The best WordPress themes for bloggers

Your WordPress theme controls the way your blog looks and how your audience experiences your content. Having a beautiful and professional theme will help readers trust your site. Additionally, having a reliable theme will make your life as an online creator easier!

I am sharing my top 5 themes, followed by 5 honorable mention themes. Making a total of 10 top Genesis Themes for your to choose from.

Before I dig into the themes, let me talk to you about the credentials and expectations I had when choosing these top themes for blogger.

Number 1: Themes need to run on the Genesis Framework.

Why the Genesis Framework you ask?

  • Current and forward-thinking coding
  • Updated, without messing everything up
  • Optimized for SEO and Speed
  • Security

You can read all about those fancy details on StudioPress’s site. Those are the core reasons most people recommend Genesis Frameworks, but let me tell you more personal reasons why I use and recommend Genesis:

  • Most of Genesis themes are easy to move into (which I go over in detail below). Genesis provides clear and thorough setup instructions. Any site will look good.
  • Genesis has tools to make your WordPress site even better + they’re easy to use. Plugins like Simple Social Icon, Simple Edits Plugin, Sidebar, and the Genesis Featured Posts/Pages make creating a site easy.
  • StudioPress, the company that create the Genesis framework has great support and people, even after their recent merge with WPEngine. – I’d probably follow Brian Gardner, the founder of StudioPress off a cliff. Just kidding, but I do think he is genuine and supportive to online creators. He’s been an amazing mentor and supporter to me personally, lifting me up when he didn’t even know I needed it. I know he has done the same to many in the #genesiswp community as a whole.
  • StudioPress + Genesis Framework isn’t going anywhere. They are invested in the future of WordPress and in the future of online creators/bloggers like us!
  • The Genesis Framework is simple. There are a lot of bulky, feature heavy themes out there, but Genesis keep things clean and simple. Which is actually really good for your site.

For those that are new to the Genesis Framework, here’s the gist of how it works:

Genesis is a WordPress theme framework that not only makes your site look great, but also adds more functionality. It is created by StudioPress. You can buy the framework alone, or you can bundle it with a child theme. The child theme controls the design of your blog. Here’s a little more clarification from StudioPress:

A framework (ours is called Genesis) is a powerful type of WordPress theme — the frame and body of the car — that acts as a design, security, and SEO foundation for your website. It also “future-proofs” your site customizations, so there’s no hassle when it comes time to upgrade your software with one click.

A child theme is the pure design element that rests on top of the framework — the cherry red paint job on that car. Or blue. Or black. Pink. Green. You get the idea…

Okay. Now that we’ve covered that… Back to my credentials for making my Top Themes List…

Number 2: The themes need to be mobile friendly.

When I say that, I’m not just referring to responsive. They need to function well for mobile users, fonts need to be dark and big enough for mobile viewers, and navigation needs to be clear on mobile.

Number 3: Preference towards dynamic homepages.

In 2018 going into 2019 I believe Dynamic homepages are the way to go. Blogging these days is about more than a chronological lists of blog posts. Your sites are go-to resources for your niche/industry.

Your home page is one of the most visited pages on your site. People go there looking to know more about our blog. That is why most of these themes I’ve listed are dynamic home pages. Dynamic home pages allow you to show off your best stuff (email incentives, products, groups, categories, etc.) while still showing a list of most recent posts that updates as you publish more articles.

Number 4: Easy move in + no coding necessary

Most of us aren’t coders or developers by trade. I picked themes that are easy to install, no coding or tech savvy necessary. There were two themes that I loved and even went through the entire setup process and ended up leaving off the list? Why? They were too complicated to set up. You have better things to do with your time – like creating awesome content and connecting with your audience.

A few other notes about these Top WordPress Themes. These aren’t your typical blogger themes. I picked out themes for serious bloggers. Bloggers who want to grow their blog into a profitable business.

For each theme, I’ll discuss the available widgets, theme highlights, cons, and share some screenshots

Top 5 Genesis Themes

For these themes, I downloaded and installed the theme on my example site, Fit Fab Together. I wanted you to be able to see the themes formatted for a blogger. Sometimes, I think it can be hard to imagine a theme on an actual site. My hope is that the videos and pictures will help you better imagine YOUR site in the design.

