As a great tool to build a website, WordPress is also a powerful platform to make money. Yet there are many different ways to earn an income with WordPress, theme development and selling is one of the most profitable WordPress businesses.
Developing a theme is just the very beginning of the whole process. The next step is promotion.
If you want to become successful and earn money, you should know a bunch of marketing killer techniques. It will help you to reach potential customers and compete in the WordPress business market.
In this article, you will find a whole strategy and helpful tips to promote, sell and earn with your WordPress theme. In addition, I gathered a complete list of the best places (including your own eCommerce website) where to sell themes.
Let’s go further and see all the possibilities of how WordPress can work (and make money) for you!
First of all, determine your major skills. What are you good at? Are you a web designer or developer? Yes? In this case, you can make money with your premium WordPress theme.
You may not be a top-class designer with years of experience or coding specialist to design a beautiful WordPress theme. If you are just starting the process of building your theme out, you can either work alone or create a team to save time. But what is really crucial is the knowledge about your target audience. And how to make your theme competitive.
Though theme building requirements and expectations are always changing, so does the number of competitors. Still, the need for a visually appealing site is not going to lose popularity. That’s why theme development is how you can generate income.
Even if you are just about to begin your first theme development, or already a pro in the theme development niche, below are some useful practices to promote, sell and earn money with your WordPress theme!
Before we dive deeper into all you have to know on theme promotion, I want to highlight the key points which I am going to cover later on. The components of a profitable theme are:
- Clear business strategy;
- High quality;
- Effective marketing.
Without further ado, let's go straight into this ultimate theme selling and promotion guide!
Tips How to Sell and Promote Your WordPress Theme
Having a clear and specific business strategy can make your theme really competitive because it is how selling goods works. Once you have defined your action plan and overall business model, you are already one step closer to success.
What can be the next steps? Focus on achieving the highest possible quality of your product. Then, study various marketing tools to benefit way more. This will increase the chances to make money with your WordPress theme.
Have a Plan
Nothing works without a plan for reaching targeted objectives. Formulated well, it can lead to business growth and optimization of financial performance.
To do that, define and keep in mind the vision and goals you have, prioritize objectives and choose the approach to meet them. Be patient, experiment, collect the feedback, split tasks if you are working in a team. Find the combination for the best results.
A clear business strategy is the foundation of your theme success. If you invest your time and energy in it, you are already making the very first step on selling and promoting your theme.
Because the product itself is a crucial part of marketing. And you want it to be superb, don’t you?
Find a niche
Another key to success is finding the right niche for your theme. Your product should solve a particular problem while being one of the most useful options to choose from. Define the real-life problem and create value so you can be helpful (and compete in the market).
To pick the right niche, dedicate the time for deep research to have insights into which area is not so saturated. By that, you increase the chances that the user will prefer your theme among others. What else can help you to find a niche? Choose the one you understand well enough.
Paying attention to what you are familiar with already is always a good practice.
As important as finding the niche you should also pay attention to get to know your target audience. It provides an understanding of the customers' needs. Define the portrait of your audience. What they are looking for to be included in your product?
Get to know your customers beforehand to sell and promote your product effectively and successfully later. Remember: your theme always should be user-centered.
Research, research, research.
Once again: good research is base of a strong business. Once you have decided your niche and know what your potential customer wants - you can take the next step. Research competitors in your chosen niche. What are their strengths? What factors made their themes a top-seller product?
Start examining both old and newly added themes. Take not only best-sellers. In this case, you will benefit from having a broad perspective and profound knowledge. However, take into account, that the functionality of the older ones may differ from what is regularly requested nowadays.
For instance, plugins like website builders, WooCommerce and more have been included as a standard feature package not so long ago. But for now, it is one of the powerful practices to sell and promote your theme.
Decide the Pricing
It is always a good idea to give something for free to your customers, even if the theme you are going to sell is a paid one. This is a great way to promote your product by allowing users to try how it works. People’s trust and credibility are a must-have to become successful in the market.
The free version is a proven way of promoting the theme. This is how you can engage your audience to upgrade the version for the extended functionality (if you have a premium version as well). Whether you decide if the theme is free or paid, you can still offer something without asking for money.
