If you are a regular visitor to RichQuickReview, then I’m sure you noticed that I switched themes recently. This this new one is a theme made by Elegant Themes and in this post I want to give them a short review, talk about whether they are useful for online marketing purposes and also discuss an interesting lesson in marketing that you can learn from the Elegant Themes business model.
Are the Themes Any Good?
In a word: yes.
In a few more words: the visual design of the Elegant Themes collection is, without a doubt, top tier. All of the themes are really well designed, most of them look absolutely stunning and in terms of usability, page structure etc. there’s nothing to complain about.
Apart from the eye-candy, I was also pleasantly surprised by what the themes have to offer “under the bonnet”. Every theme comes with an easy to use and feature-rich options menu, accessible in the WordPress admin area. The options let you easily modify and change several aspects of the theme’s appearance, switch between different colour schemes (if available), set up ad space and AdSense areas, tweak SEO settings and much more.
Here is a Screenshot of part of this options menu, called the “epanel”:
Another thing worth mentioning: I am very happy with the loading speeds of all the Elegant Themes I have tried so for. Even with animated galleries and lots of pictures (like you see here on RQR), the pages build up fairly quickly.
Elegant Themes Short Codes
Another remarkable feature offered with every Elegant Themes theme are the so called “short codes”. These are simple snippets of code that can be very easily integrated on any post or page and let you add all kinds of awesome styling to your pages.
With the short codes, it’s really easy to create awesome looking slideshows, text-boxes, tabbed content and much more. All in all, they help turn Elegant Themes into a very flexible site-building tool and the “arsenal” you get with an ET subscription goes far beyond the scope of just a few skins that make your blogs look nice.
Are They Suitable for Money-Sites?
So, the themes may be good, but are they also suitable for sites geared completely towards monetizaton? I can only see one potential problem with using Elegant Themes for money-sites: they aren’t ugly.
As you may know, for certain types of sites, particularly if they are monetized with AdSense or banner ads, it’s beneficial to use an ugly theme. Essentially, if your website is ugly, then the ads on it will be the most compelling thing to click on. This definitely won’t happen with Elegant Themes.
Apart from that, some of the themes on offer are actually very interesting from a marketing prospective, because they can be used as a flexible CMS for websites that don’t actually look like blogs. If you’re promoting affiliate products or your own products, then some of these themes are definitely worth taking a closer look at.
What it comes down to is that it simply depends on your market and how you intend to monetize a website. What I can tell you is that even though I originally only signed up with Elegant Themes to get this one theme that you are now looking at on RichQuickReview, browsing through the ET gallery gave me some new ideas and I have since set up several websites using their themes.
The Marketing Lesson
Elegant Themes has a very interesting business model, which works like this: you sign up for a membership to get access to all of their themes, future updates and support. There is no way to buy only one single theme but you can keep any themes you are using, even if you cancel your membership.
What’s special about this is that the membership costs only 40 bucks a year.
The question I asked myself when I saw this offer was: if I were this guy, would I offer (currently) 46 high end, premium themes plus support for only 40 bucks a year?
And this is in a market where, for example, the Thesis theme is selling like hot cakes, costing $87 for a single-site licence and competitor Woo Themes is selling smaller packages of themes starting at $70. Not to mention that buying even one single premium theme that has the kind of quality design and flexibility that elegant themes offers, will usually cost more than 40 bucks.
At first glance, it just doesn’t make sense for Elegant Themes to put such a low price tag on what they have to offer.
However, it seems to be working out just fine. I don’t know any exact sales numbers but I can tell you that there are more than 22,000 members registered in the ET forums. It’s safe to assume that not all of those are still active and paying members, but even if everyone were to quit before the second yearly payment, this amount of members still represents quite a tidy bit revenue.
What’s the lesson here? Making a really, really good offer can pay off.
$40 is kind of a no-brainer and I was willing to pay that amount just to get hold of one of the themes. The other themes on offer and the good support won me over and I don’t see a reason to cancel my membership. If you can make an offer that gets around 20,000 people thinking along those lines, well, then you’re making a good living.