These examples will also show you that you don’t have to set up a theme exactly like its demo. You can switch things up and it’s easy to do!

  1. Monochrome Pro
  2. Authority Pro
  3. Essence Pro
  4. Academy Pro
  5. Mai Lifstyle Pro

Monochrome Pro Theme

Of all the themes I set up, this is the easiest, no fuss, and most straightforward theme to set up. Whatever niche you are in – you can’t go wrong with Monochrome! It works for everything.

Simple, clean, and your content stands out.

Creator: StudioPress
Widget Areas:

  • Primary Sidebar
  • Four Front page rows/widgets
  • Before Footer CTA
  • After Entry

Theme Highlights:

Fun typography elements on the home page, all of which are explained straightforward in the theme setup.

I love the hidden footer. You could get so creative with what you put inside there. I think it’s a fun detail.

The gradient before footer CTA is a nice touch as well. A fun use of colors!

The theme is called monochrome, which makes you think it’s all one color – but you actually have a bit of control over colors! In the customize tool, there are four different colors for you to set: Link color, accent color (I like this one, it shows up when you hover on buttons!), and the start and end of the footer CTA.

Cons:

I’ve tried thinking of things I don’t like about this site, but I just love it.

Things I did differently with my setup:

  • On the first home page row I added a button to the intro text.
  • I left out the “featured” row that is widget area three. It’s a great option but need to be featured first. Instead, I used this row to introduce the blogger and add another button.
  • The front page background images do not have an overlay. Which is great, because you get to fully decide what color your site is. I did have to design new images for this theme though because the font is white and my images were very white. I added the brand color as an overlay and love how it turned out.

Get Monochrome Pro!

Authority Pro Theme

Authority Pro is the perfect WordPress theme for showcasing what you have to offer and establishing yourself as the expert in your industry. This themes is also easy to set up, with helpful guides in the customize screen.

Creator: StudioPress
Widget Areas:

  • Primary Sidebar
  • 6 home page widget areas
  • Footer
  • After Entry
  • *Top banner – is not technically in a widget area, you add in the customize screen.

Theme Highlights:

Genesis Enews plugin is designed to STAND OUT. I love this feature.

The vertical social menu on the desktop design is really unique, as is the text alongside home page image.

Buttons and typography are swoon worthy. Design includes a default, primary, and secondary buttons in various sizes.

The clean, strong footer CTA makes a bold closing call to action.

Menu is super mobile friendly

Customize editor. When you’re in the customize tool, there are several areas with an edit icon on the home page. All you need to do is click and change home page right inside the customize screen.

Option to turn off the featured hero image on blog posts. This is great alternative for those of you that don’t have strong pictures. However, the featured image does make a statement!

Color smart: the theme adjusts the fonts to white or black depending on what color you input.

The little details in this theme set it apart from all the rest. Vertical text splashed in, arrows, shadows, and color lines. The arrows and lines help viewers flow through the site and keep things tidy.

The sections on the home page for ebooks or incentives stand out, and the review section is the cherry on top.

Grid style category pages with featured image for easy browsing.

Bouncing hover effects add a fun element on desktop.

Various styles for different headings.

Cons:

I’m not sold on how the logo/menu looks on mobile, but it’s not the worst I’ve seen either.

Honestly, there’s not much else to dislike about this theme. It easy to set up. It’s beautiful. It’s functional.

Things I did differently with my setup:

  • I didn’t use as many rows on the home page (excluded front page 3 and 4) because this blog didn’t have that much stuff to showcase. It’s a-okay not to use all the home page widget areas.
  • Again, I excluded the “featured in” section – when this blog is featured somewhere, we’ll add it in.
  • In the sidebar, I used the Genesis featured posts widget instead of the setup’s recommended recent posts list.
  • Displayed 6 posts on the home page instead of 3 blog posts.

Get Authority Pro

Essence Pro Theme

Essence Pro is the perfect blend of a traditional blog, modern theme, and homepage showcase!

Creator: StudioPress
Widget Areas:

  • 4 Home Page widgets
  • After content featured area
  • Footer CTA
  • After Entry
  • Primary Sidebar

Theme Highlights:

I love the homepage hero image with strong CTA to sign up for list, followed by a beautiful grid of blog posts.

