One of the largest WordPress theme producers in the world is ElegantThemes.com. This warehouse of nearly 100 slick-looking WordPress themes is the creation of founder and developer Nick Roach. A modest man by nature, Roach has had his foot in the design business for the majority of his life after getting his start way back in middle school.
Not one to give many interviews, Roach sat down with WPHub.com to share his life story and discuss what’s next for the still up-and-coming developer.
WPHub: Thanks for joining us, Nick. Can you tell us how you got started in Web design? What inspired you?
Nick Roach: I got into Web design at an early age back in middle school. I made my first website in seventh grade and ever since then, I have been hooked. The internet was completely fascinating to me. I started teaching myself design from tutorials online. I got a copy of Photoshop and started reading tutorials, which led me to Voidix.com, my own tutorial site.
It got popular and I was getting a few thousand visitors per day, so I used that to launch my first template business. I started selling static HTML templates before there was a concept of a content management system. I had a fair amount of success early in high school with that and kept doing it until WordPress popped up.
WPHub: What aspirations do you still have in the industry? What else do you hope to accomplish?
Nick Roach: It’s hard to say. The internet is such a new thing, so you can’t say what you’ll be doing in one or two years. My plan is to keep adapting, though. I have a habit of using the last business I did to launch something new, so I assume eventually some opportunity will come up that’s related to theming.
WPHub: What are the next steps for ElegantThemes.com? What projects do you have in the hopper?
Nick Roach: We’re focused on mobile devices and making new things. I do have other things I’m planning to launch, but I can’t really get into those. Mobile is more about differentiating ourselves. You always want to make sure your business looks like it’s progressing (and ideally is actually progressing). Mobile presents a unique opportunity for us to show people that we’re on the cutting edge. We can keep making new themes and apps, but mobile will be really important for us.
WPHub: What were some of the biggest pitfalls you encountered when growing ElegantThemes.com?
Nick Roach: One thing I didn’t anticipate early on as an entrepreneur was the impact of customer service. That was a huge hurdle. We have 13 people at ElegantThemes.com and only three of them actually create the product; the rest are all tech support people. I didn’t realize how big of a deal that was going to be.
People ask a lot of questions. WordPress caters to a group of people who aren’t necessarily Web design-savvy. They want to do things that aren’t possible or that take a lot of work, so a lot of work goes into managing the community. With our membership model, we have 120,000 members being managed by 13 people.
WPHub: As you alluded to, ElegantThemes.com sells yearlong subscription packages instead of a pay-as-you-go model. Talk about the allure of choosing a subscription model.
Nick Roach: I didn’t know anything about how to price it, to be honest. In the beginning, our price was $19.95. I found that people didn’t want to believe it was so cheap. I didn’t realize that the cheap price was deterring customers. I noticed the problem, so I doubled the price to $39. The next day, not only did we make twice as much money, but more people also converted at that price. My word of advice: don’t undervalue your product.
WPHub: Does selling yearly memberships beget a communal atmosphere since your customers are around for a year?
Nick Roach: I like creating a big community. There’s a big difference between being a customer and being a member. When you subscribe and become a member, you have a deeper connection.