Back to Blogging: Ten Themes to Inspire You Right Now

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.

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.

— Lockhart Steele

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.

Browse away!

McKinley

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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.

Syntax

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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:

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Check out how Economist contributor and Hannibal and Me author Andreas Kluth uses Syntax.

Intergalactic

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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.

Ryu

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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.

Hemingway Rewritten

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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.

Eighties

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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.

Bushwick

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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.

Bosco

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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.

Pocket ($75)

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.

Notebook ($75)

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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.


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47 Comments

Comments are closed.

  1. jitenjha

    can you tell me about how can i make my blog more colorful with themes and interact with people.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. mariamck

    I’m a new blogger and I can’t find what it is that I exactly want to blog about😦 help? any suggestions or tips on how to get started?

    Liked by 4 people

  3. frizztext

    I’ve made a test with many themes – preferred a long time the MANIFEST theme but then my favorite theme became THE PINK TOUCH 2 THEME – I’ve added ‘No Ads’ and also ‘Custom Design’ for a special font choice…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sparsha

    Thankyou. I am still not being able to construct my blog!🙂 Poor on it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Luke Kent

    I keep eyeing up the Intergalactic theme, sure is a tempting one!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Jeff Branch

    All good themes, but I still like the option loaded free theme Twenty Fourteen.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. ffraud

    i am new to wordpress & thank you for welcoming us

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Andreas Kluth

    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…

    Liked by 2 people

  9. marianthi

    Hi Cheri. I created my blog on wordpress a few days ago, so thank you for all the great advice!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. JIMBO

    All of these themes are fantastic and I wish I had enough room for them all. Nonetheless: A big shout out to the WordPress team for great eyes when it comes to design!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Annie Oakley

    Nobody reads my blog and I have given up caring, it’s for me to practice writing not for everyone else

    Liked by 3 people

    • Cheri Lucas Rowlands

      I like the idea of focusing just on writing as practice. The addition of the Publish button shouldn’t affect one’s relationship with their work, and yet these days, it’s hard not to conflate writing with publishing, and it’s a challenge writing publicly for an often faceless audience.

      Write for yourself if that works for you — do what you need to do to hone your voice and skills. Everything else is secondary. You can also make your blog private, if you prefer to do so (and only invite certain people to read your blog): http://en.support.wordpress.com/settings/privacy-settings/

      Liked by 4 people

  12. janeannsmyth

    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.
    Thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Živilė

    Great article! But I have an off-topic question. I wonder how did you put an Email Newsletter window to the end of your post? I thought that it’s not possible:/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cheri Lucas Rowlands

      That box on our blog is just a version of the Follow Blog Widget: http://en.support.wordpress.com/widgets/follow-blog-widget/ This widget can be activated on your own blog/website in the dashboard (in Appearance > Widgets).

      You can customize the fields with your own text as well.

      Note that all themes are different, so the placement of the widget will depend on the layout you have (ie, it likely won’t appear like a window at the bottom of a post, like ours — this is a theme customized especially for WordPress.com).

      Liked by 2 people

  14. Carl

    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.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Bruce Giddens

    How can I use these templates? After download?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cheri Lucas Rowlands

      These themes in this list are for blogs/sites hosted on WordPress.com. You can activate them when browsing for new themes in your dashboard when logged into your account, or in the Theme Showcase (click the blue “Activate” button on the theme page of the theme you’d like to use).

      You don’t need to download WordPress.com themes; if you’re instead looking for themes to download and install on a self-hosted WordPress site, here’s the showcase.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. aliait

    Thank you for this post! I started my food blog 2/3 months ago. But I’m still not 100% about the theme… Any feedback or suggestions?

    Liked by 1 person

  17. SK Nanga Sengaih

    Great info!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. lolitarivera

    I’m using Bushwick and I love it. The simplicity and the way it presents the posts, is just awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. dilmilgaya.com

    Thanks Cheri, they certainly are some fantastic themes & mine is no less attractive….the ‘Nuntius’ but the problem I face is the lack of traffic & followers. My content is good but not many appreciators😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cheri Lucas Rowlands

      Yep, blogging on a public blog/site isn’t just about writing/creating content, but also about building a readership. We offer some advice and resources on traffic and growth on our site, The Daily Post: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/category/traffic-growth/

      There might be stuff there that’s of interest to you.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Pain Warriors

      I have this problem too (not enough traffic) but I am learning the tricks of the trade along the way. I have found that if you can write one great post that really appeals to some of your current readers, they might reblog it. My traffic increased from less than 20 visitors per day to over 1,000 with one simple reblog by a veteran blogger who already has a lot of traffic. We will get there. I also read the tips provided by WordPress and they are very helpful. Good luck!

      Liked by 2 people

  20. projectofchoice

    I am not into blogging in a big way. Now when I have time, I do try to contribute.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Pain Warriors

    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?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cheri Lucas Rowlands

      You’ll want to select a theme that’s responsive, which means it’s been designed and built to work and display on various screen sizes: http://theme.wordpress.com/themes/features/responsive-layout/

      Our newest and recent themes are responsive; some older themes are not, and older themes generally get less technical support as time goes on. The filter in the theme showcase I linked above is a good list of themes to work from.

      Know that each theme has its unique qualities and quirks — sometimes you switch a theme and notice something small that you didn’t notice before, so it often takes time to try out a theme and see if it truly works for you and your needs. In the Customizer, when you preview themes, I believe you can also toggle the view to see roughly what your site will look like on different screen sizes:

      Screen Shot

      Happy theme hunting!

      Liked by 2 people

  22. christinalambard

    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.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. digitaldavies

    I actually quite like the theme you’re using for this blog Cheri, do you mind sharing what it is?

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Amy The Prim and Proper Astronomer

    I like this feature very much indeed! Thank you, Cheri!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. dilmilgaya.com

    Many Thanks Cheri for the link on increasing traffic & readership. I’ve tried Bloglovin today so lets see if that helps. Will definitely try the other tips as well. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. dominicpisani

    The features are great. I have to say with using word press being new in the industry it makes it a lot easier. I Can not get over how simple it is to use this. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  27. skarz

    I’m not really enjoying the recent trend in themes where you have to scroll down to read the content due to oversized headers and oversized featured images. It’s kind of ubnoxious, in my opinion. I prefer simple, understated themes in the traditional blog format.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. medicnat88

    Excellent writing🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Santosh Balmiki

    A very good article. Helpful for a new blogger like me. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  30. moviespoiler1

    I am new to WordPress, so I’m asking how do you get the picture of the laptop and camera as the blog header photo?

    Liked by 1 person

  31. DoomPatrolman

    That INTERGALACTIC theme is several shades of awesome. I’m using it now. Many thanks for making this a free theme.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Day Designer (@TheDayDesigner)

    They’re all lovely! The web just keeps getting prettier!

    Liked by 1 person

  33. prettyblackpanther

    Nice post ! I will probably try “Syntax” when I get bored of the one I’m using right now, which is “Eighties”! I absolutely love the big space for a colorful/powerful pic at the top of the blog! Anyway, thanks for this article.

    Liked by 2 people

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