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The Best Option for Online Stores



The Best Option for Online Stores

Want to know the differences between Amazon FBA vs. dropshipping so that you can start your own online store?

Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) and dropshipping are two different options for delivering goods that your customers order online. Whether you are starting an online store from scratch, expanding your retail operations onto the internet, or having inventory management and shipping problems, using a fulfillment service could be helpful.

In this article, we will cover the major difference between Amazon FBA and dropshipping so that you can learn the best option for selling products.


Why Do You Need Amazon FBA or Dropshipping?

Whenever you sell products online, it’s important to think about your fulfillment strategy, which means how you will deliver orders to customers.

That includes everything like:

  • Sourcing: You’ll need to decide where to source products. As a retailer, you might manufacture your own product and handle everything in-house. But in other cases, you’ll work with a supplier and license the right to sell their products under your brand name.
  • Storage: Next, you’ll need to hold those products in a designated warehouse to prep for delivery.
  • Processing: When orders are received and processed, items are sorted and packaged accordingly. Then, they are sent to customers based on the selected shipping method and carrier.
  • Returns: If customers return a product, you’ll need to ensure it can be returned to the storage facility.

Your fulfillment strategy affects how products are stored, handled, and delivered to customers.

That said, if you fall into any of these camps, then having a solid fulfillment strategy can streamline your order delivery:

  • You are a one-person business that holds all of your products in a separate spare room and want to scale your business.
  • You often have inventory lost or mismanaged due to a lack of space and need a simpler fulfillment process.
  • You manufacture everything on your own, but your warehouse and inventory costs are a huge expense.
  • Your orders are delayed, or customers complain that products take too long to be delivered, causing poor customer satisfaction.
  • You are new to selling online and want to know the best way to fulfill orders.

Wherever you stand, it’s important to have a fulfillment strategy that fits your business needs.

To get started, you’ll need to learn the most popular fulfillment methods: Amazon FBA and dropshipping.

What Is Amazon FBA?

Fulfillment by Amazon, or FBA, is a service offered by Amazon that handles the inventory management and fulfillment side of things.

That means you won’t be stuck having to:

  • Keep a bunch of boxes in your home office or storage space.
  • Pack, label, and ship products to customers.
  • Handle returns.
  • Or even deal with some kinds of customer service.

Amazon handles the fulfillment for you, which makes life much easier as a seller. When you choose Amazon FBA, customers are entitled to get your product within one to two days via Prime shipping.

All you have to do is ship your products to Amazon warehouses, and they’ll do the rest.

how FBA workshow FBA works

To become an Amazon FBA seller, you need to create a seller account and then enroll in the FBA program. This involves providing additional information about your products and inventory.

As an FBA seller, you are not only limited to selling on the Amazon platform. You can sell your products from other platforms through Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF).

For example, you can connect your WooCommerce store to Amazon’s MCF fulfillment service through WooCommerce extensions. So everytime an order comes from WooCommerce, Amazon automatically ships orders to your customers.

What Is Dropshipping?

Dropshipping is when you sell products online without holding inventory.

When you receive an order, you will send that to the supplier, who then ships the products directly to the customer’s location. As the seller, you act as an intermediary between the customer and the supplier of the product.

This streamlined approach to order fulfillment means you can start your e-commerce business without needing to lease warehouse space, manage inventory, or juggle supply chains.

You can dropship from anywhere that allows you to do so. The most common dropshipping suppliers and companies include AliExpress, Spocket, SaleHoo, US Direct, Printify, and Alibaba. So, if you order from one of these sites, there’s a good chance the seller is not actually fulfilling the orders themselves.


That said, you could technically dropship from retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Home Depot, etc. However, some stores like Target have strict eligibility requirements before you can dropship using their products.

For more information, you may want to check out our full dropshipping guide, where you’ll learn how to build a dropshipping store on WordPress.

The Best Option to Build Your Online Store

Both fulfillment models have their pros and cons. No matter where you source and sell your products, you are going to want to create an online brand.

A strong brand presence allows you to outperform your competition. When you sell solely on marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy, eBay, or other e-commerce marketplaces, you are limited to their rules. Breaking those rules can result in your store being removed or suspended, which can be catastrophic.

Additionally, you have little to no customization since all stores must remain on brand with the site. Beyond that, you have very little control over the customer experience, meaning you can’t offer one-click upsells, provide different payment options, or even send abandoned cart emails.

If you choose Amazon FBA as your fulfillment method, then you will not be able to control your own storefront. You will be an Amazon seller with your own store page, but you won’t control your site outside of that—at least for the products you use FBA for.

That’s why the best option for differentiating yourself from competitors is to build your own online store with WooCommerce. Unlike Shopify, BigCommerce, or similar eCommerce sites, WooCommerce is an open-source eCommerce platform that is housed directly on WordPress.


That means you can easily start a blog, drive traffic, collect emails, or even connect it to a retail store without hassle. WooCommerce has a wide range of apps on the Woo marketplace, and you can install WordPress plugins to customize your site.

With so many dropshipping plugins for WooCommerce, you can instantly sell important products, fulfill orders from your site, and much more. You can also create an eBay-like eCommerce marketplace, allowing other vendors to sell on your website.

