What are WordPress Themes?

wordpressthemes

One of the most important reasons we recommend WordPress as the platform of choice for your website and blog is because someone with no website coding experience at all can make significant changes to the look of the website.

You can change the way the pages are arranged, the way the content on those pages is laid out, and all of the aesthetic features such as fonts, colors, and backgrounds.

The two tools that make those changes possible for beginners are plugins and themes. Today, I’ll touch on the subject of WordPress themes. We’ll save plugins for another day.

WordPress Themes Are Sort of Like Outfits

When I look at a subject like this, aka, a subject that really isn’t all that complex until you try to explain it, I often look for an easier way to visualize what’s happening.

The best visual I’ve found for WordPress themes is to consider WordPress as the core or “body” beneath the clothes. It basically does all the heavy lifting. Without it, the clothes are not very useful, but without the clothes the body looks kind of, well, naked.

The WordPress theme is like an outfit in that it makes WordPress look better, it is an expression of a user’s individual style, and it can provide some nifty conveniences and functionality. Sort of like pockets, zippers, or reversible jackets.

I’m not trying to over-simplify this. It’s really kind of that simple. To go much further would include talking about all sorts of things you don’t really want to know about at the beginner level.

As you get more experienced, you might want to know exactly how the theme works from a coding perspective. You might even want to know how to fully modify a theme to make it an original only to be found at your website, rather than something off-the-rack that you might see someone else wearing happily down the street.

But for know, I hope the analogy of a Theme being the clothes that make WordPress look pretty is helpful.

Free Themes and Premium Themes

Unlike clothes, you can get all the great looking WordPress themes you want totally for free. There are thousands of free, professionally designed, themes that come complete and ready to go.

Here are a few examples of free WordPress themes:

The main disadvantage of free themes is that they usually require some knowledge of WordPress coding to modify and customize and they rarely come with much support, so you’re on your own to figure it out.

See free WordPress themes here.

Premium Themes Are Usually Worth The Cost

There are also premium themes that you have to pay for. I know it’s easy for me to say that something is worth the cost when it’s not my money I’m talking about. What I mean is that the time premium themes save you is often of much greater value than the cost of the theme. Premium themes offer a number of advantages to free themes such as much easier customization, much stronger support and user forums (a huge resource for learning), additional tools and widgets, and regular updates to keep up with latest versions of WordPress.

I would list a bunch of recommended premium themes, but just like with the hosting article the other day, I’ve tried them all and I might as well save you the effort and point you to the current best option.

Genesis Themes from StudioPress

Genesis is a really awesome little bit of software for WordPress. It takes a WordPress blog and adds a set of options and functionality that makes it possible for a total beginner to create very professional looking sites.

Etsypreneur uses Genesis and here are a couple more examples of Genesis in action:

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tiffanyhawk.com

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Altered-Recipes.com

Genesis uses Child themes.

A typical installation of Genesis includes two parts. First, you install the core genesis theme framework, then you install a particular child theme that has the look and functions you like. These work together as one theme and you really never think of it as two.

Unless, of course, you want to totally change the look of your site in which case you can just change the child theme without having to update all your settings.

Here are a few popular Genesis child themes for creative types:

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There are about fifty child themes made by studiopress and hundreds more from outside designers available through various outlets. You can just google “Genesis Child Themes” and you’ll find more than you’ll ever look at.

The combination of Genesis and a Child Theme cost about $80.00 or you can buy the entire collection of child themes for $350. This is a great deal if you think you’ll ever want to consider building sites like this for others because you’re allowed to install the themes on client sites when you purchase that option.

Premium Support

One of the questions I hear most often is “How did you learn this stuff?’

The answer is pretty simple. I saw things on other peoples websites that I wanted, then I tried to figure out what that was called in techno-speak, then I went to the support forums for my premium theme and asked “How do you _____________?”

(actually, I rarely had to ask because someone else already asked the same quesiton and I could just read the answers)

The support forums include code snippets and instructions on exactly where to put them. They teach you how to do everything from A to Z. The genesis support forums are invaluable.

Premium Widgets

One of the most useful elements of Genesis is the selection of custom widgets that come with the theme. These widgets allow you to control custom placement of content from various categories, tags, or social media. They let you create custom page layouts with (relative) ease. i’d go into it more, but it’s really a whole other blog post!

What It Has To Do With Selling On Etsy

A great looking website with a good home/landing page, a good blog, nice integration of your colors, logos, and items from your Etsy shop are all part of building the most professional and creative image possible. Your website is pointed to from all of your social media pages, all of your marketing material, from the blogs of friends both online and off, and from a gazillion other places. The better it looks, the better you look, and the more you’ll ultimately sell on Etsy.

