What are the best WordPress themes for Affiliate Marketing Blogs?
This was a post I had written about 4 years back and a lot has changed since then. So it made sense for me to update it with the latest and start a discussion on which are the best WordPress themes for affiliate marketing blogs, in the market today.
Back then, the title of this post had a slight change – it was “affiliate marketing websites” instead of “affiliate marketing blogs“.
Why the change?
I will tell you in a while.
Back then when I wrote the post, I had critiqued the “Socrates” theme because of the fact that the clock kind of stopped for them when it came to development of the theme. While they released a couple of newer versions, nothing much changed.
Customization options were pretty limited and pretty much every website built using the theme had the same look.
Having said that I should say that I was a fan of the Socrates theme then.
Low one time cost. Easy setup and Faster loading times.
And it had pretty much everything to quickly setup an affiliate marketing website.
That’s right. It was good for an affiliate marketing website but somehow didn’t live upto the expectations for an affiliate marketing blog.
What’s the difference between an affiliate marketing website and a blog, you ask?
Websites are pretty much static and hence has a particular flow to the design.
Whereas Blogs are dynamic in nature and reflect the personality of the blogger. Blogs also have an element of feedback in them because the design needs to be such that it facilitates the engagement that the content kickstarts with the reader.
This is where Socrates failed. But it was still a good theme though.
Now things have changed with Socrates since then and you will find that it is one of my recommended WordPress themes for affiliate marketing blogs.
But there are a few other WordPress themes that work tremendously well with affiliate marketing blogs.
But then before we discuss about these themes, it is also important to look at how affiliate marketing had changed over the last 5-8 years.
Affiliate Marketing – Then and Now!
Affiliate marketing has changed a lot over the years. From pushing a few links across to your visitors, it has become more of a relationship marketing.
Engagement has become extremely important these days and conversions have become a clear factor of how well you presell to a visitor.
About 10 years back, I had a WordPress blog in the relationship niche. It was when “the magic of making up” was probably the best selling product in the relationship niche in Clickbank. There were no more than about 8 articles on the site.
The domain name was an exact match domain. The articles were generic relationship articles and there was one review article which was a sticky post.
The site was running on the Socrates theme. There were some nicely placed banner options in the theme and I used all of these slots for banner ads for the product, “The Magic of Making Up”.
There were no optin forms (email marketing was a big DUH! for me back them).
All links on the site were cloaked affiliate links and all of them simply redirected to the vendor’s site.
Traffic built up over about 4 months and I was generating about 4 sales on an average in the beginning which slowly increased over the next few months.
I was even running some PPC ads on Bing and all of them would get approved pretty easily. The “quality scores” of the ads were good and I was getting some cheap clicks as well.
Fast forward to 4 years hence and this strategy was a complete disaster on another similar website in the tattoo niche.
Because a lot had changed including the visitor mindset. Placing a few banners will not work. Even Bing doesn’t approve such ads anymore because of low quality and irrelevant content.
Links that led directly to a vendor’s site was then a bad idea. Instead you had to presell your visitors.
Capturing email addresses has become even more important because studies reveal that hardly 15% of customers buy in their first visit. So, if you are not capturing email addresses, you are losing the opportunity to get in touch with them again. In fact, you are losing them forever.
Hence it became important to incorporate email marketing into your affiliate marketing business.
Tracking and testing also became an integral part of affiliate marketing, in order to ensure that you have the best ROI.
And most importantly, it was no more about catering to visitors from PCs. Instead a good 48-50% visitors who were coming in from browsing on mobile devices had to be given equal priority.
All of this meant that the best WordPress themes for affiliate marketing blogs needed to incorporate features that could facilitate all of these. And bear in mind that not all themes do that.
So let us look at some of my recommendations for the best WordPress themes for affiliate marketing blogs and see how they live up each of these requirements.
