There is money in open source software- specifically, WordPress

WordPress makes you moneyConsidering WordPress is OpenSource- ie “Free Code” that powers 25% of the web, there is big money to be made in knowing it inside out.

Just check out this out:

30 of the 31 sellers who make up the Power Elite wall of fame (selling $1 million+ worth of items) are WordPress product authors.

Source: Envato Targeted by DDoS Attack, WordPress Theme Authors Report Major Decline in Sales

Theme developers have created an ecosystem that’s been putting food on their plates over the last 5 years. Chris Pearson was an early entry into the fray with his “Thesis” theme framework. At one point, he got in a major fight with Matt Mullenweg, the top guy at Automattic, the guardians of everything WordPress- and came out on the south side of the deal.

Since then- all kinds of theme frameworks have come and gone. And now we have “all in one themes” like Divi, or the X-theme that are supposed to solve all of your problems… except, one thing- sales are actually down at ThemeForest- a marketplace run by Envato- that has a “Theme for anyone.”

But- lately, because of a DDOS attack, sales are down- and there are various ideas on why:

Themeforest’s recent drop in Google search rankings…

FinalDestiny of TeoThemes, another author whose sales are declining, blames the one-size-fits-all theme products for gobbling up a greater slice of the market share.

“Everybody is tired of these huge, monster multipurpose themes having the same price as normal themes, and that’s pretty much killing the marketplaces. But Envato couldn’t care less, as long as they get their share,” he said.


The reality is, even if you plop down money on any of these amazing tools, the knowledge to use them properly still isn’t something you can just pick up. That’s why we’ve been teaching our seminar since 2005.

There is no doubt that the new Google requirements of mobile friendly/responsive and HTTPS are having ripple effects throughout the marketplace, but, the reality is, because these super themes are getting more complex- and don’t switch from theme to theme as easily as WordPress default themes- we think we’re seeing a slowdown thanks to theme lock in. The costs of switching themes has risen, and so we’re seeing less need for new themes.

Of course, considering thousands of WordPress websites launch everyday, it’s hard to think that this is the only factor.

If you need help selecting a theme, or implementing a good website strategy using WordPress, think about taking our seminar, or giving us a call. We’d be happy to help.

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You don’t have to buy a premium theme

When we started teaching Websitetology—back then it was called Blogosopher—WordPress came with 2 themes. Beyond that, you were really on your own for customization. Now there are literally thousands available for free; however, the biggest problem is so many of them aren’t really ready to use unless you customize the hell out of them.

Buying a premium theme is fine, if you know how to find the right one- that’s done by a reputable developer and updated regularly- of course, this means you need to have a child theme installed or you’ll lose all your customizations.

That’s why this article is so useful:

Many businesses jump right to premium themes, but it’s totally possible to get by with free WordPress themes. Here, we look out how to do precisely that with a few great theme choices and plugin options.

Source: Why Pay? How to Get By with a Free WordPress Theme

The supply a list of free themes that look like they are custom themes- that have been well vetted- we concur, these are an excellent starter set to consider:


Details: Any of the default WordPress themes work wonderfully. They’re made by Automattic, so you know they’re legitimate and reliable. Twenty-Fifteen has a simple design that’s all about putting your content first. The aim here is to make it so your visitors don’t have to hunt for everything. Navigation is straightforward, the text is easy to read, and the layout is responsive.

This theme is also translation-ready and can be customized to look pretty much however you want. Twenty-Fifteen is perfect if you don’t need a ton of features but want a clean theme for presenting your blog or simple business site to the world.


Details: For this theme, it’s all in the name, really. Customizr is easy to set up but doesn’t skimp on the customization options. Not by a long shot. It lets you design your site in live preview, so you always know precisely what your site is going to look like.The customization menu lets you select from over 135 different options, giving you the flexibility to build any kind of site you want. And if you want to delve deeper, the code is well documented, so you can extend it with hooks to your heart’s content.


Details: Colorway is another great free theme to consider. The design is so simple but really quite stunning to look at. It comes with a theme options panel for easy customization that can be used to customize the logo, backgrounds, footer, and analytics.

It can be installed with a single click, includes dummy content, is responsive, and includes a full-width template and additional styles for individual pages. Colorway is great for personal and business sites, alike.

Socially Awkward

Details: SociallyAwkward is a theme designed around social media, offering plenty of built-in social icons and share buttons to ensure you’re connecting with everyone on every network. It’s also ideal for displaying media hosting on social sites. You can post your own media, as well, of course.It’s responsive, includes multiple post format support and compatibility with the Custom Content Portfolio plugin. Plus, it looks pretty snazzy, too.


Details: Saga is a theme designed with writers in mind and it accomplishes the job pretty well. Makes sense since the designer is a writer, too. This theme offers gorgeous typography, a simple layout, and a structure that suits storytelling perfectly.

It also includes customization options so you can make it look however you want and integrates with the Literary plugin, providing additional convenience to you wordsmiths out there.

Blogly Lite

Details: If you just want to create a personal blog but want it to look a little different than the millions of other blogs out there, Blogly Lite is a good choice. This free theme is lightweight and utilizes the theme customizer for ultimate control over your site’s look and feel. Change colors, change logos, change backgrounds—whatever you want.

You also have control over the fonts used and you can customize the footer text with ease. Plus, the flat design is really current and appealing.


Details: Those looking to build a food-oriented site ought to enjoy the Perfetta theme. It’s ideal for café websites and includes all the features you’d need to build an intuitive and attractive experience for your customers. The theme is lightweight and responsive and includes a one-column layout for putting your content on display.

