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Are Too Many WP Theme Sites Hurting the Industry?

Business, Web Design, WordPress | Nov 8, 2010

Run a search for some common terms associated with premium WordPress themes and you’ll likely find between a few hundred thousand and a few million results.

“WordPress premium theme” brings back nearly 11 million results. “WordPress theme marketplace” brings back nearly a million.

It’s easy to see that there are thousands of sites out there selling or giving away WP themes, even if we factor in that a large percentage of those search results are likely irrelevant or duplicates.

What’s the effect of all these WP theme sites? What are they doing to the marketplace for both designers and theme buyers? Are all those sites really useful, or are they doing more harm than good?

 

The Problems With So Many Theme Marketplaces

The wide variety of theme marketplaces out there are causing some serious damage to the theme industry. WordPress themes (and to a lesser extent, themes for other platforms) can be lucrative for designers, whether it’s the primary focus of their business or just a sideline income source. So the state of the market is something that’s a concern for a lot of designers out there. Let’s look at some of the problems the current marketplace setup is causing:


There Are a Lot More Low-Quality Than High-Quality Marketplaces

Unfortunately, there are a ton of sites out there that sell or give away really low-quality WordPress themes. Sometimes the themes are simply outdated, while other times they’re badly coded or badly designed.

There are a few marketplaces out there that offer really high-quality themes and have high standards for what they will accept. But these seem to be the exception rather than the rule. And while we, as designers, can recognize the difference, your average theme consumer may have no idea.


There Are Too Many Pirate Sites Masquerading as Legitimate

This can be an even bigger problem than the low-quality marketplaces out there. There are plenty of theme sites that give away or sell themes that they have no legal right to distribute.

While pirating can sometimes work in the designer’s favor (through better exposure and possible paying work), it can also damage a designer’s career. If all of your paid themes are out there for free, how many people are going to purchase them? How many people are even going to realize they’re pirated or go looking for the official distribution points?

Piracy across different creative mediums is not equal. While most people realize when they download a song or a movie or even a book that they’re likely doing something that isn’t entirely legal, the same can’t always be said for someone downloading a theme from a site they assume is legitimate. There are thousands of free themes out there, so a lot of end-users never think twice about whether the free theme they’re downloading is actually supposed to be free.

The other thing some of these pirate sites are doing is removing all credit to the original designer. So while it can be argued that pirating a book or a song or a movie brings that artist more publicity and can result in higher sales in the end, if the credit has been removed from a theme entirely, the designer will almost certainly never see any benefit from the piracy, and will only be harmed by it.


There’s Little Exclusivity

To some extent, every premium (or free) themes site you browse has many of the same themes. Sometimes upwards of 90% of the themes you see on one site you’ve seen on other theme sites.

Because of this, there’s little difference to the end user regarding where they purchase their themes. They don’t care, because every site offers largely the same thing. The only difference is in price or ease of use.

The problem here is that not all theme sites are created equal. Some sites give better royalties to designers than others. Some sites have better support than others, for both the end user and the designer. Some sites treat themes like commodities and only care about the bottom line.


Low Quality Gives Everyone a Bad Name

Because of the huge number of theme sites out there with no quality control, themes sometimes get a bad name. It’s unfortunate, because there are some fantastic themes available out there, and with a bit of customization, a theme can often be just as good as a completely custom website, depending on the needs of the user.

Theme sites that don’t bother checking themes for functionality or ease-of-use give everyone a bad name. When a customer downloads a theme that doesn’t work properly, they start to think that all themes are more trouble than they’re worth.

That hurts the entire theming industry. Potential theme buyers then sometimes hear such horror stories about premade themes that they’re afraid to purchase one.


It’s Getting Harder to Break in Without a Marketplace

With hundreds or thousands of theme marketplaces out there, it’s becoming harder and harder to break into theming unless you go through one of the popular marketplaces.

While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing (theme marketplaces generally get much more traffic than individual theme sellers’ websites), it does limit the options of designers.

Designers have a much harder time selling themes strictly through their own websites because of the competition in search engines and elsewhere. If you don’t have connections in the industry or a hefty marketing budget (or a lot of time on your hands for promotion), you’re pretty much forced to go through a marketplace if you want to make any money with themes.

 

So Is There Anything Right About the Current Markets?

