Free WordPress Theme VS Premium WordPress Theme

Selecting a WordPress theme is always a good job and eespecially, where there are so many free WordPress theme and premium WordPress theme clubs, available in the market. Most of the newbie’s get confused between which theme they should go for and if they should spend money on Premium themes from day one or not.

Free or Premium WordPress Themes

How often we talk about WordPress themes, probably this is the first need of any blogger who starts with WordPress Blogs. Most of new blogger who starts with WordPress, use free themes, thinking why to pay for premium WordPress theme, when they can get it for free. Even I started with Arthemia free theme for first six months and later on settle down with premium WordPress theme Genesis. I know it can be a good point of debate between free vs. paid WordPress theme, and obviously I would like to know your opinion on it.

According to me, Free themes are amazing only because they are free, and only very few Theme  developer are serious about keeping their free theme project updated and offering constant updates for latest WP version compatibility. When I started with WordPress, I thought: Why to pay one time 20-50$ when you can get something for free?. This is what I used to think when I started with WordPress blog and like every one landed with some nice free WordPress theme.

Though later on I realize my mistakes and problem faced with free WordPress theme.

Why Premium  Templates are better than Free WordPress Theme

First of all let me confirm that Free themes are not bad, and you can find many of them in WordPress theme directory. But the major problem comes with the updates, most of the theme developer releases a base version on Free Theme directories and later on use it to sale the pro version of the free theme.

So my suggestion is, instead of wasting your time on technical know-who, better to opt for a Pro theme and do the things, which we are good at Blogging.

Anyways, I’m outlining some of the factors, which might convince you to ditch your free WP theme and upgrade to pro version.

Support and updates:

WordPress is constantly updating technology and after every few months, we get to see a major update in WordPress. Your theme and plugins need to be compatible with the latest version of WordPress.

When you are using paid themes, it’s the responsibility of the framework company to release an updated and compatible version of Theme. Whereas, free theme creators use their theme as a side project, and you need to wait for months before you see an upgrade. For quickly updated themes, I would suggest sticking with any of the good Wp theme company.

Also, all the paid theme authors offer free support as it comes with membership, whereas, in free themes, you can’t expect a free support. Also, if you will look at framework like Genesis, you will find tons of tutorials on web, which doesn’t often happen with free WP themes.


WordPress themes play a major role in overall SEO of your site. In free themes, you will find many structure bug and moreover, hardly few of them offer inbuilt SEO options. Eespecially, in SEO post 2015, it’s important to have a site which is not only SEO optimized but also offers clean code for faster loading.

Themes like Genesis offer such lightning fight loading them, but the dilemma is they are not free. Anyhow, using a premium theme helps you in lowering down plugins.


Premium themes is a competitive marketplace and to survive, theme dev. Needs to offer latest features and web integration. Free themes have limited no. Of features and if you want to see a particular feature, it will be difficult to get until unless theme developer is willing to provide free support or if you are personally in touch with the theme developer.

Encrypted links

This is the first, and the last thing I hate about free WordPress themes since most of them now are making the footer encrypted and selling those links. This has a very bad impact on SEO of your blog and why do you want to encrypt your footer, I’m sure if not now, later on you would like to add more features in your Footer of the theme. Just for the info, a nice footer has a great advantage on SEO of your blog if you use it wisely.

Since Google Penguin update, such encrypted links are seen as spammy links and sites like wpmu was penalized due to it. Though, outbound links have SEO advantage, but such kind of linking should be avoided at any cost.

Though, for new bloggers who can’t spend  50$ for themes, free theme is the way to go, but once your blog starts getting momentum. I will advice switch over to any best possible premium themes.

Do let us know about your opinion on free vs. Paid WordPress theme?

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Article By
Harsh Agrawal is a blog scientist and a passionate blogger. He is blogging since 2008 & writes about Blogging, SEO, Make money online & tech. His blog, ShoutMeLoud receives 1 million Pageviews/month and have over 700K subscribers.


COMMENTs ( 20 )

  1. says

    I was confused, till I read your Article. I am facing same situation. Its been around six months and I am using a free theme. I have decided to move to Genesis theme ( generate Pro). Now my doubts are regarding loss of my all work, if I move to my new paid theme. I have very little knowledge of web building. Thank you.

  2. Ram Gupta says

    I am using free theme but after this article i am thinking of changing to paid theme. because my theme does not following W3C validator rules.

  3. Sashwato Chatterjee says

    Thank You Harsh for providing this information. I was thinking of switching to WordPress now with a free template/theme since I am new to this world. I believe that luck mattered the most that I came across this article. Now definitely I am going for a paid theme because ultimately we would need a support handle for any errors or updates. Can you give your suggestion regarding which paid themes we should go with as a newbie? Just a brief idea would be appreciated!

  4. michell says

    Nice article:-) I’m actually using a free theme for my new blog I’m quite concern for the theme . Its already off for business and I don’t see incoming search term in my blog. Hope you could help me with this

  5. YFP says

    I am using free theme in my blog and it is awesome. But ofcourse the value of premium theme can’t be ignored.

