There are a whole host of very good free themes for most blogging platforms, which can often be used “as is” or customized just a little to create something a bit different, but is it time you invested some money in a premium theme to really push your site forward?
It’s true that content is very important, but the way that it’s presented is not to be ignored, particularly when you consider that first impressions count a lot, people will initially judge your site on what it looks like, and it takes just a second or two to click on the “back” button.
If you have the time, knowledge and dedication to work out a theme from scratch, or rip out the guts and replace swathes of code on a free theme, then good for you. I know there’s satisfaction in creating your own design that’s completely yours. I also know, now, that I’d rather spend that time creating content than designing from scratch.
How to get a premium theme
There are two routes to getting a premium theme.
The first is to find a designer that sells premium themes. Generally you’ll want to look for designs that are highly and easily customizable, have a degree of support (whether that be direct with the designer or via a forum), offer upgrades/updates to fix bugs or add new features, and offer more than “run of the mill” features you could easily find in a free theme.
The second is to hire a designer to create a unique blog template to your exact specifications. You’ll want to take a look at their portfolio to ensure that they’re creating bespoke sites, and maybe talk to some of their previous clients to see how the process went.
The first option is cheaper and quicker but you still may not own a completely unique theme.
The second option is more expensive and takes longer to implement, but you’ll hopefully get a design that’s truly your own.
Look and Feel
Whether you’ve had your blog template designed for you, or you’ve customized a premium theme, the way it looks and operates will be unique and tailored to your blog.
Ease of use
If you’ve picked a good theme or designer, it should be really easy to add new elements without breaking the template or having to get bogged down in the code. This means you have more time for creating content and building community than wrestling with how things work.
I found that after I’d invested some money in a premium theme, I took more pride in my blog. Though I didn’t spend much on the theme, it was enough to change my mindset and take my site more seriously. Not only did the theme present content much more attractively but it looked more professional and encouraged me to work harder at building it.
This might not work for everyone, but I find that if I’ve invested money (beyond basic hosting and domain name costs that everyone incurs) I’m more likely to stick with a project.
Long term view
Linked to the pride factor, I’ve taken a much longer term view of my blog design, and am more likely to let it evolve over time rather than completely redesign it.
When I was running free themes, I found myself tweaking or even replacing the design more often. After I invested in a premium theme, I left the foundations alone and added things that created more worth.
That’s not to say that I’ll never revamp the design in the future, but I’m far less likely to do so on a whim.
It’s possible to run a successful blog off the back of a free theme, but moving to a premium theme definitely has its advantages.
If you’ve not considered it before, why not take a look at some of the options available. You don’t have to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to get something a bit different that could set your blog apart from the crowd.
What do you think? Do you use premium themes and how has it changed your view of your blog? Or do you think free themes are fine?