Now that you’ve started your blog, it’s time to get to work on the look of your site. This post will teach you how to choose a theme for your blog, as well as tell you what I use!
Note: The following will be for WordPress.org users. The information provided will not work for WordPress.com users.
There are a lot of free themes available in WordPress. To be honest, I used a free theme for nearly two years. I taught myself to customize it, and I spent countless hours researching, tweaking, and learning code to get it functioning.
But if you’re serious about blogging, then I recommend investing in a paid WordPress theme. It is well worth the investment. I promise!
Why I Use and Recommend Genesis
Note: I am an affiliate of Studio Press, which means they pay me a commission every time someone signs up via one of my links. But as I stated before, I’m also a paying customer. I recommend the Genesis Framework because that’s what I use and love.
It is built on a two-part framework
I’m not tech-savvy. Not really. I’m entirely self taught, and to be honest, I still can’t turn on our TV on the first try. I had to look up the term “two-part framework” to even explain what I’m about to tell you.
The two-part framework means that there is a “parent” theme underneath a “child” theme. This means that I have to work really hard to break my site when I start trying to customize it.
Oh, don’t worry though. I’ve broken my site three times since the beginning of this year. It always comes back with a few tears, a call to the host, and a lot of praying. 😉 Most people don’t run into this problem though. So you should be fine! Just stay out of the PHP file, and stick to the style sheet if you’re a novice like me. But I digress …
This makes it super easy to use for non-techies like me! I like a fresh coat of paint every now and then, but I despise moving!
The support is incredible
I love the forums. Love them! Just about any question I have had has already been answered in the forums. However, if something new comes up I can start a new thread or access the Genesis help desk to get my question answered.
Free themes just simply do not have this ability. The support alone has been so helpful!
I love all my options
There are so many themes to choose from, and they are constantly adding new ones. It’s incredible! I love just browsing the options every now and then. So inspiring!
If you’re someone who likes to update your site frequently with a new look, or you own multiple sites, or you’re a designer, then the Pro Plus All-Theme Package is a great deal!
As I mentioned before, I love a fresh coat of paint every now and then. Once you purchase the Genesis framework and child theme, you can then purchase a new theme later for a discounted price since you’re an existing customer. You don’t need to purchase the Genesis framework again. This is the route I took since I don’t update my design that frequently, and I only manage one site.
It’s important that the theme you choose (whether paid of free) is mobile responsive. At IntentionalByGrace.com, 60% of my readers view the site from a mobile device (phone, tablet, etc.). This means if I want to keep you around, my site needs to be easy to read from a mobile device!
Many of the themes available with Genesis are mobile responsive. Just double check to be sure before purchasing your theme. Beautiful Pro, which is the one I run currently, is mobile responsive.
Here are some things to consider when choosing a theme that’s right for you:
Are you comfortable with learning CSS and/or HTML?
If you want to customize your theme at all, and not use it as is “right out of the box,” then you’re going to have to be able to get comfortable with basic HTML and CSS.
For example, Beautiful Pro right out of the box looks like this:
Obviously, this isn’t what you see on IntentionalByGrace.com right now. I’ve made several changes within my style sheet to create the look I want.
Google, Genesis forums, and Firebug were my best friends when it came to customizing my own design! You just need to decide if you want to take on learning to customize on your own.
I will say most anything can be learned with my “best friends.” But if I got stuck (and I did a few times), I’d ask designer friends for help.
My favorite designer is Mindy at Simply Designs. She’d bail me out when I got in over my head. It’s a cheaper route than having a designer do everything for you. ‘Cause not all of us have this luxury, right?
Plus I found it fun to learn to do it myself! My friend, Amy from Gospel Homemaking discovered she has quite the knack for learning code! You just have to be willing to move slow, pray a lot, and experiment until you get the hang of it.
Choose a theme that is mobile responsive
You want to be sure the theme you choose says, “mobile responsive,” before you purchase. I’ve already explained that more than half of my readers view my site from a mobile device. This doesn’t just apply to my site!
Decide how you will use your side bars
If you want to be able to put ads in your side bar, or even banners for popular posts, then you want a theme that has side bars that are at least 300 px wide.
Check to see what sort of support is available for your theme
When you see a theme you like, do a quick search to see if there is help available, especially if you’re not super code savvy.
- Do a Google search for reviews of your theme
- Ask your friends what they recommend
- See if you can find anyone else using the theme you like
This will help you decide if the theme you like is the right fit for you. I made the mistake of skipping this step one time. It was not pretty once I realized what I thought I was going to be able to do with my theme, I was most certainly not able to do. It was a nightmare!
Choosing a theme for your site can be a lot of fun. If you want to learn more about Genesis and the themes available, then check out the Getting Started page of Studio Press.
I have been using the Genesis Framework for over two years and I absolutely love it. It’s the easiest way to operate your site.
Oh, and did I mention it comes with built in SEO help? As you move further into blogging, you’ll learn this is essential to the growth of your blog!
Do you use Genesis Framework? What’s your favorite theme?
This post contains my affiliate links. See my full disclosure policy here.