The right theme can set you EONS ahead when you start and launch a blog. These best WordPress blog themes for beginners were selected for their user-friendliness and customizability.
So… You started your blog, purchased your domain name, and you’re ready to hit the ground running!
Only to dive into WordPress and realize that you have NO idea what you are doing…
Try as you might, you can’t get your blog to look the way you want it to.
The header images, the columns, the pretty headlines, the newsletter sign-up… You also have posts and pages, different types of menus, headers, footers, and all sorts of customizations to work through.
You’re looking at someone else’s blog for ideas and banging your head against the wall trying to get your blog to cooperate and look like theirs…
You’re tired and frustrated and wondering if you have made a colossal mistake because you are in way over your head.
Other people (ahem, Alex and Lauren) make it look SO easy, right???
WHAT AM I DOING WRONG!?
We get it, guys. We’ve been there.
I remember spending literally HOURS trying to get our header image to display EXACTLY how I wanted it to.
Alex could hear me huffing and puffing in frustration from the next room.
I would read articles and watch tutorials and desperately try to learn a bit of coding to get the job done. And oftentimes, my efforts would be futile.
So, what’s the deal?
Why is this so hard?
Why can’t you get your blog to look the way you want it to?
First of all, there is one important thing that you must understand during this process:
Different WordPress themes come with different capabilities, and this means that every theme will have certain limitations as to what you can and can’t do with it.
Sometimes these limitations can only be overcome by purchasing a new theme or hiring a coder to custom-code your website.
We have paid web designers and coders a pretty decent sum of money to completely re-design both of our blogs (Avocadu and Create and Go). But that was ONLY because we are finally at a place that we could afford to make that investment.
For a year and a half, we had to do the best we could with our very limited knowledge about WordPress, themes, website coding, etc.
Ultimately, this process boils down to your THEME. That is, the WordPress theme that you choose for your blog.
Why a Great Theme Matters
Themes are designed to have pre-programmed coding that allow you to make customizations to your blog.
The most important thing to remember is that not all WordPress themes were created equal.
As we stated before, different themes have different coding written into their files and as a result, will allow you to customize different items and also LOOK very different.
Choosing a WordPress blog theme is like choosing a car.
Getting the right one takes you where you want to go, and you may even enjoy the ride along the way!
Choose the wrong one and you’ll end up in a ditch on the side of the road and constantly in mechanic shops trying to fix the damn thing.
Your blog theme matters as much as getting the right blogging host in my mind.
And we have tried quite a few cars on our journey:
And spent many hours researching them as well…
Keep in mind we gave up on a few of these themes after less than a day of using them.
Why Free Isn’t Always Better
In short: You get what you pay for.
Free = fewer options and fewer customizations.
This is what will happen for most of you and is what happened for us as well. We started with a free theme to save a few bucks.
We spent hours and hours trying to make our blog look pretty and how we wanted it to, only to find out that it just wasn’t within the theme’s capabilities.
Free themes leave you with very limited options.
And if this is all that is in your budget, that’s okay. You just have to understand that you are getting what you pay for and you have to accept how your blog looks with the theme that you selected.
You should also know what you are worth. What I mean by this is that you should know the value of your time.
If you save $60 by opting for a free theme but then spend a solid 3 days trying to design your blog, you have essentially wasted FAR more than $60.
Your time is an invaluable resource that you cannot get back, and it matters even more in the beginning when you are struggling to quit your day job and get on your feet so that you can blog full-time.
Please don’t waste your time!
It’s perfectly fine to start out with a free theme while you get the hang of how WordPress works and are writing your first post, but just keep these things in mind as you begin to spend more time on the design of your blog.
If you are banging your head against the wall after a few solid hours of trying to get your theme to cooperate with you, consider investing in yourself and your blog and grabbing Divi Theme.
We wanted to create this article to help clarify what theme you should be using during the different stages of your blogging journey.
The four WordPress blog themes that we are going to discuss are:
For all of you preferred video learners out there, here is a video on the best WordPress blog themes (plus some extra tips!) from our Youtube Channel below.
.For more free blogging tips and tricks from us, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel!
4 Best WordPress Blog Themes for Beginners (Free and Paid)
These are in order of our preference (recommendations) for beginner bloggers.
Divi Theme is incredibly customizable and VERY user-friendly. It’s our #1 recommendation and what most of our new bloggers in our Launch Your Blog Course are using. You can easily customize the design of your homepage and other pages on your website and they have great customer service.
They also have a no-questions-asked, 30-day money-back guarantee so there is absolutely no risk to try it!
- Those customizations though – My god – the customization power of Divi Theme is incredible. You can make your blog look exactly how you want it to look – without all of the frustration that comes with most themes!
- Incredibly powerful – Comes with quite a few unique plugins and options to help you accomplish anything.
- Beginner friendly 10/10 – The best part of this theme is how beginner friendly it is. After a few days playing around with it, you’ll have 90% of the theme handled.
- Customer support and help – They have extensive articles and tutorials in their knowledge base that should help you get through any problem you run into!
- Costs a little money – Divi Theme cost $89 for a yearly license, but that is relatively on par for most themes these days. You can also purchase it outright for $249, but we recommend sticking with the yearly plan for a couple of years until you’re ready to upgrade to a faster theme (see below).
- A tiny bit slower than Genesis – Genesis Framework is what we currently use and is the fastest theme on the market. That being said, we only upgraded to Genesis after our first year of blogging because it’s expensive and not very user-friendly. (We paid a website guy to custom code our website for that reason).
Who this WordPress blog theme is perfect for: Beginner bloggers who are completely new to WordPress and want full customization of their blog! …So basically, everyone who’s not an advanced WordPress user.
