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Toivo was not approved in WordPress.com

I was so thrilled when Mina Olen theme got accepted in WordPress.com. It has not been huge success but 5200$ in a year is a good start for me. I had vision to crow my land of themes so that 4-6 theme would be cool to have in there. I doubt that’ll never happen.

I knew that Kuorinka theme would probably be rejected, and I was right. That was no surprise. It was time to roll up my sleeves and start working with Toivo, my last Hope! I honestly think that I am much better theme developer than I was one year ago and I was very happy how Toivo came out. It’s my best one so far. The code is rock solid and design was spot on.

I send the theme in WordPress.com and waited their answer for a while, that’s never good is it:) After three days jury had reached the verdict: it was not good enough for WordPress.com.

They were nice enough to tell me the reasons. They didn’t write it like this but this is how it felt, and probably this is how they were feeling about it too.

  • Bad design
  • Lack of focus
  • Front Page Template sucks

I was little disappointed. But I wasn’t crying! My tears were coming from watching “Valley of Sigh”, our students amazing play.

I hope I can prove them wrong in WordPress.org version of the theme.

Future of WordPress.com themes

I really don’t  know where WordPress.com themes are going right now. They might have lost their focus like I did. First they opened their marketplace for everybody and now it’s closed again. It seems that they have been pushing really hard for publishing free themes, that’s a good thing for users. But for commercial themes I’m not so sure what’s the goal.

  • They basically stopped marketing commercial themes. They do tweet about new themes though.
  • We have a private blog for themers but other than that, there isn’t any conversation between developers or WordPress.com staff. They did send a enquiry a while ago so that might help.
  • Mike from Array.is mentioned that review process takes months for commercial themes. Sounds like .org review process:)
  • They seem to want really simple themes with simple design decisions. That’s fine by me but isn’t that kind of “forcing” the end user like certain type of themes if they don’t have any options?
  • I would have wanted more accessibility-ready themes in WordPress.com like mine but it seems that isn’t priority.

It would be interesting to know what other new theme shops thinks about WordPress.com marketplace? I’m not on the same page with them so I’m just gonna turn the page.

17 comments Toivo was not approved in WordPress.com

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience! I’ve been wanting to hear more about how that process works and it sounds like it can be quite challenging. You bring up some good questions about what Automattic’s goals are when it comes to commercial themes. I’m curious to know the answers to these questions as well.

    1. Thank you for comment Jami. Yes the process can be challenging. But I’m not sure is that the case for everybody. That’s what I’d like to know. Like I said there really isn’t any conversation between theme shops and only a little between .com staff. You’re on your own in there.

  2. I’ve never gone through the WordPress.com approval process so the following is from an outsider’s point of view.

    It seems WP.com wants single purpose themes, unlike ThemeForest.net on which multipurpose are preferred. And it looks like they’re moving toward the direction of SquareSpace.com — simple, easy to manage templates.

    Since you already have a relationship with WP.com, how about trying to get feedback on theme concepts first instead of completed themes? I mean mock something up in Photoshop and show that to them. Positive response? Move on with inner templates and coding. That way, you limit your initial investment.

    Or, maybe bring your talent to ThemeForest instead?

    Also, theme users and vendors are visual animals. Accessibility can’t be seen so they don’t see the value in it.

  3. It seems WP.com wants single purpose themes, unlike ThemeForest.net on which multipurpose are preferred.

    So it seems and I disagree both of them. There is room in the middle way also. For example Toivo is a business theme and have great blogging features. Can’t business site have great blogging features?

    I have a magazine theme and people are using it for blogging, for their business sites, for their pet site and who knows what else.

    Niche themes are different and I totally get that. But you can’t build a eCommerce or Church theme in WP.com.

    how about trying to get feedback on theme concepts first instead of completed themes?

    I have thought about it and sent some feedback how the process could be better. But I’m not gonna sent them mockups and ask feedback for my design. That’s why they have theme wranglers, let them build themes based on their vision. Let me build themes based on my vision. I’m not gonna compromise that.

    Even if it means I’m out of business before it even started.

    Or, maybe bring your talent to ThemeForest instead?

    Yep, already made decision beforehand to try them out. Lot’s of themes get rejected over there also, so let’s wait and see:)

    Also, theme users and vendors are visual animals. Accessibility can’t be seen so they don’t see the value in it.

    But WP.com staff should see the value of it and push harder for it. Accessibility can mean some compromises in the design (color contrast decisions for example) but it’s totally worth it.

    1. Then I think it’s best you do it on your own through WP.org.

      WP.com and Themeforest.net are both businesses. The only thing they SHOULD do is increase the bottom line. Everything else they choose to do would be nice of them, but not necessary as a business.

      For example, accessibility is a WP.org priority, not a .com priority unless it directly translates to $$$.

      I understand where you’re coming from, but using someone else’s platform to access customers you can’t access on your own requires compromise.

        1. You’re a talent that simply need the right platform to appreciate you. It’s a lot more fun to partner with people that see things the same way than having to fight for every inch.

  4. I could write a long post about how wrong WordPress.com are, but I won’t. Their focus are probably (as Tung says) single purpose themes and in addition very commercially dominated. So be it – room for everyone.

    I say, be different, be yourself! Keep up your awesome rock solid themes. I really enjoy your work and I love the fact that there are not like 90 per cent other themes.

    So keep thinking different Sami!

      1. Cool, the download stats are showing a strong start. It looks great! I’ll be curious to know how well the freemium model works for it.

        I’m really looking forward to seeing your church theme on ThemeForest. And churchthemes.guide. 🙂

  5. I was thought that going to get ready for submit theme to WP.com, but after I read this article, maybe the best way to continue our theme business is that run our own theme shop, release the free and premium themes in our own way.

    1. I think you should try to submit theme to WordPress.com if you have a change. But I would not rely my business on their hands meaning that your own shop should be central point.

      But it doesn’t hurt if you can have the same theme in different platforms:)

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