A Brief Overview to Successful Freelance Theme Development

Let’s face it – the morning commute, the difficulties with your boss, your snarky co-workers, and the list goes on – these things make working at home look so appealing.

Selling WordPress and Blogger themes is a great way to earn income and finally ditch that dead-end 9-5. Design students especially have a unique opportunity to quickly begin their home-based business. They don’t require additional training and will find building these themes is quick and easy.

Using this guide, you can embark on the world of freelance graphic design.


Step 1: Learn Theme Development

Oftentimes, design students understand the graphic part of creating themes. They can beautifully match colors and render amazing graphics. However, they don’t know a thing about theme development. They don’t know how to code themes.

Simply separate the main parts of a theme into a directory named for your theme. Then include the main parts of the theme. These main parts typically include:

·  header.php

·  sidebar.php

·  index.php

·  footer.php

·  style.css

“You can either create those files locally with a simple text editor (like notepad for example) and upload them via FTP or you can use the File Manager tool in your cPanel to create the files directly on your hosting account,” advises SiteGround, a site devoted to bringing you detailed tutorials for building themes for WordPress.

Step 2: Decide Where to Sell Your Work

Some people have done very well selling their themes on theme marketplaces. Most people prefer to sell on their own websites in order to avoid costly fees. Theme marketplaces are known to take more than half of the profits for the themes you sell. If you choose to sell on your own website, you’ll need to set up the site, manage it and market it. Sales aren’t going to happen overnight. It takes dedication and hard work to build a loyal fan base and get those sales.

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Step 3: Outsource or Learn It

There are going to be some things you won’t be able to do yourself. For example, your website is going to need to be secure, but it’s likely you don’t know how to build your own network security. It’s likely you’ll want to hire another freelancer to handle this portion of your site’s design.

Another option is to learn the things you can’t do. You could go for an online IT degree here at Bryant and Stratton College. This will teach you to manage your own network and give you more skills you can sell online. It’s up to you, but don’t let small roadblocks deter your plans for a successful design career.

Step 4: Determine Pricing

Pricing should be based on the quality of the theme, the amount of time you spent on it and what similar themes are selling for. Press Coders, a popular theme tutorial site, warns:

“If you sell a theme for $35, give away 30-50% to an affiliate or marketplace, have a partner to split it with, subtract taxes and expenses, and add in the hours for dev time and support, you might as well just go work at McDonald’s!”

Step 5: Offer Incredible Customer Service

People who shop for themes are often website developers. Much of your business will be repeat business, so our final advice is to be a good customer service rep. Treat your customers the way you would want to be treated and you’ll soon find they’re telling their friends and colleagues about you. Success isn’t going to happen overnight. Be prepared to invest a lot of unpaid hours. If you’re determined and a quality designer you will be successful.