Divi Theme is the absolute perfect solution for newbies learning the ropes with WordPress.
When you purchase Divi, you also get access to the entire Elegant Themes market, which includes over 70 other themes to choose from if you don’t end up loving Divi. This theme is quickly becoming the #1 new theme on the market for newbie bloggers!
Next up on our list of best WordPress themes for bloggers…
Avada Theme is what we personally used for the first couple of months on our blog. At the time that we used it, it had fewer customizations than it did today, and that was why we ultimately made the switch to X Theme. That being said, it has since been updated and is now comes with just as many customizations of X Theme with a little less of a learning curve.
X Theme used to be our #1 recommendation, but they have recently made some updates to the software that have made it a little less beginner-friendly than the other two. It’s still a really great theme, but there is a slightly bigger learning curve with this theme that you should be aware of.
- The company is solid – ThemeForest has incredible customer service and is really responsive. They’ve come through for us a number of times in a pinch.
- GREAT customizations – You can customize everything from the fonts to the menu and header styles to the color of your navigation bars. This theme is incredibly customizable.
- Poor refund policy – Unlike Divi Theme, they do not offer a no-questions asked, money-back guarantee. In fact, they specifically do not offer refunds because the theme wasn’t what you were expecting. Please read before purchasing!
- Slightly bigger learning curve than Divi – It might take you just a little longer to learn the basics of this theme than with Divi, but it’s still quite simple when you get the hang of it!
Who this WordPress blog theme is perfect for: Anyone who isn’t able to stomach the cost of Divi but that still wants a LOT of beginner-friendly customization
Various Other Free WordPress Blog Themes
Uh oh, Alex is going to have to go into his speech about economics and capitalism…
HOLD ON TIGHT!
There is a basic economic theory that is as true for blogging as anything else in life:
“There is no such thing as a free lunch.”
While starting with a “free” theme, hosting, etc. may sound alluring, it’s often just a guise to get your money later on.
Think about it: That company needs to make money somehow or they’d go out of business. This is the same with themes as anything else!
The person who built that theme is going to need a way to make money or else their kids are going to go hungry!
Usually, this involves leaving out crucial components to the theme and charging you for them later on.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of the various free WordPress blog themes.
- It’s “free” – Ok cheekiness aside, it can save people money and help those on a string tight budget when starting out. That being said, it is an investment if you plan to make money with your blog. It’s VERY different than paying for a pair of shoes or something else worth $50.
- Limited capabilities – No free theme is going to have everything. That’s just not how it works, peeps. Families to feed, mansions to furnish.
- “What if” – Okay I made this up, but hear me out… The “what if” factor is the second-guessing you will be doing of yourself if your blog looked better. You will constantly question how much better your bog would be doing if you got it to look like just how you wanted. “What if” I could install that banner image. “What if” my homepage looked like the one at Create and Go. Etc. Trust me, it will happen
- Free is never free – Just trust me.
Who this WordPress blog theme is perfect for: Anyone pinching those pennies! Listen, I get it. I once had my credit card declined at Walmart for about $10 worth of groceries. I KNOW BROKE.
So if you don’t have the $50 to spot for X Theme, this is an okay option for just starting out. A good, paid theme, however, is one of the first things you should invest in with your blog.
Here are some free themes designed for bloggers (some of the free themes people seem to like):
- Flash Theme
- Girly Theme
- Twenty Sixteen
Lastly, and certainly not least, on our list of best WordPress blog themes for beginners…
Man oh man. These guys!
Perhaps my biggest gripe with other bloggers is recommending this theme to newbies.
MY. GOD. STOP.
Those poor souls.
Genesis framework needs to have “advanced users only” plastered on the front of it.
When Lauren and I starting using this theme, we already had a full year’s worth of full-time blogging experience under our belts.
Despite that, it STILL kicked our ass.
It took us forever, as a team, to figure the thing out, and there were still a lot of customizations we basically gave up on because of its limited capabilities (if you don’t know website coding). Eventually, we had to hire some of the main customizations out.
Giving this theme to a new blogger is like handing the keys of a spaceship to a 10 year-old.
Yeah, it’s got the power to go to some cool places, but you have about a 0% chance of getting to any place you’d like. Because of this, it makes the theme pretty worthless to newbies.
You’re probably wondering: Ok, well why in the world did y’all move from X-theme to Genesis?
- Speed – Without a doubt, Genesis is the fastest framework in the WordPress business. When we changed our blog over, we noticed immediate increases in both revenue and visitors directly related to page speed time. That is exactly why most professional bloggers use it. I think something around 40% of visitors drop in the first 3 seconds if the page doesn’t load. While I still don’t think this is where bloggers should start, once you have a readership and are making some money, you should eventually switch.
- Cost – Sweet Baby Bill, get ready to spend some pesos. Just the basic framework costs $60 but you also have to buy a child theme as well for around another $60+.
- Limited Customization for Non-Coders – We had to hire someone to customize ours, because no matter what child theme we got, we couldn’t make it look how we wanted. You’ve been warned!
- Complexity – Get ready for some painful learning processes my friends. You’ve been warned.
Who is this WordPress blog theme perfect for: For those of you with 500,000+ unique visitors a month, it may be time to switch. Just remember that it will take some money for both the theme and a designer to get things going. It was painful for us to bite the bullet, but it did end up being the right choice in the end.
Let’s wrap this up.
- Newbies – Divi Theme or Avada Theme are both great places to start!
- Broke Newbies – Grab a free theme!
- Advanced WordPress Users and Bloggers – Hire a website designer and use Genesis Framework.
If you found this article on best WordPress blog themes helpful, let me know in the comment section below! Which one did you decide to go with??