Premium WordPress Themes and Plugins: Making WP a More Valuable CMS

Earlier today there was a post published at Smashing Magazine titled Premium WordPress Themes: Are They Here To Stay? The article looked at some of the leading premium themes that are available and posed some questions to readers: Have you ever considered releasing a premium WordPress theme? Would you consider using one? How much would you spend? They also asked if it’s time for premium WordPress plugins. I’d like to take a moment to respond to these questions, particularly the last one, because I feel this is a topic worth discussing for designers and WordPress users alike.

First of all, yes, I have thought about releasing a premium WordPress theme, although I have no intentions to do so at this point. Personally, I’m generally pretty impressed with the quality of many of the premium themes that are already available, and for now I’m not willing to dedicate the time that it would take to develop something that would be able to compete.

The price range for premium themes is a steal, in my opinion. Many of those listed in the Smashing Magazine article (and if you’re familiar with WordPress themes you probably are already aware of many) are beautifully designed, and at prices of around $100 or less they are well worth the minimal investment for those who are serious about building an online presence. Yes, paying for a custom design has advantages over premium themes in many ways, but there’s a large population of people that are not willing or able to afford these services. In this case, premium themes are an ideal solution.

Moving on to the subject of premium WordPress plugins, yes, I would love to see more progress in this area. I don’t see premium plugins ever replacing free plugins, but as WordPress grows so do the needs of its users. More opportunities will always be presenting themselves for developers that want to take plugins to another level.

When WordPress started it was a blogging platform. Now it has evolved into a more complete CMS. More and more website owners are using WordPress for purposes other than simply blogging, and premium themes are being used in many of these cases. As Smashing Magazine points out, premium themes are in fact less likely to be used by traditional blogs and more likely to be used for websites that are more involved. With the affordability of great premium themes, WordPress seems like it will continue to grow even more popular among these types of sites. I believe that this growth will increase the need for more complex plugins.

An example is OIO Publisher, a premium plugin that offers an abundance of features for managing advertising on a blog or website. I was recently referred to OIO Publisher by a friend and I’ll probably purchase it soon. At $37, OIO Publisher is a good value for those who make any kind of income through ads. By helping to more effectively manage ads and saving time, it can more than pay for itself in no time. (For a review of this plugin, see Blogtrepreneur.)

Other plugins like OIO publisher that help webmasters and bloggers to more effectively manage a professional web presence would certainly have a place in the market as the use of WordPress continues to grow. A premium plugin also gives purchasers confidence that it will be properly supported, updated and improved. Of course this isn’t guaranteed, but it’s much more likely than it would be with a free plugin.


Currently plugin developers dedicate many hours of their time and are rewarded with links, maybe some donations, and a few pats on the back. If charging for plugins will open up increased innovation and creativity from plugin developers, I’m all for it. We can only expect so much for free.

For more on the subject, see Premium WordPress Themes: Are They Here To Stay? and the article that started the conversation, Examining Blog Trends: Premium WordPress Themes from Kyle’s Cove.

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34 Responses

Comments are now closed on this post.

  • Kyle Eslick, January 11, 2008

    Very well said!

    I was initially against the idea of premium plugins and themes because it takes away from the whole open source idea, but after giving it some thought and writing the post that started this, I decided that premium WordPress themes and plugins would be good for WordPress. Like you said above, this is extra incentive for PHP coders and theme designers to take the time to create top quality themes and plugins that might not have been made if the income potential was not available.

    With premium themes and plugins, everyone wins!

  • Vandelay Design, January 11, 2008

    I think so. If premium themes and plugins are no better than free alternatives the developers will make no money, so I think the financial incentive will help to increase the quality. Thanks for stopping by Kyle. I appreciate it.

  • Goal Setting College, January 12, 2008

    As a customer of a premium wordpress theme myself, I definitely support the idea. I’ll rather pay $100 for a well designed theme than go through 1000s of free low quality ones (just to find that slightly better free theme).

