Think about the last time you opened a physical magazine. Has it been a while? Sure, there are still plenty of folks who subscribe to magazines, but the number of people who get magazines on their Kindles, or who look online for information, is growing every day.
Heck, the last time I touched a physical magazine was while sitting in my doctor’s waiting room. That’s why online magazines are making moves because people are transitioning to the online world to learn about celebrity fashion tips or the problems in the Middle East.
Do you have what it takes to run an online magazine? To start, you’ll need a free WordPress magazine theme, giving you the proper functionality and helping you save money.
Luckily we put together a solid list of the best options, so keep reading to learn more.
The Hueman theme is one of our favorite free magazine WordPress themes since it’s completely responsive and provides high-resolution images and layouts for the ideal magazine interface.
The theme comes with unique toggle sidebars so that you can easily browse around on tablets and phones.
The customization options are endless, which is nice considering this is a completely free theme. To start, you receive unlimited widget areas, 10 post formats, and unlimited colors for areas such as the top bar, footer, and header. All of this assists in your magazine branding, but the main reason we like the magazine theme is that it lets you feature certain stories at the top of the site.
You can also choose to include a slider instead of a stagnant story image.
With Colormag, you’re given a theme that has a ton of excellent reviews. This is a beautiful, responsive magazine theme, and it’s recommended for anything from gaming to lifestyle magazines.
It has custom backgrounds and colors for matching up with your logo, and you even get some small spots for inserting ads. The custom menu sits right underneath the header, and they both work to guide people through your site and instantly reveal what your magazine talks about.
We like the social media buttons, considering you don’t have to install another third-party plugin for that. Not to mention, the featured images throughout the homepage are essential for convincing people to click through on your articles. If you’re interested in using a WordPress theme without much coding involved, this is yet another free option that makes that happen. For example, you don’t need to touch your source code because the majority of the elements are implemented with the help of widgets, sidebars, and footers.
As you may have noticed from the demo, several sidebars are available, and you can choose just how many you’d like to reveal. Along with translation files and threaded comments, the Colormag WordPress theme is just what you need for a magazine.
If you’re looking for a fast and clean theme for your online magazine, MagazineNP is worth checking out.
This modern, freemium theme is compatible with the Elementor Page Builder plugin, enabling you to build your site in no time. It also is incredibly beginner-friendly and comes with two demos. No setup is required to create your home page, and everything you need can be found and styled directly from the Customizer. The design makes it easy to showcase featured and related posts.
This widget-based theme is a solid option for a wide variety of magazine-style projects, including sports sites, news portals, and blogs. As MagazineNP is compatible with WooCommerce, you’ll have no problems integrating an online store into your site.
While there’s nothing particularly unique about the design and it may be too simple for some users, MagazineNP comes with the staples needed to create and run a standard magazine site.
If you’re going to put in the time and effort to run an online magazine, you might want to consider monetizing your content to help offset those investments. To do that, you’ll need a theme such as Refined Magazine that provides advanced customization options and features to help you generate revenue.
You’ll have to establish a solid brand identity to build your readership. A theme with lots of customization options can help you do just that. Refined Magazine provides multiple header options, layouts, post formats, and more. You can also access unlimited color options, and even color code your categories.
If you want a clearer starting point for your site’s design, there are nine pre-built demos you can import. On top of all that, Refined Magazine adds nine custom widgets to your site, including one for advertisements. This makes monetizing your online magazine simple.
For a free theme, Refined Magazine packs a ton of features to help you get your digital publication up and running and to grow it over time. It’s absolutely worth considering for your online magazine.
Metro Magazine uses modern fonts and colors, along with a responsive interface to look good on all devices. It’s a clear solution for anyone interested in building an online magazine. The good thing about the Metro Magazine theme is that you don’t necessarily need a certain niche to use it. You can use it for sports, lifestyle, food, travel, publishing, or any other type of magazine you can think of.
