Who doesn't love a free beer or a free soda? You can't complain about the brand when someone hands it to you. You just drink it and smile because it was free.
Lately, people have been reaching out to me asking if their theme can do this or do that. When I glance at their site, I often have to tell them no.
Now, I am not here to bash free WordPress themes. They are wonderful and we are all grateful for them. They serve a very important purpose. Often free themes are how a blogger gets started. It is a way to put your toe in the water and see if this blogging thing is really going to work out.
If you keep blogging and start getting some success, you also probably start hitting a wall with your theme. This is normal.
The good news is that a premium theme doesn't generally cost much. The theme that I am running on my blog only cost 67 bucks. That is not bad. http://bit.ly/206bDah
Why should you go premium with your WordPress Theme?
We are fortunate that junior coders and experience coders alike create these free themes for us. However, since it was a free project, they don't always get updated. Hackers are always looking for a venerability in a WordPress theme. Over time, they generally find one. If the theme is no longer being kept up to date, things can go wrong.
You can check your WordPress theme by using this free plugin: https://wordpress.org/plugins/theme-check/.
This is the primary reason that a blogger often updates a WordPress theme. For example, just today someone hired me to install and setup a premium theme on her blog. She wanted to simply change the way that the header looked on her blog. Sadly, that is not a simple change on her free theme. She also wanted a few other tweaks done. By the time that she reached out, she realized it was time for an upgrade.
Suppose that you have found that perfect theme and you are in love. You install it and then you preview your site and it just isn't right. Not always but often, free themes don't have all that lovely of a support system. However, premium themes generally have a nice forum and contact system. Odds are high that someone else has run into the same problem as you and the answer is already in the forum.
Bonus: Download a free checklist of the first plugins that I always install on a new WordPress Blog.
Before you update your WordPress Theme
If you plan to setup your theme yourself, set aside between 4 and 10 hours to work on the new design. Try and do this during an off peak time for your blog. If you get most of your traffic in the middle of the day, do this in the evening.
2. Backup Your Site
Make sure that you have a recent backup of your blog before you install the new theme. Things could and often do go wrong during the setup process. If you run into a snag, you will have the peace of mind that you can quickly and easily roll back your site to using the old theme.
There is no perfect time to upgrade to a premium theme. There is no perfect WordPress theme. As a matter of fact there are some incredible WordPress theme shops out there today.
If you are still running a free theme that is awesome. Do not feel pressured to upgrade before you are ready.