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April 8, 2020

Where to Sell WordPress Themes & Plugins?

Have you been told “You could sell these!” when you show off your custom WordPress themes and plugins? While this is flattering, figuring out how to get started in the premium WordPress theme and plugin business might seem too complicated for what could be an uncertain payoff.

Fortunately, there are plenty of theme and plugin marketplaces that exist for entrepreneurial programmers like yourself. There are many ways to develop and launch your theme and plugin business. Plus, designing for WordPress can be very rewarding, even if it requires a bit of guidance when you’re just starting out.

In this article, we’ll take a look at how and where to sell your premium WordPress themes and plugins, and also delve into why this might be a great outlet for your programming skills. Let’s get down to business!

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Mary Grant
Mary Alice Grant

Why Sell WordPress Themes & Plugins?

If you’ve worked with WordPress for any length of time, you’ll likely understand the need for plugins and the appeal of building with beautiful, custom themes. One of the best parts of building a website in WordPress is knowing you can use all of these tools to create a truly unique showcase for your brand on the web.

For theme and plugin developers, this also means there’s a huge potential market out there for your work. WordPress is a truly international product, used by companies and organizations both large and small.

The marketplace for themes and plugins is competitive. However, the barriers to entry are low, and there are lots of places where you can showcase your products (we’ll introduce several options later in this post).

How to Sell WordPress Themes

If you are trying to decide whether to focus on developing themes or plugins, there is some research that points to the theme market being larger. With that in mind, let’s look at the eight steps you’ll need to take to get your themes ready for the market.

Step 1: Choose a Niche and Design Your Theme

One of the best ways to stand out in the crowded theme marketplace is to focus on a particular niche. Niche themes are designed to serve a very specific need. After all, the needs of a podcaster are likely to be quite different than those of a ‘mompreneur’ selling handmade soaps.

One way to find a niche that may have room for new themes is to use a tool like Google Trends to understand what people are searching for:

Google Trends

Once you identify a likely niche, you can outline your theme design based on the needs of that audience.

Step 2: Develop Your Theme Using Responsive Design Principles

Designing primarily for mobile devices is an important trend, for many reasons. One significant advantage of this approach is that you only have to design one version of a project that will work on many platforms.

To do this, you’ll need to pay attention to responsive design principles when designing your theme. This means considering elements such as fonts, image sizes, menus, and more, opting for styles that will serve mobile users more effectively. There are many resources available for information on responsive design, and you can even get some help by installing a dedicated plugin.

Step 3: Follow the WordPress Coding Best Practices

As a theme developer, you are more likely to encounter success and repeat customers if you know and understand WordPress’ Coding Best Practices:

WordPress Coding Best Practices

WordPress’ developers go to great lengths to keep everyone on the same page in this regard. The code handbook covers CSS, PHP, JavaScript, and HTML as they apply to the WordPress framework. 

Following best practices in your development process will also go a long way towards ensuring that your new theme is well-documented and functional. This is a win for everyone involved, and helps you build loyalty and trust as a developer trying to sell themes. 

Step 4: Include Appropriate Theme Templates

WordPress subscribes to a specific theme template hierarchy, which structures how templates are named and applied to posts and pages. You’ll want to make sure you have the right templates included in your theme, so that users have some level of customization and control. 

This means users will be able to choose what theme templates to apply to different types of posts or pages. If your theme has some special bells and whistles, you’ll want to make sure to include them in your custom templates where relevant, but tread lightly and beware of theme bloat.

Step 5: Create a User-Friendly Theme Options Page

The Theme Options page is where users will get to dig in and customize parts of your theme. Without it, users would have to delve into the CSS or PHP coding themselves. Therefore, it’s important to make this page clean, organized, and easy to use.

Being able to click through settings without having to understand CSS is a major reason people pay for a premium theme. Therefore, making sure they can navigate the Theme Options page is key to building a strong reputation.

Step 6: Create Clear Theme Documentation

WordPress has specific recommendations and requirements when it comes to theme documentation. Familiarizing yourself with these will help when it comes time to submit your theme to WordPress. Having your theme available through the WordPress theme finder can be a significant benefit.

Your documentation should outline the limitations of the theme, and explain any out-of-the-ordinary installation or setup considerations. It should also document your theme’s code, in case another developer wants to make customizations.

Step 7: Choose a Theme Marketplace

You’ve made it through the gauntlet of the previous six steps – now it’s time to pick the theme marketplace that best suits your needs. For many developers, the WordPress.org directory remains the best free marketplace choice out there.

If you decide to go with another option, just keep in mind what goals you have for your theme, what marketing will work for you, and how much you’re willing to pay in fees. We’ll cover many of the marketplace options in further detail below.

Step 8: Price Your Theme and Start Selling

Finally, it’s time to put a price tag on your work of art and (hopefully) watch the money roll in. Market data suggests there’s a sweet spot around $59 for premium themes. There is, however, flexibility to put niche themes at a higher price point.

If you’re planning to be prolific with your theme and plugin creation, you could investigate marketing a theme club or subscription service. Regardless of how and where you sell your products, though, it’s wise to understand the theme market and how consumers will be shopping.

Where to Sell WordPress Themes

Now that you’re ready to sell your themes, let’s take a look at the options for marketing your work. Here are seven top WordPress theme marketplaces, and a rundown on what each has to offer.