Hey guys, so when you get really into your blogging, you find that you want (and actually need) to prioritize your time. What will make your blog successful is primarily based on the content you’re producing. So when you find little annoyances that are slowly draining away your time (and motivation!), you want to figure out how to fix this. This is exactly how I got into using a premium theme. Almost immediately after making the switch, I realized How Being Cheap with My Theme Cost Me My Time and Energy. So that’s what I’m sharing today for day 5 of 5 of my Top Blogging Mistakes.
Let’s jump into what I’ve learned…
Note: This post does contain affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission at no extra charge to you if you make a purchase using it. This post is not sponsored. I just really like my themes and am sharing what I wish someone would have told me sooner! Questions? Let me know. I’d love to hear from you!
Blogs and Themes
What’s a Theme?
For my super-newbies, your theme is what gives your blog its look and feel. It’s what determines how many sidebars you have, where your logo is displayed, what colors your fonts are, and all that fun stuff.
Do You Need It?
Yes. Every blog must have a theme. When you first install, your site will have one of the default themes automatically installed. But you can change it whenever you want.
Free vs Premium Themes
With WordPress, you will be able to install any number of free themes. But there are also premium themes available for purchase (usually outside of WordPress – I’ve never seen any in my admin view but these things change quickly).
The Problem with Free Themes
If you use WordPress.org like me, you’ll note there are quite a few free themes out there. I used free themes for many years.
But free themes have some problems:
Don’t Meet Your Needs
For me, free themes always seemed to be missing something. They meet most of my requirements but not all of them. So I have to explore other options.
Due to the previous note, I was spending way too much time troubleshooting, looking for workarounds, researching plugins, etc. to fill in the gaps where something I really wanted or simply needed was missing.
In addition to wasting time looking for answers, actually “fixing” things made my blog error prone. I was either using plugins (which expose you to more potential issues) and having to edit my own code myself (very dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing).
So, Should You Use a Free Theme?
That’s up to you. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with starting with a free theme and seeing if it meets your needs. A lot of times, your blog will start a bit more simply until you determine what additional features you want to add. Or rather until you start seeing what other blogs and sites are doing and learn how you want to upgrade your own blog. So you can start with a free theme and then upgrade when the need arises.
Personally, I was happy to start on a free theme. But, I think I stayed on the free theme too long when a premium would have helped my blogging easier and more efficient sooner.
Little to No Support
Free themes usually have little to no support. So if you encounter any issues after installing a free theme, you may not have anyone available to help you troubleshoot. This happened to me at least. Oh the hours googling in hopes someone else used the same theme as me and may have shared how they fixed the same issue I was seeing.
Premium Themes: Actually Incredible Value
While premium themes may look expensive at first, they actually provide great value for everything they do. If you get a good one, of course.
Here are some reasons I think premium themes are a good investment.
The premium themes I use are so well designed, I barely edit them. They look fantastic out of the box! It’s funny because I get compliments on the look of my blogs all the time. And I’m like, thanks. I didn’t design them at all. I literally just installed them.
With my free themes, I was constantly trying to figure out how to change font colors or styles, which can be fairly labor intensive.
The premium themes I use are also responsive, which means that your readers can view your site on any device (desktop, phone, tablet). This is critical since the majority of traffic is typically mobile these days.
Plus the themes are typically built with your need for customization in mind (see next section).
Easy to Edit -> Less Error-Prone
In addition to needing less edits to begin with, good premium themes make it easier to edit your blog. You’ll commonly need to add code in the header or footer sections of your theme. In the past, I’d have to figure out a way to edit my code.
With Genesis, there’s a handy place where you can add code. This is useful for adding Google Analytics or Google Site Verification code, among other commonly added bits of code.
Since you’re a paying customer, the theme developers typically have good support. So rather than you having to figure out where things went wrong, you can talk to someone who specializes in troubleshooting your theme.
This isn’t to say that you will never be out there Googling something to try to troubleshoot yourself. But, it’s good to know there’s usually team to help you too.
Ideas to Improve
Sometimes the themes have ideas to improve your site. Their demo site may have something installed that you like. And it may be part of their theme. Or it could be a plugin that they use and recommend to their customers (meaning they’ve hopefully evaluated it to dependable and trustworthy.
Or the theme may have a layout that is much better for your audience than what you had before. I love the home layout of Cook’d Pro for The Chic Life. I think it displays the right amount of information, and I love how there are different display options (these are done through widgets, which make editing your site much simpler).
The footer on Cook’d Pro is also widgetized and has spaces carved out for you to add additional links and pieces of content. Trust me, this is much easier than editing your footer code manually.
Built for Monetization
Many of the themes on StudioPress have sections set aside for monetization.
I’ve definitely had trouble adding ad code to previous templates in the past. Here there are literally placeholders.
So, Should You Use a Premium Theme?
If you want things done absolutely right up front, I do think once your blog takes off you’ll want a premium theme. In this case start with it up front. Save yourself the hassle of having to change themes later.
But if you aren’t even sure about your blog idea or if you need to save money, it totally makes sense to start free and then see if your needs will fit a premium theme later.
This is based on my personal experience, so I can only speak to what I’ve seen. Just because a theme costs money does not mean it’s a good buy. Be sure to check out the reviews and do your research before buying and installing.
Conclusion: Please, Take My Money
So yes, I use premium themes on this blog as well as The Chic Life. And I’m so glad I purchased them. In fact, I liked the themes by StudioPress so much, I invested in the full package, which gives me access to all of their themes.
But seriously. I’m like, “Studiopress, please, take my money.”
While there have been things I’ve regretted purchasing for my blog, this is not one.
The Themes I Use
For sure I love my current premium themes. I’m currently using two different themes, both built on the Genesis Framework:
I previously used Foodie Pro on The Chic Life, and I really liked it. This is one of StudioPress’s most popular themes. It’s almost always in their top 10 theme list.
Both themes are built on top of the Genesis Framework. If this sounds intimidating, don’t worry. When you buy the premium theme from StudioPress, you’ll get genesis with it. Think of it as having to install two themes when you’re ready to set up. Genesis is your foundation and then your selected theme will be installed on top of that.
Do you use Genesis? I’d love to hear what you think about it?
Be sure to check out the other 4 days of this 5 day blogging series about my Top 5 Blogging Mistakes. Thanks again to everyone who voted
Hope you guys learned a lot! Questions? Hit me up in the comments.