How to Backup a WordPress Site for Free
4 Simple Steps To Backup Your WP Site

How To Backup A WordPress Site For Free Thumbnail
 

Dale McManus

Co-Founder & Web Developer

Mar. 29, 2019

 

Hey, my name is Dale! My partner Alex and I have helped tens of thousands of people build beautiful websites around the world. In this simple, step-by-step guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to backup a WordPress site. Let’s dive in!

  • Level of Expertise:
    Beginner
  • Time To Complete:
    20 Minutes
  • What You Get:
    Full Website Backup

For the record: It’s super important for us to keep this site 100% free for you and 100% high quality. To help us do that, we’ve partnered with some of the products we recommend and earn a commission if you buy through our links. Read our full disclosure and partners list here.

As always, here’s the video guide:

If you like the video and want more tutorials on  creating a professional website you can also subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Now to the post…

how to backup a wordpress site

Setting up WordPress backups for your site is one of the easiest and most crucial ways to up your website security game.

No matter how much you lock your sh*t down, accidents and hacks happen.

And when they do, knowing you’re covered with a recent backup (or two) of your site is like Bengay for the stress you’ll feel. Downtime isn’t cool, but losing all your work is waay less cool.

So today we’ll cover everything you need to know about WordPress backups – from why it’s important, to how often you should do it, your backup options, some of our favorite WordPress backup plugins and a quick tutorial.

Let’s get into it!

Why Should I Backup WordPress?

Just in case you’re a bit confused about all this backup business, we want to make sure you’re crystal clear: backing up your site is real important. Don’t wait until after your site is broken/hacked to start making them.

Simply put, backups are copies of your WordPress site that are easy to reinstall (“restore” in technical terms) if something goes wrong.

They’re an insurance policy that’s super cheap (read on – we’ll show you how to set them up in a couple of minutes). One of those things that you probably won’t need but when you do you’ll really need them.

WordPress backups have two parts:

  • Your media, theme, plugin, etc files
  • The database that stores your blog posts, comments, and settings

By default, WordPress doesn’t have a built-in backup system, so you’ll have to take some steps to set this up yourself.

To do this, you’ve got three options:

  1. Rely on your web host to back it all up for you.
  2. Make backups manually by downloading your files and database (don’t do this – you’ll forget and it’s a waste of time unless you like playing around with web hosting stuff).
  3. Grab a WordPress backup plugin to manage your backings up right from the dashboard).

We’ll get more into why we think plugins are best below, for now just know that backups can save you a ton of time and stress in a number of ways:

  • When updates or plugin installations go wrong, you’re covered.
  • If you get hacked, you’re covered.
  • If you forget to make a hosting payment (getting a new credit card, always a pain) and your website gets deleted, you’re covered.
  • If any one of a million other random things happens to break your site… you’re covered.

How Often Should I Make a WordPress Backup?

Definitely a good idea to backup your WordPress site regularly – it’s easy to automate (no more thinking about it!) and if something goes wrong, the more often you’ve saved your site the fresher your latest copy will be (meaning fewer changes to get back to where you were from restoring the backup).

How regularly should you backup a WordPress site?

Well, it depends on how complex it is and how often you make changes.

If you’ve got a simple website with just a few pages/posts and plenty of storage on your webhost (or wherever you’re going to store backups) – it’s easy enough to just set up full daly backups (of your files and database).

If you’re just getting started, you should be fine storage-wise, you won’t need much space and if you have good web hosting you’ll have plenty of storage available; maybe go weekly if you’re worried about storage and don’t make a ton of changes.

If you’ve got a big site that will have huge backup files that might hit storage limits, here are a few tips:

  • Really you should do at least weekly backups, even if you don’t make a ton of updates, as hacking/randomness happens.
  • You can also do weekly full WordPress backups (file + database) and daily database only backups if you make a lot of content changes (new blog posts, comments, products on your ecommerce site).
  • If you make a lot of daily changes, you really need to do daily backups – if you’re really pressed for space try saving your files to a hard drive on your computer or an external one or limiting your number of saved backups.

And even if you have automatic backups scheduled at a good interval, it’s always a good idea to make a quick manual WordPress backup:

  • When updating your WordPress version
  • When adding/updating plugins and themes that make major functionality or design changes (just adding some social share buttons, you’re probably fine; switching out themes or adding an ecommerce shopping cart – make dat backup right quick).
  • When making any major content changes like adding/updating a bunch of pages at once.

And in most cases, you’ll be fine if you keep about a month’s worth of backups (whether you make them daily or weekly).

Should I Use my Hosting Provider or a WordPress Backup Plugin?

Like we mentioned above, unless you like playing around with technical stuff don’t mess with manual backups.

Between the other two wp backup options, we definitely prefer WordPress backup plugins but in some cases you might want to use your host’s backup software.

Here’s a bit on the pros/cons of each.

What to Look For in a WordPress Backup Solution

  • Automation – takes one more “gotta do” off the good ole to-do list and means you don’t have to worry about not having a fresh backup when you need it; definitely want this.
  • Backup frequency – like we mentioned above, you’ll want at least weekly backups, maybe daily; some plugins even make real-time backups. Make sure you choose something that lets you backup WordPress as much as you need to keep chillaxin as you make changes.
  • Storage location – can you save backups on your hosting server, Dropbox, or local computer? Ideally you can save them somewhere outside of your hosting (in case their servers get hacked or go down); if the WordPress backup solution you use only lets you save on your host you’ll just want to be sure you’ve got plenty of space.
  • Easy restoration – can you restore a backup with just a few clicks? One time I had to manually re-upload my WordPress database backup and it was like 2 hours talking to customer support (they limited database upload sizes for security reasons, had to explain I wasn’t trying to crack their systems).
  • Full or partial backups – as a beginner, just going with full backups makes things easy, but having the option to just backup certain parts of your WordPress site is nice for when you get super big.

Making WordPress Backups with Your Hosting Provider

Good hosts will definitely have your back here by offering some sort of backup solution for your WordPress site.

But, your mileage may vary.

If your host doesn’t offer backups, might be a good time to make a switch (we’ve got a whole list of the best WordPress hosts for you here).

Some hosts will make you pay for backups; don’t do that, you can do this for free (with WordPress plugins!).

And sometimes even if they do offer free backups, they’re clunky to setup, manage, and restore from.

