The Top 20 Biggest Brands Built Around WordPress
When it comes to blogging, WordPress is a name not unheard of. Starting right from WordPress 0.7 back in 2003, this tiny but mighty powerful CMS had taken the world by storm. Fast forward to August 2013, WordPress is used by more than 18.9% of the top 10 million websites in the World Wide Web. Bigshots like TechCrunch, CNN, and the New York Times – all use WordPress. Take a look at the WordPress Live Stats page, and you’ll be amazed by the number of posts and comments submitted every second.
We’re going to take a look at the various businesses built around WordPress. The companies/websites listed below aren’t websites running on WordPress but are companies that provide services related to WordPress. A large number of them are WordPress theme companies, while some are WordPress plugin companies (usually pertaining to a single plugin) and a few of them are the renowned managed WordPress hosting providers.
Evanto is one of the largest coordinated online digital marketplaces in the world. They were started by developers and designers and has grown into one of the largest “digital goods” companies in the world. Evanto has over three million people in their community and you won’t believe how much traffic their network gets!
Evanto currently houses the following digital marketplaces:
- Themeforest: Evanto’s most renowned marketplace of themes and website templates for HTML, email templates, and themes for Content Management Solutions like WordPress.
- CodeCanyon: Code market featuring CSS3 modules, PHP scripts, jQuery snippets, WordPress plugins, etc.
- Videohive: Stock video footage.
- Audiojungle: Thousands of audio effects ready for use in commercial projects
- GraphicRiver: All kinds of digitally crafted photos, Photoshop plugins, effects, filters, and much, much more.
- Photodune: Stock photography done right. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you might wanna try out ShutterStock or iStockPhotos.
- 3Docean: For people into 3D visual effects and working with Computer Assisted Design (CAD) software, this is where you can buy some really cool 3D effects.
- ActiveDen: Remember the good ‘ol days of Flash? Granted that fewer design agencies use Flash nowadays, but it’s still a great marketplace for Flash templates, banners, site templates and video players (all based on Flash)
Of these 8 networks, Themeforest and CodeCanyon are the two that sell WordPress themes and plugins. It would also be wise to mention that Evanto has an enormously popular affiliate marketing program which is one of the pillars of their rampant success.
I’m sure you’ve heard of Themeforest, right? That WordPress theme marketplace with literally thousands of premium WordPress themes? Themeforest houses virtually all kinds of WordPress theme – be it a restaurant theme, or a fitness club, or even so much as a meditative theme! A couple of WordPress theme designers have emerged super successful – made over a million dollars in cash – all thanks to their hard work and Themeforest. Remember Evanto keeps 50% of the sales you make, which decreases to 40% once you’ve become an elite author. There’s a lot of money to be made and here are some jaw dropping sales figures to get you inspired.
CodeCanyon is Evanto’s marketplace for selling PHP scripts, WordPress plugins, jQuery scripts, CSS modules, and a lot of other coding related stuff. So if you ever find yourself looking to buy a premium WordPress plugin, then yes, CodeCanyon might just be your answer. Here’s a look at the sales figures for its WordPress plugins:
The good thing about all Evanto products is that it comes with support – from the authors themselves. When Evanto interviews its top authors, 90% of them say that the hardest part of their job is providing support to their customers. Some of the popular theme authors have to answer as many as 50 support tickets every day. This brings us to an important conclusion. Evanto’s business strategy is simple. They provide the platform – and the skilled individual takes the cake.
WooThemes is another fine establishment built around WordPress. They’re a premier theme company with a lot of amazing stuff to offer. Recently, they had acquired the Standard Theme – which was a pretty famous theme from 8Bit – a WordPress-centric company. One of their most notable contributions, apart from themes, is WooCommerce – a renowned WordPress eCommerce plugin. WooCommerce is an industry-standard when it comes to WordPress eCommerce and most themes try to include WooCommerce integration in order to attract customers. WooThemes also has a couple of other great plugins such as WooSlider, WooSiderbars, and most notably a plugin called Sensei, which means “teacher”. It helps you create online courses with WordPress! Talk about innovation!
This 87 themed company is a huge hit among premium WordPress themes. One of their cornerstones of success is their choice of keywords. When I was a WordPress newbie, I remember that I used the keywords – “elegant wordpress themes” when searching for my first WordPress themes. With ammunition as little as 87, Elegant Themes have successfully conquered over a staggering 213,635 customers! Their themes are well built, easy to use and the support is great too! In fact, if you’re a daily at WPLift, I’m sure you’ve participated in the Elegant Themes giveaways we hold.
