’s appeal for designers, the most obvious option is to create high quality, premium themes and sell them.
So, just what makes a premium theme “premium”?
- they tend to be targeted to a specific niche, such as sports, news, and magazine sites
- multiple page layout options
- special features and functionality
- some are geared towards using WordPress as more of a content management system than a blog, so while they’re running on WordPress, they don’t “feel” like a blog
- some have premium support options and tutorials
- most of them come with a price tag in the range from $49-$99 for a single use license to $149-$249 for a developer’s license. Curiously, Small Potato has chosen to release his premium themes for free, however.
Why would you want to buy a premium theme?
- if you have more to your site than just the standard blog
- instantly set your site apart from the myriad of vanilla blogs out there
- the price tag isn’t that high- much lower than getting a custom theme designed
- it can make managing your content easier, with multiple options for page layouts already set up for you
- extra attention to the details which will give your site a sharp, high quality appearance
- to take advantage of some of the niche specific focus of a premium design
As the popularity of WordPress grows, and owners of more traditional sites realize the value of using it as a content management system, the demand for niche targeted, premium themes is sure to escalate. The price tag is not that high and the benefits are great for both theme designers and users.
The footer is a too-often neglected piece of screen real estate that is actually the perfect spot for many of the things that are currently crowded into sidebars. But there is only so much space there, particularly if you’re only using a two column theme, and the more things that are crammed in, the more cluttered the blog appears. A cluttered blog can give a poor impression to the reader. Many themes have been released that include an extended footer, and it’s a good practice to put items down there that you don’t want to leave off the site completely, but could perhaps be put in a less prominent spot.
Since you can’t count on everyone seeing the footer, it’s not a place to put items that make your site stickier, such as your “flagship” content or most popular posts. (The exception to this might be sites that only display one post on the main page, as there is a higher likelihood that the footer will be seen.)
Instead consider the following items.