If you’ve just started making money from your blog, you may wonder how much of an increase you’d get by changing your theme.
Choosing a WordPress theme is not something to be taken lightly, but can in fact have quite an impact on your overall earnings in the long-term – especially if you are monetizing your website using something like display ad revenue, or affiliate marketing.
So, is it worth upgrading themes, and if so, when is the right time to do it?
In this article, I’ll cover everything that you need to know.
Consider Your Current Revenue
The most important factor to think about when deciding whether to upgrade your theme, is the current amount of revenue that your blog is receiving.
This is particularly true if you are considering purchasing a paid or premium theme.
The truth is, most people consider upgrading their themes too early on in their blogging journey – when even a substantial upgrade won’t make that much of a difference.
Think about it this way.
If you’re earning $50 a month from Google Adsense for example, and you pay $200 for a premium WordPress theme, you may see only a 30% increase in total revenue. At $50 a month, this amounts to only an additional $15.
At this point in time, upgrading themes rarely makes sense, because the potential upside is so little that it’s not really worth it.
Say you were making $5,000 a month however.
At this point, a 30% increase could lead to an additional $1,500 every month, making it worth both the time as well as the expense of upgrading!
So, until your revenue is at a meaningful level, it’s generally a better use of your time to focus on increasing your traffic (such as by producing more articles) than it is to worry about things like themes or your website’s design.
Because ultimately, quality traffic is going to be the ultimate metric that determines how much money you ultimately make.
(Case in point – the theme I’m using right now – Thrive, is actually one of the worst themes for ad revenue, due to how slow and bloated it is. But because this website receives hundreds of thousands of pageviews every month, it doesn’t matter quite as much to me.)
Upgrading Themes Is Harder Later, However
There is one other point to keep in mind, though.
Changing themes isn’t as always as smooth of a process as you’d think. Not only can technical errors pop up that make your site unusable until you get them fixed, but your Google rankings may shuffle around a bit when you change your theme – as they would with any drastic website update.
This means that if you are chasing a target – like getting 50,000 monthly sessions to be accepted into Mediavine’s ad network for example, it may be a good idea to change your theme ahead of time, that way your rankings can be fully settled by the time you’re likely to apply.
Nothing is more frustrating than finally making some real money from your site, and then having to do something that puts that money in jeopardy.
So, even if your revenue isn’t quite substantial yet, you may still consider upgrading themes if your website is on a steady growth curve, and you know you should be seeing increased ad revenue soon.
Note: Mediavine has their own theme that’s optimized for their network called Trellis, which a lot of bloggers use and enjoy. While I have not personally tried it out myself, Mediavine claims it’s effective at raising ad revenue across their network of publishers.
Ultimately, you need to consider your current revenue when choosing whether to invest in a paid theme.
While it’s unlikely to make financial sense if you are still on Google Adsense, publishers on networks like Mediavine or Raptive may see significant improvements in RPM by upgrading to a theme that is better optimized for display ads.
As far as affiliate marketing goes, there are plugins available that can still help a lot without requiring a full theme change as well. AAWP is a personal favorite for Amazon’s affiliate program, and has directly increased revenue for my brands.
Regardless of your choice, I hope you continue to see your website grow in the coming months and years.
Wishing you the best,
– James McAllister