WordPress Themes: 5 Reasons Why You Should Go Premium - ManageWP

WordPress Themes: 5 Reasons Why You Should Go Premium

WordPress Themes: 5 Reasons Why You Should Go Premium
When is premium worth the price?

Those of you who have spent any length of time browsing the WordPress Free Themes Directory will know that there are a huge number of free WordPress themes available for you to install on your site. At the time of writing, there are an astonishing 1,482 themes, and the directory grows by another 20-30 every single month.

With so many free themes available, you may be wondering why on earth you would ever pay for a premium theme. That is a reasonable question to ask, but there are in fact a multitude of reasons as to why you should choose a premium theme for your WordPress site.

But before we get onto that, let’s first answer the obvious question.

What Is A “Premium” WordPress Theme?

By its most simple definition, a premium WordPress theme costs money. If it isn’t free, it is premium. There are no fixed standards or certification that designates a theme as being premium. Anyone can build a WordPress theme, brand it as premium, and offer it for sale.

But typically speaking, a premium theme will have been built by professional web designers, with the specific aim of catering to a market who is willing to pay more for a better product.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at five reasons why you should choose a premium theme.

1. Quality

If you choose a reputable premium theme shop (which of course you should), you can expect a product that is of superior quality to free themes. But what does that mean in practical terms?

You can expect something more unique. If you want your blog to stand out from the crowd, a free theme will typically not cut the mustard. Why? Because a huge number of other blogs will already be using that same theme. Take Twenty Eleven as an example – a clean and attractive design (that also happens to be used by 1,001 other blogs).

Unique WordPress Premium Themes
What sounds out more - this, or a Ford Pinto?

You can expect compliance and responsive design. Web standards are always changing, as are the capabilities of the browsers we use. Premium themes are far more likely to be designed with current web standards in mind.

You can expect responsive design. In this day and age, people are accessing your site using a variety of different devices, and it is therefore important to ensure that it remains functional across multiple platforms. You can purchase premium themes that are designed specifically with responsive design in mind.

Purchasing a premium theme from a reputable source guarantees a product of quality. The same cannot be said of many free themes.

2. Functionality

For those of us who are not technologically savvy, trying to make even minor amendments to free WordPress themes can be an absolute nightmare. An intermediate knowledge of PHP, CSS and HTML is usually required.

WordPress Programmer
You have to look like this to code in WordPress.

That is typically not the case with premium themes, which are designed with functionality in mind. Some of the best premium theme shops package their products with intuitive user interfaces, that allow you to make changes in design and formatting to your site at the click of a button.

3. Security

It can seem almost too good to be true that there are so many free themes available. And to a large extent, it is. A huge proportion of available free themes are in fact packaged with malicious code. For a full expose of the risks of installing free themes on your site, check out this brilliant article over at WPMU.

You can largely avoid security issues by downloading themes from the WordPress Free Themes Directory. Unfortunately, searching through the free options available there often presents you with a fresh problem…

4. Updates

Premium themes are typically updated on a regular basis to keep up with new versions of WordPress. The same cannot be said of free themes.

Let’s say you install a free theme on your site, and spend a lot of time tweaking it to your liking. Then a new version of WordPress comes out, which the theme is incompatible with. You have two options:

  1. Don’t upgrade WordPress. This can leave your site exposed to security breaches, and you will of course miss out on any new features.
  2. Start again with a brand new theme. This of course will take a great deal of time.
WordPress Premium Themes
And who wants to start over?

Neither option is a good one. You only have to take a quick look around the WordPress Free Themes Directory to discover that many of the themes are out of date. And many of the newer themes will soon be out of date, given the passing of time.

Premium theme designers must keep all of their themes up to date – not doing so would result in irreparable damage to their reputation. When you purchase a premium theme, you can be confident that it will stand the test of time.

5. Support

When it comes to setting up and customizing themes, you have two options:

  1. Use a free theme – search for help, ask on forums, hope someone will be kind enough to assist you.
  2. Buy a premium theme and rely upon timely support from knowledgeable theme designers.

