The State of the New Kolakube (In One Brutally Honest Letter)

If you’re reading this, you’re probably interested in hearing what is going on with Kolakube. It looks drastically different than it did earlier this morning, and that’s because I’ve rolled out my new vision for the site…finally.

If you’ve been around since the first days of Kolakube (will be a year old, January 1st), you probably know I like to redesign a lot. This is the third major design refresh in a year, and I’m really happy with the new formatting of the site and my new mindset on how I want to run things.

From “Corporate” Back to “Me”

I felt like Kolakube was going in the wrong direction. By that, I mean it was going a little too…corporate. I felt like I was turning the site into something like WooThemes or Elegant Themes, and that’s not at all how I like to run my sites.

The truth is, Kolakube is not and was never a company run by a bunch of people in some snazzy office. It’s always been a one-man (or should I say, one-teen) show. That’s how I’ve always ran my sites, and I like to think I’ve been successful doing it.

With that identity crisis I had for so long, I felt like it interfered with how I operated this site, and actually took a lot away from the whole thing.

I think the lowest point of my entire time owning this site is when I tried selling Kolakube, and how badly that came to bite me in the ass.

In all honesty — I sort of lost perspective of what I always wanted to achieve with the site and got consumed by, and am truly ashamed to admit this — making money.

I forgot what I actually set out to achieve back on January 1st, 2010:

Continuously make kick-ass Thesis skins that make an impact in your life, and meet some awesome people doing it.

The old Kolakube wasn’t really doing that. Hell, there wasn’t even an about page to tell people who I was, or what Kolakube is about. Now, I feel like I’ve come up with a pretty sweet solution to that problem.

The bottom line is this:

The old Kolakube was completely broken. Today, I feel like I have come up with something that will fix it, and give a more unique approach to selling WordPress themes online.

You don’t have to be a big company to create themes that are awesome, just a person who is serious about making an impact in their customers lives.

PS: If you’ve ever seen the word “we” or “us” used on this site to describe something (ex: “we provide great Thesis skins”), it was really just me writing that. πŸ˜‰

The Question of Consistency and Dedication

The old Kolakube, as I said was broken. My priorities were all wrong, and the two biggest things I failed at were:

  1. Offering awesome support and documentation
  2. Providing updates and new features to skins

These are things I am going to be focusing on in the very near future, and believe me — am going to kick-ass at. The heart and soul of Kolakube are the themes that I offer to you guys, so they should be the top priority. Not making a bunch of money.

I feel like one of the major reasons (apart from that identity crisis I was talking about earlier) is that I was so busy with other things on the side; I couldn’t find the time and just overlooked these things.

Where did most of my time go? To High School. Well, I’m proud to say that as of June 17th, 2011 — I graduated from High School, and no longer have to worry about that massive waste of time.

As a matter of fact, I don’t even go to college. This was a personal decision I made so I can work full-time online.

Mainly: to work at Kolakube! So, you will never hear me complaining about writing essays, but have a better chance of hearing me whine on Twitter about figuring out how certain code works.

So I am proud to announce that my full focus will be on Kolakube, and expanding it into something awesome that will have an impact in your life. Because that’s what I’m really all about.

So…Where Does That Leave Us?

So far, I’ve really just talked about me and how I plan to make Kolakube as awesome as it is in my head. I’ve told you how it was broken (maybe you didn’t even realize it), and how I am dying to fix it.