All of this might leave you feeling like the entire theming market is beyond saving. But it’s really not. There are a few things the current marketplace is getting right, and there are plenty more places where it could improve.


The Bar is Constantly Being Raised

Look around the high-quality theme marketplaces out there at some of the amazing themes designers are releasing. There are themes with features that would have only been seen on custom designs costing thousands of dollars a few years ago. Now they’re accessible to virtually anyone, usually for less than the cost of a decent meal out.

Designers are releasing better and better themes all the time. This raises the profile of theming in general, and helps to counteract the negative image of all the bad themes out there.


Some Markets Are Outstanding

There are some outstanding markets out there for selling themes. These are markets that hold their designers to high standards, carefully screen the themes they accept for sale, and make sure there’s some kind of quality guarantee to reassure customers.

Oftentimes these better theme marketplaces also try to encourage exclusivity on the part of their designers, usually with monetary incentives. More marketplaces should do this to encourage diversity between sites.


A Plethora of Creative and Business Opportunities

Of course, the fact that there are so many marketplaces out there indicates that there are some great opportunities out there for designers creating themes. These marketplaces wouldn’t be in business if it wasn’t profitable to sell themes.

Theme sales are also a great creative outlet for designers, who often see theming as the only avenue to design what they want to design, rather than what a client wants.

The best theme marketplaces out there encourage creativity on the part of their designers and want designers to come up with new and innovative themes.

 

How Do We Fix It?

So now that we know what’s wrong and what’s right with the current theming market, what can we do to fix it? To make it the best it can be?

It’s pretty simple, really:

More Exclusivity

Theme marketplaces should encourage more exclusivity from their designers. This improves competition, as every site isn’t selling exactly the same themes as every other site. It also helps keep those buying themes from feeling like the theme market is stagnant and nothing new is ever released (which can happen if they keep seeing the same designs wherever they turn).


Crackdown on Pirate Sites

As designers, we need to band together and start reporting sites that pirate themes. If you see the designs of another designer on a site where you don’t think they belong, let the other designer know. If you see your own designs being pirated, report the site to their ISP.

If we can cut back on themes being given away when they shouldn’t be, especially when they’re being given away without proper attribution, we can improve the market for everyone.

Let’s face it: there are plenty of free legal themes out there for those who don’t want to spend money on a premium theme, and premium themes themselves generally aren’t very expensive. There’s no excuse for using a pirated theme other than ignorance.


Marketplace Managers Should Serve as Curators

If you run a theme marketplace, you should look at yourself as a curator of good themes. In addition to the technical aspects of any theme, make sure you also review the usefulness, aesthetics, and innovation of every theme that is submitted to you.

You serve as the arbiter of what theme shoppers see, and can improve or detract from the perception people have of themes.

Don’t be afraid to reject a theme based on whatever criteria you choose. If possible, send the designer a bit of feedback on why the theme was rejected, so they might be able to make improvements of avoid the same mistakes in their next theme attempt.


For professional WordPress Themes, check out Elegant Themes

Written exclusively for WDD by Cameron Chapman.

What’s your thought on the number of WP theme sites out there? Share in the comments!

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  • http://www.cssrex.com/ CSSReX

    Nicely Said! I agree

  • http://www.nomad-one.com nomadone

    I totally think things are getting out of hand with the amount of marketplaces, but it’s like that with every industry. I think this will just force more innovation and can be a good thing eventually.

    It should force the main players to become more quality and innovation orientated. The great thing is that is not difficult to make some money if you’re willing to spend some time crafting a few themes. Pirates are killing the space though.

    There’s pros and cons, you can choose to step out now or choose to push the boundaries even further. We’ve seen some really awesome developments come out of the madness so I’m looking forward to the next quantum leap in the wp theme dev space.

  • http://www.halogenic.com Ricky

    You can do a Google search for almost anything and it will return a hundred-thousand results. That doesn’t really mean very much on it’s own.

    I doubt, the bulk of the freebie themes are being kept up-to-date with the latest features that users come to expect.

    They also don’t normally come with support, option panels to easily customize the design.

    Also in terms of marketplaces, there’s really on a couple of options where authors can expect to get reasonable exposure and sales. If anything we need more marketplaces for better competition. The bar is always being raised and the leading marketplaces do reject a lot of themes that don’t make the grade.

