Progress with WordPress Themes

I made a post in late October talking about how I came to purchase WordPressThemes.com for my newest company, Terran Marketing. I purchased the site back in mid October, but haven’t a lot of time to put the effort I would have liked into it. However, with the help of an off the shelf WordPress template I was able to get the site up and running with very little effort. This allowed me to get some preliminary data about how WordPress themes would perform from an affiliate angle and see what was working best in the early going. Below I’m going to document my progress since mid October and my plans for early next year with the site.

Find and install a new theme

The first order of business after purchasing the site was to find a theme that would work for me right out of the box. I was lucky enough to find a theme by SoloStream called WP-Aire that had 99% of what I needed right out of the box. It took me a total of about 5 or 6 hours over a weekend in late October to find and install the theme.

Add some initial content

After I installed the theme I needed to write some initial content to ensure the site looked the way I wanted it and was going to fit my needs 100%. I wrote 6 reviews for the initial theme reviews and did that over the same weekend in about 3 hours.

Find a content writer

The last thing that I did over that same weekend was find a couple good content writers. I went to Elance and vWorker and requested 5 different jobs to write reviews. The bids I was getting were around $10 for each 400 word review. I thought this was fair for native English speakers and hired 5 different people to get good samples. All the work was turned in by the following weekend and I used that weekend to review all the content that was submitted to me. 3 of the writers were horrible and I’ll never use them again. However, 1 of them is really good and 1 of them is excellent. In fact, I want to give Valerie over at Words You Want a special shout out for doing a consistently great job.

Posting Content

Once the content started flowing in, I started posting 3 reviews per day to the site. I did this in the evening, which took about an hour per night at first as I was learning the easiest way to post the content. Now I post 3 reviews in about 30 minutes. By adding content on a consistent basis it looks good for google. By not posting huge amounts of content at once it looks natural and tells google to come back often to crawl my site (a good thing).

Create a New Design

On November 13th I launched a design contest on 99Designs to create a new template for WordPress Themes. I spent about 15 minutes writing up the design brief and another 90 minutes in total communicating with the designers. What resulted was an amazing template to turn over to the coder.

Converting the PSD to a WordPress Theme

The next step was to convert the PSD (PhotoShop file) into an actual WordPress theme. This process can take anywhere from 72 hours to a couple of weeks depending on who you use, the time of year, and how complex your theme is. I had everything working against me in this stage. First, I didn’t turn the project over to the programer until December. Of course you have the holidays and such to deal with at that time of year. Second, my theme is quite complex. I wanted some pretty sophisticated logic built into the theme that displays the most popular themes at the top. To me the most popular theme is the one that gets the most click throughs. Meaning the theme that has the highest ratio of clicks to views on the site. I also thought it was important for new themes that are added to the site to have a “fair shake”. So, that made things more complex. Here is the formula that I ended up using:

1. The themes with the highest click though rate should be listed at the top and sorted in descending order.

2. New themes that are added to the site should be listed near the top so they have an opportunity to be exposed. I chose to have each new theme posted to the site show up in the 4th position. This way the top 3 themes are always at the very top. A new theme gets 500 impressions on the site and then it falls into whatever ranking position it belongs in.

*The click through rate is defined as the number of times an outbound link is clicked on a theme page / the number of times the theme is viewed.

Launch the site

Once the code was turned over to me it was time to install it on a new dedicated server I purchased at HostGator. I’m very impressed so far with their service and pricing. It’s been a long time since I’ve done any server work and this world has passed me by. With the help of the support staff of the good folks at HostGator I was able to actually get by. I spent a significant portion of the past couple days getting the new server up and running, porting the content from the old server, and testing the new server.

The product that is there now is the result of all of the steps above and I couldn’t be happier. I know I’m biased, but I think the site looks absolutely amazing. It’s still very early, but it looks like the new layout is converting 2x-4x better than the old one. In total, I spent less than 40 hours on this site over the past 2 1/2 months.

Feel free to check the site out for yourself at www.wordpressthemes.com.

What the future holds

Since I’ll be working on Terran Marketing projects full time starting 1/1/11, WordPress Themes will be my main focus for the next couple of months. I plan on taking this newly developed theme and using it on three other websites to capture more SEO traffic for WordPress theme related terms. To this point, I also purchased www.wpthemes.net, www.wpthemes247.com, and www.themesforwp.com. It will be very easy at this point to just copy the theme to these sites and just add more content as it comes in. I have a very steady stream of content coming in now and someone to help post it for me. I will have no problem posting 20-30 new themes on each site every week for the foreseeable future. In addition to these 3 new domains, I also plan on spending a lot of time doing SEO work for all 4 sites. It’s time to start getting links and optimizing the site to rank higher. When I purchased WordPressThemes.com it ranked around 35th for my key term. Now it bounces from 10th – 22nd. Hopefully as we head into the new year I can capture and hold a top 10 ranking.

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