A few years ago, before I started working for DreamHost but after I decided I wanted to do WordPress all the time, I bought the StudioPress All Themes Package. For $500, it gave me a lifetime access to all their themes, all their future themes, support, and more. So I tucked away all my ad and ebook income for a while and bought it the day before a 50% deal hit. Of course, right? Brian being a wonderful guy, saw my amused tweet and credited me the difference.
Since then, I’ve pretty much been a nothing but StudioPress shop. Almost every site I run on WordPress is using StudioPress themes. I’ve gotten free upgrades for all their themes, free versions of the ‘pro’ themes (all the HTML5 friendly ones), and it’s very much been worth it to me.
But licensing is a strange subject. Chris Lema recommends charging annually (instead of monthly). And while I have a lifetime subscription, the unlimited free support will be leaving this world soon. From what I’ve heard, this only impacts support. To be honest, I’ve filed less than ten support tickets in five years. And it’s not because I’m savvy. There’s very little that I need help with to use Genesis themes. They have pretty darn good directions on how to reproduce their demo sites, they have code snippets, and they have a friendly self-help forum.
Basically, this code is tight. Right now I’m using the Generate Pro Theme on this site, but I also bought Utility Pro theme from Carrie Dils (worth it). The child themes rarely need updating, and all I ever have to worry about is the parent Genesis theme being updated, which is easy as pie. They have their own updater.
My friend Amanda Rush (also a StudioPress fan) wonders if this heralds the end of days of unlimited forever support and licenses. I suspect so. Will I be annoyed if I have to start paying for updates? Maybe, but mostly because I have a serious concern about security.
Let me paint a picture for you. I get a free parent theme or plugin, it could be Genesis (the StudioPress parent theme) or WooCommerce (a popular ecommerce plugin), and I purchase an ‘add on’ of a child theme or an extension plugin. I pay for a year, and I’m happy. The add-on does what I wanted, I get my updates, and everything’s cool. Then one day, 370 days later, there’s a major issue. A massive security hole and suddenly my site is vulnerable!
My license has run out.
Do I get the update or not?
Do I get notified of the update or not?
I’ve seen this play out over and over again with sites like CodeCanyon and ThemeForest. How do people who have purchased a product get alerted properly and given the ability to update? We’re spoiled because if Jetpack or WooCommerce itself has a critical hole, those plugins are free in the WordPress.org repository. And I know, from working on that team, that if there’s a big enough issue, then the free plugins get updated and the update is pushed out to everyone. It’s rare, but when it happens, it’s for the benefit of everyone involved.
The sad truth is most one-off shops can’t do that. WordPress.org can update all branches of your plugin. If you’re properly using versions for your plugins and themes, then you can release version 2.3.1 to fix a bug, but also fix that bug on 2.2.4 and 2.1.9 and so on. And yes, WordPress can push those branches (2.3 and 2.2 and 2.1) so even people on older versions can get fixed.
To the best of my knowledge, no one else does that yet.
And, perhaps worse, some won’t even consider letting you have the security update because your license isn’t up to date.
All that said… Should you buy it, knowing you may not get support and updates forever? Yes. Right now, the StudioPress Pro Plus All-Theme Package is on sale. $262.46 for every theme plus third party themes. The sale goes on until the 16th, so grab it this weekend.
It’s an investment I’ve never regretted.