Maybe not everything you wanted to know about this topic, but we’re starting.
Demystifying Premium WordPress themes is a topic that our co-founder Bojan talked about in the latest #WPBGD meetup, last month. So, without further due, here are the most important questions and answers regarding developing Premium WordPress themes, market them and selling to the customers.
How much time did you need to make the first theme for ThemeForest and how many people worked on it?
In the beginning, it was Dušan and me as a two men band, we knew each other for a long time, worked in ManageWP on the development for years. It happened spontaneously; we first started developing the HTML template as a hobby. That went solidly on TF and was a starting point for making the first WordPress theme. This theme was AWSM, back in 2013. and we still have it in our portfolio. Regarding the ThemeForest rules, the review process is different every six months, but back then, we waited ten days for the first response. And how long did it took us to make the first theme? We worked on it for two months along with everything else we did. It was only after we made 2 or 3 Premium WordPress themes that we decided to completely embark on it.
How did you get to selling the first 1000 themes?
We were not burdened with numbers and goals; it was just important for us to go ahead. So, I would say we’ve made it step by step. But, as far as I can remember, it was in the first year.
The biggest mistakes and failures that you have since the founding of Meks?
I must say that we didn’t have any significant mistakes or failures, at least not that I recall. The biggest mistake, maybe, is that we’re not always aware of the mistakes ourselves, but I personally think we have done most of the things right regarding our business approach. Regarding technical mistakes, we did not exactly write the best and most optimized code back then. Starting as a lean startup, when the success and sustainability of the business took place, we realized how much time you lose afterward when the code is not well written at the beginning. It took us much time to sort it out properly. If you’re going into that kind of business, take a little more time to write good code, it will save you plenty of time and nerves when you need to remember what you did later.
How many people are in the support to maintain users?
I believe that making our themes as bug-free as possible and writing a proper documentation and knowledge base really helped us to scale our support. And for a long time, even though our sales are growing continuously, we have only two people in support. They take care of everything on a regular daily basis, and if something big or unpredictable happens, everyone jumps in. We believe that support should be done at all levels, and this kind of relationship with our users is very important to us.
Given the breadth of the thing that your responsibility implies, how do you learn today?
There are 8 of us currently in Meks, and I still do many things at the same time. I used to read a lot of books before. While this approach is fine, it is time-consuming and I must say that currently, I believe the proper way to learn is by doing. The books are good as a starting point but until you feel it on your skin, tough luck.
Do you promote your themes yourself or sell only on ThemeForest? Is it complementary or do we have to decide for one or the other?
This is a great question. We sell our themes exclusively on ThemeForest for two reasons:
- First of all, marketing. ThemeForest already has a large community, which we would have had much less traffic without. The commission which ThemeForest takes is basically a customer acquisition cost. Without TF, we would have to hire an entire sales team of people who would, metaphorically speaking, go out and sell premium WordPress themes for us. On the other hand, if you hire a marketing/sales team you have to pay them monthly whatever you promised them, no matter how much you sold. ThemeForest will only charge you based on how many sales you have, so, I believe it is a fair deal.
- Another thing is that there is also a significant number of people which comes first to our site and then go to ThemeForest just to buy the theme. So, from the angle of scalability, we outsourced the payment processing as well. This way, it is easier for us not to worry about payments and rather focus on our core competency – making great themes.
ThemeForest for beginners, a couple of tips for the first theme, something you would like you knew when you started?
My advice to someone who is starting this business, make sure to be able to adopt because things are always changing rapidly. Start as soon as possible and make a simple, clean blog theme, put it on TF as an experiment to go through the whole process. So if you don’t succeed, open a new account and start again. But start from something simple because the entire procedure has already been complicated enough and avoid making it more complicated by creating complex themes.
What do I wish I knew? Marketing is more important than I thought then. That it is very important what kind of theme you are developing and how will you market it later. It’s not enough to have good code and good design.
Do you think the premium theme market is saturated?
No. According to the statistics, looking at TF, the analysis from 2016 have shown the rise of 30% in the number of themes. At the same time, there was 100% increase in some new users, potential customers. The Internet grows, and there are different game rules, but the demand is still higher than the offer.
Do you use a framework for developing themes?
No, we don’t. What we do use is Bootstrap and similar kind of light version of the front end. In the back end, we use our code from scratch and Redux just as the theme options framework. When people ask if you are using this or that, I don’t think there’s a bad framework. There is only something you like, and it does you good or not. The theme can be well coded with or without frameworks.
How much do you think the demo content is relevant to the site and how much time you spend on creating it?
It’s very important because when you go to a demo site it’s like your personal store and the user is watching what’s in there. Starting from images to the content and features, we try to put as many examples as possible so people can experience the theme as much as possible in the demo version and test features that we have.
Advice for beginners – how to choose to develop the right theme?
Coding is easy, figuring out what to do next is a real challenge. It is very important to know how to market the theme once you finish it. Back then, there weren’t as many Premium WordPress themes as today, and you knew when and where and how you could go well. Nowadays, there’s a lot of things to look for, find a niche that’s not saturated because you’ll be able to market it better later on. If we are talking about basic marketing and SEO, I’ll explain in our example. One of our themes is called Vlog, and if you type a name in Google, our link is in the top 10. We haven’t chosen that name and type of theme randomly.
Why would somebody choose a Meks theme?
I would need to know more about your personal needs to answer that question and suggest our theme or not. There isn’t the best WordPress theme around. One of the general reasons you may want to go with Meks is reliability. In terms that we often update themes and we have a great customer support.
Also, the themes we develop are focused on a particular user type. Therefore we try to solve the real problem that users might have. That is something we usually do better than others because we usually offer a rare set of meaningful options which you usually cannot find in “multipurpose” themes.