Elegant Themes – Suitable for Marketers?

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”:

48 Elegant Themes Screenshot

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.


About the Author Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.

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  • Hi Shane.

    I meant to drop you an email the other day when I saw you’d changed your theme.

    I wasn’t a fan of the old theme (too green and clunky for my liking).

    I really like the new theme and am seriously considering using them on my site.

    I’m assuming there are no compatibility issues with all the popular WP plugins?

    • Shane says:

      Hi Peter!

      The theme I had before was a work in progress, but it got stuck in developement and I didn’t pursue any more improvements. Did you see the one I had before that? That was one I had customized myself and believe me, that one was way worse! :P

      Re: Elegant Themes: I had one plugin conflict so far, but it was with a WP backup plugin that had been causing trouble with all kinds of themes. Apart from that, I haven’t had any kind of trouble yet.


  • Miron says:

    The price is now $39,00 dolars. I guess this needs to be updated

    Is it a way so i can buy for $19,00?


    • Shane says:

      Hi, thanks for mentioning that! I just updated the article to reflect the new price.

      Still a real steal if you ask me.

  • Alex Newell says:

    Have to ask you about this Shane, “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.”

    Not sure if I agree with this way of thinking. After all if you don’t see something you like then you click on the back button?

    On the other hand I’ve spent ages working on an adsense site – unique high quality copy and an attractive theme and my CTR is truly awful…




    • Shane says:

      Hi Alex,

      Well, I have to admit that I have very limited practical experience with this kind of thing, since I generally don’t monetize sites with AdSense or other forms of advertisement.
      I just know from A) other marketers who do that kind of monetization and B) the whole “MFA” (made for adsense) thing that apparently, ugly and low-quality content is the way to go for higher CTR. There’s probably a certain threshold that you shouldn’t go below, otherwise people just hit the “back” button.
      But if the site looks decent enough for people to start reading but they then see that the content of the ads is more attractive, that’s best for CTR, from what I’ve read/heard.

  • Casey Case says:

    I love elegant themes. There are a few in the ET portfolio that I think would be suitable for good CTR, as they are fairly clean and plain – personalpress, for example.

    • Shane says:

      Good point. There are some very simple and minimalist themes in the mix.

      Thanks for leaving a comment!

    • Alex Newell says:

      Thanks Casey – I noticed Personalpress and liked it…

      @Shane – further thoughts on ugly websites /themes – xfactor from WF certainly uses boring if not flat out ugly themes and supposedly it’s tested and designed for best results.



  • While I think Elegant themes are probably the best looking themes at the best price available (I bought them ages ago), I’ve yet to permanently use them on any of my sites.

    I think the main reason for that is my lack of graphic design skills. Most of the Elegant themes look great when they have some good graphics to go with them.

    Might revisit them shortly as I know a whole bunch of new themes have been released since I last looked.

    • Shane says:

      Yeah, you do have to be able to live up to the standards, so to speak.
      Although there are also quite a few themes that can do without images. I even have a few “crap” blogs that use ET. :D

  • Good review Shane!

    I bought this themes a few month ago and still “sitting on the fence” and not using them because on one hand they are “too good” and on the other require some learning curve…

    Also I found alot of very nice and rich of functions FREE themes such as Magazine-Basic from bavotasan. You can see one of my sites based on this theme here: bestheartratemonitors.net

    • Shane says:

      Dude, start using these bad boys. :D

      Yes, there is a bit of a learning curve for the more feautre-rich themes (if you want to use all the features), but it’s well worth it, IMO.

  • Hey Shane,

    Great review!

    I recently purchased a one-year subscription to Elegant Themes in order to get access to their ‘evid’ theme to host a video game trailer site.

    I agree that the themes are easy on the eyes – no doubt. I will say that the themes aren’t necessarily newbie friendly. HOWEVER, every question I posted to their forum was answered to my satisfaction, and in that regard, I am totally impressed and SOLD on their product.

    I’m hoping to roll out a number of review blogs using one particular theme that appears to be, as you say, flexible CMS. In fact, if I can get more familiar with the set up and management, I may switch over my Atomic Blogging Theme sites to Elegant Themes too.

    I didn’t notice the short codes options the first time through, so I’ll need to log in to my account and browse around – again, this time looking for other cool features I missed.

    Thank you,

    Fred S.

  • Ken says:

    Hi Shane, I read about elegant themes in your free wordpress report and immediately subscribed and started using them(I hope I went to the site via your affiliate link:). I am using the themes for a small offline business and for 3 online ideas that I am kickstarting. Thanks for the recommendation. I have to say that I tried the thesis theme but was quickly put off by the lack of basic support for the newbie and thus asked for a refund and settled for the elegant themes. I was up and running in no time and I found the forum support fantastic. Thanks again, Ken.

