Hey guys, Mark here from the photography and camera gear website Shotkit. As you can imagine, in my job This is my impartial Flothemes review that I hope will arm you with all the ‘behind the scenes’ information you need to help you decide whether Flothemes is right for you.
Flothemes has been around for some years now, offering beautifully designed WordPress themes to photographers and artists.
I’ve spent the last few weeks toying around with one of their most popular WordPress themes to see what all the fuss was about and have put together what I consider to be the most comprehensive and honest Flothemes review available today.
Flothemes Review | Don’t Choose Flothemes!
What a way to start a Flothemes review, right?! I deliberately held off using Flothemes for my own wedding photography business for one simple, and somewhat stupid reason – ubiquity.
Flothemes websites seem to be everywhere!
However, this way of thinking is a bit illogical. If something has a great design, is easy to use, is accessibly priced and works well, it’s just a matter of time before it becomes very popular.
Flothemes makes WordPress themes which are particularly attractive to creatives like us. The themes adjust responsively allowing viewing on all devices, display images in all their high res glory, are styled beautifully straight ‘out of the box’, and in general, include all the styling/functional elements professional photographers like us need on our websites.
The Flothemes team have been great at marketing their brand, and have managed to get many of the big-name wedding photographers using their themes. Whether this took much encouragement or not is beside the point, but the fact is…
The calibre of the Flothemes users reflects the calibre of the product.
You may not realise it, but there’s a big chance that your favourite wedding photographer is already using a Flothemes WordPress theme… and that’s exactly why their site looks so damn awesome!
My Experience with WordPress Photography Themes
I use WordPress everyday. I even wrote this post on how to make a blog. I’ve also tried out a hell of a lot of WordPress themes (here are what I considered the best WordPress photography themes… before I came across Flothemes).
I resisted so hard to switch to Flothemes. I knew they looked great, and probably functioned well too (which was why every wedding photographer and his dog was using them), but I just had to resist the temptation.
I wanted to remain unique.
So for days, I slogged away at customising and tweaking my chosen theme that no other wedding photographer seemed to be using.
After a lot of blood, sweat and tears over my keyboard, I’d finished making my ‘unique’ website.
Get ready for the irony… it looked very similar to a Flothemes site!It had the full screen dynamic content, retina imagery, columned layouts and all the other usual website jazz us photographers like.
The only difference between my hodge-podge effort and a Flothemes site though of course, was that it didn’t function like a Flothemes site.
It was kind of like one of those fake Chinese Rolls Royces – it looked kinda good, but when you used it, something just didn’t feel quite right. Or occasionally, a wheel fell off.
I’d hacked my WordPress theme with custom css to the point where it was so far from the original theme architecture that it just didn’t work as it should.
It was time for me to join the masses… hence this Flothemes review!
So with tail between my legs, I finally admitted to myself that the reason why everyone was using Flothemes was a logical one… Flothemes are just really nice WordPress themes.
Flothemes Review | The Stuff I Love
Here are my top 11 reasons why Flothemes are awesome, and why I should have saved myself hours, and lots of grey hairs in choosing them several years ago for my own wedding photography site.
1. Flothemes look great on all devices
Sure, most WordPress themes are ‘responsive’, but that doesn’t mean they look nice on a mobile phone (which, like it or not, is how your next bride is checking out your site, probably whilst sitting on the toilet…)
2. There’s a lot of variety
Here’s where my ‘everyone is using them so I don’t want to’ argument falls apart. There are 17 different Flothemes at time of writing, and each one can be customised to your heart’s content.
If you know custom css, or are willing to pay Flothemes support (more on that later), you can make your Flothemes website look pretty much how you want.
3. Flothemes are (quite) easy to use
This will depend on how savvy you are with WordPress, but the Flothemes set up is much easier than other WordPress themes I’ve used. Every step of the way there’s a helpful video tutorial, so if you have time to watch them all, you shouldn’t run into hiccups. They can even do all the set up for you!