    For those developers who build their own online store, we really have no idea what kind of sales they’re getting.

    I think it’s the designers who put in the extra effort that are making good returns.

  • http://john.onolan.org JohnONolan

    Pirate themes stores operate (unfortunately) largely as a result of the freedoms of the GPL license, they an’t be cracked down on because most of them aren’t actually doing anything wrong.

    As for the rest, I believe the cream will always rise to the top.

  • http://charmingwp.com Ahmad

    I Agree there is many premium themes providers out there Me my self not follow or check updates for all of them just 6 or 7 Premium Market i chose and i know they are Exclusive and Reliable. About over come the Pirates sites i don’t think its easy or Hollywood can do this :-p

  • http://laroouse.com esranull

    good post thanks a lot

  • http://trafficcoleman.com/ TrafficColeman

    I will just say be careful and choose something that’s coming from an trusted company. I will say just stay away from the free ones..those are maybe the worse.

    “TrafficColeman “Signing Off”

  • http://neuethemes.com Kwame Busia

    I wholeheartedly agree with this post. WordPress is a fantastic tool for creating websites, but alot of the themes are designed to be ‘sold’ rather than to perform or solve a specific function. For example alot of themes come with lots of features, many of which aren’t really necessary or useful, but are added just to make the customer think a theme is more functional than it really is. In the end customers from alot of these marketplaces end up buying themes that don’t really solve their problems, because alot of the themes are almost template-like in their similarity and design. Another issue is affiliates and spamming from lots of theme sites makes it difficult to find the quality out there because of how it tampers with SEO etc. It’s all perfectly fair game of course, but it can be an issue at times!

    I recently set up my own theme site NeueThemes (http://neuethemes.com) because I didn’t agree with the way the theme industry was going, plus I wanted to focus on delivering quality themes to a niche I know and care about, which is graphic designers and photographers.

    We can’t offer the range of themes the bigger market places do, but that’s okay because while they become the Ross and Old Navy of the theme industry we’re trying to be Louis Vuitton. At the end of the day I wholeheartedly believe in the quality and uniqueness of the themes we put out there and know they’ll provide a solution for those who need them, and the peace of mind from that alone is well worth it!

  • http://www.boostinspiration.com Boost Inspiration

    Great article. There’s only very few sites which provide really quality themes.

  • http://waldropdesign.com Andy

    All businesses are unique and deserve a marketing plan that fits their business. Unless you are on a very limited budget stay away from templates. Custom design and develop a solution that doesn’t need to be “tweaked” to encompass everything your client has to offer.

  • Adam

    We should start by closing down http://boygj.com/

    • http://www.pingvps.com Steve

      …and by not promoting it with a link on WDD.

  • http://buildinternet.com Sam Dunn

    I understand the general purpose of this article, which seems to be to highlight how diluted the current theme market has become, but the part where I get stuck is when I ask the question “How is this unique to one industry?”.

    In any industry there will always be competitors that do better/worse based on price, quality, or a number of other basic factors. All that a lack of quality in an industry means is that there is an opportunity to compete and rise to the top. This is not unique to WordPress themes, which is why the suggestions this article provides are vague enough to apply to any number of businesses.

    The suggestions made are the type of things any self preserving business would face – of course theft hurts your business, but is there honestly a way that any company can prevent all of it? My biggest problem with this article, although I do appreciate the concern, is that it offers very little in terms of actionable responses to the problem. Yes, it has identified a pretty general set of problems, but the suggestions seem to be more sweeping generalizations than specific to the WordPress theme industry.

    I challenge you to Google “web design” or “logo design” – there aren’t very many companies I’d actually hire on that front page, but that industry extends beyond page one. If it was impossible to find quality WordPress theme sites as a result of so many low quality alternatives, then I would understand the value of this article. Instead, it seems like (as with any purchase) some research will help you make the best decision when buying a theme.

    There will always be competition, but that’s not a flaw of the industry, it’s an opportunity to expand and capitalize on what need to be improved.

    • http://www.wpjedi.com panah

      I agree with you completely. Using Google search to make claims such as this is not the best way to approach this. Quality will rise to the top. Even if we accept the premise that we are dealing with a red ocean, there will be businesses who will create their own blue ocean by innovating and setting themselves apart from their low quality competitors.

