The rules and prescriptions of online behavior and presence are changing daily. Ten or fifteen years ago, written text was a must-have. Today, the focus is shifting to multimedia content, with photography, audio and especially video as the hottest and most desirable formats. But no matter the fast pace at which consumer habits develop, it seems that text is here to stay. There will always be people who prefer reading to other forms of content. Plus, text has advantage over audio and video because it allows us to consume it while riding a bus or sitting through that boring meeting every Wednesday. It’s seamless, discrete, gracious, and precious.
So, the bloggers who still actually write have no reason to be afraid. A good blog will always find an audience, assuming it manages to break through the digital noise. For that, you need a decent website. Chances are that yours is powered by WordPress, the world’s most flexible and popular content management system. And if WordPress is your website’s engine, a WordPress theme is its body with different limbs, functions, and looks.
Typically, you would have to pay for a good WordPress theme. However, there are plethora of free themes, as well as free portions of premium themes with limited functionality. If you can’t spare a few dozen bucks for a premium option, you can still find a decent free one. Just make sure to upgrade it to premium as soon as you are able to squeeze it into your budget.
How to Install a Free WordPress Theme
The process of changing your WordPress theme is very simple and has a few easy steps.
- Paste your website URL into the search bar and add the /wp-admin suffix after the URL. So, for example, if your URL is mywebsite.com, you need to type in mywebsite.com/wp-admin That is a way to access your user dashboard in WordPress.
- On the left, you will find the “Appearance” option. When you hover over it, it will show the “Themes” option. In there, you will find a search bar. Type in the name of the theme you want to install. Or, if you still haven’t decided which one you would like the most, you can browse through the themes.
- Once you’ve picked a theme to install, click on its thumbnail. The “Preview”, “Install” and “Details” buttons will show up. If you go to preview, you will get to see how your website would look with the theme at hand. When you are ready, hit “Install” and that’s it!
Note that this only pertains to the themes available in WordPress.org theme repository. If you found a theme elsewhere, you will need to download the theme’s zip file, and then upload it to WordPress. In the “Themes” tab, click “Add New” and then “Upload Theme”. After the upload process is finished, you only need to click “Activate” and that’s it.
These are not the only ways of installing a theme, but they are the most common and beginner-friendly. I’ll talk about more advanced ways in one of my future blog posts, so stay tuned!
A Precaution Tip
There are thousands of people who develop themes for WordPress. They make them available either through huge theme repositories, or on their portfolio websites. However, not all of those themes are safe to use. Some of them are safe but come with various glitches and bugs that the creators either don’t know how or don’t want to fix. So, when looking for a free theme, make sure you only use the official WordPress.org theme repository. They only include themes that are thoroughly tested both by software and WordPress developers. That way, you won’t be in for bad surprises.
Top 14 Best Free WP Themes for Bloggers
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From a single look at this theme demo, it’s hard to tell that it comes free of charge. A stylish mix of visuals and copy is laid out very professionally, so that neither distracts the viewer from the other. The written content is very easy to read thanks to the crisp typography. The theme is multipurpose, but it will perform best for blogging. Arrange the blog page by using one of the pre-built layouts, including grid, offset, default, alternate, and masonry.
You can also build a separate portfolio page in case you want to display your work, as well as a shop page, in case you have things to sell. If you need, you can also use widgets like contact form, price table and call to action button. The visual CSS editor will let you make and preview design changes in real time. Last but not least – this theme gets updates regularly, which is especially important where safety and clean code are concerned for a blogging WordPress theme.
If you want your blog to look like a magazine, Maxwell might be a perfect option for you. It comes with two different sidebar layouts, so you can display your content with focus on readability or text alignment. You will also get a post slider that shows both a portion of your post and its featured image, in an elegant and non-obtrusive way that does justice both to your text and the visuals.
