Devin Price of WP Theming recently interviewed Ellen Bauer and Manuel Esposito of Elmastudio about running your own theme business, selling on WordPress.com, and much more. You can listen to the interview or read the transcript. It’s a great peek inside a successful theme business. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:
Ellen, on the hardest parts of running a theme business:
You have to find a work routine yourself and be consistent. Over the long run, if you want to do your work or job for a couple years, you have to think a little bit ahead. I think this is what we’ve learned over the last years, that consistency is most important. You have to be there for your customers and for your people.
Manuel, on finding inspiration:
All of the stuff that’s happening in your life and around you. It could be food. Print magazines are great inspirations for typography, the detail stuff. But the main designs, the layout, the conception- it comes from weird stuff actually.
Ellen, on focusing a design:
From our experience, we just have the most fun and we can do the best job we can if we do design we just love and we would use. It’s okay, not everyone loves our style of design. I think it’s totally okay because there are so many solutions to doing a WordPress design.
Ellen, on selling themes on WordPress.com:
We always try to do very minimal themes and do them, if you can say, the WordPress way – don’t do a very custom development style, so it’s not that hard to get the themes [to] work on WordPress.com.
Image courtesy of Elmastudio.
Forefront, a responsive business and corporate theme that helps you to create a strong—yet beautiful—online presence for your business, is now available on Creative Market.
Recently, I released Further — Automattic’s first premium magazine theme. I’ve been given a chance to write about my thoughts behind its inspiration, design, and development. I hope this gives you something to think about as you design your next WordPress theme or website.
Continue reading “Behind the Design of the Further Theme”
Our friends at Creative Market announced last week that all themes sold on their marketplace are now 100% GPL. We couldn’t be more thrilled about this and send hearty kudos to the gang at CM for doing the right thing.
To show our support, we’ve jumped into the fray by offering for the first time ever a WordPress.com premium theme for self-hosted WordPress blogs. Further was designed and developed by our very own Takashi Irie. He put his heart and soul into the work, and oh boy does it ever show.
For everyone who’s been asking when Further, which really shines with Jetpack, will be available for self-hosted blogs, you now have your answer. We hope you’ll love Further as much as our beloved users on WordPress.com do and can’t wait to see the amazing blogs that you build with it.
It’s kind of appropriate this is my first post here on Themeshaper, given I first kicked off discussion of a WordPress.com theme marketplace four years ago. (It’s funny to see some of the comments there, some of the same cast of characters.) The terms we’re launching with are the same as in that post, an even split, but the opportunity is much larger. When I wrote that post I talked about the 1,736,206 potential customers for a theme, we’re now approaching 17 million blogs almost 10x that size. In fact we now add a new 2007-sized-WP.com every two months.
Continue reading “Premium Themes on WP.com, the backstory”
Can you make a ‘Premium’ Theme your own? And then release it? For free? Or for a fee? The answer is simple. Yes.
That is, if the ‘Premium’ WordPress Theme in question—premium meaning you have to pay for it—is licensed under the GPL. The GPL is the GNU General Public License; a document included with a bunch of different open source projects, like WordPress, that covers the terms of the release and makes sure that it always remains open source. Anyway, what does this mean for ‘Premium’ Themes, you ask.
It means you can take a ‘Premium’ WordPress Theme you bought and do whatever you want with it—except release it again as a ‘closed source’ project. The really cool thing? This gives you the freedom to take that project and improve on it.
Here’s an example. You’re a designer and you love working with Photoshop. But it doesn’t have an instant rainbows-and-unicorns button. Adobe won’t put it in. If Photoshop were an open source project you could take the code and add in the technology to instantly add rainbows and unicorns to every one of your photos—and then give your customized Photoshop [RaU Edition] to anyone who wanted it. Presumably, anyone who loved rainbows and unicorns as much as you.
Same thing with GPL WordPress Themes.
But is it right? Not everyone thinks so. Some people have suggested it’s sleazy (mostly in response to people buying a Theme and immediately turning around to release it for free). What follows is my answer to the question. It’s something I posted earlier on the WordPress Tavern forums and here now where everyone reading ThemeShaper can easily find it.
Ian Stewart’s 4 Ideas About Modifying Premium Themes and Releasing Them
- Redistributing unmodified GPL code over the internet is not sleazy. Redistributing unmodified GPL code is what the GPL is all about—even if the author of that code is charging for it and depending on that income.
Redistributing unmodified GPL code over the internet is pointless and stupid. If you’re doing it as a matter of free open source principles, sure, I could see that—but you’re muddying up the web. It doesn’t add any value to the code and unless you plan on keeping up with updates to that code you’re actually doing everyone who sees that redistributed code a huge disservice. Way to go.
I say “everyone who sees that redistributed code” because that will be a small amount of people. A small amount of people who will be rightfully wary of downloading that code. The vast majority of people will choose to download that code from the original author. Anyone want to start downloading WordPress from “www.crazywpdownloadsite.com”? I thought so. Remember that “trust” and “authority” are huge things on the web. People selling GPL WordPress Themes: stop worrying about this.
Now that we know that people redistributing unmodified GPL WordPress Themes over the internet are stupid we need to recognize how awesome it is that people can modify GPL WordPress Themes and redistribute them online. Theme-sellers: this is how you got started selling themes. Every single one of you. Remember when you were nervously trying to lock up the code for your first theme options pages behind a restrictive license? The code that you essentially copy-pasted from the same 2 online tutorials I and countless others did? I’m looking at all of you. Anyway, where would you be if that code wasn’t given to you in the first place? Where would you be if you didn’t fork the Default Theme? Or Sandbox? Or Classic Theme? Where would you be if Matt didn’t fork b2? Don’t worry about people forking your code. The freedom to redistribute modified code is incredibly awesome and, no exaggeration, is quite literally making the world a better place.
You can find a whole whack of people releasing their Premium Themes under the GPL License on the official WordPress Commercial Themes Directory. You can find all my commercial Child Themes for Thematic in the ThemeShaper Thematic Theme Store.
Anyone ready to start making WordPress Themes awesome-er?
Are WordPress Themes open source? Is it right to release them on a pay-to-download basis?
… what these premium theme providers are doing … we would call that “Evil”Chase Sagum
… themes link and use lots of internal WordPress functions, which make them linked under the GPL and subject to being a GPL-compatible license. If a theme (or a plugin) used no internal WP functions or APIs, then it could probably be considered independent, but that would be really really hard for a theme. Matt Mullenweg
I haven’t really talked about it a lot but I’ve been trying to do pay-for-use themes differently. Namely, giving away what might normally be considered a “Premium” theme—my WordPress theme framework Thematic—and charging for upgrades in the form of Child Themes and custom design. I think it’s a little more fair to the WordPress community and the debatable concerns around the ethics of paid WordPress themes.
But there’s still more questions. There’s always questions, isn’t there? Continue reading “The Ethics of WordPress Themes at a Premium”
It’s prediction time: The Premium WordPress Theme phenomenon has approximately one year left before collapsing entirely, leaving a rather large hole between completely free WordPress themes and custom themes $1500 and up. If you’ve got a “Premium” WordPress theme waiting in the wings I advise releasing it sooner rather than later. As in, now.
Before I explain myself let’s get one term straight: Premium. I’d rather use the compound “pay-for-use” because more often than not “Premium”, when it comes to WordPress themes, simply means “it costs money” and not “of superior quality”. This isn’t true for everyone of course. But it is certainly true of some (and will increasingly become true of more as the market becomes saturated).
Oh, and Options has one more feature. It signals the end of the Premium WordPress theme market.
Continue reading “The Future of Premium WordPress themes”