Comparison of Theme Companies’ Affiliate Programs

Comparison of Theme Companies’ Affiliate Programs

I have been doing a lot of research on theme companies and their affiliate programs. I hadn’t been able to find the answers to many of my questions online so I decided to figure them out for myself and let the WP world know. So here we go.

This research is based on looking at 129 theme company websites not including theme market places (like themeforest and mojo-themes). Of these 129 companies, there are 26 (20%) companies that do not have an affiliate program at all. Here are the stats on the rest:

 

What is the Most Popular Affiliate Software Solution for WordPress Theme Companies?

Of the 103 companies that do have affiliate programs the following are the most often used by Theme Companies:

The rest of the companies used a handful of other software and plugins including Post Affiliate Pro, and Affiliate Pro, affiliate marketplaces like LinkShare and ClickBank, and proprietary solutions.

Since most theme companies use e-Junkie or AMember, I will say that as an affiliate, I much prefer AMember’s interface to that of e-Junkie. Viewing clicks and sales in AMember is much, much better than it is in e-Junkie and though it takes more time to set up I’m sure, AMember is much more professional looking as well.

Out of all of the programs and plugins I’ve looked at though, I would say that I probably prefer WPMU’s Affiliates plugin the best simply because it allows me to create my own links (like that one!). Sometimes I want to promote a blog post or a non-product page on the site, but still want to get affiliate credit. WPMU’s solution allows users to do this by entering in the main URL that they will be sending traffic from so the plugin can track links from that domain automagically without custom links. It also allows affiliates to create custom links if they wish to do so. And, beyond that, the plugin offers a fantastic, yet simple overview of clicks, sign-ups, and sales so I can tell how I’m doing with just a glance. It is by far my favorite solution to use an affiliate.

 

What is the Average Affiliate Payout for WordPress Theme Company Affiliates?

This one actually surprised me. Here are the numbers.

  • 15% – 2 companies
  • 20% – 13 companies
  • 24%-25% – 21 companies
  • 30% – 31 companies
  • 33%-35% – 10 companies
  • 40% – 7 companies
  • 50%-51% – 17 companies
  • 75% – 2 companies

As you can see, nearly a third of theme providers give away 30% of the sale to their affiliates while nearly 20% of them give 50% or more away. I would have to say that 30% appears to be the industry standard which is further confirmed by both mojo-themes and themeforest which also pay out 30% commissions.

Obviously, as an affiliate, I would much rather promote themes that give me a 50%+ commission and probably wouldn’t even bother with the 15-20% range given that there are so many companies with great themes that are willing to pay more than twice those low rates.

 

How Many Affiliate Companies Give Out Re-occuring Commissions?

Out of 103, only 5 companies give re-occuring commissions. Of course, these companies really appeal to affiliates which is probably why at least a few of these 6 companies are among the most popular theme sites on the web:

Of these companies, all of them except TheTheFly give out the same percentage for the renewals as they do for the initial sale.

 

Do any Theme Companies Offer a Graduated Scale?

Why yes there are! There are 11 companies that provide a either a graduated (sliding) scale or varying percentages per theme. This simply means that the more affiliates sell, the more they make which is a nice incentive, but is really only for the most intense affiliates. Most affiliates are not going to reach the number of sales that will move them to the next tier of these payouts.

Personally, I don’t much care for the idea of having varying percentages for one theme over another. I think consistency is much preferred. Sliding/graduated scales are great though, except for when the initial sale starts at 15% and maxes out below the industry standard of 30%. Come on people! We can do better than that!

 

Which Theme Company is the Best Overall for Affiliates?

This question is a bit tricky to answer. You would think that the simple answer would be the one that gives away 75% of the commissions to the affiliates right? Well, unfortunately for us affiliates, of the two companies that offer those high commissions, one of the sites is undergoing some type of major transition and is pretty unusable while the other’s themes are not very high quality. If you can’t sell the themes, it doesn’t matter what the commissions are 🙂

All factors considered, Elegant Themes is the best affiliate program on the web and is probably the most popular as well. They make amazing themes and they give away 50% commissions both initially and re-occuring. At only $39/mo. for over 75 themes, it’s a deal that most WordPress users can’t resist. (Yup, I even have a membership myself!) Even if a user only needs one of theme, the cost of $39/year. for one theme is still cheaper than most of the other theme companies out there. Pretty much anyway you look at it, Elegant Themes has the best WordPress theme based affiliate program on the world wide web. Make a sale once, and collect on it forever… or at least until the person quits their membership.

 

Conclusion

So there you have it – all of the affiliate-related questions that you’ve been asking! If you’ve found this interesting or helpful, please share it and leave me a comment down below! If I didn’t answer a particular question you had in mind, let me know and I’ll do what I can to answer it for you and maybe include it when I revisit this info in the future.

If you are starting a theme company and are not yet listed on the list of premium WP theme companies, please contact me, and I’ll be happy to add you.

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5 comments on “Comparison of Theme Companies’ Affiliate Programs”

  1. Rebecca Gill says:

    Great article Matt! It is especially helpful to folks like me who need to roll out an affiliate program, but haven’t yet taken the plunge.

    Are there any do or don’t items you can provide when launching an affiliate program? I’d love to hear some things affiliates hate and love so I can better prepare a program people will love.

    1. Matt says:

      Thanks Rebecca. And thanks for sharing it. I’ll give some thought to your questions and try to put together some more info for you.

  2. That’s some very useful insight Matt. Wow you trawled through 129 companies! That’s insane! It’s also interesting to me that WPMU should come out on top as one of your main recommendations. I hadn’t really looked at that site in affiliate terms. I would of though Elegantthemes was one of the better affiliates in terms of conversion rates, although I hear a lot of people complaining that their recent redesign has had a negative impact on sales. Really good article by the way.

    Can I offer some friendly feedback on your site? Perhaps it’s because my eyesight is not in the best of condition, but I find it very difficult to read the dark grey font on light grey background with a fairly small font size to boot. I think your content rocks and bigger font sizes and a stronger contrast would help really bring it alive. That’s just me though.

    1. Matt says:

      Thanks for the feedback will! It took forever to go through that many companies. I’m hoping to find several more and do an update for this post and The Theme List both around the turn of the year.

      As far as WPMU – As an affiliate, I much prefer WPMU’s affiliate plugin over e-junkie, Amember, or the other solutions out there. It’s simply easier to use. Their actual affiliate program is about average for the industry at 30% w/o re-occuring commissions.

      Advice on the changes was well taken, I’ll likely make some edits soon, and I appreciate the feedback!

  3. Charles says:

    Hi Matt,

    We’ll be very grateful if you add also our rich 40% Affiliate Program.
    CSS Hero is a WordPress plugin for website customization. We deliver the ultimate tool to make your WordPress website exactly as you wish!

    Here is our affiliate program link:
    http://csshero.org/affiliate

    and this is a Intro Video of What CSS Hero does.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StWo66xVhHc

    Regards
    The CSS Hero team

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