The theme has a default color scheme, but you can change this to match your logo. The social media integration comes in handy for leading users to your own pages and also for getting visitors to share your blog posts on the internet.
The custom widgets work well for inserting a wide variety of tools. For example, you might want to implement a list-building campaign when you collect email addresses through a widget. There’s also an author bio section after every article so your writers get the credit they deserve.
The advertisement settings can be adjusted depending on your needs. For instance, some blogs might rather have fewer ads, while others are going to be littered with them. Along with translation tools, CSS access, and a full-width template, the Metro Magazine theme has the majority of features you’ll need for a magazine.
6. News Portal
The News Portal WordPress theme is a great option for building a full online magazine with minimal effort.
The design this theme offers is engaging and really draws visitors in. It comes jam-packed with features that suit publishing well, such as featured stories, colorful category tags, social media integration, header advertising, and a news ticker you can use to display “breaking” news at your discretion. It also allows you to set up sections on the homepage that fill with specific categories of content that you CAN designate.
The theme itself is fully widgetized, so you can easily drop in content in a variety of spots on your homepage without having to manually create pages or figure out layouts. Just add content to the widgets, drag the widgets into place, and you’ll be good to go. You can make additional changes to the look of this theme using the built-in customizer. Choose from a variety of color options for text, section headers, and more.
Beyond the nuts and bolts of the features, News Portal is a stylish theme that is inherently professional. However, you could easily use it for a casual publication as well as a business-related one. Your content and the images you choose will ultimately change the way this theme looks. And isn’t that how it should always work? Your content is the focal point here.
The HitMag WordPress theme has a stylish design that’s ripe for a lifestyle or fashion magazine.
The theme is completely free, and it comes with some wonderful features for customizing your site however you want. For example, the theme provides four different blog layouts for you to stand out from others that use the theme. In addition, these layouts include multiple color options to establish your brand. The author box details are ideal for giving credit to the people who write for you, while the related posts ensure that readers stick around your website for a longer period of time.
All of the metadata can be controlled by the admin, and HitMag even has a custom background feature for adjusting what shows up behind your content. The language support is strong for connecting with more readers outside of your language, and the threaded comments get users chatting about your posts. A full-width template is included, just in case you’d like to clear out the clutter and focus on more of a landing page layout.
Along with a grid layout, right sidebar, and two-column support, the HitMag theme looks pretty good for most magazine types.
Check out the Poseidon WordPress theme if you’d like something that caters to a wide set of industries. This theme has lots of white space, and it offers some nice social media buttons for getting the word out about your business.
This is a rather elegant design, and the wide-screen layout improves how people see your brand while landing on your site. The theme supports high-resolution images for the header, and it provides a widget-based homepage for constructing what lists you want people to see. The primary blog customizer is pretty simple and useful for designing anything from media to text-based posts.
The custom background and colors are ideal for combining these areas with your logo. The spacious, full-image header is one of the more unique looks you can find with a free solution.
Threaded comments are solid for creating conversation on your site and the translation functions have what it takes to spread the word about your business, no matter in what language.
Newsup is another news and magazine theme worth considering if you run an online publication. It showcases a clean and modern design that neatly organizes site content based on posts and categories.
The home page section features a slider with tabs, as well as grid sections with columns and widgets. Newsup makes modifying your content quick and easy via the Customizer settings and it’s compatible with the Elementor, WooCommerce, and Contact Form 7 plugins.
What’s more, this free magazine theme comes with plenty of demo content and multi-category color features. It also provides a multi-content layout and multiple header options.
Due to its design, Newsup is a great magazine theme to consider if you have a content-heavy site.
The SuperMag theme is one of the hottest options out there, and it’s probably due to the fact that it delivers some creative colors, strong widget options, and solid coding.
We like the magazine theme for online publications that focus on sports, technology, and anything that may be a little more masculine. The colors and fonts are set to give off that vibe, but you do have the opportunity to change these elements around.
