Getting Started with Free Themes

WordPress comes packaged with one very useful default theme called Twenty Ten (named after the year it was first released in version 3.0 of WordPress). Most bloggers who use WordPress usually don't waste any time at all in finding a theme that they like better than the default WordPress theme. The Twenty Ten theme is meant to get you started. While you're not limited to the default theme, it's a very functional theme for a basic blog. Feel free to use it to get you started on your way.

Are all WordPress themes free?

Not all WordPress themes are created equal, and it's important for you, the user, to know the difference between free and premium themes:

✓ Free: These themes are free, period. You can download and use them on your Web site at absolutely no cost. It's a courtesy to include a link to the designer in the footer of your blog — but you can even remove that link if you want to.

✓ Premium: These themes cost money. You usually find premium themes available for download only after you've paid anywhere from $10 to $500. The designer feels that these themes are a cut above the rest and, therefore, are worth the money you spend for them. Generally, you're not allowed to remove any designer-credit links that appear in these themes, and you're not allowed to redistribute the themes. (Note: You won't find premium themes in the official WordPress Theme Directory.) I provide information on where to find premium themes at the end of this chapter.

Free WordPress themes, such as those I discuss in Chapter 18, are popular because of their appealing designs and their ease of installation and use. They're great tools to use when you launch your new blog, and if you dabble a bit in graphic design and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), you can customize one of the free WordPress themes to fit your own needs. (See Chapter 13 for some resources and tools for templates and template tags, as well as a few great CSS references.) Also see the nearby sidebar "Are all WordPress themes free?" for information about free versus premium themes.

By using free themes, you can have your blog up and running with a new design — without the help of a professional — pretty fast. And with thousands of themes available, you can change your theme as often as you want. Chapter 15 presents information on hiring blog professionals, if you decide later that you want a more customized theme for your blog.

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