So, feel free to take a look at your host’s WordPress backup options, if you like what you see, go for it.

Using a WordPress Backup Plugin

Since the quality/price of host backup services varies, we definitely recommend using a WordPress backup plugin to keep your site safe.

While there are paid plugins and versions, most of what you’ll need as a beginner can be found for free.

And they’re simple to install, easy to use (right from your WordPress dashboard), usually offer plenty of backup and storage options (just backup your database, just your plugins, store backups on your host or Google Drive, schedule backups daily/weekly).

So let’s take a look at some of the wp backup plugins we like the most.

3 of the Best WordPress Backup Plugins

VaultPress

vaultpress wordpress backup plugin

VaultPress was created by Automattic, the company that created and manages WordPress (.com and .org) – so you know off the bat it’s legit.

It used to be independent but is now offered as part of their Jetpack plugin (even if you use another backup plugin, we definitely recommend grabbing Jetpack for most of the other awesome features it has).

It’s super simple to use and definitely covers all the backup bases, including:

  • Automatic daily backups standard with plans that include real-time backups (any change you make is automatically saved)
  • One click restore
  • Easy site migration (if you want to move to a new host, for example)
  • 30 days of cloud backups (plenty for most sites, cloud is awesome because you won’t lose your backups if there’s a problem with your hosting or you lose the backups stored on your computer).

Only major downsides are the 30 day limit (again, you’re probably fine but more is nice in some cases) and there’s no free version.

Their basic plan is only $39 a year so the cost isn’t huge, but when there are free options that are just fine for beginners that’s $39 you could spend somewhere else.

BackupBuddy

backupbuddy backup wordpress site

BackupBuddy is another solid, though premium only WordPress backup plugin, with the features you’d expect:

  • Full or partial backups
  • Remote storage options
  • Site migration
  • Backup scheduling (daily, weekly, monthly)

They also offer real-time cloud backups for as part of their Stash service.

Downsides are the cost – no free version and their one-site plan is $52/year (more than VaultPress but still cheaper than VaultPress’ plan that includes real-time backups, which is $299).

While you can backup to Dropbox, Google Drive, etc, if you use their cloud storage you only get 1gb of storage (should cover a month of backups for a smaller site, but if you’ve got a lot of pages or images you’ll run out fast).

And restoring your site will take more than a few clicks (download files then re-upload them to your site) – not super complicated but a few more steps than it needs to be.

UpdraftPlus

updraftplus best wordpress backup plugin

Definitely our fav – UpdraftPlus gives you a ton of features you have to pay for with other WordPress backup plugins, like:

  • Automatic backups
  • Full and partial backups
  • Easy restore
  • Backup to your host’s server, Dropbox, Google Drive, local computer, etc.
  • One-click manual backups (for pre-updates, big changes, etc)

So – everything you need, for flippin free.

But, though we love free, we really love how much value UpdraftPlus delivers in their premium version too, which includes features like:

  • Cloning (make test versions of your site) and migration (move to a new host)
  • Incremental backups (save space by only backing up changes, not the whole pie)
  • Automatic pre-update backups (so you don’t have to remember to do this yourself)
  • Fast support (for when the inevitable “this just isn’t working” happens)
  • Database backup encryption (if you store sensitive customer information)
  • Backup report graphs and emails

So you can start for free and cover the bases, then when you’ve gotten huge and need more, UpdraftPlus has your back with a super valuable premium WordPress backup plugin at a reasonable price ($70 the first year, $42/year after that for up to 2 sites).

And that’s why, for today’s tutorial, we’ll show you how to backup your WordPress site for free with UpdraftPlus.

How to Backup a WordPress Site for Free with UpdraftPlus

Alright friends, four simple steps to get your backup game going.

1. Install the Backup Plugin

First step (obviously) is to install the plugin.

Super easy, if you’ve done this before jump over to step two.

If you’re still learning, just head to your WordPress dashboard, and click the plugins option in the sidebar and click “add new.”

wordpress backup plugin add new

Search for “Updraft” (don’t even need the “plus” – they’re just so popular [star eyes emoji]).

updraftplus wordpress backup search

Click Install now, then Activate.

updraft plus wordpress backup plugin install
updraft plus wordpress backup plugin activate

Updraft will then take you through a quick walkthrough to set things up and run your first backup!

updraftplus wordpress backup plugin tutorial

2. Make a Backup

If you followed UpdraftPlus’ setup, you’ve already made a backup and set an automatic schedule.

If you want to make another WordPress backup yourself (eg you’re still using the free version and are about to update your WordPress site), just find UpdraftPlus in your WordPress Settings in the sidebar.

updraftplus wordpress settings

On this page, all you have to do is click the big blue “backup now” button…

updraftplus wordpress backup now

Make sure the “include database and files” options are checked, then hit “backup now.”

updraftplus wordpress database backup now

Done! Your WordPress backup is now running and should be done in just a few seconds.

3. Schedule an Automatic Backup

Again, UpdraftPlus is awesome so they’ll take you through scheduling automatic backups if you follow their walkthrough, but let’s look at scheduling (in case you skipped that – we’re notorious for ignoring the user manuals too).

While you’re in Updraft on your WordPress dashboard, just click the settings tab and you’ll find the options right at the top.

updraftplus backup plugin settings

For both files and the database, just set them on a weekly schedule (as we recommended above) and keep four backups (a month’s worth).

updraftplus automatic wordpress backup

Next we’re just going to choose where we want to store these backups, our favorite is Google Drive (easy, free).

updraftplus google drive wordpress backup

You can just leave all the other settings on default – if you really want you can check the Email option to get emails whenever a backup is run.

Maybe do this for a couple of weeks to make sure everything’s smooth sailing but after that, we’d definitely uncheck that box ‘cuz we don’t need more emails in our inbox like that (your thoughts, questions, and feedback are always welcome though :).

Once you’re done looking at the other settings (because we know you want to), just be sure to click “Save Changes” at the bottom.

updraftplus automatic wordpress backup save

UpdraftPlus will then ask you for permission to access your Google Drive, just click the link, sign in to Google, then click allow and you’re set.

4. Restore a Backup

Cool, now your backup game’s tight, your swimming in a pool of backups like billionaires do money (one day, friends, one day).

What do you do with all those (once you’re done swimming)?

Restore your site! For practice this time so you know what’s up when something goes down for real for real.