The ad widgets come into play once you really start to bring in money for your efforts. For example, you could sell advertising to certain businesses in your industry. Or, you could implement a bit of AdSense code on your site to achieve a more targeted marketing situation.
The majority of your content is managed with the customizer or the widgets. You can change around the header, footer, sidebar, and homepage. Social media integration is a big part of the SuperMag theme and makes it easy for people to share your content.
Breaking news options are available, and the entire design is suitable for mobile devices. Threaded comments come along with the theme, pushing people to talk to you after reading an article. A favorite feature is the translation option since most magazines eventually start getting read by people from different countries.
11. WP Magazine
It can be intimidating to start an online magazine if you haven’t built a website before. WP Magazine tries to make the experience of customizing your site as easy as possible so that you can focus on writing quality content to share with your readers.
This theme uses the native WordPress Customizer to keep all your design options in one central place. You can choose from multiple header layouts, Google fonts, and category colors. You can also select which details you want to show on your posts, such as authorship, publication date, and other information.
WP Magazine also includes an advertisement widget to help you monetize your online publication. Plus, it enables you to drag and drop different sections of your site to create the layout that is best for you. Extensive social sharing options are built in, and there’s a dedicated call to action (CTA) section for you to promote subscriptions or other revenue-generating elements of your site.
If you have a low startup budget but want a magazine theme that gives you a high degree of flexibility, WP Magazine is definitely worth adding to your shortlist.
Starting a news publication has never been easier than with the CoverNews WordPress theme.
The design is straightforward but allows you to feature a lot of content straight away. This is great when you’re running a news website and you want to get people information quickly. It’s also ideal for showing the breadth of coverage you offer. Category tags are colorful and engaging. You can also list trending stories in a convenient widget. It’s easy to showcase advertising in the header banner and/or in a sidebar widget.
Though this theme is obviously geared toward news publications, it could be tweaked to suit fashion magazines, travel blogs, and personal blogs as well. It offers RTL support, which is great if you plan to offer your content in more than one language.
It’s also compatible with WooCommerce, so if there’s an e-commerce component to your publication (a merch shop, for instance), this is a match made in heaven. Three demos are included as well, so pick your favorite, install it, and get to creating.
13. Cream Magazine
The Cream Magazine theme has a typical magazine layout which makes it a great choice for any online news or magazine site.
The theme has a clean and modern design so your visitors can easily focus on your content. You will be able to monetize your site easily thanks to plenty of ad spaces throughout the homepage.
The Cream Magazine theme is easy to customize. You can change colors, upload your logo, and use different fonts, all through the WordPress Customizer.
It’s also optimized for SEO and fast loading times so you can rank better in search engines and provide your readers with the best possible user experience.
The Cream Magazine theme is fully responsive and translation-ready.
The NewsCard theme is a bright and modern magazine-style theme that’s perfect for anyone looking to monetize their magazine with ads.
For starters, there is a large ad space right below the navigation, not to mention you can easily insert ads in the sidebar or in the post. The theme also comes with a news ticker which is perfect if you publish breaking news often.
This theme also comes with a couple of demo versions which you can import with a single click and you will also find premade page templates to save you even more time during the setup process. Use the Customizer to change the colors and fonts, upload your logo image, and customize how your online magazine looks.
The NewsCard theme is fully responsive, translation-ready, and compatible with popular plugins such as WooCommerce, Contact Form 7, and others.
Cenote is a beautiful theme that’s ideal if you’re starting a fashion blog or online magazine.
This elegant, minimal theme is suitable for a wide range of blogs and websites but is best suited for niches such as clothing, self-care, and interior design. It comes with a library of demos and multiple layout options.
When it comes to customization and flexibility, the free version of Cenote isn’t the most versatile option out there. However, if you’re a fan of its modern, clean look, it should make adding content and styling your posts simple. It’s particularly suitable if you’re looking for a simple, straightforward theme rather than one with a lot of bells and whistles.
For a clean-looking theme that comes with basic features, Cenote is worth considering.