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Custom vs Premade Blog Themes

The following post on custom vs premade blog themes was submitted by Matthew Coddington from Net Business Blog.

At one point in every blogger’s career he or she has to make a choice between investing in a custom template or staying the course with a premade, downloadable template. There are important factors that you have to keep in mind with each ranging anywhere from funds to brandibility.

Pros & Cons of Premade (Non-unique) Themes

Pros

1) They’re free – Is it any surprise to anyone that this is by far the biggest pro for premade themes? They’re free! Free is good. You don’t have to pay for free.

2) There’s a wide selection – There are a ton of themes out there for you to choose from, especially for the more popular platforms such as WordPress. You will almost always be able to find a theme suitable for your blog’s niche.

3) New ones everyday – Designers are constantly releasing new themes everyday whether it’s in an effort to generate backlinks or just to increase their own popularity. There will never be a shortage of new premade themes entering the blogosphere for you to pick from.

Cons

1) They’re non-unique – In many cases this point alone supercedes all of the pros of premade themes. If you are able to find a premade theme that you think is just perfect for your site, do you really want to share that image with potentially thousands of other people?

2) The good ones get used by everyone – There might be a ton of themes out there, but there will always be a sort of elite group of the best themes that everyone wants to use. For example with WordPress you see an abundance of people using MistyLook. That is because it is one of the more attractive themes available.

3) Harder to generate a lasting memory – If someone gets to your site and it looks just like every other blog they’ve visited in the last week what are the chances they’ll find their way back? You might not need a good blog design to leave a lasting impression, but you had better be an amazing writer.

Pros & Cons of Custom Themes

Pros

1) They’re unique – The big one. When you get a custom theme made for your site, nobody else should have it – unless maybe your designer is less than honest. Nobody will wander into your blog and think “oh another guy using that same old theme”.

2) Helps create a brand – People think the idea of creating a brand is reserved for large corporations, but blogs (even the small ones) need to work on their brands as well. You want to be memorable. You want to stand out. You want people to revisit your blog. Custom themes create a unique image for your blog that add to your brand.

3) They’re usually much prettier – Even the best designers don’t do their best work when releasing free themes. It’s a fact of the industry, and I really do not see it changing anytime soon. The best looking blogs will always be the ones that were custom made.

4) There’s only one con – Price.

Cons

1) Price – Custom themes are expensive. You can get a decent theme designed for as low as $300, but many designers now charge upwards of $5,000 for a blog design. I sort of think $5,000 is overdoing it a bit for a blog design, but that’s for another post.

Overall when should you make the jump from a non-unique to a unique theme? In my opinion, I would say as soon as you can afford it. You can create a successful blog without a custom theme, and you may even be able to go your whole online career with a downloaded template. But why would you want to? Sure branding yourself, creating a lasting memory, and standing out from the crowd *can be done* without a good, custom theme by it’s so much easier with one.

Read more of Matt’s work at Net Business Blog.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Ahhhhhh, I love having a background in graphics and web design! Long before I started blogging, I did that.

    And you didn’t mention it as an option. A really good one is to download and install a simple theme, and make or order just a header image. Then perhaps one can learn more about HTML and update the theme him or herself, more and more as time goes by. But even just getting a custom header image would do wonders, and be much less expensive!

  2. Hmmm reading this I’m thinking…. Anyone want to check out the blogs linked from the URL in my name and tell me what I could charge for work like I did on those?

    I’d love to help Pro-Readers out with more affordable themes!

  3. Really, I’m addicted to designing new sites. :-)

  4. Dave says:

    It helps if you run a web design business as your day job, and can get work done at cost!

    I just got a new design for my blog (check my url) and it was not too much money at all :)

  5. Haunted TUNA says:

    Good post. There were stuff I didn’t think of that u mentioned.. But those prices…Waaaay overpriced!…

  6. mangatoread says:

    Hm…
    I think there’s good for custom theme..
    but not for me coz I’m new and my blog cannot get any money now….
    Maybe biz blog is suitable for custom theme…

  7. Samara says:

    I think custom themes are best because they do stand out, make a lasting impression and attract the reader. Premade’s a what they are: Premade. You can always tell when some is using a template and when it’s a custom theme. As far as price is concerned…I honestly think even $300 just about right for a “good” theme, but $3000 is too much. I do web-design myself and all my blog themes are custom made by me and I would not charge anyone $3000 for a custom made theme. It doesn’t take that much time or work no matter what the request is. It’s not like you’re preforming plastic surgery or something. $3000 is enough for a decent boob job, but not a blog template.

  8. Xin says:

    I have been trying really hard to find someone to customise my blog. I am looking to spend less than $50 if at all possible.

    All it needs is some simple CSS tweaks, and a custom banner, possibly also CSS.

    Does anyone know of such a service?

  9. Geoff R says:

    The main reason I have yet to got with a custom theme is the price-tag. I am hoping to win this free theme contest, because at least then I can get a professional theme like the one Problogger uses.

  10. darren,

    how much your blog custom theme is??

    is it $5000??

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Being discussed over at Pro Blogger is the subject of free themes versus custom made. Guest blogger Mathew Coddington from Net Business Blog had this to say: At one point in every blogger’s career he or she has to make a choice between investing in a custom template or staying the course with a premade, downloadable template. There are important factors that you have to keep in mind with each ranging anywhere from funds to brandibility. [...]

  2. [...] Custom vs Premade Blog Themes by Matthew Coddington (on ProBlogger)… Matt gives both the Pros and Cons of using the different types of platforms for Business or Pleasure. [...]

  3. [...] After reading reading Matt Coddington’s post over at Problogger about Custom vs. Premade Blog Themes, I really contemplated purchasing a custom theme. But then the money factor came in. Would $300+ be worth it on a brand new project? What if I spent $300 on a theme and then abandoned the blog because I got bored with it, or no one visited? What a waste that would be. [...]

  4. [...] posted on Problogger that discusses the pros and cons. Post in Blog | You can leave a comment, or trackback from your ownsite. [...]

  5. [...] Problogger offers up some pros and cons of “premade” and custom themes in this post. I’d add a few things to the list. [...]

  6. [...] read posts before on improving your blog which discuss the pros and cons of custom versus premade themes. I can understand this point. A blog with a unique theme helps develop a personal and unique brand. [...]