This is a story about how I discovered Mediavine Trellis, the best responsive theme for WordPress. I can no longer count how many times I’ve changed themes and this is how Trellis magically helped increased my Mediavine ads earnings.
Hey, fellow blogger! You probably landed on this post because you are thinking to switch to Mediavine Trellis. To be honest with you, I HATED TRELLIS when I switched.
If you’ve seen my blog or my social media platforms, I design everything. From the colorful fonts to the exaggerated emojis – I do them all even if I have a team of experts who can do it for me.
I started P.S. I’m On My Way in 2010 and back then, Mediavine ads did not exist. As a new blogger, I was so excited to design my site so much that I changed themes every time I feel like it.
For each time that I see a new theme that I like, I kept switching and switching and switching to a point that I probably have broken codes on my website for not installing themes properly.
This is no news to you as you also probably experienced the same. You can’t decide on a theme. You keep switching without realizing that you are focusing so much on the design that you forget to create more content.
Enter, the best responsive theme for WordPress: Mediavine Trellis. But first, I want to tell you the timeline of my switch, the HUGE site improvements, and the website crash that I experienced during this ordeal.
One of my very best friends Nathan who blogs at Foodie Flashpacker told me about Trellis late last year. We were traveling in Oaxaca City for the day of the dead and he casually asked me if I planned to switch to Mediavine Trellis.
At the time, there were so many bloggers who already switched and Nathan was also 100% sure he would. Our only concern was there were so few Trellis converts that we personally knew so we couldn’t find a reliable resource.
The Facebook group for Mediavine ads publishers really helps but still, if you don’t know anyone who has personally done the switch, you will be very adamant like us.
During my research, I saw that Nomadic Boys was featured in the Trellis Wisteria as the best responsive WordPress theme. Bingo! Stefan is also my friend so I asked him about his Trellis experience.
Stefania, a friend who blogs at Every Steph told me that she has the same exact feeling that I had: Trellis is so simple it looks like an HTML website. You can’t design or splash colors like we are used to with most WordPress themes.
She is a Mediavine Trellis convert now, by the way. But when we were speaking before, she’s expressed that she will only change unless she actually personally knows someone whom she trusts and can give an honest input.
I know we all know each other online and within the blogging community groups but I am sure you understand the feeling of taking an opinion from bloggers you personally know versus bloggers that you only know online.
Stefan, Nathan, and Stefania have blogs as old as mine so of course, if they said that Trellis is good, then I believe them. I am just not very impressed with how it looks which lead me to think about it for months.
💃🏽 Disclaimer: Mediavine did not pay me to write a Trellis review. For the last few weeks, I have been extremely stressed with site optimization (especially during the August 2022 Google update) so I feel like my Trellis experience should be shared even without receiving payment.
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🔀 January 2022: the switch to Mediavine Trellis
The big draw of my decision-making to switch to Mediavine Trellis was, of course, Raphael from Journey Wonders. I live in Mexico and for the last 2 years, we’ve had many trips together.
He got into the Mediavine ads early last year and with it, he purchased the Trellis framework. Very smart on his part because Trellis is a product of Mediavine so rest assured that the ads will run smoothly.
As close friends, Raphael and I share many blogging tips but we also like to taunt each other. He likes to say, “my site speed is now better than yours,” and I’ll smash him with a harsh rebuttal like “well, cabron, I write way better than you do.”
I never really understood what he meant when he said his site speed is way better than mine so I checked it on GTmetrix, a reliable website that will give you insights on site performance and structure.
The results of Raphael’s site speed were so impressive that within the next hour, I purchased the Mediavine Trellis (US$149 per year license). It also adds that we like to make fun of each other so in this note, I became very competitive with Raphael.
I immediately purchased the theme and guess what? I was digital nomading in Rio de Janeiro for 7 weeks and did not have time to install the theme. I also did not think I was equipped to properly install a theme so I put it on hold.
Then, time passed and I wanted to justify the US$149 annual payment for the theme that I was not installing. When I finally had the time to sit down and focus on it, enter Trellis Concierge.
Mediavine was offering services to install the Trellis theme on my site so bingo! I don’t need to stress about incorrect theme installations! Valued at US$299 (not cheap at all), I purchased it as an add-on and within 3 days, my website is using the Trellis Framework.
My RPM increased greatly and my site speed was so fast I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. At the time of my switch, I was traveling with Rachel and Ruben of Gamin Traveler who were preparing their site to enter Mediavine ads.
They asked if Mediavine Trellis was worth it and of course, I raved about it and showed them the numbers on my dashboard. They were convinced and they converted to Trellis just before their ads were installed.
Which goes without saying – you can use the Trellis framework on your website even if you are not qualified for Mediavine ads yet.
📉 August 2022: I left Trellis and my Mediavine ads RPM decreased
For 8 months, I was really satisfied with the switch because of the higher RPMs but then my artist mind was not contented with the design. Everything was so plain to me and the Gutenburg Editor did not impress me at all.
It felt limited. I battled to leave Trellis for weeks and every day, I work on my blog feeling demotivated because I think it is ugly. Fellow bloggers have told me mine is probably the best designed Mediavine Trellis website they’ve seen but I was extremely unhappy with the very plain texts.
In January 2022, my company launched Mexico Insider, a blog dedicated to helping people travel and relocate to Mexico. My team at Mexico Insider decided we’d try Kadence because it is beautiful and free.
Fellow travel blogger Shelley Marmor also recommended Kadence because that’s what she uses for all her sites. And Kadence is FREE and has thousands of starter templates that you can choose from.
I enjoyed creating with Kadence (on my Mexico blog) so much that I stopped creating content on my main blog. It was just really so demotivating for me and no creativity was coming out of me.