For example, use a freemium model I just mentioned (offer a free product with an improved premium version available) or provide a free version of the product with paid addons.
The approach you will choose is up to you. But remember: do not remove existing free features. It will cause a lot of disappointment and angry feedback, trust me.
Offer Unique Design
Make your theme good-looking, as appearance matters. Invest in the design and professional look of your theme - this is how you can earn the trust of your clients. The responsive, clean-designed and well-structured product is a necessity if you want to make money by selling your WordPress theme.
Quality is your higher priority and the design is a basic of it. Be creative, offer uniqueness and do not copy the competitors. It is better to take some time to learn how typography or colors work rather than be accused of plagiarism.
However, it is not enough to know some design tips & tricks. You have to understand how customers are making the decision to buy your product.
For that purpose, you can use the so-called an AIDA model - an explanation of the four stages while deciding to buy the product or service. In short, attract users’ attention, maintain interest, create a desire and take action (call your visitors to action).
Visually-appealing design which leads to sails is a combination of understanding of human psychology (as explained above) and an essential structure of the theme, including its landing page.
Having a theme demo is also a good idea. Show how your theme looks in a wild. As an expert on your theme, it is worth building your own site using your own products.
As the landing page is the first visual representation of your theme, consider some basic elements to add. It can be an engaging title, clean and niche-related image, calls-to-action and testimonials from real customers.
Provide With Documentation & Support
Remember that the learning process takes time and, of course, the proper knowledge base. That is why you need to offer detailed documentation and easy to understand the on-boarding process flow.
Make sure to provide all the important information, make the user interface friendly enough and do not forget about the external resources such as video tutorials, blog posts, and FAQs.
Support is as much important as documentation. It will automatically make your product more professional and will build customers’ trust. Keep in mind, that you need to be accessible as fast and as often as possible to resolve the clients’ problems.
Include contact forms on your website with the help of WordPress contact form plugins, provide the social media accounts, support forums or emails. Make it visible, easy to reach and up to date (as well your product).
Add Proper Functionality
Good quality is way more than just a visual appearance of your theme. The thing that most people don’t even consider while trying to promote and sell the product is functionality.
As Ferdinand Porsche once said: “Design must be functional, and functionality must be translated into visual aesthetics”. So, both design and functionality really matter.
Always keep the user in mind. Optimize the functionality to meet the needs of your audience and to reach great usability. It also means that you need to test your theme, especially, technical quality, multiple times. And once more, if necessary.
Carefully examine your theme and make sure it matches the WordPress theme requirements or the requirements of the marketplace you have chosen as a place to sell your theme.
Include Plugin Into Your Theme
One of the proven ways to earn more money is to include the plugin in your theme. Why? There are plenty of benefits you can gain when integrating a plugin.
First, if you decide to include a free plugin into your theme, it won’t cost you anything. However, you will still expand the functionality of your theme.
Secondly, you will save tons of time and add value to your product. For example, by integrating a website builder into your theme, you can faster theme development process, better the users’ interface and content management, as well as offer your audience a lot of powerful features.
Want some facts? Research shows, that WordPress themes with integrated website builders sell 4x better than those without a builder.
Sounds great, right? Plugin integration has one more sweet point. When it comes to the “how to include the plugin into my theme” question, the whole process is just a piece of cake.
First, go to the TGM Plugin Activation website and click download. Then, follow the tutorial on how to include a plugin into your theme to expand the functionality and quality of your product.
However, double-check the plugin you want to include before making the final decision. If you skip this part, the low-quality plugin can lead to some drawbacks, like:
- Shortcode hell and affected performance;
- No control of the support and updates of the plugin.
To make sure you won’t face any problems with the plugin you want to include in your WordPress theme, contact the authors of the plugin directly via their official channels.
Use Content Marketing
Finally, the last but not least (at all!!!) ingredient for the theme to earn money with. After making sure that you are sticking to your business plan and that you are constantly aiming for the best quality, it is time to move further. And market your theme.
Without marketing tools, you won’t reach any potential success. Yes, this step requires good research, efforts and thinking out of frames.
But you want your theme to become a best-seller, don’t you?
There are no hidden secrets - just some basic knowledge of instruments that will help you to boost sales.