But I haven’t really gone too much into some of the things I want to do, and what some of my future plans are with this site. Here’s a few important things you should know:

  • I will be doing a lot of blogging on the blog, Kubed3, about Thesis, business, marketing and anything WordPress related.
  • Yes, I will be available for some freelance Thesis projects here and there.
  • I want to expand my themes to the Genesis Framework.
  • I will be hiring a few people to help around in the support forums with theme support (contact if interested)
  • One of my goals is to offer an extensive user guide to using my skins, sort of like what DIYthemes has set up.
  • Kolakube no longer sells the Blogussion Skin for Thesis.
  • For now, I have removed the membership plans. But, current members will still receive everything they’ve paid for.
  • The future is in Marketers Delight

I’ll Leave it to You

I want to know your thoughts on the future of Kolakube, including feedback, suggestions, angry letters/complaints, etc. Leave a few things for me in the comments, and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

48 comments comments closed

  1. Congrats Alex! You have really achieved quite a bit in a short period of time and you should be proud of that. Do what you love and are passionate about, the money will follow. I bought Marketers Delight a few days ago and I still can’t get over how fantastic your theme is.

    bill

  2. Hello Alex,

    Glad to see that you are focused in build a better Kolakube.

    But, what about the Thesis Framework? When you said that you have plan’s to expand your themes to the Genesis Framework, are you thinking in the future migrate 100% to these Premium Framework?

    • Hey Vitor, thanks for stopping by!

      I will soon be supporting both Thesis and Genesis 100%. No plans to drop Thesis from anything I do on the web, ever.

  3. Love the new look Alex…..very muted and classy feel to it despite the splashes of colour.

    May I ask as to when you’ll be available for freelance projects again?

    • Glad you enjoy the design Avinash!

      And probably not for a little while as I have a lot on my plate right now. But, you can always come back from time to time to check out my status.

  4. Love the new look, Alex. Been a fan of yours for quite a while…can’t wait to see what you have in store. Hard to believe you’re the same age as my oldest son. Keep killin’ it, my man!

  5. Hey Alex!
    Glad to see you back. I wish you good luck for future.. keep rocking and keep up your spirit, never let it die. You have a long way to go, it’s just the beginning of journey.

    All the best πŸ™‚
    Puneet

    • Puneet,

      You’re so right. There are still a million things I want to do, and can’t wait to get rolling.

      Appreciate the support, and I wish you the best of luck with your own Thesis business!

  6. Hey there Alex,
    It is good to know that you did not actually sell Kolakube, I did read about your flippa listing down at Famous Blogger. Well, these kind of things do happen a lot in all our lives. We tend to lose focus on what we actually intend to do with stuffs. Glad to know now that you are on the right track. Keep up the hard work and best of luck for the future. By the way the new design looks exceptionally cool.

    • Hey Shiva,

      I’m glad I didn’t either, looking back — it would have easily been one of the biggest mistakes of my life.

      Appreciate the support as always, and glad you like the design! I can’t stop looking at it.

  7. Big news Alex, but I really feel like you made the right call here.

    Both Genesis and Thesis are framworks that grow in popularity by the day, and I feel like there is a real lack of offerings for themes in both of those frameworks.

    Sure, there are some (Hodder bros. come to mind), but few that are as good looking or as mindful to marketing as yours (the built in opt-ins you’ve included for a couple skins are something I wish ALL theme designers would do).

    All in all I really think you made the right call, given some time and TLC I feel like Kolakube could be worth much more than what you would’ve gotten on a sale for the whole site.

    Best of luck, keep killing it.

    –Greg

    • Thanks for the comment Greg, gotta say that after working on Sparring Mind, I was extra motivated to get a blog for myself set back up. Keep up the awesome work over there!

      I feel like that the Thesis and Genesis platforms as they are now, are only half of the solution. They lay the foundation for amazing websites to be built, with great designs that work on top of what the two frameworks have to offer.

      The problem is, there is a lack of great designs out there for these platforms. And I’m not talking about just looking good, but actually ones the piggyback off of the features Thesis + Genesis offer.

      And that’s what I want to achieve with Kolakube, to solve the other half of the equation and create skins/child themes that not only look good, but work well on top of those platforms.

