Cutline Theme for WordPress

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Would You Consider Paying for Cutline Theme Support?

October 21st, 2008 · 24 Comments · Site Updates

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?

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24 Comments so far ↓

  • Wednesday Roundup, October 22, 2008 |

    […] the Cutline blog, I’ve written about offering paid support for the theme. Perhaps this can be a good business model to WordPress theme […]

  • Susie

    I honestly have been surprised at all the questions in the forum that repeat what you have documented very well in posts like how to make About and Archives appear.

    I’d pay for specific help if it were something specific to me for which I would need to hire someone for anyway like to customize the css to integrate more with main site for example.

    I’d prefer ads on the forums and /or to promote whatever your business is on my blog vs. paying cash (e.g. barter).

    Thanks for asking and I hope this helps.


  • jd

    Put me down for possibly interested in paying for help. It’s a lot more open ended of a business agreement than $100 up front and forum support after.

    As a designer that moves folks from static pages to CMSes, that kind of “agreement” looks really good for me.

  • Zoe

    I would consider it, and then I would get another theme. I run five sites using Chris Peason themes, but I’ve gone V2 slider for the latest.

    The problem as I see it is that you have at this site apparently offered a level of support which doesn’t occur in reality – eg, how about a description of how to fix archives and about pages when the page slug has moved/gone from latest versions of WordPress? Pearson was very helpful in the early days, but since he’s left it’s been fairly rotten.

    I’m not complaining, because I like to learn and I’m the kind of person who’ll research my problems and almost always find the result, but if people expect to be helped and don’t get it, they seem to forget they haven’t opened their wallet.

    It made sense for Pearson to offer his support to establish the theme and then sell on, but what’s in it for you? As a consequence, there’s not much in it for us either.

  • Merrill Guice

    I was able to figure out what I needed to do to get my site working, but it took a lot of slogging through forums and seeing everyone who DID NOT get any replies to questions. That was what put me off to upgrading to one of the premium themes that were offered.

    Now that the site is up and working and I’ve figured out how it all works, I’m going to leave well enough alone. However, when I am ready to upgrade the site to the latest and greatest, I am going to look hard at models like Revolution.

    Rather than just convert a free theme to a paid support free theme, they are at least opening up fresh with a new theme so that you get something for your $79.00

  • Jay McGillicuddy

    I use the cutline theme on our htp:// and I found the Cutline forum helpful a few times but very unhelpful in a lot of other times.

    I ended up buying the Revolution all inclusive package and found the support forum exceptional.

    Revolution2 has gone to open source with purchasing support and when the funds are there I may consider purchasing that also.

    As much as I have enjoyed the Cutline theme I can honestly say the support forum lacks what I think is needed to be interested in purchasing a furure product from Cutline.

  • Ian

    If Cutline isn’t updated for when WordPress 2.7 comes out, i’ll probably move along too.

    the forum has been good but no one has ever corrected the pages feature. When you click to go to page 2, it brings you back to page 1.

  • Jay McGillicuddy

    I agree with Ian’s second paragraph. I have had to use the tag clouds to find what I was looking for.

  • Vinicius Brasil

    I have been looking for someone to help me navigate this thing for weeks. I recently gave up, but I think its a great idea for quality paid support. All I need is someone to train me in how it works, and how to edit and customize it. I bet it could be taught in a course or even one day. I would be willing to pay $50/hr. for someone quality that really helped me.

  • June Dodge

    I would have paid Chris Pearson for support as his directions were clearly written. Since the theme has been sold the directions have been unclear or missing – so there is no model to show that I’d get anything for my money. Before asking for money it would be a good idea to actually put someone on the project to show what we’d be getting. I kept expecting someone from the company that bought the theme to organize the forum and the website – but I’m not seeing that at all. I’ve helped several groups get started with wordpress and even though I give them choices for themes to adopt they so far have always picked Cutland – but when I have time I think I’m ready to move on and start learning another theme.

  • Merrill Guice

    Amazing. The original post was October 21 — that’s 21 days ago. In all that time, with all that has been said, there has been NO response from spashpress media. No engagement, no thanks, no nothing.

    This is what we’ve all been talking about. No engagement with the community. Would Chris have let these criticisms stand unanswered for 21 days.

    Well, there’s your answer

  • Laura

    I wouldn’t mind a one time payment. I do like the theme, it has the elements in the right places. But, I have yet to see if I can adapt it to run on b2evo.

