WordPress is not only the leading content management system but also the core of an expanding industry. Countless agencies have developed and sold premium WordPress themes, plugins, and other adjacent services. The signs are that this industry will keep on growing even though it’s extremely competitive.
For instance, the WordPress theme market seems overcrowded, and there are many genuinely impressive themes. However, there is enough room for new WordPress themes.
Theme creators have many ways to earn the bucks of the customers, but making a decision as a buyer isn’t quite simple. The plethora of themes—some of them free while others are premium—troubles buyers. It takes time to check out a theme, so we’ve tried to save you that time. Here are our considerations regarding the business models of selling WordPress themes and how to choose the best theme for your project.
Free, Freemium, and Premium
Currently, there are three types of models for selling themes. First, some developers offer their work for free. Yeah, there are free themes ready to be installed, and some of these are amazing. Second is freemium, which is a hybrid method; the theme released is free to install, but you have to pay for extensions that provide extended functionality. Finally, there are premium WordPress themes, which you have to pay for.
Understandably, you might ask yourself why some developers ask for money for their themes while others didn’t. The answer is relatively simple: it depends on the creator’s business model and the purpose of the theme. A quality free theme is the core of an effective marketing strategy. Let’s suppose that Agency X releases a free theme that gets five stars on the WordPress repository. Bloggers and WordPress experts will feature the theme in various blog posts. Step by step, Agency X captures the attention of users. Certainly, users will open their wallets when Agency X releases a premium theme.
Our fast-loading theme Rife is a good example in this respect. We offer Rife for free—it’s available for download on WordPress repository or directly from our site. The free Rife theme is a great solution if you want to create a portfolio, a business site, a blog, or a one-page site. Check out the Rife demos to get an idea about the theme versatility.
People who want even more customization options and demos should go for Rife Pro. We created a side-by-side comparison table to show the differences between the free and pro Rife versions.
Freemium is probably the most advantageous method for both clients and developers. The clients install and activate a free version of the theme to test its potential so that they don’t blindly invest money. The theme developers don’t earn money when people install the free version, but they do get paid when customers purchase the premium version.
Other theme developers prefer to ask for money directly. Established brands or trustworthy developers often choose to release premium themes because users already know that they deliver quality products.
Free vs. Freemium vs. Premium
It can be frustrating (especially for new WordPress users) to read a few paragraphs only to find out that the best choice for their project starts with “it depends.” Each project has unique management, resources, and purposes. As a result, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, the following tips might help you make the proper decision.
Let’s be honest. Getting funds for your business isn’t simple. Some people start their entrepreneurship adventure with a side-project funded from their own resources. In this context, every dollar matters a lot. Free themes are for these people. They help people create an online presence at no cost. Go for a free theme when you have no budget.
Visit the WordPress theme directory and search for a theme suitable for your project. It’s the safest bet if you’re looking for free themes. Also, more and more theme developers these days are offering free themes directly on their sites, so you can try there too. But check the reputation of the seller before downloading the theme. Many so-called “free themes” might contain malware.
Even if the seller is reputable, the support will most likely be limited for free themes. Consider this fact if you aren’t an experienced WordPress user.
· Free of charge
· Decent to high-quality design and code
· Not enough features for complex projects
· Lack of support
Many free themes fully deserve your attention. The average WordPress user can customize a free theme to craft a good-looking site. Chose a free theme if you are broke, but look carefully at the seller’s reputation.
We consider freemium themes to be the best solution for both the seller and the buyer. The buyer rests assured that there is a team behind the theme trying its best to constantly improve that theme. The seller knows that once they provide value, the theme users will become paying customers.
Freemium themes take advantages of all the benefits of free themes while allowing users to upgrade for extended functionality.
· Free with limited functionality
· Pay for more features when needed
· No initial investment
· None that we could find (we may have missed something, so we gladly invite your opinion. Use the comment form to share your thoughts.)
Freemium themes are convenient because they allow the users to test the theme before purchasing it, so it’s a win-win situation. Fortunately, there are tons of amazing freemium themes. Chances are that your first choice might disappoint, but it shouldn’t make you disregard freemium themes.
You can’t download and install premium themes unless you pay for them. It’s common for trusted brands such as Elegant Themes to adopt this option. A premium theme must come with clean code, countless features, and stellar support. People pay upfront, and their expectations are high, but the most important sellers usually manage to satisfy the buyers’ requirements.
· Quality themes with endless customization options
· Helpful support agents ready to help users
· Inaccessible for those on tight budgets
In the last two-three years, theme developers have focused mostly on flagship themes. These themes are their best products—multipurpose themes that are speed optimized and come with literally countless demos. Divi, Ultra, and Astra are eloquent examples that don’t need any introduction. Expect more WordPress agencies to focus on a flagship theme instead of releasing dozens of themes in the near future.
Choosing a theme isn’t simple. You have to take into account many factors. Currently, the trend in the WordPress industry is to create genuinely multipurpose themes that are suitable for every project or develop themes for pretty narrow niches. Of course, there are and will be in-between themes. I believe that under these circumstances, selecting the proper theme will become simpler. There will continue to be free, freemium, and premium WordPress themes, and I can hardly imagine another selling model.
We are eager to know how you purchase themes. Do you use only premium WordPress themes, or do you take free ones into consideration? What do you think about freemium themes? Drop us a comment, and let us know your thoughts.