How To Choose A New Premium Theme For Your Blog

How to choose a new premium theme for your wordpress blog using these five simple steps - The confused Millennial

If you caught this post last week, you saw why I decided to move my blog from Squarespace to WordPress. This decision was tough for me as you may have noticed from the post since I truly loved the look of the old TCM. I love how clean Squarespace sites are and often find most WordPress sites, especially blogs, to feel cluttered and chaotic.

When I started telling people I was moving my site, the initial response from almost everyone was, “but I love your site! Especially the minimalist feel”… yeah me too. To say I was nervous about the new site is an understatement, I was freaking out.

I spent about two weeks casually debating what to do:

          – Should I hire a designer?

          – Should I try to go it alone? 

          – Holy crap, there are a lot of options free or premium? What type of premium?! 

After two weeks of contacting designers, looking at design packages, and reading entirely too many blog posts, I decided I would go it alone for a couple of reasons:

a) Hiring a designer can get pricey. I reached out to one designer, and her work is totally worth it, but at a $6,000 price tag simply wasn’t in the cards for me right now.

b) I thought back on my own experiences. So a lot of you may or may not know, but I actually started my coaching/consulting business in 2014 – this whole blog thing started as a passion project this year and merged into my business. – I actually hired a company to design and do all the SEO and everything for my original site. The company is actually who scared the crap out of me about WordPress (they would always scold me for changing code telling me I was risking breaking everything). The experience with that company is actually why I started my blog on SS – I was terrified of breaking something on WP.

When I took a step back, I realized that I hated feeling out of control with my site. I hated that I had to rely on someone else’s timeline. I hated that I felt locked out of certain aspects of my site (aka the Cpanel), and I hated the end product. I felt helpless if I wanted to change anything – a feeling I didn’t like either.

c) Through all my research, I realized it’s not that difficult. Seriously, figuring out the design of your site does not have to be difficult, you just need to choose a theme that suits your needs and have a vision for what you are trying to build.

I am not saying DIY is right for everyone. If you are someone who is okay with a longer timeline and paying a little more in exchange for help with filling in the gaps of your vision and a little more security, then by all means hire a designer or some other type of pro; but if you know your branding elements already and how to bring those together in a new theme, I highly recommend going it alone.

So now that we’ve tackled the DIY vs. PRO option:

HOW DO YOU CHOOSE A PREMIUM THEME?

*There are tons of free versions out there. I didn’t really consider/look at them since often they are out of date or more common. Also, make sure you sign up for a WordPress . org not .com! Most templates will only work with .org! Ok back to choosing a premium theme:

1) Explore Explore Explore… The world wide interwebs that is.

But where do you start? I spent two weeks after my decision to DIY on upwards of 300 blogs. I scoured facebook groups, clicked through pretty pins on Pinterest, and visited the site behind those gorgeous Insta-feeds I loved so much. I approached each site with a critical eye identifying specifics of what I liked and disliked, and how the site was comparing to my needs for a site. Some questions I asked myself:

          – Is there anything misaligned about this site? Wonky headers, footers, sidebars? 

          – How was the spacing in the sidebar? This is a huge pet peeve of mine when everything is smooshed together.

          – Did I like the style of their menu on a desktop and mobile? 

          – Did the site make it easy for readers to stumble upon new content? 

          –  What was the logo/menu options alignment like? 

          – Would this site support my style of graphics? 

2) Bookmark bookmark bookmark!

I had like 500 tabs open during this process. Every time I came across a site I liked, I would click through “designed by” link found in most footers to get an idea of the template or designer. Since I had already decided to DIY it – any sites designed by a designer with no template options for sale got nixed from the list.

From there I would have 30 tabs open and do a side by side narrowing them down until I felt relatively the same about them all. I would bookmark that 15-30 and re-visit them every day over the next few days until I narrowed it down to five. I then showed them to my husband, who helped me narrow it down to two “shops”.

3) Check that fine print!

Upon further research, I noticed that one of the templates offered 6 months of customer support to help set up with the template and any code I didn’t know. #YASSS! Seriously, when going the DIY route, good customer service is a massive help. As an added bonus, I could also become an affiliate with the theme (I wouldn’t recommend choosing a theme based on this, but if deciding between two that are totally the same, this is a nice little bonus).

