My primary responsibility out here at Weblog Tools Collection is to keep a close eye on WordPress plugin and theme releases.
I’ve lost track of the number of themes that I have downloaded, read about and previewed.
While doing this, I have observed several different methods of promotion and distribution of themes by their authors; some highly effective and some so bad that I have had no option but to ignore the release.
This WordPress Codex page has an indepth explanation on starting off with themes for public release to promoting them and is a recommended read.
In this post I hope to address a few points that every theme author should consider when releasing a public theme.
The Theme Page
What use is a theme if nobody knows where to get it from? One of the most important elements in marketing your theme is a static page devoted to it.
I’ve seen a lot of theme authors have a single page which will list all their themes. It’s good if you have a single, but what if you release two, or maybe five or maybe fifty?
Do you want your visitor to download your theme quickly or search through the list to find it?
One practice I follow is to make a seperate page for each theme and plugin I create.
Contents of a Theme page
The theme page could contain the following:
- Short description of the theme
- Screenshot or a Link to a live preview (I prefer the latter)
- Download Link
- Known Bugs
- Things you can do with the theme. This should preferably be a list of links to different posts that explain in detail
- Support Information. Make sure you specify how a theme user should contact you if you are offering support. If you are not, make this clear.
How a theme page helps
For one, it provides a quick and easy way for people to link to your theme, find the theme etc.
It also works well with search engines as it normally becomes the top result if someone is searching for your theme.
Additionally, the page is timeless, unlike posts, especially if you have a permalink structure with the date in it.
As I mentioned above, the theme should be on a static page. However, you should use individual posts to market the theme.
Posts should be used for theme releases and updates. It should also be used to highlight things you can do with the theme, e.g. if your theme has a custom header image support, then a post explaining how to change the header will be in order.
Posts also appear in your feeds by default and if someone is subscribed, he/she will be able to keep track of your development.
Effectively using the WordPress Theme Viewer
The Theme Viewer should be the first place where you should be getting your theme listed. It’s one place many people, including us at WLTC, track new themes.
However, this should not be your only place. The theme page belongs to your blog, not to some other site.
Another point I noticed with the theme viewer is that though you get a link back to your site, you don’t have a link to your theme page. However, they do allow you HTML in the post.
When writing a description, include the name of your theme and link that to the theme page you created. Also, a good detailed description with features works well, especially for those reading via RSS where categories are not visible.
Make the contents of your theme clear
I’ve recently been reading about the controversy surrounding sponsored links in a theme. While some authors are for this, others are against.
Hence, if you are including paid links into the footer, make it clear to those who are downloading that these are present. Also make it clear if you need them to be there, because if you have an open license, the user is free to modify your theme and remove these links.
While you don’t have to account for each and every file in your theme folder, it helps if you have an explanation for a few critical ones. e.g. if you have an Archives template, let your visitor know.
To sum up:
- Create a page for your theme
- Use individual posts for theme updates and other information related to your theme
- Use the Theme Viewer effectively
- Make the contents of your theme clear
Do you have any other tips that you would like to share?
If you are a theme author, what have you done to effectively spread the word about your theme. Have you posted your theme in our News forum?