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The Difference Between Free & Premium Themes

One of the questions you might ask yourself when you’re first getting started is why should you invest in a premium theme when there are plenty of free ones to pick from. It’s a legitimate question and if you’re new to blogging you might not realize the difference between the two. So today, I’m breaking it down a little bit for you.

1. Free Themes

There are a ton of free themes out there, just go into the backend of WordPress and navigate to Appearances > Themes > Add New. From here you can browse through hundreds (maybe thousands?) of free themes. Plenty of them look really nice too!

If you’re just getting started in the blogging world and not really sure if its is going to be ‘your thing’, a free theme might be the perfect place to start. It will allow you to cheaply (because you still have to pay for hosting), get acquainted with the backend of WordPress and how themes work in general. That being said, all themes function a bit differently, so keep that in mind.

CONS: In my mind, the biggest downside is the lack of support. You can logon to WordPress.org and search support forums and even add your own question, but there’s no guarantee of a response and if someone does respond, it’s most likely not going to the person who designed the theme and the advice or suggestions a person gives you isn’t guaranteed to work. But the WP community is a strong one and I’ve been able to answer techy questions in the past by searching through the forums — it just takes some patience.

2. Premium Themes

Premium themes are premade themes available for purchase at a reasonable cost. They typically are designed with a specific niche in mind and sometimes have special features built into them (think galleries, bio pages, etc.). This is what I first started out with in WordPress. I think I had the Twenty Ten theme for about 10 minutes and decided the look of it wasn’t going to cut it, so I started searching and found one that bit the aesthetic I was wanting for my food blog and installed it. Instantly, my site looked so much more professional! They typically allow you to make a few basic customizations to make the site look unique, but don’t require much knowledge of code and tech-y stuff!

These themes typically provide support, at least to a certain extent (don’t expect them to customize it for you for free!) and typically they work really well for what they’re designed to do. My pre-fab themes fall under this category (only $75/theme) and are designed for fashion and lifestyle bloggers in particular!

CONS: Cost. And this is really a minimal con because premium themes typically won’t cost you more than $100 and will make your site look far more professional than a free theme!