It’s safe to say that every English speaking blogger/copywriter on earth has heard of Copyblogger. The number one place to learn the art of effective copywriting. (I believe that’s their slogan). From a one-man blog back in ‘06, to one of the leading companies in its field, Copyblogger Media LLC owns StudioPress, Scribe SEO and Synthesis – names most of you are familiar with. Let’s check them out:
Creator of the industry-standard WordPress theme framework – Genesis, StudioPress is the go-to place for both newbie WordPress theme developers as well as seasoned veterans. It is said that using a WordPress theme framework instead of a standalone theme proves more profitable in the long run. The entire collection – called the StudioPress Pro-Plus package is up for grabs for $400 USD. It’s a good amount, so you might want to be careful while investing. The good thing about StuiioPress (i.e. Genesis) is that it’s highly versatile, has tons of guides (there are a couple of dedicated sites built around the Genesis Framework) and a highly knowledgeable community. My two cents – if you want to learn WordPress theme development, get Genesis.
Scribe SEO is an effective SEO service preferred by many bloggers and it integrates in your WordPress site via the Scribe SEO plugin. Not just WordPress, Scribe also runs on Microsoft Word and Joomla. Packages start at 97 USD a month and come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Synthesis – Managed WordPress Hosting
Synthesis is the managed WordPress hosting department of Copyblogger Media LLC. They’re in close competition with other managed hosting providers like WPEngine and Pagely. Backed by Copyblogger Media, Synthesis is recommended by StudioPress and it combines versatile security with ultra-fast performance and is safeguarded against traffic spikes and DDoS attacks. Pricing starts from 27 USD a month, with 50 GB bandwidth, 2,500 daily page-views and a 30-day money-back guarantee. If I might add, the story behind Synthesis is a good read.
For those who do not know, DIY is an acronym for “Do It Yourself”. In my opinion, the company could not have thought of a better name. Their trademark WordPress theme framework – Thesis, is yet another trendsetter. By far, Thesis is the best competition for StudioPress’ Genesis. The best way to describe Thesis is to call it a toolkit for building WordPress sites. You can literally shape every aspect of your site with the help of Thesis. Albeit, it does take quite an effort to get the hang on it, but once you do – you won’t consider anything else.
MojoThemes is a WordPress theme marketplace for buyers and sellers all under one roof. Much like its older brother Themeforest, MojoThemes houses a clever pricing policy, and sports a variety of WordPress themes. Granted that it doesn’t get half the traffic of Themeforest, but it is gaining a lot of momentum. With close to 90,000 members, 1254 items, and lifetime updates, it’s a great playing field for novice theme developers.
Who would’ve thought that a simple WordPress contact form plugin would one day grow to become an enormously popular plugin used by some of the top-of-the-line WordPress theme companies? Not just theme companies, all the WordPress blogs I follow – consistently use Gravity Forms. At the time of writing this article, Gravity Forms has already crossed 875,910 installations. As pointed out by Greg, this number could include localhost/test installations but David’s theory, the minimum revenue generated from this plugin is very high. In the best-case scenario, multiply each installation with 39 USD (that’s the minimum cost of the plugin) and see what you get! Developed by a company called RocketGenius which is a six-man team, this plugin, quite simply put is the best WordPress contact form management plugin.
Before that train of thought crosses your mind, no, iThemes wasn’t developed by/for Apple Inc. Although (hypothetically speaking), if the same name is used in any of Apple’s iPhone or Mac apps, boom – we’ll have lawsuits flying everywhere. Jokes apart, iThemes has been around for around five years and has gained a lot of fans. They offer amazing themes and plugins, paid WordPress training (I am told that they’re worth every penny), a mighty WordPress Toolkit – a bundle of joy for web designers and developers, and a lot of free WordPress (video) tutorials. Their most notable contributions include:
- iThemes Builder – Drag and drop WordPress theme builder
- WordPress Toolkit – Bundle of Themes for Developers
- BackupBuddy – WordPress backup plugin
iThemes is the creator of the wildly popular WordPress backup plugin called BackupBuddy. I don’t need to stress the importance of taking backups, you already know that. Although there are a few free alternatives available, BackupBuddy is the one that’s brilliantly designed, sports tons of features, comes with premium support and using the plugin is easy as pie.
If you belong to the category of people who have a lot of WordPress sites to manage and maintain, then ManageWP is a Godsend tool for you! Trusted by over thousands of users, and a few reputed brands such as WIRED and UCLA, ManageWP does all WordPress related tasks from a central management panel – tasks you would normally do from your individual WordPress dashboards. Some of the tasks I’m referring to include:
- WordPress Core Updates
- Plugin Updates
- Up-time monitoring
- Mass Migration
- Bulk Content Publishing
- Secure Integration
- Scheduled Backup to cloud services
Crazy, isn’t it? Besides this, ManageWP also has its own iOS and Android applications so you could manage your sites wherever you go! Just to add more icing to the cake, ManageWP also supports Google Analytics integration. Needless to say, ManageWP saves you a tremendous amount of time if you run a WordPress site management company. Got a hacked site on your hands? No problem! Just restore the last working version of the site, it from the backups!
WPMU is a well-known name in the WordPress industry, launched way back in 2004. WPMU is a community of curated WordPress experts and hundreds of thousands of (287,949 and growing) followers. Their arsenal includes 140+ plugins and 160+ themes and pricing starts at 49 USD a month for the entire package or just 19 USD for a single item (theme or plugin). They are trusted by quite a few high-profile brands such as HP, CNET, and Shopzilla.
