3 Pro WordPress Blog Themes for Beginners Who Can’t Afford a Web Designer

Wordpress Blog Themes for Bloggers

Hey pal! One of the most frequent questions I get when it comes to launching a blog… is getting the right blog design.

Do you have that problem?

Most people think that they need to have their blog design right on the first day. Like their first blog design has to look like another blogger’s fifth design who is in their 5th year of their entrepreneur journey.

I mean if you have a design background… by all means, go for it. I’d admit that design when I’m in the right mind frame, can be fun. All those fun colors and fonts to choose from… it’s like cookies and ice cream!

But here’s the deal. When you’re starting your first blog and you’re not making an income from your blog yet, spending too much time and energy on the design is a big fat “NO.”

Why?

Well, first of all, you don’t have an audience yet. Because no one is reading that blog yet, who are you designing it for?

Secondly, you want to focus your valuable time and energy on content creation and growing your traffic and audience.

“But I need my blog to look decent.”

I get it. I’m all for a handsome blog design. But really, you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to hire a web designer.

So what do you need?

All you need is a WordPress theme, a paid one preferably. And these themes usually cost from $30-100. I personally find that $50-70 is my sweet spot for themes. Most themes I’ve purchased in the past have fallen into that price range.

A WordPress theme is quick to install once you get self-hosted on Bluehost and install WordPress. All of that should take you less than 15 minutes if you follow my step-by-step video tutorial.

Related: WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org: What’s the difference?

Now the fun part comes when you can choose a WordPress theme for your blog. Now I generally feel like there are three types of themes: free, paid, and the Genesis framework.

Free WordPress Blog Themes

There’s usually a couple free WordPress themes that come with your WordPress installation. Because free themes offer very limited (if any at all) customization options, I don’t recommend them.

This means you won’t be able to change your fonts, colors, and headers at all. Although it’s tempting to not invest anything in your blog, I do recommend that you put SOME skin in the game and go the next level up.

Paid WordPress Blog Themes

The second level is paid themes. Paid themes offer many types of customization options and you can almost always play with a demo version of the paid theme before you purchase it. This is cool because you know exactly how your theme will work in real time. If you love the feel of the theme you’re playing, take the plunge!

Most paid themes over-delivers anyway and it comes with more customizable options than you’ll ever need. For this reason, this decision can be overwhelming. The key is to go for a simple theme and don’t choose more than what you need.

I know it can be tempting to think far into the future, but the truth is, your first blog design will hardly ever be your last blog design. Your favorite big bloggers probably had website layouts that weren’t too impressive when they started either.

Don’t believe me? Lucky you, you can use WaybackMachine.com to check out what their blogs looked like once upon a time.

With that said, you can search for quality WordPress blog themes on these websites:

  • Creative Market (usually my first place)
  • Theme Forest by Envato Market
  • Elegant Themes
  • Studio Press (for advanced bloggers, not beginners)

Think of these places as online retailers. Many freelancers and designers put their stuff on a larger, but niched websites to sell. If you want a wide variety to choose from, this is a good place to start.

Throughout my 10 years of being a WordPress user, there is a few independent designers’ stuff that I’ve grown to love. I do recommend any theme from:

  • Station Seven (They have a selection of both WordPress and Squarespace themes)
  • A Prettier Web by Mel
  • Snow and Sparrow
  • Georgia Lou Studios (I never bought anything from them, but I was eyeing a theme they had)

I do have a biased appreciation for small business owners’ work. The hard work they put into their decision is obvious.

Now you might be asking, “Okay good. Can you just get to the themes already?”

Good thing you asked! Because I almost forgot!

Just kidding. Hehe.

Top Three WordPress Blog Themes

Pen and Parker by Station Seven

This is one of the first WordPress blog themes I’ve ever bought. I have to give myself a pat on the shoulder because it was such a good decision back then. Pen and Parker is a minimalist theme that’s great for any lifestyle blogger. If you want a simple and clean blog (and that should be your goal), this is the ideal blog for you.

pen and parker wordpress blog theme - station seven

The theme is built with bloggers who want to grow their email list through their blog and wants a built-in Instagram feed in mind. The theme has more than enough customizable options that anyone can use. I wouldn’t use all of them to start though.

I do walk you step-by-step on how to customize this WordPress blog theme inside my course for new bloggers, Blog Successfully. If want a step-by-step tutorial where you “watch over my shoulder” as I customize the layout, I’ll see you in the course. I show you how to customize it in less than 30 minutes so you don’t have to spend 5 days figuring it out.

Boss Lady/ Biz Lady by A Prettier Web

Boss Lady and Biz Lady are two separate WordPress blog themes. I only grouped them together because are quite similar to what they do. I do want to say that I purchased only Boss Lady, but never Biz Lady.

boss lady - wordpress blog theme - a prettier web

Biz Lady was the later addition to Mel’s suite of WordPress blog themes. Like the theme’s name says, it’s for business bosses and online entrepreneurs.

Because the theme does come with more customizable options and even a built-in website page builder (she recommends and uses the Beaver Builder plugin), I don’t recommend this for beginners. If you’re somewhat tech savvy and willing to put in the time and effort to figure all the deets out, the theme will do you lots of good.

Her website also comes with documentation and tech trainings that can walk you through some questions you might have (and I did have questions!).

I started this blog you’re reading right now with Boss Lady. Honestly, I think it was an overkill and if I can choose again, I would’ve gone with something simpler… like the next theme, I’m going to talk about.

Selkie by Snow and Sparrow

Okay… so I’m totally biased because this is the current theme I’m using on this blog. I totally love it because it’s slightly more elegant and upgraded than Pen and Parker, but not as many customizable options as Boss Lady that will drive you slightly bananas.

wordpress blog theme - selkie theme - snow and sparrow

It’s simple enough to manage on my own but still has a website page builder. Now if you’re starting your first blog, I don’t recommend a website page builder (they’re easy enough to play with, but totally not required). If you’re not sure what a website page builder does, here’s a snippet of what my homepage looks like.

heyjudess wordpress blog themes

Normally, a blog’s homepage will have a blog feed on their homepage (I recommend this if you’re a beginner reading this article).

But my homepage (http://heyjudess.com) doesn’t have a blog feed. Instead, it’s a standalone homepage that I created from scratch. Now that makes my blog more of what we call a “website.”

But I don’t recommend the homepage for beginners.

Why?

Because it takes time and skills to create. Also, when you’re launching a blog, you probably don’t have all the content to fill up it anyway.

And it’s completely okay to launch a blog just like a blog without all the fancy stuff. If you’re a blogger, focus on creating the content, building your email list, and getting traffic. Don’t focus on what web designers do, creating pretty websites.

And to answer your question, how much should you spend on your blog design?

My honest answer is to purchase a WordPress theme — and that costs between $30-100. So your grand investment is no more than $100.

*confetti falls

Now that you know what to look for in a WordPress blog theme, you also know you don’t need to spend a ton of money a WordPress blog theme. What were some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made with your blog design?

Until next time,

Judy

Judy

Hi, I'm Judy! I've owned at least four blogs over the last 10 years, from general lifestyle to skincare to blogging. Combined with my experience in digital marketing tech startup, I give away all my blogging and productivity tips and secrets that will make bloggers and creative entrepreneurs successful online.

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