    • Shane says:

      Good to hear that you hit the ground running. :)

      I’m using the themes more and more myself. I’m switching almost all my product delivery to ET as well, now.

  • Michael says:

    Hi Shane,

    ElegantThemes is one of the best premium WordPress theme developers … even after the price hike to $39. I’ve been a member for 10 months and use several of their themes. I love the simple and inexpensive pricing that gives you access to all of the themes (dozens to choose from). My only complaint is the CSS style sheets are not nicely organized.

    That said, the epanel in which most customization takes place is very user-friendly.

    If you want to make some major functional changes to navigation / layout, you’ll need to know PHP – but that’s the case with pretty much any theme.

    In my view, the chief reason to buy a theme from ElegantThemes is to find a design you like and use it “as-is”. The designs are as you say “top tier”. I also like the variety of themes … they offer product / e-commerce themes, blog themes, business/corporate themes, video themes, a cool resume theme, and much much more.

    I am always perplexed by IM’ers asking which is the best theme to use because there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The right theme depends on the type of internet marketing site. For instance, if it’s an affiliate marketing site, many themes will work just fine. The key is having a plan in place before choosing a site. Of course, websites evolve and change direction, but given this is not foreseeable, plan the best you can upfront and motor ahead.

    It’s also important to note that ElegantThemes has a built-in SEO ready panel so you can optimize the themes. This is key. Yes, there is “All in One SEO” plugin, but I like using themes with a built-in SEO panel.

    That said, the one advantage to using “All in One SEO” is if you switch theme developers, you may have to input all the meta tag data again for each post. This happened to me during a theme migration which is a bit of a headache.

    Another nice pricing feature of ElegantThemes is you can download the themes any time during your 1 year membership. Other theme vendors require you to choose your 2, 3 or whatever number of themes package at the time of purchase. The problem with this is you may not necessarily know which additional themes you’ll want in the future.

    Finally, the ElegantThemes support is excellent

    • Shane says:

      Thanks for your comment!
      Yeah, one of the best things about ET is that you sign up and get to choose from any and all themes, including the new ones that keep coming out! And I agree that support is great, the forum is very active and the mods are very helpful.

  • Yoel Engel says:

    Hey Shane,

    You mentioned this review that you posted in the email you sent over. Thank a bunch for really taking your time and reviewing Elegant Themes in-depth. Quite amazing to know how user-friendly their back-end admin platform is. Takes away the hassle of having to think of “what do I do?” when it comes to WordPress because Elegant Themes just makes it SO easy to use! And for those that STILL think it’s hard.. ..they have video tutorials! So with that being said.. ..thank you Shane.

    • Shane says:

      Thanks for your comment! Yeah, Elegant Themes keep adding new themes and new features such as the tutorial videos. Just keeps getting better. :)

  • Sirian says:

    Hi Shane & Everyone,

    Just wanted to mention that Elegent theme designs do not offer a open source GPL license, so keep that in mind when purchasing one.

    This means that if you sell a website with an Elegant theme design, you will not be able to sell them the design because you do not own it. You may be able to transfer the license, but beyond that no-one except Elegant themes will have 100 % ownership to the design.

    Anyways, just thought I would put my 2 cents in.


    • Shane says:

      That’s a good point. There is a developers license available, once you sign up to Elegant Themes, though. It’s a one-off cost of $89 and the license allows you to sell ET Theme sites and use the themes to develop sites for clients.

  • Sirian says:

    Hi Shane,

    You’re right, they do have a developer license, but I believe even with the developer license you still do not ultimately own rights to the themes (CSS, images, etc.) and neither does the person you may sell your website to.

    If anyone is interested in eventually selling their website (including theme), outright, at some point, I suggest using Woothemes or another theme provider that has a 100 % GPL license.

  • Cecil says:

    These themes do look great. Perhaps someone can help me out, Is it possible to use any of your own customization within ET? Like for example upload a custom header? Anyone feel free to chime in. Thanks

    • Shane says:

      Hi Cecil,

      Yes, absolutely! You can upload your own logos very easily with all the ET themes and most themes also come with several different color “skins” to choose from.
      Plus, if you want to make other minor adjustments, you can usually ask in the support forums and someone will tell you where to add or remove a line of code in the stylesheet file.

  • Girish says:

    I guess you are using striking from theme forest ? am i right ? How do you compare it with Elegant themes in SEO perspective

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