I am happy to report that I am shaking things up today.
StartBox 2.5.2 has been released and is available for immediate download in the members section and via automatic update within the WP Dashboard. Along with it come a couple new features, a bugfix, and several minor updates and improvements. Believe me, it’s nothing to write home about, except for one note:
StartBox is now 100% FREE!
Not free as in, “Get StartBox Free (when you buy a theme)” or “This is free if you sign up for this special offer.” No. 100%, it’s yours to have an use however you want, doesn’t cost you a penny, free.
You’re welcome (encouraged even) to use StartBox however you like, including to develop and sell your own commercial themes.
Additionally, I’ve also opened a public StartBox Community Support Forum where I hope users will flock to offer helpful and useful insight for one another. The StartBox Docs were already free, and powered by a wiki that any member can update. This wiki follows the same structure and guidelines as the official WordPress Codex, so it should feel very familiar to everyone.
I’ve wanted to release StartBox for free since the very beginning, but I couldn’t afford it before now. My desire is to make it more accessible to everyone, especially beginners. I also wanted it to become a more practical solution for commercial devs. Even though the GPL already grants users the ability to redistribute StartBox however they like, many were still uneasy about including it with their products (or even building StartBox-based products in the first place).
What Do You Hope To Gain?
I especially want to spark a burgeoning community, one that thrives on innovation and advancement. Not only that, but I specifically want to encourage collaboration. I know for a fact that there are many developers out there more talented than myself who have a lot they could contribute to StartBox. I’m also dreadfully aware of the 30+ frameworks that are on the market right now. I would love to see a move towards integration, combining the best of each framework into something that is better than the sum of its individual parts.
How Can You Afford This?
In January I began a full-time position working with a close friend on a marketing team for a large company. I also introduced an All Themes bundle for StartBox. Thanks to both of these (and standard StartBox sales) I am now able to offer StartBox for free to those who either couldn’t afford it or were too skeptical to purchase it. That’s not all, though…
Introducing the StartBox Developer’s Club
Today I am opening the doors to the StartBox Developer’s Club. Active Club Members have access to all current and future theme releases, PSD files, detailed tutorials, and quick, friendly support. I am committing to 1 new theme per month, and 1 new tutorial per week. I’ve already got the next 10 theme designs lined up, and will be teasing them as time progresses. It will be different than it’s been before because I have learned how to work smarter, and have already begun development on many of the designs.
How Much Does It Cost?
$50 to join, $10/mo to remain an active member. I set the bar as low as I could to reduce the barrier that most beginners face when they’re just getting started, but kept it high enough to help subsidize my development, training and support costs and create a sustainable source of income.
Alternatively, for users who hate monthly expenses, or really like discounts, I’m happy to report that there is also a One-Year plan. If you pay for an entire year up-front you can save over 60% (!!) on the total cost of the subscription and only pay $100.
This weekend I am at WordCamp Chicago, and I have on my person several discount cards good for 33% off any Dev Club Membership. Find me, and it’s yours!
But I Already Paid for StartBox!
And I thank you so much for that! Your purchase is what has brought me where I am today, and is now serving to benefit the larger WordPress community. I cannot thank you enough for that.
As an added token of my appreciation, though, I am extending and upgrading all active members to Developer’s Club accounts until July 2012. A reminder for original pre-order members: you already have lifetime accounts, so you get everything for all time
If you are really distraught or upset by this announcement, though, please talk to me. My aim is to provide as much value to as many people as possible, and I don’t want anyone left feeling cheated.
Hopes and Aims
My desire is to provide valuable solutions to as many people as possible. I truly believe in my product, but I also truly believe there is still vast room for improvement. I’ll be reaching out to many developers whom I look up to in hopes that they’ll collaborate, and I hope that many more will reach out to me to do the same. That just sounds like a fun and practical solution for everybody.
Well, in the immediate future, quite a lot actually:
- New Affiliate Program, with 33% commissions
- Mark Jaquith is conducting a comprehensive security audit, so SB will be more secure than ever
- Several new themes
- Several new tutorials (both written and recorded)
- A new site design for WPStartBox.com
What Do You Think?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please drop a line in the comments!