WordPress Wizardry: Should I Go with a Free Theme or Pay for Premium?

You don’t have to look too hard to figure out why so many Internet marketers love WordPress. There are literally tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of themes available and many of them are easy to customize and change to it’s not obvious they’re WP. In other words, whatever colors, designs, or setups you need, you can find a theme that meets your exact needs or gets you close enough that even a moderately talented programmer can make the adjustments needed to bring your site the rest of the way home.

WordPress is used on over 74.6 million websites worldwide. In fairness half of those numbers are related to WordPress.com, but even among standalone sites using WordPress installation is half of that which comes out to nearly 19% of all websites online. That’s right – 1 in 5 websites is made with WordPress. This is part of the reason why most hosting companies even bend over backwards to offer easy ways to download WordPress to your domain names being hosted, which then allows you to start the process of choosing a theme and building from there.

Benefits of free themes
There are many benefits that come with staying with free themes. One benefit is simply the sheer variety of themes that are offered. From plain and simple themes that allow you to feature your pictures and content with little distraction, to really specific free themes that can be niche specific like for music stores, fishing, or even alcohol. In other words, because of the hundreds of thousands of free WordPress themes there’s a good chance you can find the color, look, and design you want without having to learn HTML, PHP, CSS, or any other computer programming language.

Another advantage of free themes is that they are often registered with the Codex. This means that most plug-ins are more likely to work correctly and you won’t have to worry that a normal WordPress update will end up changing the formatting on your pages or cause all your plug-ins to cease working. Support is easier to find on the regular WordPress help forum. There’s also the obvious factor of money: you don’t have to pay for free themes. For the far majority of people building websites, a free theme will be more than enough for what they need.

Benefits of premium (paid) themes
All of that being said, there are some pretty incredible benefits that come with exceptional premium themes like Genesis, Enfold, or Udesign. The first obvious difference comes with the level of support you get. Many premium themes that have a good reputation come with outstanding support because they know their plug-in inside and out, and their profits depend on having a reputation for both a great plug-in and for amazing customer service. Depending on the premium theme you decide to purchase, there’s a good chance that you get lifetime support.

Premium WP themes tend to be more flexible in what can be done without having to know advanced code. Because of the sheer variety of good free themes that are available, it’s important for a theme asking for money to be able to go above and beyond anything that can be found for free. Normally this means an ability to show different setups on the page and to make a theme much more original – allowing them to ditch the “WordPress look” and create a page that looks incredible and extremely unique to the brand.

Not all premium themes are the same. There is a huge difference between various premium themes and you want to make sure to get one that offers the full range of support. This is maybe the single biggest selling point of a good premium theme – continued updates and support that make sure your website always stays up and functioning at an extremely high level no matter how many updates take place.

The one major downside to a premium theme is that because of the money invested, you can’t just switch up themes all the time like you can with free themes. You’re committing yourself to one setup that you then can edit as you see fit, and to take advantage of that extra ability to set up your website the way you want. You’re not going to invest the money into a premium site theme and then suddenly abandon it.

The final verdict: free themes vs premium themes
When talking about free themes versus premium themes, there’s no question that both have a lot to offer. If you’re on a low budget and you only need basic functionality, then a free theme should be more than enough to suit all the necessary needs. This is especially true for small business sites that are designed to provide information as opposed to sell products or services online. There’s no reason to pay for the extra bells and whistles if the site is serving mostly as a basic sign post.

On the other hand, premium themes not only allow for an exceptional amount of control and functionality, but the high amount of support from the best providers means you never have to worry about being left out in the wind after a general WordPress update. Premium updates can be ideal for individuals who have a little bit of programming knowledge and want a very unique and interactive website. A premium theme also means your sit will have a more unique appearance that relates to your brand.

Which one is best depends on the full range of your needs, but the good news is that there are many great options with both!

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