Two Tested Free WordPress Themes & Affordable Hosting For Bloggers

Note: This post may be updated in the future. The pricing stated is based on November 2021 and may be subject to change.

There are tons of themes or hosting providers around, and a search will easily display dozens of recommendations. But I hope to share what I found best among the lot. Individual and starting bloggers may benefit more from this post. 

Two Tested Free WordPress Themes

  1. Blocksy – Recommended
  2. GeneratePress

Affordable Hosting

  1. Ezoic Free WordPress Hosting
  2. Hostinger
  3. NameSilo

From a practical perspective, I certainly do not need a dozen themes when I only need a good one. It may seem easy to find one good one for just a blogging need, but alas that is not so, and thus this article.
That goes the same for hosting providers. We only need one good provider for one site/s unless we are comparing alternative hosting providers.

Criteria for good WordPress themes for Bloggers (one or more):

  1. Stable and fast
  2. Free or at least for starters
  3. Premium fo free or inexpensive ( less than $20 for lifetime license and not annual use)
  4. Good overall reading experience ( font type, font size, containers placement and others)
  5. Good layout for main page
  6. Good reputation: Overwhelming good reviews ratings on WordPress Themes 

Criteria for good hosting providers for bloggers (one or more):

  1. Cheap or very competitive pricing (less than $5 or preferable $1 per month for single site with a specified term)
  2. Acceptable uptime, performance, and professional technical support
  3. WordPress support
  4. Medium or big company size
  5. Good reputation
  6. RENEWAL rate should not be exorbitant

Two Tested Free WordPress Themes

What are the benefits of Blocksy?

Blocksy

Blocksy is the only free premium theme I found, for bloggers or not. It meets all of my requirements. As of writing, Blocksy has 266 all five without any lesser star reviews on WordPress Themes!

Not only is Blocksy a light and fast theme, but it also has customizable premium features, along with Blocksy companion plugin that includes some starter sites library, and import with one click for example the Blocksy News template designed for blogs, in addition to Modern Shop, App, Business, Charity, and Travel. 

Just download the Blocksy companion plugin and upload it to install the plugin as per normal. This plugin will also help to easily install extensions and other useful plugins such as the Brizy Page Builder which builds WordPress pages visually. 

The trending extension is pleasantly useful in displaying trending posts titles at the bottom by activating with a single click.

Another useful feature is the built-in related posts feature that can be enabled in Customize->Single Posts. It can recommend more related posts at the bottom of each page that may keep visitors engaged longer and reduce the bounce rate.

Blocksy Related Posts
Blocksy related posts example display

Blocksy also allows connection to Google Analytics or v4, lazy load images for performance, social media sharing buttons, setting up social media accounts, typography, colors, header, footer, sidebar options, and more. Another useful feature is that logged-in blog owners can also conveniently click ‘edit post’ in the above menu for the current reading post (A feature I found missing on most free themes).

Another example of Blocksy beauty

Blocksy is truly a premium gem of a theme. There are probably way more features or customizations that I know or need. Personally, I find the Blocksy theme visual appeal to be as satisfying as Typora the elegant note app.

Note: 

  1. Good Passive is currently (Dec 2021) on Blocksy
  2. For Blocksy users who are wondering where is the missing sidebar, go to Theme Customization -> Blog Posts -> enable Sidebar.

What are the benefits of GeneratePress?

GeneratePress (free and paid premium $49.95) is a lightweight theme that has proven its weight in worth with an overwhelming number of five-star ratings on WordPress. Like Blocksy, GeneratePress (which has an active Facebook community) premium can and has even more demo sites for importing.

Before Blocksy came along, I had more or less employed GeneratePress for almost 2 years. It served well enough for a free and fast working theme with a good visual design without the premium features. I would probably choose the GeneratePress premium if there are no better ones.

GeneratePress grants a lifetime license for unlimited sites upon premium purchase and paid support renewal is optional. GeneratePress is very much cost-effective compared to some other premium themes that may charge in that range for the annual use of only one site.

GeneratePress

What other WordPress themes for blog starters?