  6. Ray says

    I’ve been using free wordpress themes and finally I’ve found this blog that talks about free vs premium themes. I think I really need to take this blogging to the next level and that is buying a premium theme with seo friendly.

    I would like to hear more feedbacks about Thesis theme.

  7. Web Hosting Blog says

    “Encrypted links” Many of the free WordPress themes do have some sort of links built into the theme,some of the more elaborate theme creators have embedded the links to a point that if you try to remove it, your entire site will fail.
    Atimes the free wordpress theme just won’t support the widget or plugin that you need, thats where support comes in, designers of premium themes are most times available to a dedicated web forum or some other avenue to their customers.

  8. George Serradinho says

    When I first started out, I used a free theme. I have not got much against free theme, besides that support is sometimes slow or non-existent. Some theme developers do help out where needed and we are very thankful to them.

    Premium themes are just better for me. The support features are sometimes way more although I have noticed some free themes starting to catch up to the trends of premium themes. It makes it exciting as the developers will eventually push each other to the max.

  9. Roschelle says

    I’m constantly changing my template (which isn’t a good thing…I know). It’s difficult to find any blogger themes comparable to the ones WordPress has to offer. Just recently I was looking at some of the premium themes ElegantThemes for WordPress has to offer. They are awesome. Thesis is another favorite of mine. I’m sure I’ll probably move my blogger blog to wordpress.

  10. loveish says

    Obviously Premium themes are much much better than free themes. but for newbies free themes is the best option :)

  11. Amandeep Singh says

    I think… that caring for a Premium theme against a free theme in the very starting stage of your blog is not important. Instead if the content of your blog is appealing.. it will automatically get ranked in the serch engines in a better way.

    Once your blog is able to earn for you on the back of your comment then you can always think of upgrading to a premium theme thus, adding to your blog’s success. Worrying about your theme and not posting good content or not posting at all, will be of no help…

  12. Ashutosh Mishra says

    Nice post. I had the same why-pay-when-you-can-get-one-for-free mentality when I moved to WordPress 3 months ago. Now I’ve realised the importance of a good and flexible theme (like Thesis) and would like to get it for my blog soon. But my current problem in not with themes, but with myself. Howsoever I try, I’m not getting myself to blog regularly and sincerely (and themes can’t write posts for you!). I read all those great posts in larger blogs and get depressed about the way I write. Hopefully I’ll get over it, and once my blog is up and running smoothly, I’ll definitely go get the Thesis theme.

  13. Stefan says

    This is something more people should think about. Personally I do not recommend people to rush out and buy things when they are on their way to start making money online, but a premium theme is actually a great idea. Therefore I usually recommend people to start out with a simple free theme and then upgrade when they have made enough money to afford it.

  14. Anterpreet Singh says

    My friend has purchased thesis theme and I have also used this theme on local server, it is the best theme I have ever seen. But i have one question can I use the same thesis on my blog or is there any risk of using a theme on multiple blogs?

    • Avinash says

      well, you cannot use thesis theme on multiple blogs until you own a devolper license. You should avoid using on your blog until you own a license of thesis either personal one or developer one.

  15. Himanshu says

    Totally agree with you Harsh, right now I am using a free theme and going to change it from some premium WordPress theme like Thesis. Since thesis is customizable in every area.
    In starting days of my blogging I too think that theme has nothing to with SEO, but I change my perspective after seen one of my blog doing well with thesis in terms of SEO.
    Also it is advisable by all the SEO experts to build a website that rich in theme because search engines are more interested in themes.

  16. Blake @ Props Blog Reviews says

    This feels like a pretty bias discussion comparing free themes vs. premium themes. Currently, I’m using a free theme, but I definitely will end up switching to Thesis at some point for the SEO benefits.
    Some paid themes like the ones in theme forest are not highly customizable and once you’re setup, there isn’t much changing you can do.
    Other themes like thesis are very powerful, but unless your good with graphic design, you’ll probably end up having to pay more to get someone to custmize it for you.
    On advantage of using free themes is you can try out a few different looks for free and they usually are fairly complete graphically. After you’ve started to establish yourself, you can easily just switch over to a more perminate paid theme that suites your needs.
    In the end, premium is always better, but I don’t think most beginning bloggers can make the most of the theme without dumping a ton of money into it.

  17. Sham says

    I do agree..I suffered from the pro of encrypted link @ footer which was inserting ads and u advised me to remove it..But i should also say for some free themes are is enough support and guidelines given by the author itself:)

  18. satrianugraha says

    Yups, I think that it realistic for newbie like me to use free themes, then when i have a little bit money it’s great to upgrade to premium. I just make a wish list of premium themes I want to use.

    Its great to make a plan to buy premium themes. I think its just a time, cause I use free blog, getting money then buy my host and using free themes. After that money comes, business must improve i buy premium themes I admire :D

    Using premium themes is just about process…