Posted on June 13, 2017
Since 9seeds first sprouted, building and selling WordPress products has been part of our DNA. We launched our first plugin in 2009 shortly after forming our company. Since then there have a been many plugins we’ve built for ourselves or clients, sold as products and supported, and we have even sold plugin code bases to other maintainers when we no longer were the best fit for them.
Over the years, however, most of our time has been spent building custom WordPress sites for clients. Principally building bespoke themes (design) as well as custom functionality (plugins). We’ve helped hundreds of clients take an idea they had for a site that did something unique and turn it into a living, breathing website customized to just their needs.
We’ve learned a lot about what works, what doesn’t, and how to avoid what might not be a problem today or tomorrow, but might show up as a problem next year and the year after. We still actively work for an maintain many of the sites we built in the first year. Granted, most of those folks have opted for full rebuilds since then.
One thing we’ve never done in all our years is to sell WordPress themes as a product, until now.
Building WordPress Products on the Side
As much as we’ve wanted to pursue building and selling WordPress themes, the immediacy of building custom websites for clients tended to take precedence over the long game of building and selling products.
Speaking of long games, 9seeds’ 8th anniversary is right around the corner. That may not sound like a long time but it’s a lot longer than most agencies focused on WordPress have been in business.
Since the beginning, the majority of sites we’ve built from scratch have been built on the Genesis Framework from StudioPress. That is not to say we’re exclusively a Genesis shop. We havee built sites on everything from Thesis to Headway, to Underscores, to Roots, to just rolling our own themes. We’ve always approached site development by choosing the foundation that is best for each individual client, but most of the time that is Genesis.
We’ve also built sites a huge range of sites from classic WordPress blogs to high traffic publishing sites like The Good Men Project. We’ve built membership sites like LendingMemo and 40DayJoyChallenge. We’ve built e-commerce sites like PowerPhone and Cardsmiths Breaks. We’ve even built private intranets and a bunch of sites we’re not allowed to talk about ;).
While a healthy portion of our clients opt to have custom themes designed from scratch, a good portion are also well served by leveraging existing commercially available themes. When clients do thier own them shopping we always guide them to one of two places – StudioPress’ own theme store or Web Savvy Marketing’s theme store.
The reason is simply that we’ve never had a problem taking themes from those two sources and using them out of the box, or heavily customizing them to suit. We have never had a problem with either which is more than I can say for the majority of themes we see from other marketplaces.
A match made in WordPress Heaven
While I’ve know Rebecca Gill from Web Savvy Marketing professionally and by her stellar reputation for many years. I didn’t get to know her well personally though until just the last year. We’d certainly cross paths WordCamps and across the interwebs but she tended to frequent the east coast camps while I frequented the west coast camps.
Internally 9seeds had often talked about building and selling themes on the Genesis framework specifically and about a year ago I sought Rebecca’s sage counsel on whether she thought 9seeds pursuing building Genesis themes was still a worthwhile business venture. WordPress is a fairly unique business culture filled with an atmosphere of friendly competition where asking a question like “What do you think of me going into the Genesis child theme business head to head with you?” just isn’t as bizarre as it might be in other contexts. Regardless, when I asked her this questions it had never occurred to me she’d even have considered letting go of the amazing theme store she’d built up over all these years.
It took a bit more time of getting to know each other personally before I came to hold the same feelings that others had shared about her. I felt deeply that this was a person I not only wanted to be friends with but wanted to be in business with.
It became apparent to both of us that this was a perfect fit.
9seeds would take over the store starting with support and new theme development that had slowed to a trickle. Rebecca would counsel me on getting our SEO and marketing skills up to the level excellence she’s achieved with WSM.
It’s a win for 9seeds by giving us a springboard into a market we’ve long had our eye on accompanied by the best trail guide in the business showing us the path.
It’s a win for WSM by freeing Rebecca and her team up to align with where her focus now is on larger custom site builds and SEO consulting.
Exciting Times Ahead
For me personally, this is my most exciting business step forward yet. We already have a theme in development that will be releasing once the store merge is complete.
We’re still working out the technical and design details of moving the support forums and theme store over from the WSM domain to 9seeds without interruptions or downtime. That’s a pretty daunting task given how long both stores have been around and that one is built on WooCommerce while the other is on Easy Digital downloads.
I know all of WSM’s loyal fans are going to be thrilled with what we’ve got in store. You can guess with 9seeds’ strong background in web publishing, memberships sites and more a bit what we have planned for the next year, but we’d love to hear from you all what you’d like to see in the comments.