Even if you run an Amazon store using FBA, it’s still good to have a website separate from Amazon. That way, you can control customer data and continue marketing to them to gain repeat purchases and build loyalty.

To get started, just follow our step-by-step WooCommerce tutorial.

Key Differences Between Amazon FBA and Dropshipping

Before you dive into choosing your fulfillment method, it’s a good idea to understand the major differences between Amazon FBA and dropshipping.

1. Upfront Investment and Overhead Costs

The biggest advantage of dropshipping is the low initial investment. Since you don’t hold inventory costs, you have no overhead costs except web hosting, marketing and advertising expenses, and any other software you use.

Dropshipping allows you to wait until sales roll in before you place an order with the supplier.

On the other hand, Amazon FBA has high upfront costs. You need to buy the products upfront and send them to Amazon warehouses.

For example, if you purchase some of your stock from a site like Alibaba, then the seller you buy from might have a minimum order quantity of 500 units. So, you would need the capital to buy 500 units in advance to shop at Amazon.

In addition, there are shipping costs involved with sending your products to their warehouses.

Through their ‘Send to Amazon‘ feature, you do get discounted shipping rates, especially when using Amazon-partnered carriers. You would need to complete certain steps, like telling them which inventory you are sending and the quantity.

From a macro perspective, here are a few costs associated with Amazon FBA:

Types of Amazon Seller FeesTypes of Amazon Seller Fees
  • Minimum order quantity: $500 to $2000 in product costs
  • Monthly inventory storage (per cubic foot): $0.56 to $3.34, depending on the size, category of item, and season
  • FBA fulfillment fees for standard-size products (per unit): Starting from $3.06 and increasing based on weight
  • FBA fulfillment fees for oversized products (per unit): Starting from $9.61 + $0.38/lb and increasing depending on weight and dimensions
  • Inventory storage overage fee: $10 per cubic foot monthly
  • Inventory removal disposal fees: Starting from $0.97 per unit and increasing based on shipment weight
  • Aged inventory surcharge: $.50 to $6.90+ per cubic foot, depending on how many days stored

On top of that, Amazon charges referral fees, which usually are about 15% of the product’s selling price on each product sold. Outside the seller fee, Amazon FBA charges the inventory storage fees and fulfillment fees, as shown above.

You may want to keep a product catalog along with inventory for each item, ensuring that you’re never out-of-stock.

Beyond that, there’s also an Amazon Professional Sellers fee of $39.99 per month.

Amazon subscription feeAmazon subscription fee

This subscription gives you all the benefits of becoming a professional seller on Amazon, such as the ability to use Amazon ads, offer free shipping promotions, and sell in multiple categories.

Winner: Dropshipping has no upfront costs. You only pay once orders are placed, drastically reducing the overhead expenses.

2. Profit Margins

As you might have guessed, dropshipping has better margins. You won’t have to pay the referral and storage fees that come with Amazon FBA.

So, if your goal is to maximize profits item-for-item, dropshipping could be the better option.

That said, Amazon gets 2.27 billion web visits per month. That means just by being a seller on the platform, you get free traffic to your product listings.

While you don’t have fees for dropshipping, you are in charge of driving traffic to your product pages. In most cases, that means spending more money on advertising.

The profit margins for both fulfillment models vary depending on your product category, how you mark up prices, and the overall perceived value of your item.

To boost profit margins, you may want to leverage pop-ups to increase sales and increase the average order value.

Winner: Dropshipping has better profit margins because the Amazon FBA service comes with referral and storage fees. These fees eat into your profits, so it’s important to price your products accordingly.

3. Customer Service

Dropshipping your products means you will most likely have to handle all customer support queries.

You’ll need to promptly respond to all customer support emails. Depending on how many orders you have daily, this can quickly become a growing pain for large stores.

That’s why it’s best to install help desk and live chat plugins. As a result, customers can easily get their questions answered. Beyond that, you’ll want to have a frequently asked questions section to help reduce the number of queries you get.

You’ll want to answer questions such as:

  • What are the expected shipping times?
  • What are the shipping rates to different locations?
  • What is the return or refund policy?
  • How do you install or use the product?

If you have a WordPress website for your online store, then it’s reasonably easy to set up an FAQ section. Here’s an example of one created using the Heroic FAQs plugin:

FAQ preview Heroic FAQsFAQ preview Heroic FAQs

By contrast, when you choose FBA, you get to tap into Amazon’s existing customer service. You don’t need to hire virtual assistants or customer service representatives to handle all of your return or refund requests.

Amazon also has a no-questions-asked return policy. Customers are confident that they can always return their items anytime and get their money back. When customers have an issue with an order or delivery, they’ll just need to contact Amazon’s service reps through live chat.

Winner: FBA gives you access to Amazon’s built-in support system. Customers have peace of mind that they can always contact Amazon’s trusted support team for any issues and return their products within 30 days.

4. Shipping Times

Depending on where you source the products, dropshipping can have very slow shipping times. If you source from American suppliers, then your customers may only wait a week for their order.

However, in many cases, dropshipping from overseas can take anywhere between two to four weeks for the shipment to arrive.

The AliExpress delivery times range from 15 to 30 days.

If you do have long shipping times, make sure to always offer shipment tracking so that customers aren’t left wondering when their package will arrive.

