21 Best WordPress Themes for Income Blogs

best-wordpress-themesIf you’ve chosen WordPress to run your blog, you’re going to need a theme.

If you haven’t decided on WordPress, you should read this now. 

Deciding on a theme is an important step in starting your blog. If you choose a good designer, you can save yourself a lot of time and have an amazing looking site.

In this post, you’ll learn the following:

  • what a WordPress theme is
  • why you need a premium theme
  • 6 factors to consider when buying a premium theme
  • best premium themes in each category (4)
  • the 21 best WordPress themes for income blogs
  • what a WordPress Framework is

What is a WordPress Theme?

A theme is what will make your WordPress site different from the rest. On it’s own, WordPress doesn’t look that nice. It does work well – but without a nice theme there is almost no visual appeal. The theme controls colors, sidebars, menus, fonts – basically everything to do with design and navigation.

What do I do with a theme? After you setup your hosting, you will install WordPress. From inside of your WordPress dashboard you’ll go to the following tabs: “Appearance >> Themes”. Then you can choose to “Upload” your newly purchased theme (in the same zipped folder you downloaded it in). Once it is uploaded you can then activate it. Of course, you should always backup your current site before experimenting with your new theme. I recommend BlogVault for site backups. It really is that simple.

When you install WordPress with your web host you’ll get a few free themes. They aren’t awful and they will work. But as you are building a business – and not just a hobby blog – you will need to consider three factors.

Why You Need a Premium Theme

  1. Ability to customize: This is important for monetization and conversion. Premium themes allow high levels of customization: text (size, color and font), placement of images, subscription boxes, and ads, etc. If you can’t customize, you are limited in site adjustments to improve conversion, navigation and monetization.
  2. Navigation: Users won’t stay on your site very long if it is confusing and they can’t find what they want. Design improves your readability.
  3. Branding: Site design can instill either confidence or doubt in your prospects minds.

6 Factors To Consider When Buying a Premium Theme

  1. Package Deals: Don’t get duped by offers to get 5 (or 30) themes in a package. How many themes do you really need? It is better to pay more for a great single theme – then get 20 lower-end themes that you will never use.
  2. Updates: How long will you get free updates? Some offer six months or one year of free updates. Then you’ll have to pay again. If they offer an option for lifetime updates – go for that and get it out of the way up front.
  3. Flexibility: Does your theme allow customization? While it might be all you need now, what about in 3 or 6 months?
  4. Try the Demo: Most developers offer a demo function of each theme. Some offer working test versions of the site – while others actually allow you to log in and see what the back-end dashboard is actually like.
  5. Ability to Upgrade: The best developers allow you to buy an entry level package and then upgrade later. This helps your cash flow – and helps you be sure that it is what you want before you invest a lot of money.
  6. Support: This is pretty important. Do you get access to an active user forum? And a way to submit a support ticket to the developers when you have a problem? The other thing to consider is the themes popularity. If there are lots of users, then you’ll find lots of support videos and blog posts explains how to do everything. For example, the Thesis community is amazing and huge. The theme is used by many tech and marketing people – which means they are concerned about appearance and they also create lots of tutorials and videos about it.

Best WordPress Themes: Top 4

If you want to save yourself some time (and not read the whole 2300+ word post), here are the top options in each category:

  • Best Premium Theme: Thesis. Pros: Most versatile theme and best customer service. Cons: A little pricey (professional version).
  • Best “No Coding” Theme: StudioPress. Pros: Install and start blogging today. Cons: A little less customizable than Thesis.
  • Best App Themes: Templatic. Pros: More app themes than anyone else. Inexpensive. Cons: Occasional typos and grammar errors.
  • Best Photography Themes: Graph Paper Press. Pros: Makes your photos look amazing. Cons: Limited areas for display advertising.

premium-wordpress-themes

Ready to get started? Here are the best WordPress themes that we’ve seen so far:

21 Best Premium WordPress Theme Developers

The theme that we are currently using on all of our sites is Thesis. It is also the most expensive theme that we’ve seen (if you buy the Professional Plan at $197). We’ve used countless other themes and this one is the best. In this list, I refer to Framework a number of times. See section at the end of the post for more information.

