wordpress template=$ and/or links

I did a post a few weeks ago about designing and coding wordpress templates for distribution. The article didn’t go into much detail of the method and benefits. Also, I didn’t have too many readers at that point, so I didn’t want to reveal too much. After the response I’ve gotten from the easy adsense article, it is clear to me that I have to now share another great article on how to make some money without too much effort. The great thing about this model I’m about to share with you is that not only can you make some money, you can spread some links as you go. ^_^ Let’s get started.

Just like the arbitrage method, this is going to require some skills in design and coding. If you feel you aren’t up to par in some skills… this could a great activity for practice! Requirements and recommendations include:

  • Intermediate competency in a WYSIWYG Editor (GoLive, Dreamweaver)
  • Intermediate competency in Photoshop
  • One domain that can support subdomains
  • Basic Competency in WordPress
  • 2-10 Hours depending on your skill level
  • Paypal Account

Photoshop Fun

We are going to start off by creating a photoshop design of the template. We are looking to create something basic for this walkthrough, so let’s say that the page has six elements (title-bar, header, navigation bar, sidebar, content, and footer). Try to get an idea of who might use this blog template, so you can cater the style to their tastes. I will be using a template that I have made for an example today, so let’s take a look at what it looks like after a basic design.

You can see the elements are there (aside from the footer) in this shot. This design is meant to be for a vacation blog or something along those lines. Really basic stuff to build this design. Total time spent at this point should be around 30-60 minutes for a competent photoshop user.

Chop Shop

Now that you have completed your design, you can begin the task of chopping up individual elements to be used in wordpress. Some elements you will want to cut out in their entirety (title, footer, header img, nav), and some elements will be cut so that they can repeat 1px at a time (content and sidebar should be cut in 1px-vertically/entire body width). This is pretty basic photoshopping all-in-all. If you are completely new to photoshop, you can get your skills to this level within a month, no problem. Here are a few examples of some cut elements:

As you can see, this is pretty simple up to this point. To be honest, the next part doesn’t get much more difficult! At this point, a competent photoshop user shouldn’t have spent more than 5-10 minutes cutting these elements and preparing them for integration into a wordpress theme.

What You See is What You Get

WYSIWYG editors are awesome. I personally use GoLive 9 for MacOS. At this point, you are going to want to install wordpress, or use a domain that already has wordpress running. For this design, you can start with the default theme if you would like (I did) to begin integration. The default template has very basic elements, so it is very easy to add on to. Arrange your “div’s” and what-not accordingly and work out the bugs. This kind of coding is relatively simple, but it can seem like a very steep learning curve. If you don’t have any experience in coding, this part could be very difficult for you. You won’t travel farther than Google to find some great learning resources for coding and even specifics on WordPress integration. The amount of time that coding takes can vary. Sometimes it can go through without much trouble, sometimes you will want to destroy your computer. That is the name of the game, though. :p

Re-Asses and Test

Now that you have your first draft of coding complete, go back and think of some useful things a blogger might want to include into the template. WordPress supports a wide range of plug-ins, so you can take advantage of that if you would like. Travel on over to where I keep my final draft of this template to see the changes that were made when coding. Very similar, but not exactly the same as my photoshop design. Test all of the pages for errors in your coding. There are always little things that go wrong the first time, so leave no rocks unturned in your efforts to debug. That all being said, testing the site takes around 15 minutes at the most. ^_^


So, you’ve designed and coded your template. Well done. Now for the good part! You have some options as to what you can do to either make money and/or build links.

I HIGHLY ADVISE everyone go read a great two-part article put together by Josh Buckley on selling sites for profit. More or less, what you have just built is a website… so his theory can be applied. Here are parts ONE and TWO. If you are selling, start with DigitalPoint.com and SitePoint.com. There are links for these sites in the second part of Josh’s article. What else can you sell besides the exclusive use of the template? Hmmm… sponsored links…? You might try auctioning links that will be embedded and encrypted into the template. It can bring in $50-200 for some templates, so it is definitely a good option.

You also have a great opportunity to build some backlinks here. If your route is the widespread distribution of the template, you can embed your own links into the template, thus creating an army of links. You can distribute your theme at some of these sites:


There is a possibility that you wont be able to sell your site or links. You can keep listing it over and over if you please, or you can just distribute for links. This is just one of many things you can do to make a little bit of extra cash. Good luck, and I hope I gave you some inspiration to go out there and make some money!

13 thoughts on “wordpress template=$ and/or links

  1. Matt – another awesome post!

    I’ll have a go at this later on after I’ve got bored with the Arbitrage 😉
    I don’t think theme creators are too popular these days anymore as I know of a few people who have been banned from Google and Technorati for having loads of incoming links from the footer sections of blog themes. But selling the templates could be pretty easy – especially if you have the full rights to them.

  2. Very good article. I was actually thinking of creating a few themes, when I find some time. When I was looking for themes for my blogs, I had the toughest time because all the themes I liked had major flaws with them.

    I had an idea of taking existing free themes, making them valid XHTML and CSS, and either re-distributing them or sending them back to the author with my link attached. I think I will just design my own though.

  3. I’ve always wanted to build my own theme but was too lazy and unsure of how I would go about it. This article is giving me more incentive to take the plunge. Great post.

  4. Thanks for all the great feedback everyone. 🙂

    Adnan you’re right. There is the risk of overdoing your link building. Definitely something to keep in mind when employing this method.

    If you guys have any questions about getting some code done or anything, you can reach me at my contacts listed on their page.

    Martin that is a great point about many themes going out for distribution with errors. I have always had to edit any that I download. I like to modify them anyways… being unique is key.

  5. Awesome, I like the fact that you showed the original image, then showed how it was “sliced”. Can you do this with Image Ready as well? (I think you can slice…)

    I have some great pics from the mountains that could make good themes…it’s the rest of the coding I’ll have to deal with.


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