The short answer likely is because you’re using wordpress.com instead of wordpress.org. Of course, there are a plethora of other reasons you may be having trouble, but I ran into the same issue when first setting up this blog. I had a hard time finding an answer initially. Thankfully, my husband is a web developer and was able to easily spot and explain my error. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
Premium themes don’t tell you they won’t work with wordpress.com. and visa versa. Well, they must tell you somewhere on their site but for a newbie like me, it certainly wasn’t obvious. I paid the $35 on wordpress.com to get the annual “personal” upgrade so my URL wouldn’t say blahblahblah.wordpress.com, it’d just say blahblahblah.com, and there wouldn’t be wordpress ads everywhere. Then I went out and found and purchased a swanky theme for my newly acquired domain name. Did some Googling, watched some videos, went to my wordpress.com page to upload the new theme only to find there is no “upload” button to be found on the themes page like there is in all of the videos. NOOOOOOOO!
With WordPress.com, you can only use themes from wordpress.com. Now don’t get me wrong. They have a great selection of free themes and some really beautiful themes you can purchase as well. I had already put in some serious time scrolling through endless themes on every site imaginable and decided on one outside of wordpress.com though so I wasn’t about to trash that vision altogether just because wordpress.com wouldn’t allow it.
WordPress.com hosts your website in addition to providing you with your domain name. Because of this, they’d be at risk of who knows what kinds of attacks and viruses if they let everyone upload any theme they wanted from outside sources. It makes sense now that I know but again, at the time it didn’t seem so obvious.
With WordPress.org, you can use any theme under the sun. But you’re able to do this because you have to provide your own web hosting. Web hosting is a whole other can of worms. It’s an additional expense and it’s more you have to manage and maintain on your own but there are ways to do it, even if you’re a total newbie. I lucked out and don’t have to deal with most of it because I’m married to the guy that controls my web hosting. I have a problem with my website, I walk into the next room and ask him to show me how to fix it. For everyone else, I’ve heard amazing things about BlueHost from several other bloggers. They seem to have reasonable pricing and if you have a problem with your site you just pick up the phone and ask them about it. If I didn’t have a live-in tech guy, BlueHost is what I would be using. (Note: I have become a BlueHost affiliate! These opinions are true and my own.)
There are other benefits to WordPress.org vs. .com. The benefits I’ve come across so far have all been related to certain plugins that I would not be able to have on my website if I were using WordPress.com. Wordpress.org offers much more flexibility if you’re willing and able to host your site elsewhere.
Time to choose. If you going to stick with wordrpress in general, you can get outside hosting and have more flexibility with WordPress.org or you can let WordPress.com take care of the hosting and use themes, plugins, etc. from Wordpress.com. I chose the former option because I was dead set on the custom theme I had already chosen.
Select and upload your theme. Now, hopefully, you’ll be able to upload your theme without any problems. My theme came from themeforest. They have a huge selection which can be overwhelming and you can’t tell much about the theme from the small thumbnails displayed. If you hover your cursor over each image, you get a slightly larger popup, but it still isn’t much. I actually found mine via another website that pictured portions of the demos in a long list of themes so it was easy to get a better idea of what the end result would look like without clicking on every single picture. It’s time consuming, but it’s the face of your blog so taking the time to look through as many as possible to find the one that looks just right is worth it in my opinion.
Have you had any theme uploading problems like this? Where did you get your theme from? How important do you think a theme is to a blog? Comment below!