Free WordPress Themes – Beware of the Lure of “Free”

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There’s an old saying that goes, “when you get something for free, you get what you paid for.”

And I’m sure you’ve seen it before too – someone is asking about finding a free theme, or finding free images, etc.

In fact, I was in a conversation with someone who was looking to get started with a podcast on their WordPress website recently, and they asked, “Where can I find good free music to use for my podcast?”

My immediate response was, “why are you looking for free stuff when there is great podcast-safe music to use?”

Trying to do stuff cheap is nothing new. And I get it – we all work hard for our money so we can all be a little hesitant to shell out our hard-earned dough for a premium theme, or to license music, or images for our site.

But when it comes to “free” there is always a cost, so you have to think carefully about what you’re doing.

This is especially true when it comes to “free” WordPress themes.

If you’re looking for a free theme to get started, you really need to look no further than those that come as part of your core WordPress download.

They look great, they’re built well, they can be used in a variety of ways, and they’re a great jumping-off point for getting started with your new WordPress blog. The whole point of these themes is to give you something great to start with.

If the core WordPress themes are good enough for John Saddington and his blog, then they’re likely good enough for any of us to get started.

But I understand – you want more. I get that.

Free themes are incredibly risky so be careful what you’re getting yourself in to.

Free WordPress themes can include a bunch of stuff you don’t want in your site, like hidden spammy links, junk code, and more. And whatever you do – don’t install a free WordPress theme that you found a Google search unless you’re begging for trouble.

Even in a best-case scenario, a free WordPress theme isn’t going to be supported even if it’s not full of garbage, so it’s best to stick with those that are part of WordPress core, and forget the rest.

And that’s just for free WordPress themes.

When it comes to creative assets, you have to be just as careful.

You can run in to serious trouble when you use stuff that you found in a Google search for “free [insert WordPress asset here]”.

So the simple solution is to invest in your site and put down a few bucks to get the right solution for your site.

When you use a premium tool you’re making a commitment.

You commit when you purchase. You’ve got skin in the game. I know – commitment can be scary sometimes, but rest assured. You’re going to be much better off by using your subscription to Adobe Stock, or Shockwave Sound to get your creative assets.

And yes – there are great free sources too, like Unsplash, so I don’t want to discount that. But the selections are so much more broad when you’ve either purchased a stock file, or have a subscription to stock service.

You tell the world you care about your site.

When you invest in a premium theme, or premium podcast music, you’re telling the world you’re taking what you’re doing seriously, so it will mean that visitors will take you more seriously too.

You get support when you need it.

When you take the plunge and invest in your site the premium asset will also come with support. Whether it’s just downloading the file properly, or getting your new premium theme installed, there will be someone there to help. And that’s a big deal.

You’re protected by the right license.

There’s no ambiguity when you’ve purchased a license to use someone else’s creative work. Not only are you supporting their work by paying for it, but you’re also protecting yourself. There are horror stories about how image services are suing bloggers for using their content. Don’t find yourself in a grey area.

I know there is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to getting started with your new WordPress blog. However, setting yourself up for success by making wise choices is what you want to do. Show the world that you’re committed to building a great site, or a great podcast, or a great whatever, by taking seriously the decisions you have to make when it comes to free stuff. Like I mentioned at the beginning, when it comes to free stuff you always get what you pay for.