WordPress Theme Choices – Free, Nulled, Or Paid?

Have you ever wanted to get an original item let’s say a RayBan sunglasses, a Tommy footwear or a Louis Vuitton handbag and the prices made you go for a lesser quality product instead the original product? Only to realize that you could have saved more (time, energy, and of course money!) if you had gotten the original from the get go. Similarly, it’s the same that happens when you decide to opt for a nulled theme over a premium WordPress theme for your business or personal blog because you never really know what to expect!

Most times when we venture into blogging or business newly, getting a WordPress theme for your new personal blog or business website can be very daunting. After various hours of searching and demo previewing, one could fall in love with a particular theme with features we deem fit only to find out it’s premium (you need to pay the theme developer to be able to use it). However, since this wasn’t in the actual budget some are trapped in the euphoria that they got the theme free via torrent or a website that shares nulled themes.

The illusion that money has been saved will probably be quickly replaced with frustration when you will realize that the price of free is sometimes much higher than you can initially imagine.

Are you wondering what triggered me write this article? – Here’s My Confession

Yes, I too have fallen prey to these free themes. In this context of free, I mean nulled themes. I was to help a friend with his website and then did some looking around and found what seemed to be the perfect theme. He liked it too but didn’t have the money at that time to purchase it so we decided to try the nulled version of the theme.

With so much joy and  zeal, I set up the website with the theme. It worked fine for a while only to see that my web host temporarily disabled the website and said that some malware were found. I had to get the website fixed as instructed by the web host and it was up again. This happened the second time and the website was temporarily disabled!

I discussed with my friend and then decided to use a free theme from WordPress repository until he had money to get the premium version of the nulled theme we used.

This incident taught me very important thing. Never trust nulled WordPress plugins and themes! In all sincerity, it’s really less expensive to go with the paid version than download the free (nulled version) and save yourself the stress of having sleepless nights thinking if it’s really virus and adware free and whatever potential negative impact it could have on your business.

If you have had intentions of using a nulled WordPress theme or plugin, kindly read the remaining article.

When Do I Use A Free WordPress Theme or a Premium (PAID) WordPress Theme?

This totally depends on what the theme is for. If you just want a basic blog theme and don’t care about design, choose a free theme. If a theme is available for free from the developer, and you like it. Go ahead and use it because there’s nothing wrong with using a free theme.

Not everyone needs an awesome theme. Sometimes, one just needs a simple blog where literary value weighs more than graphics value. So, simple free themes are perfect for a small personal blog.

If you are running a business, buy a theme for safety, security, and design. Click To Tweet

As a small business owner who doesn’t have enough money for premium WordPress themes, what do you do? Well, based on personal experience, here’s my advice in a question and answer format:

Q: Do you need a Website for a Well established brick and mortar business or online services?

A: Purchase a Premium Theme – Don’t even try thinking twice about it!

Q: Do you have a personal blog with a small audience and not very aggressive expansion plans ?

A: A theme from WordPress Free Repository can do the job well. I’d recommend a premium theme if you have expansion plans and can afford it.

The fact is, if you do your homework, you can find some very decent free and GPL licensed themes that will serve you better. Let’s explain some terms used frequently so far – free, nulled, and premium.

What are Free, Nulled, and Premium Themes?

Free Themes: These are themes that do not come with a price tag. They cost nothing and can be found on WordPress repository.

Nulled Themes: These are downloadable premium themes usually contain viruses and dangerous scripts which may slow down your website or make your website vulnerable. Simply put, it is a cracked copy of a theme. Downloading a premium theme for free definitely exposes you to some risks.

Premium Themes: These are themes that come with a price tag. The theme developers may offer services such as a free online support forum, free upgrades to new theme versions, and so on.  Other providers may require that you pay an additional fee for support and also provide email support.

Use commercial themes from reputed providers. The money spent is worth it! Click To Tweet

Pros and Cons of Free, Nulled, and Premium WordPress Themes

There’s no such a thing as “Free”. The free in this context refers to nulled themes. Whether we like it or not, one fact remains that if you’re not paying money for the theme, you’ll definitely be paying for its use in some other form. Backlinks seem to be the most popular while some other themes may contain ads.

