Learn why you should always offer a free version of a premium template that you want to sell on a template marketplace.

Why your premium website templates should offer a free version (template freebies)

Who doesn't like free stuff? If you are a template developer or designer that offers a sensational product, what would be a better marketing strategy that allowing possible customers to try it risk free? This simple act will set you apart from the rest and will be a determining factor when a user wants to purchase the premium version of the template.

In this article, I will expose some of the most important reasons why you should offer a free version of premium templates (freebies) that you are trying to sell on marketplaces like Themeforest.

1. Attract more audience

I'm not the one who says that not everyone wants to constantly spend money on stuff that may be optional. One of those things are website templates. When I'm working on a new project for me or for someone else, there's always a need of a nice user interface, however not every client is willing to pay a lot of money for a custom design, instead, buying a template is way easier and cheaper. What's better than cheaper? Yep, free stuff! A lot of the public is not searching for premium templates from the beginning, they will probably search for something that is free to earn some extra bucks.

Offering a free version of a UI Kit or Template will attract a lot of people, that may be not expending money instantly, but they may in a future if your product is outstanding. Free users will eventually consider buying your template if there are features that are worthy, so be sure not to offer only some free stuff, but quality stuff that people may want to pay for in a near future.

2. Users will review your code

It happens a lot, that users buy a "premium" template in a marketplace like Themeforest because it looks cool (trust me, it has happened to me). The user cannot identify if the code is great as it's usually minified or obfuscated in the frontend demo, so the only option to see the code is buying it. It's disappointing sometimes to review the code of the template that you've just bought and see that:

  • The stylesheets are a complete mess, templates that are supposed to be designed using Flexbox are indeed an intent of Flexbox, lacking of CSS naming conventions that will only add more hours of work to the project trying to understand how they are supposed to work.
  • Animations that can be handled with plain CSS are being animated with jQuery.
  • A "bootstrap-based" template that doesn't use Bootstrap at all.
  • JavaScript that looks uglier than the minified or obfuscated version and so on.

Offering a free version of your product, will allow developers or designers to check out the code of your template and see if it fits with their design patterns and it will help to decide, if this is the template they should really use to build the project.

3. Increase brand awareness

Whether you are an independent developer/designer or a small company, promoting your own name or company's name will be positive under any circumstance. Check out for example the case of Creative Tim, they started promoting freebies to sell the premium versions of their UI Kits and templates. They are surely not as big as Themeforest, however, everyone in the industry has ever heard about Creative Tim.

Remember that freebies are not supposed to be something negative for you, as you are not just giving away your work for free, you are investing in marketing basically.

How to promote your premium templates?

There are a couple of platforms where you can promote freebies of your templates like Best Free HTML/CSS Templates. By doing this, all of the mentioned reasons will eventually happen and will help you to promote your own brand for free.

If you know another reason why you should offer a free version of a premium website template, please share it with the community in the comment box.

Senior Software Engineer at Software Medico. Interested in programming since he was 14 years old, Carlos is a self-taught programmer and founder and author of most of the articles at Our Code World.