    It’s good to have more competitors in the field as well so that the costs of such premium themes can go down as well as more design options, for the benefit of consumers like me. So, if you’re still contemplating whether you should create your premium theme, my opinion is a strong yes. When I first bought mine, there wasn’t much of a selection then.

    Charging plugins can be the same way to go too. Good article, btw,

    Cheers,
    Ellesse

  • Ruchir, January 12, 2008

    Premium plugins and themes are sure here to stay. I’ve seen many premium themes from Brian Gardner etc and they just look so awesome. Another great thing about premium themes is that they are easily customizable and the author provides support.

    Sadly, the only good premium plugin I’ve seen is OIO publisher. It’s a serious steal at $37. There a plugin to automatically cloak your affiliate and that costs $200 and then there’s a plugin that manages your text links and even that costs a whopping $100+.

  • teknozat, January 12, 2008

    Yes, premium themes must exist and grow in number. Because they are really good and deserve the money they earn!

  • Adnan, January 12, 2008

    Great article Steven and thanks for the linkout. I definitely think that premium plugins are only going to get more popular. However, most people do expect plugins to be free, so you have to be very careful with your pricing.

    For example, I’ve seen WP Text Links (which only manages links) cost $127 for a full license. On the other hand, something like OIOPublisher costs a piddly $37 and manages everything from banner ads to private reviews. And Simon is continually updating to keep us users happy too.

    Expect to see the plugin premium marketplace breeming with you innovation like the premium themes.

  • Vandelay Design, January 12, 2008

    Ellesse,
    Thanks for sharing your experience with premium themes. I know more are being released all the time, so the selection is definitely getting better.

    Ruchir,
    I agree with your points about customization and support. That shouldn’t be overlooked.

    Adnan,
    Yeah, the pricing is definitely important. I know when I saw WP Text Links I thought it seemed way overpriced. On the other hand, OIO Publisher is on the low end in my opinion. Thanks for doing a great review of the plugin.

  • Goal Setting College, January 12, 2008

    You’re welcome, Steven. I agree pricing for plugins are a bit steep at the moment. But well, like themes, price will fall with the increase in competition. Which is healthy.

    Cheers,
    Ellesse

  • Online auction site, January 16, 2008

    Premium themes are very cool.I like them.

  • lingerie and swimwear, January 16, 2008

    Premium themes must have to be exixted.And it should be increase in number.

  • Sami, January 28, 2008

    The lay out needs help too.

  • ege, June 10, 2008

    great article, thanks.

  • Bayan, July 10, 2008

    cool theme good post thank vandelaydesign ;)

  • CMS Critic, September 14, 2008

    I personally love revolution magazine theme.

  • ohwillieJokes, September 24, 2008

    nice post.
    i love premium themes, but some of them are slowing the connection. maybe they need to reduce the javascripts ,images and frames.

    CMIIW

  • Internet Marketing IQ, February 11, 2009

    I’m looking for a 980 pixel wide wordpress template with:

    Approximately:

    200 px left column
    480 px center column
    300 px right column

    Tabbed horizontal Navigation

    Widget Friendly
    WP 2.7 Friendly

    Email me if you have a source; thanks

  • Positive Invoice Finance, May 16, 2009

    There a plugin to automatically cloak your affiliate and that costs $200 and then there’s a plugin that manages your text links and even that costs a whopping $100+.

  • Don, July 3, 2009

    WOOOW… nice themes… i m loving it… thanks for posting it

  • Thanks for the info. Great post about this topic and I think that most people who are at least a little serious about making money with their blog should by a theme and not simply use a free theme that is on thousands of other pages. Keep up the good work!

  • Blogger Template, March 22, 2010

    premium themes will make your blog become professional.

  • Wordpress Themes, June 7, 2011

    I absolutely love WordPress. Wide range of free and premium wordpress themes makes it easier to set up a website.
    Doesn’t matter whether you’re blogging, have a store front, create a massive business site or need a basic, static website to promote your services and products – WordPress can manage it all