WordPress themes – go Premium or go Free?

by Klaus on September 23, 2012

in Blogging

One of the great things about WordPress is the price, it’s free and it’s easy to get started with. You just need some basic hosting for a couple of bucks a month, download WordPress for free, set it up in minutes and you’re ready to enter the blogging world.

Once you’re in the blogging world, it doesn’t take long until you learn about “themes” and “plugins”. You can enhance WordPress and add new functionality by using some of the thousands of WordPress plugins out there, and you can change the look, feel and design of your blog/website completely by searching for [tp lang=”en” only=”y”]WordPress themes[/tp][tp not_in=”en”]WordPress themes[/tp] and install one you really like.

Which begs the question, should you go for a free theme or a premium (paid) theme?

If you’re completely new to blogging, and maybe also new to web-stuff in general, you should probably go with a free theme. Find one that is nice and download it from a reputable source (to avoid downloading a version that has been infected with bad code). This way you can still get started blogging for just the cost of hosting, which comes as low as a few dollars a month. You can easily find a beautiful theme for free, but you may need to workaround a few limitations here and there, since its customization options might be limited, unless you know your way around a HTML/CSS editor and can do the stuff yourself.

On the other hand, if you’re somewhat experienced in blogging and you know exactly what you want and need, you could just jump in the waters and purchase a premium theme. Prices vary, they can go as low as a few bucks, up to hundreds, even thousands of dollars (depending on the license). Most very-good quality themes costs around $50 dollars, plus/minus, depending on offers, discounts etc. For this price you usually get a single-use license, meaning you can only use it on one website. Some themes offer a developer license too, which usually allows you to use the theme on as many websites as you want. Finally, some themes also offers a reseller/extended license that allows you to re-sell the theme or use it as part of a hosting package if you have such customers, such licenses could easily cost on the wrong side of a grand.

Basically, for around $50, you can get a very good premium theme.

The upside with these premium themes is how well they are built, usually. In many cases, they will be somewhat better optimized for Search Engines (indexing faster and higher rankings, but don’t hold your breath, other factors play in here as well). They also offer easy customization in the form of web-based options, straight from within your WordPress Dashboard. You don’t have to edit HTML/CSS, you just click around with your mouse and customize your theme the way you want, colors and stuff.

With premium themes, you will likely also receive updates to the theme you have purchased. For how long depends on the provider and the license, but expect at least a couple of years worth of updates. Also depending on the provider, you may not get new features/functions in a purchased theme, maybe they only release a couple of updates to fix bugs, while other theme makers might add a new major version once a year or so, that offers new features. With a free theme, you’re usually stuck with whatever you download at that time, but some free theme makers do provide support and updates, but they are somewhat rare.

I’ve purchased themes from providers such as DIYthemes, ThemeFuse and ThemeForest. There are many more providers and theme makers out there, but these three I’ve personally tried and I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase from them again, if they have another theme I fancy or need for a project.

But like I said, if you’re just starting out with a blog, you might just want to go with a free theme to begin with, then when your blog starts to take off, or you begin earning a little money from it, you can invest in a premium theme to make your blog even nicer and help it grow even more.

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Comments & Leave a Comment

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Joe Clark October 14, 2012 at 17:34

I usually don’t recommend free themes to new bloggers especially if they have no enough knowledge of WordPress and PHP.
An infected free theme could ruin your website and you may loose interest in blogging too if you have such a bad experience at the beginning of your blogging career.
Joe Clark recently posted… Why free WordPress themes are risky for new bloggers

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Amar Ilindra October 31, 2012 at 15:04

I always recommend my blogger friends to use premium themes. I personally tried both free and premium themes. Popular premium themes helped me to drive traffic and fame.
Amar Ilindra recently posted… Top 10 Best Google Chrome Themes

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leiva November 3, 2012 at 19:07

it depends on you blog topic and if its a personal blog, i prefer clean, simple and free modern themes.

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