Building a digital portfolio serves a vital purpose for freelancers and small business owners. Your website serves as a natural extension of your brand, and neglecting your site means lost clients and earning opportunities. You’d never hire a contractor to add an extension on your home without first seeing his past work, so why would you expect your clients to hire you without seeing what you’re capable of producing?
WordPress is easily the most popular content management system for freelancers, thanks to its versatile plugins, simple interface, and customizable options. Best of all, it’s free! Hundreds of thousands of themes are available for WordPress, and you need to spend the time finding one that is both visually appealing and functional. Whether you’re just starting as a freelancer or you’re an established writer working on a limited budget, the following free WordPress themes offer a great starting point
(Looking for premium WordPress themes? Start here!)
Story is a powerful theme if you plan to blog regularly, which can help boost your organic traffic numbers and pull in potential clients. This theme also supports a static front page, ideal for presenting yourself to would-be clients. I particularly like the background on this option.
Customizr is a modern WordPress theme that allows you to tweak the design to fit your unique needs, much like the name suggests. This modern design might be best suited for technology writers or freelancers who work in design, coding, and other tech fields. You can further expand on Customizr’s functionality with a paid version, should you feel so inclined.
Are you specifically targeting niches like general business, finance, or marketing? Consider Minamaze, the free version of Minamaze Pro. This versatile theme is retina ready and features a decidedly corporate look, perfect for writers who need to take a more serious tone.
When it comes to WordPress themes, perhaps no word is more overused than “clean.” Nevertheless, Ares fits the bill, with a clearcut design that feels airy and modern. I really like this particular theme and might just find somewhere to use it personally! 😉
Take a decidedly different approach with Independent Publisher, an extremely simple WordPress theme for writers. If you don’t feel comfortable jumping into Photoshop from time to time or simply don’t want the pressure associated with graphic elements, consider this smooth theme.
Make offers a versatile overall feel that appeals to freelancers of all shapes and sizes. Keep things traditional with a serious headshot or liven up the place with an informal tone and quirky graphics—the power rests in your hands.
Don’t be fooled by Omega’s simple appearance—this responsive theme has been built specifically with SEO in mind. Similar to Independent Publisher, Omega is a streamlined theme for freelance writers who want something attractive yet simple.
Business One is robust and bold, yet it retains a professional appeal. The large hero image space allows you to easily customize the overall feel of the theme, while the all caps headline captures visitors’ attention immediately.
Generate a lot of content? Hiero is an attractive theme for freelance writers who intend to blog regularly. If you don’t already have some content ready to go live, this site might look a bare, so I’d advise either creating several posts to publish when the site goes live or working hard as soon as your theme has been activated.
It’s hard to go wrong with a theme called Author! I love the simple profile space on the top left corner, which will ensure your visitor gets to know you before proceeding through your pages.
Go totally retro with Qwerty, a super fast WordPress theme that allows you to share your poetic musings with the world. I would caution that while this theme puts the focus on your writing, you might need to tweak it to ensure YOU still shine through.
Stick with the basics with Aviator, a simple black and white theme. This free theme offers a page builder, which makes it insanely easy to lay out your pages, even if you don’t have a lick of coding knowledge.
Make your words pop with Intergalactic, a modern theme that uses images to make your text come alive. Don’t have a large image library at your disposal? Consider using Creative Commons images to make your site more attractive. (Don’t forget to give attribution when necessary)
Swell is a well-rounded blogger theme for WordPress. My favorite aspect of this particular template is the parallax hero image, which allows the image to scroll down as visitors browse.
I really like the look of Pinnacle, a responsive WordPress theme that features an array of powerful options for styling the site. Pinnacle is also fully compatible with WooCommerce, if you need a theme that supports selling products or services.
Zerius is another bold choice for freelance writers who want to make a statement. I like the large headline and the hint of coral, though I’d imagine that can be customized as you see fit.
ZBlackbeard looks strikingly similar to Zerius, with a similar layout and a large headline on the hero image. You can also create customized callout buttons below the hero image for the various segments of your portfolio.
Much like Swell Lite, Composer also offers a parallax hero image, which adds a nice flair to this template. This single-column page style is simple, elegant, and modern.
Xylus offers a nice middle ground between an image-intensive WordPress theme and a text-only template. One large photo sits at the top of your page, giving you plenty of room below to expound upon the finer points of your business.
New Lotus is another theme for active bloggers who also want to showcase their writing services. This magazine WordPress theme offers plenty of options for showcasing the content on your site.
Capture the attention of your visitors immediately with a full-page background image and a stunning headline. This site has been optimized for both desktop computers and mobile devices.
Deserve is another attractive option if you want to display both blog posts and a portfolio. This theme offers several proprietary widgets to customize the look for your business.
Unconditional’s many portfolio options make it an ideal solution for freelance writers. This theme also has a surprising number of features, including support for Font Awesome icons.
If extra features are important to you, fCorpo offers a staggering number of them. Optimized for SEO, this template includes multiple post formats, threaded comments, and Font Awesome compatibility.