4) Re-Evaluate one last time. Once I narrowed it down to the shop, I was between two templates, so I re-reviewed my original criteria/questions I had outlined when in step one. Ultimately it came down to the graphics piece. I needed a site with a layout that supported my style of graphics. I typically make my blog featured image Pinterest style- as a side note: there is a way to have a normal horizontal image as your featured image but have a Pinterest image ready to go on the backend of my WordPress theme, not sure if it’s like that for others – but since I don’t work with a photographer regularly and am still getting used to my DSLR, I wanted to maintain the “Pinterest” style featured image since I plan on relying heavily on it until I get better with my graphics.

5) Buy, install, tweak, and enjoy! After all of that, I was able to make a decision. One I feel confident about and I have actually grown to like the new site more than my old one. I am still getting used to WordPress, but am enjoying the overall functionality and customization the new site is offering me.

 

Have you ever re-designed? How did you choose a new template? Drop me a comment below!


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  • Really useful post, there are so many themes out there to choose from it must be hard to know which to pick!

  • While I was back in blogger, I used to love DIYing my blog design. After switching to WordPress, I honestly don’t know where to start so I bought a premium theme. I think it’s time for a new one soon so this post was really helpful!

  • It’s such a time consuming process to change themes. I recently did it and it took awhile to find one that I absolutely loved.

  • I tried picking out a theme once but gave up. Luckily my husband works online and does the technical aspects of my website.

  • Pinning this in case I get brave one day 😉

  • Anna Hubbard

    I’ll have to send this to my friend! She’s looking into getting a premium theme for her blog!
    -Anna | http://www.fivefootandfabulous.com

  • These are awesome, Rachel! I am on the hunt for a new theme, as I want to get in a minor redesign before the new year! Using your tips!

  • Risa

    How timely! I JUST bought a theme for my rebrand. I think I hemmed and hawed for three months over the free themes on WordPress and just kept getting more confused and overwhelmed. It’s funny because sometimes when I get like that, I just need someone else to provide some ideas. My husband sent me a template that was.. $30? I looked it over, he, in his techiness looked it over and I was like, I like it, let’s just do this and get going (I’m planning on going live Jan 1). I have no regrets and am so glad that’s done. It’s hard to move forward with a new blog unless you have the basic structure down. For what it’s worth, I love your theme and site. 🙂

  • Greta Hollar

    These are great tips! I’m about to redesign my site and was asking myself all the questions you were. Thanks for sharing!

    Greta | http://www.gretahollar.com

  • Great tips babe! I went through this actually earlier this year and bookmarked a ton of different themes until I finally found one I liked 🙂 hehe thanks for sharing! xo, sharon

    http://www.stylelullaby.com/personal/a-quarter-century/

  • I am so bad at the tech side of blogging and when I switched from Blogger to WordPress I thought I might die from tech overload. But if you take it slowly it’s not so bad and I finally found a theme I like!

  • These are such great tips! I finally bit the bullet on a designer after five years. You’re SO right about price tag, but it was worth it for me in the long run. It should go live this week and I can’t wait!

  • Elizabeth Johnson

    Great advice! I had a free theme for a long time for my blog and I am so glad I took the plunge for a designer theme. Love this article!

  • mckenna bleu

    Bookmarking is so helpful for this process! I’d be lost with out book marking most everything I see!

  • Melissa Dow

    Thanks for the info. I also set my own up as well. I didn’t know that some offer support with their themes. I’m definitely going to keep that in mind.

  • Syama Nair

    Good points to keep in mind. Premium themes are really worth it in the long run !!!

  • Great tips here! I would also add to make sure the maker updates the theme to keep it up to date with wordpress updates. Not all do. 😀

  • Awesome tips, Rachel! I’m a digital media specialist by day, and I talk about a lot of these points with my potential clients.

  • I have been thinking about doing this for months but kept blowing it off. I think i might actually be able to do this. Thanks for the push:)

  • I’ve had my theme for over a year and I love it! My favorite part is how customizable it is and the customer service can’t be beat! Congrats, I love your new space 🙂

    Kayla | kaylablogs.com

  • When I was looking to switch from Blogger I considered WordPress and looked on Easy for great themes!

    Alix | http://www.apintsizedlife.com

  • Being on Blogger, things are a little different for me, but I love the practical thought process you laid out here. There is so, so much to consider when choosing a theme. We have to think ahead, anticipate, and be ok with our decisions, so thinking through this as you did is a good idea!

  • wish i saw this before i bought my first theme 🙂 🙁

  • I bought my premium theme from themeforest. They usually include the developer’s support for a year or so, which is very useful. Not to mention that I’m really in love with my blog’s theme. ❤️

    Cristina | *janded

  • I’m thinking about switching themes, but I know I will research obsessively and I don’t have the time for that at the moment. I’m casually keeping my eyes open for something, for now.

