10 Tips to Build a Premium WordPress Theme That Sells
Create a Premium Theme WordPress Users Will Want to Buy

WordPress themes are big business. As the most popular content management system in existence, there are tens of thousands of sites, all seeking to stand out in the crowd. One way they can do so is to build a website that looks unlike anything else out there, and plenty of people are willing to pay for the privilege. Great premium themes sit in between their free counterparts and hiring a dedicated developer. Overall quality levels increase all the time, and it’s essential to remain ahead of the curve if you wish to make a tangible impact.

There’s no magic formula to reach the top of the sales chart on a theme marketplace or to convert thousands of willing buyers on your own site. However, a focus on quality throughout will always set any theme design team up for success. Your personal flair and marketing, combined with these 10 tips, could be all it takes to make your theme a bestseller.

1. Choose a Niche That Suits Your Skills

Even if you plan to sell your theme to anyone and everyone, it still makes sense to have a niche in mind. You may specialise in themes for a specific industry. In this case, you should aim to design and build your theme in a manner that suits that niche, even down to the icons and fonts you choose.

For broader niches, it’s still possible to create great designs that work in a wide variety of industries. However, you should try to avoid casting your net too wide. People that are willing to pay for a theme tend to expect something that makes them feel like it was designed for them individually. If you can find an untapped niche and deliver what prospective customers want, you have a fantastic head start on the crowd.

2. Research the Competition

As a theme designer, you should always have your finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the industry. There are plenty of reasons to do so, not least the fact that you may spot a gap in the market where you can become the top seller almost by default. Your research also ensures that you use best practices in your designs and code, and learn how to solve problems before you even encounter them.

3. Don’t Skimp on the Design

If you’re considering selling premium WordPress themes, the chances are you’re a coder at heart. You can be the judge of where that leaves your design skills! However, you should never overlook the importance of good looks. There could be the best code ever written underneath, but the majority of potential customers won’t know the first thing about coding the theme. All they have to go on is the appearance and functionality. They’ll check demo sites and screenshots, and will also have their own standards of what they’re happy to display on their websites. Don’t let them or yourself down and ensure that every theme you release looks the part.

4. Ensure Mobile Compatibility Throughout

This is a fairly obvious tip, but one that’s easy to overlook when you do your coding at a desk. If your theme isn’t responsive, it won’t sell – it’s as simple as that. Even people building their first ever website will know that a significant portion of their potential audience will use phones and tablets, so you need to ensure that your theme is up to the task.

5. Stick with the Published Standards

One of the best things about designing and selling WordPress themes is that you’re your own boss. However, that doesn’t mean that you get to escape entirely from someone telling you what to do as WordPress has complete manuals on coding standards. You risk sales if you don’t stick to them, as at least some of your audience will buy the theme to modify it for their own needs. If they’re unable to do so, they may move on to the next one.

6. Cover All Bases with Sub-Templates

You could spend your time ensuring that the central theme looks great and works perfectly, but the more specific themes you can integrate with the main one, the better your theme will sell. Ensure you bundle options for pages, posts and categories, and the more you can add to the package, the more likely your theme will be to catch the eye.

7. Build In a Wealth of Options

WordPress users may not be on your level when it comes to code, but they’re savvy and know what they want. If your theme can’t do something by default, consider adding the extra functionality in as an option. The more people can do with your theme, the more likely they are to buy it.

8. Ensure Plenty of Customisation

Along similar lines to the functionality, you should make it easy for users to change the look and feel of the theme. As noted in the introduction, users generally don’t want their website to look the same as someone else’s. Think of your theme as the baseline, and make it easy to change colours and layouts with a few clicks.

9. Use Beta Testers

The theme is your pet project, and you’ll be biased when you think about how good it is. A fresh set of eyes before you reach the market is always a good idea, as they may spot things you may have missed or have different requirements by way of functionality. Invite friends and trusted colleagues to try the theme, potentially with the specific intention of breaking it, to avoid a slew of support tickets when the theme launches.

10. Be Thorough with Documentation

Even WordPress amateurs tend to have a passion for tinkering and modifying things. They bought your theme because they don’t want to pay for a developer, so give them every possible opportunity to get things right. Once again, including extensive documentation will cut down on the amount of support you have to provide, as questions answered in advance won’t require any further emails.