MOJO Marketplace: Where Bloggers Find the Website Design of Their Dreams

April 2, 2016
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mojo themes

Are you happy with the way your blog looks?

Unless your answer is an enthusiastic “YES!,” keep reading.

Blog design is crucial to your success. The look and feel of your website affects your visitors A LOT.

If you aren’t satisfied with the design of your WordPress blog and you suspect this might be hurting your results, you need to check out this interview.

J.R. Farr is the CEO of MOJO Marketplace [proud affiliate–see Step 4] , one of the top WordPress Theme stores online today. Our talk reveals why I’ve partnered with MOJO Marketplace to help you create a fantastic blog.

I asked J.R. a bunch of good questions and he provides some interesting and enlightening answers. Here are a few examples of the questions and what you can expect to find here:

When a new blogger is choosing a theme, what are some things they need to think about to make the right decision? 

Why should a blogger wanting to generate income consider partnering with MOJO Themes?

Why is MOJO Themes a good place to find the perfect WordPress Theme? What separates you guys from the competition?

Alright, here is the interview. You can listen/watch it or read it. Both are below!

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or thoughts to share.

 

J.R. Farr Interview Transcript

(For those who like to read.) 

Matthew Loomis: J.R., tell me, what’s your back story, your personal story? Tell me how you went from a web designer to entrepreneur who eventually founded MOJO Themes?

How MOJO Themes Was Born

J.R. Farr: Yeah, sure. So, I think, it’s the other way around actually. I think I started as an entrepreneur ever since I was a kid. And then I turned into that but I think some people have that gene that you can make it. I think you’re just, you’re either born to be an entrepreneur or you’re not. Because it’s not fun. It’s not glamorous. Yeah, I…just a little bit of background. I thought we started was I…let’s see. So I am…it’s probably ten years ago. I used to work…I worked for an online ad agency and I did a lot of work.

And while I did that too, we were one of the leaders that when…affiliate with…right when Google AdWords came out and affiliate marketing was just getting started, 2002, and yeah, I got really into that. I got really into affiliate marketing and, you know, wanting to be…I was a good marketer. I was good at online marketing, was good at SEO, was good at paid search. I had big accounts. I was going this along the side while I was doing that. I wanted a quick way to build landing pages and get sites up. And so, yeah, I just thought myself how to design, how to create high converting sites and I needed a way to do this rapidly and I first started using WordPress in 2006…2005, 2006.

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

J.R. Farr: And I think at the time, you could only create posts. You couldn’t even create pages in WordPress yet. So…and then a couple of year later, you know, Brian Gardner, and Adii from Woo Themes, they kind of started their companies and the premium theme models started to come out. And I just latched onto that. I just…I started to see WordPress take its shape, become one into a CMS and I saw an opportunity. So the opportunity that I saw was I didn’t want to…I didn’t feel like I had the talent at the time to design as well as those guys. But I knew, I had the talent to drive traffic and help people with this talent, you know, sell their work.

So that’s kind of where the idea of the Marketplace came alive and there was nothing like that at the time for WordPress. So there was all these creative professionals that had all these, you know, they’re really good designers, really good coders, but they didn’t know how to market their work. And so the goal was just to help them. It was to help people have a place to sell their products that they built so…

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

J.R. Farr: That’s kind of the background of how it started, how the idea came.

Matthew Loomis: Right, so as Brady Nord kind of the more of the technical side of your business or?

J.R. Farr: So yeah, so let’s see, so just a quick caveat. So right now, we are talking about MOJO theme and MOJO theme was eventually acquired and now, its daily run at MOJO Marketplace. So, Brady and I…Brady was the other co-founder. At the time, we both really worked at technical but we just kind of like hack some things together. The first version of…it’s…MOJO Themes was built on WordPress itself, the Marketplace. We hired a guy to help us out. His name was Daniel. And then once we kind of got the first version out, we brought in some guys to kind of help us. They’re still with us today, Mike, Nick, and Will. So Brady and I…I was more…Brady was, yeah, Brady got a little bit more focused on the development stuff with those guys and then I would say, you know, I was more in the marketing design conversion side, yeah.

Matthew Loomis: Can you tell me a little more about what MOJO Themes looks like behind the scenes, like where you’re located, you know, like the number of staff, company culture?

