It’s Blog Boss time!
When I started blogging, I was on the blogger platform. I spent hours researching different blog strategies and social media techniques and kept reading about plugins and how many amazing things they could do. So, being the newbie I was, I immediately transferred my blog to WordPress….the .com version. Rookie Mistake. Don’t be like me and think you can use plugins on the .com version of WordPress! After buying my domain and spending all day setting up my design, I went to download my first plugin and realized that there wasn’t an option to find them. Puzzled, I went to the forums where I realized with a punch to the gut that I had signed up for the wrong WordPress!
A few days later, I was finally set up on a self-hosted WordPress.org site (PLEASE don’t use Bluehost if you are going self-hosted. Find out why here) and was finally able to access the dreamy library of plugins and I have never looked back! Plugins are essentially add-ons to your site’s coding that allow you to do additional things on your blog. Some plugins are for backend coding, and others help with the front end design elements, while others allow you to do additional coding! But where to start? In a library of thousands of plugins, which ones are the ones to download first?
Today, I am sharing my 10 must-have WordPress plugins for blogging on WordPress!
This plug-in is probably on everyone’s must-have list, but if you don’t have it, let me tell you that this is one of the most important (if not THE most important) plug-in you could have on your WordPress site.
For the longest time, I basically ignored the term SEO because it was like a magical unicorn to me: rare, confusing and not worth my time chasing down. I realized a few months into blogging that I was making a huge mistake by ignoring SEO; I never thought about keywords and I was titling my posts really obscure things that would never show up in a search result. Now that I work for an SEO company, I realized how silly that was of me. SEO is so important and can make a huge difference and it doesn’t have to be hard!
The Yoast SEO plug-in does SO much SEO work for you! It helps you narrow down your keyword and gives you a checklist of things to include your keyword in; like your headings and meta description. And, when your post had been SEO’d correctly, the plug-in will give you a little green light! Seriously, SEO has never been easier and the organic traffic I get through search engines has tripled since I started using it!
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Simple Social Share Buttons
A frequent question I get asked by people who want to know how blogging works is this: “How do you get regular people to read your blog?” Of course, there is a bunch of things that go into getting my content in front of my audience, but one of the most basic and easiest things I do is having the Simple Social Share Buttons on my blog! These are the buttons that appear at the bottom of my blog post and in my sidebar, allowing people to easily share the post with their friends and followers on whatever social platform they choose!
I love the ones from Simple Social because you can customize what color they are, what ones you have available and where to put them! Plus, they don’t slow your site down, like other plugins that require more bandwidth (cough, sharaholic, cough.)
Dropbox Backup & Restore
Backing up my WordPress site wasn’t something that I even thought of until I recently made an error in some coding and couldn’t access my site. At all. I had a complete panic attack as I read through forums trying to figure out what to do and every post said to just restore from a backup. I didn’t HAVE a backup! Thankfully the kind folks at Bluehost were able to help me out and later that night, I downloaded the Dropbox Backup plugin.
I love this plugin because it automatically puts the backup into my Dropbox, so I never have to worry about it being wiped from my hard drive!
This plugin is so important if you do sponsored posts because all links that you use are required by Google to be “nofollow” links! A nofollow link is basically a bit of coding that tells Google that the traffic coming from that link should not influence that site’s ranking in the search engine.
This plugin adds a little box to your insert hyperlink button that allows you to click “add nofollow” and basically adds the coding for you! Easy Peasy!
Note: If anyone ever asks you to NOT use nofollow links, do not work with them! It’s against so many rules to use follow links in sponsored posts!
I used to be SUPER against pop-ups until I discovered MiloTree and now everything has changed. Let me make it clear, I still am against most popups, especially if they come up in the middle of the screen before anything else loads and the “x” is impossible to find so I can’t close out of it. However, MiloTree is nothing like those popups. MiloTree is the tiny popup that you see in the bottom right-hand corner when you come to my site. I love that it doesn’t take up the whole screen and that it doesn’t block the content on my site, but that it still catches the eye.
The best part about the MiloTree plug-in is that it alternates between promoting my Facebook Page, Instagram Account, Pinterest Profile and my Twitter Account. That means that every time my page is opened up, a different pop-up from MiloTree will show up. This is great because it puts all my platforms infront of the same audience and it makes it easy for them to click “follow.” Since implementing MiloTree, I’ve seen a lot of my numbers go up, which is super exciting.
WP Maintenance Mode
I’m constantly tweaking my site, but when I’m doing something big like changing my sidebar or coding new parts of my site, this plugin allows me to put up a “Site Under Construction” landing page so that anyone who might land on it during that time won’t be confused if my coding goes South. It’s essential to anyone who likes to tweak their site and wants to make sure everything looks okay and works before pushing it live.
Ewww Image Optimizer
I’m terrible at remembering to resize my photos, and Ewww Image Optimizer gives me a hand by compressing my photos to help them load faster on the site! This is awesome because I have some pretty photo-heavy posts (like my Three Ways to Style a White Dress for Summer) and this plugin helps those photos load faster!
I have been debating switching from CoSchedule for a while because their prices have gone up (although I’m still grandfather claused into their original pricing plan) and they have yet to offer Pinterest scheduling. However, I still haven’t found anything quite as user-friendly as the CoSchedule editorial calendar (the click and drag option is my favorite intergration into WordPress for all the social media scheduling. So, I’m sticking with it until something better comes along or they force me to upgrade.
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Click to Tweet
Getting other people to share you blog posts on their social media platforms can be quite tricky at times! That’s why I love the Click to Tweet plug-in because it does almost all the work for my audience; they simply just have to click to tweet! This plug-in basically adds a little button to your WordPress Drafting toolbar and codes in your tweet into your blog post! Every time I use this, about 10-15 people will actually tweet the message and my pageviews go up.
Every blog needs a commenting system to allow your audience to interact with your content. I know there is the constant debate in blog land about why you should or shouldn’t use Disqus or Disqus vs. CommentLuv. I use Disqus and unless something Earth-shattering happens, I’ll never switch to anything else. Here’s why I love Disqus:
- You can log in with Facebook, create a profile or comment as a guest (if that setting is turned on). Regardless, if you go through the 2 minute process to create an account, you never have to log-in again when you leave comments on other blogs that use Disqus. It drives me crazy to have to imput my name, my email and my blog URL EVERY TIME I comment on a blog that uses CommentLuv or something similar.
- I get an email everytime you comment and you get an email every time I reply! No worries about “no-blogger bloggers” or having to check off a box to make sure you hear back from me!
- If you do create a profile, I can access your blog easily! I often click on the name of a person who leaves me a thoughtful comment so I can check out their blog and see what they are up to
- It’s visually more appealing to me than other comment systems.
- There’s an awesome community feel to Disqus.
Having these 10 plugins has really helped me have a good handle on my blog! I’m able to do so much for my site on my own because of these plugins and feel like I’m the boss of my blog, not the other way around!
Are you on WordPress? What plugins do you use? What questions do you have about plugins?