How to Install WordPress Themes for Beginners 2021


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One of the best things about owning a self-hosted WordPress blog is the fact that you now have unlimited design possibilities as there are literally tens of thousands of free and premium themes to choose from, with WordPress being so popular.

With vast libraries of WordPress themes available, this gives you the opportunity to build ANY type of website you can dream up, whether you want to build a website for any type of business, start a WordPress blog or launch an online store, you can do it all.

Free VS Premium WordPress Themes

Not all WordPress themes are created equal, especially when you compare a free theme against a premium WordPress theme, so before you decide on which theme you are going to use, make sure you do your research on the developers beforehand.

Free WordPress Themes

Over on alone, there are more than 7,300+ free WordPress themes to choose from, so if you don’t want to pay for a premium theme (which is exactly what I do every single time I build a new website), then you still have a ton of “mediocre” choice.

With free WordPress themes you may have the following problems:

You will have limited design customization such as blog/homepage layouts, header positions, font selection, color and widget options to choose from, which can be extremely frustrating.

To improve the customization options, you may be asked to upgrade to the premium version of the theme, which you might need anyway after several WordPress updates.

The people who build the theme don’t have much of an incentive or the actual funding required to constantly update the theme inline with regular core WordPress or popular plugin updates.

Due to the lack of theme updates, you may be at risk of security issues (hackers and spammers can find holes in the code) that may grind your blog to a halt.

You may also find that specific plugins will stop working after several core WordPress updates, as the themes code is not updated quick enough by developers.

If you need support from the developer of the free theme, you may have a hard time getting help or may have to pay or upgrade your theme to access the support desk.

As you can see from the issues I listed above, the majority of them are due to the fact that in my experience, the developers of free themes don’t update the themes inline with core WordPress updates, leaving them insecure and eventually not functional.

If you are going to use a free theme, then I recommend you use one of the default themes created by WordPress themselves, as these are updated regular inline with core WordPress updates.

I’m not saying that all free WordPress themes will have these issues, but you have to be careful, especially with independent developers as they generally have an ulterior motive for giving you certain themes for free.

Premium WordPress Themes

If you want a feature packed theme without having to pay a WordPress developer a fortune, then you have access to 12,000+ premium WordPress themes on Themeforest, that are updated regular, inline with WordPress core updates.

The blog you are reading right now is built on a premium WordPress theme called Typology that I bought from Themeforest and as you can see, it’s far better than any free theme you could find, as the developers put much more time and effort into the development.

I’ve always invested in a premium WordPress theme from Themeforest as they look stunning without much effort, perform better without needing a ton of plugins and developers are always available to answer any questions if you get stuck.

The core WordPress software, security vulnerabilities and plugins are updated quite frequently, which can cause problems if the theme is not also updated regular…

But if you are serious about your business and invest in a premium theme from a reputable team of developers, you know that there is a team of WordPress experts working behind the scenes keeping it secure and running smoothly.

Before you buy a WordPress theme from Themeforest, always check that the theme is updated on a regular basis by a team of developers that have an excellent track record and positive reviews across their popular themes.

How To Install Free WordPress Themes

When you are just starting out with WordPress as a beginner, it’s not entirely necessary to buy a premium theme right out of the gate as the decision alone to find the right theme for your specific needs can be confusing.

Rather than creating a bunch of road blocks that may stop you from taking the first step, just dive right in and use a free WordPress theme in the beginning so you can jump inside the WordPress admin dashboard and start exploring the possibilities.

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You will first need to login to the WordPress admin dashboard and once you have, hover your mouse over the “Appearance” tab within the left hand menu to expand the sub-menu, then click the “Themes” link.

On the screenshot above, you can see the active theme which is currently live on the website, all the other themes that are currently installed that can be activated with just one click and also the option to add a new free theme from WordPress.

Activate Default WordPress Themes

When you install the latest version of WordPress, there will be 4 default themes that are installed automatically, all of which are created by the WordPress team.

Each year they release a new theme and when you first login to your WordPress admin dashboard and access the theme section, you will find the latest theme already activated, which is called Twenty Twenty.

If you host your website on Bluehost (which I always recommend), then they will automatically install WordPress and these 4 default WordPress themes for you.

If you wish to use a free WordPress theme, then select one of the default themes that are already installed as these are developed by the WordPress team themselves and are always updated on a regular basis for security.

To activate one of the free default WordPress themes that are already installed, all you need to do is hover your mouse over the theme you want to use and click on the “Activate” button, then WordPress will automatically activate this theme.

Install 7,300+ Free WordPress Themes

In addition to the default WordPress themes that you can install as mentioned earlier, you also have access to 7,300+ other free WordPress themes inside the WordPress theme repository, that you can install on your website or blog.

