There are a ton of roadblocks that make starting a blog intimidating and setting up the actual website is certainly one of them – especially if you’re a writer at heart. Thank goodness for WordPress! If you’re still in the very early stages of setting up a blog and haven’t picked a platform yet, please take this one piece of advice – CHOOSE WORDPRESS. If you don’t, at some point in the next year you will be migrating your site to WordPress and it will be a pain in the butt.
The reason is plain and simple – WordPress makes everything extremely easy. And one of the ways they do that is by offering thousands of plugins that add special functions, bells, and whistles to our sites. All of the plugins listed below are free, so I highly recommend you just add them right away. I use each and every one of them, so everything I’m telling you is from my own experience.
Here we go! The best WordPress plugins for beginner bloggers:
Jetpack by WordPress.com
This is definitely my favorite, most used, and most under-appreciated plugin. I know this because I lost it for a day and was astonished by how much I actually use it. First, it provides site analytics so you can see how many people are visiting, what posts they’re reading, and what they’re clicking on. They also have a mobile app for the analytics which is unbelievably helpful. I check in to it at least 10 times a day (this is often how I decide what to promote on Pinterest for the day). The second amazing thing it does is provide real-time widgets for your sidebar that display things like your most popular posts and Facebook followers. The most popular posts feature is especially important because it will increase the amount of views you get from your visitors.
Favicon by RealFaviconGenerator
This is an awesome plugin that seriously simplifies something that is typically pretty complicated to set-up – your site’s favicon. For those wondering what the heck a favicon is, it is the little symbol that displays in each tab of your browser – for Gmail the little envelope, for Pinterest the trademark P, for Twitter the little bird…you get the idea. You can design your own symbol or you can use one that this plugin offers. Either way, you will look way more professional AND once you set up Rich Pins on Pinterest (which you should do once you’re serious about your blog), Pinterest will automatically pull this symbol and add it to each of your pins.
Ok, I realize a lot of people are going to disagree with me here – but I actually think that having the right ads in the right places makes your site look more legitimate. There are tons of ad networks, but obviously the biggest player is Google. And this plugin is brilliant. It will show you exactly where ads should be placed and lets you preview each and every page. In the beginning I was using a different plugin for ads and when I made the switch to this one my ad revenue jumped up immediately – and my site looks way better.
This is one of those plugins that you will setup and then forget about…until it’s gone. Then you will go absolutely crazy trying to figure out how to get it back. Basically it filters your comments and sends spammy ones directly into your spam folder. It does a phenomenal job of figuring out which are bad, but the most shocking thing is seeing how many spam comments actually exist! This plugin was broken for me for a few days and I was bombarded with so many spam comments that I didn’t know what to do with myself. It’s a life saver!
Unless you are part of the 1% of blogs that wouldn’t benefit from Pinterest, a fair amount of your time will need to be focused on Pinterest marketing. This plugin will help you do that in 2 ways – 1. It enables Pinterest to verify your site which can then be displayed on your profile to show pinners that you’re site is trusted, and 2. It is a required component of setting up Rich Pins, which again shows Pinterest that you’re a legitimate and reputable source. Basically, it’s how Pinterest acknowledges you as a blogger.
One of the biggest mistakes that you can make as a blogger is to make it tough for your readers to share your posts on any and all social platforms. Most people are not going to go out of their way to share a post, but if you make it easy it will happen more often than you think. Shareaholic lets you customize which social platforms are most visible, but also has a “More” button for readers to share on pretty much every platform you can think of. It also lets you decide where to place your social share buttons, which is also really important. Another feature of Shareaholic that I really like is the option to display how many shares have happened for each post. It’s a great figure for you to know, but it also can motivate readers to share as well.
WP Missed Schedule
This plugin (like Akismet) is an important part of your blog’s maintenance that you won’t realize how much you need until you don’t have it. For some reason, WordPress will occasionally miss a scheduled post and it will go unpublished. Once you’re up and running, this can be really upsetting. This plugin fixes that completely and you will never need to double check it. Assuming you schedule posts ahead of time, this will be another life saver.
The WordPress SEO plugin adds a section to your blog post creation pages that prompts you to add keywords and a description that will help your post show up in search engines. It also has suggestions (that are specific and actionable) that will make each and every post more SEO-friendly. Search engines are definitely a big potential source of traffic, so you don’t want to ignore them.
This is possibly the best free security plugin. They stay on top of everything going on in WordPress and will email you if there’s something concerning that you need to address – things like if an update needs to occur and if there were a lot of failed login attempts. This falls into the “unexciting” maintenance category, but it’s really important!
Let me know if there are any others that I’m missing! Good luck on your blogging endeavors. 🙂 Enjoy the plugins!
Check out my Blogging Pinterest Board for other great tips and ideas all related to blogging.
Follow Nikki @ MBAsahm’s board Blogging on Pinterest.