How To Start A Blog: Pick a WordPress Theme
Having shared 5 not-really-easy-but-mostly-worth-it steps to becoming a successful blogger, I’m sure you’re ready to jump in the deep end of the pool. And by deep end, I mean the dreaded task of picking a blogging theme. As I mentioned in my last HTBASB post, there are 3 popular platforms for blogs these days: Squarespace, WordPress.com and a self-hosted blog with the WordPress.org free platform. While my favorite of the three is self-hosting, you’ll be glad to know that my 3 favorite theme makers have premium themes available (not free) for both WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
A note about WordPress.com vs .org: If you have purchased a domain name and have signed up for web hosting, you probably already have access to WordPress.org. Most web hosts offer WordPress as a one-click install. Better yet, I suggest using a host that is dedicated to WordPress, like my good friends over at Flywheel, who are not sponsoring this post. Once you get WordPress installed, you can upload a theme and begin to play. If you need help on the tech side of things, schedule some IAMTHELAB Time with me and I’ll get you all set up. OK, on to the theme makers!
My 3 favorite theme makers are: Elmastudio, Pixelgrade and Themes Kingdom. Of the 3, I’ve used both Elmastudio and Themes Kingdom personally and have admired and followed Pixelgrade for a while. All 3 design easy-to-use themes at competitive prices. I’ll dig into each, one at a time.
What they say about themselves: “Pixelgrade is a design studio made by thinkers and makers who create beautiful WordPress themes that solve real digital problems for more than seven years. Over 53K people from all over the world use and love our products, mostly because it helps them stand out from the crowd by expressing their unique personality. Today, we have a strong focus on developing solutions for creatorsfrom a wide range of niches and industries, such as bloggers, DIY artists, designers, writers, web developers, marketers, travelers, photographers, and so on.”
What I say about them: Pixelgrade has an interesting mix of themes, with some of their newer themes being the standouts. The two themes that really WOW me are Julia and Felt Mag. If you are ready to get that indie food blog going, Julia will melt your vegan cheese heart. It’s designed with recipes in mind, with a cool index feature and plenty of room for great photography. You can see an example in real-life here at Besly, a French food blog.
Of all the themes I’ll review today, one of my absolute favorites in Pixelgrade’s Feltmag theme. Seriously, I love this theme. It’s a magazine style theme and is so visually appealing. Readers will love the easy-on-the-eyes post layout and sweet related post feature. Spend some time in the demo and tell my you don’t love this gorgeous thing. Here’s the theme in real life: Hegveg.
Of the three theme makers that I’ve picked as favs, Pixelgrade is the most expensive. You can choose to buy a single theme itself or to pick up all the themes for a one-time fee. If you are looking for a blog with fresh and on-trend design aesthetics, give Pixelgrade a look.
What they say about themselves: “Making themes was our hobby at first. Turns out people loved them. One thing led to another and now 115,916 people use Themes Kingdom wordpress themes every day.
We grew to love making sites for entrepreneurs. For the frantic restaurant owner. The quiet, day-dreaming writer. The developer who’s been working 11 hours straight. The dentist with the loud laugh. We make themes for people. That save time. That are simple to use. That are easy to customize.”
What I say about theme: Ah, Themes Kingdom! This is one cool collection of WordPress themes. Sharp and sleek, this premium collection of WordPress themes is a win for the new blogger. There are themes for everyone: food writer? Yes. Fashionista? Yes indeed. Traveler? Yepper! Take a look at the selection and give these theme demos a spin.
There are a few features that I love about Themes Kingdom themes. One is that they are not bloated with page builders and other elements that can slow site speed. Another feature that I wish all theme makers would add as standard: Google Font integration. It’s a widely used and cherished add-on and I’m so happy to see that Themes Kingdom includes it with every theme.
Which theme do I recommend? Well, they have a few standouts, especially if you want to have a shop feature as a part of your blog. My pick would probably be Millennio for a blog/shop choice and the stunning Reinform for a non-shop theme. Reinform is so lovely and was my second choice when I decided to leave the world of bloated WordPress themes behind and return to a more robust old school blog layout.
As for pricing, Themes Kingdom is pretty affordable. You get access to their entire theme library for a very reasonable price. It’s good to note that Themes Kingdom, like all the theme makers mentioned in this report also offer a selection of themes in the WordPress.com directory, perfect for those who are not ready to self-host just yet.
What they say about themselves: “We are Ellen and Manuel, web designers, WordPress theme developers and bloggers here at Elmastudio. We love our work and the platform we were able to build over the last years. It’s our biggest motivation and reward to receive positive feedback from our theme users and blog readers. It makes us happy to see our themes on your websites and we love to create helpful blog posts and content for you.
We hope to make others happy with our blog posts and WordPress themes. If you are having just a little bit more fun and feel motivated when reading our blog posts or using our themes, we are so honored. We want to thank you all for your consistent support, feedback, and motivation over the years. We know that we would not be able to do our work without you.”
What I say about them: I LOVE ELMASTUDIO. That is all.
No seriously, I’ve been a fan of Ellen and Manuel since forever and have used so many of their themes over the years. I’ve used and modified their themes for clients who have loved what these WordPress themes have to offer. These two tireless creatives have continued to astound me with their love for WordPress and their desire to create themes that are easy to use and affordable. They also offer their themes as a 1 year subscription at just under $55 US, making them the most affordable of the trio. I can’t say enough about these themes and when I decided to update my blog to a more easy-to-use model, they were my first choice.
While their entire collection, including their newest theme Pukeko, is primo, my hands-down favorite is the UKU blog system. UKU comes in a few different flavors and is so incredibly versatile, you are bound to find a version that works for you. There’s even a lovely Woocommerce ready version that I am modifying for one of my clients right now.
Ellen and Manuel makes sure that you are not alone in your WordPress journey. They’ve created video tutorials for many of their themes and I find their theme documentation to be one of the easiest to use. They also have a dedicated support forum (as does Themes Kingdom) that is quick and responsive. Want to see their themes in action? Check out their incredible showcase. IAMTHELAB readers can save 10% on an Elmastudio subscription with code ELMATHEME10.
With 3 great theme makers to choose from, you are bound to find one that works for you. Remember, the biggest hurdle to overcome when blogging is getting started. Take a look at these 3 theme makers and tell me what you think in the comments below. Need help getting started? Schedule some time to chat.
p.s.: If any of you three WordPress theme makers want to throw me a discount for iamthelab.com readers, drop me a note at brett(at)iamthelab.com and I’ll update the post accordingly.
Post updated 02.21.2020