People generally seem to prefer using things free of cost, without knowing that free things might cost them other way round.
Same thing happens in the case of WordPress themes, if you would ask any new WP blogger about whether he is using a premium theme or a free one, his reply will be, Why go for paying $20-80 for a theme when I already have access to some good ones like responsive and suffusion, these themes have almost endless customization option or good support. So let us find it out by having a comparison between WordPress Free themes vs. Paid themes.
But like I said, nothing comes free. Using free themes means poor ranking in the search engine, limited features, least possibility of being upgraded in time to help your WP blog keep up with the new version of WordPress released, etc . Once your blog picks up the momentum, speeding up your WP Blog would become your priority , because, like others you would also want your blog to be pushed up in the search engine ranking. But free themes rarely have any in-built SEO option. With an encrypted footer (containing paid links) SEO optimization becomes still difficult for the users of free themes.
On the other hand, the users of premium themes get a variety of features like-time to time release of the updated form of the themes which are compatible with the latest version of the WordPress, in-built SEO option, clean code, web integration, and above all free support. The theme developer attends his free themes afterwards, and that’s why upgraded form of free themes are generally released much later than the upgradation of the WP version. The premium themes are even free of encrypted footer, which means no bad or paid links. This is a very important feature of the paid version as your blog footer plays a very important role in determining the SEO of your blog. Not just this, some paid themes like THESIS , also provides option for lowering down WP plug-ins that is removal of the unnecessary WP plug-ins which speeds up your blog, and improves its Search Engine Ranking.
In fact, in free versions the user has to be acquainted with codes and must have some basic knowledge of php,css and html but in paid versions there is generally a option panel from where you can do all the customizations.
Another important point about Paid versions is that , there are minimum or no structural bugs, even if there is, the clients may use the free support feature(through forums) , while on the other hand, the free versions are often full of structural bugs, and the clients cannot make any claim.
The free versions of WP themes have an advantage too. You can always count on moving on from one theme to the other if the previous one doesn’t satisfy your needs. But this is a mole, in front of the mountain of benefits, features and quality, a paid WP theme promises. So, even if you start with a free theme initially, go through the available paid themes, and buy the one that suits you best. You’ll never regret this one-time investment.