Mexico Insider was a more enjoyable platform for me to write because of the pretty icons, colors, row layouts, info boxes, etc. So I said, maybe it isn’t so bad to switch to Kadence because it’s free?
I woke up one day, opened my laptop, and without thinking, installed the Kadence theme overwriting all my Trellis layout. What the actual fuck.
First, there is a correct and proper way to install themes, and I myself do not have the tools to understand how these plugins’ compatibility work or that I need to do a staging site to test a theme first.
I simply clicked install and was very happy about the optics and design that Kadence offered. But after a few days, my ads didn’t load properly and my RPM greatly decreased.
It did not bother me since the RPM was still okay and acceptable. Come September (actually, last week), Mediavine wrote to me and said that there may be something wrong with my site as they can see the erratic decrease in my RPM.
One of the great things about the Mediavine people is that they offer help without even me asking so of course when I got this e-mail, I took action right away and switched back to Trellis.
There were also so many issues I faced when I changed to Kadence therefore, I do not recommend Kadence even though it is so beautiful and FREE. You’ll end up paying more (aka Web Developer bills) if you don’t understand how a theme actually works.
🔙 September 2022: I switched back to Trellis
My developer secretly hates me, and so does the CEO of my company. This September, I have been lectured about how my impulses and design freakiness ALWAYS causes use more money.
I talked to the guys at both Mediavine Ads and Mediavine Products about the story of how it happened (and that I went crazy) so they suggested a few solutions remedy the RPM decrease.
It could be as easy as 1,2,3 – click install and switch back to Trellis but errors here and there started occurring so I had to do a site optimization and audit.
In the audit, the following emerged:
- Plugins: too many plugins were installed and I did not know which one is compatible with Kadence or Trellis. It’s basically a mixed salad of plugins for two different themes.
- Caching: my site takes 24 hours to cache which is extremely strange. I can see the changes I made on the site on the backend but it does not update in real-time on the frontend.
- Migration: as you know, I created this blog a long time ago when everyone was still using Blogger.com (not WordPress). My web designer found out that there are still images from my Blogger.com that did not properly migrate when I switched to WordPress.
- Images: if you have a blog that is more than 10 years old, better check the images as some of them are too big. Nobody taught us how to do it back in the day, eh? A decade ago, I was basically on my own so those images from 10 years ago that are too large are now causing more problems.
- Hosting: I had planned many years ago to leave Siteground so now is the good time to really move. I purchased a better server on Cloudways which costs US$160 per month for unlimited sites and has 16GB RAM, an 8-core processor, 320GB storage, and 6TB bandwidth. This is usually expensive for hosting but I own many websites so it’s worth the price.
I can go on and on with the problems I encountered with Kadence (and leaving Trellis) but I’ll make another post for that. Of course, the first thing my team did was move me to my new host/server and activate the Trellis properly.
You won’t believe this shit but after just 10 minutes, my site health was restored and everything was in place. The only problem I am facing now is that I have caching problems but I will figure it out one by one.
This happened 4 days ago so I will update this post if I see any issues and problems with compatibility. I also found out that Kadence Blocks is compatible with the Trellis framework so now I don’t have to worry about designing my pages!
🤩 Mediavine Trellis: the best responsive theme for WordPress
After this ordeal, I vowed to myself that I will never ever leave Trellis anymore and will be contented with the site’s performance even if it is limited when it comes to design.
What I also forgot to mention in the first parts of this article was that aside from the RPM increase, I have also seen a spike in page sessions and page views when I am using the Trellis framework.
My website has come back from the dead and is now rated 100% performance and 93% structure on GTmetrix with 600+ms speed. Apart from going crazy about the design, I now know that I need to focus on the site’s speed, structure, and performance rather than looks.
What I did was extreme, especially if I already have Trellis was performing well – why did I have to change it? Just because I was not pleased with the Arial fonts or plain colored layouts?
There are many ways to design your site pleasantly even if you are on Trellis and I will share that in a separate blog post. I am still working on some designs on my pages and in the next few weeks, I will see if my GTmetrix status will change.
I wanted to add another heading here about lessons learned and key takeaways but there is only one takeaway from this story: do not worry too much about design.
People read your website NOT because it has a pretty design. Focus more on creating content, publish regularly, and stick to Mediavine Trellis especially if you are about to qualify for Mediavine ads.
Blogging has been my full-time livelihood since 2010 and I swear to you, I am not paid to say this but I have not seen anything as fast, efficient, and simple as Mediavine Trellis. It really is the best responsive theme for WordPress!
🙌 Are you also anal about your theme and layout? How many times have you changed themes? What theme are you using now and how is your site performance? Share some tips below and join the conversation!
💻 Digital Nomad Resources
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Trisha is one of those people who left their comfortable life to travel the world and learn about life. Her style is to stay in one place she likes for 3 months (or more) to know what it feels like to eat, cook, speak, and sleep in another culture that isn’t hers. She’d like to believe she’s not traditionally traveling but she just chooses to be somewhere else all the time. In no particular order, her favorite cities in the world are Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Mexico City, and Tel Aviv.
Wednesday 23rd of November 2022
Thanks for this post! Very helpful. Is your homepage on this site on Trellis, but made with Kadence blocks? I'm trying to understand if Trellis is a framework and Kadence in a theme you can add to it (or Kadence blocks, to be specific) or how they interplay. Thank you!
Wednesday 5th of October 2022
I actually use Kadence & love it. We are a family of tech nerds though so that may help. I was looking at Trellis because I like some of the features that I can't seem to find other solutions for but, as of now, those features don't justify the cost for me.
Great review though. Thanks for sharing.