The State of WordPress Themes

How many theme shops offer lifetime support?  Is it crippling profitability?  How many people sell themes anyway?  We sought to answer these questions and more in the first ever comprehensive study of WordPress theme providers.

We scoured the web for every theme provider we could find.  We found 1,001.  We then took 300 of the most popular providers and looked at them one-by-one collecting our data.  Here’s what we found:

The Infographic:

State of WordPress Themes Infographic

Theme Providers:

As stated above, we found 1,001 theme shops online.  The 300 in our study are responsible for 4,044 WordPress themes.  On average, each theme provider has 13 themes available.  The most themes any single provider had available was 160.  A handful for tied for the least with just 1 theme available for download.

The average theme shop is just over 3 years old.

Interesting fact: Only having one theme for sale doesn’t mean you’re not making money.  Themeforest author “ThemeFusion” has made over $1 Million with just one theme.

Themeforest Prevalence:

Themeforest was more popular than we anticipated.  872 of the 1,001 shops are selling on Themeforest, and the majority of those that aren’t have their profiles claimed.

“87% of all WordPress theme shops sell themes on Themeforest” - Click to Tweet

In our sample of 300, 204 of them sold on Themeforest.  Of those 204, 189 of them were exclusive authors.

Theme Prices:

The average price of an individually sold theme is $46.  The highest was $199 which included installation, and the next highest was $129.  The cheapest theme for sale was just $5.

This doesn’t quite mean the real price of a theme is $46.  Bundles and sales were not counted.  More importantly, theme “clubs” offered significantly lower prices on a per theme basis.

The average monthly price of a club subscription is $20.  The highest was $99 and the lowest just $3.  On average, this meant themes were priced at just $0.65/theme/month or $7.80/theme/month.

All of the Themeforest exclusive authors are required to use one-time payments.  Of the 111 other shops from our study, 100 sold themes as a one-time payment, 35 sold club subscriptions, and 24 of them did both.

Theme Framework Prices:

We found 19 theme frameworks available online.  8 of them were free and the remaining 11 were all paid.  The average price of a theme framework is $67 with the high being $87 and the low $39.

All of the frameworks were a one-time payment except for one which charged monthly.

Support Prices:

Out of all 300 theme providers, only 2 of them did not offer free support for some period of time.  Another 14 did not offer support at all.

As for the rest:

  • 264 offered lifetime support
  • 26 offered 1 year of support
  • 12 offered lifetime or 1 year depending on the purchase
  • 13 offered month-to-month packages

*The total exceeds 284 because of overlap between the categories

Even though Themeforest authors are not required to offer support, most of them do.  Furthermore, not a single one in the study put a limit on the length of time their customers get support access.

“88% of WordPress theme shops offer lifetime support for their themes/bundles” – Click to Tweet

While 88% of the theme providers offered lifetime support for individual themes/bundles, over 92% when the 14 not providing support are excluded.

Support Tools:

There were primarily four different ways theme shops provided support.  Out of the 300 theme shops:

  • 32 used envato comments
  • 46 used email
  • 156 used forums
  • 68 used a ticket system

97 of them also had a dedicated knowledgebase that included in-depth help beyond a basic FAQ.  Theme shops using a ticket system were most likely to have a knowledgebase with 51 of the 68 using one.

What Do You Think?

We have opinions about all of this, but we’ll save that for another time.  What do you think?

24 Thoughts Shared

  1. This great information. I think we’ll be seeing that 88% who provide lifetime support dropping over the next year. My prediction is that one year of support with optional renewal will become the standard.

    I’m curious if you looked at how many sites the shops provide support for. I did my own research, on a smaller scale, and found that out of 100 or so shops, only one shop limited the number of sites they provide support for. I found one other shop that says they will but that is yet to be seen.

    Isn’t it just about as crazy to provide support for “unlimited” sites as it is for “lifetime”? There’s a trend among plugin developers now where they’re limiting support to X number of sites and I’m just waiting for theme shops to catch on…

    August 20, 2013
    • Steven thanks for stopping by.

