Theme Sponsorship at Performancing
Last April, I wrote about sponsored WordPress themes, in light of Blogging Pro’s release of their InSense theme with a sponsored link at the footer (but not a required link, as users can take it out). Performancing has also been exploring this business model, with the recent PhotoPress theme, recent announcement that sponsorship for News Theme, the Performancing Theme slated for release this coming August has opened, with $500 as the starting bid.
We are now taking bids for the August 2007 Performancing Theme sponsorship. Bids start at $500.
To give you a sense of the value of a sponsorship, take our first sponsor, Fusilly T-Shirts for the Photopress Theme. That theme has only been released for about three weeks, and yet a search on the linked keyphrase “funny t-shirt” brings Fusilly up on the front page of the Google SERPS (as of this writing). That’s a relatively high-competition keyphrase placing on the front page relatively quickly.
Performancing cites the SEO benefit as the main come-on for sponsors. You get your choice of link URL and anchor text to include. However, there are no 100% guarantees (as with most search-optimizing techniques, in my opinion). Still, with a clean-looking Design Disease creation like the News Theme (click for live demo) I can say the theme will be popular among bloggers who wish to establish a serious and professional look for their blogs.
J. Angelo Racoma is a technology journalist for CMSWire and TFTS. A former editor at Splashpress Media, The Blog Herald and Performancing, he now does consultancy work through WorkSmartr.com. Follow him at racoma.net and on Twitter.
As Tony mentioned in a comment recently, this is an area of controversy and I know that WordPress don’t approve of it. So we’ll see how it goes, I guess…
Matt will have to speak for WordPress, but I can speak for a lot of WordPress users: If you want to pay for a WordPress Theme, buy one. If you want to release a WordPress Theme to the public, make it GPL and do not include sponsored or advertising links.
Even if it is clear that the WordPress Theme has embedded links in it outside of the author/designer credit, many WordPress users are really unhappy to find such links in their Themes. The last thing you want is an unhappy blogger with a public blog. :D
I understand web designers wanting to make money from their designs, but WordPress Themes started out being free and used as promotional devices for designers, many whom have gone on to a full time design career, designing for WordPress users and not. I think of GPL WordPress Themes as a designers portfolio, spread around the blogosphere speaking well of the designer. After that, it’s up to the designer to market that into a full-time business.
I’ve seen an interesting trend in the past year of bloggers paying a designer to design their blog and then after a year or so, releasing the WordPress Theme to the public as they bring in their new look. This is a great “customer gift” and publicity stunt and spreads the “old look” out among bloggers who talk about their new WordPress Theme, pointing to the original blog – instant PR and trackback.