A few days ago, I noticed in my FeedReader that Kevin Muldoon of BloggingTips.com along with Sarah of Stuff By Sarah were starting up their own WordPress Theme Club. I sent Kevin and Sarah a list of questions I had regarding the theme club and here are their answers.
So you’re joining the ranks of having a theme club. What do you hope to accomplish with this club?
Sarah: We want to provide good and accessible themes designed for a variety of sites at affordable prices.
Kevin: In addition, we are looking to ensure that support is top notch. We will be writing guides for members to help them with the most common template edits (header, sidebar, footer etc) and will be helping members directly through the forum as well.
With so many clubs/stores already in existence, what will you be your points of differentiation?
Sarah: The individual theme sales and varying levels of membership should make it affordable to all users along with access to dedicated support and new plugins that we release. Also members will have a way to suggest new themes and plugins.
Kevin: I have to agree with Sarah regarding the cost of our themes. One of the most common criticisms of premium WordPress themes that I have reviewed on BloggingTips is that the theme being reviewed was a little too expensive for them. Which suggests to me that there is a demand in the market for more affordable designs.
As Sarah points out, offering a range of membership options will allow members access to several great themes at a much lower rate than buying them individually.
I also think that our support will help us stand out from the crowd. Last year I released the Evolution theme for free through BloggingTips. It proved to be very popular though most users were unsure about how to customize the theme to get it looking the way they want. Most of the common questions were relatively basic i.e. simple HTML and CSS problems.
However, you need to remember that most bloggers are writers and not designers or coders. Many of them do not have any programming knowledge and I believe many are quite happy with this i.e. they would rather concentrate on blogging than designing. Which is where we come in.
My knowledge of HTML, CSS and PHP is not too bad so I will be able to resolve the majority of problems members have. Although Sarah is too modest to say it herself, she is, in my opinion, one of the few great bloggers who also know the WordPress system inside out. Her dozens of guides on the subject and the WordPress plugins she has released are testament to this.
So between us I believe we will be able to offer BlogThemesClub members fantastic support. And we have some good contacts within the industry as well so should we find ourselves overwhelmed with support queries, we can bring in some more people to the BlogThemesClub team
Will each theme have a flat rate price or will prices be different depending on the theme?
Sarah: The individual price will depend on the quality of the theme, the class/subject of it and how much work has gone into developing it.
With regards to licensing, will your themes be compliant with the GPL license, the same license that WordPress is under?
Kevin: No. A General Public License is only suitable to scripts which are distributed for free (Note : the WordPress themes which were released for free on BloggingTips last year were released under a Creative Commons License).
Once we have developed a few good premium themes we will probably look into developing 2 or 3 themes which we will release for free. These will probably be released under a Creative Commons or General Public License.
Obviously a GPL is not suitable for premium themes we are developing as it give users the right to copy and redistribute the work. This would effectively kill our business before it even started as anyone out there could legally purchase one of our themes, change a few lines of code and charge whatever they wanted for it.
How do you plan on handling support?
Sarah: Most of the support will be provided via a private forum on the Blog Themes Club site.
Kevin: On occasions it might be more practical to help someone via msn messenger or skype, particularly if the customer is really struggling to fix something. However I think long term the forum is the best solution as it will stop us from repeating ourselves. By answering a common question thoroughly the first time on the forum, we can direct future members who ask the same question to our previous response or to our FAQ section (which we will update with the most common questions and answers).
Which areas will you be tackling in first in terms of niche designs? For example, business oriented themes, personal themes, etc.
Sarah: We hope to get an even cover of designs available for each subject area. The first 3 themes are designed for bloggers, but the next theme is more targeted to the WPCMS style. However, whilst the themes may be targeted to a particular subject area, they will of course work for any type of site with a couple of slight alterations.
Kevin: Yes I think it’s very important to offer a wide range of themes, particularly for those who pay for a membership.
I’ve linked to a number of WordPress How-To’s that Sarah has written so she no doubt has the skills necessary for the task at hand. Kevin has been around in the blogging scene for a long time and he has his finger on the pulse of what bloggers want. These two make a great team. So keep your eyes peeled to the BlogThemesClub project to see what these two come up with.