4. Flothemes serve Retina imagery when it’s required
The ‘when it’s required’ is important here. On the newer Flothemes WordPress themes, the website detects when the viewer is using a Retina-ready screen and shows them your images in all their high-res glory.
More importantly, when the user is viewing on their crappy old 2013 MacBook Air, they’ll see non-retina images, meaning a faster load time for your site. Faster site = Better UX + better SEO :D
5. The Flothemes Support & Community is awesome
If you live in their timezone, you’ll benefit from live chat support, which for a WordPress theme is extremely rare, and makes Flothemes excellent value for money.
Outside their time zone, and you’ll have to resort to email, but I found their support staff knowledgeable and helpful.
In addition, the Flothemes Facebook group is great too – the benefit of having an enthusiastic community is that everyone helps each other.
I have to admit that it’s also somewhat reassuring that you’re using the same theme as some of the best wedding photographers in the world!
6. Flothemes are regularly updated
This is essential for a WordPress theme. Each time there’s a major WordPress update, your theme provider should have an update ready for you to help maintain the security and functionality of your website.
Flothemes also updates their themes based on user feedback – something you won’t expect to find with most other premium WordPress themes.
7. Flothemes are (usually) fast
Using my Rolls Royce analogy from before, a WordPress theme is a bit like the body of a car. It doesn’t matter how aerodynamically and solidly it’s built – if the body contains a Citroen 2CV engine, it will still run like crap!
The engine in this case is the website hosting, and for Flothemes to run as fast as it’s been designed, you need fast, stable hosting.
When I asked Mark from Flothemes of his website hosting recommendation, he unequivocally recommended SiteGround, as did many other Flothemes users.
You should choose this Entry level Cloud Hosting plan which is blazing fast, great value for money and offers everything photographers need from their hosting.
8. Flothemes are created by creatives
You can tell by the design and functionality that the people who created Flothemes are trying to do what we also try and do everyday – create beautiful things. As fellow photogs and artists, they intrinsically know what’s important to us.
9. The Flothemes plugins are really useful
You’ll have to pay extra for some of them (more on that soon), but the Flothemes plugins will make your photography website even more awesome.
Plugins to help integrate your Tave or Shoot Q contact forms, a plugin to help you create your site ‘privately’ before launching it, an amazing plugin to create better price lists… again, it’s things designed for working photographers just like us.
10. The Flothemes blog is great
Ok, maybe not specifically related to their themes, but still, an active, useful and interesting blog is usually a sign of a good team, and a good product.
You get a feel for the Flothemes team’s knowledge of the market, and for the personalities behind the brand too. Company blogs are rarely done well imo, but the Flothemes blog is.
11. You can pay to have Flothemes do all the hard work
Yes, it is expensive, but for those of us with ample cash flow and no time (i.e. wedding photographers in peak season!), the Flothemes installation/customisation packages are very attractive options.
Flothemes Review | The Stuff I Don’t Like
This being an impartial Flothemes review (like all reviews on Shotkit), it’s important that I tell you about the things I didn’t like so much about the product.
Bare in mind that my experiences are from testing just 1 of the 17 Flothemes themes (Cube). I assume that the issues are the same for all of them, but stand to be corrected!
1. The Flothemes SEO isn’t that user friendly
On the Flothemes website, one of their touted features is being ‘SEO Focused’. In reality, I didn’t find the SEO functionality particularly clear at all.
Without a plugin such as Yoast (which assumes a basic understanding of SEO), it’s not particularly clear what you should be doing to make sure your site and each post is optimized well for the search engines.
Determining where to write the H1, the H2, the alt tags and so on requires a bit of digging. I was expecting it to be much clearer and idiot-proof.
However, support can help if you’re a complete SEO noob, or you’ll probably work it out in the end if you’ve used WordPress before.
2. There are too many Flothemes options
With 17 good-looking Flothemes WordPress themes vying for your attention (and more in the pipeline), finding the right theme for you is a bit of a struggle. I managed to whittle the choice down to two for this Flothemes review (Cube and Crowd), but still found myself with decision paralysis!
