In WordPress, your blog’s overall look (or design) is determined by the theme you choose. When you first install WordPress your self-hosted site uses the default theme that comes prepackaged with WordPress. Most people want to customize their design a little (or a lot) to make it their own.
Free themes vs. paid-for themes
I used free themes for years and taught myself how to customize them. Free themes are great for those starting out on a budget. The problem with them is, a lot are not updated regularly, many are abandoned completely, there is no support for most of them and the quality of the coding is not always ideal.
For these reasons, I switched to a paid-for theme. It’s been an excellent investment.
Currently, I use Genesis* and the child theme I use is a customized version of Sixteen Nine. But people, let me be honest. I’m a theme junkie and have a tendency to change my mind regularly. So, back in the day, I just bought them all so I can use any of them forever. Yeehaw!
Here are some reasons why I love Genesis.
- Built on a 2-part framework
- Mobile responsive
- Large selection
- Which child theme should you choose?
- The list of features goes on
Built on a 2-part framework
A good theme consists of a 2-part system with two layers: the main “parent” theme underneath and the “child” theme on top. The “parent” theme provides the main functionality of the site; the “child” theme allows design customization without touching (and potentially messing up) the framework underneath. If that’s confusing, this analogy might help.
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The benefit of a paid-for theme is that you get support. Genesis has a great support forum as well as a help desk if you need it.
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There are many child themes to choose from with Genesis and they are continuously adding more. You can buy the child themes individually or you can purchase their Pro Plus All-Theme Package which gives you access to all child themes (excludes 3rd party themes). (If you like to switch out your theme frequently, have several websites or are a blog designer, I highly recommend it. I bought this package a couple of years ago and it has paid for itself many times over.)
Tip: If you buy an individual package, you’ll pay for the Genesis Theme Framework and the child theme together. If you decide to buy a different child theme down the road, you do not need to buy the Genesis Theme Framework again.
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Which child theme should you choose?
The choices are overwhelming. First, I recommend you choose one of the mobile responsive themes. You can find those by going to the Themes page and then using the middle filter menu as shown here:
If you want to have ads in your sidebar, choose News Pro, Beautiful Pro, or Metro Pro or Minimum Pro because the sidebars on those themes will accommodate a standard 300×250 pixel ad.
If you are brand new to blogging and are a little intimidated by HTML or CSS, I recommend Prose. Prose has a few more Design Options than the other themes which makes it easier to customize.
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The list of features goes on
*There are affiliate links in this post.
Other posts in this series
- How to Start a Blog
- How to Login to WordPress
- What are Permalinks and How to Choose Them
- How to Change An Admin User and Why It's Important
- Important Settings to Configure in WordPress
- 10 Blog Design Dos & Don'ts
- How to Choose a Theme and What I Use
- What is a Child Theme?
- How to Install a Theme in WordPress
- How to Make Your Site Static (Not a Blog)
- How to Make and Install a Favicon
- How to Write a Killer About Page
- How to Write a Post in WordPress
- Designers I Recommend
- My Top Affiliate Marketing Tips
- How Much Do Bloggers Make?
- Why You Should Be Part of a Mastermind Group
- 7 Tips for Commenting on Blogs
- Are You Disclosing Properly in Your Posts?
- How to Install Plugins
- How to Decide What to Blog About
- What is SEO? (And Why It Matters)
- 7 SEO Tips
- How to Create a Call to Action
- Tips for Using Images on Your Blog
- Anatomy of a Good Blog Post
- My Top Facebook Tips
- My Top Twitter Tips
- My Top Writing Tips
- My Top Branding Tips
- My Top Pinterest Tips