If you’re a WordPress theme developer, selling WordPress themes is one of the best ways to make money online. Unlike offering WordPress theme development services, selling themes let you open a steady stream of passive online income.
If you’ve been freelancing for a while, you’ll know that working for different clients won’t be fun always. At times, the job can be tedious especially if you’re not good at dealing with various clients with different design briefs from different industries.
On the other hand, while you can find many successful examples of making a full-time income by selling WordPress themes, in reality, it is going to be tougher than making a living by offering development services.
However, by implementing the right tactics, it is always possible to make a full-time living by selling the WordPress themes you create.
In this post, I’ll explain everything you need to know about selling WordPress themes for profits.
Before jumping in to start creating an awesome theme to sell, you’ll need to research the market and brainstorm different selling options, so you get a better idea about the product you need to make and the marketing/selling strategy.
To get a plan, try to find answers for the following questions.
- What theme should you create?
- Where to sell your theme?
- How to get a solid-user base?
Sell WordPress themes- Freemium model
It’s true that WordPress is the CMS of the choice of most websites out there, but that doesn’t guarantee that the theme you create will gain traction amongst WordPress users. As thousands of awesome WordPress themes are available in the market, it is harder to sell a premium theme especially if you’re just getting started to creating and selling premium themes.
One of the ways to gain traction amongst the users is to create a free WordPress theme at first. It may take some time to gain an initial traction, but once you took off, you can release a premium theme with premium features and support.
Let’s take a look at a popular example of a free WordPress theme in the official WordPress theme directory and figure out how they convert a free user to paying customer.
Step 1: Drive traffic to your premium theme page
First things first- create a WordPress theme and submit it to the WordPress official theme directory. WordPress.org allows you to add a link to your theme’s homepage right from the free theme page. Once you gain traction, you can expect a significant amount of traffic to your website.
Promote the premium theme inside the free theme
If a user decided to download the theme without visiting your page, it doesn’t mean that he’s a lost customer. You can promote your premium theme by placing a CTA button from different sections of the free theme.
Step 2: Create a landing page on your website
One of the best things about freemium model is that you can attract a lot of targeted traffic to your website that will cost you nothing. On your website, make sure you create a landing page specifically to sell your premium theme.
If you’re on WordPress, you can consider using any landing page plugins to create one.
Not everyone who visits your page will be enticed to purchase your theme right away. Make sure you create an email list, so you can nurture your leads and convince them to purchase your products later.
If you have multiple themes to sell, instead of focusing solely on selling a single theme, you can even create a theme club and provide premium access to all of your full themes.
Premium business model
Premium business model is one of the easiest ways to make money by selling themes. You can sell premium themes by two ways.
Sell on marketplaces
There are great opportunities for WordPress developers to sell premium themes and plugins and make a living out of it than ever. Below are a few popular premium WordPress themes marketplace, if you’re looking to get started with selling WordPress themes.
Themeforest is one of the best premium marketplaces for buying and selling WordPress themes. You can find a lot of Themeforest success stories out there similar to that of Ivar Rafn. In his first year as a WordPress theme seller, Ivan has made $97000 in sales by launching 4 premium WordPress themes and one HTML template.
All you need to do is to create a premium theme and launch it in the marketplace. Of course, you’ll need to ensure that your product is adhering to the quality guidelines of the marketplace. The design is the most important part. In order to get accepted, you’ll need to make it unique in terms of visual hierarchy, typography, semantics, etc.
The downside is that Themeforest is saturated. Unless you create something innovative, you can’t expect many sales to roll in. However, there is still room for more themes. Take a look at the categories list and create a theme in a category where competition is less.
Alternatively, you can upload your work on other less crowded marketplace and check if it helps you bring in more sales.
Sell on your own website
One of the biggest advantages of selling your theme on your website is that you’re fully independent and are not restricted by Terms of Services of any third-party website. In addition, you can keep all of your profits without sharing it with the marketplaces.
While selling on your own website is definitely more rewarding, you should look at the whole picture before jumping in to start selling on your own website.
The exposure you get from a marketplace is priceless, which you can’t achieve by selling your products on your own especially if your theme isn’t revolutionary or if you don’t have a strong reputation or big audience in place ready to buy from you.