If you’re not familiar with the site, ElegantThemes.com houses nearly 100 WordPress themes. Believe it or not, one man, ElegantThemes.com founder and designer Nick Roach, created each of them. His business has grown to 120,000 members, each of whom pays an annual fee in order to have access to ElegantDesign.com’s WordPress themes.
WPMods.com caught up with Roach to get the inside dish on his business, the still-growing WordPress theme market, his burgeoning affiliate business, and his pricing strategy, which some could consider unorthodox.
WPMods: Thanks for joining us, Nick. Can you tell us about the types of customers who use your site? We know you sell annual subscriptions to consumers and developers.
Nick Roach: We have a wide variety of customers; everyone uses our themes. I really think that the subscription model and the price point we chose helped us grow. It also comes back to the quality of our designs.
WPMods: We understand you have an affiliate program at ElegantThemes.com. Why did you decide to start an affiliate program and what specifics can you share about it?
Nick Roach: The affiliate program has been huge for us. I come from the philosophy of “focus on what you’re good at.” There are other people who are whiz marketers; we’re good at designing. I started our affiliate program early on and it quickly became one of the biggest drivers of traffic and sales. I offer a really good commission percentage of 50%, which is significantly higher than everyone else.
WPMods: Was there a reason you chose 50%?
Nick Roach: I didn’t think about the 50% at the time. I just wanted to make it a no-brainer for people to promote our product.
WPMods: Talk about the process of creating and releasing themes. How does that work and who is involved?
Nick Roach: Early on, we were making three to four themes per month. Now, it’s one or two. The reason is that every theme we make is another theme we have to maintain. That’s another thing that’s great about the membership system, by the way: you have access to updates forever. We update our themes to be relevant and ensure everything is compatible. There have been months when we’ve had to make updates to all 76 themes. It takes about two to four weeks to make an individual theme.
WPMods: Does having to maintain each existing theme mean there’s an artificial cap on your business’ growth potential?
Nick Roach: We’re trying to transition to the point where maintaining current themes is more important. It’s also hard to make new themes that are significantly different than what we have already. It’s getting more important to keep our current customers happy.
WPMods: You sound young, by the way. How old are you, and how long have you been interested in Web design?
Nick Roach: I’m 25. The reason I made my first website was because I was in a band and wanted to show our friends. As soon as I understood what the internet was, I didn’t want to put it down. What got me interested was the first online video game I played, an MMORPG game. The internet is the biggest thing that’s happened in a while. It’s going to change things so much more than it already has.
WPMods: Can you share a little bit of insight into the WordPress theme market? What other players are there and how can ElegantThemes.com continue to remain viable and relevant?
Nick Roach: We’re all going to be piggybacking off the growth of WordPress itself. The market is pretty saturated now, but recently, other WordPress theme sites have popped up and they’ve done well too, so maybe it’s not fully saturated yet. Just focusing on design is what made ElegantThemes.com different early on. I called it Elegant Themes for a reason – I wanted to focus on elegant design and make it our strong point. People saw that early on and that became my niche.
The industry just keeps growing. WordPress is growing. Until the way websites are created fundamentally changes, I don’t see WordPress going anywhere as long as they keep innovating the way they have been.
WPMods: Have you thought about creating themes for other CMS solutions besides WordPress?
Nick Roach: I haven’t, but I’ve seen other theme sites do it. Ultimately, they stop doing it, however, and dissolve that part of their business. So, I think that says something.