Let’s pretend we goofed up and deleted our homepage and now it looks like this:

wordpress backup homepage deleted

Good news – we’re covered!

We can restore it back to normal by going back to the Updraft plugin page and scrolling down to our existing backups, going to an old backup, and clicking restore.

updraftplus existing wordpress backups
updraftplus wordpress backup and restore

Make sure you check all the boxes to restore everything then click restore again.

updraftplus wp backup restore

A couple of seconds later, website restored and now our homepage looks fan-f*cking-tastic again!

backup wordpress site restored

Backups for Days

So that’s everything you need to know about how to backup a WordPress site.

If you learned one or two or more things and enjoyed this post, we’ve got tons of other amazing tips, tricks, and website-stuff tutorials over on our Youtube Channel and subscribe!

Rumor has it for every new subscriber a baby monkey is born in the rainforest, happy and healthy…

Best WordPress Hosting Sites
Rated and Reviewed for 2019

Best WordPress Hosting Sites Featured Image

Dale McManus

Co-Founder & Web Developer

May 20, 2019

Hey, my name is Dale! My partner Alex and I have helped tens of thousands of people build beautiful websites around the world. In this simple, step-by-step guide, we’ll compare web hosting plans so you can find the perfect host for your website. Let’s dive in!

  • Level of Expertise:
    Beginner
  • Time To Complete:
    20 Minutes
  • What You Get:
    Working Knowledge

For the record: It’s super important for us to keep this site 100% free for you and 100% high quality. To help us do that, we’ve partnered with some of the products we recommend and earn a commission if you buy through our links. Read our full disclosure and partners list here.

WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system (CMS) and for good reason: the software is flexible, easy to learn, and free to use.

With a huge library of free and premium themes and plugins, WordPress powers millions of websites around the world; if you’ve been thinking about creating your first professional website, it’s a solid place to start!

If you’re confused about web hosting in general, we have a video guide for this available on our YouTube Channel and below:

If you liked the video and want more tutorials on creating a professional website you can also subscribe to our YouTube channel!

But while WordPress itself is free to use, you’ll need some place to house all your images, blog posts, and data to make it easy to reach over the internet.

That’s where WordPress hosting comes in.

In case you missed our What is Web Hosting guide, hosting is basically a service that provides servers or “land” on which your website or “house” is built on the internet.

But a quick Google search will show you there are a ton of WordPress hosting sites out there.

Which is great, we love options.

Until it’s time to make a decision about which offers the best WordPress hosting for you!

Figuring that out is exactly what this beginner’s guide is for.

Table of Contents

  • What is WordPress Hosting?
  • How to Choose the Best WordPress Hosting
  • Top WordPress Hosting Sites

What is WordPress Hosting?

While web hosting can be used to build websites using a ton of different web technologies and platforms, the popularity of WordPress has inspired a lot of providers to offer WordPress specific features and services.

But when it comes to WordPress web hosting, there are basically two options: Managed and Unmanaged.

Managed WordPress Hosting

Managed WordPress web hosting is built specifically for websites created with the CMS. It’s optimized for speed and ease of use.

With managed hosting, WordPress comes pre-installed so you don’t have to mess with installation, and most web hosts will offer other site-friendly features like automatic backups, caching, and updates.

And when you need help, managed hosting plans will have customer support teams that are super-knowledgeable in all things WordPress so you won’t have to worry about digging into your site’s backend (the code and server stuff) to fix a problem yourself.

These awesome benefits usually come with two downsides: managed WordPress hosting tends to be more expensive than unmanaged, and you’ll be more restricted in the plugins you can use (as the web hosting provider wants to make sure they can maintain top speed and performance for all their customers).

Unmanaged WordPress Hosting

The other option here is “unmanaged” WordPress hosting.

We’ve covered the different types of web hosting before, but here’s a quick rundown of those:

Shared WordPress Hosting

  • What it is: Your website is placed on one server with a bunch of other sites – from a few hundred to thousands of other sites.
  • Pros: Low cost, good for beginners
  • Cons: You’ll run into trouble as your traffic grows

VPS WordPress Hosting

  • What it is: Uses technology to digitally divide one server into multiple “virtual” servers.
  • Pros: Offers more customization and scalability than shared hosting.
  • Cons: Costs more than shared hosting and requires some technical know-how to set up.

Dedicated WordPress Hosting

  • What it is: You’re website runs on an exclusive server, no other websites will be hosted on it.
  • Pros: Maximum customization and scaling.
  • Cons: Expensive.

When you’re just getting started, Shared Hosting is definitely your best bet as it’ll keep things simple and cost-effective to run.

How to Choose the Best WordPress Hosting

It’s important to consider what you really need when choosing a WordPress web host as you want to find a balance between what you’ll need to get started, what you’ll need to grow, and how much you spend while building your site up.

WordPress hosting prices are all over the place, with the cheapest entry-level plans starting at as little as $0.99 a month (we’ll tell you more about that tastiness below), while higher-tier plans can cost upwards of $60 a month.

So what matters when you’re looking for the best WordPress hosting site?

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re looking:

  • Cost: Obviously. Compare prices from different hosting providers to see how much each will set you back. Also be sure to figure out the difference between “getting started” offers and how much the regular price is (usually you’ll get a discount for the first year or so). Most web hosts also offer discounts for multi-year contracts.
  • Domains: Does the hosting package offer a free domain? (Don’t know what that is? Check out our guide: What is A Domain Name)
  • Number of Sites: Can you build and run more than one website with that package? (This might not seem so important when you’re starting out, but a lot of successful online entrepreneurs fail with their first blog).
  • Speed: How fast your website loads is an important factor in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and creating an overall positive experience for your website visitors. Most plans will be fine when you’re starting out but this can make a big difference as you grow.
  • Bandwidth: This is how much traffic your hosting plan can handle per month. Just like speed, you’ll be fine with just about any plan to start but this will have an impact later on. Be aware that plans with “unlimited” bandwidth often have certain terms and conditions.
  • Storage Space: How much data you can store on your website’s server (for images, pages, videos, email, etc.).
  • Uptime: This is the percentage of time your WordPress hosting provider promises to have your website live on the internet. Stuff happens, technology fails, so this will never be 100% of the time but it should be 99%+
  • SSL: This stands for “Secure Sockets Layer” and it keeps traffic to your website secure (when you see the “https://” in your search bar that website uses SSL). In addition to protecting your website from hackers, having SSL is now an important part of SEO. Some hosting providers will offer this for free, others will charge you as much as $100 per year.
  • Customer Support: Especially when you’re starting out, you’ll want to make sure your WordPress hosting comes with solid support so you can get problems sorted out fast (because trust us, you will run into problems). Customer support that specializes in WordPress is a plus here.
  • Email: Having a custom email to go with your pro website is good for branding – some providers will include this, some will charge you for it (you can also use your custom domain to get a professional email address with Gmail).
  • Marketing Bonuses: Finally, some hosting packages will include things like free Google Adwords or Facebook Ad credits which can be handy for starting your website out with some ad traffic.

