A Few Thoughts On WordPress Theme Clubs

There are literally thousands of sites online selling WordPress themes. Like most things on the Internet about 90% of what’s out there is junk, sites build quickly by people who want to make a quick buck. The other 10% is usually real businesses, these are companies like WooThemes that constantly add new themes and update their existing themes. Many of these themes designers (or resellers) offer subscription plans often requiring a larger payment upfront followed by smaller monthly fees. A lot of people ask me if these clubs are worth it, I thought I’d turn my answer into a post, so here it is.

Theme clubs are a good fit for a particular kind of person, but definitely not for everyone. Also, not all theme clubs are created equal since not all themes are created equal either. Let’s talk first about who theme clubs are for.

Who are theme clubs for?

Theme clubs are for people who are typically developing more than one website, be it for themselves or for other people. You don’t have to be a web developer with tons of HTML/CSS experience but if you find yourself building more than a few sites a year, and you’re using WordPress to do it, a theme club might save your money and make your life a lot easier. Most theme clubs give you access to 30+ themes which means that if you’re currently paying $30-$60/theme you’ll be saving money very quickly. Most theme providers will let you use each theme on an unlimited number of sites so each theme you have access to can be used multiple times as well. The idea here is simple, if you find yourself buying new themes every month, you can probably cut those costs dramatically by giving yourself access to a large number of themes for one flat monthly price.

What are theme clubs not for?

Now let’s suppose, like many people you are just getting started with WordPress, or you currently run a WordPress blog or website. You might be interested in changing themes but you probably won’t be changing your theme more than once a year. In your case I’d avoid theme clubs, you’ll end up spending a lot more than you would just buying a theme outright and one of the nice things about people like WooThemes is that you usually get two free bonus themes every time you buy from them which means you can stock up for the year.

What to look for in a theme club.

Like I said above, not all theme clubs are created equal. I would try to sample a theme and make sure that the company provides the type of back-end interface you are expecting. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve purchased a theme only to find out that the things I update the most are only capable of being changed by writing code, yuck. I like to control everything from the Dashboard and with most themes you can. One example is Elegant Themes, they have some great-looking themes but unless you know how to code these themes are going to be lacking in functionality and customizability. Try before you buy and make sure you know what kind of quality you can expect on the backend to configure and update your theme.

I also recommend testing out the support system, shoot them an email, how long does it take them to respond? Think of it as a job interview, these guys want to work for you and make awesome themes that you then use for your own (or client’s) projects. Make sure you are 100% satisfied with one theme before you pay a sum of money upfront, otherwise you could end-up with access to a bunch of themes you can’t use.

As always I’d love to hear from you, and I’m sure many of my other readers would too! Comment and tell me about your favorite theme club or any good/bad experiences you’d like to share with the group!


{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Megan September 19, 2012, 2:43 pm

    I use Woo Themes and belong their monthly club. but I would caution that I have had a couple of issues with spam and one of my themes acquired from them was hacked and caused all kinds of problems. Now when I get a theme from them or anywhere else, I make sure that there aren’t any extra admins or permissions added (this is how the 1st bunch used my site for Spam) and also to change all the passwords. I also find tons of great themes and WordPress elements from themeforest.net

  • Muzi Mohale September 19, 2012, 3:14 pm

    Am a club member with woothemes…i rate them highly in many departments:
    1. 90% of the sites i develop are using woothemes
    2. their framework is excellent…i’m comfortable with the backend.
    3. twice I had my subscription expire and had to pay the lump upfront to re-activate my club membership…but now it’s only $20 to re-activate an expired club membership.
    4. support is excellent…even when they were hacked they were on hand to help.

    Am a club member for elegantthemes…however I hardly use their themes because I find their backend complex. Their Anticipate plug-in, has now replaced ‘Maintenance Mode’

    Am not a club member with appthemes, but have purchased their classpress (my all time favourite), jobroller (gaining momentum with jobs board) and vintage (which am yet to use).

    I’m a club member for sitemile, love their project theme an elance clone which am yet to explore further…

    Templatic…bought a few of their themes, i have a love hate relationship, their framework SUCKS…it’s poorly structured and takes time to find your way around. But the frontend looks good on most of their themes. I’m using GeoPlaces on various sites.

    Just this week, I purchased a car dealer theme from Gorilla Themes…their framework is also not user friendly…am yet to figure it out.

  • Poor Uncle September 19, 2012, 4:20 pm

    Thanks for summarizing the experience you had with each theme club. I found it useful.

  • todd September 19, 2012, 5:03 pm

    Hi Morgan,

    I love these posts about wordpress. I was in the middle of reading some of your old posts about wordpress but can’t find the categories anymore. Will you be putting them back up soon?



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