The effect of releasing a good WordPress theme on traffic and stats. With stories like this and all the success Micheal has had after Kubrick and K2 I really don’t understand why more professional designers aren’t falling over themselves to address the WordPress theming audience which is huge, growing by thousands every day, and very enthusiastic.
17 replies on “Theme Explodes Traffic”
I don’t consider myself a designer or really even a coder at all, and I have released two themes, and to say it has helped my website would be an understatement, but I don’t want even tom, dick and harry to go out and make a theme, or else….well I won’t get all the traffic. :$
It’s easy to see why.
Not only does a successful theme come with praise, traffic and all that other goodness, but a plethora of DEMANDS for help, fixes, additions, more help, tutorials and before you know it you suffer from ‘Heilemann Syndrome’ where your life suddely disappears and is reformatted into a support fourm.
I had a modicum of success with an old WP theme back in ’04 and a plugin or two, but the number of support requests cancelled out any desire to produce more.
Not that I would discourage anyone from putting the amount of time that Michael has into his WP stuff, but I think it a wise idea to put aside an equal (if not more) amount of time for the inevitable support requests.
I feel the growth in traffic and feedback as well, now as I have published my theme about three weeks ago. The early adopters took notice of the fact, that I am regularly working on the theme, releasing new updates, and traffic goes *boom* since then. But I cannot say there’d be a huge increase in support requests or anything like that. I don’t wanny sound selfish, but this completely depends on the quality of the stuff you’ve released whether you get rushed with support calls or not. In my case, there were one or two requests in the early days of the theme, but since then the ppl started help each other in my comments, so I just don’t need to intercept anymore now 😉
If there are feature requests or proposals, I have a look at them, tell the ppl whether I’ll include it or not (without committing a publishing date), and that’s it.
But, what I feel, is some concentration of the traffic on the themes and plugins posts of my blog. Well, probably this has its reason in the rest of my blog being written in German, so perhaps i should switch to write all of my posts in English from now on 😉
Yeah, writing popular plugins can sort of suck all the life out of you, with all the support requests. I may just start charging for support (but keeping my plugins free). The time it takes to write them is nothing compared to the time it takes to troubleshoot people’s setups and keep re-explaining things to people.
Interesting perspectives. Maybe some support best practices could be gleamed from past experiences?
My humble perspective: It depends on the extent to which you encourage or enable people to contact you. If everything is properly documented and explained, expect a quieter time. Programmers are notorious for writing code quickly, but neglecting to do the rest, which is ‘housekeeping’.
I agree, good documentation is key if you want acceptance by the masses.
Maybe a skeleton template for a generic “theme/plugin manual” could be put together. This would help theme or plugin developers know where to start with appropriate documentation and making sure they have common support request topics covered.
Just a thought. 😉
Maybe most professional designers aren’t in a position to give their time and skills away for free? I suppose there is always the possibility that a popular theme would bring business to your door, but still, seems to me that theme developing is something serious designers could only afford to do right at the beginning of their careers, before they get any clients.
Wank, I used to freelance. It was alright. Then I “gave my time and skills away for free” and now I’m doing immeasurably better. Some may disagree, but I’ve found the more you give away the more you get back. Besides, I don’t know any freelancer who would say “more potential clients” would be a bad thing, it gives you the freedom to be more discerning with the work you take on and charge more. (Supply/demand.)
In reply to your comment, let me just restate my experience: Although I am employed, and not accepting work (nor advertise for work anywhere on my site) I turn down several job offers a month. My blog is fully responsible for this. So, take from that what you will.
“Giving” away your skills/talents for free exposes yout to far more people, and allows you to get your name out to better projects, as Matt suggested. I’d suggest it to anyone, really. Also, some people enjoy giving their time away… I know I do 🙂 It’s always nice to know that people enjoy my work and support my efforts.
As far as the support issue goes, personally I just recently opened up a discussion forum like Michael and Steve Smith have both done. It’s a great way to help knock out common support requests and let others help each other out. Although, I do have to say — I’ve had very little support requests (far more feature requests and praises). So, I think it does come back to the quality of your work in the end. Test, test. And then test some more 🙂
But then Technorati takes you out of the running. 🙁
What exactly are you referring to, Paul?
Oyvind – he might be referring to this:
Notice the 0? – see this for more.
And since this is already OT, Matt, where is your search box? Do you expect me to Google you?
Plugins, it seems, are almost as good as themes. My blog is a small, personal affair—online diary sort of thing—so traffic is limited. But now that my plugin is gaining momentum, almost half of the hits to my site are just the plugin’s homepage.
thoughts in note form to your article:
four themes: three in german language and in english and one only in german ‘GOld(SEO)’ with a couple of plugins for problogger.
yes there is many traffic – but for all the english themes I can’t use this traffic for my website.
click on the theme: download it – one or two questions and the user is away because he can’t read german language. 😉
traffic is wonderful if traffic brings user and not only: oh there is a theme: I don’t know if I would like to use it, but I have found it so I click on the download button.
this kind of traffic is expensive.
@professional webdesigner and theme competition
to create a theme for blogs is one thing
to create a theme for people who are using blogsoftware as a cms is another.
to create a theme for german blogger is one thing and so on…
and themes for blogs are always themes for a hype..
one month you are the best if your theme is full of ajax,
the next month you are the best if your theme has a pretty woman in the header..
or is in black or in white or black and green…
to create a theme for the right hype to win a theme competion is like to play roulette.
i.e. theme ‘Gold’
was created at 16.11.05 .
Nov and Dec one thousand people have read this article.
since january – I don’t know why- four thousand clicks.
maybe a problogger hype in germany ?
as a professional webdesigner the chance to loose more than you can win is great.
traffic is not the only thing – it can be a bumerang like a theme competition.
(and by the way I can’t find your feed in my admin area since one week…)
I’m a designer, and honestly, I was guilty of disregarding the potentials of creating WP themes. I only realized the potential recently, when I saw for myself. Three days from when my link was posted as a participant in the WP2 contest, my hits already quadrupled. And to think I haven’t technically released the theme yet.
I’m not really sure why I never considered this before now… Maybe because I was selfish and wanted monetary compensation for my designs? I don’t know, but I guess it can also be attributed to the fact that I was a bit sensitive about my designs, which I can say is a bit common among artists… Artists tend to be “protective” of their work, it being an expression of their feelings, thoughts, and experiences.
I have to admit that if I didn’t become so fond of WP (I’m even using it a s mini-CMS for a client website I’m designing now), I wouldn’t even consider creating a GPL theme””let’s just say it’s my way of giving something back to the WP guys for creating such a great blog platform.
Matt’s right… The more you give, the more you get in return… So as much as I try to think of this as a mere “community service”, I have to admit that I’m also lured by the instant marketing for my design services that creating wordpress theming brings…. a more subtle form of link-bating 🙂