3 Places to Get Great WordPress Themes

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on June 8, 2011 in Blog Design
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There's no question about it. Blogging can be great for your freelance writing business. Your blog can attract clients. You can use it to create a "living" portfolio of your writing. Your blog can highlight your niche expertise. And blogging can connect you to colleagues and prospects you want in your professional network. It can also bring in direct income and be a lot of fun.

One of the earliest things you'll do when you launch a new blog is choose its design, or theme. Generally I recommend WordPress as a blog platform for writers (and anyone else really), so today I want to share a few resources with you -- places where you can find great WordPress themes.

The WordPress Themes Directory

This is the theme directory hosted by WordPress itself, and all of the options here are free. It can be a great place to start for your first blog or if you just want to play with a few themes to get the hang of customizing them.

Go there.

Elegant Themes

ElegantThemes.com is a WordPress theme club. That means you pay a yearly fee and then you can access all of the themes they've released in the past, and all of the themes they release while you're a member. It also gives you access to their support forums.

This is my personal favorite theme club and I've used their themes on several of my smaller blogs. For just $39, it's tough to go wrong here. But just in case you're concerned, you can preview every theme available before you actually sign up.


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Go there.

Theme Forest

Theme Forest is a great place to go if you want to purchase one-off premium WordPress themes. Prices are more than reasonable -- generally in the $30-40 range. And the themes often have a lot of features available that free themes do not.

That said, you have to contend with the fact that they're all from different designers, so there is no consistent quality. And I've found that while some themes are gorgeous on the surface, they aren't all well-coded and some are quite bloated in an attempt to offer a lot of built-in options.

So if you're brand new to WordPress, I'd suggest sticking to more straightforward options at first unless you find a theme that you won't want to customize much. In general though, this is my first stop when I'm looking for a new base theme to customize for a project.

Go there.

If you've been blogging on WordPress for a while, have you used these resources? Do you have other favorite places to find WordPress themes? If so, share them (or your experiences with these sites) in the comments below.

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.

She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.


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10 Comments

  1. Princess. Jones June 8, 2011 Reply

    Ok, I have to say how much I love Elegant Themes. I started going there for my themes once I realized that there’s almost no support for free themes and I was starting to need more functionality. I have some basic understanding of coding but I don’t have time to figure out how to fix some of the problems I was having with free themes. But mostly, I’m very happy with the support. Every time I need to tweak, need to customize or just have a question about a theme, there’s a team of designers who answer questions almost 24 hours in the forums.

    • Jennifer Mattern June 8, 2011 Reply

      My only concern with ElegantThemes is that I see the themes being used more and more often, meaning your sites can’t look unique. So generally I save their themes for quick launches where I’m not too concerned with that. That said, they have some great clean designs, which does make customization much easier. And you’re absolutely right about their support. They offer the best support I’ve seen in years when it comes to WP themes.

    • Jennifer Mattern June 8, 2011 Reply

      Haha. Yeah. When I noticed you were using one I had a “Damn! Now I can’t use that one!” moment. ;)

      Unfortunately some premium themes are even worse than the free ones when it comes to having to clean up the code. The drama over some of the javascript used here took weeks to finally troubleshoot and clean up so this site would load in a reasonable timeframe. That’s time that can go to other things. I’ve seen others that used huge solid colored background images rather than css background colors (silly and causes slower loading). I’ve learned I need to set aside more time for customization if I’m going to chance it with premium themes from developers I don’t know. It all takes time though — dealing with designers for custom work w/ the initial consultations and editing process, designing and coding your own, or customizing ready-made options.

  2. Jenn, I agree with your choice of Envato’s ThemeForest, and recommend their other websites too. I’ll also suggest WooThemes; it’s designs are top-notch and it’s administrative back-ends are very intuitive. Regards,

    Joe Zlomek, Managing Editor
    The Post Publications

    • Jennifer Mattern June 8, 2011 Reply

      Thanks Joe. I’m familiar with WooThemes but haven’t personally tried them out yet simply because the themes haven’t suited by specific projects. Maybe down the line. :)

  3. Sharon Hurley Hall June 8, 2011 Reply

    After looking at lots of options, I went with Elegant Themes because the themes are beautiful. I must admit though, that I’ve changed theme a couple of times when I started seeing it in too many places. Of course, I’m a bit of a theme junkie, so I have downloaded lots of themes and bought a few premium ones, but at the moment Elegant Themes is working for me. I’ve looked at themes on Theme Forest, but since you don’t know exactly what you’re getting, I’ve tended to steer clear of them. I agree with Joe that WooThemes is a good alternative and they often have 3 for 1 or 4 for 1 deals – the themes are easy to use and look good, and I’ve used those on a couple of sites, too.

    • Jennifer Mattern June 8, 2011 Reply

      I think Elegant Themes is great for cleaner looks, although several are starting to look a bit too similar for my tastes at the moment (would love to see more specialized themes again over there). ThemeForest tends to be better for more complex themes, corporate-style themes, etc. The biggest risk is that you can’t preview the code, whereas with ElegantThemes if you’ve seen one you can figure out how to customize them all. The trick with TF seems to be finding a handful of designers with both great designs and clean code, and then track their new releases there when you want other options.

  4. Sara Rosso June 8, 2011 Reply

    Don’t forget on WordPress.org, there’s a whole list of companies who offer commercial themes, too:
    http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/commercial/

    Disclaimer: I work for Automattic (WordPress.com)

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