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Shopify Free Vs Paid Themes: Is It Worth To Pay For A Theme? 

Deciding on whether to use a free or paid Shopify theme can be a challenging task. Tossing up whether to fork out hundreds of dollars for a premium Shopify theme is not an easy decision to make, particularly if you’re working with a limited budget.

But, as a business owner, you know that standing out in a crowded marketplace is key. 

Does that mean shelling out for a paid theme will guarantee success? Or can a free theme do the trick?

From design to SEO, building your online presence requires careful consideration. That’s why in this article, we’re breaking down the differences between free and paid Shopify themes.

Why is a paid Shopify Theme important?

With over 4.5 million Shopify stores live on the internet and only eleven free themes available to use, it can be harder to distinguish yourself from your competition when using a free template. 

Don’t get us wrong, free themes are a great starting point for new businesses, and that’s not to say you can’t be successful without a paid theme. 

What’s the big deal about paid themes then, you ask? 

Let’s dive into that!

Differences Between Paid and Free Shopify Themes

Free Shopify ThemesPaid Shopify Themes
+ Standard layout with basic customisable features

+ Limited options for design

+ App installations may be required for unique features, which can increase monthly expenses

+ Great for new businesses with limited budgets

+ Simple features = more user-friendly, making it a good starting point for new store owners
+ More variety and customisation options for design, providing a unique and memorable website

+ Pre-built advanced features, making your site run faster and smoother

+ Higher cost, with Shopify themes ranging from approx. $265 AUD up to $515 AUD and custom-made themes by developers costing more

+ Offers a treasure trove of options for store owners to express their creativity

+ May require expert help for DIY skills


Let’s face it, your store is like a first date outfit. You want to make sure it’s stylish, impressive, and totally unforgettable.

A paid Shopify theme is like having a personal stylist at your fingertips. With more variety and customisation options, you’ll be able to create a website that truly represents your brand and makes a lasting impression on your customers.

A free Shopify theme will still do the job on a budget, but will only provide you with a standard layout and basic customisable features. Small things such as colours and pictures can be added to create a new look, however, with so many Shopify users taking advantage of free themes, they’re not exactly the Beyonce of website design.

Think ahead!

What direction will your store take in the coming years? Are there design features that you may require down the line? Strategise your theme selection based on your current and future business plans. This way, you’ll be able to plan a clearer path toward success.


On the topic of cost, you need not think twice. One comes for free, the other with a price.

We all want to save a dollar or more, but when it comes to your theme, how important is it for your store? 

On top of the cost of building a website, how do paid Shopify themes differ from free options?

As previously mentioned, opting for a free Shopify theme will provide a standard layout with basic features. Emphasis on standard and basic. With a free theme, you are limited to what you’re given. Any unique features you desire may require additional app installations, which can eventually add up, slow down your website, and increase your monthly expenses.

With a paid theme, you get pre-built advanced features that can make your site run as fast as your toddler who doesn’t understand what “come here” means. Paid themes by Shopify can range from approx. $265 AUD up to  $515 AUD. While a custom-made theme by a developer will cost you more, third-party designs can start as low as $25 AUD.

Loading Speed

Truth be told, a sluggish website can sometimes be a silver lining in disguise. After all, does my child REALLY need that extra toy to add to their pile of madness?!

Let’s be real here, you want your website to load lightning fast so your customers can’t resist those tempting impulse buys. By optimising your website for speed, you’ll increase your chances of converting those casual browsers into loyal customers.

Shopify knows that customers are always on the go and don’t have time to waste on slow-loading websites. That’s why their free themes are designed with speed in mind, ensuring that your customers have a seamless shopping experience. With Shopify, you can be certain that even their free themes will meet the demands of today’s fast-paced online world.

Free themes tend to have fewer components to load, which means they often load quickly. However, too many apps on a free theme can put the brakes on your site’s speed.

In contrast, creators of paid themes are also well aware of the significance of fast loading websites. Despite having more components to load, they have been meticulously optimised to handle a greater load while maintaining comparable loading times.

Ease of Use

If you’re a Shopify newbie setting up your own store, you’ve made the right choice choosing Shopify as your online store builder, and opting for a free theme may be the way to go. 

With fewer options, customising a free theme is simpler with a more user-friendly process. They’re like training wheels for your website!

But as you grow and become a pro, you’ll want more customisation options to make your store stand out from the crowd. A paid Shopify theme offers you just that, a treasure trove of options that allow you to express your creativity.

Sure, with great power comes great responsibility. If you’re not confident in your DIY skills, the plethora of buttons and widgets can be overwhelming. But fear not, you can always hire an expert to build your website for you – and with a paid theme, you’ll have a website that screams ‘I mean business’.


It’s pretty clear that a paid Shopify theme will get you more bells and whistles than a free one. But, before you start forking out those precious dollars, take a minute to think about what features you actually NEED.

Are you looking for a theme that gives you ultimate control over every nook and cranny of your site? Or do you have a huge inventory that needs to be managed in a specific way? Maybe you’re more focused on features that will drive sales and turn those browsers into buyers.

Whatever your priorities are, make a ‘feature non-negotiables’ list and stick to it when deciding on your theme. Trust us, it’ll save you time and money in the long run.


Sometimes you just need a helping hand in website maintenance. 

Luckily, Shopify’s got your back with top-notch documentation and direct support for both free and paid themes. But if you’re feeling a little fancy and decide to splurge on a third-party paid theme (ooh la la), make sure to double-check if they offer any kind of support.

And if you’re looking for a Shopify expert with a personal touch, look no further than Siri the Agency. All our Shopify services come with support from yours truly. So when you’re on the verge of a mini-meltdown, we’ll save the day. Because let’s face it, we all need a backup plan!

Okay, but seriously – free or paid?

Ultimately, the decision is determined by the amount of flexibility you desire, and the number of features you require.

As a Shopify expert who has worked on over 150 Shopify builds & redesigns, I can say with experience that opting for a paid Shopify theme has many significant benefits for your business. 

While free themes may be a good starting point, choosing a paid one provides a wide range of advanced features, customisation options, and fast loading speeds. They also deliver a more polished professional appearance to help your store stand out.

Overall, choosing a paid Shopify theme is an investment in the success of your business. 

Do you want to settle for a mediocre website? 

Or create a website that accurately reflects your brand and maximises your potential for success in the marketplace?

And once you’re done deciding what theme you’d like, don’t forget!

The triumphant flow of your website is also driven by having a captivating homepage with head-turning headlines and strategic SEO. 

Check out our series Shopify Homepage Best Practices to Make Your Store Pop & Convert!

Part 1 & Part 2

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I’m a digital marketing expert, web whizz and tech lover. My passion is to help small biz owners and entrepreneurs break through the noise and find their online voice.

Born & bred Dutchie now living in the outer skirts of Melbourne, juggling life as a mum, wife and running a successful business from home. I am happiest when ideas are brewing in my brain and I’ll gladly share my secrets with you. Thanks for being here!




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