Note: If you are adding shipping costs based on location for dropshipping, then it’s a good idea to add a shipping calculator. Amazon automatically does this for customers at checkout, but for dropshipping sites, you’ll need to add this on your own.

Note: If you are adding shipping costs based on location for dropshipping, then it’s a good idea to add a shipping calculator. Amazon automatically does this for customers at checkout, but for dropshipping sites, you’ll need to add this on your own.

Shipping discount calculator form previewShipping discount calculator form preview

By contrast, when you choose FBA, you get to leverage all of Amazon’s shipping and logistic services.

Since they handle the entire fulfillment process, they will use their network of carriers to ensure a two-day delivery time.

Winner: Amazon has warehouses worldwide. When you enroll in the FBA program, Prime users can have their orders delivered within days.

5. Level of Control

One of the biggest downsides to dropshipping is the lack of control. Since you don’t hold inventory, you have no say over how the packaging looks or the product quality.

Plus, because you are dropshipping, you don’t get to customize the product to fit your branding.

For example, if a customer receives a poorly packaged product with Chinese printed labels, it might not reflect well on your brand, especially if it doesn’t match what your website portrays.

With Amazon FBA, you are essentially developing your own private-label brand like you would if you were using a storefront through WooCommerce or Shopify.

Since you are buying items in bulk, you can work with your suppliers to customize the products to fit your needs. Plus, you are able to send Amazon any printed packaging labels, postcards, or special gifts to personalize the customer experience.

As you scale your online business, you will want more control over the shipping process.

Winner: Amazon FBA allows you to customize your packages and labels and add branding elements before you ship inventory to their warehouses. With dropshipping, you have no control over how the company ships, packs, or handles your products.

6. Competition

Both fulfillment methods have high competition, depending on your product niche.

The competition for dropshipping depends on where you sell your products. If you sell on Etsy, eBay, or other third-party platforms, you’ll have direct competition with other sellers selling similar products.

However, if you sell in your own store through WooCommerce or Shopify, you can use ads to drive traffic to your product page. In that case, your audience probably won’t be directly comparing your products to other sellers.

On the other hand, Amazon has more head-to-head competition. Customers can visibly see all your competitors, their products, and prices.

For example, if you are searching for a product like a ‘pet grooming kit,’ you’ll get to see all the sellers in one place. It’s easy for customers to price shop on a marketplace like Amazon.

Amazon competition pet grooming kit exampleAmazon competition pet grooming kit example

With reviews and rating systems in place, Amazon FBA can be seen as more competitive than dropshipping through a storefront you control.

Winner: Both can have high competition. But if you have your own online store that you drive traffic to, then dropshipping has less direct competition since competitors won’t also show in sitewide search results.

7. Trust and Credibility

Dropshipping doesn’t provide anywhere near the credibility that Amazon does. If you sell on your WordPress site, then first-time customers don’t know what to expect. It can take time to establish a brand reputation, which isn’t as necessary if you are an Amazon seller.

Unless you are a big brand, customers might be worried that the product quality is bad or, even worse, that the product never arrives. Sure, they can go to their banks or payment gateway and request a refund or chargeback, but the process is a much bigger hassle.

While you won’t be able to emulate Amazon’s credibility with dropshipping, you can still use a social proof plugin like TrustPulse on your website to help build trust with visitors.

It will show real-time notifications of customers buying your products, which can convince visitors that your brand can be trusted.

TrustPulse popupTrustPulse popup

Amazon is the market leader in e-commerce and is widely recognized for its outstanding customer satisfaction. Due to Amazon’s iron-clad return policy, buyers are confident they can always return items easily.

Plus, generally, most products sold on the platform have a high satisfaction rating of 4+ stars.

When you choose Amazon FBA, customers aren’t worried about fraud, which can help boost sales.

Winner: Amazon has a built-in trust factor. Customers know they’ll receive their products on time and without many issues.

8. Multi-Channel Selling

As a seller, you may not want to be limited to one traffic source. That’s one of the big advantages of dropshipping. You can choose to take your store anywhere.

You can dropship items listed on eBay, Amazon, Etsy, your own site, or even using print-on-demand services like Printify.

Plus, you can choose to use any form of advertising you’d like to drive traffic to your dropshipping store, including Facebook ads, Google PPC campaigns, social media posts, and even blog content.

With FBA, you are primarily limited to selling only on the Amazon platform unless you enroll in their MCF program. As mentioned, you’ll be in direct competition with other sellers. That means a competitor can easily swoop in to undercut your prices and take away your sales.

Even if you choose FBA, you can still build a separate e-commerce store outside of Amazon. This will allow you to sell your products elsewhere and control your customer data.

Winner: When you dropship products, you can sell them anywhere online. With FBA, you can’t sell on other platforms. Instead, you need to enroll in their MCF program.

Amazon FBA vs. Dropshipping: Which Is Better for Small Businesses?

Both fulfillment methods can work for small businesses. Overall, dropshipping is best for new sellers who are just getting started. It allows you to test products without first buying inventory in bulk.

Plus, you can do dropshipping from your own online store. This will give you the freedom to control your store’s customizations and branding without having to follow the rules of third-party marketplaces.

That said, if your products are already selling well, it might be a better option to transition to Amazon FBA. FBA streamlines the fulfillment process so you can take advantage of faster shipping times and professional delivery services.

We hope this article helped you understand the major differences between Amazon FBA vs. dropshipping so you can pick the best option for your online store. You may also want to check out our curated list of the best WooCommerce plugins for your store and the best WooCommerce WordPress themes.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

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Five Takeaways from WordCamp Europe 2024 (From a First-Time WordCamp Attendee) – News




Five Takeaways from WordCamp Europe 2024 (From a First-Time WordCamp Attendee) – News

This year’s WordCamp Europe was held in Torino, Italy, the capital city of the Piedmont region in northern Italy. Torino is known for its rich automotive history, beautiful architecture, and, of course, incredible food.

From June 13-15, 2024, over 2,500 folks from the WordPress community, including many of us from the team, came together to learn, connect, and give back to the WordPress project that powers over 43% of the entire internet.

I joined the team back in January of this year, so WordCamp Europe 2024 was my first WordCamp experience. In today’s post, I thought it might be interesting to hear about the conference from a first-timer, especially if you’re considering attending a WordCamp or WordPress meetup in the future. 

Here are my top five takeaways from my very first WordCamp:

1. In-person connection is powerful.

If your typical workday looks similar to mine––sitting at a desk at your house all day by yourself––going to a conference as large as WordCamp Europe may be a wee bit out of your comfort zone. It certainly was out of mine.

That said, I’ve recently found myself craving in-person connection after the pandemic and working almost exclusively from home for over eight years. Not only did attending this conference just get me out of my normal routine, it allowed me to connect with folks who love the tool I’ve used personally and professionally for over a decade: WordPress.

I staffed the booth, so I had a ton of opportunities to chat with other business owners, developers, creators, and makers over the course of the conference. I actually talked with a few fellow self-taught women developers like me, and I walked away feeling inspired, motivated, and just really thankful to be a part of this community.

But the best conversations happened in places I wouldn’t have expected: over spritzes, grabbing a cafe at the venue, or just walking around the city.

Embracing connection was a big focus of Matt’s final keynote speech during the event, and I couldn’t agree more. Events like WordCamps allow for swapping ideas, collaborating and troubleshooting, and experiencing a sense of community that you just don’t get while sitting behind a computer. 

That said, if large-scale conferences like a flagship WordCamp just aren’t for you, try checking out a local WordPress meetup to connect with other like-minded folks in your community.

2. It takes a ton of people to make WordCamps great.

One of the most moving parts of WordCamp Europe was at the very end when all of the volunteers and organizers were called to the stage; it’s truly amazing just how many people need to be involved to make an event like WordCamp actually happen.

People in black tshirts on a stage with a blue background and other people sitting in chairs facing the stage
Screenshot from the WordCamp Europe 2024 livestream on YouTube

Everything was smooth and well-organized, and the volunteers and organizers could not have been more helpful. Their enthusiasm about the event, WordPress, and community in general throughout the conference was infectious.

WordCamps and local WordPress meetups are always looking for volunteers; donating your time and expertise for events and meetups like this are a great way to give back to the WordPress project and community.

And if you’re an organizer of your local WordPress meetup, check out this post for information on how you can get a free website for your local meetup.

3. Contributor Day isn’t intimidating for a first-timer.

I’ve never contributed to WordPress core, but it was one of my goals for this year. That’s why I was so excited to participate in Contributor Day at WordCamp Europe.

If you’re unfamiliar with Contributor Day, it’s an event that usually kicks off a WordCamp. Teams focus on contributing to the WordPress open source project, with groups focused on code, support, translations, sustainability, inclusion, and more.

After listening to all of the team presentations, I decided to join the Accessibility team. Accessibility is something that has always interested me, but it’s also something I don’t have a ton of experience with.

That said, my inexperience wasn’t just accepted, it was actively welcomed.

people sitting around circular tables and #wceu on a wall

Once I got to the Accessibility team table, I was immediately greeted and welcomed. Then I paired with a fellow contributor, Marco Acato from Acato Digital Agency, to test the accessibility of a new theme for the WordPress theme repository.

I learned so much, asked a ton of questions, and felt surprisingly accomplished after just a few hours of testing this theme. We were actually able to publish feedback for the theme developer at the end of the day as well. 

Contributor Day gave me an even deeper appreciation for the entire community that supports the WordPress project every single day. So much work and effort goes into maintaining and improving this tool that millions of websites across the world rely on to run their businesses, amplify their messages, and stay in touch with others. I felt so grateful to have been a part of it during Contributor Day and would encourage any other first-timers to attend a Contributor Day in the future as well.

Luckily, WordPress core is always looking for volunteers and contributors; check out this guide or the new Contributor Mentorship Program if you’re interested in becoming a contributor yourself.

4. Torino was a great host city, and the WordCamp team made navigating a new city easy.

Between attending Contributor Day and sessions, to checking out sponsor booths and attending side events, I didn’t think we’d have a ton of time to actually see the city or Torino.

I actually had plenty of time to explore with my coworkers, eat pizza every single day, and scope out the best gelato spots outside of conference hours. 

a gelato cup filled with two different colors of gelato with a spoon sticking out of it

The WordCamp Europe team did a great job preparing attendees to make the most of our time in the city as well; their travel guides helped me feel confident navigating the city and finding some of the foods that come from this area in Italy.