  1. thesis-premium-wordpress-themeThesis Framework by DIY Themes: {Single theme with skin options} {$87-$197} This is the best theme that we’ve used. It is fast, stable and flexible. Below the list see the full set of available skins for this theme. All three of our main sites are built on Thesis: this one, CultureSponge and GringosAbroad.
  2. studiopress-wordpressframeworkGenesis Framework with StudioPress: {52 skins built on Genesis Framework} {$79.95 – 99.95 for one theme with Genesis} This is a great option if you want to avoid all programming and coding. While you do give up a little flexibility, with the variety of skins available this shouldn’t be a problem. I have tested this framework thoroughly and it is definitely my second choice for site development. Interested to try Genesis but not sure how how to get started? Check out the free Genesis Guide for Absolute Beginners (PDF 1.4MB). Note: Download begins immediately.
  3. graphpaperpress-wordpresspremiumGraph Paper Press: {51 themes, the majority are responsive} {$79 each or $149 for all} I have always like these themes – they minimalist design with focus on graphics. They cater to photographers and business owners with business (5), e-commerce (7), news (17), photography (46), portfolio (44), sell media (7) and video (22) styled themes. They have 13 free themes.
  4. headwaythemes-frameworkHeadway Framework: {One Framework} {$59 – $199} With the entry level plan ($59) you don’t get any templates. At $99 you get one template and can install on up to three sites. Additional templates (themes) start at $29. You don’t have to buy a template – you can easily create your own design with this framework.
  5. organized-themes-premiumOrganized Themes: {18 different responsive themes} {$49 for one, $89 for all themes} Organized Themes makes some beautiful designs. The focus is on design with a number of themes featuring areas for full screen images – that you provide. They are all mobile-ready, responsive designs. They offer buy-one get-one free at their entry level plan of $49. Or you can get all their themes for just $89 – with lifetime updates.
  6. wpzoom-wordpress-themesWP Zoom Themes: {53 different themes, 34 are responsive} {$75 for two, $199 for all +$19/month} WPZoom has a great selection of themes. Their 2-for-1 offer is great if you can’t decide between two themes – or if you have two blogs. The majority of their themes are responsive and they also have eCommerce, Magazine, Portfolio, Video and Free themes. They produce a plugin called Zoom Builder – which is very similar to a Framework but works with any theme. It comes with 10 pre-built layouts – so it’s kind of like getting 10 themes at once – and then you can customize any of them. Price for Zoom Builder ranges from $59 (one site) to $159 (20 site license).
  7. appthemes-wordpressApp Themes: {6 themes} {$99 each} While these themes have a blog function, it isn’t the reason for these themes. These WordPress themes turn your standard WordPress installation into a fully functioning web application. Choose from classifieds, job listing, coupon management, QC issue tracking, business directory and customer feedback themes. They are ready to use and monetize. One of these themes can be a business all by itself. Another feature is the AppThemes Marketplace (currently listing 125 items) selling a variety of plugins and child themes for the main themes on the site. These add-ons are developed and sold by the community. This is a great way to extend the function of your site.
  8. templatic-wordpress-themesTemplatic Themes: {66 themes} {$39 – $99} I’ve used a number of these themes and I like them. 37 of the themes are application themes (things like city guide, restaurant guide, yellow pages, daily deals, vacation rental, hotel booking, real estate, author, event, appointment, job board, reviews, answers, price compare, and e-product). These themes are great for niche pages. Templatic has a “test this theme” feature for each theme. It allows you to log into the actual theme and see how it works. You can customize it and see just what can be done.
  9. themifyme-wordpresspremiumThemify.me: {42 themes, 31 are responsive} {$49 for one, $79 for all} I like the variety and cleanness of these designs. They cover the standard types of themes: ecommerce, magazine, multimedia, responsive, restaurants and blog. Themify has a 2-for-1 deal on all of their themes and they offer 3 free themes.
