Can Selling WordPress Themes Online Become A Full Time Job?

The original idea behind nenuno was to offer WordPress conversions from HTML or PSD templates, but we decided to go down the blogging route as time was limited due to other work commitments.

Here are a few of my thoughts and considerations regarding the selling of web resources in general. I would also love to hear your thoughts on this topic, so please leave a comments below!

What Path Should You Take?

Can selling WordPress, HTML and PSD templates on major markets such as Theme Forest and Mojo Themes generate you enough income that you are able to quit your full time job and do it full time? In the short term, I personally believe that it can’t, but it can make you a considerable amount of money part-time.

Theme markets are not the only option to choose when it comes down to selling your work. Such theme developers as Elegant Themes, Viva Themes and WooThemes release outstanding work with the support to match. But if your website is not well established it could take a considerable amount of time to get your foot in the door.

I would personally choose Theme Forest to sell my work as your designs are showcased to thousands of potential buyers and the platform you are given to promote your work is by far the best available without having to use such designer communities like deviantART.

Payment Commissions

Theme Forest and Mojo Themes both give you a percentage of the total value of the theme or resource you are selling. If you are new to either of these market places you will be given 40% for each sale at Theme Forest and 50% at Mojo Themes but what does this mean?

If you are selling a WordPress theme for $40 you will receive $16, so if it has 100 sales it will make you roughly $1600, not bad eh? The more items you sell the percentage of your commission increases.

Getting a sale could be a timely process and will not all come at once which is something you have to be prepared for. I have come across some stunning work on both Mojo Themes and Theme Forest and they have had little to no luck generating revenue.

This is one of the reasons I believe this full time will not work as you are not working on a hourly rate like you would in a full time job.

Designing A Theme That Sells

Creating a design could take weeks or even months to get right, but that attention to detail in the end product is something that could make or break the number of sales you receive.

Five characteristics I have come across in the past few weeks that would help boost sales are the following:

  • Style your theme in an array of colours. Giving the user a variation to choose from will provide uniqueness.
  • Make the theme a one click install. Simplicity is a major factor!
  • Provide an options page so the user can change the look and feel of their newly purchased theme to create a look and feel that suits them.
  • Documentation! A well documented theme will require less support from the user.
  • Always ensure the theme has blog functionality!


Don’t give up if your work is not selling as the key factor is time. Always keep up to date with the latest design trends so your work reflects 2010 and not 2009!

Try and put a small team together to bounce ideas from as working alone can get very frustrating .

If you are mainly a graphic designer and do not have much experience using WordPress, Joomla and Drupal there are many affordable PSD to XHTML services available so you can spend more time designing the theme instead of worrying about the development aspects.

Even though there is a lot of stiff competition, there is always room for you to show off your talents!


  1. Excellent post there SFDBA boy, very informative. I think there is an option to make a residual income to supplement your daily wage but probably never replace it as there is too much piracy out there – you can download every single Woo Theme for nowt on Piratebay!

  2. Indeed selling wordpress themes is quite a big business right now. i am curious how long it will last. i noticed day by day less sales were generated through these marketplaces

  3. Daniel,

    Great write up man. It’s nice to hear more from an outsiders perspective.

    Best of luck with your endeavors on this site! Looks like you’re pushing out some great content!

  4. It’s true don’t give up!!!
    Give me huge motivation, Thanks…

  5. @Graphstock: I wonder too. Is the market going to swell so quickly and extensively that making a profit becomes difficult? I’m thinking the WP boom will last a few years… plenty of time to make a decent amount of money. After that, everyone will have caught on and that will make it difficult to be original.

  6. I am just looking forward how things span out when WordPress 3.0 is released (Not RC)

  7. with so many player in this business we have to be very unique, but yeah just don’t give up

  8. Hem… It seems that wordpress theme can be good as online income source. Hope I can gain that income in future. :)

  9. and WordPress 3.0 v. interesting too… imo Thelonious rocks… by the way WordPress 3.0 is out Joomla 1.6 is in Beta3 Drupal 7 — Alpha5 (expected Beta soon) exciting days for open source php CMSs yuppiii

  10. I’m sure that it can, I know people that do it, but you have to be better than the already amazing FREE ones out there, and that can be really tough.

    • Most free WP Premium themes are riddled with nasty creepy crawlies Bree!

  11. I am positive that it can. Not only do I know a few guys that only do it for a living, but I saw where they started out.

    Guys like Woothemes is only 2 years old and had a turn over of $2.5Million in 2009. Its just themes mate :)

    • How are they generating so much money as a lot of websites are pirating most, if not all themes they have created!

  12. Great article, Daniel. As you know, we’ve just launched Superhug Beta, a site which will sell professionally-designed, standard-compliant website themes and templates for WordPress, Magento, Expression Engine, Drupal, Tumblr and Joomla. We think paying our designers a minimum of 75% of the proceeds of each of their sales is fair. Ideally and when the Superhug community grows, we’d like to reward designers with a higher percentage. Of course without substantial traffic, Superhug is just a feature-loaded Ruby on Rails site. That’s why we want the design community to get behind the idea and get involved in our beta.

    Our philosophy is pretty simple; if you create cool themes and can offer an exhaustive help document as well as provide good support, customers will return and word will get out. By blurring the lines between Freelancer sites and theme sites, we want Superhug to grow into a community from which customers can find everything they need for their website and designers/writers/SEO specialists can be fairly rewarded for their graft and talent.

    We also think that, while WordPress is an amazing CMS, platforms like Magento and Expression Engine are a pretty cool alternative. It’s all about consumer choice :-)

    • Looking forward to see how Superhug progresses, keep us posted Jen

  13. Hi,

    Very interesting article, but I still think that reselling of themes is better job for most of us, of course, as long you are not fantastic designer :)


  14. thank you for the interesting post, i would choose themeforest to showcase my work

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  16. I don’t agree with you. I think if you put your commitment on your wp theme business, instead you just sell through theme forest, you can make a decent income and you can quit your daily job. I am planning to be full time wp developer now.:)

    best regards,

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