How to launch your WordPress theme
So you’ve completed your next great WordPress theme. You’ve tested them day and night, squashing bugs and CSS inconsistencies along the way. Your fingers are trembling, waiting for the time to release that theme to the wild.
Get the news out
- The first thing to do is to write about it in your website. Either as a blog post or a specific page, it doesn’t matter, as long as it’s there. This is to be the home page of the theme, which will serve a bunch of purpose: you include the link to this page inside the theme’s style.css, you link to it when announcing your theme, people can come to it to comment and ask around if they encounter some problems, and so on.
- Send your theme to the WordPress Theme Directory. Pretty much the go to site for WordPress themes, make sure to upload your theme there for more exposure. You might want to check the guidelines first, though. When you’re done, it will take a few days (based on my limited experience) for the review process to kick in before your theme is included in the Directory. Unfortunately, the Directory does not support uploading of Child Themes yet AFAIK, so if yours is a Child Theme, you might want to skip this step for now.
- Announce it on Weblog Tools Collection’s News forum. You will need to register to the forum first (but hey, it’s free) before you can submit your theme there. Take a look around at how other people do it: basically all it takes is a little summary and link to the theme’s home page. You can also submit Child Themes here. When you’re done, give it a few days and your themes will likely to be included in WLTC’s regularly updated new themes post, giving you a lot of traffic in the process.
Let people test it before they have it
- First of all, it’s good to know that the Theme Directory provides a download and a demo link of your theme, so you can just use theirs if you’re so inclined. However, since the Theme Directory takes time to include a theme, you might want to provide a temporary demo/download on your theme’s home page as well.
- If you’re planning to release a lot of themes, it might be a good idea to create your own test site, add a dummy content into it, and upload your themes there.
- After that, you can use various different plugins that allow visitor to test your themes. You can try Theme Preview, Theme Test Drive, Theme Preview, or User Theme.
- If you’re too lazy/busy to make a separate site, then hey, your very own blog can be the test site. This is what I do. With the Theme Test Drive plugin, it’s just a matter of appending “?theme=themename” to your site’s URL to change the theme. Do read the documentation first!
- While a simple download link is sufficient, you might want to add a download manager plugin to give you more statistics on how many times it has been downloaded, and so on. I use the Download Monitor plugin for this.
This is how I do it, probably not the most efficient way, but it might give you an idea of what the steps are.
- Write the blog post. Don’t publish it yet. Instead, tweak the permalink and use that link for the theme’s style.css THEME URI.
- Upload the theme into the current site.
- Open a new tab, upload the zipped theme into the Download Monitor.
- Configure the Theme Test Drive and test it so it can show the demo correctly.
- Back to the blog post: add the download and demo link.
- Publish the post. Here goes nothing.
- Submit the theme to Theme Directory.
- Announce it to WLTC’s news forum.
- Done. Sit back and wait for people to come.
What about yours?
I’m sure a lot of you guys out there have more experience in launching your themes. Do share your very own tips and tricks in the comment area, alright?