On Tuesday evening the countdown clock on ThemeThrift counted down to zero, and the week-long experiment that theme developer Jake Caputo began on a whim came to a close. For seven days his theme Modest was available via a pay-what-you-want model, with options ranging from $0 to $50. By the time the clock ticked to zero the theme had seen downloads from 272 people, 8% of which opted to pay something for the theme.
When I spoke to Caputo this week he said he expected to see a bit of activity on ThemeThrift when he launched it last Monday. I asked him to clarify, thinking he meant to say he hadn’t expected that. But he said he did expect some attention, since the idea was a bit off the beaten path and, well, risky.
Low down dirty numbers
Kudos to Caputo for sharing numbers on his experiment, particularly for me to share here. He told me the Modest theme saw 272 downloads in its time on ThemeThrift, 200 of which came within the first 72 hours the site was live. Eight percent of downloading customers paid for the theme, or 22 people, at an average of less than $6 per purchase. The rest chose the $0 option from the list (which included $1-$50 also) and went on their way.
He was also kind enough to offer a Google Analytics screenshot (see below) in addition to the aforementioned statistics. The week-long traffic chart follows suit with a number of his observations in that the bulk of the attention came in the first two days and trailed off a bit after that.
(Click image for larger view.)
Not all numbers were quite that low, though. A majority of those that downloaded the theme also signed up for Caputo’s email list — 254 additions to his list, he said. While not everyone was willing to part with cash for the theme, it seems parting with their email address was easier to do.
More than earning nothing
Yesterday we recorded and published a new podcast on WPCandy called WordPress Roundtable. Caputo was at the mic, along with fellow theme developers and ThemeForest sellers Mike McAlister and Chris Molitor.
During a discussion around theme pricing and the standards set at ThemeForest, ThemeThrift came up. Caputo explained how reviewers turned down his theme Modest during the ThemeForest review process. They told him ThemeForest had a lot of minimal themes available at the time. After that the theme was just sitting on his hard drive. It was McAlister who pointed out that even a — pardon the pun — modest return on the ThemeThrift experiment was better than the theme earning nothing sitting quietly on Caputo’s computer.
Molitor also said he was interested in the idea and watching it, while all three agreed that they enjoy seeing something different and unique happening in the theme space. I had to agree.
(Above) Jake Caputo’s workspace, complete with his business logo printed on his mug.
The experiment continues
The new pricing options noticeably lack a $0 option.
The ThemeThrift experiment will continue beyond a single week, it seems. Another theme is available, though not without a tweak or two to the system: the new pricing options noticeably lack a $0 option. The theme, called ReStored, is available at $10, $25, $50, or $75, with the two higher options coming with a bundled plugin as well.
Pippin and I released ReStored at ThemeThrift today. You should probably buy it because he has his first child on the way.
You really can’t argue with that, can you?
While still evolving, it doesn’t look like the ThemeThrift experiment is coming to a close any time soon. Caputo said that space for other themes is available on ThemeThrift for any developer interested in trying this idea out.
Well. Any takers?