  • Anthony Alexander

    Bar being raised – They’re just Themes folks, one for a CMS with a shit load of plugins that make creating NEW themes easy peasy (see easy as fuckin shit fuckin shit)

    The average client(see average consumer) doesn’t know the difference between good and mediocre as long as it suits their needs. Twilight was shit? lol, tell that to the chick who can’t wait for the next one. Remember that classical violinist in that subway experiment? Well it takes talent to play the violin, web design, not so much. If people can’t distinguish shit violin playing from world class, do you really expect them to compare WP themes. If they could do that, you wouldn’t have a job would ya? There’s no way in hell a client is going to shell out for premium themes when the $12 theme suits their needs perfectly.

    Add to the fact that all these WEB2.0 themes all look the same – Background pictures and 12em font masquerading as information media – really now. Market places are not the enemy, the designer is. I keep hearing designers talking about how easy it is to prototype sites and stuff, yeah I can tell because they’re all shit. Remember FITTY CENT – this rapping shit is easy, yeah, he’s shit too.

    There doesn’t seem to be any attempt to defy convention, not just for contrarianism sake, but to exploit many properties of HTML that allow for diverse layouts and navigation systems, but if centered 960 whatever works for you, i guess that’s cool right. Just don’t blame marketplaces, or China, or India, it’s how capitalism works, I heard.

    • http://www.cluboholic.com kyriakos

      I totally I agree with this comment. Marketplaces are not the problem. Piracy is not the problem. Its lack of innovation that brought us to this state. 90% of the themes our there are just a cosmetic variation of each other in most cases just change the background image and a some colours and presto you have your new theme. Why would you expect that theme to sell any better than the thousands other that look the same? After all the average Joe can read a couple of tutorials and the next day make a business card saying he’s a web designer. No one can stop him and no one can say he’s not.

      People buy what works for them at the lowest available price. Unlike other industries where you need a lot of effort, money and certifications to enter in the case of web themes whether its made by a top designer or by a teenager in his bedroom the outcome could be the same as far as the client is concerned. There’s a very small market for people who very specialized customizations, the rest can just live with the freebie theme they found in some dodgy website or a respectable marketplace for a puny 10 dollars. Also why anyone in his right mind buy a theme from a marketplace when he can see it’s already been purchased 100 times? that means at least 50 sites out there will have the same theme as yours!

      WordPress is not a CMS – at least it was never meant to be – it’s supposed to be a platform for blogging and there’s just a handful of ways to present posts in chronological order – maybe you should consider this rather than blaming the internet (cause that is what this article is doing).

  • http://www.ourtuts.com madalin

    I see everyday hacked themes and I can`t tell you how bad I feel. I feel bad for Chris from ElegantThemes which is the best wordpress themes designer out there…all of his themes are all over the internet shared on black sites…

    Thank you for your effort to share with us the true about WordPress Themes, the true that we all know but don`t make anything to make WordPress better…

  • http://www.jamalnichols.com Jamal Nichols

    Man, you always post such on-point, unique, passionate articles, way beyond the usual filler you see on most design blogs. Keep it up

  • http://www.1stwebdesigner.com Dainis Graveris

    You made several good points here, and I agree to most of them. There are indeed tons of low quality themes nowadays but the direction it is headed actually depends on how people look at it. A pessimist would see it as an infectious disease but an optimist would see this as an opportunity to stand out. This is quite painful to read, knowing that it bears the truth. A great post.

  • http://zirta.net/ Zirta

    I’ve read this complaint time and time again in many fields. As a graphic designer, I assure you that no one can stop someone from sharing or selling bad design, and it’s okay, many start and learn that way. If you want your designs to sell, you have to be the BEST; neither competitors nor piracy will stop you from success.

    For example: It’s incredible how http://wpshower.com is giving away for FREE the best premium minimalistic themes nowadays. It’s the first time I willingly donated to the author. Also, I just bought a fabulous Tumblr theme for my http://mexicomics.com site, and I’m really satisfied. People will gladly pay for quality, if you deliver it to them.

  • http://wpmosaic.com DavidW

    As a partner in a premium theme venture that is currently in Beta, you certainly piqued my interest. Though I would take issue with your 11 million number for “WordPress premium theme” and suggest that there are actually only 478 meaningful results there, the fact remains that we know we’re jumping into a competitive market place.

