Crafted by Matt

Do you still remember my trusted WordPress theme shops? This time I interviewed Matt Medeiros who runs Theme shop called Slocum Themes. He definitely owes me a beer. 🍻

Tweets like that get my attention, they are clever and funny. But Matt does so much more than just tweets or build themes. Crafted by Matt is the site where you can check what he’s up to. You should definitely start following Matt and  check his products. Thanks again for the interview! Let’s get started.

Introduction – Who is Matt

Sami: Thanks for taking the time for interview. Could you first shortly introduce yourself?

Matt: My name is Matt and I’m a digital agency owner, product maker, and podcast host.

Sami: I’ve been following you and your great sites for a while now. But I’m still not sure what kind of business you have. Could you give an overview of your businesses and sites, what do you actually do?

Matt: My core business is providing custom WordPress development services to higher education, traditional publishers, and business-to- business clients over at SlocumStudio. We learn how our customers experience WordPress, what they ask for in themes, what they need in displaying content and then re-purpose that knowledge into our themes at SlocumThemes, and our plugin ConductorPlugin.

Since we live and breath WordPress at all angles, I distill that knowledge into conversations with other WordPress business owners at MattReport, and train people how to use WordPress at PluginTut.

Slocum Themes

Sami: You also have WordPress theme shop called Slocum Themes. What kind of themes you build? Is there a target audience for your themes?

Matt: I kind of go against the grain on “typical” marketing advice with my theme shop. Right now, we’re building themes that work for us, meaning, we only release a theme if it’s going to work well with our Conductor or Note plugins. Since our themes derive from client work, releasing a new theme fully depends on finding the right project where we can do that.

Showcase Themes

Sami: Showcase two of your themes that your users like most. Why they like them?

Matt: Our two most popular themes are Baton theme and Simple Shop theme. Baton is a “feature” theme. That’s a term I’m coining to replace “multi-purpose” themes. Baton isn’t narrow like a food theme, and not as wide as a page builder theme. It works great with our Note plugin and Conductor plugin and that’s why people enjoy it.

Simple Shop just happens to have the look and feel that people want for their business. It’s a dark grid-based theme that works for certain verticals.

Business Strategy

Sami: What is your business strategy for themes?

Matt: The strategy is simple, but probably not that popular. We’re building themes when we can, we’ve got a few ideas for themes, and when there’s time between client work — we’ll start to build them out. Theme products still can’t take the forward focus for us, like Conductor plugin and client services do.

Future of WordPress Themes

Sami: How do you see the future of WordPress themes business? Any tips to give from your own experience?

Matt: I’ve got another unpopular statement: I think it’s going to be harder to market niche themes. There’s a massive push to builder plugins and themes, that allow customers to design whatever they want — and they’re getting better. Niche themes of the future might be laser focused in design, but feature rich in terms of what they can do.

Then there’s everyone’s favorite prediction: The REST API. I’m “assuming” that will dramatically change things, but you don’t know until the market shifts that direction.

Tools for Online Business

Sami: What kind of tools you use to run online business? (Newslettesr, podcasts, automation, selling themes etc.)

Matt: Everything! Podcasts, e-mail marketing, marketing automation, blogging, videos, screencasts, live shows, and social media. I’ve only dabbled in pay per click promotions, I just haven’t had the time to really drill down and build a successful campaign.

Open floor

Sami: Open floor. Any other tips and tricks to share?

Matt: I’ve got two thoughts I’d like to leave developers with:

  1. Get better at telling your story
  2. Provide value when you raise prices

A lot of developers, and designers for that matter, are afraid to tell the story about their software. Perhaps some don’t need to because their sales are doing great, and SEO is working in their favor. That said, I can guarantee what’s working for them now, won’t be working in 2 years.

If you’re not putting your story out now, grabbing people’s attention, who are they going to turn to in two years? Not you. Start doing a better job at giving people a reason to tune in to you and your products — today.

It’s easy for all of us to say we should raise our prices, but at the same time, you need to maintain value. If the market doesn’t see support as value, you can’t use that as a crutch, no matter how painful that is.

The market is never getting easier, there’s always going to be someone that does it better & cheaper, but you need to find the specific value that only you can provide to your customer.