Furthermore, these themes usually may contain bugs and/or backdoors which would allow someone to gain control over your WordPress installation thereby putting you at a greater risk of being compromised.

Don’t forget that it also undermines someone’s business and livelihood. It’s illegal not to pay for something that others worked hard for.

It’s not like free WordPress themes are safe in their own right. Remember that it’s open source, meaning that it’s code is open and you’re most likely open to threats too. It’s wisdom to use it carefully. Even if the situation warrants the use of free WordPress themes, ensure you download from trusted repositories such as the WordPress Repository. WordPress are very strict on requirements for listing a theme so they are safe.

Pros of using a Free Theme:

  • They are free
  • Clean of any malicious code especially those gotten from the WordPress repository and theme authors website.
  • Some are frequently updated (bugs won’t be there)
  • Compatibility with a lot of plugins

Cons of using a Free Theme:

  • One among many users of the same theme
  • No edge against competition in terms of design, layouts, icon sets, and graphics
  • Some are not frequently updated

Cons of using a Nulled Theme:

  • Spam links
  • No technical support from the theme author
  • No assurance of proper working theme
  • Vulnerability to attacks – increases your risk and security issues
  • Limited or No access to documentation
  • No access to future theme and related premium plugins updates from theme author/plugin author – this means that you can’t get the latest updates until they are nulled and available for download

Pros of using a Premium Theme:

  • A+ grade support
  • Reliability and Trustworthiness –  you can be sure of it’s high-quality coding as designers have put in many man hours to make them feel just right.
  • Several unique features such as premium plugins
  • Speeds up your website development

Where can I get Free themes?

Free themes can be gotten from the WordPress Repository.

TO DO’s before Choosing a Free Theme

  • Use a free theme from a reputable source
  • Choose a theme that’s relatively new as they tend to conform to the latest WordPress theme development standards
  • Some free themes have support options, you could find out if your choice does in case you run into a brick wall.

Where can I get Premium themes?

Premium themes are generally great from proper vendors like Themeforest, WPMUDev, WooThemes.

TO DO’s before Buying a Premium Theme

  • Check for user rating and support
  • Check for options and features in relation to your business website needs
  • Purchase from reputable theme shops
  • The purchase should be done from a standpoint of the revenue to be generated

How Can I Check WordPress Theme Authenticity?

1. VirusTotal.com

VirusTotal helps you to check for virus, trojans and other worms.

Upload the zip file to check for virus. If your file is infected you will get a red signal and if not then you can move
on to next step.

2. Exploit Scanner

Exploit Scanner helps you check for unwanted codes in Plugins.

After installation go to Dashboard >> Tools >> Exploit Scanner and run the scan. It will take some time to complete the scan depending on the number of plugins you have installed.

After the scan, you can see a list of codes that are suspected.You can use the browser search function to find the plugins that you installed from outside WordPress repository.

3. Theme authenticity Checker

The Theme Authenticity Checker (TAC) plugin helps easily find backlinks in themes.

Install the plugin and go to Dashboard >> Appearance >> TAC

You can see the list of themes installed with their authenticity result. It gives a warning if any encrypted links are found in a theme.


Invest $60 for future safety, better design, hassle-free operations and peace of mind and save… Click To Tweet

The truth remains that the decision to buy a theme solely depends on your requirements and design choices. If a free theme offers you a perfect combination of design and functionalities, then there’s really no need to buy a Premium theme. However, I hope you can also see why you are better off putting some money into your business website theme.

How much do you value your content, it’s representation and eventually coming businesses via your website? If you value it, you will invest in a paid trusted theme rather than using it pirated.

Let’s say this might just be the start a new series on the blog. Today, I would just call it the “WordPress Advice of the Month” series. Don’t miss out on this by subscribing to the mailing list.

Is your business website powered by WordPress? Watch out for our next post with a checklist of plugins you can use to optimize your website for search engines and humans inclusive (I mean your readers are humans :))

What are your thoughts on free themes versus nulled themes versus premium themes? Please take a minute or two and share your stories and opinions!

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