The Mina Olen Free WordPress Theme Experiment

photo credit: CIMMYT - cc
photo credit: CIMMYTcc

Sami Keijonen, founder of Foxnet Themes, is not happy with his theme sales, which total $1400 since early 2013. His Kultalusikka theme is the sales leader, with just 15 purchases. Keijonen has one theme for sale on, which was added in March of this year and has so far netted him $147.64.

In a recent post that frankly details his disappointment with the sales, Keijonen announced a new theme experiment wherein he will be releasing some of his commercial themes on github, starting with his latest Mina Olen theme. This is the same theme that is available for sale on for $75 and on Foxnet for 39.00€.

Mina Olen is based on Justin Tadlock’s Hybrid Core. All of its options can be found in WordPress’ customizer. The theme includes support for many major plugins in order to provide additional functionality, including bbPress, Easy Digital Downloads, Custom Content Portfolio, Testimonials, Custom Header Extended, and more.

Mina Olen WordPress Theme
Mina Olen WordPress Theme

Keijonen emphasizes that he is still referring to the theme as a commercial product, because he will not be offering support or automatic updates for free. Since it’s just an experiment, he retains the option to make the Github repo private at any time in the future.

Keijonen is watching the results of the experiment to see if it affects the popularity of his theme, as well as the sales for support. He’s hoping that if people can test drive the theme before they make a decision, they will be more inclined to purchase support. “I can show off my code, it’s pretty solid,” he said. “That way I can build more trust.”

Having the theme’s code publicly available on Github will enable developers to contribute improvements to it. Mina Olen is one of his go-to themes that allows him to create custom child themes in no time, such as the jewelry site he recently launched. He’s hoping that people will be able to more easily use it in their projects, especially those who build on top of the Theme Hybrid framework.

The live demo for the theme shows all of the post formats in action, along with the many layouts and color schemes. If you want to participate in the experiment, you can download the Mina Olen WordPress theme for free from Github. Does access to the theme for free make you more inclined to pay for support or more likely to purchase another theme in Foxnet collection?


12 responses to “The Mina Olen Free WordPress Theme Experiment”

  1. I feel for guys who produce fabulous themes that just don’t sell.
    Maybe sometimes developers need to be more business savvy.

    If you look at the time spent producing a theme and add the support time and then work out the hourly rate that your sales bring in… most developers would probably look for other ways to pay the bills.

    Most developers must think that their next theme will be the one that breaks through and sells like hot cakes, but over the time that I’ve been an affiliate for WordPress themes I’ve only promoted one that sells like crazy… any guesses?

    • Keith, you pretty much nailed everything. I have no business skills at all, I don’t even want to be a business man, I’m teacher for crying out loud!

      But I have plans for moving more and more in website and WordPress world so one way or another I need to bring money in to table. I hope most of it’s gonna be custom theme and plugin work here in Finland.

      I also pointed lot’s of reason why I build themes even if … wait…. Someone just purchased Mina Olen theme. Is the ball rolling already?

      Sarah, thanks for the article! That was very nice of you.

  2. Hi Sami,

    First of all, you have a beautiful looking theme and the integrations are perfect:)

    Second, I have to second the notion that just building an awesome product isn’t enough in the WP space these days. Marketing your product and business is a big part of the puzzle.

    Of course, it’s not easy if you’re not the marketing type.

    My advice (not that you’re looking for it), would be to keep your options open for bringing a partner into your business, and one that compliments your skills by providing the parts of business that you’re not interested in doing…marketing your products and shouting it from the rooftops;)

    Case in point is how our plugin business came to be. I am the marketing type with a long history of WP. I tried to be a developer, a designer, etc. and it just wasn’t my skill set, but I looked long and hard and somewhat by chance, found an awesome partner who was looking for someone with my skills. You can read about it in a bit more detail here:

    Anyway, you’re experiment seems like a good start and of course letting the community know via WP Tavern helps a bit too;)

    I wish you the best of luck and don’t hesitate to reach out if you ever want to chat WP business over a virtual beer:)

    • Thanks Adam, I really appreciate your advices.

      In a way WordPress is no different than any other business. Creating great stuff is easier than selling it.

      I also sometimes feel classical chicken or the egg dilemma in WordPress community: If you’re already successful everybody wants to be your friend and spread the word. But you would need that support in your early steps.

      But don’t get me wrong. WordPress community is what separates it from another business. It is huge resource. But the community is just bunch of people, there are bad guys and good guys and everything between.

      WordPress is like Olympic Games. It can be spoiled by the money.

  3. I think the issue you’re finding is that, people no longer want “normal” and “traditional” themes (thank God). The trick is to build them something they didn’t know they wanted.

    I tested this theory by producing an extremely niche theme. I then followed with very basic, traditional theme. The traditional theme, has yet to sale. 0 copies. Meanwhile, the niche theme? $2500 in its first month of sales. Over 40 copies in 30 days. And this isn’t on Themforest or site similar to it. And, I’m not widely “known” in this space like some of the other developers are, so I don’t necessarily have any more of an advantage that you do.

    People are hungry for something different, and the future of WordPress themes lie in niche builds, and in themes that don’t look traditional. My advice is to take a risk, and build something more than just a white site with a big image on top and boxes at the bottom.

    • Niche is definitely one way to go and many are heading that way. is one great example. But that blocks off.

      This is like being at the Idols:) People are giving you instructions what to do and what to sing and how. But I want to do it in my way and sing what I feel right. It’s more important than victory.

  4. I really thought getting your themes on WordPress.Com will improve sales. I’m just about to submit my first theme there and I was hopping that the sales are more promising than using your own platform.

    • Well, I’m at the bottom of the payment list there so you can make money in there also. Even if my theme have about 18 users most of them have purchased Unlimited Premium Themes option.

      Good luck with your theme! It’s not all about the money. At least not in my case.

  5. It will be interesting to see how this experiment goes. I’ve always wished there was a way to test drive a theme before paying out the money for it. I’ve bought several themes in the past where the demo looked great, only to discover it was very difficult to set up, or I couldn’t quite customize it the way I needed. So spending the money can be a risky decision sometimes.

    I don’t know if there is or will ever be a way to offer a test drive without giving it away for free as you’ve done. Hopefully people who test drive this theme will be willing to pay for support, and/or get a taste of what your other themes are like and consider buying those.

    Good luck!


Subscribe Via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

%d bloggers like this: