Update on April 2nd, 2019: This advice still holds true!!
If you’re a serious blogger you’ve probably heard of these things called “premium wordpress themes”. They’re luxurious, flashy, and often expensive. Maybe you’re searching for one right now, or maybe you’re flat out intimidated by them (like I was at first).
Well, having used and modified several premium themes over the years, I’d like to tell you a discovery I made that hasn’t been written anywhere online and most definitely will piss off some big names in the industry.
Are you ready? Here goes: All premium themes are almost exactly the same.
Let me explain to you why this is the case, and introduce you to to the premium theme I use on this blog.
What exactly is a premium WordPress theme?
Okay, let me explain. A premium theme is just a set of files like comments.php, header.php, and my favorite, loop.php. They come in a .zip file and you upload them to WordPress just like you would a plugin.
What most folks who’ve never bought a theme don’t realize is that these files are incredibly similar across all themes. The files in a theme that costs you $100+ may be almost exactly the same as those in a $30 theme. Give or take a few colors, borders, values, and styles set by the creator of your theme.
I’m dead serious. Intrigued yet? Keep reading.
A journey from Blogger to WordPress to premium
An awesome reader of mine (hey Shahzad!) recently commented that he comes here to read about my experience, my story with blogging. That caught me off guard — I always thought people came here for the long guides on things like money-blogging.
But I guess the story is important too.
My story with premium themes
Well, I thought I’d never get one. Starting on Blogger, I hated WordPress and all it’s paid premium features. I thought I could get around them, and for a while, I did.
I realized soon after I got hosting that I could now use premium themes. I was elated. My blogging budget was strong enough to make this investment, and I stayed up until 4 in the morning happily designing on the night I bought my first premium theme.
Why you NEED a premium theme
Let’s touch quickly on some reasons you’d buy your first premium theme.
You’d upgrade from free to premium theme if:
- First of all, you use self-hosted WordPress
- Secondly, you are a serious blogger
- Thirdly, you are starting to earn money from your blog
- Lastly, you want to be viewed by others in a professional light
These are just the most common reasons. I’d love to hear from you why you’re considering buying a premium theme. Just drop a comment when you’re done with this.
Why all premium themes look different
To follow up my statement that all premium themes are about the same, here are some reasons why they may appear different to you. Premium theme providers of course have an incentive to differentiate their products, saying their themes “build incredible websites” and will “push your business over the edge” and “are SEO optimized”. By being different they can be perceived as better and more important they can charge more for a theme.
However, these are the TRUE ways premium themes will differ from one and another:
a. Theme marketing
The copy I mentioned above works on your mind. Yet, everyone who tries to sell a theme uses some form of advanced copy that’s probably proven to convert leads. How do you know which messages to trust?
b. Theme initial look
Yes, the way a premium theme looks at first is a huge part of what makes one different from the next. The header size, page tab style, sidebar contents, etc. But let me ask you this: are you going to keep everything how it is? Not a chance. If you’re at all an individual, or maybe you have a picture in your head how you want your blog to look, you’ll be changing this initial design a lot.
c. Theme pricing
Pricing strategies really come into play with premium themes. Ever heard of premium pricing? Here’s how this works. The vendor will set their theme priced artificially high to encourage favorable perceptions among buyers. That means people think the theme rocks because it’s so expensive (and mainly only because it’s expensive). This works with premium themes, because people are often willing to pay that extra amount. It’s a (hopefully) one time purchase, and a good theme can make a blog really profit, right? Not exactly. What will make your blog profitable is the content, and how you promote your blog. A premium theme priced at $60? That’s too much.
d. The story
If a theme vendor can really weave a great story into their themes, you’ll be more likely to feel connected with them and eventually purchase their theme.
e. Who already uses the theme:
Who uses a theme may ultimately be the biggest decider (even more important than price) because a lot of time when we buy a theme we buy an image. We want our blogs to function like a blog we’ve had our eyes on. Just remember, you can edit nearly any premium theme to look how you want. It’s all about the forum.
It’s these upfront features that separate one premium theme from the next. The meat and bones, like the actual coding, are very much the same.
Of course, the vendor throws all their weight at you pre-purchase. Your sale is their life, perhaps their dinner. The problem is, once you’ve paid, the vendor often times leaves you in the dust.
Why I chose Theme Junkie for my premium WordPress theme
Now that we’ve established that the differences between premium themes lie mainly in how the are marketed, we can move on to which theme is optimal to transition your free-themed blog.
