There are about a zillion themes out there available for WordPress. It can be a daunting task to choose one to use on your blog. Not only that, there’s a lot to know about themes like what colors work best for business or how many columns are a best practice. Every little element you choose can affect your site’s ability to convert visitors into subscribers or subscribers into sales. What’s a person to do? Let’s find out.
Theme Best Practices
- Only use WordPress’ Dashboard interface to look for themes to try. If you’re completely new, just stick to your Dashboard. Even if you’re not new. I only search via WordPress itself. There’s plenty there to choose from and I can filter it down to exactly what I want and need.
- Choose a theme based on what you site is about. Your theme, like your domain, blog title, and other elements, should convey the purpose of your blog.
- Don’t blind your visitors. If you want people to hang out and read your blog, you should make sure you’re not blinding them or inducing a seizure! While you may think that bright pink and green are beautiful together, not everyone will think so. It’s best to use neutral, calming colors. That’s not to say your blog has to be boring, but there’s other ways to add color and variety to the monotony!
- Make sure your theme is loaded with junk. You can avoid junk themes and bad code by sticking to reputable theme providers.
- Keep it simple. While a busy theme with 4 columns and multiple widgets is fun to play with, it can confuse your visitors. Keep it down to 2 or 3 tidy columns with helpful information and obvious navigation.
Reputable Theme Developers
I’ve bought ONE theme in the 10 years I’ve been using WordPress. Look, I’m cheap, okay? If I could buy used themes, I probably would. I actually reviewed the theme since I’ve had this blog. Check it out if you like. See the theme that made a stingy blogger finally press the Buy button.
Anyway, if you want to find themes that aren’t going to screw you over from the back end, be buggy, or be a security risk, then go with a reputable developer. Here’s a short list:
I’d like to plug the developer of my theme while I’m at it. This theme is called Shooting Star, and it’s created by Tomas Toman. Be sure and check out his clean, responsive themes. The cheapest premium prices I’ve seen and most functionality available in the free version.
The Three Ways to Get Themes
- Free themes – Back in the day, there were countless free themes out there for WordPress. The community was drenched in a kind of free/share/donate economy which is great for cheapskates like me, but not very profitable for the people working so hard in the background to create it all. I don’t know how technical you are, but coding is tedious! Anyway, you can still get free themes, but a good number of the free themes available these days have a pro version you can buy. The developers usually lock some type of key function behind that pay wall. Social icons are a popular one to hide from free users. There’s nothing wrong with free. As of this writing, I’m currently using the free version of my theme.
- Buy a theme – Again, there’s a ton available. I would suggest purchasing a theme you found via your Dashboard or from one of the reputable developers listed above. There are many developers out there and you can find them on webmaster forums, etc. You can get your custom dream site developed for a nominal fee. Just be careful. Make sure you protect your investment from a bad developer.
- Create your own theme – If you’re a coder, this shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out. There are hundreds of tutorials online to help you get it done. However, if you’re like me and you’re not, you have to improvise if you want to make your own theme. For years, I used a program called Artisteer to create my own themes. Artisteer’s interface mimicked Microsoft Word which made it simple to figure out and use. It made a one-of-a-kind theme into quick work.
About the “Profit” Part
Obviously, if you know how to make themes you can actually earn a nice living as a developer. However, there’s a better way to profit from WordPress themes. A lot of bloggers sell the theme they use via an affiliate program, meaning they earn a small commission from the developer each time someone clicks a link on their blog and purchases a copy of the their theme. A lot of sales can be generated by followers trying to duplicate a blogger’s success.
Most major theme developers provide an affiliate program. They’re usually simple and free to apply for, and some only require that you create an account to begin promoting their themes right away. That’s one really cool thing about blogging: all of the passive income streams there just for the taking. Don’t leave money on the table.
[BONUS] Finding and Installing Themes
I’ve written a tutorial about how to find and install themes complete with screen shots. If you need a little more guidance, check it out. Some information is similar to that presented a above.