Let’s talk “content marketing“. Or even better, let’s forget the buzzword and talk “Free WordPress Stuff”.
Last week, I came across the story you see linked below, over at WPTavern. It happens that WPTavern is owned by WordPress parent company Automattic*, so there’s a bunch of stuff going on here. Let’s break down a bit of it and suggest a call to action.
In that story, WPTavern writer Sarah Gooding talks about Tom McFarlin. Tom’s come up here a few times already; I went so far as to call him one of the smartest guys I’ve encountered on The WordPress Helpers journey.
Sarah’s story was about Tom releasing a free version of one of his themes. And the point of the story was correct: you can pay Tom McFarlin $100 for a copy of Mayer, or you can download Mayer for free, and you get exactly the same thing, either way. Except for support. The free version of Mayer has no support, and the paid version does.
That’s it; support is the one and only difference between the free Mayer WordPress theme and the paid Mayer WordPress theme.
As I said; I think Tom McFarlin is one smart dude, and as I’ve come to know him a little I’ve come to also believe in his ethical positions. How smart and ethical is Tom McFarlin? If you want to use Mayer you really might like to pay Tom for the privilege.
Except for this: Mayer is the very definition of a “standard” WordPress theme. You install it. You blog. It works, every time. If you need support for Mayer and you didn’t create that need by adding some bloated piece of extra software—which simply isn’t Tom’s responsibility to support—you need more help than Tom can provide. Or should, except for the part where I said Tom’s a great guy; I imagine “not our fault; not our problem” is not Tom’s way of doing support.
Here’s where this gets confusing.
Sarah Gooding’s reference piece for the (free version of) the Mayer WordPress theme includes a screen shot of the page where Tom McFarlin sells the paid version of Mayer. But Mayer doesn’t look like this. At all. And not in a “you’ll need to do some work to make this happen” way; Mayer simply isn’t designed to look like this page; this page is the default page design from Pressware, Tom McFarlin’s company.
Imagine, then, that you come across the piece at WPTavern, follow the link to the free version of Mayer (because, you know, FREE!), download Mayer, install it, and get nothing that resembles, “is”, or can be made into the thing you just spent time on. You might consider it to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
This is not Tom McFarlin’s fault, not one bit. I’m even going to give Sarah Gooding a break; I say her work here was sloppy, but neither Sarah Gooding nor WPTavern is the arbiter of all things WordPress, despite WPTavern being owned by WordPress.
The need for better WordPress information is why we started The WordPress Helpers.
Tom McFarlin is trying to make a living, and he’s far from the first person or company to take a run at selling the same thing at different prices under differing circumstances. And his circumstances for selling versus giving away the Mayer WordPress theme really do differ; paying for customer service and support is often worth it. Ask us, we know.
WPTavern is grinding out one piece on WordPress news and goings-on after another. Without comment as to the quality of their content, their mission is to get you to their pages and keep you there as long as possible. But in all fairness, that’s part of our mission, too; it’s part of all content marketers’ missions.
All you need to do (remember the call to action I promised?) is decide what is worth how much to you. How much time, how much money, how much
It’s why we’re here. The WordPress Helpers is your source for answers to any questions you have about WordPress. From free WordPress stuff to … well, anything. And we’d love for you to get involved.