I honestly think I got lucky choosing Theme Junkie. I picked a really nice group of people. Theme Junkie isn’t the largest theme seller at all but that means they care. They work extremely hard on their themes to make sure you’re satisfied. They’re about as far from a Theme-Walmart as you could get.
These are the reason thousands of bloggers, including myself, have joined Theme Junkie:
Let’s face it: cost usually trumps all. At Theme Junkie you get three premium themes at a reasonable price. You can even search for discount coupons on the web.
- Easy to upload
Theme Junkie gives you simple dashboard where you view your purchased themes and quickly download them to your computer. Check out my screenshot below with the ugly red circle.
- Easy to modify
I’ve talked to my blogging colleagues who’ve downloaded themes then been left in the dust after sending off their money. Not with Theme Junkie. They come with an award winning forum where I put often several times a day. And by the way, I’ve never been an avid forum user. Ask any question on headers, images, fonts, code, whatever and you’ll have an answer soon. Check out my recent question!
- Responsive customer service
When something needs fixin’ at Theme Junkie they help right away. If you clicked on my question above you’ll see the insanely fast response time to my issue. Additionally any time Theme Junkie updates their themes they give you a full walk through of new features.
- Professional look
If you haven’t gather from my above points, most of us buy a premium theme to make our blogs more professional. With a Theme Junkie theme you can make your blog look as professional or casual as you want. The forum really helps here.
- Technologically advanced
Theme Junkie uses the latest php standards to compose beautiful themes that fit nearly any bloggings goals. They even work with WordPress developers to make sure things always run smoothly!
- Custom CSS
Theme Junkie comes with this modern feature called Custom CSS. When you want to change the code, instead of finding that exact place to paste new code into, you just drop it into this little window (see below) and the code starts working right away. My Custom CSS box is massive!
- Good transition for beginners
I can hear you now, “I’m not a beginner!” Well, I certainly didn’t have a clue about PHP files when I bought my first Theme Junkie theme. Theme Junkie is a good transition if you only know a bit of HTML and CSS because their themes don’t come with complex addons and weird structural requirements. They are simple. If you’d like, they’ll help you get all complex.
If nothing else you have my firm vote of confidence in the prestige behind Theme Junkie themes. As a skeptical, picky person I have been utterly content at Theme Junkie and see them helping my blogging needs well into the years to come.
How to upload a new WordPress theme
This post wouldn’t be complete without quick how to on uploading blog themes.
Uploading your first premium theme is an exciting moment, and it’s pretty darn easy. You first have to download the zip file of your theme. This .zip file contains all the individual .php and .css files that compose your new theme.
Here’s what your available themes look like in Theme Junkie:
I know what you’re wondering, “Can I download theme more than once?” Yes! If you like how the theme operates and feels, you can upload it onto any other blogs you use.
Once you’ve downloaded the zip, just go to Appearance » Themes » Install Themes. Then search for your file, find it, hit “Install Now”, then hit “Activate”. Your theme will be working straight away.
Another nice caveat
So I made my point here, I hope. The reason that premium themes are largely the same is because they all consist of a set of files. What makes a theme standout is the service after the purchase. A great way this takes place is in the Theme Junkie forums.
But, there’s something else worth mentioning.
If you really, really, really, don’t like touching code, and yet you do want to get yourself a premium theme and make it look nice, you’ll enjoy the custom CSS feature of Theme Junkies.
Custom CSS is a little window you can paste pieces of code into. Any code pasted there, as long as it makes sense, will overwrite the code within your original Theme files.
Above is my Custom CSS. The amount of code in there is a ton. If I were to select it all and delete it, my blog would probably look roughly like it did when I first uploaded the theme. Needless to say, I would not be too pleased.
As a general rule of thumb, always back up your theme code files, and back up any section of code you seem to editing and relying upon a lot. Just use a Google Doc or simple text file.
Conclusion: Are you ready, is it worth it?
Perhaps you’re ready to make that leap to premium WordPress theme. If you are, I hope my review of some benefits of Theme Junkie helps you. They’re a truly nice, rare find on the web these days.
And in all honesty, that Custom CSS feature makes my life SO much easier.
And a bonus of choosing Theme Junkie is you can ask my any question you want on modifying or installing your Theme. I don’t work for Theme Junkie, don’t worry, just a user like the next guy.
Request from you: I really want to hear about your experience with premium themes. More specifically, have you had success on free themes? Has buying a premium theme helped your blogging, and if so in what ways? Let me know in the comments and share your experience.