Alternatively, those who just want basic themes with less than premium or limited settings may consider themes developed by WordPress themselves such as TwentyTwelve (dated but most 5 stars ratings among themes by WordPress) and TwentySeventeen (second-most). This may be a good choice for new websites while waiting or evaluating to decide on a suitable theme.  

Note: Did you know that the TwentySeventeen theme (example above) can enable dark mode and insert a YouTube video URL for playing in the header?

Alas, both themes only have basic features and no columns display for posts at all.

Are there any interesting WordPress themes?

I came across One Page Love sometime back, it made an impression on how most or all content can be displayed on a single page beautifully. The one-paged sites seemed minimal, yet they deliver the message gracefully without the need for excessive navigational clicking. It is like the web digital expression of an art portrait. 

One Page Love has numerous single-paged themes with links or demos, including creative, interesting, and captivating ones with full-page videos or animation. While it may be unsuited for blogging, it may serve the need of others. One Page Love has an inspiration collection corner of other sites that website owners can get inspired by and built a similar site with tools such as Brizy Page Builder, and the One Page Love’s templates page with free and paid templates for download or purchase.

Some examples include Rainyscope (creative), Me (full-window image), Una (note-taking style), and Clerksy (fun).

Should I use a free or paid WordPress theme?

For blogging individuals building a new blog for advertising-income, there is hardly any need for a paid theme until high traffic which may take months or years or not depending on the quality of content in my humble opinion. And a free theme is perfectly fine for search ranking GOOD content posts. Do not be oversold into impulsively buying what you do not need now or ever.

How to rectify a WordPress theme that looked messed up?

On testing new WordPress themes, I find myself spending time troubleshooting why my WordPress theme looked broken after reverting from testing out new themes or posts that were not found after getting help fixing the theme display. But once I started to live chat with a capable hosting support agent from my hosting company, he or she was able to solve my WordPress theme problem or update my PHP within minutes or seconds. My point is that we should know when to stop wasting time and effort and contemplate fixing problems in another way. 

Note of caution: Please make a backup or better with two backups regularly and especially before important events such as adding a new post and themes testing, And ensure restoration can work properly. I also broke the main page playing around with Blocksy start sites template import which I actually do not need since there are numerous existing posts and the current blog outlay was satisfactory.

Why another WordPress theme recommendation post?

This post is not a compilation of dozens of themes I found but more of what I tested and used personally. 

Basically, I am just looking for a good blogging theme with basic working features that include good performance, acceptable aesthetic display, sidebar, and columns for multiple posts preview support on the main page for a good price or preferably free. In other words, it has to look good and work well at an affordable price.

This may sound easy but somehow I could not find one such for years except the closest one may be GeneratePress or the GeneratePress premium ($49.95) until Blocksy, despite the numerous recommendations by top search results.

What WordPress themes were tested before?

There are probably too many, more than I care to count over the years, including Astra, Zakra, OceanWP, SiteOrigin Unwind, Kadence, ColorMag, and Maker.

Affordable Hosting

Ezoic Free WordPress Hosting

Please read How To Migrate & Host WordPress On Ezoic (Free & Easy).

Hostinger

What are the benefits of Hostinger?

For acceptable hosting service of a large over 400 team staff and serving more than 29 million users at one of the lowest prices i.e. $1.39/mo with a 48 months term renewed at $2.99/month, one will be hard-pressed to find a better one. I am not saying Hostinger is perfect in every sense, but it will be challenging to find a better one at this price tag. Read more here for how Hostinger may fare in a review.

For new bloggers or sites, Hostinger should serve well. 

From an economical and logical perspective, why pay more when the site traffic advertising-income is not or yet to justify it. If and when traffic is good or beyond, why not evaluate then for the need to switch with the advertising income earned or not?

Hostinger

NameSilo

Other than Hostinger (48 months @ $1.39, and thereafter $2.99/month), Namesilo ($2.39 flat monthly) and Namecheap (24 months @ $1.44, and thereafter $2.88/month) are the next cheap yet decent hosting with low renewal rate at less than $3 monthly.