    Our product has been in development for over a year, it’s as much a themeing engine and theme management system as it is a series of premium themes. We know that to make it in this market we have to rise to the top, that means giving people great design, but just as importantly it means having a way for novices and expert developers alike to easily and quickly customize our designs or create their own.

    I am not as convinced as you that a crowded and even sloppy market place hurts all. I think, just like in many industries, what you see is the cream of the crop rise to the top and the rest fall behind. Out of all the premium theme makers out there only a handful have become household names in the WordPress theme market place and there’s a reason for that, quality.

  • http://www.bluefiremediagroup.com Blue Fire Media

    I agree, there are too many of these WP theme sites. It seems that a lot of the high ranking ones are old and have dated themes too.

  • http://lekevicius.com Jonas

    There will always be people who see designs only template-deep, ignoring all the really important aspects of design.

    We shouldn’t worry about them — as long as they buy crappy themes, someone will make them and sell cheaply.

    What is really important is that from time to time we raise the bar with themes developed with great care. And those things matter much more than thousands of themes doomed to never be used by any caring designer (:

  • http://www.webdesignprint.co.uk WebDesignPrint

    Interesting article. Actually I wouldn’t mind a list (or even better – a comparison chart) of all major good quality markets. I have spent a lot of time (far too much) looking for them and I found maybe one or two that I really think are worth visiting.

  • http://www.mattmacintyre.ca Matt

    Great article, great points. When I first started using WordPress I built a design of my own on the Thematic framework and only recently read about these themes that are either pirated or contain malicious code. Bad news. Thanks for posting this and making the world more aware of this activity.

  • http://www.iconshock.com juan iconshock

    Nice and interesting read, yes, there are tons of WP premium sites out there, same happen with premium icon sets (our industry) and lots of other products, but it’s shouldn’t be a problem !.. This trend has been growing lately due to the changes google brings with its caffeine algorithm this year, But more than a problem, it’s a challenge for solid companies, and it will be a opportunity. Final user, at the end, will choose the companies he really trust, with excellent products, supprot service, updates, etc etc…

    It’s all about content quality !

  • http://www.renaissance-design.net Chris Cox

    Prime example of doing it right: ThemeForest offer substantial incentives for exclusivity.

  • http://thecloudhost.se/blogg Stefan

    Very good post!
    I agree.

  • http://www.startwebdevelopment.com Brad | StartWebDevelopment.com

    I think we are going to see the websites that actually offer ‘Premium’ templates starting to offer more and more Freemium templates with limitations. This way people can see how ‘Premium’ these designs are before they go and purchase the actual template.

    Another question is what is the definition of Premium? A lot of these so called Premium marketplaces for templates are worthless.

  • http://www.fuzzimo.com/ fuzzimo

    Interesting article, but I wouldn’t worry much about theme marketplaces. If something is of quality, it will stand out just like everything else in a competitive market.

  • http://www.stanomedia.com Stan

    Well, there is too much free stuff around that things are not having as much value. So as designers stop giving away so much for free just to get some name. Do actually good work (while getting paid for it) and you will create a name and have appreciation.

    In other words, if we don’t value yourselves (put a price tag on your work) then how do you expect others to value you, or to see value in you (your work).

  • http://wpforministry.com Brandon Cox

    I faced this reality as I launched WPforMinistry.com. One of my goals was to pass along themes I felt would be good to apply in a church or ministry setting. What I found was that trying to catalog all the potential sources was overwhelming. Thankfully, as you pointed out, excellence tends to rise to the top. So be excellent.

  • http://www.orphicpixel.com Mars

    sometimes when i search the internet, it will just give me confusion and fighting not to change my current theme

  • http://www.justforthealofit.com/ TheAL

    On one hand I love it. As someone who is primarily a developer and not a designer, being able to find so many premium WP themes allows me to make WP sites for clients that look great and do so quickly and affordably. It’s handy when I’m in a pinch.

    The flip side? It feels cheap. And it can be. So many people advertising themselves as web designers/developers really only know decent html and the most basic of PHP/javascript, then they base an entire freelance career around what is essentially pumping out tons of WP sites. While that doesn’t necessarily hurt the WP industry, I think it hurts the web design/dev industry by reducing the entrance barrier even more.