No free theme designer has an obligation to help you if you have problems with the implementation or customization of a theme. On the flip side, all premium theme designers offer some sort of support system. And the top theme shops (such as WooThemes) offer stellar support that are practically alone worth the cost of the themes.

The argument for support largely comes down to how much value you place on your time. If you are having problems with a free theme, you may be able to find the solution by trawling the web and asking on forums, but it will take time. But problems with premium themes are typically solved very quickly and easily.

If You’re Going Premium, Go Reputable

Earlier in the article we made the point that a theme can be considered “premium” as soon as someone slaps a price tag on it. So surely some premium themes can be just as bad as the free options? That could certainly be the case, which is why you should only choose reputable theme shops. For 10 of the best, check out this list we recently published.

Are You Free, Or Premium?

As with many things in life, you get what you pay for. But what about you? Do you use free themes, or are you happy to shell out a few bucks to get all of the extra benefits covered above? Let us know in the comments section!

Creative Commons photos courtesy of Taylor McConnellslworking2Jason Thorgalsen Photography and Brave Heart

Tom Ewer

Tom Ewer is the founder of WordCandy.co. He has been a huge fan of WordPress since he first laid eyes on it, and has been writing educational and informative content for WordPress users since 2011. When he's not working, you're likely to find him outdoors somewhere – as far away from a screen as possible!


  1. Michele Shareef

    I have definitely been considering switching to the premium membership. Your article was very helpful and has given me the insight that I need in order to make my decision. The free WP is great, but as mentioned, there are many challenges to being able to grow your website…

  2. Efe

    Hey I have a question. Can I upgrade from premium to business any time ?

  3. Julius Santos

    Nice article. Since I’ve been blogging way back in 2009, I’ve been always going for free themes to power my blog. Being a chronic kidney disease patient, I simply can’t afford a premium one. But I’ve long proven to myself that I’m really quite into blogging and it’s high time to take it to the next level. So I bit the bullet and spent hard-earned money in buying a premium theme. Well, I’m just glad I did so and never regretted my purchase.

  4. laura routh

    I’m thinking about purchasing a premium theme very soon. I’m struggling with speeding up my site, mostly for SEO purposes. Tech is not my strength. Figuring out the settings for caching, etc. is taking up all of my time. Although I don’t have a lot of traffic, yet, writing posts is time consuming, and I’m tired of searching for all these answers myself. I’ve already decided on using the Genesis framework with a child theme. Currently, I’m using the the free twenty fifteen wordpress theme. I’m torn, though, as I also would like website security. Sucuri seems to be the best out there, but that’s too much money for now. And I’ve also heard wonderful things about the wp rocket caching plugin, which isn’t free, either. If I go premium, do you think I’ll get support on how to piece the free security plugins together, for now? Also, maybe they could help me with settings for free caching plugins. Where should I spend my money first?

  5. George

    I am planning to move from wordpress.com to .org.

    However, I still want to learn more before doing so. I am on a free plan on wordpress.com. Can I purchase domain name from wordpress without having to switch to any of the paid plans. I have not really seen anyone talk about that and a question like that here wasn’t replied. Thanks…

    1. Nemanja Aleksic

      Hi George,

      You have two options:
      – Switch to a paid WordPress plan
      – Move your WordPress blog to a self-hosted blog. Here’s how: http://www.wpbeginner.com/wp-tutorials/how-to-properly-move-your-blog-from-wordpress-com-to-wordpress-org/

  6. althayom

    I’m considering whether or not to go with a premium .com site only for the option of dropping “wordpress.com” in the URL. You can hide the .wordpress.com part by registering a new domain if you have purchased a WordPress.com plan.
    What is the exact cost to do this and is it cheaper to start out with the 8.25 per month/premium plan than switching later? From my research it seems it is $18 per year on top of the 8.25/month but I’m not sure. Does anyone know?

  7. Oscar Martinez

    Hello, qq I’m thinking on getting premium because i work providing webpages to different customers, if i go premium how many domains and webpage can i have in a single account?

  8. lh. louis

    Definitely these are great, support isn’t available with free themes at all and security as well, thanks.

  9. Hashim T Abubacker

    I am using the free wordpress now. And if I change to premium do I get the option to inserting plug-ins to the website.?
    and one more my site address now ends with wordpress.com and if I can change the domain to .com by using a third party does it effect the posts that were published before changing ?