As a first-timer in Torino, I really appreciated the extra work that the WordCamp team did to ensure everyone had a chance to explore and experience the city.

5. Pizza really is poetry.

I would be remiss to not mention the food that we ate during our time in our host city! While we like to say that “Code is poetry” around here, so is pizza. 

One of my very favorite memories from the event was the branding. The design team for WordCamp Europe 2024 added subtle nods to our host country throughout the venue, which was incredibly clever and well-done.

a sign that says 'Code is Poetry (...but so is pizza)' and #wceu

And while pizza is indeed poetry, it’s even better when shared amongst coworkers, friends, and people who get excited about the same things that excite you.

five people sitting at a table with three large pizzas on top

Wrapping up

I loved my time at WordCamp Europe, and I’m already looking forward to the next time I can connect face-to-face with the WordPress community. 

Were you at WordCamp Europe this year? Leave a comment with your favorite memory from the event below.

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Inside’s World-Class Security Features – News




Inside’s World-Class Security Features – News

You can rest easy knowing that you have the web’s best security guards working on your behalf.

It’s never been easier to create a website—especially with—but keeping that site secure can be challenging. When you host with, though, we do the heavy lifting for you and let you focus on the fun of creating your dream website. Whether you’re a blogger, entrepreneur, or hobbyist, our top-notch security features safeguard your site day and night so that you don’t need to stress. 

Whether you’ve known about it or not, we’ve long been scanning and monitoring your site’s files to catch and remove threats. Let’s dig in just a bit more. 

Built-in protection at your fingertips

Scan history is available on higher-tier plans

Using Automattic’s homegrown Jetpack software, every site is scanned on a daily basis for dangerous plugins, themes, malware, and other vulnerabilities. Once weaknesses are spotted, our security team swiftly resolves the issues, updating or reverting files as needed depending on the problem. 

Perhaps the best part is that we offer this peace of mind for free, on every plan. This certainly isn’t the case everywhere. Many WordPress hosts charge for the type of protection that offers on all of our website plans.  

Plus, you don’t have to do a thing to activate or maintain these security features. Our scanning tools are up and running as soon as your site is created. You can rest easy knowing that you have the web’s best security guards working on your behalf.

Why does website security even matter? 

It’s possible you’ve never before thought of the importance of website security. The reality of the modern web, however, is that bad actors are out there looking to take advantage of you and your site’s visitors. 

If your site is hacked, it’s liable to cause serious damage to your reputation and your livelihood (not to mention your emotional well-being). Hackers can manipulate your website’s data, steal information from you or your users (including passwords), install and execute malicious code, and even distribute the malicious code to your visitors, infecting their sites and machines. It’s not an insignificant problem or threat, that’s for sure. 

Jetpack’s web application firewall (WAF) monitors every request to your site and blocks requests from anything malicious. Our team of security experts continually updates the web application firewall’s rules to ensure you are protected against the most up‑to‑date threats. You don’t have time for downtime. 

Even more robust security tools are available 

1718839563 143 Inside WordPresscoms World Class Security Features – WordPresscom News

On our higher-tier plans you also have access to the scan history, which shows a record of all previous threats on your site. Additionally, you’ll have access to real-time backups, real-time security scans, malware removal, spam protection, and vulnerability notifications for core code and plugins.

Set it and forget it 

At, we want you dreaming big rather than spending your energy worrying about your website’s security. This is why we provide automatically-installed best-in-class monitoring with no extra charge, on every single plan. 

And our security features will grow right alongside you; whether your dream is to blog about your adorable cats, highlight your stunning landscape photography, or build a home base for your budding technology startup, we have your back. Learn more about all our security features or get started building right now:

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WordPress Themes 101: Free vs. Premium and Everything in Between




WordPress Themes 101: Free vs. Premium and Everything in Between

Do you want to learn about WordPress themes and how they can take your website to the next level? If so, you’re in the right place! 

There’s no question that choosing the right WordPress theme is vital for building a website that not only looks great but also offers your customers the best experience possible. 

But as a beginner or someone looking for a change, this process can be overwhelming, after all, there are thousands of themes to choose from!

We believe that by understanding themes and the important factors around them, you’ll be better prepared to choose one that aligns with your goals. Today, we will give you the full rundown on WordPress themes. Keep reading, and you’ll learn everything you need to know about finding the perfect theme for your site.

Let’s begin!  

Understanding WordPress themes

At its core, WordPress themes are a collection of files that define the appearance and functionality of a WordPress website. Themes control everything from the layout and color scheme to the typography and navigation menus. They are the visual and structural foundation that dictates how content is presented to visitors.

Not only do themes determine the look of your site, but they have a direct impact on performance and your overall user experience (UX).

Choosing the best WordPress themes can enhance the overall branding, improve readability, and provide a seamless browsing experience across different devices. But a quick look at the ecosystem will show you that the possibilities are quite endless. You can find sleek and minimalist themes as well as incredibly in-depth, feature-rich options and everything in between. 

One way to start exploring your options is to see what themes your favorite websites use. There are various tools and resources available that can help you with your research. A popular option is “What WordPress Theme Is That?,” which allows users to enter a website URL and quickly discover the active theme. Additionally, “WordPress Theme Detector” can automatically detect and display the theme information for any WordPress site you visit.

