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?