If you’re a personal blogger then you probably care a great deal about design; because let’s be honest – playing around with different themes is a lot of fun.
Back in the day, the free theme market used to be full of low-quality themes and you had to invest a bit of money if you wanted anything truly palatable. Fortunately, this isn’t true anymore – these days you can find free WordPress themes that look extremely professional and provide all of the basic functionality you require as a personal blogger.
With that in mind, below you will find my personal pick of the 30 most beautiful free themes for personal bloggers that WordPress has to offer. I spent many an hour trawling the web for these, and only the best made it through a pretty rigorous filtering process. Enjoy!
Hemingway is geared towards bloggers looking for a no-nonsense theme to help get their message across. It isn’t terribly unique, but where Hemingway shines is in its ability to take something simple and make it sexy.
A full-width header with a parallax-style scrolling effect dominates the screen when you first hit the site. This adds a nice touch to an otherwise ‘normal’ theme, and enables you to display beautiful high-quality images across the different pages of your site.
If your blogging style is modern and sleek you’ll need a theme that not only presents your words beautifully, but actually reinforces them with certain design elements. Hemingway can do just that.
If you choose the Highwind theme you won’t be blown away by any stunning design elements. However, you will receive a theme that’s very clean, so there’s no confusion about the message you’re trying to get across. It’s a simple theme that places a focus on content above all else.
Highwind’s large colored header pulls the image from your Gravatar, which makes it perfect for personal blogs. The strongest elements of this theme include a heavy focus on typography and its clean lines stemming from the header. And like most themes of this nature, your blog will look great across all screen sizes with Highwind.
Ryu is a simple theme with a lot of class. It was developed by Automattic, the same company who founded WordPress, so you know that it will function right out of the box. For instance, there’s a unique feature that matches the background color to the color of an uploaded image.
Ryu has a focus on beautiful typography and utilizes a large font size to improve readability, no matter the screen size it’s being viewed on. There is virtually no clutter, so there are no distractions from your words and images.
In a market that features a plethora of options for minimalist themes, Ryu shines in its own understated way.
Chunk is another basic theme, the sole focus of which is to bring you brilliant typography. However, unlike other typography-focused themes, Chunk adds bold features to your text. This theme will work for you if you have an against-the-grain or intense message to get across.
From the name alone you can infer what it’s all about. Simple clean lines and balance. And even though Chunk contains minimal design features, it still manages to pack a punch.
If you like to keep things simple but want a little power behind your words, Chunk might be a worthy choice for you.
Fictive lets you showcase your unique self. If you have an interesting story to tell, or want a website that’s as flexible as you are, it may well be for you.
As far as themes are concerned, Fictive is less professional and more for the adventurous at heart. If you’re a travel blogger or have a constantly evolving story, this will help to keep your readers in the loop.
If you’re constantly on the road and need a theme that can help you connect with your audience, Fictive could be your best bet.
Anders Noren is a young WordPress developer from Sweden who has a gift for developing very simple themes. And Lingonberry – his second ever WordPress theme – has everything you need and nothing else you don’t.
Some minimalist websites can come across as cold and unfriendly, but the opposite is true with Lingonberry; it helps to create a very charming and colorful experience.
If you need something simple but want a little more flavor, you might want to spend some time toying around with Lingonberry.
Hexa is a beautiful theme that gets its name from its geometric features. The first thing you notice is the color palette – it has very soft hues and is certainly easy on the eyes.
If you have content that’s broken down by different categories, you’ll be able to display different post categories beautifully. The elegant line of color that link every post is a subtle touch that shows how important the details are.
As a nice bonus, Hexa displays your featured images in a striking manner by using the area above each post to display a large high-quality image.
In a nutshell, Hexa will allow you to showcase your work in a more playful manner. If that appeals to you, it’s definitely worth consideration!
Rams is another theme from Anders Noren that displays his signature simplistic style. This theme literally includes zero fluff or clutter, so your content can be the true focus.
