Is it possible to build a profitable website with a free template? A lot of people get used to thinking that if something is free it much not be as good as the paid alternatives, plus there are always some hidden disadvantages.

These are common thoughts for both corporate businesses and skeleton startups. It cannot be 100% true for web design/functionality and, of course, you won’t get all-inclusive free templates (developers need to eat and pay bills too), but many on-budget projects successfully start with these free options.

A free template mostly means fewer features available, but that doesn't mean you can't make something great off of them, especially if the templates are from the official wordpress.org repository, which usually undergoes a long and deep review before releasing.

As for visual attraction, it oftentimes lacks nothing, which you’ll see in the examples below. When it comes to great-looking free themes, WordPress, the superhero of top web trends and handy content management systems, has got you covered.

It’s All About Being Competitive

A competitive website will bring you success as well as profit if that is what you desire. But, a website in a competitive niche is an ongoing uphill battle. Define all the pros and cons of your competitors and use this info to develop your own website, but don’t forget that the right start is half of the fortune. A good theme can really be a good starting point, before choosing a pre-made theme, play the following quick ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ game.

Is the theme you want to choose professional enough to gain some profit? If you answer yes to 5 of the following questions it may be the fit for you.
-      Does it combine matching style, lines, and colors?
-      Is it presented in 2 main color schemes (except for accent colors like buttons, titles)?
-      Does the theme have solid background colors (or half-transparent background image)?
-      Is there a lot of white space to avoid clutter?
-      Does the front page design offer 1, 2 or 3-column layouts?
-      Is it supplied with intuitive and rich functionality appropriate for your niche (e.g. if this a barbershop, the template should have a list/table of services and prices)?
-      Is there some interactive features, e.g. poll, chat, blog, testimonials, forum, etc.?

However, you should avoid:
-      Things that cause distraction, too many vivid multicolor background images that are not balanced (especially if there are different ones on all pages), a lot of pop-ups and banner advertising, etc.
-      Complexity causes difficulties in finding main info like contact details/contact form, newsletter, testimonials section, social icons, privacy policy.

Below we've listed the most popular and successful free WordPress themes with positive reviews from the official WordPress repository. Let’s take a walkthrough!

1. GK Portfolio

Gk Portfolio is a strict and elegant design for picky photographers, designers, and art lovers. GK Portfolio allows you to present all of your favorite work by featuring them in big thumbnails on the front page. Visitors’ attention will be caught immediately.

Moreover, there are no distracting elements within the theme, when you are looking at the photos, the rest of the site is quite invisible. Good choice for a creative portfolio that can conquer a lot of visitors and results in a successful business.

portfolio theme

2. Bizlight

The design of Bizlight theme is multipurpose and can be used to build any standard website very quickly. All main parts of the design, e.g. colors, logo, tagline, header, footer, background image, and many other features can be easily customized. It supports cross-browsing and looks perfect on each device including mobiles and tablets.

bizlight

3. Sydney

Looking for something impressive and powerful? Then Sydney is the way to go with its stunning and functionality-rich theme design. The full-screen front page slider will help make the site memorable, just add a couple of cute and high-quality photos. When customizing the theme, you’ll get access to Google Fonts, color and layout control, sticky navigation, and much more. Classical red and black colors look really pleasant.

sydney theme

4. Emmet Lite

Emmet is a very stylish and reliable theme that already got to the list of the most popular themes on the official repository. It is a professional responsive theme for the needs of developed companies, established corporations, and startups.

It’s oriented on building functional blogs and portfolios with its major design attraction that's a clean layout with a lot of white space, balanced color scheme, and readable typography. Emmet provides huge eCommerce capabilities so you can even sell with this theme. It’s fully integrated with popular WordPress plugins like WooCommerce, bbPress, BuddyPress, and many others.

emmet lite

5. Arise

Enjoy the all-inclusive option by choosing the Arise theme. This design has been developed due to the latest web techniques using parallax effects. Use a number of available layouts, fonts, and interactive features to give the site individuality. Furthermore, you can build your own eCommerce store using the WooCommerce plugin.

