Finding Good WordPress Themes for Writers

best-wordpress-themes-for-writers-finding-quality-top-graphic Finding the best WordPress themes for writers isn’t easy. In fact, it can be downright frustrating. Browsing through theme directories or scrolling through a huge WordPress theme gallery can be a daunting and unproductive task. Throw in the fact that the average screenshot graphic picture doesn’t really give you much of an idea how the theme actually works (does it have drop down menus, does it use lots of custom functions, does it require plug-ins, does it use too much JavaScript, and so on) and you have a recipe for a lot of wasted time that could be better used writing great high-quality content for your freelance writing business website.

Another option is to find a website dedicated to WordPress or to web design and search for articles listing their Top 10 WordPress themes, or their favorite “clean” WordPress themes, or magazine themes, or whatever. The catch to this approach is that you never really know the motivation of the author who wrote the article, or how hard they really looked into it before creating their post. After all, best WordPress theme posts are popular and with the right search engine optimization and linking, they can also be search engine traffic goldmines. This is likely why you see a lot of the same themes show up in post after post about which themes are the best. Ironically, I’ve seen the same WordPress themes listed in articles about the Top WordPress themes for Personal Bloggers and Top WordPress themes for corporate blogs, although one might assume that such criteria would generate differing lists.

The worst part is that some WordPress developers have built themes for writers based, not on experience as a writer, or based on a writer’s specifications, but based on what they imagine a writer to be. Unfortunately, it appears that “writer” conjures up images of 15 year-old girls writing angst filled poetry in their bedrooms without a thought in their heads about money or worldly possessions. Either that, or some “screw the money” hard-boiled journalist who just wants to get the truth out there without having to go through a pin-headed editor.

A real freelance writer wants a WordPress theme that makes it easy to WRITE without all of that other stuff getting in the way, not as the developers assume, a theme that makes it easy to READ without all of those pesky revenue generating ads and passive income generating affiliate links.

Open note to WordPress developers looking to make a new WordPress theme for writers: We are GOOD at what we do. That means that we don’t have any fear that some ads or graphics are going to overshadow the text we write for our websites. We don’t need empty. We need profitable, easy, and customizable. Oh, and also, don’t do things that makes it look like stuff we wrote awhile ago is now junk. With the exception of current events, we try and write content that will stand the test of time.

Where to Find Best WordPress Themes For Writing Websites

The best bet is to find a respected and trusted WordPress resource. That way, at least you know the list of themes they generate is probably a good starting point for your WordPress theme search, if nothing else. Try websites like Smashing Magazine and Hongkiat for starters. If you are a little more familiar with computers, coding, HTML, and the like, a great resource is Cats Who Code. Of course, be sure to watch the dates!

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WordPress updates pretty fast, and the best WordPress themes for version 2.6 might not be the best WordPress themes for version 2.9. Worst case scenario, some themes might be so out of date that they actually don’t function properly with WordPress any more. Even if the theme does work, that doesn’t mean it is ideal. Many great WordPress themes include features that were added on by the theme developer to address a short coming in the main WordPress release. However, WordPress tends to eventually incorporate the best feature ideas and suggestions, so these band-aids can actually become a determinant to a site’s speed and compatibility.

WordPress itself maintains a WordPress Theme Directory, and there are tons of others as any Google search will reveal. There are plenty of free WordPress themes out there that are high-quality. Until you have built and run a couple of blogs for awhile, stick with those. What you think you want today will almost certainly not be what you need once you really understand what you are doing.

As it turns out, however, the absolute best way to find awesome WordPress themes is to check out the ones your favorite websites already are using. All it takes is a little knowledge to know how to tell what WordPress theme any website is using.

Best SEO Optimized WordPress Themes for Writers

best-seo-optimized-wordpress-themes-for-writers-graphic The guys over at WordPress Hacks recently updated their ever popular best free WordPress themes article for 2010 and that got me thinking again about all of the themes I’ve looked through. In the ongoing quest to find the best WordPress themes for writers I’ve looked at TONS of WordPress themes, and I do mean TONS. I’ve looked at free WordPress themes, I’ve looked at premium WordPress themes, I’ve looked at theme frameworks, I’ve looked at WordPress Photoshop template files, I’ve looked at empty themes, basic themes, and yes, even themes that claim to be great WordPress themes for writers. The good news is that means that I have a lot of experience with what is out there for good WordPress themes to use for professional writers. The bad news is that the reason I have looked through so many different WordPress themes is because I still haven’t found the perfect theme, yet.

I could do like everyone else does and just compile a bunch of links to good WordPress themes. I could even give it a really great SEO optimized title like 25 Best WordPress Themes for Writers. But, in an effort to perhaps speed along the development of quality WordPress themes for writers to use, I decided to compile a list of the best features a WordPress theme can have to make it useful for writers, and frankly, everyone else too.

Search Engine Optimized – SEO Ready WordPress Themes Required

Let’s get real here for a minute. Professional writers are professional writers because they get paid for what they do. Writing professionally isn’t easy, and quality writing and quality website content are valuable commodities. Running a freelance writing business website is a lot more profitable if people actually see it. As Han Solo once said, "I ain’t in this for your revolution, Highness. I expect to be well paid."

While there are numerous reasons a pro writer might create and publish a website, every one of those reasons succeeds or fails on a single criteria, getting enough traffic driven to the website in order to see all those webpages filled with high-quality professional writing. Leaving aside the debate about whether or not content is king when it comes to search engine rankings, one thing is clear, unless you have the means to manually drive readers to your website, you’ll need to grab search engine traffic to establish a readership. And, the way to a searcher’s heart, is through the first page of Google search results.

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A few years ago, an Internet expert and SEO guru named Court published a list of top SEO problems in WordPress themes. He was right on the money, and it was a hit. At first, only the best WordPress themes were properly search engine optimized.  It took a while, but soon the entire WordPress developer community was cranking out SEO-optimized WordPress themes. Today, only the lowest quality WordPress themes make the basic SEO errors that Court outlined in his post.

The problem is that developers have stopped there. The last was called the most basic SEO errors committed in WordPress themes for a reason; they were the BASIC SEO ERRORS. They were not the ONLY SEO errors made in WordPress themes. So, while most quality themes now exploit Google’s overdependence on being told what is "important" on a webpage via header tags — that’s the H1, H2, H3 tags in your theme’s code — by making a post’s title the H1 element instead of the blog’s name. However, many themes still do not handle H2, H3, and H4 properly. Just making everything else H2 is NOT good SEO practice.

Some of the SEO issue in WordPress has been solved by the platform’s extensibility in the form of plug-ins. The most common SEO plugins for WordPress are All-In-One SEO plugin (outstanding SEO in it’s name, BTW), and Headspace2 (not so good on the SEO, but more "brandable"). These plug-ins allow webmasters and authors to easily set certain SEO parameters automatically, or make it easier to set them manually. These SEO WordPress plugins will ensure that your title tag is the same as you post title unless you set it otherwise, for example.

So, what else does a high-quality WordPress theme for writers need?

That’s coming up next…