2017 Year in review

Each year I like to reflect on what I’ve accomplished over the last 365 days, reviewing any major wins, lessons learned, and failures too. Last year was full of adventure: new products, new friends, and a new baby. Here’s what’s new.

ThemeBeans Annual Review

While the theme market in general has tanked for the vast majority of theme developers, ThemeBeans has been growing quite consistently. I suppose that’s because there are still folks who pay for quality code and thoughtful design. Year over year, ThemeBeans saw a 58.8% growth in revenue and an 19.9% increase in average revenue per customer. Both metrics are attributed to the new Theme Club offering solid marketing strategies, further exposure through content offerings and of course auto-recurring licenses.

I launched two new commercial WordPress themes (Ava and Tabor), both of which were very successful campaigns, as well as a free theme on the WordPress directory (York Lite).

I also refinished my shop’s website and introduced the Theme Club annual membership, which were both hits. We closed 752 tickets with an annual happiness score of 92%. There is still room for improvement, but I like where we’re headed. ?

If you’re in the WordPress theme business, you know that a theme requires quite a good bit of maintenance throughout its lifecycle. Plugins are no different in this matter, except that themes deal with compatibility issues not limited to a specific functionality or scope; it’s site-wide. I take updates seriously, providing value in both maintenance and new features. Over the year, I single-handedly published 144 WordPress theme updates across my entire catalog and migrated 8 of my older themes to the latest development framework. Whew! 2017 has been a solid year at ThemeBeans. Even with all the uncertainty and complete saturation of the WordPress theme economy, I’m stoked on how well the shop is performing. This year, I learned that effective marketing is the key to success in today’s market. Having a good product doesn’t mean anything if no one can find you.

Login Designer

I launched the Login Designer MVP over the WordCamp US weekend in December and it’s received quite a bit of attention since then. To kick it off, Login Designer was hunted on Product Hunt with over 300 upvotes through the first weekend. Super cool! ?

Here’s a quick video showcasing the plugin:

In the plugin’s first month it has been downloaded 2,223 times and has recorded just over 600 active installs.

Edit: Now there are over 3000 active installs, with 20 or so 5-star ratings!

While there’s currently nearly a dozen or so WordPress login page editors on the plugin directory, there are none that capitalize on the Theme Customization API like Login Designer does. I built the plugin to be hyper-focused on providing a brilliant customizing experience — one that folks are obviously enjoying.

I have a lot of plans for Login Designer in 2018, including a paid version of the plugin which will house quite a bit of extended functionality. Subscribe here, if you want to be the first to know when it hits.


One of my personal goals for last year was to write and share more. 2017 was the first year I really doubled down on publishing content. I wrote 14 new articles which garnered 38,041 views.

That’s an 110% percent increase in page views from 2016!

My most popular post by far was my announcement of Merlin WP, which received just over 21k views by itself.

I also re-launched my blog with a new design and content-focused strategy. I then published the WordPress theme I use, which has been really well received and quickly became one of the year’s most popular WordPress themes at ThemeBeans.

Merlin WP

Merlin WP is my stab at addressing the generally awful first touch user experience for WordPress themes. It’s my most popular GitHub repository and has been a great learning experience overall.

There’s a lot of work that goes into an open source project like Merlin WP, and I still have a few issues I’d like to resolve before marking it “good to go.”

I have been testing the wizard within a few of my less popular WordPress themes with pretty good results, and I hope to roll the wizard out across my entire catalog soon.

To top it off, I’ve been chatting with the folks who run OCDI to see about merging their content importing functionality with Merlin WP’s experience. I’m not entirely sure it’ll happen, but if it does – this would be huge.

Now let’s get personal

I personally hit quite the speed bump dealing with the stressors of a newborn when our baby girl was born late March. Looking back, much of the stress came from the trials of transitioning to life with two young children. I became irritable at home and much less productive at work. Only recently have I emerged from under the burden of stress by really diving deep and taking a look at the mental gymnastics that I was putting myself through. And while I will have days that feel overwhelming, I also have a loving wife who has my back.

Other cool stuff

A lot more went on throughout the year. Here’s a quick-fire list of more cool stuff that happened in 2017:

Overall, 2017 was phenomenal

Cheers to 2017 for a brilliant, fast-paced, yet incredibly satisfying year. I learned a lot, built more, met some wonderful folks and laid the groundwork for future endeavors. Looking forward to this next year, I am particularly excited about Gutenberg. The modern content creation experience will be fantastic for users and there is a lot of potential for a future commercial Gutenberg block market. The sky is the limit. Bring on 2018.

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