Imagine you turn your system on to check out how if your website is functioning fine. And suddenly you are like “Where the hell is my website”!
Such a scenario arises when your website has probably been hacked and all your data is gone.
Sounds scary? Doesn’t it?
I did not mean to scare you, but such things happen to bloggers who choose a free theme for blogging instead of a premium one.
Let me tell you the truth – free is not always good, even if it is a WordPress theme.
In this post, I will show you why choosing a free theme could be dangerous for the blog.
Important note: There are many good looking free themes that offer encrypted free footers (link free footers) and are of great quality. But, again there are downsides to using free WordPress themes over premium WordPress themes.
Why Free WordPress themes are not worth your time
1. Unwanted URLs in the footer
When you choose a free theme, you also accept the user agreement from theme developers.
In exchange for the free themes, these developers always want you to keep their affiliate URLs on your website’s footer.
Remember, if you ever try to get rid of these URLs, it will be considered breaching the agreement.
If you attempt to remove these links, you will not be able to get rid of them. Moreover, all you will get is a broken theme.
Sometimes these links are hidden with a template color, so you cannot notice them without moving the cursor over the footer.
Usually, these links are not harmful but in most cases, they redirect you to suspicious and malicious sites.
Also, you might just expose yourself to a virus such as Trojan.
2. No SEO-optimization
As a blogger, we understand the power of SEO and how important it is for a blog or a website. And, you will hardly get a free theme which has inbuilt SEO options!
The following features make a theme SEO optimized:
- Clean code: A well-written code helps search engines to understand your website better.
- Light Weight: If the theme size is heavy it will take time to load.
- Responsive Layout: If your audience is not able to view your website in their mobile devices (tablets, smartphones, etc.), you are going to definitely lose them.
- Responsive Design: Free themes rarely come with a responsive design.
- Plugins Compatibility: There are thousands of plugins available on the WordPress that can boost your SEO. A free theme does not support these plugins.
Theme developers save other features for their premium themes.
3. No Customer Support and Updates
If you are facing problems with a free theme, you will not able to get any customer support from the company. And guess why. You’re right! Because it’s a free theme!
In the future, if in case, the developer updates the theme for bugs and advance coding, you will not get notified. Hence, your site will be at risk. Only the premium theme holders can avail an update feature.
However, there are some theme developers who will provide an update for a free theme. But there are chances that you may lose your site by then.
4. Limited Features
Premium themes come with lots of handy features that can boost your website’s performance and usability.
If you’re using free themes (with very basic features), it will be difficult to beat your competitors which use premium themes (with advanced features).
5. Hidden Costs
A few days ago, one of my friends installed a free theme for one of his sites. He was happy to find a theme that looked absolutely beautiful, and the best part – it was free!
He checked if there were any links present in the footer, but he couldn’t find any! At this time, his website was ranking well on the search engine too.
Two days later, he noticed there were 25 outbound links on the right side navigation pointing to different kinds of sites.
However, the weirdest part was he hadn’t added any of those links. So, he tried to remove them from his site but failed!
He uninstalled the free theme and got back to a basic theme. He found no links then. A few hours later, he installed the free theme again to check what went wrong.
He assumed himself to be smarter than the theme, but as soon as he installed the free theme again, the outbound links returned.
Finally, he decided to leave the idea of a free theme completely.
So, I learned that there is a hidden cost in a free theme too.
6. Plugins compatibility problems
Many free themes do not support advanced plugins which could lead to a bad user experience and poor SEO performance.
The problem occurs because the theme is rarely updated. Most plugins support an updated theme.
I faced this issue once when I was installing a plugin to collect subscriber’s emails.
The plugins only support updated themes.
- Also read: Free WordPress themes Vs. Premium themes
Final thoughts on using free WordPress themes:
Not all themes are coded the same and there are many good WordPress developers who have published well coded free themes and later turned it into a paid one. When you are working on a WordPress blog for short term, free theme are not a bad choice if you can find something which is free from all the above risks. Again, this is possible when you are well versed in spotting these mistakes and bad codes in the theme.
If you are someone like me who prefers to focus on what we are good at, it’s better to buy a premium WordPress theme. It’s not only about getting support, updates but it also ensures your blog works great and has a stunning design. Maybe, if you would have asked me for an opinion a couple of years ago, I would have recommended you to download a free WordPress themes for your blog, but these days when making money from a blog is relatively easy, buying a Premium WordPress theme is a well-thought investment. Here are some of the popular premium WordPress themes. I suggest you to check all of them out and pick the one that suits your design and functionality requirements.
- ThriveThemes (Probably the only theme that you will need)
- Genesis (ShoutMeLoud uses Genesis theme as backend and custom child skin)
- ElegantTheme (This one is perfect for niche sites)
I hope by now you know the risks that free themes come with.
I am curious to know your thoughts. Have you ever faced any problem with a free theme? Please share your valuable thoughts and experience.
Here are a few guides you should read next:
- Best Ad Management Plugin For WordPress To Make More Money
- 7 Common WordPress Terms You Need To Know Before Starting A WordPress Blog
- Why Anyone Can Download Premium WordPress Theme For Free?