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When you are viewing the theme section of the WordPress admin dashboard, you will see an “Add New” button at the top of the page, as shown above, so just click that to access all the free WordPress themes inside the repository.

At the top of the page you will find a navigation menu to sort the 7,300+ themes by featured, popular, latest, favorites and also a feature filter if you want to sort these themes by specific subject, features and layout.

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Once you have found a free WordPress theme that you like, you can go ahead and hover your mouse over the theme listing and the options to install or preview the theme will load, then simply click the “Install” button to automatically install it.

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After WordPress has automatically installed the theme, you will see a green bar with a tick at the top to show you the installation was successful, now click “Activate”.

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The theme may also require you to install certain plugins, although this ultimately depends on which free WordPress theme you install. In my example, the theme recommends installing Elementor page builder.

Congratulations, you have just installed a free WordPress theme!

How To Install Themeforest WordPress Themes

In this tutorial, we are going to be installing a premium WordPress theme called Typology that I’ve already purchased on Themeforest (to show you the process), which is a minimal, text based theme that’s easy to customise and loads fast.

In my personal opinion, this WordPress theme is PERFECT for beginner bloggers who are learning how to start their first blog and have never customised a premium theme before.

What strikes me about this theme is that the focus is on the content, rather than having a blog full of images and adverts (which really annoys me), as your content is the reason why people visit your blog in the first place, don’t you agree?

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Besides the fact that Typology is easy to customise with your own logo, favourite colours, fonts, layouts, it also loads super fast which your readers will love (the search engines will love it too) and it also loads perfectly on every single device.

It simply looks pleasing to the eye and looks beautiful with or without the need for images, so all you need to do is focus on the most important thing, useful content for your readers.

When selecting your WordPress theme, always have your website visitors in mind. It should be easy to navigate and load fast to give your website visitors the best user experience.

Ordering Themeforest WordPress Themes

As this how to install a WordPress theme tutorial is for beginners, I thought it would be a good idea to go through the purchase, download, installation and activation process for Themeforest WordPress Themes, so you can follow along.

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Let’s head on over to the Typology listing on ThemeForest here to check out all of it’s features, author awards and reviews, to see if the developer and theme is any good.

When you visit the listing of any Themeforest WordPress theme, you will see the features listed on the left, with the theme and author stats in the right hand sidebar. Meks is a Power Elite Author, the theme is highly rated and is updated regular.

Always check the stats of the theme you’re interested in before you order to make sure the author is reputable, the theme has great reviews and is updated on a regular basis, so you don’t have issues when installing on the latest version of WordPress.

You don’t have to use this particular Themeforest WordPress theme, although if you are starting a blog as a beginner, this will be ideal as it’s simple to customise.

If you want me to install and setup ANY premium Themeforest WordPress theme for you for FREE (so all you have to do is login and add content), all you need to do is apply here.

There are more than 12,000 Premium WordPress Themes on ThemeForest to choose from, so no matter what you want to build, I’m sure you’ll find a good one.

Plus, you can use the same theme installation process you will learn here to install ANY premium WordPress theme you like, especially if you feel like changing your design and layout in the future.

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Chances are, if you are new to building websites on WordPress, then you will not have a ThemeForest account, so you can now create an account as you’ll need one to buy a theme and access the members area to download the files after purchase.

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The page on ThemeForest will then expand down below where you are asked to create a username and a password, as well as complete a reCAPTCHA security section, then click on the green “create account and continue” button.

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Next up you can enter your billing details which is pretty much similar to any other website that requires your details to verify you are who you say you are when you send your payment, then click “save and continue”.

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At the time of creating this guide, there are 3 available payment options on ThemeForest which include a Credit Card, PayPal or Skrill, so just click on the logo of the payment type you prefer and follow the instructions, then click “make payment”.

If you click on the “+Your Order” link, you will see the details of your order and allows you to confirm that you have ordered the correct theme before you send the total payment for the theme itself, a handling fee and the VAT.

Downloading Themeforest WordPress Themes

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Once your payment has been successful, you will see a page similar to the one above to let you know the payment is complete and an email has been sent with a confirmation along with your purchase receipt, although we simply click the “downloads page” link to proceed.

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You will now find yourself within the “Downloads” section of your ThemeForest account where you can access all the WordPress theme files, documentation, license certificates and purchase codes related to the premium themes you have purchased inside this account.

As you account will be new, you will just see the Typology theme listed in your downloads section, so all you need to do now is click the green “Download” button and several options will popup, we will select the “Installable WordPress file only”.