While specifically targeted to academic institutions and nonprofits, University also works well for freelance writers. I really like the framed layout with a catchy background.
Impressive is just fun, plain and simple. I like the fonts that give the WordPress theme a bit of pizzazz, while the showcase area makes it easy to ensure your visitors don’t miss your contact details.
Spacious is an uncluttered theme that has playful icons you can use to highlight your various pages. The simple design should complement a number of design sensibilities.
Modern is an attractive option for freelancers who don’t mind playing with their design a bit to get the right feel. You’ll need a great image to use as your background, but if you can pull it off, Modern looks great and super professional.
It’s hard not to automatically draw the correlation between the design of GeneratePress and that of LinkedIn. While the design may be not-so-subtle in its inspiration, the template is appealing and quite professional.
This is another freelance theme I really like. Fashionistas offers a twist on the simple blog themes for writers, with bold headlines and formatting that will make your content look great. I also love the connection options on the sidebar.
If you’re going to opt for a minimalistic WordPress theme, you’ve got to do it well. Themify Base is a great option, as it contains a multitude of extras that will help you make it your own. Choose from 600+ included Google Fonts, rework the layout with the included containers, or choose one of the theme’s skins to make it your own.
Flat is another great freelance theme that looks great out of the box, but also offers a number of customization options. I particularly like the sidebar, where you can plugin widgets for your social media accounts and provide a short bio.
Radiate can easily accommodate a full blog or be used exclusively as a portfolio. I like the parallax hero image, neat design, and support options if you get stuck.
Fruitful is another favorite for me. It’s extremely easy to navigate, supports multiple layouts, and allows you to choose fonts, menu colors, and other design elements. I particularly appreciate the simple navigation bar and the great social links at the bottom.
I know I’m not the only one who gets tired with his site design after a short while, and I love that Sparkling allows you to dramatically change the face of your site without overhauling the entire theme. Simple, clean, and flexible.
If page layout is your primary concern, don’t overlook Meris. This full-featured theme allows you to add custom widgets to each page, in turn creating a unique feel for your content.
If you can pull off a visually intensive page layout, more power to you! I find them a bit intimidating, but I can’t deny the appeal of an attractive full-width image used as a page background.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, The Thinker Lite again puts the emphasis on your blog posts. This theme can also be reworked for a static portfolio.
Sometimes less is truly more, as is the case for Zenzero. Large, easy-to-read fonts make your headlines pop on the page, while a simple header and navigation menu ensure your visitors have no trouble finding the information they need.
Few page elements scream portfolio more than your face sitting pretty at the top of the page. I’ve included Convac Lite for its static front page alone—how could it possibly get easier to share your details with potential clients? As a bonus, the design is top-notch and the theme supports numerous widgets and plugins.
Eighties is cool as a cucumber—I mean, how awesome does that look? This simple theme keeps the menu and sidebar tucked out of the way, but users can access them easily with a simple click. Huge headlines, an awesome header, and really clean lines make Eighties a winner in my book.
Getting the word out about your freelance services is paramount if you want to be successful, and Minnow makes it easy to do exactly that by putting the focus on your social media profiles. Clients can easily get connected to you, thanks to the simple buttons embedded at the top of the theme. Furthermore, the clean, minimal design is appealing and versatile.
While Bushwick may be far from my favorite neighborhood of Brooklyn, I am partial to this WordPress theme. The unique layout is eye-popping and lends itself well to a largely text-based website that may not have lots of other graphics.
If you’re one of those people that drools over typography, it’s hard to go wrong with Graphy. This is yet another example of an extremely minimalistic WordPress theme, but it’s great for showing off your words in style.
Mon Cahier (my notebook, for the non-French speakers in our midst) is a decidedly simple theme, yet it still manages to carry a lot of personality. I love the social media icons displayed front and center and the responsive nature of this theme further adds to Mon Cahier’s appeal.
Before you go…
Choosing a free WordPress theme for freelancing offers a cost-efficient way to start building your web presence. There are plenty of high-quality WordPress themes available, as the examples above clearly demonstrate. Before you make your decision, you may way to keep the following simple keys in mind, however:
- Support: Free theme developers rarely offer support for technical issues or bugs within the product. If you’re someone who needs a bit of hand-holding, this could be problematic.
- Updates: There are few things I hate more than finding that one of my favorite themes is no longer being updated by its developer—ouch! While this can happen to both premium WordPress themes and free alternatives, it’s a much more frequent occurrence for the free themes.
- Uniqueness: Each of the themes detailed above has its own feel and look, but free WordPress themes spring up on thousands of sites across the web. That’s certainly not to say that premium themes don’t end up on plenty of different sites, but the purchase price does help limit a premium theme’s distribution.
If you’re considering a premium WordPress theme for freelancing, I’d strongly recommend Theme Forest. I’ve purchased all of my paid themes from Theme Forest, including the one currently active on this site.
Share your thoughts below!
Have a favorite free theme you’d like to share with the class? What’s your experience been with free WordPress themes?