Am I Using The Right WordPress Theme? Time To Get WP Premium Theme Or Not?

premium themes are like fillets of steakThat's a recent question that I want to address.

But, before I begin here's how I think:

"Steak Is Good.  Filet Mignon Is Better…."

This is a question I’ve had several times and believe it or not it’s actually an important one.  I am going to go over a few things I’ve learned over the last few years about selecting the right blog theme.

(Note:  I am also going to sprinkle this post with additional tips for increasing your income that aren’t specifically theme based.)

Is The Theme Right For Your Niche?

The theme style needs to match your niche.  What I mean by this is simple; the theme must match the look of your topic.  Too often I’ve seen people create a kids site that looks like a news site like www.drudgereport.com

This is boring and will likely cause you to lose some sales.  However, if You were running a news style site, this would be perfect.

You ever notice that big companies usually build sites that look the way you’d think they’d look?

To get a better understanding take a look at Apple.  Doesn’t that look sleek and innovative just like their product line?  That’s how you’d expect it to look.

What about Info Wars?  It'd look odd with tiny pictures of unicorns on it wouldn't it?

Quick Exercise:

Which theme would make more sense for a cupcake maker site?

Theme A Theme B
real pro theme

No doubt Theme A will win the popular vote here.  It’s also more likely to appeal to the RIGHT audience.

I’m not saying that if you used the other theme you wouldn’t make money; you would.  But, I’d be willing to be that your readership will go up and you’ll make more money on the 1st one.

Some of my very early sites should have been re-designed and I bet I would have made more money. 

Is The Layout Killing Your Sales?

I’ll be honest the layout of the blog you’re reading right now isn’t perfect.  I should have a top navigation area and be actively pumping my products in your face.  However, my blog isn’t up and running to simply make me money.  It’s up to reinforce that great stuff I am already teaching you in my courses to help you grow and continue growing.

However, your goal with your site SHOULD be to always make money and to make as much money as possible.

Here is what I like in a layout: Simplicity.

I like things to be clean and not cluttered.  My clean and neat sites have always performed better than my copier or more cluttered sites.

I am not a Google fan-boy by any stretch of the imagination.  However, use Google as an example of simple, clean and neat. 

Everything should have a place and a reason for being in that place.  If you’re utilizing the sidebar for advertisements get them up near the top of the screen (again don’t look at how I have this blog laid out for ads- my goals here are different than yours) so make sure your theme allows a flexible widget area.

The guys over at Genesis and Woo are pretty awesome on their themes for utilizing some good sidebar tactics.

Are Your Ads In The Right Place?

If you’re banking on making money off promotion in widget areas you’ll want to make sure you’re ads are in the right place.

The problem most people have is they don’t know where to place the ads for the best results.  If you’re ever unsure get them where people will see them most by thinking logically what they’ll see on your site when they first arrive.

It’s nice to get a theme that allows you to be creative where you’ll put your ads like this one:  Woo Demo.  It’s feature loaded and also allows a nice header ad.

If you really just don’t know what they see first you can always just look at what Google suggests for their ads.  You can see that here.

If you want to get really professional with it you can grab a monthly account with heat map software.

If you’re new I would just stick with Google’s projections for no and consider testing on your now later.  This will save you a lot of time.

Is It Better To Use A Free Theme Or Paid?

If you’re just starting out, go free.  If you’re starting to gain some experience use paid.

Here’s why….

Paid themes typically come with support.  Since the people who are selling them are making money it’s in their best interest to make sure that you are getting a good product.

Most of the free ones are not monetized at all so it doesn’t help the author much to continue supporting it.

Paid themes also often contain better/more options and you can contact them with suggestions to add options.

When Should You Upgrade To A Paid Theme?

Well, really, anytime.  Changing themes is very simple to do with WordPress so it really doesn’t matter when.  Also professional themes are not that expensive.  In fact, Woo and Studio Press have themes from $59 and up.  They also have plans where you can buy all their themes at a low price.

That being said, I’ll restate what I did earlier:  If you are brand new and this is your first site and you have very little cash to spare use a free theme.  Woo and Studio Press both have free themes to get you started as well.  Or you can simply use the WordPress Free Theme Directory.

I recommend going paid at some point when you're ready.

Browse through the paid themes that I've shared above. I have used several from both brands on various sites and I rarely use free themes anymore since the paid themes look so nice and have so many options.

Remember steak is good.  Filet mignon is better.  I think of these premium themes as a nice fillet.

Now I can't decide if I should go fire up the grill or keep working. 🙂

Michael Brown

I'm Michael S. Brown, Internet Marketer, husband and father. I have been successful in business and marketing since 1998. In 2007 I took to the internet marketing world and have never looked back. I love teaching people the knowledge that I have acquired and the ultimate boost to my ego is to see everyone I teach succeed in business. My goal is to make everyone who comes into contact with me as successful or even more successful than myself.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 3 comments
Sherry - November 2, 2012

Hi Michael,
I'm with you — I like clutter-free sites myself. I almost always will click away from sites where the landing page is so crowded I can't easily find what I need.
That said, one of my favorite free WP templates is Weaver. The theme is highly customizable for those of us with little or only a basic knowledge of HTML and CSS. These factors make Weaver perfect for my use. Plus the theme has its own great forum if you want to do something and can't figure it out on your own. Guess I'm pretty much a penny-pincher at heart – lol.
Atahualpa also appears to be a good theme to use if you're going to do a lot of customization. The drawback was that more than a basic knowledge of HTML and CSS was needed when I was playing with it. Maybe as my knowledge expands in this area, I'll play with it again. I like making money more than playing with code.
One thing I've noticed is that my CTR has gone up on some of my sites when I moved the advertising to a second footer in Weaver about my site links and copyright. I don't know if anyone else has tried this, so I don't know if it will work for everyone.

Michael Brown - November 2, 2012


I like making money more than playing with code.

I couldn't agree more 🙂

My CTR has gone up on some of my sites when I moved the advertising to a second footer in Weaver about my site links and copyright.

Definately worth a test.  Have you measured and written down how much your CTR has went up?


Sherry - November 5, 2012

Hi Michael,
Yes, I look at my analytics, usually weekly. When I change something on a site, I will pay attention if not daily at least every other day. The CTR on the two sites that I changed has increased a little over 5% since 2 October (date of change). Avg time spent on each page has increased by about 15% also. I will mention that my sites are information heavy — combo of tech writing and ad copy. The only thing I can figure out is that maybe the advertising in the sidebar was distracting when reading left to right. Previously I was using the right sidebar. I also changed the formatting of my webcopy to have more white space and decreased the font size of my headers. Looks prettier, but it's hard to judge if only the ads at the bottom of the page or increased readability of the content has helped.
For sure, I'm going to keep monitoring to see if I've found the ticket for my "not-performing-as-wanted" sites.


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