The Best WordPress themes for Affiliate Marketing Blogs
Based on all of these changes in the way affiliate marketing worked, the requirements in a WordPress theme changed. A good WordPress theme had to have these essentials –
- The theme should have the option of building custom landing pages and opt-in forms
- Fast loading responsive mobile optimized theme
- Easy to setup and customize, preferably without touching a lot of codes
- Should suit our A/B testing needs
- Preferably with Social sharing built into the theme.
So which themes check all of the above boxes?
Which are the best WordPress themes for affiliate marketing blogs based on the above requirements?
Most themes that are built these days are responsive. A developer has to be out of his mind if he is not doing it and that will be a clear indication that you need to stay away from that developer.
Customization options are also common with most themes and some even have a drag and drop interface which is the easiest to customize a theme.
For anything that is not available in a theme, there is a plugin. So, you shouldn’t be too concerned about these features not being built into the theme. Isn’t it?
But with already having paid for a premium theme, would you really want to spend on additional plugins to do this job?
And add to it the unnecessary codes and the call that these plugin make to the servers, which leads to a delay in page load times, and you ask yourself if, a installing a plugin is the right call to make.
So based on our experience and assessment, below are some of the themes that we recommend for affiliate marketing sites.
Generatepress stands first in line when it comes to a choice of WordPress themes for affiliate marketing blogs. Most of my blogs run either on Generatepress or, Thrive Themes (which I will come to in a little bit).
Generatepress has a lot of features in their FREE version itself but I would recommend that you go for the premium version because it adds many more important features.
And at $49.99 per year it is a steal.
They have an excellent support team and a very interactive forum, which itself is enough to find solutions for most questions that bloggers have.
It is compatible with pretty much every plugin (except plugins that are not being developed or, updated by the developers).
Thrive themes is more than a theme. It is a complete suite of tools for your WordPress blogs. The suite includes plugins like Thrive Leads – which is an option form builder, a Landing page Builder (Thrive Architect), a headline optimizer and a few other handy plugins.
It also includes the Thrive Theme Builder, which is one of kind theme builder for your blog. The theme builder gives you complete control over how your website looks and feels.
In fact it also does away with the need to install a few plugins, which essentially translates to a faster page load.
Thrive themes is marketed as a “Conversion focused WordPress theme”, as you can see in the above screenshot from their site. And indeed they live upto their expectations.
The theme itself as well as all the plugins including the landing page builder is extremely easy to use and can create beautiful landing pages in no time.
The only caveat is their pricing, which is a membership. But it is not a deal breaker because of many reasons –
- You get access to all their future plugins and themes as well
- With the changing needs in WordPress, it is important that themes and plugins are regularly updated. Feature enhancements and additions, also are important. And for all of this, there obviously will be a cost
- They are one of the best WordPress development team that I have ever come across and they offer simply amazing customer support
- And, in comparison to a lot of the other themes, their pricing is very reasonable
Once upon a time, many many years ago…
No. That’s not the start of a fairytale story. It is the story of landing page builders.
Many years ago, before the thousands of landing page creators that you see online today were born. There used to be an undisputed champion of landing page creators. It was OptimizePress. One of the best landing page creators then, when you struggled with creating landing pages.
Since their version 1.0, Optimizepress has changed a lot over the last few years.
They added a lot of new and handy features to version 2.0. With a nice drag and drop designing interface, OP 2.0 gave you an option of designing landing pages that are not only beautiful but also functionally great.
But then things changed in the landing page builder ecosystem. Clicking, editing, saving and refreshing your page to see how your page looked was really the best way to create pages. People were looking for a real WYSIWYG (What you see is What you get).
Optimizepress 2.0 didn’t quite meet those standards. That’s when Thrive themes came into the ecosystem and things changed.
Optimizepress took a long long time to adjust. And they finally came out with Optimizepress 3.0 which had a similar editing experience as that of Thrive Themes but still not at that level.
Nevertheless, since this is not a comparative analysis of landing page builders, I will leave it at that.
So, why is it that I am recommending Optimizepress as one of the WordPress themes for affiliate marketing blogs.
Because, Optimizepress now comes with a WordPress theme called Smart Theme. This is a handy-dandy theme because it works just out of the box.
