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Why It's Time To Ditch Your Free WordPress Theme
I’m not an advocate for free themes. Never was, never will be. Just laying all my cards out on the table - I think you should ditch your free WordPress theme. Just saying...
Here’s my thinking: if you’re going to spend the time and energy making your website, you might as well do it right the first time. Yes, you’ll save a few bucks now if you opt for the free theme, but you’re also missing out on huge benefits that Premium WordPress themes offer. So why not pay a little bit now so you can reap the benefits later? Think of it as investing in your own success. Why? Because that’s exactly what it is.
I don’t mean to suggest that Premium WordPress themes (aka the paid themes) are for everyone. If you’re someone who bought a domain name and intend to just blog for personal purposes, a free theme might just be the best thing for you. It might not exceed your expectations, but it’ll do the job well enough.
But if your website is your baby and you’re trying to optimize it for success (meaning you’re trying to gain traffic, to impress potential customers, clients, or consumers), free themes could actually hurt your cause rather than help you. In that case, it's probably time to ditch your free WordPress theme.
I’ll spare you the misery of long ramblings and just cut straight to the chase. Read on for the top reasons why you need to ditch your free WordPress themes and choose one of the more established Premium ones.
#1 Reason to Ditch Your Free WordPress Theme - No Customer Service
When you install a free theme on your website, you’ll get what you pay for. So, no customer support for you. This is fine for those of you who don’t plan to do much on your site besides posting a few blogs every now and then. If you’re okay without having a support team there to help troubleshoot issues, that’s your prerogative and I’m not here to judge. But full disclosure, not having customer service there to help could be a HUGE pain point down the line if ever something does become an issue. Personally, I look for companies that have high customer service ratings before making a purchase and I usually only opt for products that are supported. It’s just best practice and it could save your butt if ever you find yourself stuck between an unanticipated rock and hard place. It’s a great security blanket that I’m just not willing to sleep without.
#2 No Updates – your free theme likely won’t evolve at all
Technology and software is meant to evolve and change over time. That’s why Apple is constantly releasing updates that bug the hell out of you when the notifications pop up on your phone (can you tell I’m the person who never updates her phone?!). WordPress themes (and plugins) are exactly the same. When you get a free theme however, you’re accepting the fact that your theme will likely never evolve. Most of the time, free themes are created and never fine tuned and updated. So if there’s something that doesn’t work quite right or could use some extra love and attention, don’t expect that to ever change. Your free theme will be the same from the day you started using it to the last. It’s one of the primary reasons people ditch free themes and opt instead for Premium versions.
#3 You Could Struggle with Plugin Compatibility Down the Line
Even if you’re thinking that it’s not such a big deal if you never see a theme update in your life, think again. Chances are you’re going to need to install a lot of plugins to fill in the functionality gaps that your free theme can’t offer you. Plugins (unlike your free theme) are ALWAYS rolling out updates and, that said, you might soon find yourself in a sticky situation where your prized updated plugins are no longer compatible with your outdated and unsupported theme. I don’t know about you but I’d rather not land myself in that hot seat.
Plugins are usually only compatible with updated themes (because plugins are ever evolving and constantly updated). Free themes are rarely updated (if ever) so even if a plugin works for you today, there’s a very real chance it won’t work for you tomorrow.
#4 SEO Optimization Might Not Be The Greatest
Free themes aren’t always optimized for SEO. I’m not saying that all free themes aren’t SEO optimized – I’m just saying do your homework. If you’re getting a free theme, make sure all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed before diving in. If your theme isn’t SEO optimized (and there’s a chance it isn’t), ditch it and move on to the next best option.
#5 Premium WordPress Themes Are Fully Functional Out Of The Box – Great For The Terribly Inexperienced.
Free themes aren’t the best for people looking to create sophisticated and modern websites. If you haven’t ditched your free theme yet because you’re convinced you can make it happen for you, great. I give you a virtual pat on your back for good effort. But if you’re looking to create a beautiful site design (and you’re relatively inexperienced, meaning you don’t have the coding background to help you through), using a free theme might not be your wisest move. You’ll spend heaps of time wrestling with plugins that you installed to cover for your functionality-lacking free theme and you’ll soon find that too many plugins can become chaotic and cause all sorts of issues on your site. Doesn’t sound too fun, huh?
Premium WordPress themes solve these pain points. Instead of wrestling with plugins and stumbling your way through a free WordPress theme, why not use a Premium WordPress theme that’s ready to use and roll out straight from the "box"? The functionality you’re looking for will already be built in and you’ll rely on fewer plugins to build that beautiful site you’ve always wanted.
#6 Premium WordPress Themes Have Bargain Priced Bells and Whistles
Cold hard truth: it’s not that expensive to get a premium theme and for the headache it will save you later and the time you’ll save now the cost is well worth it.
You might not thing the investment is justified now, but why do double the work when you could get everything done the way you want it the first time around? If you’re spending the time now to pull together a site that will “wow” visitors, you should do it right the first time around.
If you’re still not convinced, I’ll wrap this up with my last point…
#7 Free WordPress Themes (believe it or not) are NOT really free…
You’ll end up spending money somewhere down the line on your free theme. Perhaps you’ll pay someone to resolve plugin issues as they roll out new updates lose compatibility with your free theme. Or maybe you’ll drop a few dollars (or more) when you pay a friend, or web design company, to manipulate your free theme to be something magnificent. Either way, your time and energy spent maintaining your free theme isn’t free. Time is money. Energy is money. Why not use your resources more wisely on building your business rather than reinventing a wheel that’s already spinning (aka Premium WordPress themes)?
If you’re purse strings are tight and you’re literally just looking for a theme based purely on how cheap it is, free themes are calling your name. They’ll do the job well enough. But if you’re looking for something to do the job and more, ditch your free WordPress theme and go for a Premium option. You’ll get all the support you need, updated and robust functionality, peace of mind in knowing your website is optimized for success, and a website that’ll surely “wow” your visitors from first entrance to exit.
Of course, paid themes aren’t automatically good and free themes aren’t automatically bad. There are certainly overly priced premium themes available for purchase on the market that could hurt your cause equally as much as using a free theme. So, whichever way you go, you need to make sure you’ve done your research and understand what you’re signing up for. In any case, be sure to use a theme that is trusted, secure, well built and supported. For more information on theme recommendations, read my post on the top WordPress themes for your site.