The after content featured area is amazing. This is a flexible widget area and is great for calling attention to your site’s most important pages, products, or resources! This shows up on every page – not just the home page. Probably my #1 favorite element of this site, paired with the feature below.

The large footer CTA. Growing your list is one of the best things you can do for your site, and this one makes it easy to call attention to it!

The grid format for category and blog pages is beautiful and scan-able.

Intro paragraphs show up automatically, no switching to text editor necessary to implement (this isn’t always the case in themes).

Customize editor. Click the edit icon and change home page right inside the customize screen.

I’m not sure why I have an obsession with buttons, but I like them in this theme too! The include a text button along with the default and secondary.

Cons:

This theme is photo heavy. Every page and blog post uses your featured image as big hero image. If you don’t have good images or aren’t good at picking out quality and beautiful stock images, this might not be the theme for you.

In my opinion, the header area looks better with text instead of the site’s logo.

When I set this theme up, my category and blog pages were not show up as a fancy grid. The setup instructions are not clear on how to activate the grid format.

I’ll save you the drama of my process to figure it out. If you decide to use this theme here is how to set up the grid-layout category pages:

  1. You must change each category to layout to Full Width. You do this by navigating to posts > categories > open each one and edit. (note, you do not have to do this if you’ve chosen Full Width as the default for your entire site.
  2. Adjust the entry content settings (in the customize screen) to show content and your preferred limit character count.

Things I did differently with my setup:

I kept most of this example just like the demo. However, I did add a Convertkit form to the after entry widget for posts.

Get Essence Pro

Academy Pro Theme

This theme is designed and marketed as a theme for course creators – don’t let that hold you back from using it for your blog though! Academy Pro is a perfect theme for bloggers bloggers selling ebooks, courses, guides, or programs (or offering freebies).

Even my 5-year-old son used this theme for his brief time online:

Creator: StudioPress
Widget Areas:

  • 7 home page areas
  • After Entry
  • Footer
  • Primary Sidebar

Theme Highlights:

The video feature on home page is a nice touch. This can just be a picture, or an awesome intro video about you and your blog!

It’s probably no surprise four themes down that I’m a sucker for pretty grid category pages. Academy theme does not disappoint in the category department. I love when you hover over the post on desktop it pops up as a card.

Similar to other new StudioPress themes, the mobile menu is really rocking it.

Two-tone background colors: I like the mix of gray and white. The gray blog post background is actually really refreshing. And that white button on gray. Mmmm…

Pairing with the gray background, the theme features unique diagonal lines.

Speaking of buttons, I like the rounded buttons and border buttons, great for calling attention to your most important pages or opt-ins.

Nifty hover effects of buttons, images, and featured posts.

Theme comes with ready to use icons that are easy to implement when following the theme setup instructions.

Cons:

🤷 ??

Things I did differently with my setup:

Because I used this theme for a blog and not for a course, I designed the home page differently.

I’ll start from the top down.

  • I didn’t included the row of featured in logos in front page one.
  • In front page three I only included 3 icon descriptions instead of six.
  • In front page four, I added an image and email opt-in instead of the text and buttons.
  • I only used two testimonials in front page 5.
  • In front page 6 I added the Genesis Featured Posts widget, four times, to display recent posts on the home page instead of the about section
  • I did not use front page 7.

Get Academy Pro

Mai Lifestyle Pro Theme

This versatile theme gives you possibilities and control without technical difficulty! Mai Lifestyle Pro is modern and efficient all in one theme!

I’ll admit, I was nervous to set this theme up. It obviously had so many awesome features, which is great. But, I’ve frequently found that the more features and possibilities – the more complicated it is to set up. And, I’ve already mentioned that I wanted to help you find themes that you could easily move into.

Still, this one was too beautiful and tempting not to give it a go. Plus, it’s made the StudioPress top 5 theme sells for the last three months. Happy to report it made my top 5 list too! The only theme on my top five from a third party Genesis designer.

Creator: BizBudding
Widget Areas:

  • Primary Sidebar
  • Secondary Sidebar
  • Before Header
  • Header Left
  • Header Right
  • Mobile Menu
  • Footer menus, you choose how many
  • After Entry
  • Site Footer

*This theme’s home page is set up using sections, not widget areas.