One of WPMU’s most significant contributions is EduBlogs – which is an educational blogging service that lets you create & manage student & teacher blogs. With just a few clicks (as it is always the case with WordPress) you can seamlessly customize designs, include videos, photos, and podcasts. It is trusted by prestigious educational institutions such as Cornell and Stanford University. Since 2005, Edublogs has been powering over 2.08 million educational websites.
When you Google the terms “wordpress seo” the very first result that you get is the product of this man’s brilliance and hard work. Folks, I am talking about none other than Joost de Valk – the man behind the enormously popular WordPress SEO plugin. Downloaded over 7.49 million times, this is one of the SEO plugins for WordPress.
His website – Yoast.com is full of indispensable WordPress SEO resources and guides. Yoast also offers paid WordPress plugins like Video SEO and Local SEO and website audits. No wonder that his gets thousands of daily visitors.
A privately funded WordPress theme development company, headquartered in San Francisco, California – AppThemes has over 35,000 customers to its name with a variety of themes and pride themselves in their coding practices. Here’s an extract:
“…we take pride in the quality of code we write so under the hood everything is fully commented and easy to understand.”
As for recommendations, AppThemes has a huge shiny cup to show – a personal thumbs-up from Matt Mullenweg. If you’re wondering who he is, you can thank him for creating WordPress!
Good things don’t come cheap and AppThemes live by this. Each theme is a whopping $99 USD and includes one year of support and updates. Albeit, they do have flexible pricing options – from $99 to 349 USD for the developer package. If you don’t mind the pocket pinch, AppThemes is a good choice.
Founded by David and Marc Perel, Obox Design is one of those companies that have a few but good themes to their name. Obox’s design traits include bold headings, spacious design, and a complete/proper use of the viewer’s display – which makes them a great choice for bloggers, freelancers, and businesses.
Apart from themes, Obox also has a number of really cool plugins (for example, Facebook eCommerce) and projects, the most notable of them being SalesGenius – a web-app that that you accurately track your Evanto sales.
Try SalesGenius »
Finally, the name most of us were getting anxious to find – WPEngine. One of the leading WordPress Managed Hosting companies, WPEngine has gained much appreciation from the WordPress community. From their proprietary Evercache caching technology, to insanely fast loading times, WPEngine is a go-to name for any high-traffic website. Hosting plans start at 29 USD a month for 25,000 monthly page-views. Looking from a strictly business point of view, it is essential to point out that although WPEngine has an excellent infrastructure, downright brilliant performance, and knowledgeable customer service.
They like to call themselves the “original” WordPress Managed Hosting company, founded by Joshua and Sally Strebe in 2009 – which was the result of a project they were working on from ’06. Today Pagely is trusted by thousands of high-profile websites – some of which incur tremendous traffic every day. Their proprietary security suite – PressArmor and PressCDN is a deadly combo for ultra-fast and rock-secure websites. Compared to WPEngine, Pagely is 5 bucks cheaper (24 USD a month) for almost the same stuff. It’s ultimately a matter of preference.
Saving the best for last and a fitting end to the list, let us talk about Automattic – the company behind this revolutionary CMS. Let’s being with the name. The word “Matt” (I’ve purposely used a capital M) is found in Automattic which is really cool. Some companies spend a lot of money researching the perfect name, while Automattic does the job – swift and effective.
Launched way back in 2005 – after 8 years of learning, hardship, rewriting every single variable time and again, solid performance and rapid growth, today in the year 2014, Automattic’s contributions and assets include:
- WordPress – A free hosted blogging platform and an open-source CMS
- Akismet – An enterprise-level spam filtering service
- BuddyPress – WordPress gone “social”
- Gravatar – Associating an image (avatar) to an email got a whole lot easier. Almost all the social sites use Gravatar to quickly pull the user’s image
- IntenseDebate – A commenting tool for WordPress, Tumblr, and other blogging platforms
- PollDaddy – “Never underestimate the power of a mob”
- Simplenote – Launched on 24th Jan, 2013 Simplenote is Automattic’s shot at creating something like Evernote
- VaultPress – The ultimate WordPress backup plugin, coded by the creators themselves.
- VideoPress – Premium video hosting service for WordPress
- Jetpack – One of the most popular and immensely useful plugins used by tons of WordPress professionals
- WordPress VIP Hosting – Enterprise level managed WordPress hosting used by companies like TED, TIME, CNN, and TechChrunch. Hosted on the superior EdgeCast network and serving 100+ million page views every day, WordPress.com VIP hosting packages is the go-to choice of government agencies, sports teams, leading fashion brands and non-profit organizations
Coincidentally, at the time of writing this article (13th Jan, 2014) Matt has taken over as Automattic’s CEO after Toni Schneider. This brings high hopes about what the prodigy will do with his company, now that he’s calling all the shots. It has been a great ride so far and it doesn’t seem like things are going to slow down anytime soon!
Happy trails, fellow WordPressor!