This minimalist theme is all about your content, which will hopefully include pictures of delicious food.Yum!


Details: Another theme worth looking into is Nictitate. This theme is perfect for portfolio and business sites, offering all the flexibility you need to build a truly custom site. It’s built on the KOPATHEME layout manager, so you can select the precise layout you want for each page of your site.It also includes unlimited sidebar support, widgets, and more.


Details: Parabola is a responsive theme that lets you customize just about everything. Seriously, you can customize the text and background colors, fonts and their sizes, site width, page layouts, and more. You can also show or hide certain design elements, include over 30 social icons, use shortcodes, customize a slider, and add or remove columns.

Other features include multiple post formats, post excerpts, Google Fonts, eight widget areas, a magazine layout, a blog layout, featured images, and more.


Details: Still another free theme you might want to consider is called Sparkling. It’s responsive and includes a minimal layout that can be adapted to suit just about any purpose. It was built on Bootstrap 3 and includes a fullscreen slider, author bios, popular posts, social icons, SEO support, and more.It also has a theme options panel that allows for full customization of the layout, fonts, colors, and slider effects. Sparkling is also translation ready and compatible with Contact Form 7, Jetpack, bbPress, and WPML.

Arcade Basic

Details: Arcade Basic puts a strong emphasis on imagery, yet still manages to be lightweight. This theme is responsive and allows for full customization of the header, site width, page layouts, and more. It also includes post formats, Google Fonts, and works with Jetpack for the displaying of galleries with both tiled and jQuery carousel view options.

Additionally, this theme is compatible with BuddyPress, bbPress, WooCommerce, and WPML.


Details: Don’t let its name fool you, Freak is a gorgeous theme that offers a parallax background in the header, and multiple customization options to keep you satisfied. It includes several blog layouts, a responsive slider, the ability to select the width of the sidebar, several menu bars, a navigation bar, search options, and more.

It’s also been tested on all mobile platforms and looks great on all of them. This responsive theme is quite versatile and actually really surprised me with its lack of a price tag.


Details: The last free theme I’m going to talk about here is called Evolve and it’s designed for use on any kind of site. It’s responsive and includes a parallax slider, a post slider with many animation effects, and a solid Bootstrap-based foundation. You can customize many aspects of this theme including the logo, header, background, colors, and fonts.

It includes FontAwesome icons, retina ready icons, CSS effects, infinite scroll, Google Fonts, image thumbnails, multiple blog layouts, 12 widget areas, custom widgets, social media integration, numerous navigation options, and more. It’s also compatible with WPML, BuddyPress, and bbPress.


Responsive theme is offers an intuitive foundation with a smooth grid system that spontaneously adjust the framework of your website to any mobile devices to give you an excellent user experience. This theme includes 9 Page Templates, 11 Widget Areas, 6 Template Layouts and 4 Menu Positions that you can use in organizing the main structure of your theme. It also provides simple yet fantastic theme options for full CMS control with easy logo upload, social media integration, incredible webmaster tools and many more. Responsive is also WooCommerce compatible to help to establish your own online shop without much effort. Other great features of this amazing theme include Multilingual Ready (WPML), RTL-Language Support, Retina-Ready, Search Engine Friendly, W3C Markup Validated and currently translated into 45 languages. Responsive is by far one of the most popular free WordPress themes with over 1 million downloads and counting.
Source: 50+ Best Free Responsive WordPress Themes 2015 – Colorlib

They maintain a long list of “Premium” style free themes here:

While we kind of miss the old days when changing themes wouldn’t scramble the presentation of your content, we fully understand why it’s become necessary. Until WordPress builds in a “Builder” to the core- expect to see a lot of variation in the way themes allow for content customization.

No matter what theme you pick, the biggest mistake people make using WordPress is not using the correct tools to organize their data. Putting critical data into Widgets for instance means there is no easy way to share that data specifically- and that’s one of the things Google looks at to rate your site.

Our seminar teaches you the right way to use the four organizing tools in WordPress: Posts, Pages, Categories and Tags to optimize your data for organic search. A theme is just like a book case to hold your books, notes, photo albums etc- unless you organize it correctly, you won’t be able to find it quickly later.

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Always use a child theme- it’s easy!

Your WordPress installation is made up of several parts:

  • The WordPress software
  • A MySQL database
  • A Theme
  • Plugins

Each does different things. And when it comes to updating, and auto-updating, you want to make sure you don’t break things.

First tip- always backup your site before doing any updates, theme changes or plugin installs. We’ve fallen in love with the UpdraftPlus backup plugin. We consider it an essential plugin for every installation- and you don’t need to buy the premium version, the free one works fine.

So, now that you have your installation backed up, it’s time to make a child theme. What is a child theme? It’s a copy of a few key files from your theme that hold your customizations. This way, when you update a theme, you won’t lose any of your custom files.

Now, that’s not to say updating a theme will lose customizations- many themes come with theme options for customizations and these files won’t be touched in an update, however, best practices still say create a child theme. If you’ve mastered FTP and a file management tool, you could do this manually- but there are plugins that will do this for you faster and easier.

The one we’ve come to like is Child Theme Creator by Orbisius although it’s not always perfect. Some of the “premium themes” have additional files that are required- and even come with their own installable child themes. Carefully look at your themes installation notes to see if yours falls into one of these categories.

Once you’ve created your child theme- you activate it, and go about your merry way modifying your theme in any way you like.

The safety and security of being able to upgrade your parent theme, without losing customizations is now yours.


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