In a recent interview with David Perel of Obox Themes (an interview which should hit the blog here soon) he told us a bit about their first few months of operation. Probably the most interesting bit came when discussing the difficulty gaining momentum at the beginning. It turns out Obox Themes, in the first thirty days, only sold about ten WordPress themes. He told us: “When we released Press it was quite a big jump”, which is when they really saw sales pick up.
For those keeping track: Press was their fifth theme.
He continued to explain that their sales only really picked up when they stopped designing such original themes, and instead made themes that others could modify to make their own. Even today Press and Through the Lens are their most popular themes, by a long shot he said.
Regarding their launch, David also said that given a second chance, they probably wouldn’t give away themes quite the way they did in the first few days:
When we launched we gave away a lot of themes. I think the first ten days were giveaways on blogs. I think that was maybe a mistake on the sales side. It did give us exposure, there’s no doubt about that, but I think I would have gone about that differently. There were a couple of competitions that lasted about twenty days. I would have maybe limited it to seven days, maximum.
Now at twenty WordPress themes (with other Posterous and Tumblr themes) and having recently brought in a second developer to help with their themes, Obox has come a long way in two years.
On starting a new theme shop today, though, David didn’t seem optimistic:
When we launched there was in my opinion a shortage of themes that were excellently designed. That’s not the case anymore.
It’s not like creating a fart app on the iPhone. It’s just not that simple anymore. Now these WordPress themes you buy are proper software with proper documentation.
Do you think that perseverance, and sticking it out through the tough beginning, is the main differentiator between those shops that close down and those that stay open? Share a thought or two in the comments.