How to choose a WordPress theme

Below is a comprehensive guide on how to choose a WordPress theme that is the right theme for your business. One of the biggest decisions you need to make when starting to build your own WordPress site is what theme you should use.

Some people will tell you that a WordPress website costs $2,000 – $5,000, some websites do cost that much, but it is not true for everyone. Not everyone needs to spend that kind of money to get their website up and running.

You will need a professional looking website which is going to cost some money, but it is an investment in your business. You will also need to choose the right theme, to begin with, so that you don’t waste money in the long run. This guide will help you do just that.

Firstly here are some standard expenses you should expect to pay with the responsibility of website ownership.


Required Expenses

  • Domain name: $10 per year (I use
  • Shared hosting: $100 per year (I use
  • Theme: About $70. I recommend purchasing a professional theme which I will talk about further in this post
  • Your time if you DIY: $???? based on if you do it yourself. I charge $50 per hour for this service if you need guidance or assistance

Optional Expenses

  • BackupBuddy plugin: $80 per year
  • Akismet plugin: $60 per year
  • Graphic designer: $500 or more
  • Website developer to assist you with coding if needed. This varies but expect to pay around $2,000 if you use a developer
  • Monthly WordPress maintenance and support: Some developers charge up to $600 per year. I offer this service for as little as $29 per month.
  • Web fonts: Free to $100 or more
  • Stock photos: Free to $20 per image. (I use Canva which is $1 per image)
  • Content: Free if you DIY but up to $100 per page if you hire a copywriter

Other Expenses

  • Mailchimp: Around $120 per year for your newsletter
  • CoSchedule: $120 per year for managing your editorial calendar and social media updates
  • Dropbox: $120 per year for space for you to share documents with your clients
  • Planoly: $7 per month. An application I use to manage all my Instagram posts.
  • Leadpages: $30 per month. Additional service to manage extra web pages for all my business opt-ins
  • Convertkit: $30 per month. Email marketing

Important Plugins

Plugins you need

  • Yoast SEO – helps your website get found on Google
  • W3 Total Cache – speeds up your website
  • Wordfence Security
  • Backup Buddy – Automatically backs up your website
  • Google Analytics for WordPress – Website data

Other Plugins to consider

  • Contact-Form-7 – Free form builder
  • WP Smush it – Compresses your images, so they load faster
  • Akismet – Blocks spam
  • WP Editorial Calendar – Free editorial calendar
  • CoSchedule – Editorial calendar that links with social media
  • Click to Tweet – So visitors can tweet your content
  • Clef – lets you log in to your WordPress site with your phone
  • Coming Soon Page by SeedProd – Shows a coming soon page
  • Easy Pricing Tables – Used to create pricing tables for your products
  • Regenerate Thumbnails – Changes thumbnails sizes
  • Slider Pro – Elegant and professional sliders
  • Google XML Sitemaps – Generates a sitemap to help Google
  • Broken Link Checker – Checks for broken links on your site
  • Pretty Links – Helps make your links look pretty
  • Widget CSS Classes – Helps to style the widget individually

What are your goals?

Before choosing a theme, you need to consider what type of business you are running and where you want your business to go. Think about a 3 to 5-year plan as you need to make sure that what theme you pick and the type of site you develop can manage everything that you want to do with your business. You may not need everything to start with, but you need to make sure your theme can be built upon in the future.

Below is a checklist of some goals you might want to consider:


  • Increase traffic to your website
  • Increase the number of people who purchase from your affiliates
  • Increase the number of people signing up to your newsletter
  • Decrease your bounce rate
  • Increase the number of people who contact you about your service
  • Increase the number of people who attend your courses
  • Increase the number of products sold
  • Increase purchases from existing customers
  • Increase subscriber numbers
  • Have a maintenance free website
  • Fully automate your business

How do you earn money?

At the moment does your website make you money? If not, where do you plan to make money in the future? Using the list below, highlight the different money making options you are considering.

Money Making Options

  • Selling physical products online
  • Selling digital products online
  • Affiliate marketing
  • A membership or service with a regular monthly fee
  • One-on-one coaching services
  • One-on-one consulting services
  • Online classes delivered through your website
  • Webinars delivered through email
  • Online classes delivered via video
  • E-courses delivered by email
  • Podcasting
  • Selling sponsorships or ads on your site
  • Selling ads from ad networks

Options for Payment

You also need to research how you are going to be paid for all of the above. Via Paypal or Stripe? Taking credit cards over the phone? Or using other services such as eBay or Etsy. You need to know these answers before considering what plugins and theme to use.