More About MOJO Themes

J.R. Farr: Sure. See, at MOJO Marketplace right now, we are…we’ve always been based in Salt Lake City, Utah. So we’ve grown exponentially in the last three years. I think, we’ve probably quadrupled the size. It’s about 40 of us right now in the team. We’ve got about…we were just about to hit the four and a half million user mark on MOJO.

Matthew Loomis: Oh, wow.

J.R. Farr: Yeah, I don’t know. We do a lot of. There is another statistics. We always see…do all the WordPress installations for a lot of hosting companies. So we do around 6000 to 7000 WordPress installs a day. We have about 6500 items on the Marketplace.

Matthew Loomis: Wow.

J.R. Farr: Yeah.

Matthew Loomis: Because I’m an affiliate with MOJO Themes and it’s a part of my blog set up that I offer, you know, we are going to primarily focus on MOJO Themes but can you tell us real quick what the MOJO Marketplace, what that encompasses, what all do you offer?

J.R. Farr: So yeah, just to lead up to that, so when we first started MOJO, the idea was we had the…Mojoness Inc. was the name and the idea was we wanted, we owned at the time and in 2009 we bought MOJO Themes, MOJO code, MOJO video. We had all these different things that built these Marketplaces. By the time we acquired, we had MOJO Themes and MOJO code. But then when we got acquired by Endurance, we realized that if we are going to integrate into all these hosting companies, we wanted to sell more than just Themes. And so MOJO Marketplace evolved and because we were just gonna build one big Marketplace or app store that would sell Themes, plug-ins, pro services, logos and graphics, apps, you know, the current type apps that they were going to integrate. So it just made more sense to kind of get more of an ambiguous name like that.

Matthew Loomis: Right, I understand, yeah. That’s pretty cool, it seems, that you grabbed the MOJO. The name MOJO is a really nice branding name, I think.

J.R. Farr: Yeah. Exactly, and that’s where I came…or being from an ad agency, I got really into like, the whole like your brand is in MOJO and so that’s where it came from.

Matthew Loomis: Can you tell us like why is MOJO Themes a good choice for a new blogger to select their WordPress theme for the blog? Why choose MOJO to find a good WordPress theme?

Why MOJO Themes is a Solid Choice for Finding WordPress Designs

J.R. Farr: Well, I think especially for newbies, I think one, you know, it’s got really good variety. I feel like it’s still, it’s really cost-effective to get going. I do feel like we are very personal with our customers, even our sellers, like most people can email me at any time, Skype, anyway they want. I’ll get on the phone with customers. So I felt like if anybody have an issue, we’re really…our customer service is really good. And yeah, just the wide variety of our marketplace. Shopping at our marketplace compared to a theme shop is really…sometimes only 20 themes to choose from where we have quite a few themes.

Matthew Loomis: Right. How many WordPress themes do you have?

J.R. Farr: I think on MOJO Themes, we probably have around, oh man, 1500. I don’t know. A good question. Pretty high though.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah, it’s obviously a lot.

J.R. Farr: Yeah, really high.

Matthew Loomis: What are some of the obstacles MOJO has overcome to get this far today?

J.R. Farr: Oh man. I would say it just started. I mean it’s different when you start a company that has the product that you want to sell, right? You have one, you have this, you build up for this product, maybe market that product or a list of products. That’s your job.

Matthew Loomis: Right.

J.R. Farr: With the Marketplace, it’s a whole chicken or the egg thing. So it’s like buyers aren’t going to want to buy here because there’s nothing…sellers aren’t selling or the sellers don’t want to sell here yet because there’s not a buyers. That was really difficult to do. In the very beginning, Apple had just announced the iPad for the first time. We’re getting ready to launch MOJO and market madness is happening so we came with a competition called March Padness and it kind of spread really quickly amongst the designers and really got excited and just say, “Hey, we’ve got three of these iPads.” At the time, I think they were a thousand bucks each and we just said, “We are giving these away to whoever uploads the most.”

And that kind of helped us get our first group of themes going. It was just, I think…you know, there’s a lot of obstacles too. I mean just…we went up against the gorilla of Envato. You know, the time they were really big, they’re still big today. That’s going up against an 800-pound gorilla and just finding ways to differentiate yourself. We tried to not look at them too frequently just because we wanted to be our own self and I think that’s where our personal side came out. We really wanted to feel like MOJO’s personal. We can talk to them and the community’s open and…so yeah, I would definitely say those are two big ones. Chicken and the egg problem and then going up against an 800-pound gorilla. Those were some big tasks for sure.

