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.