Now we are getting to the really fun stuff. It’s time to choose your website theme.
As a Wealthy Affiliate Starter Member you get access to 12 free website themes in WordPress. As a Premium member you get access to thousands of themes.
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Cool and Creative Themes
You can start to get a bit excited at this point, cause this is heaps of fun and will set the tone for your whole website. Just before we start thinking about colours and images and fancy layouts, I love that creative side too, first let’s have a quick look at the important bits.
The theme needs to be light and functional.
If your theme has a heap of features, you don’t need and will not be using, it will start to look like a dog’s breakfast and will slow down your site – see responsiveness below.
The theme needs to be easy to navigate. You achieve this by having a maximum of three menus, usually:
- A main menu that we are all used to seeing at the top. This will have further links to your blogroll and content pages.
- A social menu with links to your social media sites. You want to make it as easy for your readers to follow you and to share your content as possible.
- A footer menu where you can add additional links to content and bits that don’t fit elsewhere.
An affiliate marketing site should have a blogroll on the front page. This way all your new content appears and the front page is always fresh and new. Most themes give you a choice of static (no blogroll) or blog home page.
Our ever-increasing use of mobile phones and tablets to browse the internet means website these days need to be mobile friendly.
Way back in 2016 the use of handheld devices to surf the web overtook using desktops – 51.3% of users were on handhelds and only 48.7% from a desktop PC.
So you see you will be missing a large portion of traffic if your theme isn’t mobile friendly, doesn’t look good on mobile devices or is slow to load on these devices.
It can be quite a feat to have a theme that looks as good on a mobile as it does on a desktop. In my experience, the paid themes seem to do this better than the free ones and an upgraded theme will often fix mobile friendly issues.
Slow websites are sales killers. We live in a fast-paced world, and your readers want to get access to content quickly and effortlessly. No-one wants to be waiting around for a page to load.
A survey by Kissmetrics showed that 40% of people will abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
We are an impatient lot!
This is not always to do with your theme. Other areas which can have an impact are:
- Sites heavy on unoptimised, overly large images
- Sites with auto-play videos. Videos are great, and readers love them, just ensure they only play when clicked
- Sites with a lot of animation
And to be honest, while these may look good if they take so long to load that people have already clicked over to a smoother, faster site then no-one will be seeing your fancy animations and pretty images anyway.
See you didn’t have to wait long for us to get to how it looks. My first website I spent literally days looking over the 12 themes available through my Starter Membership at Wealthy Affiliate. Yep days to choose from 12. On your Premium membership you get access to 1000s of themes. Imagine how long that’s going to occupy you!
I really enjoyed the process, but just when I thought I had decided I’d check out another one and then start questioning myself all over again. I just wanted it to be perfect.
A couple of points to consider while your browsing themes:
- Use a dark font on white or light background – this offers the best readability. This is not to say you can’t have white text on a dark/black background but just be aware that you will be sacrificing ease of reading, and some people (surveys show most people) find this too hard to read and will simply move on.
- Don’t use difficult to read fonts – so fancy cursive or overly bold text should be reserved for headings, don’t use them in the body of your articles.
What themes am I using?
I started off with free themes for both my websites and have now moved them to Thrive Themes which is a Premium service.
Originally though the one I settled on for my niche site was Nikkon by Kaira and I loved it. I also really love their Vogue Theme and it was quite the toss up on which one to go with.
While Nikkon is presented as a fashion or photography theme, it is easily customisable to fit any niche. I think it worked beautifully for my horse website.
You may end up choosing a business style theme for your fitness niche, it doesn’t matter as long as you like it. All themes are customisable (to a point) and you can replace all the images (often a question from those new to themes).
The Nikkon theme is a free site theme available with Premium membership at WA, and does have options to upgrade.
For this site I wanted a more paired back site and originally started off with the black and white theme of Ryan from Think Up Themes Ltd (again a free theme with Premium membership).
Unfortunately this theme gave me heaps of trouble with image errors and that’s why I made the change to Thrive Themes.
Upgrading to a Paid Theme
I’m here to tell you, when you start out you don’t need to buy a Premium theme. Save your money and wait until your site is making you some money then you can decide where to reinvest to grow your business.
Most of the free website themes are perfectly fine for affiliate marketing just the way they are. While they may not have all the bells and whistles of a paid theme, most of it you can do without (at least to start with).
As I said I started out with two sites both running on free themes and until the issues with Ryan they were doing just fine.
I was forced to upgrade but I am happy with my decision at this point but as per my reasoning above until the sites were paying their way I didn’t want to spend any more money on them.
The only thing I will say is the free themes can sometimes be abandoned by their makers (mostly due to lack of money and the fact they have to eat also).
The most recent one we had queries at through WA was Hiero. This is a very popular free theme and used by many marketers, but it appears at this time that Hiero has been abandoned.
The free themes may also not be updated as regularly as the paid options and this can sometimes cause issues as technology moves at such a pace, your theme does need to keep up.
Premium/paid themes are usually offered on a one-time payment or a recurring monthly/annual option. It doesn’t really matter you just choose whatever will work for you personally once you are in the market for a Premium theme.
If you want your site to look uber professional there are two standouts in the Premium sector.
Elegant Themes produce world-class themes in the Premium paid sector. They have a beautiful variety of choices, and something to suit everyone. They also offer a 30-day money back guarantee so you can try risk-free.
All of their sites follow the tried and true formulas as we have discussed above so you have the right base to start adding your content.
There is actually not one of the Elegant Themes layouts that I do not like. These guys know what they are doing and produce outstanding, easy to use themes.
AND what I chose which is Thrive Themes. It really was a close call and I deliberated about this for a long time before going with Thrive. The number one reason why is that Thrive are built for affiliate marketers. They have such targetted additional plugins that I just couldn’t go past them.
I am very happy with them so far and you can read my thorough review of Thrive Themes here.
Time To Choose
Basically, when choosing a theme the only areas you need to consider with a theme are this indicated above. Look for white space, type and size of fonts on both the headers and the body text, how mobile-friendly the theme is and how functional (will it do what you need).
If you choose your theme, start building out your site and then think you might like a change, you might come across a theme that suits you better or you are ready to move to a paid theme, it is not the end of the world.
Most theme moves happen seamlessly, but it is always wise to back your site up before a theme change, just to be sure.
There is a huge choice of free and paid themes, take your time and chose one you love.
If you have any questions or need some more info on theme choices pop your question in the box below and I will be happy to help you out.
Please Note: I am an affiliate with both Thrive Themes and Elegant Themes. If you purchase one of their paid themes through my affiliate links I will receive a small commission. Thank you ever so much if you do, all sales are most appreciated. My summary of their themes however is my opinion, I chose to become an affiliate with them because I love the quality of their products and the fact they both have a huge following of satisfied customers.