  10. themetrust-wordpressThemeTrust:  {21 themes, 14 are responsive} {$49 each} If you have amazing photography then these themes might be perfect. Fast loading and clean design helps keep the focus on your content. Right now, I’m liking Baylie and Ink. They frequently offer “buy one get one free”.
  11. colorlabs-wordpressthemesColorLabs Themes: {53 themes} {$59 – $79 each or $99 for all} A nice set of app themes (business directory, events, job directory, real estate, travel, classifieds and restaurants), ecommerce, blogging, photography themes. If you are a photographer – you need to check out the free Lensa theme.
  12. rockettheme-premiumRocketTheme: {54 different themes, {$29 for one, $99 for all} I like the variety of themes in this set. There are themes clearly built for travel, photography, magazine, and event blogs. Two the catch my eye are Lexicon and Kirigami – both heavy on photography.
  13. themespectrum-premiumTheme Spectrum: {9 responsive themes} {$49 each. Sometimes offers 50% discount code} These are beautiful themes. Clean, responsive design that showcases your best photos. Definitively worth a look.
  14. elegant-wordpress-themesElegant Themes: {87 themes, 21 are responsive} {$69 for all 87 themes} If you are planning a set of sites and blogs this looks like a great deal. With 87 themes in the package, you are going to have what you need for each site. There are app (10), blog (32), business (30), eCommerce (6), multimedia (15), personal (24), responsive (21) and tumblog (4) themes. This look very straight forward – just install, add your logo and get to work. Don’t expect to be able to do much customizing.
  15. richwp-themesRichWP Themes: {24 themes} {$69.95 each or $297 for all} This is a nice set of themes. The category that stands out the most to me is their video themes. If you are planning on producing a lot of videos – or will be vlogging – then you should take a look at RichWP. They have four distinct options. Some of their basic blog themes are very nice as well.
  16. frogsthemes-wordpressFrogsThemes: {14 themes} {$48 – $99 each} A few of their themes look outstanding. I like their Real Estate theme – we considered starting a MLS site for real estate in Ecuador and this theme looks perfect.  Buy one theme and get 75% off additional themes. They also have nice portfolio, automotive, photography and petition themes. They even have an interesting 365 theme for a daily photo project.
  17. viva-themes-premiumViva Themes: {35 themes – mostly responsive} {$45 each or $129 for all} Choose from a nice assortment of education, commerce, travel and photography themes. Great value for $45. They frequently offer “buy one get one free”.
  18. pagelines-frameworkPageLines Framework: {Framework with themes} {Framework $99, themes $59.90 – $99} I know Pagelines inside out. I used them for years before switching to Thesis last year. I like the customization of Pagelines but I found that it took real commitment to understand how it all worked. If you want control of your site – and don’t mind investing time into learning – then Pagelines might be right for you. Note: to use any of the themes you will need DMS Pro. In addition to themes, you also have access to 20 plugins that extend capability of the framework.
  19. ultimatum-premium-themeUltimatum Theme: {Single theme with endless options} {$65 – $125} I like that both options offer lifetime membership – which means that you get free updates for life. The tool is marketed as completely code-free. Their showcase section is proof of the flexibility of their framework. This is an inexpensive premium framework.
  20. inkthemes-wordpressInkThemes: {58 themes – all responsive} {$59 – $99 for one, $147 for all} Different from some of the other developers, InkThemes doesn’t just output multiple versions of the same theme. They have photography, resume, one page, eCommerce, lead generating, e-product, appointment, classifieds, video, digital product, directory, local business, real estate, affiliate marketing, and nutrition WordPress themes.
  21. woothemes-wordpressWooThemes: {52 themes, 32 which are responsive} {$99 each, $399 for all} WooThemes was one of the first premium themes that we used for our sites. I’ve always like the feel and look of theirs themes. The site management (from inside of the WordPress dashboard) is simple and intuitive. In addition to their classic themes, they also have an eCommerce plugin known as WooCommerce – which turns any blog into a functioning store.

