I have a lot of time invested in creating Wordpress templates. I want to release combinations of these templates along with different styles and Fancy Front pages as "Premium Wordpress Themes". What I need to know is what does "Premium" mean? What do people expect of a GPL theme vs. a Premium theme? Are there features that are considered required to be premium? Are there features that are in demand but considered "exceptional" i.e. not part of every premium theme? How can I tell the difference?

I have heard tounge-in-cheek answers that say that any theme that makes money is premium, but I mean to ask about what gives an outstanding theme it's quality. Why is it worth more? I am technically able to do many things, but as a lone developer with a family to feed, I can't afford to spend time on features that no one cares about. I have to try to isolate the things that people want. This is serious food and rent to me.

How can I get this kind of info so I can make my project successful?

  • +1 Great subjective question! To avoid the inevitable amateur vs professional debate and possible closure, you may want to consider a more specific title that focuses on technical differences, not work quality or skill differences. Maybe, "What features do professional (paid-for) WordPress have that free ones don't?" – Kevin McCormick Sep 14 '12 at 21:40
  • Thanks to everyone who took the time to help! This was a wonderful intro to this community (I am coming from SO). I wasn't clear about the differences, but now I have two great places to go for help. – Sinthia V Sep 16 '12 at 0:41

Build a website (if you havent already), put your themes up there and make them available for download. IF you want to give some away, call those "Free", and the ones you want to sell call them Premium, and charge money for them. You will probably also want to offer an Exclusive license which will make that person the owner of that theme, which would mean they pay a lot more, and you remove it from your site.

Premium implies that it is custom, "professional" (in the sense that it stands up to other "commercial" designs), and it's created with the intent that it be great. Sloppy work is generally not accepted as premium work.. although the creator of sloppy work can call it premium. It would just not be as "premium" as other "premium", more refined work.

There are also a lot of sites out there where you can upload your theme to which will pay you when someone pays a fee to downloads them.. In that case you'd be listed in their "premium" section.

I hope you like this premium answer

  • 1
    "I hope you like this premium answer" +1 – David Kaczynski Sep 14 '12 at 22:06

"Premium" is completely subjective. There is no industry standard for what it means in a programming or feature context, and in many cases, it is simply used as a buzzword to attract the interest of customers.

What you are looking for is market research, i.e. what do customers want? It depends largely on your target demographic, and while the results may equate into programmable features to be sold as a "premium" product, the process is not specific to programmers.

From a software engineering perspective, I would recommend surveying your current (or potential) users for information such as the following:

  • What features of your product(s) do they like
  • What types of features would they like that you do not currently offer
  • What features of your product(s) do they wish were different

You could even use something like a Likert scale to help quantify the results, such as:

  • Rank the following features for attractiveness scale of 1 to 10:
  • Rank how often you use the following features on a scale from 1 to 10:
  • Which of the following features (that are not currently offered) would you find most desirable, with 10 being the highest priority:

You could create a great product, but if it does not meet the customers' needs, then it is of little to no value. Good luck.


First, have you tried doing some research? How many people would know what a GPL theme is? Do competitors of yours use the term premium in their services? This is a rather basic point that depending on your target market and location could vary rather dramatically.

Second, what experiments have you tried with labeling different themes into various categories? Could you take standard themes that have no customizations done and call them something else?

Third, have you considered what kind of return computations and analysis you want to do to determine the proper pricing on this? For example, how many dollars more over what time period with what changes in support and customizations yield what kind of result? This is likely a rather hard thing to do and one where you better be prepared to nail down more than a few things here. For example, if someone wants something special, how do you explain a different pricing for that scenario? Do you cackle and think, "Ka-ching!" so that the customer wonders what the heck is so funny here? Do your eyes glaze over like this isn't something important? Consider the relationship dynamics as part of the equations here.

Those are just some starting questions here that I'd suggest you do some legwork on your own as well as considering what kind of filter do you have for people on-line giving you answers to what is more of a business problem than a technical problem.

  • The business of software is exactly what I am trying to do here. I want to put Some stuff on Themeforest and other (gpl) stuff as a theme club. And yeah. premium gets bandied around all the time without definition. – Sinthia V Sep 14 '12 at 21:54
  • I could see this being closer to on-topic on a WordPress Stack Exchange though I'd think it more likely that you want some kind of WordPress Entrepreneurs Stack Exchange site really as this isn't the kind of question that a programmer answers. A program manager may have to handle it from time to time though. – JB King Sep 14 '12 at 22:06
  • They booed me over there and took away my cred points. – Sinthia V Sep 15 '12 at 14:51

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