Top WordPress Hosting Sites

Now that we’ve covered your options and how to choose a WordPress hosting plan, let’s jump into a few of the top WordPress hosting providers.

To come up with this list, we used a combination of our personal experience in creating dozens of websites, as well as some stellar hands on research from our friends over at Hosting Facts and codeinwp.

Cheap WordPress Hosting: 1&1

1&1 also made it into our list of best web hosting companies and for good reason: they’re starting plan is CHEAP – at just $0.99 cents a month for their basic package, they can’t be beaten.

For our purposes here, they also offer cheap WordPress hosting at the same price ($0.99 the first year, $7.99 after that).

And in 1&1’s case, the low cost doesn’t mean you’re missing out on important features – there’s no setup fee, 50GB of storage is included (plenty for getting started), there aren’t any bandwidth or visitor limits, you can set up as many email accounts as you want, and they throw in a free domain name and SSL too (to be honest it’s worth it for that alone – most domain names will cost you $13 a year anyway)!

And all that’s on top of the managed WordPress hosting features you’d expect like easy WordPress setup, automatic updates, and 24/7 WordPress expert support (including by phone).

If you’re a WordPress/website beginner, it’s probably worth signing up with 1&1 for the first year to get that free domain name and learn how to build a website.

Then after that, if you want you can keep using them or take your existing website and knowledge to a new hosting provider with a better hosting plan for your needs.

Fastest WordPress Hosting: GoDaddy

Most WordPress web hosting plans are straightforward and easy to use, but GoDaddy stands out from the rest by making the whole process of setting up and building a WordPress site incredibly easy.

On top of offering the usual automatic setup and updates, they also offer pre-built websites and a drag and drop builder with access to a library of thousands of high-quality images – even in their basic plan (which is just $3.99 for the first year – not bad)!

Plus they also include one of those handy free domain names, unlimited email accounts, and award winning customer support.

And on top of all of that awesomeness, GoDaddy proved to be the fastest WordPress hosting site we found in multiple tests, making them a solid choice for hosting your first website.

Most Reliable WordPress Hosting: HostGator

HostGator is home to more than 10 million websites (including this one) for good reason – the offer an all around amazing web hosting service and experience.

Sure, they make it easy to install WordPress in one click, offer all the support and monitoring you need, and make sure your website is alway backed up.

But where they really stand out when it comes to WordPress web hosting is their reliability.

HostGator’s WordPress hosting uses a Content Delivery Network to make your website load super fast across the world.

They also use cloud hosting to make scaling your website’s performance just a click away for when you create that viral content that sends a huge spike of traffic to your website.

On top of that, they offer free automatic malware removal, $100 in Google Adwords credit, and free site migration with even their basic “Hatchling” plan (which starts at $3.95 a month for one website).

Plus, based on an average uptime of 99.96% and an average load time of 462 ms, you’ll be able to trust your WordPress website is fast loading and online when your audience wants to find you.

Best WordPress Hosting as Rated by Users: SiteGround

Rounding out our list of WordPress web hosting sites is SiteGround.

They’ve become hugely popular in the WordPress community due to the strength of their hosting platform (which includes servers optimized just for WordPress) – they’re one of the few hosts recommended by WordPress.org.

They offer good uptime, speed, some of the best WordPress support, free SSL and backups, the list goes on.

And they offer some of the best managed WordPress hosting prices around (starting at $3.95, you really won’t find managed hosting cheaper than this; at least we didn’t).

Get Out There and Start Creating!

We hope you found this guide to the best WordPress hosting sites helpful!

If you’re itching to get started building your own site, be sure to check out our how to create a website guide and get going in less than 30 minutes!

Top 5 Best Free WordPress Themes for Beginners
Let's Compare the Top 5 Best FREE WordPress Themes

Top 5 Best Free WordPress Themes Thumbnail
 

Dale McManus

Co-Founder & Web Developer

Mar. 21, 2019

 

Hey, my name is Dale! My partner Alex and I have helped tens of thousands of people build beautiful websites around the world. In this simple, step-by-step guide, we’ll compare the top 5 best FREE WordPress themes. No experience necessary. Let’s dive in!

  • Level of Expertise:
    Beginner
  • Time To Complete:
    20 Minutes
  • What You Get:
    Working Knowledge

For the record: It’s super important for us to keep this site 100% free for you and 100% high quality. To help us do that, we’ve partnered with some of the products we recommend and earn a commission if you buy through our links. Read our full disclosure and partners list here.

top 5 best free wordpress themes for beginners

Choosing a theme for your WordPress site can be a bit like choosing a dog – there are a ton of breeds to choose from, a ton of price points, and making the wrong choice can leave you stuck with a lot of chewed up furniture and poop to clean up.

Jk, we love dogs and really, your WordPress theme is waaay less important than picking a pup.

But, when you’re just getting your WordPress site started, choosing a theme can feel damn important and damn confusing.

On top of everything else you’ve got to do to get your business going, the onslaught of colors, fonts, sections, headers, widgets, menus, buttons, customizations – well, it can all feel like too much.

Lucky for you as always, we’ve got your back!

You don’t need to spend a ton of time or a ton of money finding the perfect WordPress theme to keep you fired up about your business (and, eventually,  getting your readers fired up too).

Just take a couple of minutes to read through our post and we’ll keep you moving!

Without further adieu, we present you the top 5 best free WordPress themes of the year (all beginner friendly).

Check out our video for a quick overview, then read on if you want to learn more:

What is a WordPress Theme?

According to the official WordPress site, themes are “a collection of files that work together to produce a graphical interface with an underlying unifying design for a weblog.”

Lol “weblog.”