A good WordPress theme is the online equivalent of “dress for success!”

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I hope this information is helpful to you and I’ll answer any questions I can in the comments below.

~Tim

Disclosure: When we purchase a product and find it helpful (such as Genesis) we often look to see if there is an affiliate program. When there is, we sign-up for it because we know we’re going to recommend the service or product anyway, we might as well get a commission. Affiliate commissions is part of how we support Etsypreneur and Everything Etsy, so we appreciate you clicking through our links when you buy these services. It doesn’t cost you a dime extra.

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Comments

  1. Hi Tim-
    I’m really enjoying your daily tips! There’s always a nugget to help us improve or be encouraged. I do have a blog and a website in addition to my Etsy shop. I was wondering if you have any tips for promoting these on my Etsy site. I have them listed in my profile and in my shop announcement and in my listings but unfortunately Etsy doesn’t allow you to add a link. Just give the url. Have I missed anything or do you have any suggestions?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Tim Layton says:

      It sounds like you’ve covered everything I would normally suggest.
      - List your url in your shop announcement
      - Put it in your profile
      - Put it in your product decriptions… if you have a page on your website about a particular product you could show the direct link
      - If you have an about page you might list that or other informative page in addition to your home page.

      One tip I would mention is to show the full URL including the http:// My thinking is that people recognize that visually as a link more than they do a website without the http:// I think it makes them more likely to think “hey, I can just copy/paste that link and I’m there”

      I think you’re on the right track including it already. Lots of sellers don’t do it because it’s not able to be hot-linked. I think it’s worth doing anyway.

      Thanks for your comment!

      Tim

  2. So if Genesis framework is software offered by StudioPress, is it also offered by other sites, or only StudioPress?

  3. Hi Tim,

    I don’t know how you are so on track with what it is that I need to know, it seems that every post is about what was on my mind, thank You so much, your info is so helpful especially for a Very new Etsy shop shop owner like me!!!!
    I have a question, like you said to add our URL to every possible place on Etsy so people will know that you have a separate website or blog, should we also put out URL on every thing else like emails and blog posts and comments? I don’t want to look salesey and desperate for every body to see that I have a shop? what is your thought about that.?
    Thank You Tim
    Joni LeBaron

    • Tim Layton says:

      Hi Joni,

      I’m so glad to hear that you’re finding the daily email helpful! To answer your question, yes I would include your website and etsy shop links in email signatures.

      Personally, I don’t use an automatic signature because I don’t want to send a bunch of links to people who already know who I am and where my sites are. But I manually include links when I’m emailing a new customer, or someone I think may not know what I do or about our websites, etc.

      That said, I think an automatic email signature is the easiest way to be sure you don’t forget and I don’t think people find them overly pushy.

      Hope that helps. Thanks for your comment!

      Tim

  4. Hi Tim
    Thank you for all Thai wonderful information. I will definately store this for when I’m ready. I find myself waiting for the daily email update from you each day. Very exciting! The biggest question in my mind right now is can I make my site an e commerce site with hogator(think that’s what it was called) ? If I went to a website of my own I would want to be able to sell my items there. I realize the benefit of having your own site, but it’s hard for me to commit to it without traffic for it. I do have a blog and twitter and Facebook page currently. Close to making the jump but really trying to figure out how to grab attention to my Etsy store more than anything right now. Thanks for your help:)

    Michelle

  5. Thanks Tim for all your helpful tips.

    I understand the need for having your own site, but can you explain a little more the benefits of WordPress vs blogger? I thought blogger you could now add pages? I guess I don’t understand the difference.

    Gina

  6. This is a very interesting subject so far, and I’m learning quite a bit. I have been toying with the idea of my own website, but I’m taking it slow. I’m the type of person who has to do extensive research before I jump in.

    Out of curiosity, I know that you can get a site for a monthly charge, but what’s the going rate to purchase an actual .com or .net and actually get started?

    How much time is the “minimum” you need to invest from step 1 to 2 to ??? to make it worthwhile?

    Just some thoughts I had on my mind. Thanks so much for your information so far…always looking forward to more. :)

    Karen

  7. Hi Tim,
    I am getting so much info, thank you. I would like to have my own shop and blog. Today I purchased my own domain. I am a little nervous as to the next step. Should I set up a blog first and then work on the website? Thank you for the WordPress info. Cheers, Kathy

  8. Just to be sure, you’re talking about using the freestanding WordPress software, right? Not setting up a site with WordPress.com or WordPress.org? If so, I’d be curious to hear why you recommend using WordPress instead of WordPress.com or WordPress.org.

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