FOCWhen setting up a WordPress website or a blog network, you’re probably going to look for cheap WordPress themes, at least until your project starts to pick up speed.

But grabbing free WordPress themes can be a bit of a gamble, security-wise. (This blog from WPMU.dev explains why you should avoid free WordPress themes from unreliable sources.)

So what’s the solution? Premium WordPress themes. Some premium themes are very expensive, but if you know where to look, you can grab some really nice WordPress templates for a very low cost: sometimes, premium theme sites offer free taster theme packs too.

Premium themes do still require a certain amount of customisation, and each one has different quirks and options, so buying a premium WordPress theme isn’t necessarily a ticket to a hassle-free WordPress setup. However, a good theme will get you most of the way there.

133 Free WordPress themes from WPMU Dev

WPMU Dev specialises in WordPress themes and plugins, so the free theme pack is a no-brainer. Sign up for a free account, and you’ll be able to download the WPMU Dev Farms 133 Theme Pack as one handy zip file.

Admittedly some of these WordPress themes are fairly commonly used, but if you’re careful, you should find one that suits your site. Just be careful not to pick a theme your competitors might be using.

The package is quite general, but it’s a great way to populate your theme gallery in the early days. In addition, if you host other people’s sites under a blog network, grab the Pro Sites plugin to resell the themes as upgrades.

  • Advanced users – such as people using BuddyPress or multisite installs – might want to look into WPMU Dev’s premium themes. Users can buy individual premium themes, plugins and more. Individual WordPress themes and plugins are priced at $19 each, and there’s a vast amount of choice.
  • There’s also a subscription option costing $79 per month. This is admittedly an expensive option, but it gives users unlimited access to more than 140 plugins, 160 themes and premium support. The membership fee is sometimes discounted to half-price, so it’s worth keeping an eye on the site for offers.

77 Cheap WordPress themes from Elegant Themes

Most theme packs are fairly expensive, but Elegant Themes offers a low-cost alternative to premium theme packs.

For $39 (roughly £24), users get 77 themes plus access to new additions and upgrades. Subscriptions renew annually.

For 30p per theme, you can’t really go wrong.

Each theme pack comes in two parts: the theme (which can be uploaded directly into your WordPress install as a .zip file), plus a set of PSD files. Downloading themes is a fairly cumbersome option; the download links are hidden in pop-up menus. I had to manually download 156 files to grab all the themes I’d paid for (including premium WordPress themes, a Tumblr theme and a few plugin files), which involved no less than 312 clicks. However, the themes at Elegant Themes are very attractive and usable.

Each theme comes with a very flexible control panel, including in-built SEO options. Within an hour, I had a working version of the Nimble theme on our new sister website, TechnicalBlogger.co.uk. I did notice a glitch in the slider area, but I wasn’t planning to use it anyway.

If you have any problems, Elegant Themes offers active support forums for every theme in their database.

Premium WordPress themes from ThemeForest

If you don’t need to buy WordPress themes in bulk, it’s probably going to be cheaper to select one premium theme and customise it as necessary.

I’ve used ThemeForest before and can recommend the quality of themes and the support. The website is fantastic, with statistics about each theme, social sharing buttons, developer portfolios and more.

ThemeForest offers more than 2,200 WordPress themes, and you can sort them by date, rating, price and type. It’s a bit tricky to evaluate themes in the default list format, since the thumbnail view doesn’t give you much to go on. However, themes are categorised well, so it is possible to quickly locate themes and whittle down the most suitable ones for your blog. You can also bookmark them to refer to later.

Theme support is provided through an email form rather than a forum system. When I had to contact a theme developer, I got a reply back within a few days. Obviously all developers will be different, but there’s room to comment if you find that the support provision isn’t up to scratch.

More Resources

Got any more theme recommendations? Tell us in the comments box below.

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Claire Broadley

Technical writer, blogger, and editor at Red Robot Media
Claire Broadley is a freelance technical blogger for Red Robot Media. She works on technical and business blogs. If you'd like Claire to write for you, contact Red Robot Media now.
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