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