Thesis Customization: Skin Developers

If you purchase Thesis you will get a number of free skins automatically. If you are looking for something else, you should check out these Thesis skin designers: ThemedyThesis Awesome or Kolakube.

What is a WordPress Framework?

A framework actually acts the same as a typical theme – in installation. The idea behind a framework is that it makes use of child themes. A child theme (sometimes called a skin or a template) is another level of theme that isn’t affected when the parent theme (framework) is updated. Things like colors, fonts, spacing – or any site customization – isn’t lost when the parent theme gets updated. This will save huge amounts of time with each theme update. Examples of WordPress frameworks include: Thesis, Genesis, Headway, and Pagelines.

Now it’s your turn.

What theme are you using or considering? What features are important to you?

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Post Categories: Blog Tools, Start Your Blog

{ 6 comments… add one }

  • Ulrich VonGoofenhoff December 8, 2014, 5:17 pm

    This isn’t a list of best wordpress themes for income blogs at all. Misleading title. Secondly, A list of developers and frameworks is ALSO not a list of themes for income blogs. Misleading title, again. Third, if you’ve just decided to get into wordpress and are theme shopping, chances are, you have no idea what to do with a theme framework, let alone the wordpress savvy to customize a framework.

    This is simply a misleading title followed by an irrelevant article body and weak summary list. Two thumbs down from someone looking for an ACTUAL list of WP themes built for revenue production.

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines December 9, 2014, 9:45 am

      Interesting opinion. But I disagree.

      What criteria do you use to determine a good theme for an income blog? These themes range from complex to simple – depending on the ability of the blogger. And I note which ones are complex and which ones are easy to work with. This list contains all the top developers. What were you looking for?

      A framework is a theme. It installs like a theme. It gives design and structure to WordPress, like a theme. Developers simply call their complex, flexible themes “framework” to set them apart and to identify that they are easier to customize. But a framework is a theme. While I include a few framework themes (just four) the majority are themes.

      All themes are produced by “developers”. They code the theme into something that non-developers can work with.

      If you need a theme, I invite you to take a look at this list. They are all great options for a professional blog.

      Reply
  • Mi Muba June 3, 2014, 9:47 am

    Hey Bryan
    Thanks for sharing a wonderful post on WordPress theme selection and I will say it a tutorial that offers complete guide on how, why and from where to pick a WP theme of your choice.
    I personally use Genesis and have no problem with it so far. But now I am thinking to try Thesis on one of my blogs after listening its benefits from several people.
    The basis of selecting the best theme are really well-mentioned here and one won’t do any mistake while buying a theme if he follows these tips.
    Thanks a lot again.

    Reply
  • Sherman Smith June 1, 2014, 7:17 pm

    Hey Bryan,

    Themes are by far very important for your wordpress. I was using free themes for about 3 years, and what did I get from it? Quite a few problems LOL… but this was a lesson learned.

    A couple of months ago I switch to the Genesis Framework and bought a child theme. With that side, my site looks much more cleaner and organized. I have gotten some great compliments from people that haven’t been on my blog for a while.

    I’ve noticed that there is a forum and great support for Genesis which I didn’t have prior to this! I was surprised and yet thankful at the same time. Also it looks like there are constant updates which I didn’t have before. I found out this will help in protecting my blog from virus’.

    Thanks for sharing and I hope you have a great week!

    Reply
    • Bryan Haines June 2, 2014, 6:43 am

      Thanks Sherman – I’ve been quite impressed with the Genesis Framework. Glad to hear you’re enjoying it.

      Reply

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Who is Blogger Abroad?

I'm Bryan Haines, a Canadian living in Cuenca, Ecuador with my wife and daughter. I write about how to generate passive income with your online business while traveling or living abroad.

If this is your first visit, start here. If you are planning a trip or move abroad (but aren't filthy rich) you're in the right place. On Blogger Abroad, I provide the resources and motivation needed to start and grow a successful online business. - Bryan Haines

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