Arise theme

6. Spacious

Choose the Spacious theme if your main goal is to make customers happy with readable typography and handy navigation. There is plenty of features to make the theme functional such as 2-page templates, 5 widgets, the slider with an ability to add descriptions and read more links directly onto images, etc. Discover more pluses by viewing a Demo version online.

spacious theme

7. Coni

Coni is a high standard corporate theme that has a pixel clear design for perfectionists. Most of the front page is animated, therefore the entire site appears dynamic and modern. The theme is SEO friendly because of the clean and optimized code. It comes with a pleasant and popular one-page design for the front page to present various kinds of services, media files and galleries, testimonials, pricing tables, blogs, and much more.

coni free theme

8. Pinnacle

Pinnacle is built with a hi-tech flat design that allows you to use multiple styles and options during the customization process. This theme has pre-made solutions for any kind of corporate or personal website. It is fully compatible with WooCommerce, WMPL ready and provides a unique layout for an online store. The theme has gotten many positive reviews.

pinnacle free theme

9. SKT White

You’ll enjoy the designer’s solution in creating the SKT White theme full of in-demand options. The unique character of the SKT White template is reflected in functional widescreen parallax slider, many animations, and custom icons. The theme is fully compatible with WooCommerce making it shop ready. SKT White can be translated into any language. It’s retina-ready and perfect for presenting your media files in the best quality.

skt white

10. Gridsby

Gridsby is for lovers of the Pinterest grid style gallery. This multi-column interface helps showcase your images in the most appropriate way even if they are different in size. The menu opens in the left sidebar. There is a nice black and white contrast of the menu bar and the rest of the theme design. Gridsby offers a variety of page layouts and shortcodes. Photobloggers will love the theme from the first sight.

gridsby theme

11. Ultra

Ultra is one more great multipurpose theme with a traditional look, which is usually a win-win choice. It uses the SiteOrigin's drag-and-drop Page Builder plugin to significantly simplify your customization. Full-width is the main design concept. It’s applied to a bold Meta Slider and headlines on the front page. Ultra can be set up within minutes.

ultra theme

12. Writr

Writr is a perfect design for your personal blog that can help you gain profit thanks to its memorable design and great functionality. It’s minimalist tumblelog theme focuses on content and allows you to use a range of tools every blogger is looking for in the theme, such as Writr supports on all post formats, site owner’s Gravatar, all major social links, 6 color schemes, etc. This design has creative blocks, icons, and crispy fonts that are very stylish.

Writr theme

13. Fictive

Fictive will give your website a fresh look thanks to the ability to change the colors of Post formats, icons above the post content, Sticky Posts, etc. It provides customizable headers and backgrounds. The default color scheme is oriented on solid light colors creating a pleasant vision of transparency.

fictive theme

14. Chosen

Chosen is one of the cleanest and attractive minimalist themes for publishers. In this theme, everything is highly intuitive and all the needed info is at hand. The front page presents your posts in 2 columned widescreen layouts to help show the most interesting news. It’s fast-loading and has an easy to customize design solution.

chosen free theme

15. Restaurant Lite

Restaurant Lite is a stylish and qualitative theme with lots of animation. Choosing it can help run any restaurant website as the design is rather generic and can be used for online cafes, bakeries or coffee shops. The thin fonts won't take much space and look extra elegant. The theme is compatible with contact form 7, nextgen gallery, and WooCommerce plugin.

restaurant lite

Botton line

Any of these themes can be a good starting point for building a profitable online business. Believe your taste, and you can create some trusted content on your beautiful site using these free templates. Do you probably know more about any of these themes? If so, please share your experience with other readers in the comments section.

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Originally published Jan 1, 2020 12:29:00 PM, updated January 28 2020