This is the first of a new series of interviews to WP Kube. This week I’m featuring J.R from Mojo Themes. J.R Farr is the man behind the awesome wordpress marketplace Mojo-Themes! Mojo-Themes is one of best marketplace with some awesome collection of themes, templates, landing pages, psd etc.
How long have you been working with WordPress ?
Well to kick things off, I just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to put this interview together.
I started my first WordPress site back in 2006 and I haven’t looked back since! From then on, I fell in love with the platform. It was so easy to customize, extend and of course the community was awesome even back then.
I’ve been able to watch the community and market grow as it’s become more and more mainstream. It’s been interesting to watch it all happen. Even from WordCamps are becoming more and more popular as this most recent WordCamp Utah 2010 where MOJO themes was a sponsor, it was awesome being able to mingle with the WP community and learn from so many talented people.
What is your background? How did you come to owning a premium theme company?
My background in the tech, design, internet business comes from working at an interactive ad agency for over 5 years. I was lucky enough to get into the online space early, learn about web design, blogging, etc.
While working there, I also worked freelance jobs mostly in WP. I used to and still follow WPDesigner.com (Small Potato), Chris Pearson and Brian Gardner.
I became fascinated with it. I loved the idea of how themes allowed for more unique designs, functionality and ultimately how far you could bend WordPress to your will.
I had the thought of starting my own theme company back in early 2008 when I register MOJOThemes.com and I even register WordPressThemeMarketplace. I wanted to do something different though then everyone else. I wanted a marketplace for buyers and sellers. Shortly after registering the domains I realized the obvious trademark and Ma.tt announced his idea for the marketplace setting. I was discouraged and regret waiting but just like everyone else and their ideas, I sat on it for way too long.
In 2009 I teamed up with my partner Brady Nord to finally create and launch MOJO Themes together. Couldn’t be happier to have it up and watch it growing so rapidly.
How many themes did you launch with?
Luckily for us, we were able to launch a campaign called “March Padness“ where we gave away 3 iPads to all the sellers that uploaded with us through the BETA phase. That created some good buzz and allowed us to launch with close to 50 items.
A designer wants to start supplementing his income by selling wordpress themes, Would you recommend they start their own theme company or sell via a middleman such as ThemeForest or mojothemes?
Great question. I would of course suggest to sell with MOJO. Not because I’m biased but simply because if you look at what overhead you’ll have plus all the headaches you have to worry about, the 50% split is more than worth it for sellers. From marketing expenses, admin costs, servers, staff, etc. Before you know it you spending more on covering your costs.
On top of that, we already have an established site with high traffic and a targeted audience ready to purchase WordPress themes.
How do you keep support requests to a minimum?
For sellers it all comes to down to your theme documentation. If you’ve got it all laid out for the buyer you shouldn’t have any trouble. Also, it’s on us and our theme review team to ensure the theme is up to par and has proper documentation. So far so good
Where do you see the premium theme industry in 12 months?
Up, up and more up. It’s easy to tell. As WordPress continues to grow, so does the commercial market. There’s no question. For us as a theme company, we’re pushing to find more niches and creating themes to fill their needs. There’s plenty of business, magazine/news, photo blogs but there’s plenty of niches out there that are relying on WordPress to power their sites.
We’ll be pushing out some fun contests to our sellers to encourage thinking outside the box and create some new innovations for the WP community!
How do you manage quality of your themes?
Probably the toughest part of the job as this is easily top priority for us. There’s a few things that go into the review process besides just how pretty or sexy a design looks. A big focus for us is the of course valid, optimized code and clean, detailed documentation of the item. In other words, we have 3 areas that the item is required to pass. It’s hard and unfair to only base a theme of it’s design because design is so subjective. Often times, sellers upload an item 3, 4, 5 times before it’s finally accepted. In the end the item has gone through all the need stages to be ready for release.
Also, We actually have a review team, not just a single reviewer. When we have a tough time making a decision we come together as an entire team. Typically it ends up in the sellers favor.
The bottom line is, we’re looking for top-notch design, quality code and detailed documentation so our review process is extremely important to us.
Why you choose to create a marketplace instead of creating your own framework like thesis?
Hmm not sure what you mean? I would think those are hard to relate actually. On that same note though, the MOJO team has been working and talking through creating a fully-fledged, certified MOJO theme framework available to our sellers. Reason being, we’d like to create a solid platform for our sellers to create stream line process BUT more importantly, make sure our buyers can purchase WordPress themes in confidence. I might be a bit early on spilling the beans there but we’ll just see what happens in 2011
The guy’s over at Mojothemes have agreed to allow us to give away a wordpress theme to three of our lucky readers for free!
Win a copy of WordPress theme (mojothemes.com)
This will be a twitter exclusive contest. The guidelines are very simple. Just tweet:
Once you have tweeted, simply come back to this post and comment with a link to your tweet and your username.
Make sure that you are following @wpkube on twitter, so we can send a Direct Message to notify the winners.
Winners will be chosen randomly, and we will announce the winners on January 7th, 2011 on this blog.