Is the WordPress economy shrinking?

or is the market that is saturated?
Last Updated on: Posted inBlog

Yesterday Chris Lema published a blog post asking the same question: is the WordPress economy shrinking?

He tried to answer the question, especially from the point of view of agencies and freelancers, who build websites with WordPress.

You can see his video right here:

To summarize the video, Chris divides the WordPress market in three areas: bottom, middle and top.

The Bottom end is shifting to DIY solutions such as Squarespace and Wix. I’d also add GPL WordPress themes with page builders that you buy once and allow you to create countless unique design. Because of them there are less and less requests for inexpensive websites.

The Middle end is growing. There is a higher requests for all in one platforms, integrated system, customization and for services. Especially services that bring traffic to websites like SEO, SEM, Social Media Marketing and so on.

The Top end is moving in house by many big corporation who created their own internal WP teams. As a consequence less and less big job are commissioned to outside agencies.

He also invite his readers/viewers to find partnerships.

All this make sense, but what about those of us, who sell WordPress products to agencies, freelancers, companies and final consumers too?

Is the WordPress Economy shrinking for everyone?

Comments to his video, blog posts and in Facebook groups are divided.

Some say Yes without a doubt, like Adam Pickering of Astoundify.

adam pickering comment on chris lema youtube video about wordpress economy shrinking

Astoundify is a Theme Developing agency that sells exclusively on Theme Forest and their sales appear to have taken a drop.

If we check the weekly top selling products on of 2 years ago, Astoundify had 2 Themes listed for a total of 173 sales. Listify, their top selling theme had 117 sales.

Now they have 1 theme listed between the weekly top sellers. That is still Listify with 62 sales. Their flagship theme lost 48% of its sales. These sales didn’t disappear, there are other themes in the same niche stealing their market shares.

On the other hand, the founder of one of the most popular products in the WordPress industry, left a comment in a Facebook group saying that their sales doubled in May 2017 compared to the same period of last year. He deleted his comment before I could take a screenshot, so I won’t reveal his identity.

My personal opinion is that the WordPress Economy in general is not shrinking, however new operators are popping up daily and it is more and more difficult to gain market shares.

Those that are successful, like the plugin developer who I previously mentioned, are even doubling their revenues.

Those who are not, are seeing their figures going down. There are many more individuals in this second category.

The main differences appear to be made by innovation and price.

ThemeForest Drop in Sales, is it real?

One thing that appears to be clear, is that sales on are declining for many of the players involved.

The Envato Community Manager stated : “that Market continues to experience year on year growth and authors at all levels and across all marketplaces continue to see increases in earnings”.

What we see in the 2017’s Best Selling products page seems to be a bit different.

Avada sold a hefty 60k dollar less compared to May 2016. The 20 top sellers combined sold exactly 1000 themes less compared to the same period last year.

All this are signals of a saturated marketplace. Too many authors and products for so many buyers. Not really the sign of a shrinking economy.

Even if a lot of authors are declaring to have lost sales, there are other who eventually are growing and also a lot of new authors and new products added every day.

In any case, those that we see growing the most, are those that are either innovating in their niche, or those who dropped their prices considerably.

Are independent theme shops having the same problems?

not many of them publish transparency reports, but those that do, leave me no doubts. Developing themes to sell them, will soon be a thing of the past.

The last transparency report of the CodeinWP blog for example is titled: Stop Building New WordPress Themes?

What they say in the report is simple. They saw a huge decline in sales when Zerif lite, their flagship theme, was removed from Even after the theme has been added back, revenue never came back.

They believe page builders and Squarespace are responsible for this and in the future there will be less themes, all compatible with these page builders. Rather than developing new themes, they will improve what they currently have to work perfectly with the best page builders.

What about plugins?

Apparently most plugins sold independently are growing. Chris Lema mentions Beaver Builder in his video. We know about the big player we talked about earlier.

Another plugin that we know for sure is growing is the Ultimate Member plugin. They share their revenues and because we keep an eye on them, we know they are growing compared to last year.

WP Rocket last year grew by over 300%.

We for example are growing on average 30% compared to last year. So it doesn’t look at all like the WordPress Economy is shrinking for WordPress Plugins.

What about your WordPress business?

Are your revenues growing, stagnant or shrinking? We’d love to know and you can share how things are going for you, in the comments down below.

Published by Paolo

Paolo Tajani is the co-founder and growth hacker of AyeCode LTD. With his business partner Stiofan, they are the makers of the GeoDirectory, UsersWP and Invoicing plugins for WordPress. Paolo developed his first WordPress website in 2008. In 2011 he met Stiofan O'Connor and together they started building and marketing successful themes and plugins for WordPress. Today their products are used by +100.000 active websites.