Go with the Flo? Wake me up before you Flo Flo? Here are all your Flothemes questions answered…
In case you missed it, let me start by telling you the news. *Deep breath, quick like a band-aid*. Flothemes is closing down. Or rather, it already has. Their shop is permanently offline (replaced with an advert for their new owners, Pixieset). And if you already have a Flothemes website, you’ve just been handed a wildly confusing eviction notice.
So what is actually going on?! And as an existing Flothemes customer, what does it mean for you?
Well the good news is, the clock is ticking slowly. The bad news? It is definitely ticking.
Allow me to explain…
I’ve used the website/shopfront analogy in another blog. But- unlike your Flothemes website- the analogy’s still going strong (sorry, too soon?!)
Anyway, if you’re struggling to wrap your head around the whole thing, think of it like this…
Your shop (i.e. your website) is still completely yours. And as far as any customers are concerned, it looks and functions the same as ever. The shelves are still stocked, the lights are still on, and the bell still *dings* when you open the door. Nothing much will change for at least a year. And as long as you keep paying the rent, no one’s going to kick you out anytime soon.
But here’s the catch (and it’s a whopper). The people who maintain and update your shopfront have booked one-way flights to PixieLand. You’ll never get another update, template or theme. And as of September 2024, you’ll be completely on your own.
So where does that leave you?
You’ll still be able to paint the walls and restock your shelves (i.e. change your copy, update your photos). But anything more than that will require a great deal of tech-savvy patience. Gradually the lights will start to flicker, things will start to glitch. And when you pick up the phone for help, no one will answer.
And most cruelly of all- your competitors’ shops will be getting better. New signs, paint jobs, fonts, and features. Meanwhile, your shop will be just the same as ever. Frozen in time like the last surviving Blockbuster.
I’m sorry, I know it’s all a bit grim. But there is a silver lining to this cloud if you know where to look.
If you have a Flothemes site and you’re wondering what your next steps are, here are all your questions answered.
1. Is Flothemes kicking me out of my own website?
Short answer, no. Flothemes just sold you the template. The site itself is built on WordPress, and WordPress isn’t going anywhere.
But can you stay there forever?
Ah, well here’s where you have to read between the lines. In Flothemes’ final, “We’re Sorry We’ve Abandoned You” blogpost, they’re actually quite reassuring.
They say as long as you stay on certain versions of WordPress and PHP, you should be fine. But they say that using cautiously non-committal language: “cannot guarantee”…”break anything”…”we do not know for certain”. Doesn’t exactly fill you with confidence, does it?!
To be completely honest, I wouldn’t panic just yet. As long as you follow their advice, it’s likely to keep working, glitch-free for the foreseeable future. But no technology is evergreen. And as WordPress introduces new updates and features, the ground beneath your Flothemes site will start to shift. Gradually it will become outdated, and eventually obsolete.
2. Can I keep updating my site?
I’ll let Flothemes take this one…
“[Until Sept 2024] You can continue to edit your site, FlexBlock included”
Phew! For another year, your site will continue to run as normal. You can’t buy any new clothes, but at least you get to keep the ones you’ve got.
From September next year, things take a turn.
“You will still be able to create and build your own FlexBlocks and edit any existing FlexBlocks…[but]…you will no longer be able to retrieve predefined FlexBlocks templates. If you intend to use any predefined block templates, Stylekits or page templates from the FlexBlock library, you should export them as JSON so you have them as a backup to use in the future.”
If all that made sense to you, great. If you’re wondering who Jason is, I’d say September 2024 is your ‘get a new site’ deadline.
Basically, you’re hemmed into the design you have. They won’t be adding new features, new updates or new templates. And if you do want to make any changes, error messages will undoubtedly abound.
3. Can’t I just transfer it straight to Pixieset?
Pixieset bought Flothemes in 2021. And now that they’re closing down Flothemes, their advice is that you buy yourself a Pixieset template instead. They even offer you a year’s free membership, which is nice of them.
Even so, no. You cannot transfer your Flothemes website to Pixieset. Right down to their coding structure, the two are completely different platforms.
Brace yourself, because this one might sting a little…wherever you decide to go, you will have to start your website all over again.
But you know what? There is a silver lining to be found in all this. Most people stick with their current website simply out of inertia, or fear of change. Even people who don’t love their website often just plod on with what they’ve got. But as of last month, your inertia has been forcibly broken; you are being forced to change.
So I say, take advantage of the situation. Embrace the change and see what’s out there.
4. Where shall I go?
As an ambassador for Showit, I have to admit a little bias here. But if you’re a photographer or other creative, I personally believe Showit is the best place to build your future home.
Beautiful, stylish templates. Fully customisable designs (you can even use that custom font you like!) and a super-easy drag-and-drop functionality make Showit an absolute dream to work with.
And best of all, Showit as a company is growing. They’re investing, expanding, developing. You can take the leap, knowing you’ll land on stable ground.
If you’re feeling that warm and fuzzy Showit temptation, check out my blog to find out more about this downright awesome platform.
5. What about my beloved blog?!
If you have a Flothemes blog, it will be WordPress-based. And unfortunately, Pixieset’s blog platform isn’t. So if you do decide to migrate over to Pixiset, your blog won’t be coming with you.
For some people with only a few blogs, this isn’t much of a concern. For established photographers, the thought of reblogging years’ worth of weddings is sickening.
Good news, though. There are a number of platforms- Showit included!– that have an integrated WordPress blog. If you were to migrate over to Showit, you can pack up your WordPress blog and bring it with you. Here’s a handy blog to talk you through how to do it.
6. How do I move website providers?
Ideally, you don’t want any downtime in between your old website and your new one. It can be very time-consuming building a new site, especially if you’re doing it by yourself. So the best thing to do is to build your new website in the background while your Flothemes site is still live.
Then when it’s all ready, you do the switch.
(It does mean you’ll be paying two lots of subscriptions for a while. But it’s better than losing a month or two’s worth of business.)
Step 1: Choose your new website host, find a template you love and sign up.
Step 2: Build your dream team of copywriters and website designers!
Step 3: Create your new website
Step 4: Connect your DINS setting through whoever you registered your domain with e.g. 123 Reg, GoDaddy, Google Domains etc. Follow their instructions.
Step 5: Migrate your blog across (if you can).
Step 6: Get Google to recrawl your site so it re-indexes your new pages straight away
Step 7: Check it’s all good, then wave goodbye to Flothemes.
7. When should I start building my new website?
This depends on how much of the build you’re planning to outsource.
If you’re doing it all yourself, you have the luxury of working to your own schedule. All I’d say is, don’t get complacent. Wedding season will be around again before you know it. And the last thing you want is a new website build perched on top of your September editing pile.
If you’re having your build done by a pro, I’d suggest looking around for designers immediately. Like, yesterday. As a website designer myself, I’ve seen a massive influx of enquiries from Flothemes customers over the last few weeks. My waiting list is growing like bamboo, and it’s been less than a month. Copywriters I’ve spoken to are saying the same thing.
Either way, my best advice is to get the ball rolling now.
Bursting with ideas? I’d love to chat
If you’re looking for a website designer, there are plenty of us out there. Have a look around, and find someone whose style and approach you click with. It’s very much a two-way relationship, and you need to find someone who’ll bring your ideas, brand, and personality to life.
Whether you’re after someone to customise an existing Showit template, or you’re dreaming of a complete branding and website overhaul, I’d love to have a chat. Get in touch today and let’s see if we’re a good fit.