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Many bloggers who are new to WordPress and new to blogging in general don’t know which way is up. Often, the mere thought of launching a site is reason enough to crawl into a hole and hide. Trying to navigate the world of picking and choosing what tools to use is often the tip of the iceberg. That's why I'd rather you focus on your blogging strategy and on content generation (the priority items) as opposed to shopping around for the best WordPress plugins for bloggers.
Keep those priorities in line!
So, I’ve done the hard work for you. Don’t waste time doing research when I’ve got all the details right here. This blog post will highlight the best WordPress plugins for bloggers so that you can click, download and install the plugins without spending too much time on homework and research.
It's like done-for-you blog setup! Ready? Let's dive in!
A plugin is a piece of software that fills in a gap. It literally plugs into an open space giving your site more functionality.
Let’s say your site doesn’t allow you to put in a contact form. There’s a plugin for that. When you install the plugin on your site, you extend the functionality thus allowing you to display a fancy shmancy contact form. It’s a simple concept, and plugins will quickly be your best friend!
In an ideal world, you’ll only need to install a minimum number of plugins as possible. If you purchased one of the best premium WordPress themes, you won’t need to install too many plugins because the themes themselves will already have most of the functionality that you need.
In a less ideal world, you’ll have a free theme (or one of the less robust premium themes - even though I'm definitely not an advocate for that if they can be avoided) that doesn’t have a ton of functionality. In this instance, you’ll need to download and install plugins to fill the gaps.
The more plugins you have on the site, the more likely it is that your site could experience coding issues (technical jargon that we won’t go into too much detail on now). So, it’s always best to use built-in theme functionality whenever possible.
With that said, no matter what theme you get, you’re still going to need at least a few plugins. So you might as well get used to the idea now!
Installing a WordPress plugin on your site is incredibly easy. No need to outsource this task to anyone else… that’s just a complete waste of cash, friend!
Here’s how to install a WordPress plugin on your site. Follow the cursor in the video!
So, there you have it. Installing a WordPress plugin in less than 30 seconds! Nice.
Everyone's always asking me what I use for this and what I use for that, so this blog post is very timely and I'm excited to get it out there for you to enjoy.
I've broken the plugins down by category, so if you're looking for something specific, use the handy quick guide below to directly access the category of your choice.
Alright, channeling my inner WordPress fan-girl for this post...
This is definitely my number one recommended social media plugin for bloggers. The great thing about social warfare is that it allows you to control what images get shared on specific social media platforms. For example, when someone clicks “pin” to Pinterest, social warfare controls the image that gets pinned. This allows you to prevent your readers from sharing the wrong pictures associated with your blog posts. That feature alone definitely makes social warfare worthy of a spot on my list of best WordPress plugins for bloggers!
Monarch is part of the Elegant Themes offerings and it’s just perfect. I’ve used Monarch on a number of sites in the past and not only is it stunning in appearance, but it’s also incredibly effective and works like a charm. If you're looking for a slick social sharing plugin, this one is totally for you. It's well worth the investment. When you buy Monarch, you also buy access to all of the themes and plugins that are part of the Elegant Themes package.
All Pinterest-friendly sites need to be sure their images can easily be saved to Pinterest. One of the greatest ways to do this is to install a plugin that allows readers to simply hover over an image with their cursor and click-to-pin. This social media WordPress plugin allows you to do just that. When you install this plugin, a pin-it button will appear on hover over all of your images, making it exceptionally easy for your readers to share your content on Pinterest.
In the past, I've successfully used Shareaholic to include social sharing buttons for free on my blog posts and other content. Now that I have a premium theme, I no longer have a need for this plugin, but I do recommend it! I bet you, you've seen Shareaholic dozens of times on popular blogs - it definitely is widely used! Shareaholic does the job and it's a great option for you if you're purse strings are tightly closed and you're not interested in paying for a plugin. You can also use Shareaholic to display related posts, if you'd like! I love how robust Shareaholic is, especially given that it's free. This plugin is totally deserving of a spot on the best WordPress plugins for bloggers list!
If you're interested in displaying your Pinterest Board or Pinterest profile in the sidebar of your site, this Pinterest Widget plugin will do the trick! Grab the short code, place it in your sidebar widget area, and you're done.
MiloTree allows you to feature one of your social media platforms (like Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook or Youtube). It will popup in the corner of the screen and invite people to follow you there. I use this solely for Pinterest as Pinterest is one of my most popular platforms and it's a huge information-source for many of my followers. This is another great social media plugin for WordPress users!
Quickly allow people to follow all of your social media accounts by including links on your site! I do this for free using the Ultimate Social Media Plus plugin - one of the best WordPress plugins for bloggers by far!
Want to increase the likelihood that people will share your stuff on social media? Make it suuuppperrr simple for them by including click to tweet text. I love the click to tweet plugin - it's attractive, it's free, and it works. You can't really ask for more than that. I have click to tweet functionality built into my theme, but I've used the Click to Tweet plugin with success in the past. It's a good choice!
