Community, Self-Respect, and Free WordPress Themes

If you would like to know more about Elevate Themes, or would like to stay up to date with the launch schedule and FREE theme releases, please follow @elevatethemes on twitter

I’m convinced the worst feeling in the world is when you know you could have done something, yet you chose to do nothing. Over the last several months, it has become increasingly clear that my self-respect was waning, and an intense desire to do something special was overwhelming me.

You see, I’m grateful for the community that supports free software like WordPress.  It’s that community that has given me the ability to work full-time from home, enjoy a comfortable lifestyle, and make some of the best friends I’ve ever had. WordPress has dominated my life for the better part of two years, which is shocking conisdering WordPress is just blogging software.  The fact that it supports hundreds, if not thousands, of people is shocking as well.

And to that end, I’ve been feeling dissatisfied with ONLY releasing themes that cost money.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m no zealot.  I’m as capitalist as they come. But something has been bothering me lately — it just didn’t seem right that a free program, supported by a team of volunteers, was severely lacking in quality themes that were also available for free.  It seems wrong — you can get a great piece of blogging softare for free, but almost all the good themes cost money.

Introducing My Newest Project (not live) has been stewing for almost a year now.  I distinctly remember running the unnamed idea by some folks at WordCamp Dallas for feedback.  I purchased the domain back in January. I’ve wanted to launch this site for a VERY long time — and now, I’m finally about to do it. is a major contribution to the WordPress community.  Not only because of the themes that will be available, but because of the ideal that it stands for — quality and free don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  You CAN have both.

An Innovative Business Model

Ever since I first conceived the idea, I’ve wanted to toy with the idea of a “freemium” model theme release site.  I wanted to figure out a way to give away free themes, yet build a sustainable income from the site as well.  In my opinion, unless an idea can indirectly monetize, eventually the project leader will burnout.

Elevate will be monetized in three ways:

  1. Premium Membership
  2. Theme Sponsorship
  3. Community Job Openings

The Premium Membership will cost $97 per year, and will provide you access to theme documentation, tutorials, and support support forum.  This way you, as the user of the theme, will only have to pay for the things you want or need.  If you get stuck during installation, you can become a member and download the theme documentation or watch the video tutorials.  And if that doesn’t help, I (along with others) will be there to help you in the forums.

Theme Sponsorship is much different than the “theme sponsorship” of old.  No more spammy links in the footer.  That’s not cool.

I’m talking about a way for companies to directly target the user of the theme, without exposing the user’s readers to any ads at all. When you, as the user, download and install the theme, you’ll see a sponsor ad when you set up the theme options.  These sponsors are going to help drive the design and development of new themes, and the ads will only be exposed to the administrator of the site when he sets up the theme.

My estimates are that the ad will be exposed to tens of thousands of bloggers through Elevate.  That’s targeted traffic, and would be well worth it for any advertiser that has a product that would be beneficial to bloggers.

Finally, a community Job Board that will allow users of the themes we release at Elevate to find customization help if/when they need it.  Premium Members will have access to post to the Job Board as much as they want, and non-members can purchase Job Board posting access for just $47.00 per year. Yep, an entire year for just $47.

Launch Schedule

I’m currently developing the first two themes for release, and I expect to launch within the next week. If you want to see a sneek-peek at the first theme, check this tweet out.

Are You Leaving iThemes?

Absolutely Not! iThemes is still the place to get some of the best WordPress themes available.  With a team like the one we have at iThemes, there’s no way I’d leave a place like that.  We have some of the best talent together in one company, and we plan on continuing to raise the bar when it comes to WordPress themes, and build a very successful business out of it. is just my way of contributing back to the community in my spare time by bringing premium-quality themes to the table for people who would otherwise not consider buying a theme.

Are You Just Copying Revolution

Abslutely not! I want to be very clear about this … Elevate was conceptualized long before Brian announced Revolution’s move to the GPL.  And while I applaude his move, it was in no way whatsoever the inspiration for Elevate.  Also, although his business model has yet to be completely uncovered, it seems that our models are both different in concept and execution.

I believe that our two projects will prove to be complimentary rather than competitive.

Stay Updated

The best way to stay updated with the progress and launch schedule is to follow @elevatethemes on twitter.  I’ll be releasing screenshots of themes, and maybe even posing pre-launch download links for some themes.

Click Here to follow @elevatethemes on twitter


I’m waiting on the comps to come back from the designer for the new look for  After I launch, this blog is the next thing on my list for giving a facelift.  And once this blog is a lot prettier than she is now, you’re going to see a whole slew of new posts, news, and more of those awesome WordPress tutorials that everybody here loves so much!!!

So I hope you’re ready for an action-packed month.  It’s going to be quite a ride, so you’ll definitely want to hold on tight!

To stay updated on all my projects, you’re going to want to Subscribe to my feed, follow @nathanrice on twitter, and follow @elevatethemes on twitter.

17 Replies to “Community, Self-Respect, and Free WordPress Themes”

  1. Good move man, I’d love to be in a position to give things back to the community, hopefully one day I will have the time & money to do so.

  2. Hey man, I love the concept. You are both giving back to a community and fueling its growth. I like what I’ve seen so far, I think you’ve got a fan here.

  3. Great idea. Can’t wait to see it succeed.

  4. Good luck Nathan! I’d love to see it succeed.

  5. […] Community, Self-Respect, and Free WordPress Themes Community, Self-Respect, and Free WordPress Themes […]

  6. Looking forward to it 😀 Might even consider sponsorin’ it!


  7. […] ElevateThemes, a new free and high quality themes project by Nathan Rice has been announced. [Link] […]

  8. […] Elevate Themes (Stadig ikke åbnet endnu, læs mere her: Nathan Rice om Elevate Themes) […]

  9. […] Community, Self-Respect, and Free WordPress Themes — introducing Elevate Themes (tags: WordPress themes community club) […]

  10. […] Community, Self-Respect, and Free WordPress Themes :: Nathan Rice (tags: wordpress themes website webdesign) […]

  11. […] code for my homepage, you’ll see my posts wrapped in these divs already.  For the post Community, Self-Respect, and Free WordPress Themes, the div class generator created […]

  12. […] Consider the case of Nathan Rice, a prominent WordPress guru and theme designer. His conscience has been troubling him, he explains, because his work rests on a free platform, WordPress, whereas his themes are for sale. In his view the freebies out there aren’t up to much. (I wonder if his disdain extends to Cutline, or Tarski, the minimalist designs at plaintxt or indeed Oulipo.) […]

  13. Wait…let me see if I’m understanding this correctly. You are wanting to give back to the community by giving them a site that provides free WordPress themes…by making them pay to access the site? Are you serious, or am I missing something here?

  14. connecting peopleThank you for providing such helpful information…please keep it up! This is excellent “keep moving” inspiration & support! Incredibly valuable info for people like me who has the idea.

  15. Hey Liza, the themes are still free. If somebody decides they want the extra services, why is it so unreasonable to charge for that? Offering support takes time after all.

    Nathan, all the best with this new project. I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

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  17. Making quality themes free is a great idea. You’re right there are so many free poor quality themes out there its ridiculous and only have them pay for instructions if they need help is an excellent way to give a quality product away and still position yourself to generate income. Good Luck!

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