NameSilo WordPress Hosting
NameSilo WordPress Hosting

What other WordPress hosting companies do you recommend?

Why not let WordPress.com themselves host your WordPress site, after all, WordPress is the source platform. Starting from a $4/month billed annually personal plan, it is not a big deal but it may be too limited unless one upgrades to Premium $8, Business $25, or eCommerce $45 per month. But a self-hosted WordPress blogger can do much more at these prices.

Should bloggers choose WordAds or Google Adsense Ads?

WordPress.com bloggers are only allowed to run the WordAds advertising program. Affiliate text links (i.e. non-widget Amazon affiliate) are still allowed. While self-hosted WordPress users can choose advertising programs of their choice e.g. Google Adsense.

A significant factor for advertising bloggers to contemplate running on Wordpress.com Premium $8/mo as opposed to running a self-hosted WordPress blog elsewhere is the consideration of possible earnings between WordPress WordAds (for WordPress.com Premium and above users only) and Google Adsense. A good comparison here indicated it is easier to achieve more advertising income with WordAds impressions than for Google Adsense clicks. With WordPress WordAds, bloggers just need to concentrate on posting quality content for traffic without having to search, test and evaluate different advertising programs.

However please bear in mind there are also other good advertising alternatives other than Google Adsense i.e. Ezoic. It is also possible to earn more if and when our site traffic starts to gain traction to 50K and even more with the option to choose between more lucrative advertising programs other than WordAds for self-hosted WordPress sites. 

While I am not recommending these, you may have heard of iPage ($3.75), HostGator ($2.75), and SiteGround ($6.99) for starting WordPress plans.

What domain name registrar do you recommend?

NameSilo (4.7 review ratings) – Around $8.99 for dot com. Easy, affordable, and no hidden charges or unexpected surprises. It even has WordPress hosting billed annually for $2.39/mo flat.

Summary

Blocksy is the recommended free, premium, and highly rated WordPress theme for blogging purposes and more. GeneratePress may be the next alternative.

Ezoic free WordPress Hosting is recommended for WordPress ads publishers. Read more here: How To Migrate & Host WordPress On Ezoic (Free & Easy).

Hostinger is a low-priced hosting for starting blog sites with their own domain names that may earn advertising income in the future.  Bluehost may be the next good choice.

One Page Love is an interesting clean-style collection of inspirational sites preview screenshots. And free or paid templates for displaying most content on a single page. 

NameSilo is recommended for its straightforward and competitively priced domain name registration. And like its domain name registration, it is straightforward in its affordable hosting cost without a high renewal rate.

Be wholesome.

Which is the fastest WordPress theme?

According to this WordPress themes study, the fastest theme of the 10 tested (including GeneratePress) is Arke, the only theme that broke under the one-second barrier. It claimed to be 100/100 on the Pingdom speed test. However, it is unlikely any modern blogger will use this rudimentary theme that has nothing but the bare basics to offer. Practically speaking, bloggers have to find the right balance between speed, visual appeal, price, and functionalities. Thus we consider Blocksy and GeneratePress.

Do you recommend free hosting companies or blogging platforms?

Medium is a good platform for good blogging earnings with conditions including supported countries and a certain number of subscribers.

Two other examples of free blogging platforms are Blogger and WordPress.com. There are limitations with display, plugins, or advertising options (one or more). If a blogger is willing to pay, a self-hosted WordPress theme may still offer the most flexibility and options at comparable or even lower pricing.

What is the difference between WordPress.com and self-hosted WordPress sites?

WordPress.com offers free and paid WordPress hosting plans to bloggers.

WordPress.org offers the free, open-source, customizable, self-hosted version of the WordPress content management software, blog tool, and publishing platform.

WordPress is a popular choice among bloggers.

Where is the animated feature image?

Blocksy Fun
Stickers credits for the featured image gif can be viewed here.

#Wordpress #Themes #Hosting #Bloggers #Recommendations #Blocksy #GeneratePress #Hostinger #OnePageLove #NameSilo #More #Others

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