Whether you’re an old-school blogger rebuilding your online home, or a newbie diving into the world of blogging, consider these ten themes that’ll get you writing right now.
Back to Blogging: Ten Themes to Inspire You Right Now
Carving out your very own corner on the web is important to you. You may be a brand-new user on WordPress.com — if so, welcome! — or a veteran blogger returning to an old habit. Recently on the Verge, Lockhart Steele, the editorial director of Vox Media, talked about getting back to blogging. On a noisy internet with many platforms, some are bringing their blogs back from the dead and reclaiming their personal turf.
But for me, the web ecosystem will always be bloggy at its core. I’m looking forward to being a part of it again myself.
No matter what type of blogger you are, these ten themes — ideal for personal blogging and writing — will inspire you: some are simple and understated, while others are bold and modern. Each theme works right out of the box, so you can start publishing right now.
Say hello to McKinley: a flexible, easy-to-use theme for writing, photographs, and short bits of content. The distinct post formats for your quote and link posts add blocks of color to your homepage, distinguishing quick posts from your longer pieces. Featured images also look great, while slideshows display at full width.
See McKinley in action on the blog of author Amanda Mininger.
A minimal design that gets out of the way? Check. Large font that’s easy on the eyes? Check. Pullquotes that supplement the reading experience? Check. Enter Syntax, a writing and reading theme with no distractions. Straightforward yet elegant, it works well with your longreads and chapter excerpts, but also displays featured images in your posts, which look fantastic in post archive view:
Check out how Economist contributor and Hannibal and Me author Andreas Kluth uses Syntax.
For writers who believe that images are as powerful as words, take a peek at Intergalactic, launched last week. Bold featured images and content blocks transform this theme into a visual feast, while the one-column layout creates a clean, quiet reading experience.
See Intergalactic take off on the site of journalist and photographer Bryan Smith.
There’s so much to love about Ryu, a popular personal blogging theme among our top ten. The large post titles are sophisticated, while the various post formats add variety to your site. (The background color of an image post automatically matches the uploaded image, which is a nice touch!) Subtle but effective design details are already in place, so you can activate the theme and start posting.
See Ryu in the wild on The Smallest Forest, a crafts and design blog.
A minimal theme with a cool scrolling header effect, Hemingway Rewritten has all the key features for most bloggers. Use the default countryside featured image, or upload your own custom header. Insert a few widgets in the sidebar on your homepage, or create full-width template pages to give your best content all the space it deserves. It’s a versatile yet clean layout, and Hemingway would be proud.
See Hemingway Rewritten transformed on The Disorder of Things.
One-column themes aren’t necessarily understated — just look to Eighties as the exception. Like the decade from which it gets its name, Eighties is fun and dynamic, from its bold blog title font to the huge full-width featured images. But despite the flashiness, it gives you the space to write, while the balance between your images and prose is tasteful.
Take Eighties for a spin on Camerajunky, the online diary of a camera addict.
Looking for something different from the themes we’ve showcased above? One awesome feature of Bushwick is the fixed header area on the left — best viewed on a bigger screen — which you can personalize with your own image. On the right, readers can scroll through your latest posts.
Check out Bushwick on the blog of artist Danny Gregory.
A single column, elegant typography, and lots of whitespace make Bosco an easy, pleasant reading experience. You’ll find unique treatments of post formats; for example, titles of link posts go straight to the content you’ve linked, rather than another page on your blog. You can also place widgets at the footer, to add cool extras without distracting your readers.
Readers will love the experience of Bosco — see it on Misprinted Pages, a blog on books and writing.
The final two themes in our list are premium, and our first — Pocket — mixes contemporary design with bold typography. Here, make your voice heard with attention-grabbing headlines, quotes, and stunning images. Your front-page archive is a single column, with distinct content blocks for your various types of posts. In the Customizer, you can also choose from multiple color palettes, select a grayscale effect for your featured images, and experiment with other extras.
See how writer, teacher, and swimmer Matthew Swanston uses Pocket.
One of my favorite new premium themes, Notebook is sleek and sophisticated. Set a commanding background image and introduce yourself on your homepage. Let the minimal graphic menu, which slides in and out on the left, direct readers to your content. The default typography is modern and easy-to-read, and images are used in various ways to enhance your site — not just as featured images at the top of your posts, but as background images in the post navigation and thumbnails in archive view.
Check out this premium theme on the Notebook demo site.
Thanks, Cheri, for using me as an example for Syntax (to which I switched from Linen).
I was looking for something that would get me to blog more by minimizing the temptation to fiddle with eye candy (ie, photos and such) for half an hour. And for something that would not distract site visitors from the words they see on whatever page they land.
But I wish the Syntax folks would add an option to place a discreet little search bar in the (mostly empty) top right. And also to make the lists of posts in archives or tags or categories collapsible, so that readers get a Table of Contents feel…. (Just sayin’, in case one of you wizards is reading this.)
For what it’s worth, btw, I think the top right corner is the weakest part of almost all WordPress themes. It’s a great place to put just one small and simple thing–a book cover for book blogs, a search bar…
Thanks for the excellent themes and advice, Cheri. I’ve been using the Twenty Twelve theme, but will definitely be trying out a few of these as well. I’ve only been using one photo per post so my blog doesn’t appear cluttered, but I sometimes think it still needs “more” even though only family and a few friends read it.
So far the 2014 theme has been working well for me. I purchased the premium package so I could personalize my blog, keep it ad-free, and want to focus on the content as you guys work hard to maintain the backend and technical upkeep. Plus the one big thing about hosting with you over self-hosting is the added server redundancy, extra security, and knowing access to my blog will not be hampered by traffic to another blog/site.
I have been using the Flounder theme since I started my blog. I would love to switch things up, and have tried other themes, but this seems to be the only one I’ve found that works well no matter what size device readers are viewing from. Are some themes more suited for a PC, Kindle, tablet, phone, etc or should they all work well on any device?
I’m just returning to blogging after about seven years off, back when I was working with my middle school students and presenting at conferences about the benefits of reading and writing blogs.
As someone who was there “way back when,” I’m happy to see blogging more embraced as an outlet for writers to inform, entertain and inspire, along with platforms to make it easier for everyone to participate.
However, to me, theme is about much more than color scheme or where a sidebar is placed–what’s going to keep people coming back? What’s the crux of a blog? Does the writing itself follow a general theme?
Kudos to everyone just starting–keep at it, and allow your blog to evolve as you do.