When I first laid the groundwork for Theme Hybrid, or Project M as it was originally called, 7 awesome years ago, the idea was to face off against “premium” theme authors. I wanted to provide a free alternative to the marketplace and show that it could work. I also needed a creative outlet for my own WordPress projects away from my personal blog.
Note: One thing to keep in mind was that “premium” back in the day typically referred to commercial themes under a proprietary, non-open-source license.
Seven years has been a pretty good run so far. There have certainly been ups and downs. And, I’ve missed opportunities for more financial success. On the whole, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
However, it’s time for a change.
The path to now
Last year was rough for me. There were some personal things that made it hard for me to get myself into a creative mood. But, that wasn’t the whole story. I had felt burnt out for a good while longer than that.
As a creative person, that feeling is one of the worst you can possibly have.
Even in my non-WordPress endeavors I had trouble focusing and experimenting with new ideas. However, I’m now back on track. I have the motivation to create awesome stuff again. I just need to focus that energy in the right direction.
It’s time for a refocusing of this site.
Going back to the beginning
I always knew I wanted to provide awesome free/$free WordPress themes and plugins. However, $free doesn’t exactly put food on the table. While 7 years has been a good run, I don’t think I ever found the right balance between philosophy and practical concerns.
What Theme Hybrid needs is a fresh start.
It needs a fresh start that allows me to be creative while not being clouded by financial concerns. Today, I have at least a couple of months of wiggle room to try something new while figuring out the direction I want to take the business aspect of this site.
We’re going to start off by welcoming new folks to our community.
$Free and open signups
I’m going to do something a bit radical. I’m going to allow people to sign up at no cost. This will give them immediate access to the forums so that they can become a part of our community.
However, I will be keeping the current tiered system for people to pay for their memberships. These members will have guaranteed support from me (as always) and the other things listed for club members. I’ve also placed some discounts on these memberships.
So, it’s a bit of a “pay if you want to” type of service for the moment.
Wait? If you allow free signups, can you make money?
Actually, I have done it before. When Theme Hybrid first opened it’s doors, it had free signups to the support forums.
But, it’s always been about more than that. It’s the Theme Hybrid community that came first. It’s the community that has held this site together over the years. In no way have I done this all on my own. More than anything, the community of users here have kept this site running in its good days and its bad days.
I have a few ideas that I’ll be bringing up for discussion in the near future. While trying new things is certainly frightening, I’m excited about some of the prospects.