Splashpress Media

Premium Support to be offered at Cutline

Posted on Jan 5, 2009

cutline.jpg

The current trend amongst premium WordPress themes seems to have moved away from licensed sales and is gravitating towards paid support. The most notable example of this was Brian Gardner‘s decision to evolve the Revolution Themes into exactly this model, a story that we covered at the Blog Herald in depth, including an interview with Brian himself.

Splashpress Media acquired the Cutline Theme when it purchased Tubetorial from Chris Pearson and Brian Clark in March, 2007 and we hope and believe that we have done a decent job supporting the theme and its users since then. Brian Gardner did a fantastic job managing the community: building a showcase and developing three column versions, which were amongst the most popular (in terms of downloads) WordPress themes in 2007. Franky Branckaute further enhanced the theme with a new and improved version and adding a support forum. David Peralty also released three further versions of Cutline, while continuing to support the community via Q & A at the blog. And most recently, our own J. Angelo Racoma and Ia Lucero have been continuing with this ongoing support for the community.

However, as one knows, time is money and there is limited amount of support one can provide for free on a technical and design level. While one can deal with general fixes, upgrades or overall development and answer questions from the community, one is also limited from helping individuals with their specific requests and concerns on their own version of Cutline. This is what we are aiming to offer with our introduction of premium support.

Angelo asked the community for their thoughts and feedback before we decided to go down this road:

Here’s a concept I mentioned in my previous post. While the popularity of premium themes has been growing of late, most of these require an outright purchase, which then includes some form of support from the theme author. However, some are moving towards free, open source releases (like Brian Gardner’s Revolution), and then offering paid support.

This is one path we’re considering taking.

So in this case, the theme is essentially free for use by anyone who wishes to download it. But if you find yourself facing a brick wall during install or customization, you can pay someone to help you with this. Paying a few bucks sure beats having to endure endless hours of figuring out what has gone wrong and the ensuing headaches thereafter! And paying your own designer to tweak or customize your site might be a bit expensive, unless you have designer friends who would be willing to do the fixes for you over beer or coffee (tea works for me).

While I said earlier that we’re not considering paid support anytime soon, that “anytime soon” turned out to be just a few days. Fact is, we’ve regularly been receiving emails asking for help with various matters. And while the answers to most of these inquiries can be found in the freely-available support forums I guess some users don’t have the time to search or weed through the numerous entries and responses, and would rather get a straight-to-the-point answer.

Some even ask us to directly work on their themes. We’d been glad to oblige, but in many cases, we realize that tweaks and changes would require some time to work on. And being busy folks, we do have to work out our priorities.

I’m thinking of two options here. First, we could run a paid support forum alongside the existing one, which is free. After all, we wouldn’t want to lock down something that has been open to the public for a while now. But a paid, subscriber-only forum should be able to offer quicker answers (from the developers) and possibly other value added information. Think of Hive, where established probloggers share valuable information and insights with a closed group.

The second option would be to offer direct support paid by the hour. This can be in the form of email, chat, and actual manipulation of the sites/blogs in question.

Or, it could be both.

But I would like to get users’ opinion on this first. How much would you pay for membership to a support forum? How much would you pay hourly for theme support? Or would you, at all?

After gaining feedback from the community base of Cutline users, Angelo recently laid out the plans for the premium support for the theme:

After much research, thought and deliberation, we’ve come to what we think are reasonable rates for premium support for the Cutline theme. Recall that I’ve mentioned this idea before, and it seems some folks would be willing to spend a few bucks to get quick support or fixes. And we’ve also thought about those who don’t only want quick fixes, but rather a whole slew of modifications and fixes to their Cutline-themed blogs.

And so, let me introduce our rates:

  • Hourly consultations for $50 per hour. This would include technical and design-related support, wherein one of our designers or programmers would delve deep into your blog’s design or code, and do the edits on-site. This also includes phone, email or IM consultations in which we walk you through how you can do these edits yourself.
  • Design overhaul or customization for $200. This will involve design customizations and big changes, as long as it still works within the Cutline framework (meaning no major changes to the underlying code will be done). This also includes creating custom headers and other graphics, so your site will look unique. The pricing is just enough to give our designer an incentive to primp up your site, but it’s just a fraction of the cost of designing a theme from scratch.
  • Cutline premium forum subscription for $3.99 per month. The premium forum is where our designers would directly respond to user/reader inquiries in a timely manner. We would still maintain the existing forum free, but this would be mostly for user-to-user discussion and support (and all content that was previously free will still remain accessible to the public).

We already welcome consultations and design overhauls–please get in touch with us through our Contact Form and we can discuss your needs. We’re still redesigning the forums, though, so the premium forum would take some time.

We do hope these rates are reasonable enough. But of course, if all you need are really quick fixes that would likely only take us five minutes to do, then you don’t have to worry about paying a cent for those.

Our own Ia Lucero is currently working on the forum where we will be offering this premium support from. Free general support and upgrades will continue as before- this service will just be for those Cutline users who need that extra bit of help!!