This super easy to use plugin allows you to boost your blog by ensuring that it’s 100% optimized for the search engines. Yoast SEO allows you to plugin your keyword. Then it scans your content to be sure you’ve included your keyword enough times and in the right context. It will tell you what you need to improve and how you need to improve it. The picture above gives you an idea of how it will look when you install it on your site. Put your key word into the "focus keyword" section and Yoast does the rest. Yoast SEO is a MUST-HAVE, and is definitely one of the best WordPress plugins for bloggers who are serious about SEO (that should be everyone!).
ConvertPlug is a budget friendly way to incorporate popups and opt in bars (the ones that appear at the top or bottom of your screen) via a WordPress plugin. It seamlessly integrates with all major email service providers and, well, it will make your life simpler. This is a great to grow your email list option, and it's friendly on the wallet, too. You can get the plugin for less than $30 USD. That's kind of a steal!
Thrive leads is a plugin that allows you to create bars, in-line opt in forms, pop ups, and more. I personally am a huge fan of Thrive. I use a thrive theme on my site! So I natively use the Thrive Lead functionality that's build right in! The appearance is slick and it integrates right with my email service provider through API so there's no communication gap or anything. I'm a fan!
If you know me, you know I love me some ConvertKit! The ConvertKit WordPress plugin allows me to integrate my forms and sequences right on my WordPress site. This is how I display my ConvertKit opt in forms at the end of each blog post! I also use ConvertKit to create and display landing pages for my freebies. It couldn't get much simpler than that.
Freebie alert: Download ConvertKit's free marketing ebook for bloggers
Bloom is one of the most beautiful WordPress plugins on the block - not kidding! Bloom integrates with all major email service providers and seamlessly displays beautiful opt-ins to entice your website traffic to sign up for your list! This is a top-notch option. If you're already interested some of the other Elegant Themes plugins or themes, purchasing a membership there might be a good option because it means gaining access to bloom!
A lot of people pay for Sumo, but I use the free Smart Bar. It's the fancy bar that appears at the bottom of your screen inviting you to take advantage of a discount (limited time offer), or enticing you to sign up for a freebie! While you'll need to pay for Sumo if you want to integrate it with your email service provider, you can still use the free version if you're not bothered by manually inputting new subscribers into whatever ESP you use. Take a glimpse at what the smart bar looks like in action (look and feel can be customized).
Have you ever pondered what would happen to your site if something were to go wrong? Yes, it can happen! And it would be a complete disaster... unless, of course, you've done everything you can to prepare! That's where Updraft Plus comes in. This is a plugin that backs up your site each night (it's like clicking the save button on your site). It takes a picture of your site and saves a copy so that if something were to happen, you know that you always have Updraft plus there to restore a copy!
If you feel like spammers are constantly hitting you in your comments, definitely install Askimet on your blog. It’s free and it works like a charm to prevent spam comments form filtering through.
I use Disqus on my site for all of my comments. It’s actually been great because Disqus is sort of like a social media platform in and of itself. I get a bunch of referral traffic to my site from Disqus – something I never expected! Disqus, when installed on your site, eliminates your native comment functionality that is built into your theme. Personally, I enjoy the look of Disqus as much as I enjoy its usability.
Need to include a contact form throughout your site? Great - Contact Form 7 is going to be your best bet. This is one of the most popular plugins available. It can be customized through code to match the look and feel of your site. Contact Form 7 is a great tool to easily allow people to reach out to you without sharing your email address. I highly recommend this option if your theme doesn't include contact form capabilities already.
If you have a self-hosted WordPress site (meaning you're NOT a WordPress.com user) then you'd benefit from Jetpack! This plugin allows you to take advantage of WordPress.com functionality without being tied down to the WordPress.com platform (and the monetization limitations that come with it). You do not need WordPress if you are a WordPress.com user, of course! I primarily use JetPack to show related posts at the bottom of my blogs and to allow people to "like" my blog posts on WordPress. There are lots of good things that come from JetPack, so it's definitely worth featuring on the list of best WordPress plugins for bloggers!
As an affiliate marketer, you need to cloak your affiliate links to make them prettier, but also to avoid getting penalized by search engines who aren’t the biggest fans of affiliate links! Pretty Link Lite is a free WordPress plugin that will do the job. You can also upgrade to the pro version if you’re looking for more robust functionality.
Thirsty affiliates does the same thing as Pretty Link Lite. I personally use Thirsty Affiliates (it was a recommendation from a friend in the field when I first started) and I enjoy it very much. It’s super easy to use and it’s free!
I had to feature this one on my list of best WordPress plugins for bloggers because it just makes my life so much easier. If you're tired of disclosing your affiliate links on every single blog post, this plugin is going to solve your problems! When you download and install this free WordPress plugin, it will automatically add a disclosure to the top of your blog posts! Super easy. You can also customize the text, too. I’m a huge fan of this plugin’s simplicity.
This plugin allows you to customize the header and footer of your site without touching a single line of code! This is a great option for bloggers who feel intimidated by code and would rather find an easy way out (hey, no judgment, I'm right there with ya)!