Ben is a lifelong Nintendo fan who likes to build websites, and make video games. He buys way too much Lego.
What a year – when 2016 started I didn’t expect it to play out as it did. It was an eventful year in more ways than one.
Personally the biggest change was becoming a father. My son, Sebastian, was born on Valentine’s day last year and is now a healthy 10 month old. I knew that being a father would be a big change, but I hadn’t appreciated just how big a difference it would make to our lives. He’s awesome though and despite the lack of sleep I wouldn’t change anything.
It was also my first full year working for myself. In August 2015 I left Miniclip after 11 years of working for them, to work full-time on WordPress themes at Pro Theme Design.
Thankfully, because Pro Theme Design is well established, I earnt enough for my small family to live comfortably. A lot of this was thanks to the fact I had spent time building up the collection of themes available on wordpress.com. If I had to rely on direct theme sales then things would have been very different.
Business wise – I got quite a lot done last year at Pro Theme Design. I only published 3 new themes last year – but in my opinion they are the best themes I have ever made. I also started ‘dogfooding’ my themes on this site. It’s been a great way to catch issues I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. To ease theme updates I developed a theme auto update system that integrates with my custom build process – so theme updates can be made as soon bugs are fixed. I also published an open source starter theme, called Granule, on Github.
Goals for 2017
I don’t like New Years resolutions – I think it’s daft doing resolutions to change your life at the start of the year. If you want to better yourself then you should make the change whatever time of year it is. Goals are different. They’re concrete objectives. I set myself goals all the time, but it’s nice to revisit them every now and then to make sure they are all worthwhile.
- Get healthier. Walk more, eat less. I did the 5-2 diet for a few months in 2016 and it went really well. Think I might have undone things over Christmas.
- Get a car. I learnt to drive when I was 17, had a car for a few years. Haven’t driven since. Now I have a small family it would be good to get mobile again. Seb can’t walk as fast I can :).
- Reduce the reliance on WordPress.com. The team at WordPress.com are awesome – and I will continue to sell themes there, but I want to branch out and do something different to spread the risk and hopefully increase my income.
- Paint. I did A-Level and GCSE art. I’d like to take it up again. A hobby that doesn’t involve a screen.
Pro Theme Design
Some of the specific things I want to do for Pro Theme Design are:
- Finish the site redesign. You can see the in progress version here. I have spent a lot of time thinking about how the site is setup and how I can improve conversions. The site already gets traffic, and I think it could get more sales with an improved design.
- Try the theme club again. I had a theme club last year – but decided to shut it down since everyone who joined did chargebacks – which cost me a lot of time and effort. I want to rethink it and try again.
- Add WooCommerce support to all themes. Most plugins should work fine, but plugins like WooCommerce need a bit more effort to integrate nicely. Maybe support for some of the other larger plugins as well (bbpress and buddypress?).
- Make a different type of product. Either a commercial plugin, or a multi-purpose theme (done the WordPress way). Not sure which way to go yet but I’d like to try something else.