      See you around buddy πŸ˜€

  8. Hi Alex:

    Just a little while ago I bought ‘Marketers Delight’. It looks nice, but I had second thoughts. No offense. I just had that (Too salesy fear) feeling about my blog after I saw it, so I wanted to uninstall it. Not that I won’t try again on another blog, but the point I want to make is…

    It was a nightmare trying to uninstall it, and I couldn’t reach anyone.

    Are you putting something in there (even a short tutorial), so if I make a mistake and want uninstall, I can do it with ease?

    The skin does look good, but I just haven’t got to that affiliate sales level yet.

    • Lloyd,

      This is the exact kind of thing I wanted to hear, and am glad you brought that to my attention. The lack of documentation for using these skins definitely will lead to problems like this, and I want to say sorry for any stress my themes have caused. That’s not what I want people to associate my work with.

      Send me an email if you do want to use Marketers Delight again, and ask me any questions you have about it and I’ll help you as much as I can.

      See you around, thanks for the honest feedback!

  9. Thanks for this! An excellent and honest blog post. Everyone loses their way sometimes, but it takes strength to see it, admit it, and fix it. Looking forward to the new Kolacube!

  10. I’ve been pretty happy with Thesis Business, as for designs i spent hours looking for themes and yours are the only ones that come close to what i’m looking for.

    The big complaint being the lack of forum response, i’ve had questions go unanswered for weeks. Guys like me depend on forum support, i don’t mind getting dirty but a little help goes along way. The DIY forums have saved my behind many times.

    • Hey Cole,

      I’m really happy to hear that you like Thesis Business. At least there is something positive to come out of your experience on Kolakube.

      As for support, that is something I am going to approach relentlessly and want to do as well as DIYthemes does. Stay tuned for that, and hope you will someday be 100% happy with your skin(s). πŸ™‚

  11. Sooo…you got some nice upgrade’s in here…
    You say you no longer sells the Blogussion Skin. Say what?!
    Why, and how about the ppl who have purchased this skin? No future updates?

    • Hey Roy,

      Unfortunately, with the sale of Blogussion.com, the rights to the skin went along with it. I will be offering support on the skin for the time being.

  12. Awesome post Alex. Can’t wait to see what you do on the Genesis side of things.

    Best of luck with your new (old?) direction!

    • Thanks Matt! Means a lot coming from you, considering the awesome work you do. Definitely inspired me to want to start something like what you’ve guys achieved with Themedy (a Thesis & Genesis marketplace).

  13. Hey Alex,

    First of all, I must admit that I was hard on your by publishing that post, but I was really offended to see alexmangini.com going a way!

    And to be honest, I didn’t realize how difficult it is to run a design business and serving quite good number of members everyday “alone” till I started to suffer same pain!

    We some how compete, but you know buddy.. My life without kolakube will be so freaking boring , I really can not live without competing with someone πŸ™‚

    So glad to see you back to the track Alex, this is really good news.

    P.S. I love the redesign, pretty nice look!

    Best of luck!

    • Hey Hesham,

      That post on FamousBloggers was actually one of the BIGGEST contributing factors to getting my ass back together.

      Because I had distanced myself and Kolakube as a general from the community, I didn’t really believe anyone cared about the site so much.

      But after seeing the response to your post (which was awesome, it looks like you did some research!), I realized that there is actually quite the following behind the site.

      That’s pretty awesome, I actually look forward to competing with you then, Hesham. πŸ˜‰

      Appreciate the support, especially from a “competitor!” See you around buddy, best of luck at Thesis Awesome.

  14. Alex,

    I’ve only had limited dealings with you (issues with Marketer’s Delight a few weeks ago) but I am glad you didn’t decide to abandon Kolakube. As you’ve said, there definitely is a lack of great designs for such a great framework (Thesis) — so bad that I’m even considering starting my new sites with the Genesis framework. Kolakube filled a serious void in this arena, and as much as us “webpreneurs” want to remove ourselves from the business I think Kolakube isn’t really Kolakube without YOUR personal involvement.

