Over the last few weeks, the WordPress community has been awash with some big conversations about the future of commerical WordPress businesses (specifically theme and plugin sellers). Some big names like Chris Lema, Tom McFarlin, and Chris Wallace have all weighed in, and I suggest you head over to WP Tavern’s bumper post to catch up on the full story.
To briefly summarize where the conversation is headed – WordPress vendors are realising that a race to the bottom on pricing ($15 themes, and $40 annual memberships) is destined for disaster. There is an increased emphasis on finding a niche, serving it well and making an allowance for all the add-on costs (like support) you will see in the theme’s life. This in turns means we will start to see an increase in the price of WordPress themes and Plugins as they become more segmented, and more financially sustainable.
This is a really great thing – it is a shift the WordPress market needs to make in order to stay alive. And a lot of the big players are already taking some of those steps. Vendors like Up Themes and Pressware (amongst others) have already made the shift to a smaller nunber of high quality themes, at a slightly higher price.
This is happening, and it is a good thing. Quality will increase, businesses become more sustainable, the client gets a better product, everyone wins! Right?
Perhaps a rise in prices across the board is exactly what the doctor ordered. If price hikes result in better quality products, more innovation, and helps take WordPress to the next level, who wouldn’t get behind that?
– Jeff Chandler
The voice that is missing in this conversation is that of the customer. The customer who is looking for the best deal. The customer who thinks they are getting a bargain when they buy a theme with 48 sliders, 398 Shortcodes and a kitchen sink for $15. The customer who thinks twice about whether they will purchase a $1.99 app for their phone.
Most of these customers are going to see a theme that costs closer to $100 and just see it as too expensive, compared to what they are are used to. They won’t understand the benefits they get from buying a higher quality theme, from a shop that has factored in supporting them as they get up and running. They just see something that costs more money, and has less features.
Therein lies the challenge for WordPress vendors. For this shift in the market to take place, we need to be educating customers at the same time. We need to be explaining to them the benefits that make our themes of value to them. We need to articulate why it will save them magnitudes more than $85 to user our theme, rather than the cheap and nasty one they could get somewhere else.
It is not enough to just change our business model.
We need to earn their trust, earn their loyalty and show them why they should care.
Only then, will the new WordPress marketplace really kick up a notch.
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