  • http://www.berthold-barth.de Berthold

    I’m with the twin on this.

    Not to hurt anybodies pride, but stock WordPress themes are pretty much the same as stock images: Their only positive quality is that they’re cheap compared to custom design/photos. What’s more, they both can’t be counted as real design. Design means designing for a specific purpose.

    In the stock business, there is no way for designers to know the purpose beforehand, and so it’s up to the user to pick a theme that more or less suits what they’re trying to communicate – with arguable success. How else would it be possible for a site I made a few years back to share its theme with right extremist party in my country? Our audiences and our motives couldn’t be further apart.

    Sure, WordPress is a great software to use as a starting off point on the web because it is extremely simple to set up and maintain a decent site. I wouldn’t argue against somebody using a theme to decorate their place on the web. But there is a point at which professionalism dictates a custom design (still based on wordpress if you like) to properly communicate with the audience.

    I was recently pointed toward a Nielsen article that provided evidence that stock images actually failed at their purpose of attracting eyeballs and instead got lumped in with banners as “inessential” in the subconscious. I wonder how much of these findings directly apply to stock wordpress themes.

  • http://www.socialmediaphile.com Dennis J Smith

    I don’t believe in others ripping off someone’s theme when the designer puts in hard work and tries to make a living. However I don’t believe in ripping off consumers and would be more willing to buy a great theme if it was priced fairly.

  • http://www.ozdtasarim.com fireRoxy

    WordPress can be just a temporary solution for the companies. but in future, they will need experts for professional website solutions. You can ask “isn’t WordPress a professional solution?”. My answer is “An open-source cms can’t be a professional and secure solution over the long term”. What i want is, WordPress doesn’t kill our industry. in direct contradiction, it has created a new operational area for ones who prefer economic solutions.

  • Binh

    i think out there have alot theme of wp in market, but i often rent a designer for an unique and i work on the rest (cut and code), that solution i provide to customer.

  • http://www.mkjones.co.uk mkjones

    I covered a lot of this ground in my keynote at WordCampUK this year:

    “How WordPress Themes Changed the World”
    http://wordpress.tv/2010/07/17/michael-kimb-jones-wordpress-themes-uk10

    The growth of the premium WP theme market has really been meteoric, but it has its faults. The major issue IMO is support, even some high quality themes are badly supported and not kept up-to-date so as to work with new versions of WP or use new features. Just look at all the themes still using TimThumb rather than the more elegant built-in image features that were introduced with v2.7.

    Anyway, the future is bright I’m sure :)

  • http://avisualidentity.com Dave

    Themes are ok and server their purpose! Just don’t claim your a designer when all you do is buy a theme, change the color scheme, and sell it to your customer as a “Custom” website.

  • http://www.amberweinberg.com Amber Weinberg

    You can say the same about every aspect of our industry. Do designers charging $10 an hour make the rest of us look bad? What about those who do spec work?

    Any client who falls for these are the kinds of clients you don’t want. There will always be both Pintos and BMWs in the marketplace and always a market for both.

  • http://www.theme-force.com Noel

    I guess these sort of questions all depend on your attitude. I run a WordPress theme site called Theme Force ( http://www.theme-force.com ). It’s smaller and I have fun with it, I also believe I solve issues as opposed to just trying to generate revenue. I’m not worried about the other sites out there. To a certain degree it’s even important that the supply is produced on all levels of demand (high-end, normal, quick’n’dirty).

  • http://www.wpexplorer.com AJ

    I agree with virtually everything – this was such a long, yet interesting post all the way through.

    Yest there are WAY too many wp-stores out there – I get a request from a new WP Theme store to join their affiliate program at least 1x a week.

    I am a big fan of market places like ThemeForest because quality is controlled not only by upper management but also by the community. People are able to leave comments, feedback write in forums, create profiles..etc. It’s nice to see a bunch of people involved. But then you get random theme stores that fail at delivering good support to their customers.

    Piracy is a pretty big issue. And one of the biggest problems is that people believe that a GPL license gives them the right to steal, encrypt and share with the world.

    Getting a bit off topic…WordPress has really helped me. I just graduated from college and luckily being an affiliate of top stores like Elegant Themes, Themeforest and Templatic has given me the ability not only to pay-off my student loans but also to pay for my 2 younger brother’s education.

