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Business idea: specific type of WP theme


When I was building AngularOnRails.com I ran into a certain frustration a few times:

I wanted a better WordPress theme than what I had, but when I looked at places like Theme Forest, I found almost all of their themes unacceptable, and there were certainly none that I could just plug right in and start using without non-trivial customization.

Before I describe why I thought those themes were so bad, let me give a couple examples of site designs I consider good and believe to be effective for their intended purpose.

Both Noah’s site and Ramit’s site clearly have one overriding goal: get your email address. On Noah’s site, you can hardly do anything else.

I get it that that’s one single page. I could use LeadPages or something to create a good landing page. But if the rest of my site sucks, LeadPages won’t help that (I don’t think).

If I look at Noah’s blog, the design of it is awesome: http://okdork.com/blog/

None of the themes I’ve ever seen available for sale anywhere are nearly that clean/minimal/professional-looking.

So that’s a good theme. The bad themes I’ve seen seem to have some combination of the following characteristics:

  • They weren’t design with email opt-ins in mind, or any kind of conversion in mind
  • In order to look decent they depend heavily on some sort of huge hero image which doesn’t come with the theme (WTF, you dumbfucks)
  • They’re incredibly bloated and slow
  • They contain all sorts of scrolljacking, animations, and other “movey-aroundy” bullshit
  • They only look about 70% as professional as I would like them to. Put another way, they’re below my standards of professionalism in appearance. I think this is a big deal.

Almost all the themes I’ve found on Theme Forest and other similar sites have enough of the characteristics listed above, to a severe enough degree, that I’ve found them to be below consideration.

I did end up buying a $70 theme for Angular on Rails but I ended having to spend hours fucking with it to make it look okay and I still hate it. I think we should be past this state in 2017.

So my business idea is to create a WP theme site that only has a small number of themes (like 3-10 themes, at least for starters), and 100% of the themes would be the kind that have a big email opt-in as the home page. Obviously not everybody wants that sort of design, but I think if that’s the design you want, it’s the only design you want. I think there would be a lot of value in not having to sift through a bunch of bullshit.

I would market the site in a few certain ways. Initially I’d try to plug into the existing audiences of other people whose speak to people who want to create sites that look like Noah Kagan’s. (Going on Noah Kagan’s podcast might be a good move.)

I would also write helpful content on my site about how to create an effective email opt-in landing page, how to drive traffic to your site, stuff like that. I could create one or more free guides as lead magnets to build my own email list. (I’ve built a number of email lists before.)

What do you guys think of this business idea? Can you tell me why you think it might not work?


Sure, why not? I think it’ll be a long tough road, but that’s not a reason not to give it a try.

I’d worry that the effectiveness of sites that look like Ramit’s and Noah’s is inversely proportional to the number of sites that look like Ramit’s and Noah’s. The more copy cats that spring up thanks to your theme site, the shittier they will all perform, forcing Ramit, Noah, and others you emulate into a redesign to separate from the pack.

I’d worry that not everyone is as picky as you are about the themes available on ThemeForest. Genesis themes, for example, are “good enough” for what a lot of people need. Plugins from Thrive Themes make lead capture a breeze.

I’d worry that more marketer-y folks will largely opt for LeadPages and Clickfunnels for churning out landing pages en masse, and those are your high dollar clients. Without them, you leave yourself with the riff raff complaining about the pricing on a $12 WrapBootstrap.com theme.

I’d worry that people are already too inundated with the “10 Amazing Ways to Optimize Your Shitty Landing Page (You Won’t Believe Number 4)” articles that are being cranked out by soulless outsourced content factories, giving buyers content fatigue to opting into yet another ebook lead magnet they’re not gonna open on how to optimize headlines.

I’d worry that customer support for theme businesses is soul-sucking and thankless.

Anyway, just my two cents.

How much of this can you test before you find yourself spending months on it?


Thanks for the thoughts, @Ken.

I think this is my biggest concern. I don’t think I’ve encountered anyone who expressed to me a level of dissatisfaction with the existing WP theme options that was anywhere near what mine is. I also don’t really know how I’d find these people.

After having had some time to think about it, I’m much less bullish on this idea and leaning toward not pursuing it.


I’d recommend against this idea.

Someone I know has a similar business, and it seems like a brutal market. The SEO for theme-related keywords is highly competitive, the conversion rate is low, when someone does buy, you get a once-only payment, and to keep up with the competition you can never feel you are done. You need to keep adding new pages, widgets, and components to your theme.


as someone who buys a lot of WP themes I don’t see anything unique in these designs that you could not do with existing themes. As others have said the theme market is ultra competitive.

You will make more money sticking with Angular and Rails.


I agree. I wouldn’t touch this market. Waaay too crowded.

Additionally, I think you’re far better off getting people’s email in exchange for something like a 7 day course on how to do X on an existing and really professional WP theme. Avada is one that we’re in the process of using. It’s possibilities are pretty much endless at this point.

If you really want to get into WP you might consider creating a plugin that many different themes and sites “need” to use. Even still, I’d still do something like exploring making plugins for like Heroku or Salesforce.


Are you thinking something like https://thrivethemes.com/ ? They have massive head-start on you, not to mention lots of marketing clout. I’,m with the nay-sayers on this one, find problem and solve it, don’t be just another commodity.


Thanks for the feedback, guys. I’ve decided not to pursue this idea.

My top idea right now is a technical info product similar to Angular on Rails which I’m calling AWS for Rails Developers.