    So yeah, glad to have you stick around and you can count on me buying future skins!

    • Hey Carlo,

      It’s definitely my goal here to remove that void. Thesis is the best platform out there, especially with 2.0 coming out. The only problem is lack of innovation and good designs for it out there. That’s what I’m changing, just give me a little time!

      Appreciate the support a lot, comments mean a lot! πŸ˜€

  15. Well done Alex.

    Everyone needs to take a bit of time now and again to review their business, priorities and re-focus their energies.

    Good luck for Kolakube’s future business success.

  16. Hi alex,
    So you sold Blogussion.com (That is why it sucked these past few weeks)
    Nice to see you back and Kolakube is up again.
    I am currently with your Blogussion theme and I am really happy with it.
    Anyhow good luck and keep the good work, and I cant wait to see the new improvements you are gonna be doing for the new Kolakube and also Kubed3.

    • Yes, I no longer own Blogussion. It was the first site I ever made (at 14), but really felt like it was time to part ways.

      Appreciate the comments and support, enjoy the skin!

  17. Alex

    I have always been very impressed with your talents my friend and for someone who is so young to have achieved so much kudos to you. I am glad you found your focus.

    I must admit though I had almost given up on Kolakube and its lack of direction. As a subscription member I was not feeling the love as they say which was more than a little disappointing.

    My impression over the past 6 months was that you didn’t really care for much your customers — only in it for the $$$ — like soooo many others out there — but it all makes sense now.

    I appreciate your honesty and wish you all the success in the world…I look forward to seeing your new ideas.

    Good Luck

    • Chris, wow — that really means a lot. Thanks for being so understanding. Over the next couple of months, all subscribers are going to be in for a real treat.

  18. Super Awesome.. Big Cheers to Kolakube, looking forward for much better themes in very near future..

  19. Alex, you are a pretty amazing young man. Pretty insightful for a person just out of high school. (I’m a bit older and it took me years to get some of your perspective!)

    It’s nice to see the entrepreneurial spirit alive and well!

    I’ve enjoyed your Business theme, but may be looking to switch over to Marketer’s Delight in the near future. It’s great to see that you are fully engaged in a number of new things, including the Marketer’s Delight theme. Good luck with your direction.

    Thanks for a great read and once again, congratulations!

  20. Great Design, just adore it!

    and a nice turn to “me” instead of “us”

    cheers,
    serge

  21. Your site looks fantastic, I am thinking of buying Thesis and then get all my sites with custom designs converted to using the Thesis framework.

  22. It’s Nice of you Alex. But I liked the bloggusion theme which was made by you…which you no longer develop.

    Anyway best of luck

  23. Great to have you back Alex. Strap yourself in son. You have a lot of work to do. Remember, you’re not alone. I got your back bro…

  24. Everything looks great, man. Like I said in your other blog, you’re really impressive and doing a great job. Don’t let anybody fool you about school either. Go one day if you see the need. Otherwise, keep making moves. Never stop learning, though. No matter how much money one thing brings you. Never stop learning.

  25. I thought I lost both of you this and bloggusion but fortunately it is not. Hope to see more skins to come.

  26. It takes a lot to be as honest as you have been in your post and I salute you. Don’t feel too bad about getting caught up in the “money fever” it strikes us all at one time or another. The important thing is you seem to have returned to center and there’s nothing better than speaking the truth to yourself. I admire the fact that you’ve accomplished what you have at such a young age. You’re ahead of the game, Alex enjoy it.

  27. Pleased to go through this thread and getting to know about Alex Mangini and kolakube.
    It’s great to discover a great looking theme and the passion and entrepreneurial spirit of a teen.

    I am glad you are refocusing on kolakube to make it awesome, and to add more themes, both for Thesis and Genesis.

    I think this is a good direction for you, and an opportunity to make your mark with a young man’s perspective, not that of a corporate entity.

    You will certainly do well with this.