    I think one of the things that has really helped me succeed in the WP-Theme market was the creation of some of my Free 100% GPL themes that became pretty popular (such as my business theme: http://www.wpexplorer.com/ultra-free-business-wordpress-theme.html) and the fact that I provide Free round-the-clock support.

    But yea…WAY too many market places! Before you go out and start a new one try and join one of the market places first – like ThemeForest or Mojo Themes.

  • http://www.aniseedmediadesign.co.uk/ Phil Jackson

    WordPress is flavour of the month at the moment so of course everyone (including the less scrupulous) wants in on the action. I suppose if things are getting out of hand (and I’m not sure they are) then WordPress only has it’s own popularity to blame.

    Cheap or even free website creation may be hurting web designers as everyone likes a good deal but people with any design taste will gravitate to the Theme Forests of the web and good theme designers should be able to sell if they are creative and inspirational enough.

  • http://theloudfew.com Robin Rath

    I have had luck with theme sites that allow you to download demo/test versions of the themes that then have to activated. This at leasts let you know if the theme has the features that you need.

  • Jebin

    in my view these are the best marketplaces

    1. WooThemes (Creative Gurus of WP)
    2.Templatic (they’ll show you the true power of WP)
    3. ThemeForest (long time ago its the best but now the reviewers are approving all sorts of low quality crap themes!)

  • http://fr.linkedin.com/in/thierryhoreau Thierry Horeau

    There’s so much one can do. I see marketplaces for several kind of digital products, not only themes, but also Flash Components, Photos and so forth.

    Some of the best are indeed the ones from Envato – ThemesForest & FlashDen, Themesbell & Flabell, WooThemes, iStockPhotos. But there are plenty out there, most of which offer free but low quality work.

    As we French say “freedom to choose is blessing”. I think the users will decide which stay and which go.

  • http://www.ramonaiftode.com Ramona

    I still cannot understand why someone would PAY to have a non-exclusive theme on their sites. A theme that looks the same as hundreds of other sites. It’s the same as Template Monster in the end. Non-exclusive work people download and pay for, thinking this will actually benefit their business.

    I can understand a person who cannot spend 200 bucks for a freelancer to create something decent, but when I see companies using such themes, it’s even less “funny”. You can get good freelancers from “third world’ countries on specialized sites that can create something nice and UNIQUE. But it’s easier to pay few bucks for something that will never make your site really stand out.

    So, I am shocked to see the growth in this marketplace. After years and years of spending time online people still haven’t figured out that the most important aspect of BRANDING is being different, instead of using the same skin 1000 other sites use.

  • Jebin

    one more thing.The themeforest is only giving the new authors just %50 of sale.its so bad according to my view.

    One thing ThemeForest rocks it made lot of freelancers to get a good $$$$$$$!

  • http://www.psyched.be/wordpress/ Darkened Soul

    WP theming sites? where? ;)

  • http://bibikova.com ben bibikov

    WEB is the only true democracy left on earth. Lets keep it that way, and learn to diversify ourselves.

    • http://iamautocomplete.com Angelee

      Yeah, cheers to that!

  • Roses Mark

    I want some Word press themes for my website?

  • http://www.wpview.com Matt

    These points could all be levelled at advert heavy web design blogs simply summarising other people’s work in lists and showcases.

  • http://www.newviewit.com Website Design

    Template sites work just like in any other industry online. Why should it be any different? Every niche has to compete against pirates, junk sites and competition… it’s part of doing business online. Only the best survive.

  • http://www.theskywaspink.com Alex

    WordPress are either free and suck, or half decent and cost money. It’s a lose/lose situation for most parties.

  • http://iamautocomplete.com Angelee

    I understand that the point of the article here is not loosing the essence of the open-source-Wordpress, but it is about the quality of themes. However, I think the “Make Exclusivity” thing would be quite hard as the first step to take control of the bursting lava.

    Thanks for the great article though, and such very informative comments.

  • http://www.dessign.net Dessign

    WordPress Theme business is a any other business, you have to earn trust from people. You have to give quality stuff away for free so people like and use your product, and when they fully satisfied later will make the purchase. Its a lot of work but, if it was easy everyone would be a Rockstar.