If you don’t want a sidebar, you can choose a full-width template. This theme is also very fast to load, which is vitally important, since Google is becoming more and more rigorous at penalizing slow sites. Finally, it’s responsive, which means it looks splendid on any device and across all browsers.
Travel or lifestyle bloggers will find this theme very appealing to the eye. Even though it puts focus on the visuals, it’s still very lightweight. There are not many widgets to burden it, but it’s still highly customizable. If you want to install some of the most popular WordPress plugins such as WooCommerce for sales or Elementor, Divi, Beaver Builder for page building, feel free to do it – the theme is compatible with all of them, and more.
The Gutenberg editor makes content creation a simple and seamless process, with adding of media-rich content to blocks that you can easily move around and play with. Oh, I nearly forgot to mention – you can choose from dozen pre-built templates, so the theme is very useful to business owners, corporate blogs, portfolio websites, you name it.
Behold one of the most feature-rich WordPress themes all you bloggers can get for free. The options you will get access to include: customization of your favicon, logo, title and tagline, pagination options, breadcrumbs so your readers could easily track their progress through an article, background image and colors, boxed and full post slider. Social media sharing icons are built-in, as well as related posts, sidebar options, over 600 Google Fonts, vector-based Font Awesome icons that you can use anywhere on the site.
Now to the limitations of the free plan: you can only use the full-width layout, and you won’t be able to customize your slider animation and header styles. Even with these limitations, there’s much in store for a simple and beautiful blog with spotless typography and carefully written code behind all that.
For those who are looking for clean simplicity, Ajaira will be a perfect choice. It doesn’t offer much, but what it offers looks great. Without any noise or clutter, it puts focus on your content. Social media buttons are located in the header, which is extremely important. Sharing isn’t just caring. From the perspective of a website owner, sharing is an obligatory activity that you have to enable. If something doesn’t exist on social media, it doesn’t exist at all.
This theme offers you possibility to build a few pages, including blog and pages with or without images, with or without comments. The sidebar includes widgets such as Recent Posts, Popular Posts, Categories, Recent Comments, Archives. Enough for a content-focused blogger. Admittedly, not enough if you have wonderful visuals that you want to display.
I’ll introduce a term I’ll be using a lot in this blog post: fremium. It means you get to use a part of a premium theme for free. Of course, it has limited functionality, but most of the time it will provide all the basics. Later, when you become comfortable with the theme, you can upgrade for a fee.
So, let’s see what this freemium theme offers. Apart from having a sleek, professional design, it comes with WooCommerce compatibility. That means you will be able to install the WooCommerce plugin and turn your website into an online store, where people can buy merchandize or various services. The theme is also compatible with some of the most popular page builders, such as Elementor, Brizy, Visual Composer, Divi, Beaver Builder. The premium version, if you ever decide to upgrade to it, offers a huge number of pre-built layouts that make this theme very versatile and multipurpose.
You can build a modern, one-page website with free WordPress themes too! One of the most popular one-page themes is Shapely. It’s best for users who need rich functionality, with many visual elements to display in a sleek, pixel-perfect way. You can display all you want, without your visitors having to jump from one window or tab to another. Homepage widgets include portfolio, testimonials, parallax sections and calls for action.
Compatibility with most free and premium WordPress plugins goes without saying. The built-in Font Awesome support will allow you to use custom icons wherever you like. Tweak your colors, play around with page layouts. All in all, this is one of the most advanced free WordPress themes out there.
This is one of the themes best suited to showcasing your creativity. That makes it best for writers, authors, photographers, bloggers, or just about anyone who is addicted to content that isn’t just high in quality, but also beautiful to look at. The theme makes excellent use of contrast and spacing, so you won’t need to worry about readability. It supports Google fonts and features social menus with over 100 icons (who knew there were that many social media?!) What’s amazing about this theme is that it’s completely free and yet it offers a plethora of customizations.
Choose from three page layouts (with or without sidebar) and three types of dropdown menu. The use of microformats and microdata contributes to your SEO, relieving you of part of that huge workload.