WordPress Themes 101 Free vs Premium and Everything in Between
Adobe Stock

Choosing the right theme

Now that you know a bit more about themes, let’s talk about some of the major factors you need to know when choosing one for your website. 

  1. Responsive Design: Did you know there are over 5.48 billion mobile users? This statistic highlights why it’s essential to choose a theme that offers a responsive design that looks great and works perfectly across all devices and screen sizes.
  2. SEO Optimized: You’ll want to find a WordPress theme that can help with search engine optimization (SEO). For example, some themes come with a schema markup alongside the theme.  This feature can give your website a competitive edge in search engine rankings and lead to more traffic.
  3. Customizable Design: Depending on your needs, you may want to choose a theme that allows for easy and flexible customization, whether through theme options, page builders, or the ability to modify the code directly. This feature can help you add some personal flair and style to your site. 
  4. Compatibility with WordPress plugins: WordPress plugins can add powerful functionality to your website, so it’s crucial to choose a theme that is compatible with the plugins you plan to use or might need in the future. Trust us, you don’t want to buy a theme that isn’t compatible with what you’re currently using. 
  5. Loading Times: Research shows that 53% of people will leave a website if it takes too long to load. So, this means a fast-loading website is crucial for boosting engagement, sales, and your search visibility. When looking for a theme that can help, choose one with optimized code and a lightweight design.

Free vs. premium themes

When it comes to choosing the best WordPress themes for your site, you’ll need to balance the factors above with the decision to use a free or premium option. Both have their advantages and drawbacks that you should know.

Here’s a quick overview of each, as well as when you should use them on your site: 

Free WordPress Themes:

  • Cost-effective solution, which can be helpful for people on a tight budget.
  • A wide range of free themes are available in the official WordPress directory and third-party repositories. This means you’ll have options, even if you decide to take the free route.
  • Ideal for basic websites or those with limited customization needs.
  • Free themes are usually not updated as often, which can pose security risks if not maintained properly.
  • There are limited support options, so you’ll need to check out forums if you get stuck. 

When to choose a free theme:

  • You’re on a tight budget and have basic website design needs
  • You’re comfortable with limited customization options, or don’t need advanced customization
  • You’re willing to take precautions to keep your site safe and maintained due to the lack of support and updates

Premium WordPress themes:

  • Typically come with more advanced features, which means you can tweak your site in a way that perfectly matches your needs. 
  • Outside of standard page building, these themes are often highly customizable with various built-in options and integrations.
  • Provide access to dedicated support and step-by-step guides when you have a specific problem. 
  • It can be more expensive, ranging from one-time fees to recurring subscriptions.

When to choose a premium theme:

  • You require advanced features and functionality.
  • You value regular updates, support, and maintenance.
  • You need a highly customizable and unique design.
  • Your website handles a lot of sensitive information or traffic. 

Ultimately, the decision between a free or premium WordPress theme will depend on your specific needs, budget, and the level of customization and support you require for your website. Both have a place in the community. 

Now that you know a little more about themes and how they work, let’s have a look at some of the best themes and how they can help you take your website to the next level.


WordPress Themes 101 Free vs Premium and Everything in BetweenWordPress Themes 101 Free vs Premium and Everything in Between

Price: Free + $59 per year

Astra theme is a multipurpose and lightweight theme that has become extremely popular among WordPress users due to its performance, customizability and compatibility with popular page builders such as Elementor, Beaver Builder etc. 

The free version of the theme offers basic yet important features such as responsive layout, typography controls, different layouts etc. The premium version of Astra, Astra Pro, offers advanced features such as custom layouts, header builder, footer builder, typography options etc. Weighing less than 100KB, this theme is one of the fastest WordPress themes and is suitable for any type of website.


1718603778 829 WordPress Themes 101 Free vs Premium and Everything in Between1718603778 829 WordPress Themes 101 Free vs Premium and Everything in Between

Price: Free + $59 per year

Another modern and popular theme, GeneratePress, is known for its speed and ease of use. The free version already has an integrated layout builder, typography options, and basic pages such as services, portfolio, and contact.

GeneratePress is also an ideal WordPress theme for website layout because of its visual page builder in the premium version. Some of the premium features of this theme include a site library, custom layouts, sections, headers, typography, pricing tables, WooCommerce support, and advanced theme settings. If you’re looking for WordPress eCommerce themes, this is an excellent option.


1718603778 139 WordPress Themes 101 Free vs Premium and Everything in Between1718603778 139 WordPress Themes 101 Free vs Premium and Everything in Between

Price: Free + $44 per year, $176 for life

A multipurpose theme with strong eCommerce and online store capabilities, OceanWP offers a range of pre-built website demos in the free version, as well as WooCommerce integration and all the customization options you’d expect from a popular WordPress theme. 

Further premium features include a pop-up builder, sticky headers, content slider, icon box, feature grid, table of contents and more. The theme also includes premium add-ons for integrating with some of the most popular plugins such as MonsterInsights, WP Rocket, and AIOSEO. Overall, OceanWP is a powerful theme suitable for business websites and online stores.