Installing Themeforest WordPress Themes

In order to use the WordPress theme you just purchased from Themeforest, you will need reliable WordPress optimised web hosting that already has WordPress installed, so you can login to WordPress admin and upload the theme.

If you already have WordPress hosting and WordPress is already installed then skip the next 2 screenshots to start uploading your theme. If you need hosting, then I recommend Bluehost as they automatically install the latest WordPress for you.

If you already have WordPress hosting then skip the next 2 screenshots to start uploading your theme. If you need WordPress hosting, then I recommend Bluehost as they automatically install WordPress for you.

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Once you have created your Bluehost account, you will need to login to the Bluehost portal using the login details that will be emailed to you after your order.

If you are not using Bluehost’s optimised WordPress hosting then you can login to WordPress admin on any other hosting by visiting “” and entering the username and password you used when installing WordPress.

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When you login, make sure that you are selecting the right domain in the drop down menu shown above, although if you are on the basic package you should only have one domain listed here, so if that’s selected, click the blue “WordPress” button on the top right to access your admin panel.

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Once logged into WordPress admin you can hover your mouse cursor over the “Appearance” tab in the left hand menu and a secondary menu will appear, then click on “Themes” to start the WordPress theme installation process.

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On this area of the admin panel you will see which theme is currently active, all the themes that are currently installed (generally all of default themes) and at the top of this page, you will find an “Upload” button, so give that a click.

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Click the “Upload Theme” button at the top of the page and the upload section will appear below, then click “Choose File” and select the theme file you downloaded earlier which is found within the “Downloads” section of your computer, then click “Install Now”.

Activating Themeforest WordPress Themes

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Allow a minute or so to allow the theme files time to upload from your computer to your blog and once the page reloads, you will see an “Activate” link at the bottom of the page which you can now click to activate the theme you just uploaded.

Once you activate the theme, you may get a message that the theme needs specific WordPress plugins to work 100%, although this depends on which theme you buy and what features the theme integrates. Just follow the on screen instructions.

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If you now visit your domain name, you will see that the basic theme is now successfully installed with the default logo, color and content, although is now ready to be customized with your own selection of color, font, logo and content which is done from it’s dedicated menu.

Congratulations, you have just installed a Themeforest WordPress Theme!

Frequently Asked Questions

This is quite hard to determine as there are so many different types of websites you can build such as blogs, online stores, business websites and portfolio’s.

I personally like any type of minimalist theme as these load faster, look pleasing to the eye, are easier to customize and offer a far superior user experience for your visitors.

It just happens that literally all minimalist WordPress themes in all categories are the best WordPress themes for beginners for the reasons I mentioned above.

So start there if you want as your first or next website does not have to give you a technical headache, nor does it have to have all the bells and whistles (ads everywhere with complicated layouts and navigation), which will end up annoying people anyway.

You will find that free WordPress themes are at the basic end of the scale, will have minimal features, not many options to customise it and very little support from the developer, which can be frustrating if you run into any issues.

If you are looking for a better looking theme with more options to customize and superior support from the theme developers, then you’ll need to buy a premium one.

When you are using WordPress for the first time as a beginner then a free WordPress theme is ideal to get to know your way around the software, as it can take a little time to learn the basics from scratch.

Once you have learned more about how to use WordPress and your confidence increases over time, then a premium WordPress theme is your best option to increase functionality.

To make sure your free WordPress theme is secure, you must always download your theme from the WordPress theme repository as these are checked by the WordPress team for vulnerabilities before been made available to the public.

If you download your free WordPress theme from an untrusted independent source or decide to download a cracked version of a premium WordPress theme then your WordPress software and server is vulnerable to attack from hackers.

I recommend using the free default WordPress themes that are automatically installed when you install the latest version of WordPress as these are developed and updated regular by the WordPress core team, making them much more secure.

Over on Themeforest you can expect to pay between $20 to $70 for a premium WordPress theme, so the price you will pay really depends on the specific functionality you need and how advanced the customization options are.

When buying themes on Themeforest, all updates made to the theme after your purchase are included at no extra cost plus all theme purchases come with 6 months support from the author for bugs, issues and 3rd party assets.

If you need a more advanced WordPress theme that is independently developed for a specific purpose such as an online marketplace, online directory or knowledge base, then you can expect to pay $100+ per year for a license to use the theme.

This means that if you buy a license you will get updates and support for your theme for 1 year, but if you want to update your theme or need support after that 1 year then you will need to buy another 1 year license.

About the author


Over the last 16 years I have built 100's of websites WITHOUT writing a single line of code, all thanks to the power of WordPress. Kudos to the coders!

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About AJ

Over the last 16 years I have built 100's of websites WITHOUT writing a single line of code, all thanks to the power of WordPress. Kudos to the coders!

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