How to sell WordPress themes and plugins

One of the best ways to make money as a WordPress developer is to create and sell WordPress themes. Unlike offering theme development services, selling your own WordPress theme lets you open a passive income stream that can last for many years to come.

There are two ways to sell WordPress theme and make a living by it - either through a freemium model or through a premium business model.

In this post, we’ll compare both business models and let you decide which one is the best choice for you.  

Sell WordPress themes - freemium model

WordPress is backed by a huge community of developers offering free WordPress themes and plugins. Ever wondered how these developers are making a living by offering free WordPress products?

With the freemium business model, themes are provided for free - only the proprietary version is charged.

Let’s take a look at an example of one of the most popular freemium themes available on the official theme directory, Zerif Lite and how it successfully converts its free theme users to paying customers.

Step 1: Drive traffic to the theme’s homepage.

1. As a first step, you’ll need to upload a killer free theme to the theme directory.  

Once your free theme becomes popular, you can expect a lot of free traffic from the official WordPress theme directory to your theme’s homepage, that is on your website.

wordpress theme directory

2. You can also promote the premium version of your theme inside the theme dashboard.

CTA inside theme

In case of Zerif Lite, call to action buttons are placed in several places inside the theme. Clicking one of the buttons will bring the users to the theme’s homepage.

Step 2: Convert the traffic into customers

Visitors to the theme homepage are enticed either to buy the premium theme or to become a member of its premium theme club.

sell freemium theme


Pros: Freemium business model can bring in a lot of targeted visitors to your landing page. Good model for a long term business.

Cons: It requires a lot of effort and will take more time to convert a visitor into customer.

Sell WordPress themes - Premium business model

Premium business model is one of the easiest ways to make money by selling a theme. Here are two ways to make money by selling premium themes.

1. Use Marketplaces

Use marketplaces like for selling premium themes. All you need to do is to create a theme and upload it to the marketplace. It is one of the easiest ways to make money by selling your WordPress themes. Of course, you’ll need to make sure that the Theme you create meets the quality guidelines. This is the real work which you need to do - it takes quite a lot of time and effort to create a theme which is of sufficient quality as to get accepted in the ThemeForest market.

2. Sell on your own website

Instead of selling the theme on a marketplace you can sell it on your own websites. The best thing about selling on your own website is that you are not restricted with the Terms of Services of marketplaces. The downside is driving targeted traffic can be a hassle especially if you are a beginner in selling premium themes.
Have you ever considered selling premium WordPress themes? Share your experience with us by commenting below.

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