Over the past year now, the premium WordPress themes market has really grown from nothing to what we see today, with a record number of authors are either offering premium themes, or selling premium versions of their existing popular free themes.   It truly is amazing to me that this wonderful software that we all love so much is able to help so many people to make money to feed their families while at the same time showing off their design skills.

This weekend I noticed something new and got me thinking a bit about where the premium WordPress themes market is headed.   As many people have said in the past, there are concerns that the premium themes we see today are becoming so common that people are missing out on that unique feel that many people buy these themes for.   I would of course argue that these themes were designed to be templates to be customized from rather than as an end-user product.   You could also argue that there are so many authors and designs now that buying a theme could still give you that unique look that people crave.

With that said, there appears to be a new solution.   We’ve seen theme clubs be talked about and eventually surface in a few places, but now it appears that Brian of Revolution has set another trend by offering his first of many exclusive themes:

What is an Exclusive Theme and How Does it Work?

In the screenshot above, Brian has released an incredible new theme, which is variation of his popular Revolution theme.   It is available only for a limited time and only a limited number to be sold (I believe in this case only 10 will be sold).    If you’d like a copy, you can get it for $499.95.

As far as my thoughts on Exclusive themes, I personally am unsure whether this business model will work.   It appears that 10 themes will be sold in total, so it isn’t truly a unique theme to your site, and the price range is getting close to the price that a company like a Unique Blog Designs or Blog Design Studio would charge for a 100% custom theme for your website. If you are going to spend that kind of money on a custom theme, wouldn’t it be better to spend a little extra to get a truly custom theme that you won’t find on 10 other sites?

With that said, I still haven’t made up my mind yet on this and would love to get your thoughts.  What do you think of this new business model?

Kyle Eslick is WordPress enthusiast who took his passion for WordPress to the next level in 2007 by launching WPHacks.com as a place to share hacks, tutorials, etc. Follow Kyle on Twitter @KyleEslick!

  1. Hansjoerg says:

    Definitely too expensive, for that kind of money you can get a personalized theme as well. And on the other side, I always believe that wordpress themes should be freely available as wordpress itself is.

  2. Arthur says:

    I definitely agree that we just get something that is unique rather than share the same theme even with a limited number of people.

  3. Muhammad Siyab says:

    I don’t think anyone would pay such a large amount to get a theme that’s not 100% unique. They’d rather go to UBD for a unique design, as you say.

    But if Brian decides to lower the price tag of this awesome looking theme, people just might want to buy it. 😀

  4. Brandon Cox says:

    I think this new model will be around for a year or two. The internet seems to present a lot of waves coming in rapid succession and this is one of them. It’s a cool idea, worth the experiment, and will work for a bit. Some organizations will be lucky to get a pretty nice theme and it will be almost unique. It’s worth a shot, but I give it just a year or two.

  5. jbj says:

    That’s a good idea, I think. 500$ is quite a good price for an “almost exclusive” theme.
    Muhammad, indeed 500$ is a large amount of money, but if you ask a design company to create an unique theme for you, they will ask a lot more than 500$ (Or you will have a very crappy design)

  6. Leland says:

    It’s a great looking theme for sure. While I wouldn’t personally spend that much for an “exclusive” theme, I wouldn’t be surprised if these sold out very soon. Keep in mind Brian’s amazing reputation and credibility in the WordPress theme community, plus the support provided with the theme.

  7. shawal says:

    A lot of effort have to be put into creating the themes….

    I understand that this is the way that the creator make a living but to high in price will just make the themes just available in the store room only…

    If the themes is just one in the world then i think it worth it…

  8. @ Muhammad – I can definitely see people choosing this option over paying for a truly customized theme. Remember, not everyone is as web savvy as us.

    Newbies will see this as a great packaged deal. And it might actually be if Brian customizes it and is included in that price.

    @ Kyle – In the end, this will probably work, it just depends on his marketing (hey look, you just did some free marketing for him). Offering exclusive items seem to make people think differently when buying. It is a marketing tactic all by itself.