      I didn’t measure if they limited the number of sites they’d support, but I can’t remember seeing one that did. Like you found, it’s probably about 1/100.

      Lifetime support is definitely not sustainable, and I think that the issue is obfuscated for many by their own growth and the young age of their company. Woo Themes is one of the oldest (and biggest) and they’re only five years old. With the average shop being just three years old, I think that the cost of lifetime support and the problem it brings is just around the corner for many. Hopefully they’ll take note and 1 year of support will become the norm.

      August 21, 2013
  2. Japh said:

    Very interesting info, thanks for sharing, Ben!

    I’d be curious to know how many use knowledgebases as part of their support too. I wonder if the prefence for forums is because they’re kind of a self-populating knowledgebase.

    August 21, 2013
    • Thanks Japh. It’s not included in the infographic, but we found that 97/300 shops were using a knowledgebase, and 51 of the 68 shops using a ticket system used a knowledgebase. I think you’re right that forums serve the purpose of a knowledgebase for many. Only 44/156 forums also had a knowledgebase. To compare, shops using a ticket system were more than 2x more likely to have a knowledgebase.

      August 22, 2013
  3. Very valuable info, thanks Ben, interesting indeed!

    August 28, 2013
      • No problem. One question if I can: any stats on specific forums like bbPress? I was always under the impression that bbPress was it and widely used to handle support questions. Or this will fall under the same column?

        August 28, 2013
        • Emil, I’m afraid I don’t have any data on the specific forums used, but bbPress was included in the forums category. Vanilla forums were also pretty popular, 2nd to bbpress if I were to guess.

          August 29, 2013
  4. Great infographic! Good to see such a vibrant wordpress market

    August 28, 2013
    • Glad you liked it, thanks for commenting!

      August 28, 2013
  5. Did you see any of the shops selling on Theme Forest using a limited support model? i’m curious how you would manage 1 year support selling through a marketplace like that.

    September 1, 2013
    • Hey Dane, none of the shops I looked at on Themeforest used a limited support model. Customer support technically isn’t required by Themeforest authors, but they don’t really stand a chance at getting good reviews without it. That being said, there are no rules about limiting support. Limiting support would involve using a time stamp with the purchase code and I’m not sure if the Envato API currently has support for that, but it’s something we’re looking into with Support Dash.

      September 1, 2013
      • Thanks Ben,

        This is something I am very interested in. I am writing my first theme to release publicly right now. I plan to release it on themeforest and I plan to offer a limited (probably one year) support term with the purchase.

        I’m planning on being liberal with it and using the time stamp of the purchase code verification rather than of the purchase, since i will have access to that. Then downgrade the user role after one year with the option to purchase a subscription after that (or register another product).

        September 1, 2013
  6. Great roundup of facts, stats and info on the state of the theme landscape… I personally think that many arent up to scratch and more needs to be done to bring things in line.

    September 1, 2013
  7. I couldn’t edit that, but I wanted to just say that it seems to me that a year is a year and if I offer a year, it should be based on their registration on the support site whenever that is rather than on their purchase date. At least within the proviso that the theme is still currently supported at all

    September 1, 2013
    • Good luck with the theme!

      That’s interesting, I hadn’t thought about limiting it to a year from their registration for support rather from their purchase. The only problem I see is potentially having two separate periods for each customer where they have access to updates for a year from their purchase and then a separate year of access to support based on their registration which could happen months later.

      September 4, 2013
    • The theme shops weren’t ranked in any specific order, but tesla themes was in there ;)

      September 4, 2013
  8. Great info! Any chance of getting that list ( or a link to that source) of the 1001 theme providers? ( Or how you found them all?). Or the list of 300? Would be much appreciated!

    September 28, 2013
    • Thanks, I found them all through Google and scraping curated lists & Themeforest. The 300 were just a subset of the 1001 that I looked at by hand to collect accurate data. It’s all in a spreadsheet for now.

      September 28, 2013