Theme Highlights:

The home page possibilities are by far my favorite part. And the really exciting thing about it? These options aren’t just possible for your home page. You can use these design elements on any page. No additional plugin, or landing page template, or expensive tool necessary.

Built in related posts section. A lot of bloggers desire this feature but either have to custom code or use a plugin that doesn’t always work. Mai Lifestyle theme has it ready to go for you.

Control over how things look. I’m just going to direct you to the feature page here to see how you can change this theme up to be truly yours. You are going to have to do a bit more reading during setup and make decisions than in other themes, but the documentation is great and clear. It was easy for me to follow along and implement the changes myself.

Logo can be to the left of the menu, right of the menu, or in the middle of your menu.

Cons:

With all the possibilities, I was surprised to see that there is no option in the customize screen to change the theme’s colors. You can only do this by going into the CSS. Bummer. The theme actually doesn’t use that much color though, which is why I still kept it on this list. Additionally, for pages using the sections template you do have control of background colors there.

I’m not a fan of the theme’s blockquote style. It’s kind of ugly.

Things I did differently with my setup:

Because the home page demo showcases so many different options, and because this theme makes it so easy for you to change things up, there’s a few differences here:

  • In the first section I changed the text banner style to better match my background image.
  • In section 5 I added a simple testimonial instead of a featured recipes section.
  • In section 7 I designed it similarly to the demo, but showcased the blog’s top three categories instead of different recipe types.
  • I removed sections 8, 9, and 10.
  • I disabled the banner section for blog posts and pages and opted not to have a banner or featured hero image above the content on post/pages.

Get Mai Lifstyle Pro

5 Additional Genesis Themes

Influencer Pro

Beautiful, functional, and built for funneling your people and showcasing your stuff!

Creator: Stephanie Hellwig
Get Influencer Pro Theme
Highlights:

  • Stunning home page
  • Flexible page template, great for landing pages
  • Between posts widget, good for ad space
  • Grid format category pages with hover effect.

Cultivate

Modern and feminine, this theme is perfect for the Pinterest promoting blogger.

Creator: Restored316 Designs
Get Cultivate Theme
Highlights:

  • Home page layout is a unique combination. Focusing on your main topics and offers up to, with strong featured post sections and sidebar in blocks below.
  • The footer area has me heart eyed. Color row for your email opt-in followed by a three column option for featuring your main pages.
  • Theme includes a few bonuses: 6 stock images, laptop computer screen template – just add your own images inside, and a Photoshop Pinterest template

Pretty Fabulous

Spunky yet professional, this theme calls out all the right details for your blog!

Creator: Pretty Darn Cute Designs
Get Pretty Fabulous Theme
Highlights:

  • Full page category grid makes a statement when browsing categories!
  • About page template has the option for a fun timeline.
  • Footer area – bottom menu, strong opt-in CTA, bold color bar, and an option of showcasing Instagram feed.
  • Home page focuses on all the right things – hero image, opt-int, latest posts, testimonials, and a larger more detailed opt-in section.
  • Announcement bar at top

Studio Pro

Professional, yet versatile and colorful.

Creator: SEOThemes
Get Studio Pro Theme
Highlights:

  • Fun color options for all the color lovers out there. The gradient color is in the header and footer area.
  • Stunning grid cards on blog and category pages.
  • Shadow hover effect on buttons
  • Beaver Builder plugin friendly. I don’t use this plugin, but I know a lot of people like it.

Boss Pro

Bold and Beautiful. All you need to rock this theme are beautiful pictures and strong words and you’ll be the boss.

Creator: Design by Bloom
Get Boss Pro Theme
Highlights:

  • Home page, full screen sections. Need I say more?
  • Bold typography makes your content stand out.
  • Alternating sidebar so that the content you put inside is separated
  • Sticky navigation menu with logo.
  • About page template with script typography almost feels like it’s breaking the rules of code.

There you have it. The top 10 Genesis themes. Which one will you use for your blog? Is there one that catchers your eye more than the others?

Good luck choosing a new theme for your blog. Let me know if you have any questions about these themes.

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