Invest in Passive and Active Marketing
The passive and active marketing is just two different approaches - not just a “bad” and “good” one. The passive marketing stands for being at the right time in the right place. There is nothing related to laziness or effortless work that was put into.
Passive marketing is also known as placement marketing. When you explain what your product is about by writing a description and the blog posts about it, filming video tutorials, set up some social media pages - it is passive marketing. Because you wait till the clients “knock to your door”.
Passive marketing is undoubtedly a useful and necessary tool to sell and promote your WordPress theme. But to help your customers make the next move, there is “active marketing” that comes on the stage. The simple example of active marketing can be, for example, Facebook ads or newsletters.
Contact the Network Directly & Indirectly
Of course, to get the best possible results (and sales), you need to rely on multiple forms of marketing as well as understand the advantages of each. When applied correctly, these different approaches can work together to help you generate traffic and increase the recognition of your product.
By combining together active and passive marketing approaches, you will achieve faster results and boost your theme among both those who were and weren’t looking for it. Reach your actual and potential customers in multiple ways which I gathered for you below.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website in unpaid or organic search results. What affects the number of visitors you will receive from the search engine? The answer is: how high your product is ranked on the search results page, and how frequently it appears in the list.
It is worth to invest your time in SEO. There are some ways to help your potential customers find your theme through the organic search. For example, do keyword research to insert them into the description of your theme or in other resources related to your product. One of the greatest tools to optimize your SEO is a SEMrush platform.
Creating blog content is a great way to highlight the main benefits and features of your theme. First, answer some questions. Why your theme is so great? What problems does it solve? Why your theme is better than others? Once you’ve determined the answers, start working on the blog posts.
You can also search for the resources to contribute there a guest post about your theme. Write a clear and well-structured piece to position your product and as a valuable and useful resource. Blogging is a way how to build trust, help your audience make purchases and communicate with them.
Most people prefer visual information to the textual one. Video is one of the most engaging ways on how to present your product in action. Make a video with a short explanation of the main features of your theme, show how they work and include some tips & tricks.
Video content drives traffic to your website and helps you sell your theme to earn money.
Yet the video content is a great eye-catching tool to reach and attract customers, you have to make it highly efficient. Here are some points of a good video to sell and promote your WordPress theme:
- Use different platforms to upload your videos. YouTube video ranks well on Google. However, uploading it to the platform such a Vimeo will increase your chances to gain exposure across a wider audience;
- Keep it simple and short not to frustrate visitors. Long video content can irritate as well as long sentences that are very hard to read. Keep it no longer than 3 minutes on average and don’t use a complicatedly structured script;;
- Highlight the most important information and powerful features. Because, well, that is the main reason visitors are clicking to your video. Also, ask questions and provide the answers. It is a great tactic for SEO optimization because people commonly use questions to find information;
- Make it professional-looking. Clean background, right lightening, and titles to guide viewers through the video. Those are just a few tips for creating a professional video to build trust and sell your WordPress theme.
Almost everyone has social media accounts nowadays. Social media marketing (SMM) is a powerful way of how to boost the sales and recognition of your WordPress themes. It is a proven way to get in touch with your audience. So, speaking directly to your audience through social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest is a necessity these days.
Don't hurt your business by missing out on an excellent opportunity to let people know everything about your product. To get the best results while using social media to promote and sell your theme, you have to be familiar with some useful SMM tips.
For example, post regularly. Sticking to your social media content plan (yes, you need one) is essential. To create it, make keyword research, examine competitors, gather different ideas and approaches to engage the target audience. And be consistent!
As well as the frequency of your posts, quality is also highly important. Provide a good-quality content via social media channels to get more attention and better the user experience. For instance, include images, videos, use popular hashtags, put links. Great marketing on social media can bring success to your WordPress theme, drive leads and increase sales. So, make the best of it.
If you have already built credibility, you can create or join community groups or participate in forum discussions.
To provide users with all the answers (and promote your theme in a form of answers) they have related to your theme, you can also use a platform like Quora. It is a question-and-answer site of a large community of users. Frequently, users post questions about WordPress plugins.
Sending the product-related information in the form of the newsletter is another great marketing practice. The newsletter marketing is an approach when you send an emailed letter to a subscriber list (which can include potential and existing customers) to establish the authority of your product, notify and keep your audience up to date.