Put way more simply, WordPress themes are a way to change the look of your site – from the colors and fonts to the kinds of sections you and buttons you can add. Basically: themes let you change the way the words and images appear on your site without needing any super fancy CSS coding skills.

Themes can be added in your WordPress admin area under Appearance >> Themes and let you get off to the super slick website races in just a few clicks.

Every theme has its own unique design, layout, and features, and some themes are designed for certain kinds of websites like creative agencies, photography portfolios, or blog focused sites (like the one you’re probably creating).

So it’s important to think a bit about what you need your website to do when choosing a theme (a few tips on that below).

Also important: should you go with a free or paid theme?

Free vs. Paid WordPress Themes

Ahh, the perennial question among website building beginners: can I get the free one or do I need to pay for this thing?

Our answer for you: while premium tools (themes included) offer a lot of benefits, when you’re just starting free stuff is pretty great (and probably best).

Three reasons for this:

  • You’re website isn’t making money yet, so you shouldn’t spend tons of $$$ before you’ve figured that little bit out (actually it’s a big bit).
  • Premium tools will often have a lot of extra features you can’t really use because you don’t know how, and you don’t need the extra confusion/learning curve to figure it all out as you’re getting started
  • You’ll change your mind. At least once.  Probably more than that. Probably more than you should. Best to not waste a lot of cash too.

And those fantastic reasons are why we’ve rounded up 5 free WordPress themes for you in this post. To save you time and dollas.

But, we respect your ability to choose for yourself, so here are some pros and cons of free vs. paid WordPress themes.

Free WordPress Theme Pros

Free WordPress Theme Cons

  • Limited Support (some theme developers are better than others, though in general since they’re not getting paid they won’t have a dedicated support team to help you work through problems).
  • Fewer Features (like we said, this isn’t likely a big deal when you’re starting, but expensive themes like Divi offer a ton of customization options to make badass websites. When you’re ready grasshopper.

Paid WordPress Theme Pros

  • More features and customizations (they’re getting paid so they have the time to put them in).
  • Better support and updates (they’re getting paid so they’ll take the time to help you out).

Paid WordPress Theme Cons

  • Too many features (they’re getting paid so why not throw in the kitchen sink).
  • Can break things when you switch themes or use certain plugins (that kitchen sink only fits when you use their custom granite countertops, and surprise – it’s not as good as the one built by the neighborhood “kitchen sink guy.” He’s Amish, trust him.)

How to Choose a WordPress Theme

You could just trust us and choose one of the themes we recommend below because we know they’re awesome and you can see they look amazing.

But maybe our relationship isn’t there yet. We get it. Happy to wine and dine you a bit more.

Here are a few things we look at (and you should, too) when choosing a WordPress theme.

Simple. Always.

Simplicity is a solid, solid key for even the best designers.

Many WordPress themes come with loads of colors, complex layouts, snazzy animations, etc – you MIGHT need one or two of those things, but most likely, you don’t. At all.

Your theme needs to help your business look good and share information with visitors effectively, but shouldn’t be a nightmare to figure out (for you, the builder, or them, the readers).

A lot of themes come with a lot of customization options and look super slick, but these can slow you down in two important ways – they’ll take you longer to figure out and build your website around, and they can slow down your website (hurting your chances of ranking in Google and your chances of people waiting for your site to load).

Simplicity, friends. Simplicity.

Features

While you’re browsing for themes, keep in mind the things you’ll need your site to do and say.

For example, if you want to create an online store you’ll need the theme to play nice with shopping cart plugins. If you’re going to be selling online courses, look for a theme with an awesome landing page template to help you convert traffic into customers.

So as you’re searching for a WordPress theme, make a note of the features you find that you think you’ll need for your site and narrow your search down based on themes that have them.

But to repeat what we said above (because it’s super important) – don’t get all starry-eyed at a snazzy list of features that look good in your website building dreams.

Too many features make a theme learn, hard to use, hard to switch from, and can slow down your site.

Looks

Good themes will let you change things like colors and fonts to match your style, but some don’t.

Some themes make it easy to change how text and images appear on your page the way you want, others make you always put this sized picture here, that amount of text there.

In general, pick a theme that’s pretty darn close to what you want out of the box first; if there are a couple of those, see if one lets you tweak things to get you over the finish line of web design awesomeness.

A couple more things to note on looks:

  • Anymore this isn’t an issue, but make sure you choose a theme that’s responsive (changes the way it shows your website based on whether people are looking at it on a phone, tablet, or desktop – most themes these days do this, some don’t).
  • Find a theme that has or lets you use the colors you need (try to match the color scheme you use in your logo)
  • Don’t choose a theme with a font that’s hard to read – if people have to squint or tilt their head to figure out what your site is saying, they’ll just close the tab and forget about you in like 347 millionths of a second.

User Reviews

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of themes to ones that are simple and have the features/looks you need (and just what you need!), reviews are a great way to choose which wp theme is best for you.

Don’t take any one review as the whole honest truth, but look at the overall rating as well as what users have to say about the theme (you’ll find reviews and ratings in WordPress’ directory and on good third-party marketplaces for WordPress themes).

If a theme has a lot of good ratings, just a few bad ratings (we all get them), and the reviews confirm the theme has that special sauce you’re looking for – grab that bad boy!

Developer Support

As a beginner, you’re almost guaranteed to get stuck with something on your site.

Whether you just don’t know where the heck that button color option is or no matter what you do that headline text always gets cut off, a theme with great user guides, regular updates, and ways to contact the developer for support will help you get unstuck fast.

Test Drive that Puppy

One time when I was a kid we got this huge lab from the shelter that tackled me so we took him back…

Probably don’t test drive real puppies, but childhood trauma aside WordPress themes aren’t lovable living creatures so don’t feel bad if you give them a thorough going through and decide to toss them to the curb.

Free themes are obviously free to try but most premium themes have demos and money back guarantees so if you’re stuck between a couple of choices, just grab them all, try them out, use the one that works best.

(For Real Now) The Best Free WordPress Themes for Beginners

Alright, on with the main event, top free wp themes time!

We’ve dug through the piles of free WordPress theme madness to pull out the tastiest top 5 we could find.

Now with easy to scan pros/cons and ratings!

Let’s dive in (note: they’re reverse ranked – “you won’t’ believe which theme made our #1 spot!”).

