So you’ve decided to take the plunge and start a WordPress blog of your own. Congratulations! It’s an exciting step, and sticking with it will bring you a wide range of new opportunities to network with like-minded people, increase your market value as a professional, and even become an online influencer in your preferred niche.
But simply getting your blog website built and putting it live won’t get you very far. You need to make it distinct, eye-catching, fitting for your audience, and easy to maintain. You must also consider that you’re going to be spending more time than anyone else staring at it, so you’ll want to make sure you don’t get sick of it in the near future.
What’s the key to all of this? Choosing the right theme. A great theme will not only look great and format all your hard-produced content in the best way, but it will also make everything really easy to update and tweak, saving you huge amounts of time in the long run.
In this article, we’re going to look at how you can choose a theme for your WordPress blogging website, considering overall styles and layouts, free themes versus paid themes, levels of flexibility, and the likelihood of receiving consistent updates to keep up with WordPress development. Let’s get started!
Matching your theme to your blogging style
We all have certain expectations when we visit different sites, and we rely on these expectations to help us find the right pages. Content relating to the medical industry will tend to appear quite clear and sterile, concentrating on displaying information with optimal efficiency, while a blog about fashion is obviously going to be considerably more visual in its approach.
Your blogging website isn’t going to be wholly generic, naturally: it’s going to focus on the topics that matter the most to you, and your areas of expertise. You might blog about an industry, or a subject, or a trend, and your chosen niche will create stylistic expectations. To make your blog content work as well as it can, you’ll need to match your theme to those expectations.
Are you aiming to stick to actionable points and tips? Perhaps a minimalist WordPress theme would work best in your case. It will help you space things out, and ensure that your site looks great on mobile devices. Are you planning to heavily monetize your blog and turn it into a significant source of income? Find a theme with plenty of space for ads to make things easier.
Free or paid: should you pay for a theme?
The next thing you should decide is whether you want to pay for a theme or select a free theme. If you’re willing to pay, then you’ll have considerably more options, but that can also make it harder to choose when going through a pool of thousands of contenders.
A good reason to choose a free theme is that you can’t predict the future (more on that later) and you don’t know what the blog you choose will look like in a year. If you pay $100 for a theme today but discover after some months that it no longer works the way you need it to, you’ll either be stuck with an unsatisfactory theme or have to render that $100 a waste of money by moving to a new theme.
Take a look at some of the best free WordPress themes for bloggers this year and weigh up the styles and features. If you spot a free theme that does everything you need it to, then there may be no need to spend any money.
On the other hand, free themes are more commonplace and generic, so you’ll have a harder time standing out if you don’t pay. You’ll likely be able to make some custom tweaks, but how much is your time worth? If you spend a day configuring your theme, that may amount to an investment considerably higher than simply buying a theme.
Take some time to review some of the best premium WordPress themes for bloggers — factoring in their features, designs, and support models, do they warrant the additional expenditure? Make the best decision for you.
Finding a theme that helps you blog
In most cases, a WordPress theme will come with a unique set of configuration options, and a fresh editing interface. Some themes allow you to edit a page’s layout while you’re on the live version of that page, while others hide some settings away, requiring you to investigate carefully (or consult support) to figure out how to achieve certain things.
The big thing to remember is that you’re going to be using whichever interface you choose for months and even years to come. You’ll use it to add blog posts, edit blog posts, set featured images, change your background color, tweak your formatting, and generally carry many of the minor maintenance tasks that are needed to keep a blog thriving.
You should also factor in the need to make certain pages different, because that’s vital for creating compelling landing pages and increasing blog conversions. As a blogger, you’ll probably want to pursue more promotional opportunities at some point, and one of the best ways to do that is by creating a lead magnet (often in the form of a free ebook or podcast) to encourage people to sign up to your newsletter. And while your ebook design is important, it’s just as important that the landing page matches it — a stylistic clash will push people away.
If you take a look at a theme today and think “Oh, that editing feature seems like it might get frustrating” or “Hmm, it seems quite complicated to create distinct page settings”, that’s a very bad sign! Give it a couple of weeks and you’ll be ready to delete the whole thing. Pick a good theme, though, and you’ll have a smooth time making edits well into the future, and you’ll be much less likely to give up on your blogging dreams.
Why the future of your theme is important
Taking up blogging is a long-term commitment, because you won’t get very far blogging for a week or two before giving up. Overnight success is next to impossible — most bloggers build up their readerships very gradually, only getting significant traction after they’ve finely honed their craft over a long period of effort.
Because of this, you want a theme that you can rely on indefinitely, and that means vetting the developer to verify that they’re committed to the long haul. You need to know that they plan on updating their theme for future versions of WordPress, that they intend to revise the resources when needed (preparing to handle higher resolutions, for instance), and that they’re not going to simply leave the theme to stagnate as they begin work on other projects.
As a blogger, your WordPress theme is your constant companion, helping you write, edit, and promote your posts. That’s why it’s worth taking the time (and maybe even spending some money) to find a great one. Follow this guide, and make the best choice you can.