    1. Nemanja Aleksic

      1) No. You will have to move your website to a stand-alone WordPress installation. There are plenty of tutorials on the web on how to do this, just google “move a website from wordpress.com to wordpress.org”
      2) Yes. As far as Internet is concerned, your new website has nothing to do with your current website. The good news is that you can redirect the traffic to the new website. Here’s how: https://en.support.wordpress.com/site-redirect/

  10. Mina

    Now, I have my free wordpress website. I would like to upgrade to business premium version. In this case should I change my hosting server? Will I get help in upgrading to the premium version?

    Our database is huge and its regularly updated. And the design is hugely customized.

    The reason for upgrading:
    Security and updates will be taken care of.
    Huge database has started to slow down the website. So might get help in handling this
    And SQL_Cal_Found query crashing the website. So might get help in handling this
    Help regarding CMS issues

  11. Beaut Santua

    Hi. Thank you for this article. I’m actually planning to upgrade my wordpress account. I just need someone from wordpress to tell me how can I transfer all of my blogs as is to the different theme.

    I have trouble before of trying another theme and my keywords clouds are gone and my categories and sub categories got mixed-up, etc.

    If I upgraded my account, can I just use the same theme and altered a few like fonts and background photo?

    Thank you in advance.

    More power.


    1. Beaut Santua

      Here’s my blogsite: https://beautsantua.wordpress.com/

  12. Paul

    Thank you for your brief article. It helped me a lot to clear my doubts. I learnt recently what a child theme is .i felt that i made a mistake buy buying a premium one. Now i know why it is better off to buy one . i have purchased a pack of themes from tesla

  13. Akash

    In fact can you advice me some of premium themes? for my weblog, Success Magazine.

  14. Akash

    Thanks a ton for such a nice article, helped me a lot in clearing my doubts regarding premium themes.

  15. Asmaa Gass

    Hi, thanks for the informative post. I was always frustrated with the free themes I get, I always find something annoying about them and I’ve installed more than I should. I knew I wanted a premium theme but didn’t want to pay. I think I will buy one, thanks to your post and a few others. Keep up the great content!


      Did you buy one? and are the results good? I also want a premium theme, but i don’t want to pay the money. Please suggest me what did you experience.

  16. Tanvi

    Hi Tom,

    I have been using free themes till now. I am thinking to upgrade my theme with premium theme now.

  17. Helen

    Hi Tom, I’ve been using WP free themes for a number of years now, but decided to upgrade for my new blog (which I’m busy working on towards launching, so it’s not the one I’ve added here) and bought a Codestag theme – Blink – via WordPress.com and I also purchased a customized domain name. Call me silly (or ignorant, perhaps?), but I would now not consider this a ‘free plan’ (as with my other free blogs). The reason I say this, is because I need to upload a couple of plugins (Contact7, Yoast, and StagTools) but when I go to Plugins on the back end of my site, I’m being asked to ‘Upgrade Now’ from a ‘Free’plan to a ‘Premium’ or ‘Business’ plan- i.e. and pay an annual fee – before I can upload the plugins(?) At least that’s the way I see it, as there is no option to go further, to upload, on the Free plan. I’m confused. Also, I have a box that comes up on my posts that say’s that visitors might see advertisements on my page. I thought this was only on free themes?

    By the way, with the Blink theme, I get 1 years free support with WP, which is great (and another reason to purchase as opposed to free), and I will ask these questions to the support team too, but I wouldn’t mind hearing if you or anyone else has any thoughts – or faced the same issues?

    Great post by the way… very informative!

    Many thanks

    1. Magela

      Hey there! You mentioned you used the free plan and then switched… I was wondering if when you switch all your followers switch with you, or you have to let them know the site’s new name and hope they all go to follow again. I am wondering because I pretty new and was thinking about having my own domain without wordpress on the name in the near future. (:

  18. Line Stroem

    I have just upgraded for WordPress Premium Plan – is that a good idea or should I just buy a premium theme (them still seem to cost money, even though I upgraded my plan) and I can’t really see the difference between free and premium plan (I still have a free theme)?
    I am all new to this, so I appreciate your help.

