WordPress is a great blogging tool. It makes blogging easy and has plenty of powerful features as well. But before you can jump in, you need to pick the right theme; you need to decide how your blog will look. This is a critical decision because the look of your blog will play a big part in its success.
A WordPress theme is what determines the look of your blog, like a website design. And it’s not easy to pick! There are hundreds and hundreds of them…and some are definitely much better than others.
The theme you pick is essential to your blog’s success. First impressions are key, and a visitor’s first impression to your blog will be largely dictated by the theme.
Here are 4 things you should think about to help guide you through the process of picking the best WordPress theme for you:
1. Your blog’s subject matter is key. What’s it about? Really, the content of your blog should strongly influence the look of your blog. For example, it would make sense for a corporate/business blog to look similar to your existing website. A blog about partying should be colorful and exciting, while a blog about yoga or meditation would have a completely different feel.
2. Do you want to make money with the blog? Google AdSense is the most common way of doing this, you see these ads everywhere. And, some themes are better suited for using Google AdSense than others. Of course, there are other ways of making money from your blog – affiliate marketing, selling text links, Amazon, etc.
Not everyone wants to make money from their blog, but if you do, here’s some tips:
- 3-column themes (particularly with 2 columns on the left or right side) are becoming more popular. Part of the reason is that they provide a lot of space for advertising above the fold (above where a user has to scroll to see content.)
- Ads that are above the fold typically do better. So pick a theme with plenty of space at the top to include advertisements/sponsored links.
- While ultra-simple themes might be quite vogue they often lack the space needed for proper advertising.
3. Your technical know-how is important. Most WordPress themes are quite easy to use right “out of the box” but there are some themes definitely geared to beginners and others aimed at experts. Your skills in HTML and even in coding with PHP may play a factor in your successful use of a given theme.
Some themes come better equipped with instructions; so take a look after downloading a theme to see if there’s any advice or information in the files that you’ve download.
If you’re a beginner look for contact information and/or an active community around the theme (like a website or forum.)
Quick Note: Make sure your theme supports the version of WordPress that you’re running. Some themes might only work with a later version of WordPress (2.0+) but you might still be on an older version of the blog software.
4. Don’t forget to test the theme thoroughly! Once you’ve found a theme you like, at least do the following:
- Write a few sample posts. Vary their length and style to see how each looks. Try including some images as well. On occasion when you start experimenting with the positioning of images you might see it actually breaks the theme.
- Submit some comments. Comments are important to blogging so try this out and make sure you like how they’re formatted.
- Make sure you click on a few posts to look at them individually. Click on the category names that you’ve setup as well to see what those pages look like. Generally speaking, try and click throughout the blog because when you first setup a theme or see one you like online it’s not going to be showing you everything.
- In the WordPress Admin go to the Theme Editor and look at a few of the files listed there. The idea is to just get a feeling for what the code looks like – how well written it looks – because once you start editing that code you’ll want it to be as neat as possible.
Remember, you can always change the theme on your blog, but you want to get it right the first time, if you can. Do some research, look around, find examples of themes you like in use and always test as much as you can.
Once you’ve found a great theme and started editing it you won’t want to get away from it; and that first impression for visitors to your blog is going to help guarantee your success!