Matthew Loomis: Okay. So J.R., a lot of my audience at Build Your Own Blog, they’re interested in generating an income through their blog and they’re interested in affiliate marketing and you offer, or MOJO Themes offers an affiliate marketing program. Can you explain, you know, why should somebody consider choosing MOJO Themes as an affiliate?

Earn Affiliate Income with MOJO Themes

J.R. Farr: So I think again, I think it’s an in-house program. I felt like our tracking’s a little bit better than like…we have, we used to have it on Share and Sell, but I like our in-house program. I feel like the tracking’s really good. It’s flexible. So if we have affiliates that are doing well, we’re willing to increase their commissions, not just on the base, especially under bundled times. And again, I think as an affiliate, it’s…you’re trying to produce content.

So doing the round-up for a theme shop, you know, every week is really difficult, or highlighting certain themes but if MOJO does new themes every day, you can focus on niches, you can focus on round ups, most popular. There is just a lot of different things I feel like you can do with our products. And you can also, you know, you can call up the support. I do really try to stand by our support. I think it’s…now we do have a big staff and we’re actually in the process of getting…we even have phone support on Marketplaces which is unheard of in this space. 

Matthew Loomis: Yeah, that is amazing. Sounds great. It is. So kind of shifting to when a new blogger is choosing the theme, what do they need to think about to make the right decision?

J.R. Farr: I think, identify the objective you’re trying to solve, right? So if your focus is just to produce content, you know, obviously, you want to find something that’s…you’re probably focused on the content marketing space from SEO. If I want to find something that has good sounds, SEO. It’s got good readability for your content. I think if your objective is a business, a small business, you know, you’re going to want to look for those and see if it integrates with WooCommerce. Most of our themes now, almost 99% are responsive and WooCommerce compatible. So I think you just identify your objective and then you maybe just…I wouldn’t try to check between a bunch. I find at top three and then, you know, go from there or even give…I mean give us a call and we’ll help you. We’ll help you decide.

Matthew Loomis: Oh, wow. That’s cool. So when you say the top three, how do you determine the top three?

J.R. Farr: Well, I’ll find your objective. I’d go to…we have a curated popular page. I think that helps on MOJO, that just kind of the cream, kind of rise at the top in terms of sales. I would find the top three though if I would just find the category you’re in. If you’re a restaurant, go look at all the restaurant themes, find the design that really kind of suits your…you know, kind of gets you to a good starting point, then you can customize from there.

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

J.R. Farr: On the top three, they’re gonna fit your need best and then go from there.

Matthew Loomis: Okay. So once a blogger is ready to visit MOJO Themes and make that decision, what’s it like for a WordPress blogger to shop at your site? What separates you guys from the competition?

J.R. Farr: I think we put a lot of…we are talking about two different markets. It’s hard to make some switching between two different marketplaces here but we put a lot of emphasis obviously on the search. I felt we’ve done it. We do an audit every year at the Marketplace to clean out all the items that we don’t feel like are appropriate anymore. So even though we do have a large catalog, we do clean them out. So if you go to probably another marketplace, you know, they have a lot but we try to clean ours out. So we don’t like to go above I think where we are. I think that separates us. And then yeah, just obviously the basic search and filtering on the Marketplace and you can search pretty easily for anything you want. Yeah.

Matthew Loomis: Okay. So what standards do you require for your themes that you offer, like how do you choose what to sell and how you do make sure the themes are excellent quality?

How MOJO Themes Offers High Quality Products

J.R. Farr: So we have three different themes that we focus on. Obviously, function, you know the code standard. Sorry for that noise. The code standards, the design standard, and then documentation. So we check for those three things. But code standards, we try to follow a suite with wordpress.org. So we’ll install it. We’ll install a theme checker plug-in, different things that they’ve built, just different plug-ins we can run to make sure that they’re not using deprecating functions and things like that.

