Honest Reviews ... No Spin

Why I Changed from Free to Premium WordPress Themes

When I started blogging and using WordPress, like many others I was trying to do everything as inexpensively as possible. I used only free plugins and themes.  I tested and used a lot of different themes over the last few years, such as your basic Twenty Ten and Twenty Eleven, Weaver, and many others. I ended up moving to Premium WordPress Themes because I needed the following: 

wordpress themes - free vs premiumI Needed a Site That Looks Like a Real Website

A lot of the free themes are really made for blogs, and when I started building more sites that I wanted to look like more standard web sites rather than WordPress blogs. I needed the sites to look professional and to have functionality my clients needed. Most of the freebie plugins and themes just couldn’t accommodate my clients with the professional appearance and functionality they needed.

Needed Sites to be Problem-Free

Some free themes were discovered to have spammy backlinks hidden in them which were being used to boost the search rankings of whatever site the free theme maker wanted to promote. And by this, I don’t mean just a legitimate theme name/author in the footer, but like excessive links in ways that violate Google’s terms and put the site using the theme at risk.

Seeing as I was now creating sites for paying clients, I couldn’t risk having some crazy backlink mess up our ratings. That’s when I realized I needed to move to reliable themes. I found the premium WordPress themes were just what I needed.

Needed My Sites to Be Flexible and Robust

I found it was hard to get great free themes that were flexible and robust. I know, that’s asking a lot from a free theme, and that’s when I realized if I’m wanting that much out of a theme, it only stands to reason that the theme designer has a right to be compensated for that work.

I Needed Website Security

Other themes were found to have major security vulnerabilities.  Many hacked WordPress sites have been compromised due to insecure themes.

I Needed Themes That Are Responsive to Mobile & Tablets

As is reported on often these days, more and more people are browsing web sites via their mobile phones (primarily iPhone and Android based) as well as Tablets (iPad, Android tablets, Kindle Fire, etc.).  A surprisingly large number of web sites still make no adjustment for these users and so their websites range from looking bad to downright unreadable on these devices.

I’ve used mobile specific themes, domains and redirection type scripts in the past, but found that the very best way to deal with this issue is to use a premium theme which is built to be responsive. In other words, the theme will adjust it’s look and feel automatically to best suit the type of device the visitor to your website is using.

My Go-To Themes: Premium WordPress Themes

I no longer use free WordPress themes. I know they are great for people who are just starting out or who just need a blog, but my needs have advanced beyond that. I need to know that:

  • No one is going to be able to hack into my site due to poor theme security
    • There’s more to WP security than this, but  that’s a topic for another post
  • The site will look professional
  • I’ll be able to build a site with reliable contact forms, email sign ups, e-commerce shopping carts, cool looking headers, flexibility
  • I’ll get customer support when I need it
  • I won’t get dinged by Google because of spammy backlinks, slow page load performance or poor mobile support

While many of the WordPress Premium Themes are pretty impressive, I’m an especially big fan of the Genesis based themes (aka Studiopress themes which are built on the Genesis framework). I’ve now built several sites for my own affiliate marketing efforts and for clients on Genesis/Studiopress themes, and I’ve found them to be very flexible and functional. I love how they look, how fast they load, and how responsive they are. You can check out the Genesis/Studiopress themes here.

Deciding What Will Work For You

You may still want to try out some free themes and plugins. If you do, I encourage you to:

  • Watch carefully for problems with security
  • If you are struggling with your Google rankings, look into spammy backlink or slow page load problems
  • Beware of clunky plugins that mess up your theme appearance
  • Be aware that you may not be able to get customer support when you need it

If you want to share what has worked for you or ask questions, please post a comment. I look forward to hearing what you’ve learned and answering questions the best I can!