Obox sold only ten themes in their first month of operation

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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.

17 thoughts on “Obox sold only ten themes in their first month of operation

  1. Yes, it’s important to stick it out in the beginning. The folks have to see not only what you’re made of, but if the product is valuable enough for the developerto stand behind and evangelize. I don’t think I know of the developer, but I probably saw the themes. I’ll check them out.

  2. There is a healthy theme marketplace out there, but it is hard to break into it. It will take work, a lot of time and patience not to mention great designs. People seem to think they can make 2 or 3 themes and they’ll suddenly be rich.

    I still think there is room for more theme vendors;I just don’t envy anyone starting out.

  3. I averaged about +/- 10 per month and am quite content given that I was only selling 1 theme up to a few weeks ago (and also didn’t have the time to go “all out”). As I’m picking things up now and taking care of growing search engine traffic, etc. , things are already looking up again, but you definitely have to push through the beginning (and if you don’t know how to handle & optimize the rest of the business aspects, then maybe it’s not for you). If that’s the main differentiator, who knows, probably. A lot of shops with nice themes have gone down, so I’d assume the majority has to do with business acumen and knowing that designing and developing a theme only accounts for a quarter of the work involved (at most). I’d be glad to put a piece together on my experiences when my 1 year mark comes up later in Spring.

  4. Today is all about giving your best stuff away for FREE, I gave almost all my themes for free.
    And what happend? Well it got me featured on the front page of Smashing Magazine.
    If you do it for money you will always fail, if you do it because you love it, you will succeed.
    So at the end “The more I give away for free, the more money I make”

  5. That’s sad. When I buy a theme, it’s usually because I’m looking for a distinct visual style that I can use as a starting point for my own design. Generic user-customizable themes are becoming increasingly common, and I have little interest in them.

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