Marketplace Followup

Alex Jones has some good thoughts on the marketplace. As some stats, our themes page on .com got 2.4 million pageviews last month and someone previews a theme about once every 1.74 seconds. I can’t say how many people have purchased upgrades on .com, but even with our limited selection of products it’s a meaningful percentage, and that’s one of the reasons we think this idea has legs. It’s still impossible to know for certain, though, and I appreciate that our launch partners are taking a risk that they might create a theme and not sell a single one, and the whole thing might tank. If it goes well, though, I fully expect there to be thousands of themes in the system by this time next year, and the people in early will have a significant advantage, much like app developers did on Facebook.

24 thoughts on “Marketplace Followup

  1. I think I say this for all, we are definitely looking forward to WP implementation of this marketplace. Only thing we wish is that the 50/50 split was not there.

    Best of luck guys!

  2. Its for sure a feasible idea and a marketplace would rock because every webmaster needs a professional looking theme for their main blogs and i have myself bought around 8 templates from template monster , and around 20 from other designers because free themes cannot offer our dream designs. 🙂

  3. Matt, I think this is a great idea and it will definitely have legs. It would also be great if you could add a directory of people who create custom themes. Maybe you already have this — I googled “WordPress custom themes” and couldn’t find it, though. It would be great to see that directory link right inside WordPress. Keep up the good work!


  4. One of the reasons we continue to use WordPress is because you continue to come up with ideas like this. I think this is one of your best so far!

  5. Matt, I still think some sort of cap on the 50/50 split would make it more interesting for some of the top end designers. You’ll get some quality themes right from the start.

  6. Hi Matt.
    Firstly, I think think this is a good idea but I’m going to play devil’s advocate here because I’ve got a question.
    A few months back when some people released WordPress MU premium plug-ins I’m pretty sure you were critical of it. What’s the difference between your themes marketplace and what they were doing as it look pretty similar to me.

  7. Anthony, in that situation it would have been like if when “clean permalinks” or WYSIWYG were invented they were a paid plugin rather than being core functionality. This is more like paint for your car, rather than the engine itself. This is also *increasing* the amount of GPL code out there, rather than shrinking it.

  8. I think a lot of people are missing the boat here, complaining about price. If there are even 500,000 active bloggers on .com, I’d be selling a theme for $2. If gasp 10% of those people thought, heck, $2, sure, I’ll buy it, that’s what, $25,000 by my math. And more realistically, one percent of that audience buying a $2 theme, it’s still a respectable $2,500.

    Or am I missing something?

  9. *gags* You had to compare this to Facebook. I must go drink some bleach now or something.

    Either way, I’m rather excited with where this Marketplace thing is potentially going. 🙂

  10. Hi Matt –

    I like this idea, since it provides a good bridge between the “free” open source side of things, and the need for developers and designers to make a living.

    I’m interested, and a couple of developers we work with are too — where can we see specs on developing themes for .com versus developing themes for .org (well documented).


  11. WordPress code is poetry, wordpress theme is art. I think you should consider an idea of building Art Gallery instead of Marketplace

  12. Matt,
    I agree that this idea has legs. But I am afraid this might not fly like facebook. Because people who download wordpress are already webmasters or at least people with some behind the scene knowledge. Therefore they will be happy to buy themes if they does not cost too much.

    On the other hand, facebook was a social networking site where people can just add more and more applications as they like and that “recognition” gives developers to jump into the coding and to come up with something. And thats why they might have thousands joining every week, but wont be so much for wordpress.

    Besides, there is always the diminishing curve. And that makes me think it wont fly like facebook.

    – Avi

  13. Avi, this is for users of, who are typically sophisticated but not webmasters. Our research thus far has indicated people are willing to pay $50-400 for more unique theme.

    I would say that blog customization is a core activity of blogging on just like social networking is on Facebook. I’m not trying to suggest it’s the same scale of users, just that early-adopters will probably get some of the same boost.

  14. Matt, I’m a little confused by the mandatory GPL-ness of the Marketplace themes, regarding which I commented on Alex’s post you linked to above.

    This question’s based on your previous post and the comments therein:

    Would a theme released in the marketplace not be GPL, therefore requiring a GPL release elsewhere? I was under the impression that users of had access to the CSS, if they purchased it, which means (at least in the case of a CSS-only theme) that the source is available, which means .com Marketplace themes would still be GPL.

    I’m not anti-free-themes by any means, but the comment thread on Alex’s blog got me thinking. Sorry if I’m misunderstanding the Marketplace or the GPL.

    Last question: should we base our CSS-only themes on Kubrick or Sandbox?

  15. I also posted this comment on alex website.

    I think, not only should the designer be able to set the price (with a cap of course), but also how many times it can be bought before it expires so that only maybe 10-15 people can have a design all their own.

    Just a thought. I know that it could definitely be a way to add value to a design
    when there may only be a few people that have it.

  16. Interesting conversation, and kudos for moving to develop means to connect people and create open source dev income on a personal level.

    I’m thinking about your marketplace …the .com user who wants a more unique look and feel and is happy to pay for it (which I can totally understand, since blogging is not most people’s main gig). This has been me in the past (on Blogger). In buying a ‘look’ for my blog, I’d be wishing for at least a few built in a la carte options.

    I’d wish to be able to choose from a menu of layouts, a menu of color schemes, and a (small) menu of customizations such as my own header image.

    for example… pick a layout and basic functionality for $30-$50, select a premium color scheme for another $15, choose from a selection of decor/image items for a further amount, or submit my own pic (based on size parameters) for incorporation into my chosen theme for a customization charge.

    I’m totally thinking out loud here and throwing it into the hopper, from the point of view of having been exactly the advanced but non-tech blogger that is your market.

    Perhaps there could be a menu of ‘set’ themes, and a menu of ‘customizable’ themes. As you’ve posted, there’s a wide range of what people would pay, so I’m considering what that range represents.

  17. “Should we base our CSS-only themes on Kubrick or Sandbox?”

    You can base it on the HTML of any of the free themes currently available on Whichever you’re most comfortable with is fine, I think most people would suggest Sandbox 1.0 is the best base though.