5. Shapely

Shapely best free themes in wordpress
Shapely makes it easy to build a poppin’ website.

Pros

  • Super Clean Design
  • Nice modern effects (parallax) without overdoing it
  • Just enough customization to let you tweak things without getting overwhelmed

Cons

  • Can’t change the font
  • Can’t change the header menu color

CaPW Rating

  • Ease of Use: 9
  • Design: 9
  • Customization: 5
  • Overall: 7.7

Coming in at number 5 we’ve got Shapely!

Shapely is an awesome theme with super clean design and very modern parallax effects and big dividers (“sections”) that let your readers get right to the information (too much clutter is a terrible thing – in websites and in life!).

It also has lots of buttons for all your call to action needs and the menu sticks to the top so people can quickly and easily navigate around your site as they scroll down your pages.

Shapely also has a lot of color options with full color control over buttons and text, and it really makes it easy to edit anything on your site with just a few clicks

The biggest cons we found are that you can’t change the font or the color of your header menu, but it’s white by default and that’s a good color to use here anyway (lately people love to get obnoxious with purples and magentas and such. Simplicity, friends.).

Overall, Shapely looks great out of the box and it’s very easy to use – in part because it doesn’t have a ton of customization options which isn’t great but certainly isn’t bad for a beginner friendly theme.

4. Mesmerize

mesmerize free wordpress templates
Mesmerize is great for getting started fast with presets.

Pros

  • Solid customization options
  • Bold buttons
  • Presets to help you find the right fit for your site without having to start from scratch

Cons

  • Can’t change button colors, stuck with what comes with the preset.
  • All the options make it a bit harder to learn and can get you stuck in the neverending “let me just change this too” trap.

CaPW Rating

  • Ease of Use: 7
  • Design: 8
  • Customization: 8
  • Overall: 7.7

Up next is Mesmerize.

Mesmerize has this pretty cool, very colorful button design to it that’s really poppin’.

We love it’s nice, bold action buttons because they allow people to find exactly what they’re looking for very quickly (which is great for your site’s rankings, conversions, building an audience – this stuff is important!).

When you install it on your site, they give you the option of starting from scratch or choosing from a few presets – definitely go with one of those, it’ll put in some sample words and layout stuff which will save you a ton of time. You’ll just have to replace some images, change colors, and add new text without needing to think through your whole design and layout (simplicity!).

Mesmerize is especially great because it has a ton of design options with like a million different types of dividers (don’t play too much), lots of color controls, lots of included icons. The only limit we found is that you can’t change the color of buttons, so you’ll have to stick with what color comes with the preset you choose.

There are also individual presets for each section so you can easily change the look of whole parts of your page without having to tweak a million little things.

Overall, more customization options which make it a bit harder to learn/use than Shapely but you get more control for that, and with the presets they make it pretty easy to manage everything without having to spend a ton of time tweaking every little thing.

3. Optimizer

optimizer themes for wordrpress
Optimizer is make customization simple with its unique front page editor.

Pros

  • Super easy to use
  • Unique Front Page Editor better than what you get with most free wp themes
  • Full color and font control

Cons

  • Limited to 4 widgets for customization in the free trial

CaPW Rating

  • Ease of Use: 10
  • Design: 8
  • Customization: 7
  • Overall: 8.3

Our number 3 top free WordPress theme is Optimizer.

Optimizer is one of the easiest themes we’ve ever worked with because of its super simple front page editor – something you don’t often find with free themes.

Like all of the themes we’re showing you, it’s 100% mobile responsive and it’s also super fast and search engine optimized which is really helpful (there are a ton of little technical things to do for SEO that you don’t want to have to know as a beginner).

Full color options for buttons, backgrounds, and the header and you’ve also got complete control over your font style and color as well.

This theme also supports WooCommerce which is something to look for if you want to build an ecommerce store on your site.

Now the biggest con is that it’s not fully customizable, you’re limited to about 4 different widgets in their free version (the pro version will run you $50, not too bad and definitely worth it if you like what you get with the free version).

But, the 4 widgets you do get are pretty flexible so you can get away with quite a bit using them and a little dash of creativity.

2. Ocean WP

oceanwp free wp themes
OceanWP is a bit harder to use but the designs are fantastic and completely customizable.

Pros

  • Full customization
  • Fantastic out of the box design
  • Works well with the Elementor page builder plugin

Cons

  • Higher learning curve than other free themes

CaPW Rating

  • Ease of Use: 7
  • Design: 10
  • Customization: 10
  • Overall: 9

The second best free WordPress theme we’ve found is OceanWP.

This is definitely one of our favorite themes (it’s featured in our how to make an online store ecommerce website tutorial).

Full customization here with all the color and text options a heart can desire. We find this theme plays really well with one of our favorite WordPress plugins, Elementor, which is a page builder that makes it super easy to just drag and drop widgets to create a completely custom website section by section.

With OceanWP and Elementor you can also get preset templates that other people use to keep things simple and save time by starting with what’s already working for other people.

Only real con is that OceanWP is a bit harder for beginners to learn because of the crazy customizability but other than that this is a really beautiful, highly functional free WordPress theme.

1. Hestia

hestia top free wordpress themes
The beautiful Hestia. You should probably use her.

Pros

  • One of the best out of the box designs
  • Completely customizable (but you don’t need to do too much)
  • Works well with companion plugins that cover just about any function you’d need.

Cons

  • (Let us know if you find one)

CaPW Rating

  • Ease of Use: 10
  • Design: 10
  • Customization: 9
  • Overall: 9.7

Drumroll for the best free WordPress theme… Ah, that’s right, you already know it from that header – Hestia!

Hestia is a theme we keep coming back to for tons of tutorials on our Youtube channel (like perennial favorite How to Make a Website From Scratch) because it’s great for beginners in just about every way.

The design is clean, modern, and functional just like you’d expect, they’ve really done pretty much everything right so you don’t have to overthink things as a beginner, just tweak it to make your unique site and you’re good to go.

But if you still can’t resist the urge to go from tweaks to full-blown rework, Hestia has your back there too, it’s super easy to edit any piece of your site by clicking a little pencil icon that comes up when you’re logged in to your administrator account.

Hestia works best when you add a few companion plugins (which they’ll show you when you install the theme on your website) – basically, these just add cool sections to your site that don’t come with the theme out of the box like contact forms.

