We’ve been designing custom WordPress themes for a long time and regularly get asked if we could recommend a premium theme instead for clients who have limited budgets. We’d struggle to find a theme which did exactly what they wanted without major renovations and was easy to set up in the WordPress backend. (Some themes are a complete nightmare.) As one client said to me “it’s a real jungle out there” to try and find a suitable premium WordPress theme.

We continued to hold off building our own premium themes for mainly philosophical reasons.

However, while I was writing my upcoming course Launch Your Dream Food Blog, I struck a roadblock: which premium food blogging theme should I recommend to people who do not have the budget for a custom WordPress theme?

There are very few out there which work straight out of the box with a beautiful, well-organized recipe index: one of the most important sections in a food blog. In the end, all my research found was that there was really only two themes: Foodie Pro and Brunch (both created by the same person, and both very similar). The themes we had been creating for clients had a lot of different features to those, and I learned a lot about what people found lacking in those pre-existing themes too from the Food Blogger Pro forums.

I realised that we could take all the knowledge of working with top food bloggers around the world building many custom food blogs and put together our fantastic premium theme which incorporated all the things that people kept telling us they wanted for their site.

The course was temporarily put to the side to focus on creating the Clean Food theme. The name itself was carefully chosen: the most common word that food bloggers use to describe their dream food blog is “clean”. I love that it’s also a play on eating clean food – we eat a lot of organic food grown here on our small farm. All the photos in the demo are ones I’ve taken of our food.

By creating the theme, I pushed my learning into new areas, including:

  • Creating screencast videos (the last time I did this was back in the early 2000s!) and uploading a bunch to YouTube as part of the theme documentation. I use ScreenFlow as the software and have a nice microphone and stand now on my desk (handy also for Skype calls).
  • Using the fantastic WordPress plugins Easy Digital Downloads andAffiliateWP with add-ons including XERO (each sale of the theme automatically creates an invoice in my accounting software), up-sells (for promoting our additional services), and software keys (for the one year of support and upgrades). For previous products, I’ve used Gumroadwith Dianna Huff. Unfortunately, Gumroad cannot handle New Zealand GST tax requirements and are not planning on doing so any time in the future so I cannot use them without messy unreliable workarounds. I’m very happy with these new plugins.
  • Using LeadPages to create landing pages tied to Adwords campaigns. Creating a lead magnet with useful tools and resources for the Launch Your Dream Food Blog course.

I hope you find these tools useful for growing your own business too. One other one which I absolutely love is Calendly for call bookings (my page is here). No more email tag trying to figure out when each of you is available or having to calculate timezones. Plus, it syncs nicely with my Google Calendar so if I have an appointment, Calendly shows me as unavailable.