You’ve now understood the many advantages of having a self-hosted blog. The next question that may come to your mind would be – Should I be using free themes or premium themes? Will it make much of a difference if I use a free one? Which one is better for me and why? And from the zillions of options available, which premium theme should I choose?
You’ve come to the right place. In this post, we are going to discuss the pros and cons of having a free and premium theme for your blog. Hopefully, this will help you decide which one fits your need the best.
Free Themes Or Premium Themes: Which are Best for Your Blog
Advantages of Having a Free Theme for Your Blog
- It’s Free: The first point is just that! It’s free! There are no hidden charges and you can easily download, upload and build your website without any much hassle.
- Easy to find: The free themes are easy to locate as well. Go to your WordPress Dashboard – Appearance – Themes – Add a New Theme. You can also find them at third-party sites. But there are few things to remember before you use those. More on that later!
- Security: Since these free themes are made available by WordPress, each one of them go through a strict review process and pass all latest coding standards. This ensures great quality and compatibility with all the features. Speaking of compatibility, that’s our next point.
- Compatibility: As mentioned above, the free WordPress themes go through a rigorous review process before being released to the users. As a result, it supports a good number of plugins.
- Minimalistic design: Free themes often have a simple and minimalistic design to cater to its users.
- Load time: Due to the minimalistic design and only a handful of inbuilt or otherwise necessary plugin support, free WordPress sites usually have a speedy load time. This directly benefits your SEO (but this could be the only thing may help your SEO if you are using a free theme.)
Disadvantages of Having a Free Theme for Your Blog
- Limited features: Free themes come with simple design and functionality. You cannot expect it to have a landing page and certainly not those high-end additional features.
- Limited Support: Free themes have close to zilch support as the developers are not legally bound to answer every question you have about the theme. The developers may choose their own sweet time to reply to the support queries and you will have to often rely on WordPress theme user forums for troubleshooting.
- Common: Free themes are used by many bloggers and website creators worldwide. Since you have very limited options to customize according to your liking, there isn’t anything unique about your website design which is kind of a put-off.
- Vulnerable: Always remember to download and use themes that are approved and released officially by WordPress. There are many third-party sources available on the internet from where you can download free themes. But always research and read user reviews before downloading them. Checking the number of downloads and active installs will often give you an idea. Some may be vulnerable in terms of security. Others in terms of the legal use itself. There are instances reported where people develop themes to get their malicious codes into others’ websites.
Advantages of Having a Premium Theme for Your Blog
- More Functionalities and Features: Premium themes come with more functionalities and features than a free theme. You can do almost all the customizations yourself with the help of plugins – paid or free. For example, the Genesis plugins and advanced admin panels help customization a lot easier. I use Genesis themes on both my sites and I have never been happier. Since blog themes is a competitive market space, developers often release themes with premium features and seamless web integration.
- SEO: Most of the premium themes offer SEO optimization. Popular themes like Genesis has inbuilt plugins thereby reducing the number of additional plugins in your website. Therefore, such premium themes are able to provide fast loading as well.
- Support: Another important advantage to having a premium theme is that they offer free support for a duration of time, after which you can extend the support by additional payment. If you choose popular themes like Genesis, there are tons of tutorials available too with the help of which you can download and upload the themes.
- Security: The themes are subject to updates every now and then, adding new features and tightening the security. Since this is a competitive market, a good amount of money is invested in the development and release, thereby making it obliged to meet high-security standards.
- Unique: Since premium themes come with (an almost) hefty price tag, they are less frequently used when compared to free themes. The easy customization option also helps in making the overall look and feel of the website unique.
Disadvantages of Having a Premium Theme for Your Blog
- Cost: The cost involved in purchasing and sometimes, uploading and creating a website is phenomenally high. For example, if you want to use premium themes like Genesis, you’ll have to first purchase and install the Genesis framework followed by a child theme of your choice. Some themes require yearly licensing while others require yearly extended support. So, these may go way over your budget if you are only starting out.
- Incompatibility: Due to the result of poor code, some themes may act up upon installation. They may also not be compatible with the latest plugins. Or worse, they could crash your entire site if you do not update the theme timely.
- Too many features: Premium themes offer too many features. You may have to spend some time researching how to use only the required functionalities. Unnecessary features result in slower load time.
When to Use Free Themes and Premium Themes
We believe you may now have understood the key differences between a free theme and a premium theme. Now, let us help you figure out which option is best suited for your blog.
- If you feel that you are just starting out, or that your blog is a personal blog, a free theme will be ideal for you.
- Think about having a website with lots of features to choose from, the ability to tweak codes and customize, then Paid theme is an option.
- Are you looking for a business website with a professional looking theme? Again, a paid theme is more likely to help you.
Key Pointers Before Choosing Any Theme
- Always check for Responsiveness and Mobile-Compatibility. In this age, you’d be aware that most of the browsing and reading of blogs is done through the mobile phone and it is imperative to have a theme that is mobile-friendly. It has also become a key parameter for SEO as well.
- As mentioned before, in case you are opting for a free theme, check for the number of times the theme was downloaded and also, the active installs. This will give you an idea as to whether the theme is preferred by the majority.
- If you are choosing a Premium theme, always purchase from a reputable theme shop. The best ones include Genesis by Studiopress and Divi/Elegant themes.
There you go! I hope you have got an insight as to what a free theme and a premium theme is. Weigh your requirements, do a bit of research and then beautify your blog! Please let us know in case you still have questions.
PS: Both Corinne and I are Genesis fans! The Frangipani Creative uses a Genesis theme got via StudioPress – Themes