  • Clara

    There are so many themes nowadays that you can get overwhelmed easily. Thanks for the tips.

  • I love the look of your blog! It’s so clean and simple! 🙂 Also great tips, I’m super meticulous and analytical so I think doing what you did is the way to go lol.

  • Elly Leavitt

    I feel you on the Squarespace thing… I started on WordPress but have been making a few other sites on Squarespace and am kinda pissed I didn’t use that because it’s so much easier haha. And I went through hell trying to design and install a new theme on my own, so I can’t emphasize the research aspect enough, you’re right! (ps your site still looks great) x

  • Great tips!!! WordPress can be a little intimidating. I remember when I first started blogging, I was like what have I gotten myself into. I found a design that worked well for me and the designer installed everything for me at a good price. Your blog looks great!

  • Jean Bean

    Great advice! WordPress is a breeze once you get to know it

  • Bianca Sasha

    having built two wordpress websites in my career, when I made the switch to Squarespace I wished that I had started with it…live and learn!

    Great post!

  • Kaitlyn Fickle Killebrew

    This is such a great post! Choosing a theme for my site was daunting at first but for now I’m very excited with the theme I selected!

  • Sydney Power

    It was so hard to find the right theme, I worked with pipdig and they were amazing!!

  • These post is awesome, Rachel! Even though I am on Blogger, I am definitely hoping to redo my site design soon so this is so helpful!

    xoxo,
    Katie
    chicincarolina.blogspot.com

  • I always force myself to stay with really simple themes because I’m afraid I’ll get widget happy and install a bunch of stuff I don’t need in the long run!

  • Siobhan Goff

    I totally understand what you went through! I am on my third site design and it is by far my favorite. When I found it, it just felt right.

  • Ashley

    These are fabulous tips! Site design can be stressful…especially if you are like me and are terrible at making decisions!

    xo Ashley

  • Rexie

    These are on point and very informative. I will keep these in mind. Thank you.
    http://www.aloeville.com

  • sami moore

    SUCH an informative post. I want to re-vamp my blog, so definitely will be saving this to come back to.

    Thanks for sharing!!

    XO,
    Sami || sparkleandshinesami.com

  • Amy

    This was so helpful! I am on blogger right now, but I am playing around with the idea of swtiching to WordPress. Will come back to reference this if I do and want to switch up my design!!

    xoxo,

    Amy | Pastel N Pink

  • These are great tips! I switched themes about a month ago. The first theme that I picked out last month broke my site! I kept getting error messages and couldn’t log in! After around 10 hours back and forth on the phone with my host providers and optimizing my site so that it would load faster etc., I had to return it and buy a different one. It turned out that it had “too many processes running”. It was actually a good learning lesson because I ended up making photos smaller for the web and cleaning things up. The new theme was more expensive, but it is very light weight and has the look that I wanted, so it was a happy ending. So FYI to all you readers – you get what you pay for!

  • sheree

    Gah! This is such a hard process. I’ve tried out so many themes on my personal blog and am still not happy with it. It’s so hard sometimes to make it look like the ad photos if the creator didn’t include in depth instructions.

  • Josephine Amoako

    Choosing the right theme can be a headache sometimes. Thanks for sharing these tips.

  • Michelle Champalanne

    Picking the right design theme for your blog is so tricky! It’s hard to just choose one that you know you’ll be happy for a while. These are great tips

    Michelle
    http://www.mikipetite.com

  • So much awesome information in this post! I had no clue that designers charged $6k for a theme. INSANE!

  • I still get confused by themes so this was extremely helpful! Thanks for the advice!

  • Kristine Circenis

    Thank you, thank you for this post. I am currently in the middle of this very messy process and am super nervous about hitting that ‘purchase’ button for a theme.

  • Great advice! I was the exact same way when I first decided to first switch my blog from Wix to WordPress and then again when I decided to change my theme. I thought about it for weeks! Your blog is an extension of you and your company so you want it to look absolutely perfect. Looks like you made a good choice though, your blog looks great!

  • Miss ALK

    I don’t have WordPress…but I will keep this post for reference for if I ever do switch. 🙂 Very detailed advice!!

    xoxo A
    http://www.southernbelleintraining.com

  • Victoria Stacey

    This is a really interesting perspective, and it’s really helpful. I’ve thought about premium themes a few times and love your tips! I still DIY around in wordpress a bit, but know it’s tricky and you need to be careful. I’m thinking of going to SS when I renew… we’ll see!

  • debbie_savage

    Great tips! Thank you for the helpful suggestions, my friend!
    xo Debbie | http://www.tothineownstylebetrue.com

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