If you love Hestia, definitely check out our how to make a website from scratch video where we’ll show you how to build a website using this awesome free wp theme (including a few hacks that’ll really wow your visitors).

But wait, there’s more!

Normally that statement is meant to sell you some cheap “as seen on TV” product that you don’t really need 2 of for $19.99.

Plot twist: that’s not what we’re doing today friends!

Instead, we just wanted to catch your attention to let you know that we’re here to help you through this whole build a pro website process with tons of actually helpful, definitely free tips and tutorials on our Youtube channel (insert big red “100% Free Go Watch Now” button here)!

How to Make a Logo for Free Online
A Simple, Step-By-Step Guide To Creating A FREE Logo

How To Make A Free Logo Thumbnail

Dale McManus

Co-Founder & Web Developer

Mar. 14, 2019

Hey, my name is Dale! My partner Alex and I have helped tens of thousands of people build beautiful websites around the world. In this simple, step-by-step guide, we’re going to show you a simple way to make a logo, for FREE. Let’s dive in!

  • Level of Expertise:
    Beginner
  • Time To Complete:
    5 Minutes
  • What You Get:
    A Customized Logo

For the record: It’s super important for us to keep this site 100% free for you and 100% high quality. To help us do that, we’ve partnered with some of the products we recommend and earn a commission if you buy through our links. Read our full disclosure and partners list here.

As always, we have a video guide for this available on our YouTube Channel and below:

If you liked the video and want more tutorials on creating a professional website you can also subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Okay, so you’ve got your online business idea figured out. After hours of word-crunching, you’ve got a pretty rad name, you’ve bought the domain name and maybe you’ve even started to build your WordPress website.

But in the back of your mind, that little spot in the top left corner of the page bugs you; there’s supposed to be a logo there. How the heck do I make a logo?

Oh and since you’re just starting the process of building your business, you definitely don’t have the resources to hire a designer to make one for you.

No worries friends, we’ve got your back.

In this guide, we’ll show you exactly how to whip up a logo for your online business. For free. In 5 minutes.

Because you’ve got a lot of great ideas to get out there and one heck of a business to build!

Let’s begin…

A logo works a lot like your name (your personal name, not your business’).

When you were born your parents gave you a name and over time, you brought a ton of personality to that noise people make with their mouths to identify you.

So when people hear your name, they think of you with a few heart eyes emojis.

Logos work in the same vein as a symbolic representation of your business, giving people something they can easily recognize and come to feel something (hopefully good) about your business.

And more than most people names (sorry “John”), they can also share information about what your business is all about and how you rock the world.

A good logo:

  • Helps you stand out from the competition.
  • Shares key information about your business.
  • And builds brand recognition for your business.

To do that can take a lot of work. And you already have a lot of work to do getting your business off the ground.

Thankfully, we have some words of wisdom to help you stay calm: your first logo doesn’t really matter that much.

That’s right. We said it.

Yes, it’s important to have a logo that says something about your company, and it shouldn’t look like complete crap.

But the reality of online business is that what really matters is the content you put out there and the value you provide for your audience and (eventually) customers.

Great content can make a “good” logo great, too.

And making a good logo isn’t that hard or expensive, as we’ll show you a little further on.

First, let’s go over the different types of logo you can create.

Types of Logos

When it comes down to logos for online businesses, really there are three basic types:

  • Text: A lot of people think logos have to have some sort of image and many do, but they don’t have to. Some really famous logos are just words (Hershey’s) and yours could be too.
  • Symbolic: In contrast, some logos are just an image that taps into the power of people’s image recognition system to build a connection and make the logo memorable (Apple. Enough said.)
  • Combined: Naturally, our third type of logo is a combination of words and text (Adidas). We find these work well for online businesses because you can connect with people visually, explain what your business is about with your name/words, and you can always make image or text only versions off of the main logo later.

Within those three main types of logo, there are a few elements you can play with to make something really awesome and unique.

Typography

This is just a fancy way of saying “font.” If your logo uses words, you’ll have a ton of font options to choose from to match your style and let people know what kind of business you are.

Imagery

Naturally, if your logo includes non-word pieces, there are nearly an infinite amount of “pictures” you can create and use. These could include symbols, icons, abstract geometric shapes, decorations like boxes or lines, shapes – whatever you think is best to help your logo look good, tell people what you do, and stand out from the competition.

Color

Whether you just use words, just imagery, or both you’ll always have options when it comes to color. Simple black and white can work for a more refined feel, a few variations of one color to really drive one feel home, or a multicolored palate that catches attention and lets people know you’re business is a ton of fun (just please make sure the colors look good together; Adobe’s color palette tool can help with that).

Whatever kind of logo you decide to make, it’s really important to not overcomplicate it.

Simple colors and shapes without a ton of little details not only makes it easier for you to create, but will make it easy to use your logo all over your website, social media, t-shirts, posters, etc without losing details or ending up with a jumbled mess when your logo scales to different sizes.

If you fancy yourself an especially creative person, you can learn even more about the types of logos in this awesome post over at 99designs.

Best Free Logo Makers

Cool, so you’ve got an idea of what kind of logo you want to create, but we hooked you on the idea that making your logo would be free and fast.

We’ve still got you on that. Tutorial’s coming up in a second but first, here are 3 of our favorite online logo makers.

Canva

canva free logo maker

Canva is an amazing free design tool with a beginner friendly interface and tons of free templates for creating anything from social media images, flyers, invitations, business cards and, of course, logos.

They make creating a logo easy by letting you start with one of their free templates, then you can use their super simple drag and drop editor to change fonts, colors, add a bit of visual flair, and even upload your own custom graphics if you have any (thank you graphic designer friends who will work for free coffee and lots of gratitude!).

Shopify’s Logo Maker (Hatchful)

shopify hatchful free logo creator

Shopify’s had a logo maker for a while now but it was so wildly popular that they recently gave it a real name, Hatchful. All grown up, #soproud.

And while Shopify’s badass ecommerce platform does cost a pretty penny, Hatchful is just as badass and you can save the penny (it’s free)!

Again, it’s super easy to use – just type in your business name, choose an icon, edit colors, sizes, etc. to your heart’s content, then get that bad boy sent to your email in seconds.

LogoMakr

logomakr free online logo maker

LogoMakr might just be the easiest to use of the bunch. They keep it so simple and to the point – there’s not even a home page to their website! Just hit up logomakr.com and you’re sent right to their free online logo maker and off to the races in seconds.

