It's understandable that a lot of people shy away from using premium themes when they first start out. You want to keep your costs down, or at the very least try to enjoy some success before you spend further.
I was the same when I first started, using a free theme, free images, and basically having my domain name and web hosting as my only expenses.
This was a mistake.
Your website absolutely HAS TO look good in order for you to succeed with it. If you're sitting around waiting for some success before investing in some “upgrades”, you might well be sitting for a long time. Unless you are an expert marketer or somebody who has built dozens of websites in the past, you're going to need every helping hand possible.
Don't kid yourself that you are just testing the water. You want to earn money online, that's why you've built a website, and the sooner you spent a small amount of money buying yourself a theme (and some premium images), the sooner you'll get that income.
In my case, I had built a website or two using free themes, and despite getting traffic to them, wasn't really making much money. I guess people just arrived at my site, took one look and said “Amateur”.
In many categories it's fine, even encouraged to be an amateur, but despite this, you still want to give off a good first impression.
The same thing goes for images, but that's a discussion for another day.
When I did finally “take the plunge” and invest in a premium theme. WPZoom was the site recommended to me. To roughly quote the person who recommended them:
“I've seen dozens of Premium themes out there that aren't worth a dime. WPZoom is a great, committed little company that isn't going away.”
He was right that a lot of premium themes out there are garbage. I've seen people using ugly themes in the past and subtly suggested that they invest in a premium theme. When they've replied “This IS a paid theme”, it's been awkward to say the least.
What I've always liked about WPZoom is their consistency and support.
When you first move to a premium theme you'll find it will be more complicated than a simple free theme. There are extensive settings menus, sliders, and all sorts of customization options. This is fantastic and gives you SO MUCH CONTROL of how your site will look, but it can be a bit of a nightmare to get your head around.
Fortunately, WPZoom have an extensive support forum, with replies to any questions usually coming within 24 hours (sometimes within 1-2 hours), and additionally, a great Framework page.
A lot of “Theme clubs” (companies that offer multiple themes) have their own “framework”. This is essentially the system of menus that their themes uses. Just how WordPress always has the same structure to it, so do WPZoom themes. This basically means you only need to learn them once.
Back to the support.
I've actually had a couple of occasions where I've need to email them a support question. Once was regarding my billing, and the second time was a question about using the theme. On both occasions I received a personal email from the developers/owners, rather than the standard support email that I expected.
With the billing, WPZoom had changed their billing slightly. I was to stay on the previous rate, but I no longer had access to the PSD files, which were now in the more expensive rate. I emailed them asking about this and they said “It's fine, you can stay on the lower rate and if you need any PSD files just email and ask”. I asked for PSD files for two of their themes, and promptly received them.
I like this kind of support.
How do WPZoom Themes compare with some of the other big players?
A lot of my online peers are in love with the Genesis framework from Studio Press, and I can't say that I've tried it. There are still plenty of people in love with Thesis as well (maybe it's a “sis” thing), and I haven't tried that either. I'm sure both of them are excellent.
The reason I've not tried them is because I've not needed to. I started out with WPZoom and haven't had the need to go elsewhere. The support is excellent, the framework works (an added bonus with some themes!) and because they put out a new theme every month, I've not had the need to look elsewhere for my design requirements.
I'm actually about to build a new site using their new Delirium Theme and looking forward to it very much.
So, back to the topic at hand.
How Did WPZoom Change My Business?
Over the course of a few weeks, I set about upgrading my site from “free/amateur” to “premium/professional”, and by the end of that month had already earned my first $100 online.
That number increased every month, and as I got better at using premium images and learning my way around the intricacies of my theme, my site grew and grew in terms of traffic, earnings, subscribers, and return visitors.
That's the key to any website really.
If your website is designed to be a business rather than a hobby, you really ought to consider taking the plunge too.
You can check out all the WPZoom Themes here, and ask me any questions you might have below.