The blogging world is intense, like knock you on your ass intense.
Just when you think your mind is wrapped around the idea of it all, another door opens with new concepts to learn and implement. Even after a year of blogging, I still feel like a total beginner, that’s how much information is available out there.
It’s overwhelming, to say the least.
To help overcome that overwhelming state, I’ve decided to help you blogger babes out. Because let’s be brutally honest – everyone is a beginner at one point.
The “beginner stage” requires a HUGE degree of vulnerability, courage, can-do attitude, and the ability to learn from those further ahead. And while I’m still a beginner in many ways, I am ten steps ahead in other ways. And as someone who solely learned how to blog from other people’s blogs, I believe it’s necessary to keep the knowledge rolling from one blogger, to the next blogger, and to the next.
With that said – below is a quick tutorial on my must-have plugins. If you’re brand spanking new to the blogging world, I highly recommend rewinding and reading these three blog posts first, then get your blogging booty back here!
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Before we get stared, let me quickly explain the what and how behind plugins:
- On the left-hand side of WordPress, locate the section titled Plugins and click there.
- Either search for a specific plugin or upload the zip file of a previously downloaded plugin.
- Once the plugin is downloaded to your WordPress account, click activate to make it live on the site.
The plugin page is where you will update, edit settings, or delete plugins.
1. Jetpack for WordPress
Jetpack is first on the list, because it’s number one in my blogger book.
Jetpack is an all encompassing plugin that offers must-have features/tools for your blog PLUS it seamlessly links with your WordPress. The plugins main features include:
- Traffic growth & insights
- Image performance
- Centralized management
- Social sharing, contact forms, e-mail subscription option, image galleries, and much more….
2. E-mail Form
I HIGHLY recommend adding an e-mail form to your sidebar, even if your blogging career began yesterday. This is a must-have tool to begin building your e-mail list and future customer database.
Don’t get too caught up on what you’ll actually e-mail to your followers, just start the process.
I use MailChimp, the free version, to collect and send monthly newsletters. The site is super user friendly, provides pre-designed templates, analytics for each e-mail campaign, and lots more. Can’t recommend this service enough, especially if you’re a newbie like me.
Once you sign up for MailChimp or whatever chosen e-mail service, you’ll then want to download the site’s respective plugin. The plugin is what links your blog to the MailChimp database, how awesome is that.
This whole plugin/e-mail subscription part can be a bit tricky…. I definitely recommend referencing your theme’s capabilities, checking with the support team of your chosen e-mail provider, and reading the respective forums to learn more.
Or can you always holler at me down below and I’ll do my best to steer you in the right direction.
As you can guess, this plugin enhances the comments section of your posts and pages.
There are LOADS of plugins in this category, but CommentLuv is my favorite for a few reasons:
- Your photo will appear in the small box, making it easier for people to identify you.
- It allows other bloggers to leave some luv from their site, usually the most recent blog post available.
- This is my favorite feature, it’s a simple way to market yourself + leave a link back to your site.
- The requirements are user-friendly for all people – blogger or not.
- I love the adorable heart icon – it’s the small things that matter.
4. Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is a must-have, business building plugin tool. I discovered it only a few months ago, after reading a tutorial on SEO, and it’s now part of my to-dos when creating a post.
If SEO is a foreign term, let me break it down super quick:
- SEO = search engine optimization
- When you implement best SEO practices, your site will be better recognized by search engines, thus bringing in more traffic to your site.
- SEO is determined by your post/page headline, the meta data (the description on the Google homepage), the ALT text of images, the keyword focus and how many times it’s used throughout the post, and a slew of other components.
The beauty of the Yoast SEO plugin is that it scores your determined keyword focus and provides helpful tools to increase the score. Again, it’s a must-have tool for anyone hoping to grow their site (aka live off it one day).
5. Social Plugins
We’re all well aware, social media rules the world (or at least it feels like that). It goes without saying, your site needs to be armed with sharing capabilities, this is where social media plugins come into play.
I’ll briefly touch on my favorite/most important to the brand plugins:
- Pinterest Widgets (the features)
- Follow Button
- Pin widget – embed a pin on your site.
- Profile widget – show up to 30 of your latest pins (either within a post, on the homepage, or in a sidebar).
- Board widget – show up to 30 of your favorite boards pins (this is great within a blog post).
- Shortcode for all 4 widgets.
- jQuery Pin It BUtton for Images – this one is obvious, it’s the Pin It button that all images absolutely need in order to share!
- Alpine PhotoTile for Pinterest – this is what I use to display my pins in the sidebar, super user-friendly.
- Instagram Slider Widget – this is the feature in my sidebar, it’s user-friendly with a sleek design.
- Facebook – this plugin requires a public page, so either set your profile to public or create a page specifically for your blog.
Need more blog inspiration, follow my board to stay inspired.
6. WP Super Cache
This is a funny sounding plugin, and to be honest, I’m still not entirely sure how it operates.
What I do know is this:
WP Super Cache is essential for speeding up your site’s loading time. In today’s fast paced world, people refuse to wait around for your site to load, regardless of how much they love you.
So do yourself a favor, install this plugin.
7. Ad Inserter
If you use or intend to use ads on your site, this is a genius plugin to streamline and organize the process.
I will admit, it took a me a hot minute to understand the functionality of it, but after some digging and learning, I am now comfortable using it.
If you have no clue what I’m referencing, here’s how it works:
- There are 4 ads that show up on every page of my website – 2 within the blog post & 2 at the bottom.
- Ad Inserter allows you to place the code in the settings, dictate where it will show up, what pages it will show on, the placement, etc.
I love this plugin, it’s a seamless process to integrates ads into your website.
8. Flexible Posts Widget
I love this plugin, it’s a great tool to market your posts/pages which in turn, creates more traffic, more engagement, and loyal readers.
Flexible posts widget is incredibly easy to use, looks super sleek, and is a great addition to any site.
I placed this feature in my sidebar, you can see it under the title Recent Blog Posts, it’s set to showcase my 3 recent posts, with a featured image, and the a caption title.
9. Wordfence Security + Anti-Malware Security
I have to admit, six months prior, I was complete skeptic when it came to security type plugins. I thought there’s no way anyone would want to target my little baby blog.
Well Allie, think again.
People (as in hackers) do want a piece of this little baby blog and it’s my job to step in and protect it. Or a better idea is to activate security plugins, like these.
Both of these are non-negotiable, activate them right meow!
And last but absolutely not least is Akismet.
This is another security type plugin that blocks a ridiculous amount of spam. Again, I used to think who the hell wants to spam my little baby blog, well the answer is – all the robots trolling the Internet.
This is another non-negotiable that will keep your site clean, orderly, and free of spammers.
Ok blogger babes – you are now armed with my must-have list of plugins. Use this list to help start your site, upgrade your site, or at the very least – to start gaining some social shares.
If you’re a seasoned blogger or a plugin user, please shout out your favorite plugins down below. I’d love to hear your favorites, what works, and what doesn’t.
As always – questions, comment, suggestions, feedback, or general blog love – please leave it down below.
Until next time – xoxo.