And of course, they offer tons of drag and drop shapes and icons with all the text, color, sizing, and position changing goodness you need to create a logo that just works.

LogoMakr’s our favorite for sure, so that’s what we’ll be using to show you how easy it is to make a good logo for your online business.

How to Make a Logo for Free with LogoMakr

Alright, the main course, let’s make a logo!

The first thing you’re gonna want to do is head over to logomakr.com. Go ahead and skip the tutorial (because ours is better) and you’ll see their very simple interface that gives you everything you need but isn’t daunting to look at.

logomakr canvas

From there you can browse all their logo images/icons or search for something specific. So if you wanted something to do with a tree you can type in “tree” and it’ll give you a ton of options.

logomakr tree icons

Or you can search by categories if there’s not one “thing” you know you’re looking for.

logomakr categories

For this tutorial let’s head back to the canvas and make a logo for a game company.

We’ll start by inputting some text using the little “T” on the left. Let’s call it “Oldskool Games” (yes, we know that’s not how you spell “school” but this way is way cooler).

logomakr insert text

Next, let’s go in and get a game related image by typing “game” into the search bar.

Boom, we’ve got all these game controllers to choose from, let’s go with the colorful one (because it’s poppin’).

logomakr colorful controler icon

When making a quick and easy logo like this there are two main things we should customize and that’s the font and color.

First up, focusing on the font, a gaming company should be really fun. LogMakr has a ton of font categories to choose from but for this logo Fun and Funky is the obvious choice.

logomakr font options

Then we can go through and select one of the Fun and Funky fonts, Luckiest Guy is definitely the move here.

logomakr luckiest guy font selection

And that, friends, is a logo right there.

free logo created

If we wanted to play with it some more, we could move the text off to the side to create a longer logo.

create free logo text right

We can also make the image and text smaller by just dragging and resizing.

logomakr drag to resize

And to change the colors we can select any color on the wheel in the top right corner and adjust things like saturation and brightness.

logomakr change text color

And to be sure your colors are consistent throughout all of your branding be sure to copy the color code, in this case, “ff8d00,” and save it somewhere so you can use that exact color for other things like buttons on your website.

LogoMakr also lets you add shapes like circles, triangles, and squares.

logomakr shapes options

And if you need to remove something (this blue circle was definitely a mistake), just select it and hit the trash can in the bottom right.

logomakr trash can

They also let you do lines so if you want to underline something you can. Plus you can adjust the line width depending on whether you want something super subtle or nice and phat (also not how you spell “fat”).

logomakr line width options

And if you want to have shapes/text/images overlap you can switch the order they appear in to put one thing on top of the other using the layer’s button down at the bottom. Just open that up and drag the piece to whatever level you want it at.

logomakr layers box options

So let’s just say we were right the first time but, you know, we wanted to play with it to really be sure. So now we’re really done. For real for real.

To export our new logo we just go up to the Save icon at the top right and click it.

logomakr save logo

That will bring up a pop up that gives you the option to buy which you totally can, it’s only $20 and you’ll get vector files which will let you scale this logo to any size without it getting all blurry.

But option two is free and all you have to do is credit LogoMakr.

logomakr free and paid options

Oh and before you click one of those be sure to save your logo’s URL there on the bottom so you can come back and make changes later if you need to.

logomakr re-edit link

Alright guys, that’s it for our text-based LogoMakr tutorial but in the video we covered a few more logo designs so if you want to get some ideas or just see more of the action, check them out here:

Logo Design Tips

Before we head off, we’ll leave you with a few logo design tips. Really, for your first logo there’s no need to overcomplicate things. Whatever you make will probably be fine and if your business takes off but you don’t love the logo you can always change it later.

But we also know us saying that might not be enough to help you just get after it, so here are a few things you can keep in mind to let your inner concern troll relax a bit.

Research Your Target Audience

Your logo needs to look good, sure, but it also needs to communicate effectively with your target audience.

Think about who they are, what they like, and if you know anyone who your business could help talk to them about your business and what they think and feel about businesses like yours for ideas on what your logo should “say” about it.

Research Ideas and Competitors

From looking at and talking to your target audience, along with ideas you already have, online research can be really helpful for finding inspiration too.

Look for competitor’s logos, look up keywords associated with your business, and see if you can find your target audience on Reddit or other places to get more leads on ideas and competitors.

You want to make sure your logo is unique and clearly recognizable, but starting a business is hard enough without trying to reinvent the wheel too. Find some things that work, put your own spin on them, logo = done.

Create a Mind Maps and/or Mood Board

Mind maps are a great way to get ideas out of your head for your logo or for your online research to find inspiration for your logo. Just write your business name or a word that describes it in the middle of a piece of paper, circle it, then draw out other things that come to mind to find logo idea gold.

Mood boards are another idea creation/inspiration finding technique that super fancy designers use to create logos.

You and I would call it a “collage.”

Basically, you find a bunch of images (logos, pictures, graphics, etc) that you think are interesting and related to your business, paste them all up on a poster board or a free online collage maker and keep it handy when you’re working on your logo ideas.

Keep. It. Simple.

Again, we can’t stress enough how much your first logo doesn’t need to be perfect.

But in addition to your peace of mind (that thing you’ll get when you finally just make the flipping thing), simplicity is also a really important part of good logos to make them easy to remember, recognizable, and useable everywhere. Think Nike or Apple.

Mirror Your Business’ Personality

You might come up with a logo that looks great but is totally wrong for your business. An example would be using rainbow colors and Comic Sans for a law firm. That lawyer isn’t getting you out of sh*t.

If your business is fun, use crazier fonts and colors (but don’t overdo it). If your business is health-focused, stick to blues and greens and browns. If you’re building a fashion advice blog, fit the style of your logo to the style of fashion you like talking about the most.

The Rap

That’s all we have for you today folks, time to jump to it! And yes, we know that’s not the right spelling of “wrap.”

Hopefully we’ve helped you get unstuck with this whole logo making thing; it’s important, but not worth stressing about. Really if you just fire up the free logo maker, play with a few ideas for a few minutes, you’ll probably come up with something awesome.

Then you can get back to the website building stuff.

Oh, you didn’t get started with that yet?

We’ve got you fam, check out our guide and get going with that in less than 30 minutes!