1718603778 287 WordPress Themes 101 Free vs Premium and Everything in Between1718603778 287 WordPress Themes 101 Free vs Premium and Everything in Between

Price: Premium $69 per year

Avada is a top-selling theme on ThemeForest. It is a fully packed, highly functional, responsive, and versatile premium WordPress theme with a visual page builder, dozens of pre-built website layouts, tons of custom options, header builder, footer builder, and e-commerce shopping cart options. 

Out of the box, Avada comes with lots of layout possibilities and you can create any type of website from business and corporate sites to e-commerce stores, restaurants, cafes, product showcases, portfolio sites, travel and wedding sites, medical and law firms, SEO and marketing agencies, and any type of responsive website.

We like the Visual Pagebuilder, which allows users complete creative freedom to build stunning and highly effective web pages. In addition to that, it offers Header Builder and Footer Builder as well. Avada is a complete theme which will fulfill all your requirements.


1718603778 164 WordPress Themes 101 Free vs Premium and Everything in Between1718603778 164 WordPress Themes 101 Free vs Premium and Everything in Between
Price: 30-day free trial, $89 per year

Divi is a bestselling premium WordPress theme by ElegantThemes which comes with a great drag-and-drop page builder. This enables complete control over your website’s design along with remarkable layout choices. 

The user-friendly visual builder helps create personalized layouts, incorporate animations, and take advantage of the pre-designed layouts and modules. Other advanced options that Divi offers are split testing, custom CSS controls, and robust theme options. All these make Divi a versatile choice for agency websites, designers, and for everyone looking for a totally customizable web solution.

Thrive Themes

1718603779 146 WordPress Themes 101 Free vs Premium and Everything in Between1718603779 146 WordPress Themes 101 Free vs Premium and Everything in Between

Price: $149 per year

Thrive Themes offers a great theme builder that can help you create stunning, high-performing websites. It comes with a list of designer-made and tested themes that can be installed with a click. Set global website branding effortlessly, including smart brand colors, global font sets and pairings, and dark/light brand logos.

With Thrive Themes, you can visually edit all your theme template files, including blog posts, headers, footers, sidebars, 404 pages, and more. The theme builder allows you to edit and style blog lists with ease and make sweeping changes across your entire website or fine-tune each pixel.

Ideal for marketers and eCommerce business owners, Thrive Themes provides the flexibility and power to create engaging, conversion-optimized websites. It integrates seamlessly with other popular WordPress plugins, making it a great choice for both new and established businesses.


1718603779 394 WordPress Themes 101 Free vs Premium and Everything in Between1718603779 394 WordPress Themes 101 Free vs Premium and Everything in Between

Price: Free + $149 per year

Specialized WordPress themes

WordPress themes are very versatile, but sometimes you need something more targeted – a specialized WordPress theme just for your site and its unique purpose.

With that thought in mind, let’s look at some of the top theme choices for some of the most common website types, including blog, e-commerce, and business themes.

WordPress blog templates

Perhaps your #1 priority is to create a successful blog. In that case, you need a WordPress theme that’s optimized for writing and blogging. Here are some of the top WordPress blog themes featuring user-friendly elements that bloggers will love:

  • Design elements that encourage readability and content discovery
  • Built-in featured posts, related posts, and popular posts widgets
  • Integration with social networks for sharing
  • Easy customization of author boxes
  • Integrated email/newsletter signup forms

Some of the most popular WordPress blog templates include Editorial, Novelty, and Poseidon. Many of the best blog themes emphasize clean design and minimal distractions for readers while still offering plenty of customization and tools.

WordPress Ecommerce templates

If you’re ready to create an online store, you’ll need an eCommerce WordPress theme. All of the best WordPress eCommerce templates are optimized for shopping and include integration with the popular WooCommerce plugin and other shopping cart systems.

Other features include:

  • Product catalogs and shopping carts
  • Secure checkouts
  • Advanced product filters and search
  • Cross- and upselling
  • Customer reviews and ratings

Astra Pro, OceanWP, and Divi all offer strong eCommerce support, while dedicated eCommerce templates like Shoptimizer and GrooveKart are specifically designed for this.

When choosing an eCommerce WordPress theme, consider the size of your product catalog, the payment options you need, and any other functionality like memberships or subscriptions.

WordPress business and corporate templates

Whether you’re a business, agency, or professional, your WordPress theme can make or break your credibility and trust with clients and customers.

Many of the best WordPress themes for business and corporate sites feature professional designs and useful business tools, including:

  • Clean, corporate layouts
  • Staff profile pages
  • Team portfolio and case studies
  • Testimonials and client logo sliders
  • Advanced contact forms and map integrations

Neve, Customizr, and the Divi theme are all popular choices for business templates. The latter offers a whole suite of professional layouts and designs for many types of industries.

When selecting a business WordPress theme, consider your industry niche, whether you need eCommerce, and your branding and design style. All of this information will help you determine the right theme for your site. 

Ultimately, picking the right template can help you start your website strong, whatever it may be. We suggest doing some additional research and looking for themes targeting your specific niche – it will be worth your time, and your visitors will appreciate the fact that your site is optimized for them. 

Theme selection based on content needs

Apart from special use cases like blogs or e-commerce websites, you can also consider the type of content you’ll publish and choose the theme that best fits your needs.

Let’s consider some good themes for posts/comments and visual content like portfolios and galleries.