The design is inspired by a German designer named Dieter Rams, who was known for his efficient and timeless product designs. Rams truly takes these principles to heart.
The theme takes little to no effort to set up, as there are no active widget or design options besides the ability to choose a background and accent color. If you want to give your words some space to breathe, you should consider Rams.
Hoffman is a beautifully responsive and retina-ready theme with a focus on content at its core. The inspiration for the design comes from none other than the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.
It’s is also fully integrated with Jetpack, which makes it easy to implement the infinite scrolling feature and tiled gallery. These features integrate seamlessly with the feel of what is an already beautiful theme.
Hoffman is very classy, with its bold sans-serif fonts and grey and black hues with splashes of gold. It sets itself apart from the rest of the crowd by striking the perfect balance between elegance and minimalism.
Ignite is a timeless theme that puts the focus on your writing. It has a classic left or right sidebar layout, which can be a very useful piece of real estate to optimize.
For those interested in taking their design to the next level, there’s the ability to upgrade your theme to the paid version, Ignite Plus.
Overall, it’s beautifully responsive and integrates images perfectly into the top of your blog posts. Ignite boasts clean lines that take you right down to the bottom of the page.
Ignite also manages to keep a little historic flavor that might be of interest to those who want to run a more ‘classical’-style blog.
Sorbet it just as delicious as the name implies. It offers a nice break from the simple color schemes most minimalist themes employ. The soft pastel colors add a certain vibrancy to your blog as well.
A lot of themes will end up making your blog look plain. Sorbet avoids this common problem in a brilliant way by adding splashes of color that can really bring your personal blog to life.
Another great feature of Sorbet is its ability to create a lot of space and breathing room around your content, which is truly a blessing in today’s overcrowded web space. A small splash of color has the ability to bring your blog back to life.
Saga was built for the writer at heart. It was developed specifically for (and by) writers. More than anything, this theme is all about telling stories in the most captivating manner possible.
Everything that doesn’t have to do with you telling a story has been stripped away from Saga. For instance, the black margin that surrounds the meat of the design helps the words pop more in the foreground.
Another cool feature that helps to really capture the essence of storytelling is the ability to have your blog posts broken up into pages. If you consider yourself a writer or thrive in storytelling environments, Saga could be the perfect vehicle to get your message across.
Sparkling takes flat design and cranks it up a notch. It’s very clean and modern, and has been developed using the Bootstrap 3 framework. One of the most astonishing features is the full-width slider, which is seamlessly integrated.
Despite its lack of a price tag, Sparkling definitely looks and feels like a theme you would pay top dollar for. And for those who are multilingual or in need of a theme with multiple supported languages, it boasts support for over 11 languages.
If you’re in the market for a theme that adds a little bit of extra professional flair, it’s worth checking Sparkling out.
Tracks is a very unique theme that caters to personal bloggers who are more creative at heart. At first glance you’ll notice the interesting post display structure that looks similar to a magazine layout. This helps to place equal focus on your content and choice of images.
Tracks is ready to go right out of the box and takes very few steps to get it up and running. If you’re looking for a bold theme that makes a statement, it’s definitely a good choice.
If images aren’t your thing you’d be better off choosing something else, but if you require an equal balance between your words and images then Tracks might be right for you.
Syntax is simple and sophisticated – its design focuses almost entirely on reader enjoyment and the clear presentation of your text. If you have to present longer ideas that require more reader time on the page, Syntax can make this a very enjoyable experience.
The content column is centered and there is no top navigation bar. To get around your site, a very unobtrusive navigation bar slides out from the right or left of the page. The featured images are very striking and are slightly offset behind your text, adding to the overall sense of class that Syntax offers in abundance.
If reader experience means everything to you, Syntax might be just what you need.
Tonal’s tagline states, ‘let your content set the tone’. This couldn’t be more true in terms of what the theme sets out to achieve. But content aside, Tonal features large featured images and beautiful full-width videos that display perfectly on any screen size. The navigation is a clickable drop-down, which helps to eliminate distractions and aids consistency across devices.
