Starting a business is never easy. It always comes at a cost, and that can be a huge problem at the beginning, while you’re still groping in the darkness. Therefore, most people opt to keep the cost as low as possible. Thankfully, in the digital era there are myriads of things you can use for free. When it comes to your website, WordPress is free to use, and there are thousands of free WordPress themes for a huge variety of niches.
Of course, all free things come with a catch. And free WordPress themes can come with many catches. There’s a number of reasons why you shouldn’t hesitate to shell out bucks for a premium, paid theme. In most cases, paid themes come with regular security updates, bug fixes, constant user support. Plus, they are heavily customizable and non-generic, so your website wouldn’t look exactly like the next one. Last but not least, free themes won’t handle a large number of plugins easily. If you overload them, it might easily affect your page load speed – and Google won’t appreciate that.
But if your budget is low, you don’t have much choice. Get a free theme for the time being, and plan your investment ahead so purchasing a premium theme would be on top of your priorities in the future.
Let’s consider the potential advantages of free themes, and then I’ll recommend you my top 14 free great WordPress themes for writers. If you’re able and willing to pay for a premium WordPress theme for writers, check out the top ten options that I outlined in my earlier blog post.
Why Use Free WordPress Themes?
- They are good for WordPress beginners. Even though WordPress is known for its ease of use, premium themes still have a learning curve. A free theme will get you the basic experience with the platform. If you don’t like one theme, you can switch to the next free of charge, without any strings attached. With a premium theme, it’s not that simple. Having paid money, you will be stuck with the theme you bought if the seller doesn’t offer free returns.
- Free themes won’t overwhelm you with gazillions of features. Good paid themes usually come with a bunch of integrated plugins – which is a great thing, but can easily overwhelm a newbie.
- Some free WordPress themes are made by official WordPress developers and designers. Nowadays, everyone can practice their coding skills by creating a free WordPress theme. However, you should know better than to use just any free theme you come upon. Make sure you use a theme available on the official WordPress theme repository.
How to Get a Premium Theme for Free?
Here’s a nice tip on how to have your cake and eat it too. ThemeForest, one of the largest repositories of WordPress themes, promotionally offers a number of premium themes available for free download. Every month they shift the themes included in the promotion. That means you can get for free a theme that normally costs dozens of dollars.
Top 14 Free WordPress Themes for Creative Writers
This theme comes with four post formats: the standard post, post with a featured image above, the aside format for short updates, and the quote format. The color and header image are customizable, which means you can change them to reflect your own purpose. Hemingway won’t overwhelm either you or your readers with too many elements. It emphasizes the text, accentuating the beautiful and elegant typography. You will be able to keep everything simple and straight to the point.
Have you ever heard of the so-called “fremium” themes? They are actually premium themes that are available for free with a limited functionality, with little to no widgets, plugins and other tools and elements. Monstroid 2 Lite is a simplified version of the premium Monstroid 2 theme, so you can try it out and consider unlocking tons of more features at a price. But let’s see what you get free of charge: live customizer that lets you observe any changes you make in real time and access to Google fonts.
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Social media are the life and blood of any project nowadays, and the creators of this theme know it. The social media buttons are available right in the header, with easy customization options that let you add a logo, change fonts, control the spacing between the icons and other elements. The theme is compatible with all browsers and is responsive. It has a widget for easy embedding of videos from Youtube, Vimeo and other platforms. Plus, the theme gets updates pretty frequently. I like to see when someone keeps taking care of their project, even if they don’t monetize it.
Clutter is a writer’s worst enemy. This theme will have none of it – its light and white appearance will emphasize the text, without distracting elements. Since SEO optimization is a must these days, the SEO friendly fast code will mean a lot. Choose from sidebar or full-width templates. If you really like it, there’s also an affordable premium version, with more features and customization options.
Just like all writers know, sometimes less is more. This theme really shows it. Your content will really get exposure with it. And you will set up your website in no time – this theme makes it super easy. The theme offers a single column layout with large text, full-width images, one custom menu in the header. If you want, you can create a profile in Gravatar and the theme will pull it from there. Needless to say, the theme is responsive, so your visitors will be able to access it from their mobiles, tablets, or desktop computers.
The creators of this theme boast of clean code that accounts for a great page loading speed. They put most effort in making sure that the theme is optimized for Google and Bing, two most frequently used search engines. Moreover, the header image is customizable, and there are a few widgets that you can use to further personalize the website. You can use this theme for a writer’s blog, but also journal, magazine, news, fashion, photography, travel, etc.
A theme with post format support, it will let you choose from a post without images, a video post, a quote post, a post with a gallery, an audio post, a standard post. It means you can have a wide range of possibilities to offer your readers. The design is crisp and beautiful to look at, with unlimited color options available in the theme customizer. You can customize both the theme’s case colors and the individual post colors. Besides, let’s not forget the social media buttons, which are also customizable.
Coming from the author of the popular Hemingway theme, Lovecraft is another nice theme for writers and bloggers. The two-column design will display your text in an elegant, easily readable way. It’s a simple concept focused on typography and clean looks, without any distractions. You are probably aware that you can’t expect hundreds of features in a free theme. Here, you can customize the header image, your logo, the theme colors, and you can optionally use four widgets.
Classic and sophisticated, this theme is for people who admire simplicity and stylish typography. It will showcase your longform writing in a beautiful way, so the readers will enjoy delving into it. Even though it focuses on written content, it will also do justice to your photos if you have them. Feel free to customize the background and logo, as well as add social media icons. The footer includes four optional widget areas. In addition to that, you can easily create pull quotes, as well as drop-cap and first-line effects for your paragraphs. Large images will perform best, but the theme will adapt even smaller ones to fit nicely.
Do you want to make a website without images that still looks almost perfect? Hayley is a good choice for you. It’s a two-column theme with custom header and background, custom menus, social icons and featured images (if you have any). The lack of widgets and fancy visual elements should account for a great loading speed of your website’s pages.
Present your work or create a sleek-looking portfolio with this theme. Just like its name says, its main focus is on responsiveness, which is one of the main concerns of any website today. You can use it for news magazine, affiliate blog, blogging site, landing page, corporate business website, photography, creative portfolio, fashion or travel – many possibilities for something that comes free of charge. The fact that it’s available for download on WordPress.org Theme Repository confirms that it’s a safe theme to use, and thoroughly tested by WordPress developers.
The name mention news and magazines, but those are not the theme’s sole purpose. Whether you write about fashion, photography, lifestyle, travel or entertainment, the theme will do justice to your written and visual content alike. It works well across all devices and has convenient sidebar widgets that let you use ads to monetize your blog. The clean design and elegant typography will make your content shine.
A free theme can hardly get any more modern than Pepper. You can build your website by creating and manipulating different modules to best suit your agency, blog, fashion, photography, products, or corporate website. The front-end editor is a feature not so common in free themes. It will let you modify different elements and modules right on the page, observing the effects as they come, in real time. But that’s not the end of your options: you can customize those three and create your own. Choose from any of the integrated Google fonts.
Give your website a surprisingly modern and sleek look without having to pay a dime. It has a slider, social buttons in the header, five post layouts, as well as a live customizer so you don’t have to reload the page to see the effect of your changes. That’s a lot of features for a free theme! I’m not sure why the creators call it corporate – it doesn’t really strike me as a cold and generic theme. On the contrary, it offers a cozy, warm and personalized experience.