Best themes for posts and comments

Do you think user comments and community engagement will be a major part of your workflow? If so, you should pick a theme that prioritizes posts and comments.

The best themes for posts and comments WordPress provides customizations like blog layouts, commenting, social sharing, related feature tabs, and customizable user profiles.

Some well-known themes in this category include Editorial, Zine, and Suffice. These themes will give you a blank slate for long-form content to go alongside engagement via comments, sharing buttons, and related posts.

Best themes for visual content

On the other hand, if your website is going to contain a lot of visual elements like photography, designs, or graphics, you need a theme that helps in showcasing this type of content.

The themes that are best for websites with lots of visual content usually come with the following features: gallery and portfolio project system, lightbox, grid options, distraction-free modes, and slider integrations.

Some of the well-known themes for websites with lots of visual content include Divi, Neve, Astra, and specialized portfolio themes like Accountor and Imprint. Many of them make use of WordPress’ native media handling while adding better visual layouts and display features.

When selecting a theme that focuses on visual content, consider the type of media you’ll be displaying (images, videos, 3D models, etc.), whether you need proofing areas for clients, and whether print/download options will be needed.

Regardless of the type of content you’ll be publishing, investing time in identifying a theme well-suited to managing how you organize and present that content can lead to a much better user experience for your target audience.

Affordable options

Creating a website needn’t be expensive. There are high-quality, cheap WordPress themes available that ensure your website looks professionally crafted without compromising on performance or usability.

Startups, small enterprises, and people with limited budgets need cost-effective solutions when it comes to choosing WordPress themes. Here are some guidelines on how to find cheap, responsive WordPress themes:

Visit free theme repositories

The official theme repository is the first place you should consider. There are thousands of free themes available there. Free doesn’t necessarily mean the theme is of low quality. There are well-coded, responsive, and regularly maintained themes in the repository if you’re willing to look and be aware of ones that haven’t been updated in a while.

Check for developer/student discounts

Most premium theme providers give attractive discounts to developers, agencies, students, and beginners. Ask if there are special discounts available even if you don’t see any listed.

Freemium themes

There are WordPress theme companies which provide themes based on a freemium model. Kandance from our list above is one such option. You can start with the free version and upgrade to premium features as and when your resources permit.

Watch out for sales and bundles

If you have a flexible deadline, you can wait for the next sale or bundle offer from prominent theme providers. Many of them offer attractive discounts (as much as 30-70%) around various festive seasons like Black Friday and so on.

Wrapping it up

Choosing the very best WordPress theme for your website is a key part of the design process. Not only does your theme determine the appearance of your site but it also determines the experience you build with visitors.

Whether you are creating a blog, an online store, a business website, or a portfolio that is heavy on images, choosing the right WordPress theme from the start will make all the difference to the success of your site.

In this article, we’ve covered the different types of WordPress themes available, some of the popular choices, specialist themes, and even some free alternatives.

So, take the time to research, experiment, and use the advice and resources we shared today. With the right WordPress theme in hand, you’ll be well on your way to creating a thriving website that resonates with your audience.

Additional resources

Theme libraries

  1. Theme Directory: The official WordPress theme repository with thousands of free themes.
  2. ThemeForest: A vast marketplace for premium WordPress themes across various categories.
  3. Elegant Themes: Home to the popular Divi theme and other premium themes and plugins.

Tools for detecting themes

  1. What WordPress Theme Is That?: A free online tool to detect the theme and plugins used by a WordPress site.
  2. WPThemeDetector: Another tool for identifying the theme and plugins on a WordPress site.

Theme comparison and review sites

  1. WPBeginner: Offers reviews and comparisons of various WordPress themes and plugins.
  2. SeedProd: Provides curated lists and reviews of free and premium WordPress themes.
  3. IsItWP: Helps you find the best WordPress themes and provides in-depth reviews.


What is a WordPress theme?

A: A WordPress theme is a collection of templates and stylesheets used to define the appearance and display of a WordPress-powered website.

How do I install a WordPress theme?

A: To install a theme, go to your WordPress dashboard, navigate to Appearance > Themes, click “Add New,” search for a theme, and click “Install.” Once installed, click “Activate” to apply the theme to your site.

What is the difference between free and premium WordPress themes?

A: Free themes are available at no cost and offer basic features and customization options. Premium themes come with advanced features, dedicated support, and regular updates but require a purchase.

Can I customize my WordPress theme?

A: Yes, most WordPress themes offer customization options through the WordPress Customizer or theme-specific settings. You can change colors, fonts, layouts, and more.

What should I consider when choosing a WordPress theme?

A: Consider factors like design, responsiveness, customization options, compatibility with plugins, SEO friendliness, speed, and support.

How can I find out which theme a website is using?

A: You can use online tools like “What WordPress Theme Is That?” or “WPThemeDetector” to identify the theme and plugins used by a WordPress site.

Can I use multiple themes on my WordPress site?

A: Typically, you can only activate one theme at a time for your entire WordPress site. However, you can use different themes for different sections of your site with plugins or custom coding.

Guest AuthorSyed Balkhi is the founder of WPBeginner, the largest free WordPress resource site. With over 10 years of experience, he’s the leading WordPress expert in the industry. You can learn more about Syed and his portfolio of companies by following him on his social media networks.

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