Let’s see some numbers first. This theme is one of the most popular and best rated themes on WordPress.org. With over 70,000 active installations and nearly 600 user reviews, all of which award it 5 out of 5 stars, it’s definitely a winning choice for all bloggers out there. As a result, it’s being updated on a regular basis, so there’s nothing to fear about in terms of safety and bugs.
It will lay out your content in an elegant, obtrusion-free way, with posts aligned in masonry grid with infinite scrolling, classical grid or standard list. A bunch of pre-built layouts lets you position the sidebar to the left or right, or eliminate it altogether. The theme is engagement and traffic oriented. If you opt to upgrade to the premium version, you will get a plethora of customizations including fancy sliders, dark and light skins, and more.
Don’t let this preview’s corporate look trick you. You are looking at one of the most customizable and versatile themes that almost everybody can adapt to any imaginable purpose. Even with the free plan, you will have plenty of room to make the theme your own, different from the rest of 50,000 installations all over the internet.
Choose from five front page header designs, video or slideshow backgrounds, header overlay and separators, three header layout options. Your page can have over 30 content sections. Plus, you can set up separate about and features sections, portfolio, testimonials and team, contact form sections, as well as widgetized footer. The fancy parallax background will make your homepage look stylish and modern.
Clean, minimal, with a creative and playful touch – that’s the essence of this WordPress theme. It’s wonderful for niches such as travel, lifestyle, fashion, photography, tech, food, marketing. It supports the Gutenberg editor, which treats your content as blocks that you can arrange at your will. The “Lite” tag in the name speaks truth about the theme’s loading speed, even though one wouldn’t expect that considering its media-rich nature.
You will be able to take advantage of the SEO compatibility that will help your site’s search rankings, built-in social sharing and even Instagram feed, custom author, social & post widgets, boxed or full-width site layout, site carousel layout variations. The theme is also compatible with some of the most popular WordPress plugins such as Jetpack, Contact Form 7, Mailchimp, Yoast SEO, Amp, and more.
Those who like to keep it dark and minimal will fall in love with this theme. There aren’t myriads of customization options – just enough to make the theme your own, not enough to waste your time on minutiae that you don’t even need. The theme is masonry by default, which means it will align your posts in the Pinterest-like style of grid layout with columns in rows that don’t have fixed height. The focus will be on your written content, with or without images, as you like. It’s perfect if you have contributors, since it offers an option to showcase them with their avatars, descriptions and social links.
Another great thing is that it supports nine post formats – gallery slideshow, video and audio players, links and quotes with custom content areas. You don’t have to use the header image – feel free to upload your own and add another touch of personality. The theme is responsive and retina-ready, which means it will look beautiful on just about any device, your iPad included.
Beauty is in simplicity – how many times have you heard people saying that? And it’s true far more often than not. The theme is great for blogs, classic news websites, online editorial magazines, affiliate review websites. You can either use the white space to reduce noise and give your readers some breathing room, or to place ad banners and make money using image or video advertising.
You can adjust the design to be dark, white, minimal, boxed, flat, clean or advanced. Numerous sidebar widgets are there to make sure that you can display any content. Above all, the focus is on minimalism as the latest fad in the website industry.
Are you focused on building a powerful personal brand? If the answer is yes, this theme is the right one for you. If you already have an audience or plan to build one, you will need to present yourself in the most professional and stylish way. This theme is a free version of the Profile theme, with limited functionality. The homepage features your picture in the center, with social media icons in a circular layout around the icon. This makes it easy to find, follow you and get in touch wherever you like to hang out. If you like, you can display a custom video header as a background on your homepage.
The WordPress customizer will let you upload, tweak and resize your logo. Any changes you might want to make will be visible in real time, so there’s no need to refresh the page all the time. The theme supports Organic Builder Widgets plugin, which will let you create dynamic page layouts. If you choose to upgrade to the premium version, you will get tons of other customizations.