Picking a theme for your blog is the first major decision you make once you have purchased your domain.
As you may have already noticed, there are many free themes out there. My first blog, Swaddles n’ Bottles, is built on a free theme. While I am generally happy with the theme, there have been many limitations and road blocks I have faced, mainly with support. A few things to consider before you go with a free theme:
- Free themes are not always kept up to date to function properly with WordPress updates
- As these WordPress changes happen and glitches happen, support may be limited for your theme. Sometimes free themes are completely abandoned and there is literally no one to contact in case of a blogging 911.
- The best free themes are HIGHLY used and your site may end up looking a lot like many other bloggers. I mention in The Business Blogging Blueprint how I see my same theme used on Swaddles n’ Bottles at least once a week on another site. I wish it was more unique but changing at this point would be a huge undertaking.
If you are blogging on a budget, be sure you are picking a free theme that is kept up to date. Every year, WordPress comes out with a new basic free theme named according to the year (Twenty Seventeen, Twenty Sixteen, etc.) These will be most likely to have the most support behind them.
Additional things to keep in mind:
- Is the theme mobile responsive? 80% or more of your traffic will come from a mobile device. Don’t give potential followers a bad first impression with a site that doesn’t look good.
- Ratings and reviews. Do your homework and see what other bloggers have to say about it. If you are having trouble finding any reviews, chances are it is not a highly used theme and may not have a big support community behind it. You can always browse the WordPress.org forums to see how much discussion there is about your theme and how much difficulty people seem to be having with it.
- How does the theme display photographs? Does it align with how you plan to showcase your photos?
- Try to picture what you want your blog to look like. Search 10 other bloggers in your niche and see what features you like from each. Grab a pencil and paper and start sketching. As you are browsing themes, see if it is comparable to your ideal set up.
- Browser Capability. There are a wide variety available out there and your users will be on all of them. Ensure your theme is compatible with all major browsers.
- When in doubt, go with something simple and clean. White space is what makes a blog look clean and appealing. This type of visual trumps cluttered, bright and flashy any day.
What I Use
After the struggles I faced with Swaddles n’ Bottles, I knew I would be using a paid theme for The Basics of Blogging. I did a ton of research before making my selection. I wanted something that was easy to use and included a lot of customization when it came to layout. I ended up purchasing Divi from Elegant Themes.
I will admit, the first few days on Divi came with a learning curve. I was so used to my free Sela theme that the new interface was like reading a foreign language. After just a week of watching tutorials and practicing, the tables have turned! Now anytime I blog on Swaddles n’ Bottles I am constantly reminded with how much more I like Divi!.
Divi is fully mobile responsive and comes with this amazing drag and drop function that makes customization with columns, photos and text so very simple. They offer a full money back guarantee which always gives you peace of mind when making these decisions.
Again, their website and the support they offer is stellar. I heavily relied on it in those first few weeks.
Click here to see demos and pricing for the Divi theme.