    1. Nemanja Aleksic

      Hi Line,
      These are actually different things. WordPress Premium gives you more tools to customize your blog, remove ads, and some other minor benefits:


      To be honest, you probably don’t need any of it, except for a custom domain name (so you could have your blog on line.com, and not line.wordpress.com). You still need to buy a theme, but for the time being I recommend going with a free theme until you get comfortable with WordPress. When you have things figured out, switch to WordPress.org:


  19. Margie

    Will the content from my free blog flow flawlessly, or will I suffer a nightmare from zombie hell transition?

  20. Ali Altaf

    Very engaging!! But i believe that “a look & feel” can never be unique if its up for sale. Someone elsewhere will be using that same exact thing, to appeal. and if that someone is a business in the same niche as your’s than you have problem. Because business today demands that you must be unique and that you imprint on visitors so that they must remember you. Consider two separate businesses, or three or more having the same “look and feel” ! are they sister projects? NO! then why do they look so similar! consider what impression would they be leaving on their visitors.
    So what’s the solution; “Customize the Theme you bought” Yes! that can be one but then what was the reason to buy a premium theme in first place. Now if you go about customizing a premium theme, you must understand that its not only a free theme that is going to have a messy code, every theme whether paid or free will have fluff coding. This is because of the ultimate ruling that to every developer, the coding of another developer will feel messy if not out of place.
    So in my opinion its ideal to to get a totally custom website made with “Unique” design, unique feel, custom features, and whatever that you would have envisioned and wanted. With this you will not have any of the update issues as well. And with a designer by your side, integrating your choice of “everything” into the back-end, I don’t think you are going to have any support issues but if you do than as mentioned above ” its a designer by your side”, just Ring him/her Up !!

  21. Maren

    When buying wordpress premium, can i use all these different themes for several websites?

  22. tessa

    I am wondering whether you can help. If i have bought a theme from themeforest and will only be able to use it via wordpress.org download (self-hosted)….does this mean i can cancel my premium wordpress.com membership. Thanks!

  23. Kaitlin

    Does a premium theme allow me to do things like have a drop down menu’s from pages and such? Or do I need to get with a company like bluehost to do these things?

    1. Elisabeth

      Kaitlin- you don’t need premium for a drop down menu :) I had to do all sorts of looking around to figure it out- but it’s actually real easy- go to app wrench and customize and click the menus tab- you can drag your items to appear as subcategories of other items. Then you save as “primary menu” (or done similar term) and your all set. I’m no techie- so u hope that’s clear

  24. Rajendra Reddy

    I am using free themes for all my blogs

  25. DPTRAX

    This is very informative. I once tweaked my wordpress codes myself, till i found premium themes. this is a very awesome article. Good work.

  26. Kinjal B

    i like to the probable chance of hacking website when useing free themes?
    once my website was hacked with free themes with lot of plunging,
    i’m using same free them but reduced some plugin.

  27. Mandy Lake

    Currently I have a free wordpress blog, but I am trying to decide if I it will be worth $99/year to upgrade. It’s not my personal blog, but one for a business my mom and I just started.

  28. Carla

    Hi there, can one start with a free account and upgrade later to a premium account?

    1. Tom Ewer


      Are you referring from WordPress.com to WordPress.org or a free theme to a premium theme?



  29. Nizam

    Wow! You have discussed excellent factors to go with premium themes, very informative and useful post. Thanks Tom !

    1. Tom Ewer

      My pleasure Nizam :)

      1. carla

        Hi Tom,
        Sorry to be persistent but i need to know if one start a wordpress site with a free account and upgrade later to a premium account? I looked around and i cant find any info on this, thanks!

  30. Stephen Trapanese

    Premium themes offer so much flexibility even if you are not a code ninja. I recommend anything by Studiopress or ThemeBLVD.

    1. Tom Ewer

      Studiopress are great, but I haven’t heard of ThemeBLVD. Thanks for the tips!

      1. Stephen Trapanese

        ThemeBLVD makes some great themes. I wrote about it here http://wp.me/p2ywS9-31 .

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