And then obviously, design, I mean it could be coded as good as we want. But if doesn’t look, you know, if it’s not, if it’s not responsive and it’s not using the latest…maybe it’s not up to latest design standards using flat design, Google material, things like that, it’s not kind of cutting-edge, we don’t need it. And then if the documentation, if it’s not helping the customer, you know, set it up like we…you know, so we’ll…I think we’ll usually try to reject three or four times before we approve just to make sure all those areas we are focused on. Yeah, those are the good ones. Design, code, and documentation.

Matthew Loomis: Okay. So if a designer kind of like abandons the theme, you don’t sell that, is that correct or…?

J.R. Farr: Yeah, we’ll usually…we have to delete it. At first, if it’s still up and it’s being sold it and, you know, the buyer is frustrated. They’re not getting support. We will step in and offer support and we’ll also offer a free exchange, you know, if they want it. They’re like, “Hey, I just got this theme. Looks like I bought the wrong one.” We are pretty flexible.

Matthew Loomis: Great. I’ve got one more question and I appreciate you for taking the time to talk with us today.

J.R. Farr: Yeah, absolutely.

Matthew Loomis: So what does the future hold for MOJO Themes? What are some exciting things coming down the pike or what do you see for the future?

The Future of MOJO Themes

J.R. Farr: Well, we have…this is where…it’s a little difficult because we are trying to manage two platforms right now, right? So we have MOJO Marketplace, MOJO Themes. I think eventually, MOJO Marketplace will probably be the go-to place just because we’re a resources, we’re kind of shifting towards that. But I would say our big focus is right now are we are going, we are deploying a whole team on our elastic search engine which use elastic search from Marketplace and so we are going to be resetting up the algorithms and all these types of things for them. I think that’s really going to help create the power behind searching hundreds of items.

We are launching a brand-new item support forum. That’s custom. That’s going to really help the buyers when they have issues, common issues. They can go find them really quickly. And on top of that, we just…we’re going to be offering a lot more products that are going to go, that are going to couple nicely with the theme. Because once you get the theme…you know, we’re going to be offering plug-ins, different services that you can buy for. And that’s where MOJO Marketplace is evolving to, and hopefully customer sheet starts driving to. It’s just going to help them because I don’t think you realize all the things you need when you launch a site, you know, to make it successful.

Matthew Loomis: Right. So you’re indicating that the themes will eventually be offered on the MOJO Marketplace brand site?

J.R. Farr: Right now, every single theme that’s on MOJO Themes is offered on MOJO Marketplace.

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

J.R. Farr: Then in addition to that on MOJO Marketplace, we have all the WordPress plug-ins, logos and graphics and professional services. And we are just scrolling out our products for customers as well.

Matthew Loomis: Great. Sounds good.

J.R. Farr: Yeah.

Matthew Loomis: You guys are going to continue on and dominate the industry.

J.R. Farr: I hope so, yeah.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah, definitely. Thank you, J.R., for talking with me today.

Here’s a great interview I just heard with MOJO Themes J.R. Farr

Interviewer Bio:

Matthew Kaboomis Loomis is the owner of Build Your Own Blog. Connect with him on Google+ and Twitter

2 comments

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  1. Susan Harms says:    •   3 years

    Hello Matthew!

    I have been playing with blogging on Blogger off and on for a few years now (unsuccessfully) and recently I have been very inspired and motivated to give it another, and a much better, and professional try. I am very technologically challenged and intimidated. I don’t even remember how I landed on your blog, but I’ve got to say, so far you have been the most informative and easy to understand. Thank you so much for starting from the ground up for those of us that are clueless. Although I am now much less clueless -thanks to you- I still have a LOT of questions. But I’m going to start with one for now. I have seen on other sites and tutorials that after I buy my domain and have WordPress installed there is another “step” that you don’t have in your process: purchasing the Genesis Framework and THEN buying a theme (child’s theme?) from there. I’m a little confused as to what a “framework” is, and why I would or would not need it. Could you briefly explain this to me (and please assume I am 5 years old, actually being 46 in this day in age is worse than 5 when it comes to computers!!!)

    Thank you so much!

    Susan

    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   3 years Author

      Hi Susan,

      My setup has nothing to do with the Genesis Framework. That’s a different set up entirely. My setup is simpler and lower cost. You still get the same great WordPress software with your blog. Then you get to choose whatever theme you want. You get to pick from many options right there on MOJO. 🙂

      I’m happy to serve you and if you need anything, let me know!

      Cheers to your new blog,

      Matthew