What do you want people to do?

When people arrive at your website, what is it that you want them to do. Where will you direct their attention? It is important to have a call to action in the first part of your site, which we call above the fold and in several different areas. Following are a few options you might want to consider:

Calls to Action

  • Sign up for a newsletter
  • Sign up for a challenge
  • Subscribe to a resources page
  • Purchase a physical product
  • Purchase a downloadable product
  • RSVP to an event
  • Sign up for a webinar
  • Contact you via email
  • Sign up for a coaching session through a booking form
  • Join a Facebook Group
  • Follow you on a social media network
  • Tweet something
  • Answer a question or quiz

Types of themes

There are five different types of themes that you can choose from. They are:

  1. A blog with a sidebar on either the left or right
  2. Parallax style themes
  3. Portfolio style themes
  4. Grid style themes
  5. E-commerce themes

Blog with a Sidebar

A blog style theme that focusses on content and has a sidebar to the left or right. The sidebar usually takes up about 1/4 to 1/3 of the page. The main content changes on each page but the sidebar usually stays the same. You can purchase some themes that can customise this for you.

Your sidebar will contain widgets of information such as a photograph of you, links to your social media channels, possibly your Instagram and Twitter feed and blog post categories.

This is the most common type of content website. Especially if your sites main focus is the blog or on content. If you are not sure if you need a blog for your site, I have written a whole other post to help answer this questions. Does your site need a blog?

Parallax Style

The parallax style of website is used mostly for a single call to action. The page is designed as one long vertical page that contains all the information about your website.

These were originally designed so that they are easier to use on a mobile phone however you can achieve this by making sure whatever theme you choose is responsive.

A long vertical homepage is the standard feature of this theme. There is usually a nice featured image in the background that stays stationery as the content moves.

These themes are great for brick and mortar type businesses, especially those that see a lot of traffic from mobile sources. This is because the page tends to load a bit faster than other themes with lots of content, images and pages.

It is also great for sites that have a single call to action, where the front page is basically a sales page. You might also use this style for a single webinar, service or event.

Do not choose a parallax style theme if you want your blog and content to be the first thing that your visitors see.

Portfolio Style

You could add a portfolio page to any theme however when I talk about portfolio style sites; I mean sites that have been designed to have images, products and services on the front page.

These themes may or may not have an option for a blog, but the homepage is generally optimised to show off your products and services instead of your blog content.

The homepage is designed to contain beautiful pictures and will usually have one or more widgets for this purpose. There also may be a slider to display multiple images to promote a product or service.

You should consider this type of theme if you have something to sell, whether it be images, products or services.

Photographers, artists, illustrators – anyone who has visual content should consider this type of portfolio website.

You can also have a blog with this type of theme on a page within the inner workings of the site. However, if your written content is the main part of your site that you want your visitors to see, then you shouldn’t use this type of theme.

Grid Style

The type of website highlights images and content. It looks like Pinterest and uses what is called a “masonry grid”.

The images are aligned vertically in columns, but float randomly in those columns – they are not organised into rows. This is great for content that is of varying heights but a standard width.

Outside of Pinterest, it is rare to see a website using this masonry grid style. This is because it can look cluttered very easily and there isn’t a single focus to the site.

If you planned your site carefully, you could use this as a portfolio of work or just a blog.

E-Commerce Style

An e-commerce style site highlights physical products and has a shopping cart. It is designed to sell your stuff from your own website.

Usually, the e-commerce part comes from a plug-in such as Woocommerce, but there are also specific sites you can use such as Shopify.

Don’t use an e-commerce theme if you don’t need it. Your site will load and perform slower.

Need help?

Now that you have learnt a bit about WordPress themes and what to look out for, start hunting around for the right theme. Take a look at some other websites that you might want to emulate and start from there.

If you need help deciding on a theme, I would be happy to give you a recommendation on a theme that would work for you. You can book some time with me through my services page or if you need assistance building and managing your WordPress site there are other packages available.


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