To determine the success of the newsletter you have sent, set some measurable goals first. It includes, for example, measurement by the number of subscribers, open rates, click-through rates and more. This data will give you confirmation that newsletters marketing successful or no.
To achieve the best possible impact on your WordPress theme business, newsletters should be effective but not sales-driven. Provide interesting, educational and outstanding content. A right-balanced and efficient newsletter consists of 90% information and 10% sales material.
Ads and Campaigns
Advertising is the most powerful paid marketing option. If you have the budget to operate with, buying an advertisement is a great way to sell and promote your WordPress theme. However, it is crucial to know the best advertising platforms and how the whole process works.
Google Ads and Facebook Ads are the two largest advertising platforms.
Facebook has a built-in advertising feature to help you market your theme. You can not only track these ads, but also define certain demographics based on age, interests, and more. Facebook Ads are not based on a user’s search inquiry, but on the behaviors and patterns that you have chosen.
Google Ads, on the other hand, target users based on the keywords (search query) they enter on Google. It is called a “paid search” - one of the world’s largest and most popular pay per click (advertisers pay when users click on the ad) advertising platforms.
Affiliate marketing started as a passive income source. The idea behind it is quite simple. Someone is promoting your product and earn a commission for each sale. The sales are tracked via affiliate links. The seller also gets the sweet point: affiliate marketing can convert your traffic into sales.
Affiliates program is based on revenue sharing. By offer promoters a commission, through an affiliate program. As statistic shows, almost 40% of marketers prefer affiliate marketing to acquire new customers.
There are companies that successfully run affiliate programs, so can you. You should be able to find people to promote your theme (be familiar with affiliate networks) and list the benefits of becoming an affiliate to engage them.
Best Places Where To Sell Themes
Developing and designing themes for WordPress can earn you a lot of money. But once you develop your premium WordPress theme and apply some (or all) tips listed above, what’s next?
The very next step to increase your WordPress theme sales and promotion is to find the right marketplace. Without that, you will end up with a tiny audience knowing about your theme - and with a tiny income, too.
Many themes marketplaces have arisen lately and each promises you to boost your sales and overall recognition of your WordPress themes. As you don’t want to get lost in that sea of information, I gathered the best places where to sell your theme.
WordPress.org has a Theme Repository where you can launch your WordPress product. There you can submit your theme for review, publish it and generate massive traffic (and downloads).
There are only free themes available in the WordPress Theme Repository, but you can monetize your work by offering premium upgrades and features. This is a very popular approach nowadays. Because you give away something for free stuff to promote the paid one.
WordPress offers a lot of possibilities that you should take advantage of. For example, you can provide a meaningful description and screenshots, add tags to rank higher and more.
Freemius is a WordPress plugin service where you can sell your themes straight through the WordPress dashboard. Freemius stands for an all-in-one solution for selling both free and premium themes. And you get all the features in one place.
It is a great solution for WordPress theme businesses, as Freemius handles all aspects of the sales process, including payments, software licensing, subscriptions, marketing automatization, analytics and more. You can even migrate from the from another eCommerce solution - the team behind Freemius will do the best to assist you in that process.
Theme Forest (Envato)
ThemeForest is the biggest WordPress theme marketplace with more than 10,000 WordPress themes available. ThemeForest is run by Envato which is a library of themed marketplaces to sell digital assets. ThemeForest is included in the top 1,000 websites, so this is an extremely high traffic marketplace.
Selling your theme in the ThemeForest guarantees you stability, increases your chances to target the audience and lets you choose your own pricing. As a new author, you can keep 50% of your sales and boost it up to 70% later.
However, as the competition in this market is very high, you should be prepared for theme rejections due to the certain quality level requirements of the ThemeForest. It is also may be difficult to succeed because you don’t really help your brand to grow. If you sell on ThemeForest, no branding is possible (because customers buy from Envato, not you).
Mojo Marketplace is not the bigger one among WordPress marketplaces, however, it is worth considering as a place to sell your theme. Mojo Marketplace generates high traffic as well, plus, they have comprehensive guides and articles for sellers. But as a drawback, you can't select the prices of your themes.
