UPDATE NOTES (This post was originally published almost a year ago): I wrote this post a few days after starting this new version of this site… and the second free theme I tried, and was using until today, served me well, until there was an update available… well, it had some bugs. It was after trying to fix the bugs that I realized that because the support for free themes can be slow or incomplete… that a premium theme was the only way to go. After some research into what premium themes were the best, I had two top choices and a few minor ones. Of the two top contenders… DIY Themes’ Thesis and Studio Press’ Genesis… I chose the Genesis Framework. It was the best I could find at the lowest price, and has a huge selection of themes. Because I opted to use their sample child theme and do most of the CSS work myself, it only cost me a one-time fee of $59.95… with a premium child theme costs only $79.95 and you can always buy one later if you decide you don’t want to customize your own theme from the ground up, which really isn’t too difficult, as Studio Press has tutorials and a forum site with helpful answers for every question… but does take time. Check the Genesis Framework out! For those interested in the latest Genesis theme, see Studio Press’ Theme of the Month in the banner below.
For those of you who would still like to read this post in it’s originality, so be it, I think it is still of value.
WordPress themes abound. If it isn’t obvious already, I am talking about wordpress.ORG, not wordpress.COM. There are so many WordPress themes it can be confusing for someone who isn’t merely looking for something aesthetically pleasing. There are a multitude of free and paid for themes… enough to suit everyone’s taste.
IS A THEME EVEN NEEDED?
While WordPress is designed “right out of the box” to be able to be configured any way you want by way of plugins and code alterations, themes come with many changes already done. So, unless you would rather learn quite a bit of ‘html’ and ‘css’ and probably even some ‘php’ (depending on what you are trying to do), it is worth the time to research which themes might be best for your goals. Indeed! Of the many themes designed to enhance blogsite monetization, the best ones are of course paid for.
OK THEN, WHICH PAID FOR THEME SHOULD I USE?
A few that come to mind that are considered to be among the best for our purposes, include:
The Thesis and Stallion themes were made for monetization; they make it easy to set up Google Adsense and other ads, as well as being set up for search engine optimization (SEO), and a whole host of other convenient functions.
I’M NOT SURE I WANT TO PAY FOR A THEME RIGHT NOW (~ TRANSLATED: I’M FEELING CONFIDENT IN MY CODING SKILLS AND/OR I FEEL LIKE LEARNING SOME CODING SKILLS AS I GO ALONG ~)… SO, WHICH FREE THEME SHOULD I USE?
The free themes are great places to start learning about how to run a monetized blogsite. Try as many as it takes until you find one that sits well with you as a foundation to build on… both in terms of aesthetics and functionality. You’ll learn some code and eventually get a feel for wanting to implement some of the more advanced features that premium themes offer right out of the box.
A few of the multitude of free themes that lend themselves to blogsite monetization include:
Amazing Grace — “Amazing Grace is a lightweight, super-optimized WordPress theme packed with features. It uses 3 column layout for maximum accessibility and small digital footprint for minimum bandwidth usage and loading times.”
Amazing Grace also comes in a fresh new blue template… Blue Grace, they both feature:
• Modern, 3 columns, Photo-friendly, Widget ready, SEO friendly
• Passes xHTML/CSS validation
• WordPress 3.0+ support (threaded comments, menu navigation system)
• Out of box full SEO functionality including titles and page headings
• Easy to add Adsense
• Adjustable rotating images in the header
• Gravatars support
• Out of box Social networking buttons
• Multi-pages widget
• Chunk long urls in comments
• Customized 404 page
• Access to admin menu from home page (click on blog description)
• Plus much more…
Elements of SEO — “… a free, clean minimalistic WordPress theme. Built with search engine optimization in mind, Elements of SEO will help your blog get better rankings with little or no tweaking from you.”
‘Elements of SEO’ is the theme I chose to use for ‘EcocultureVillage.org’s Online Income Ideas’. It is a straightforward, easy enough design, and as I am in the early stages of my blogsite, it is the theme I plan to continue using until such time as I feel the need to upgrade for lack of coding skills or until I find something strikingly better.
UPDATE (~ January 2012): This blog is now a part of OnlineIncomeIdeas.org, and I have since switched to the ‘Basically’ theme.
UPDATE (~ April 2013): This blog is now a blog in the EcocultureVillage.org Blogs Hub.
… continuing the free theme list…
Hybrid — “… a user-friendly, search-engine optimized theme framework, featuring 15 custom page templates and 8 widget-ready areas, allowing you to create any type of site you want.”
Intrepidity — “Intrepidity is a well rounded Business WordPress theme designed to suit a variety of sites, topics and businesses. The theme includes both blog and landing page templates along with 4 distinct color schemes to fit your brand and image. You can easily customize the design with your own logo, background images and content. This theme is suited for individuals or small businesses with a need for online marketing such as landing pages, social media, ad-sense, and lead generation via an opt-in form. Best of all… this theme is 100% FREE to use!”
- The maker of ‘Intrepidity’, Top Blog Formula, has other business themes that look promising as well.
Thematic, a WordPress theme framework — ” Thematic is a free, open-source, highly extensible, search-engine optimized WordPress Theme Framework featuring 13 widget-ready areas, grid-based layout samples, styling for popular plugins, and a whole community behind it. It’s perfect for beginner bloggers and WordPress development professionals.”
- Be prepared to get your hands dirty with this one… it is highly configurable… you’ll learn some coding along the way.
No matter what theme you choose… all the best and have fun!
It was a bit of a bumpy road discovering the benefits of a premium theme the hard way. But now that I have the Genesis Framework, a premium theme I am comfortable working with… I’d like to know what you think. What are your favorite WP themes and why?