WordPress is simple, elegant, and modular. That combination has made it the most popular web platform on the planet, resulting in a rich ecosystem of themes, plugins and support. It’s an amazing opportunity for devs and designers, but how do you stand out in such a crowded marketplace?

Sites like ThemeForest allow creators of WordPress themes to have a steady income, bringing in over half a billion dollars in revenue to their community of authors. But that revenue is not shared evenly. While some authors make millions, 76% of WordPress themes on ThemeForest earn under $1,000 per month (ThemeForest By the Numbers, 2016).

So how do you stand out from the crowd? Let me introduce you to a team that learned how—StylemixThemes.

How Do You Stand Out in the WordPress Crowd?

StylemixThemes is a remote team of devs, designers and support gurus who started making WordPress themes in 2008, and decided to start selling them on ThemeForest two years later. It took time and grit, and they eventually found success. They became Power Elite authors by earning their first million in December 2016, and have earned another million in the last year.

What’s their secret? The team talked about their journey in a 2016 interview. Here are a few of the lessons they learned:

Never copy. Come up with something new and unique, and integrate that into your themes, plugins and products.

Eat crow. Getting feedback on your work is difficult, but helpful, and review is an essential part of the ThemeForest submission process. Their first theme was rejected a number of times by the review team, but they learned from the experience, and that ultimately led to a better theme.

ThemeForest reviewers didn’t like the design we submitted, they want to see high-level themes with a perfect UI, which can suit thousands of buyers. We realized that our mistake was that we tried to create a theme as a single website for a single customer.

Market your themes. A combination of Google Adwords, banners and paid reviews have been successful for the team, but they continue to look for new marketing strategies.

Stay hungry, stay foolish. Making a steady income from your current themes mustn’t stop you creating new features, themes and products. Keep creating, keep improving, and keep valuing and supporting your customers.

And one final key lesson. They were inspired by a successful ThemeForest author, Chris Molitor, to start creating micro-niche themes.

Avoid the Crowd by Focusing on Niche Markets

By focusing on niches, you can find markets that are not already overcrowded. Back in 2013 I interviewed Chris Molitor and other successful authors about their success in creating themes for niche markets. This is how Chris described his initial strategy for finding the right niche:

  • He looked for ThemeForest categories that didn’t have any themes. For example, Chris was the first author to make themes in the events, nightlife, churches, political and charities categories.
  • As the categories began to become more popular, he would focus on the ones with the smallest number of themes. His challenge was that there wasn’t many other themes to get inspiration from, “if you’re doing it right, you’re on your own.”
  • He researched the unique features customers in each niche needed, and included them in his themes. He talked to real people about their real requirements.

One niche project I did was actually the result of an email I got from a curator at a museum. They weren’t able to find anything for what they needed, so I asked questions and learned what the needs were from the actual end user. I had a lot of fun working on it, and it’s probably my favorite niche project to this day. (Chris Molitor)

How does Chris stand out from the crowd? By not being generic. He doesn’t create themes for anybody—he creates them for somebody. His trademark is unique, functional themes for specific niche groups.

Don’t say ‘anybody’ can use your services—be specific… Saying ‘everybody’ makes you think of ‘nobody’.

I can see where StylemixThemes got their inspiration from. They, too, create quality micro-niche themes specifically tailored to each industry, each with its own special features. Here are a few examples.

Continue reading %How to Find a Niche in the WordPress Ecosystem%