Tonal has a powerful feature that truly lets your content run the show. You can change the background color to create a unique experience for your reader, and the text will automatically adjust to remain readable.
If a positive reader experience with a more modern flair is what you’re trying to create, Tonal can do it for you.
Untitled is the perfect theme for creative professionals looking to showcase their photos and videos. Designed by the Theme Team at Automattic, it also features a full-width homepage slider.
If your perfect medium always starts with a photo or video then expands out into your narrative, Untitled might be your theme of choice. It’s all about being untraditional – for example, instead of the usual next/previous links that most blogs employ, you have the option of using a mini-carousel slider instead. And although the theme looks better without a sidebar, the option still exists.
In a nutshell, Untitled is all about providing the best experience possible for more visually-inclined bloggers.
Wilson continues in the same vein of elegant simplicity as Anders Noren’s other themes. It’s perfect for personal bloggers who are looking to showcase their work while still remaining functional.
A lot of themes have necessary design elements; Wilson only contains what’s absolutely necessary and nothing more. However, this doesn’t mean the theme is boring or uninspiring – sometimes you just need a cleaner slate to present your ideas more effectively.
Content is the focal point of Wilson, but there are still plenty of options to customize how your content is displayed. Functionality and simplicity work in perfect unison in this creation.
Writr is a minimalist theme geared towards personal bloggers. It’s built and designed in tumblog style, which facilitates a stream-of-consciousness type of writing.
If you’re worried about customization options, Writr comes equipped with several options to make it more unique – you can choose from one of six elegant color schemes and change the header image and background.
Writr looks incredible on any device. On smaller screen sizes you can still access the sidebar options, as the sidebar is either displayed or hidden slightly within a corner toggle.
This theme allows you to maintain professionalism while giving you enough customization options to stand out from the crowd.
Hueman is a magazine style theme that allows you to display large quantities of content in a beautiful and sensical manner. It has become a quick favorite – already racking up over 400,000 downloads – and it’s easy to see why.
If you love the magazine style layout that a lot of larger sites possess, or you create large quantities of content, you’ll need a theme that can keep up. Hueman can do that, not to mention the essentially limitless ways in which you can customize the widgets and sidebars while still providing over 10 different post formats.
Hueman stands out from the other selections on this list by catering to a different style of blogger: those who need limitless options to display their growing collection of content.
Socially Awkward helps you find your own unique niche of people to speak to. Catering to your media needs is what it’s is all about, because if you love to share content across a wide variety of mediums, you’re going to need a theme that can keep up.
Usually, you’d have to pay for all of the features that Socially Awkward includes. It integrates audio streaming, video playback and showcasing your photos in a very seamless manner.
The title doesn’t do this theme justice. Socially Awkward will let you continue to build your social following by giving you the options to share what you love.
If content is your focus, Radcliffe wants to help. It has large featured images, headers that are on a similar scale, and a nice serif font that makes it easy to read for long periods of time.
The very large featured images make Radcliffe the perfect choice for a photo-heavy blogger to showcase their best work. A lot of themes make it a chore to read long form articles and blog posts, but Radcliffe manages to make it enjoyable through its overall design and great font choices.
If words are your forte and content is king, considering letting Radcliffe give your website a boost.
SuevaFree is an elegant and responsive tumblog style theme, which makes it perfect for personal blogs. You can share your content in a wide variety of ways with its multiple post formats. One cool function is the flexslider that creates a mini-slider at the top of your blog post.
The cool grey background makes it a good choice for bloggers who are trying to provide their viewers with a calming environment to take in your content. The multitude of display options let you create a page to showcase your content that’s completely unique.
SuevaFree lets you be in complete control of your content. If you’re looking for a more professional way to showcase your content and communicate with your audience, SuevaFree is worth the test drive.
