Are The Days Of Paying Less Than $100 For A WordPress Theme Over?

If you are selling WordPress themes or thinking about entering the markets, there’s been a plethora of great information published the past few weeks. Topics ranging from whether themes are a commodity to what it is you’re really purchasing when a theme is GPL Licensed. Here is a round up of articles in case you missed them.

When Lema published his thoughts on What Happens If WordPress Themes Get More Expensive? and What Should A WordPress Theme Cost? I thought he would answer a question I’ve been pondering for a while but it wasn’t even mentioned. Although he talks about various segments of the market, there is one segment that was not brought up. That is, the segment of taking advantage of the GPL to redistribute commercial products at a lower price.

Will We See A Surge In The Not So Black Market?

The more I read about the WordPress commercial theme space, the more I see the words raise prices and charge more. I understand the benefits to the business owner to charge higher prices as a means of becoming more sustainable. But, I don’t like paying higher prices for anything unless I determine it’s worth it.

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So I wonder, if theme shops heed the advice of raising prices, how high will the price need to be before the freedoms of the GPL are used to create a surge of marketplaces or shops that become the not so black market? We’ve seen examples of this already through WP Avengers which was started because of a major price increase and policy changes at WooThemes surrounding WooCommerce. In a similar fashion, GPL Club also redistributes WooCommerce extensions, themes, and plugins for a discounted subscription rate.

Whether it’s to make a quick buck or to get back at a company that raised prices, these renegade shops eat away at the lower end of the market. I’d like to see more theme and plugin shops provide an option to purchase updates but not support. Since customer support is usually cited as the most expensive part of running a business, why not offer a pricing tier to customers who don’t want or need it? At least this way a theme shop would be able to pass the savings to the customer with a lower price and provide more incentive for staying with the original vendor of a product.

Higher Prices Seem Inevitable

Although I haven’t gone theme shopping in a few years, my comfortable price point is between $50-$80. If a theme is a framework, I can see how $100 or more would be justified. In fact, the price hike of AESOP Story Engine from $40 to $120 is fine by me since it’s a unique product. What would shock me is to see $175-$300 single site support licensed themes become the new normal.

WooThemes was one of the first large WordPress product company’s to increase prices and drop their unlimited pricing tier. AESOP Story Engine has raised prices, and it’s only a matter of time before other commercial theme shops raise prices. I’m interested to see how many theme shops decide to sell individual themes for more than $100.

The sky isn’t going to fall because of rising prices but it will shake things up for consumers and business owners. It seems the days of $30-$70 themes appear to be over unless you stick with Themeforest. Ultimately, it’s up to the consumer to decide whether the price of a WordPress product is worth it.

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?

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