Your Life, Your Blog: Choosing a WordPress Theme

I have been using Blogger since 2007 when I started blogging.  I switched High Country Mom Squad over to WordPress in 2009 (well, actually my long time friend Ben Cotten did it for me! he ROCKS), and thus began my love affair with WordPress.

I never really had a huge gripe with Blogger.  It worked, it was easy to customize, it was free.  But as I progressed in blogging, I really wanted some advanced functionality.  Moving from hobbyist to professional, blogger was beginning to show itself lacking the features I wanted.  The plug-ins and intuition of WordPress make it the best pro-blogging platform, in my opinion.

I recently switched Real Life over to WordPress, and I did it all by myself! (Well, mostly.  I had to get some help from one of my workshop partners from Talk of the Town Social Media Workshop, Boomer Sassman.) And I still have a little batch of code above the header that I can’t get rid of)

Lots of people switch over to wordpress, and their first question is a HUGE one:  How do I choose a theme from the THOUSANDS available?  Is a free theme just as good as a paid theme?

Well, I am NO WordPress expert, but I’ll share just a few of the things this beginner has learned when picking a theme.

Looks Matter, but functionality is SO much more important! You (or a WordPress Designer) can always change the basic look of a theme.  But the way it works is more important.

  • Does the theme make it easy to add plug-ins?
  • Does it have built- in SEO?
  • Can it function as a “Magazine” style, or as a chronological listing?
  • If you have several authors, does it support separate Author Pages?
  • Does it have a “Featured Story” section, or can you add one?
  • Some themes have built in Ad blocks where you can insert an ad banner or code?

How did I choose my themes?

My three main sites needed different functionality, so I chose three different themes.  The most important thing is that they are all created by a well-known and great designer, so I knew they would be good. is sort of my “landing page” or “Online Resume.” This is the page linked to my Twitter Account. I wanted a central location for people to find everything that I do.  So I just need to feed other areas of my online life into the site.  I chose Social Eyes Theme, by Mod Themes.  I didn’t customize it much, because I already loved the colors and layout.  It was a little tricky to add everything I needed, and I still need to import my Real Life/HC MomSquad feed into the blog portion, and You Tube Feed into the Videos Portion.  However, I found good help in the support forms and tutorials.

I also made Business cards based on the design of this theme! is on the Lifestyle Theme, by Studio Press, designed by Brian Gardner. Brian is a very well-regarded wordpress designer, and the support forum is top notch. (Although some of their help people get really snarky with newbies.  They’ve never done it to me, but I don’t like that).  The colors are easy to customize, but you have to know CSS.  I always get really nervous in the Theme Editor Section.  The support forum do have extensive tutorials regarding customization.  I needed the magazine/ category functionality, and the split sidebar. I absolutely love it.

High Country Mom Squad is built upon the Proximity News Theme, by Nathan Rice.  I LOVE the clean look of the page, and the intuitive functionality of moving the posts down the page according to category.  It also allows lots of articles to be on the page at once, while still looking relatively simple.  Proximity Theme also has great author pages, as the Mom Squad has multiple authors.

Is a FREE theme just as good as  PAID theme?

In  my opinion, I will always recommend paying for a good theme. I am as big a cheapskate as anyone, but when it comes to your WordPress Theme, you DON”T want to skimp.  I have used a few free themes, but always found them lacking.  I’ve ended up frustrated, and bought a theme anyway!

I’d love to hear from YOU!  What theme did you choose, and why?

FEEL FREE TO PUT YOUR AFFILIATE LINKS IN YOUR COMMENT! (only links for WordPress themes please) And if you are not an affiliate for your WordPress Theme, you need to become one!

And by the way, here are some more things I recommend, from Web Hosting to Fitness


Now, link up any post you want to promote!  Let’s read, comment, tweet and stumble!

About Sarah Pinnix

I'm a mom, blogger, vlogger, libertarian. I love Jesus, and my husband, too. Social Media Strategist for a Non-Profit (All statements here are solely my own)


  1. I am technologically challenged- CSS, SEO, HTML all make my head hurt. I use @ericamueller as my WP guru (affordable and awesome) and all my sites are now WP.
    .-= Melissa Multitasking Mama´s last blog ..Fleeting Moments =-.


  2. I’ve been on WordPress for about 3 months (I recently switched over form Blogger). I’m very happy with wordpress. There’s so many options that I can keep up with them all. I still have so much to learn, but I’m enjoying the process.


  3. I use Thesis on one site, and have used FlexSqueeze on a few sites I manage, but I love Brian Gardner themes too, will most likely get into the Genesis framework for a new project I am working on.
    .-= Keith´s last blog ..8 Main Factors that Affect Search Engine Rankings =-.


    Twitter: reallifesarah

    I have been very intrigued by Genesis. I need to look into that a little more.


  4. Ben
    Twitter: bencotten

    Thanks for the mention!

    BTW… I can get rid of that bit of code up there for you if you want. 😉
    .-= Ben´s last blog ..Excellence or Authenticity? =-.


