Child Theme Plugin

It is no secret that I was disappointed with the latest offering from Artisteer, it is still a great product for community groups and webmasters, but for me as a developer the use of the ini file which is causing problems with YouTube, adSense etc:, and the structure of the new themes being not easy to enhance, lots of the addition features many of us were building in are now no longer viable, this has made me step back from a product that has not been tested enough before release.

Having now spent a lot of time with the Twenty Ten theme and a text editor, using new functions like template parts and producing the tutorials, I was thinking of a way forward where we would not have to edit the generated templates.

A select options or plug and play solution is really needed, I thought I could produce an application but this then leaves out the Mac users, so I think the most practical way forward is a WordPress plugin.

I do not use any of the many WordPress frameworks because WordPress are adding more and more into each release,  the themes are often framework dependant and make the distribution of free or commercial themes harder.

I just want a simple plugin to produce child themes that only depend on a parent theme, people that want themes heavy with graphic elements can still use Artisteer.

All I really need is a css driven theme, simple and clean content with no images and optional images for the header, menu, background and some glares.

As this website is just a hobby website and the information here is free, WordPress keywords are very low for revenue return in the Google AdSense world, this website costs money and does not makes any revenue, the licence for the little image above was $10.

This will have to be a consideration in creating a plugin, to follow best practice the plugin would be offered free to all via WordPress extend, so the only way to monetize the plugin would be by adding value and supplying additional assets on a pay per download, splitting the revenue 60% to the suppliers.

I made some notes and asked a friend to look them over and give some feedback, this was their questions and my answers, I would like your thoughts via replies to this post or by email 

1) Who is your market?

  • People between the basic user and the Professional Developer 

2) How would you promote the initial free plugin?  Affiliates?, Social Networking?

  • I have two plugins with WordPress extend, if the plugin was good it would self promote, Affiliates and social networking are good for organic growth.
  • The key marketing point would be that it is a plugin not a framework, and the theme will not require any support files other than WordPress and  Twenty Ten.

3) How many people actually bother to go to the actual plugin site? How else could you let people know about the add-on’?

  • Some will use it once and that will be it, other will use it and create a few themes, on the setup pages there will be prompts that the how-to and more premium resources are available at the plugin website

4) How would you capture contact details to remind us about a new asset or add-on?

  • The plugin would come with limited assets (5 headers, 5 menu graphics, 10 backgrounds and 5 glares) and prompt the user to download the “additional extra free assets” (5 headers, 5 menu graphics, 10 backgrounds and 10 glares)
  • These would be from the “online store” which will require an email to complete the download, then update newsletters can be created, with an opt-out.

5) Would you Offer Packages, Business Package, Sports Package, Religious Package, etc:

  • I would not be able to create everything needed I am a developer not an artist, so a community would need to be built around extending the plugin, one where the growth will be from contributors, these would be in the form of free and premium assets.
  • Anyone could develop a new set of graphics, template part or theme pack and offer this to the community, free or for a fee.
  • I do like this idea of having predefined theme packs, this would allow developers to submit their own project files and assets and take 60% of any fee, these would need to be tested before and passed to be put on sale.
  • The user could then create their own or purchase a zip to import into the plugin, and then creates their own child themes from the new imported assets.
  • Another take on this would be to allow users of the plugin to create premium child themes and if approved sell these through the website again 60%:40%.


6) WP dashboard would have to be simple & intuitive

  • I have created a plugin before with a number of pages:
  • Choice of layout would be first, sidebars, maximum content panes etc:
  • One page would be just fonts and sizes
  • Up to three different menu styles top, main and sub
  • Fixed or fluid layout, sheet width etc:
  • Ability at design stage to add assets like a menu inline search, social icons in the header or footer
  • Other options would include, upload a header logo, information box, hide blog title, hide page title etc:
  • It is important that we could create as many template pages as we want with different sidebar options
  • Extra template parts would include cu3er, smooth slider, content panes, comments will be in a template part to include or exclude etc:
  • Being able to create a number of selectable color schemes for the child theme, which could be set in the admin area themes options page 

7) Could user still upload their own header, background?

  • Yes they would be uploaded to the plugin assets directory, then moved to the themes directory, they can then be selected for other themes

8 ) I’ve ever only outsourced to a graphic artist on one occasion, and although he was excellent, it was a nightmare keeping him to deadlines.  How would you keep a grip on this without it reflecting on your reputation?

  • Good point, maybe the custom images will not be a good idea unless we can build a community of artists as well, but we would still allow artists to submit new image packs and pay them 60% 

9) Based on the questions in other forums, you are probably more aware than anyone of what the average user is trying to achieve.  Would the plugin address those issues?
(Not that I think the forums are necessarily representative of the vast majority of users.

  • I would think that WordPress has the largest “single cms” customer base, so addressing the main issues and wish lists items would be a target.

10) To optimise your returns, the site that you market the plugin from would essentially be a sales / marketing site, rather than a technical / advice site.

  • I have Digital Raindrops net,, biz and org, so I could use the biz website for the sales website, as the assets are for the plugin the traffic would be targeted.

11) Would the venture actually be financially worth your effort?

  • Free tutorials are no financial gain, this is sadly a hobby as I am a Freelance IT Contractor, the website revenue does not cover the bare costs of hosting, the investment in the idea is a few $$ and mostly time, if it goes nowhere I have new development skills for my CV!


So before I start this journey do you think this is a good or bad idea?


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2 thoughts on “Child Theme Plugin

    • Hi Anna-Maria,
      Beta release planned for first week in February, RC in March, after feedback I will decide if it goes into the WordPress extend, the plugin writes files into the uploads folder, not sure if it will work with some shared hosting packages.

      I don’t want to release it to WordPress extend unless it works in most situations.


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