Since this Saturdays show of WordPress Weekly will be focusing on commercial themes, I thought it would be a good idea to interview someone who is just getting their feet wet in the market. Brian Casel is a freelance web designer based in New York City. He’s the founder of ThemeJam and CasJam Media. Brian loves to talk about freelancing and WordPress on Twitter @CasJam.
There is almost a WordPress commercial theme store on every corner, why have you decided to jump into this market?
No doubt about it. This market is extremely saturated. But I actually think this is a *good* thing. Healthy competition shows there’s a thriving market for quality WordPress products and support. I was inspired by some of the great theme companies (Woothemes, Press75 /Theme Garden, Obox-Design, to name a few) and felt this was a good space to put my skills to work. As a freelance web designer specializing in WordPress, this was a logical next step for me.
Since you’re just getting started, what are some of the biggest walls that stand in your way to becoming successful?
I’d say the biggest challenge would be marketing a new brand in a saturated market. The challenge is to find new ways to get the word out about ThemeJam, other than the traditional methods, where most of the competition is. My hope is to slowly build a strong following based on personal recommendations from customers.
What does your company/themes offer that makes you different than the other guys?
One way we’re differentiating ourselves is by offering private 1-on-1 consultations. For the month of April 2010, every theme purchase comes with
a free 1 hour consultation. Details here. I’ve had success in my freelance web design business by providing great support/consultation and I’m hoping to translate that personalized approach over to ThemeJam. We offer matching site templates and email templates to go with our WordPress themes. The idea is you can easily have consistent design/branding across all aspects of your web presence.
In terms of pricing – we don’t have a “single” or “developer” package for our WordPress themes. One price, unlimited use, lifetime support, and they come packaged with the PSD.
Do you think there is room for a few more WordPress commercial theme companies?
I do. I believe as long as a company is willing to invest the time and effort to produce quality products and support, it’s possible to make it work. You’ve got to really be passionate about it and ready to work hard. You can’t half-ass it or be unresponsive because this will show in the quality of your product.
When analyzing the marketplace and the competition, what are some of the things you discovered that you could capitalize on with ThemeJam?
I wouldn’t say that I look for shortcomings of other theme companies or aim to bring down the competition. I love keeping tabs and seeing what others come up with. It’s inspiring and keeps things interesting.
I think there’s something to be said for choice when talking about design. Just as designers have varying styles, customers have varying tastes. WordPress themes are a very subjective thing. One person might love one particular theme, while another scrolls right past it.
In the end, it’s all about the design. Flexibility and options are important, but ultimately the design has to be just right for the customer’s website. So I just try to develop my own style, design themes that I think could work for a variety of customers, and provide the best support possible.