  9. Tim Norton says:

    This model really already exists, in some form or another. People get free themes, or they pay for a template, or they can get some form of custom work done. A company my brother did a logo for was initially quoted $10,000 somewhere else … for the logo! People really do spend that kind of money. It’s because it’s fun to spend money if you have it, it’s that simple. Buying one of the Revolution custom themes is special, there will probably be collectors. Seriously. Tons of people love spending money. It’s going to continue, and everyone else is going to be trying it too.

  10. Kyle Eslick says:

    @ John – Yeah, I guess it is free promotion, though Brian is one of those guys I would jump through a hoop for. We’ve become pretty good friends and I might be his biggest fan (I think I use a variation of one of his Revolution themes on probably close to 10 sites!).

    I think you bring up a good point about the marketing aspect.

    @ Tim – You’re absolutely right. I guess I just wanted to gauge the opinions from the WordPress community. It seems to me that you can get something from Unique Blog Design or Blog Design Studio for about that price (or a bit more, but under $1,000.00) and that is 100% unique to only your site/domain.

    It has been good to get everyone’s thoughts on this. I have a feeling Brian will do more of these and others will follow suit, so I guess we’ll find out soon enough if this business model can work.

  11. Arthur says:

    what i usually do is to download a free theme then hack the design. I find it more fulfilling rathen than stick with a standard.

  12. Monika says:

    ~500 US Dollars for a WP Theme is not much money.

    and yes I think this is a great business modell.

  13. Jamison says:

    I think this is awesome and the price is seriously low. Now everyone can afford a custom design (which in my experience for a good one you will start at $1000 and go up to 3-4k.) This gives us people who can’t get it and do our own great design something professional that not too many people have without paying a fortune for it. Great idea Revolution guy!

  14. John says:

    $500 is too much for a design? You’re crazy! The revolution theme is tried and true and works super well. Now we have a killer design to go with all that code? If I needed a new website I would scoop that up in a flash. In fact I’m going to keep my eye on these new themes and I might get one even though I don’t need it… LOL

  15. Lunchguy says:

    A truly custom design according to Chris Pearson starts at $1800, according to Carlos Cabrera starts at $2800 and according to The Blog Studio runs between $3000-5000. I think that this is a nice alternative to hiring one of these people to do a truly one of kind design. I know I don’t have that kind of money but for a nice professional design that only 9 other people have five bills seems pretty reasonable.

  16. jbj says:

    @Jamison: That’s true. 500$ may sound expensive to many people, but a design agency will ask a lot more!

  17. David Lau says:

    I design theme myslef,i think $499.95 is too much for a wp theme.

  18. Missy says:

    If im going to spend a whopping $500 on a wordpress theme, it had better be 100% unique to me.

    Why on Earth would i fork over $500 bucks for a theme 9 other people are going to be using. It is WAY over-priced.

  19. Samuel says:

    You’re probably right… Better to fork over $79 for a premium theme that 2,000 people have….

  20. Stu McLaren says:

    I agree with some of the comments above in that there will always be a percentage of people who are willing to pay the $500 for the Exclusive Themes.

    Since it’s slightly cheaper than getting a customized theme created, it would save someone the hassle of going back and forth with a designer.

    It also reminds me of what Threadless did with their t-shirt designs (http://www.threadless.com/retail_art). They turned their tshirt designs into “exclusive art” and they only sell a limited number of prints each month.

    Some months they sell out and others they don’t but it does go back to the idea of people being “collectors” of great designs.

    Who knows… maybe Brian could start his own “art gallery” of great WordPress designs 🙂

  21. Missy says:

    No, that is not what i meant. I can go to Sitepoint or Elance, and have a beautiful gorgeous valid custom theme made for alot less than $500.

    Unique and custom.

  22. John says:

    Good luck with that. If you think that you are getting a professional custom built theme or website for $500 you have a lot to learn. I build websites and blogs for a living and I can tell you that to do a truly professional job on even a simple website you are talking about a huge amount of time. Great design look simple but they take a long time to do well. Coding things right is tedious, time consuming work. Cross browser testing everything-again- time consuming work. If you pay $500 for a custom built theme I can guarantee you that it is not top quality and professional. No professional would design and sell it for that.

  23. Rilwis says:

    I am also WordPress theme developer and has developed many themes for different business industry but pricing $499.95 is really high to afford.

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