Although each theme does offer subtle stylistic differences, the basic functionality of each is pretty much the same.
When I asked why there was so much variety, Flothemes replied:
“…we want to offer the choice to be different. As we get many clients that compete in the same market / area, they often don’t want the same theme as the other, however some of them would prefer many of the same elements. Thus having a larger variety of possible theme choices lets them create their own unique feel in the marketplace.”
I’m all for making your site look different to the next photographer, but I still think that choosing a Flothemes theme could be a sticking point for some.
3. The Cost of the Flothemes themes
Let’s not ignore the (beautifully designed) elephant in the room here – $249 for a WordPress theme is pretty damn steep!
I asked Flothemes how they justify the pricing, and here’s their reply:
“Our themes are unique in this market place. You get the feel of a custom site, at the price of a premium WordPress template. We also offer premium support on comparison to cheaper alternatives. Putting a price on creating an experience is difficult, but we feel that we’ve created an experience and a product that justifies the price… as we understand the market, our themes are tailored to allow photographers to position their work to sell more.”
My opinion is, yes $249/theme is pricey, but it’s also a small price to pay for something that looks great and works well, which will ultimately help us make more money, and save us time faffing around with other less-able WordPress products.
Investing less than 10% of what we earn per wedding into our site which attracts more business, is a no-brainer.
Also, the support really is fantastic, and if you can take advantage of their live chat, it’s a priceless benefit of buying into the whole Flothemes experience.
4. The Cost of the Flothemes addons
I don’t want to come across as a tight-arse with all this “but it’s too expensive” nagging, but when I pay for a premium theme, I kind of expect the purchase to be the last time I hand over my credit card details!
If you want additional functionality from your Flothemes website, most of the time you’ll have to pay. Be it plugins to remove the Flothemes logo (!), plugins to add third party API form functionality, custom css solutions and other tweaks, prepare to pony up, cowboy!
It has to be said though, in this case, with payment comes quality.
I’d much rather pay for something that works well, is supported well, and can potentially make me more money, than to spend time looking for something free, then customising it clumsily myself.
…but having to pay 30 bucks just to remove the Flothemes branding is still a bit cheeky!
Flothemes Discount Code
Here’s some good news – I’ve managed to secure an exclusive Flothemes discount for any of you who read all of this long-ass Flothemes review!
Just enter your details below to subscribe to the Shotkit newsletter and receive massive 25% Flothemes coupon code for use on any Flothemes theme.
This is the biggest Flothemes discount you’ll ever find, so be kind and share this Flothemes review with all your photographer friends!
Flothemes Review | Conclusion & Advice
I wanted to write this Flothemes review to convince myself that Flothemes was right for me, but the truth is, I already knew it was.
If you’re a photographer who’s using WordPress, Flothemes is the best option available in 2017.
Initially the pricing may induce a gulp, but in my mind the pricing is completely justifiable.
You’re paying for premium quality and support, and for those of us with little time but the need for the very best, Flothemes is a godsend.
So here’s my recommendation to those of you who want an fast and beautifully designed website to showcase your photography and attract some design-conscious clients:
- Download a Flothemes theme and redesign your website.
- Use this free tool to perform a speed test on your new site.
- Sign up to this Entry level SiteGround cloud hosting.
- Perform the speed test again… and give me a virtual high five!
- Share this post by clicking one of the buttons on the left :-)
I hope you enjoyed this Flothemes review. Remember, don’t spend too long choosing the Flothemes WordPress theme – just go with your gut feeling.
They all perform pretty much the same actions – it’s just finding the one that you think looks prettiest ;-)
Oh, and do make sure your site looks nothing like mine…!
This Flothemes review is completely impartial. It contains affiliate links which help to pay for the running of the site. If you choose to purchase Flothemes or SiteGround website hosting using any of the links on this page, you are supporting Shotkit and my time spent writing helpful posts such as this one. Thank you! MarkI’ve come across a hell of a lot of gear