So Simple takes a stand for simplicity and intuitive design. It has eliminated every unnecessary element so that the focus can be placed entirely on your words alone.
There are literally no distractions to pull you away from the words on the page. Technically, there are no pages – just a steady stream of content to immerse yourself in.
So Simple really stands out by not including any navigation or other elements like categories, comments, widgets, and the like.
With So Simple you get the bare bones of what a reading and writing experience for the web should be like. If you want the simplest theme possible, So Simple is worth a shot – it’s one of my personal favorites.
StanleyWP is built on the popular Twitter Bootstrap framework and allows you to blog and showcase your work in a very simple manner. It works great for personal branding and having a blog that focuses around your work and personal projects.
It’s also highly customizable, so you can be pretty sure you’ll end up with something that suits your needs. StanleyWP’s drag and drop homepage builder and three different page templates will give you a lot of flexibility to work with.
If you need a theme that is essentially your digital self, you may find what you’re looking for in the StanleyWP theme.
RokoPhoto Lite is a theme made for professional photographers and photography bloggers. It was built with Bootstrap 3 and is well suited for a plethora of photography professions.
RokoPhoto Lite is sleek and modern, and comes equipped with enough photo effects to keep even expert photographers satisfied. For instance, it implements a unique scrolling feature that creates an incredibly smooth transition between posts, pages and page elements. A white background – which is often absent from photography themes – will help make your images pop.
Whether you consider photography a profession or a serious hobby, RokoPhoto Lite could be the right theme to showcase your work.
Baskerville is the perfect choice for those of us who lean towards the minimalist side of things but still have an incredible amount of content to display. It is very simple and utilizes the grid layout from the Masonry layout library. This beautiful layout can actually help to reduce the overwhelm of having a large quantity of content to display.
It’s a great theme for personal bloggers that regularly post a lot of content. It’s very multimedia-friendly and supports all nine post formats, which gives your content a chance to shine.
Baskerville looks beautiful on any device it’s displayed upon and is perfect for the content hoarder in all of us.
Clear Tranquil is actually a child theme for the earlier mentioned Highwind theme. Its core focus is on the readability of your blog posts; it truly allows your readers to take a deep breath and relax into your content.
Clear Tranquil is very clean and elegant, and provides your reader with a very peaceful experience. One of the biggest highlights is the attention to detail paid to typography. As a nice touch, the first letter of each post is transformed with block letters, adding a nice old-world effect.
Everything that’s there needs to be there. As a result you’ll see there are no widget areas for this theme. Clear Tranquil truly is a breath of fresh air and a true gift for your readers.
Garfunkel is a great Pinterest-style theme for personal blogs. If you love the nature and feel of Pinterest, you can finally bring it home to your own website – it is perfect for individual bloggers with a lot of content.
And if you love to share or create different styles of post content, Garfunkel provides you with six different post formats to support your styling. Another great feature is the Jetpack integration that enables infinite scrolling.
To further customize Garfunkel, you can even change the accent color or upload a new background image.
Garfunkel finally allows you to display your tremendous amount of content in a sexy manner, balanced with the perfect amount of personalization.
Superhero is a very clean theme with bright pops of color. If you consider yourself a fairly conservative person but still want to show a glimpse of your wild side, this theme strikes the perfect balance.
The first feature that stands out is its full-bleed featured content area, which can be used to highlight recent posts or your favorite content. Superhero is very easy to customize, which means you’ll be wowing your users with your heroic content in no time.
Superhero gives you the chance to highlight your hidden (or not-so-hidden) superpowers. If you need clean lines, bursts of color and a lot of hidden power it’s worth giving it a test drive.
Any one of the above themes would be a great choice for your personal blog. Why don’t you play around with one or two to see what works best for you?
Of course, there is no way that I could have included every single top quality personal blogging theme in a 30-strong roundup – there are just too many great themes out there these days!
With that in mind, what are your favorite free WordPress themes for personal bloggers? Please share in the comments below.
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