    Twitter: reallifesarah

    Thank you Ben! One of the many reasons you ROCK!


  5. Oh, man!! I’m actually working on mine behind the scenes RIGHT. NOW. I’m hoping to have it done by the end of the week, barring no complications of course. =P
    I’ll come back later and tell/show you which.. I don’t want to ruin the surprise. 😉

    BUT… I completely agree with your things you learned. I learned those early on, too, since I do my own re-designing & tweaking. It’s something I’ve always encouraged others to do, too. It is SO. MUCH. easier to tweak colors and image graphics than functionality – go with function first! =)


    Twitter: reallifesarah

    I can’t wait to see!!


  6. Carrie
    Twitter: carrieactually

    i use Thesis because it’s so extensively customizable and seo friendly.
    .-= Carrie´s last blog ..Monterey Bay Aquarium =-.


  7. Kelly
    Twitter: centsiblelife

    I used to use free themes, but switched over to Thesis. I was nervous since I’m not very techy, but I found I can ask a question or google it, search their forums and find exactly what I need.

    I love that there are screencasts of some of the features as well.

    Thesis is awesome because it has fantastic SEO. Most people think themes are just the way something looks, but a theme is also going to help your SEO. My search traffic went up 20% in the last month-the major change is using thesis.

    I highly recommend getting the dev license. While not cheap you can use it on multiple sites.


  8. Jenn Calling Home says:

    Great info, Sarah. I love the business card idea. Right now I’m using a free theme on I am terrified that I’ll muck things up, and so I’ve not tweaked it much, nor have I done an update. For future blogs, I will definately try one of the paid themes.


  9. Jendi
    Twitter: vloggingtips

    My daily life blog just has a free theme that I’m quite comfortable with.
    My niche site needed a theme that would showcase video and you can’t get those for free. I’m loving the theme from Press 75 that I use and here’s my affiliate link –
    .-= Jendi´s last blog ..A Vlogging Meme =-.


  10. Jenny 867-5309
    Twitter: Jenny86753oh9

    I am in the middle of a redesign that will be using the Thesis theme. I love the idea of being able to tweak the look without having to go to a completely new template.
    .-= Jenny 867-5309´s last blog ..Secret Diary Entry =-.


  11. Ha! I still haven’t chosen one. I have one I kinda hate, hoping that will spur me on to finish my stupid layout already! I love doing my own thing, so I’m building my own theme from scratch. Really wish I had the css for my defunct political blog way back when. It was good.

    Of course, I have very little time to do it myself, so I’m expecting it to be done sometime in 2012, just in time to see a Ron Paul/Sarah Palin ticket win the day. Yeah. I day dream a lot.
    .-= Cindy´s last blog ..Contests Today =-.


  12. Ginger
    Twitter: Here\'s My Cup Lord

    Okay Sarah,
    The link on Jordon is from my sister’s blog and is about my youngest. The link on Gordon is from my blog and is about my oldest…

    The dog one is too funny ladies. A must read. LOL!

    I am also using WP, which I love! As far as the many details, that’s my hubby’s territory who designed both mine and my sisters blogs.


  13. Jenn Calling Home says:

    I’ve been using the free Modmat theme. For the most part, I like it; however, I would like to figure out how to change/update the header.
    .-= Jenn Calling Home´s last blog ..Much Ado About Hair Coloring and Artisan Bread =-.


  14. Muthering Heights
    Twitter: MutheringHeight

    I’m hoping to move to Word Press later this year, but so far, my head explodes a little each time I dip my toe into the WP world!!! LOL!
    .-= Muthering Heights´s last blog ..The Epitome Of Glamor =-.


  15. Erica Mueller
    Twitter: EricaMueller

    Sarah, your sites are ALL beautiful!

    This was a fabulous post! I was just thinking about writing something like this for Blissfully Domestic this week. I may just have to quote ya and link to this post. hehe J/K. I’ll write something original and then link back to ya. 🙂
    .-= Erica Mueller´s last blog ..Design and Decor – Not the Same Thing =-.


  16. I just recently switched over to WordPress (although still maintaining my blogger blog). I am using the Atahualpa Theme by BytesForAll- and I’m really happy with all that it allows me to do. I’m sure, as I learn more about WordPress, I may want to add some functionality- but until then, I’m happy with this one.


  17. Very well said. I use to be on blogger and my sis @onemomsworld got me on word press. I am starting to get the hang of it but she definitely helped me pick a great theme. Thanks for sharing.
    .-= Jason Houck´s last blog ..What If =-.


    Twitter: reallifesarah

    Yes, Your sis is awesome with WordPress!! She just all-around rocks!


  18. I have the Yamidoo theme, and I love it! I chose it because I loved the layout, and it ended up being even more versatile than I thought it would be.

    Thanks so much for the affiliate idea! I hadn’t even considered it, but immediately signed up and have the links on my blog now. 🙂 You’re awesome!
    .-= Lindsey@Kindred Spirit Mommy´s last blog ..We did it! =-.



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