  • Jonathan Soroko

    I’m absolutely for a paid model; but am agnostic on which system. What I’m against: people who design things that I use being hungry or not able to afford health insurance.
    My personal situation – I’m in the bottom half of the population for coding skills; my blogs – mostly about disaster preparedness, environmental policy and public health – are ad- and revenue-free. And while I intend to start or join a 501 in the near future, so far it’s all out of pocket. And I have two kids in college.
    Two other points:
    – sometimes you can’t figure out if a theme works until you’ve used it. I’ve paid for several that looked great – but found my skills weren’t up to the customization;
    – the RTFM principle only works if you know the name of the feature/problem you’re having. And the forums or BB systems are searchable.Therefore, self-help and mutual help become more efficient as the community gets larger. It’s an economy of network scale. Example: WordPress itself.
    – An example of my first point is that I want to buy the Thesis theme -but I just finished a three-year salaried gig -haven’t negotiated a new job or project yet – so my wife and I are being super careful about money. But it’s at the top of a short list I have of premium themes that I think will work


  • Cutline Premium Support Pricing | Cutline Theme for WordPress

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  • Ryan

    Comment #11 by Merrill says it all. I don’t see any replies from the site owner. Does this theme have a future? If yes, then there must a page that states the roadmap for this theme. This is a great theme, but then the market has many other great options where people like Brian Gardner personally reply to queries on such threads within hours. That’s the difference between owner and manager. You have to give it serious thought…whoever is managing this.

  • J. Angelo Racoma

    Sorry for the delays, everyone. But consider this — when Chris created and first released the theme, it was likely that he had been able to commit his 110% to supporting it. But when he realized he had to move on to other endeavors, he had to hand over the site and its support to someone else.

    I know it’s difficult to attempt to have the same knowledge and mastery of a project you have inherited as with its creator, but unfortunately, I can only go so far. But if it helps, our resident designer Ia Lucero is currently working on revamping and fixing the user forums and will soon contribute directly to support, too.

    Also, some of your inquiries have been responded to directly by email. I apologize for not sharing all of these publicly.

  • Merrill Guice

    Let the record show that it took Mr. Racoma forty-seven days to post a reply in his own forum. Let it further show that Mr. Racoma preferred to reply to individuals in e-mail instead of sharing his information with the community. Mr. Racoma also reveals that most of us know more about the workings of the product than he. Finally, someone named Ia is identified as knowing how to support CutLine, but he’s too busy to be in here, either.

    From these facts, I would suggest, then, that Mr. Racoma’s business model is bass-ackwards. He should pay us to support his product as we reply quicker than 47 days, we actually use the product, some of us know how to work on it, and all of us care more deeply about it than he.

    IF his ability to manage this community is any indication at all, it is that he is clueless. For management to actually be management, it must add value. All he wishes to do is add cost.

    Abandon ship, ya’ll.

  • Greg Atkinson

    I am all for a paid model. Sometimes I just hit a wall and would gladly pay for someone to help me out 🙂

  • Sense

    The big question is: Could Merrill Guice possibly have left more of an asshat post?

    Let the record show that you sir are a tool.

  • Merrill Guice

    Certainly I could have been more cretinous. I dialed it back because it was Christmas.

    Most people would just keep their mouths shut and go away quietly. By daring to speak openly, I give the owners valuable feedback; however, I must sadly note that the owners of the forum have neglected to thank me for my forthright and courageous post.

    Instead, I have this post from an anonymous coward who came to a word fight armed only with a pop-gun loaded with dorky rhetoric.

    BTW, the new update is very nice and appreciated. The comments are nice and the corrected image tags even nicer.

    If splash media had a tip jar, I’d toss some in there. for 1.4

  • Keith Davis

    Looks like the best of both worlds…
    free theme to customise yourself, if you know how, and no extra costs.

    But… if you run into problems, and lots of us do, you can get paid support.

    Yes, it sounds like a good deal to offer paid help, I would certainly use a paid help service.

  • Rainer

    No Chance man, sorry 😉

  • bathroom suites guru

    It seems a fair thing, it’s only really fair that people dedicating their time to help are paid, otherwise they are just using their skills for nothing.

  • Mohammed Shomam

    the forum has been good but no one has ever corrected the pages feature. When you click to go to page 2, it brings you back to page 1.

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