You don’t have to fiddle around a lot to customize the theme, if you don’t want to. It looks beautiful and simple, out of the box and you can just install it and start using it.
And since Optimizepress already comes with an optin form builder, landing page builder etc., most of the requirements from an affiliate marketing perspective is taken care off.
But the caveat!
Optimizepress is also a membership, so you have to buy the membership to get hold of the suite that includes the theme. And the suite will cost you around $199 per year at the current discounted rate.
But then the question is, would you really want to buy Optimizepress when you can get Thrive Themes for about $20 more?
That depends upon what your choice is.
I have had a love-hate relationship with Optimizepress. Yet I do recommend them because it is a great theme (suite).
You can check out Optimizepress 3.0 right now!
I am a fan of WordPress theme Frameworks because of the many options you get in customizing your blog according to your requirements. And Genesis is simply the best Framework.
Genesis was one of the first themes I had used on my blogs. Back then Brian Clark owned Studiopress (Genesis was a part of Studiopress) and since I followed Brian’s blog – Copyblogger a lot, I was fascinated with this blog design as well.
That’s when I bought Genesis and started using it on my blog.
I used Genesis on a lot of my blogs and most of those were niche blogs with the primary income source being affiliate marketing. There are a variety of Child themes that are available and all of these give you a lot of customization options.
The limitations in these themes are primarily on creating landing pages and optin forms and these are the only things that might act as a deterrent in using them as a primary affiliate marketing website theme.
Genesis, just like most other Frameworks, is slightly on the costlier side especially if you opt to buy one of the Child theme. That is if you are looking to a slightly more custom look for your blog.
But you don’t really need to go for child themes, especially in case of Genesis. The core theme that comes with the framework, in itself is a beautiful one. Just install it, do the basic customizations and get to work.
You can check out Genesis Framework right now!
Socrates is still one of my recommended WordPress themes for affiliate marketing blogs.
After the introduction of version 5.0 of Socrates, a lot has changed for the theme.
It already had a lot of benefits like page load times, faster setup, simpler design etc. With version 5.0, things have changed for the better and the theme has now become even better.
While you might not be able to see things like an optin form builder etc. in the theme, those are some things you can get by installing plugins that provide these features.
For a price of $47 and that too for unlimited installs and just a one time fee, you can’t go wrong with this theme.
So, if you don’t want the bells and whistles and are looking for a simple theme with excellent support and a low one time price, then Socrates is what I would recommend.
You can buy Socrates from this link.
The Best WordPress Theme for Affiliate Marketing Blogs for Beginners
Now that we have discussed all of the best WordPress themes for affiliate marketing blogs, which out of will be the best for a beginner in affiliate marketing.
As a beginner in affiliate marketing, you are starting off with a few limitations. So the theme that you choose has to fit into the requirement.
Let us look at the limitations of a beginner in affiliate marketing –
- Little funds to invest. So the theme has to be low cost
- Not an expert in technical skills and especially with working on WordPress
- Looking for something that needs little setup
- Don’t have a lot of time to spend on fiddling with problems in their blogs
The themes that fit the bill, based on these requirements and limitations are the below 2 –
- Socrates Theme
Once you have started off, I would recommend upgrading to Thrive Themes.
But if you can afford to spend about $200 on a theme today, then I would advise that you go with Thrive themes.
Which theme to pick for your Affiliate Marketing Website?
The decision entirely depends upon you and your needs. So keep in mind your specific requirements, when choosing the theme.
What is your budget for a WordPress theme? How much money are you planning to spend on the other options like landing page builder, optin form creator, analytics etc.?
How much time are you willing to spend on customizing and building your website design?
These are just some of the questions that you might want to ask yourself before picking the theme.
I hope this post was able to help you in making a decision and deciding on what would be the best option for you. Do comment and let us know your thoughts on what are the best WordPress themes for affiliate marketing websites.
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Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and I might earn a commission from them, if you choose to buy the product by clicking one of these links. This is at no extra cost to you.
FOOTNOTE: This post was originally published in October 2016 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.