For exclusive authors, Mojo Marketplace commissions range from 50-70% - as your item sales increase, the percentage of the profits will increase either. If your theme is non-exclusive (you decide to sell it elsewhere too), you keep 50% of all sales.
TempateMonster is a well-known marketplace with more than 2,000 WordPress themes and 5,000,000 buyers all over the web. You can earn up to 70% from each sale if you sell exclusively through Template Monster and up to 40% if you sell on other platforms.
There a lot of detailed information on how to become a vendor and the statistics provided on the website shows that the average earnings of one vendor are about to $10 612. Fascinating, isn’t it? Although the Template Monster marketplace suggests the price range, so you can adjust it whenever you need it.
Creative Market also allows you to sell WordPress themes and it differs from another marketplace. One of the best things the Creative Market has no per-product approval. It means that no review process is required before you start selling your theme.
What’s more, you get 70% of every sale whether they are an exclusive author or not, sell on your own site and separately package other items you have created while making your theme (and earn even more).
Selling on Marketplaces vs. Own Ecommerce site
When it comes to selling your WordPress theme itself, you just want to generate as much profit as you can. However, there are multiple options for selling online. Some sellers develop their own e-commerce websites.
Others prefer to use marketplaces to earn money with WordPress theme business. Choosing the right place can be a daunting task because each option has its advantages and drawbacks. I will break it all down in seconds to help you make the right decision.
What is the difference between marketplaces and eCommerce websites?
If you want to sell WordPress products, you have two options available: through marketplace your own site.
The main differences between these alternatives are simple. It is all about who is selling and what is the product. The marketplace is a third-party platform where customers can browse through the product categories from many sellers. Your own eCommerce website, on the other hand, is an independent online store where a specific brand (you) sells particular products (your WordPress theme) on its website.
So, what is best for promoting and selling your WordPress theme?
Pros of Marketplaces
When it comes to selling your product in a theme marketplace, there are advantages such as:
- Time-saving solution - it is very convenient to get started. You don’t have to make anything from scratch. There are just a few steps from creating your account to the first transaction and payments, which also are handled by the marketplace.
- Already generated traffic - marketplaces already have established trust and engaged a lot of visitors. So, you can get your theme in front of potential customers with very little effort needed.
Cons of Marketplaces
Unfortunately, marketplaces have some downsides as well. Among others most often mentioned is:
- High competence - you won’t be the one. Poplar marketplaces nowadays are crowded platforms and it is very difficult to stand out there. Be prepared that plenty of similar offerings will compete among your theme for your audience’s attention.
- No branding (or almost no) - customers are more likely to remember the marketplace, not your brand. The main focus will be on the product (not you) and you can face complications spreading the awareness of your brand.
understand the real conditions of your business.
- Hard to leave - as you grow, your target audience does the same. It may be hard to leave and start to sell on your own eCommerce site.
Pros of Your Own eCommerce site
Now it is the turn of your eCommerce site advantages:
- Get total control - you can customize anything and anytime to personalize the appearance (and extend functionality) of your website. That is your chance to better the user experience: from the site’s color palette to the shopping process flow.
- Create your own brand - you have an opportunity to speak to your audience directly. Establish your own voice and target your customers with various marketing strategies.
Cons of Your Own eCommerce site
Yet building your own eCommerce site to promote and sell your WordPress theme can be a powerful approach, there are also some points that can frustrate (you and your customer):
- Difficult setup - you may experience some issues building your site from scratch. You can run into technical difficulties or invest away more time than you planned before. Luckily, nowadays there are various solutions to build your website fast and easy.
- Tough to get & convert customers - you need to get people to your website. And make them want to stay. Yes, there is a lot of work behind that. Optimize your website, build strong marketing, take care of your customers on every stage they are going related to your product to convert them into leads.
WordPress theme development is a very profitable business nowadays. But how to promote and sell your theme successfully? To start earning money with WordPress theme, have a detailed plan, stand for quality and provide effective marketing.
And don’t forget to choose the very best platform to release your theme - either it will be one of the most popular marketplaces or your own eCommerce website.
I hope this complete guide on how to sell and promote your WordPress theme will be that exact piece you were missing for your success. And as I fall silent, it is time for Walt Disney to speak: "The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing."