There are thousands of things you can do with your website when you know the right code. You can program pretty much anything you imagine. But! For the rest of us, there are plugins that do the work for you. Let’s explore some of the good examples of a few very useful ones for your blogging career.
Articles in this series so far:
1. The Introduction
2. How to create your first blog
3. How to write your first post
4. How to design your blog
Other Blogging Tips:
1. Tying your domain name to your Bluehost hosting
2. How to never run out of blogging ideas
3. WordPress plugins for every blogger
4. How to make money blogging
5. The best and cheapest hosting for bloggers
What is a WordPress plugin?
Plugins are pretty much small programs that you install into your site to either give it some new functionality or just make your life easier. This can range from plugins that change the text editor to something you like to plugins that repost your articles to social media or plugins that create mailing lists you can then plan your mailing campaign on.
Other common examples are plugins that help you analyze the traffic of your site, check your grammar, automatically optimize your pictures or add share buttons to your articles.
Plugins are pretty much like apps, in a sense that pretty much anything you can imagine, there’s already a plugin for that. So be creative. Except for writing articles for you, plugins can do pretty much everything.
How do I install a WordPress plugin?
You can install any plugin in 5 quick steps. As an example, we will install my favourite, Yoast SEO. This plugin gives you handy tips on the readability of your articles, checks your SEO and pretty much helps you with everything to make your posts more visible. So here we go.
Step 1: First, login into your WordPress site so you see the dashboard on the left. There, you should see plugins.
Step 2: Click Add New. Here you will see a page filled with popular plugins. You might have some of these already installed by default.
Step 3: Click search plugins at the top right. In the picture above, it is right above Jetpack plugin. Now put in Yoast SEO and press enter. It should search for corresponding plugins until you see the following card in the first place.
Step 4: Click install. It will take a slight moment. When done, the button will change.
Step 5: Click the Activate button.
And that’s it! You’ve installed your first plugin. You can now go to the plugins dashboard on the left, just like in the first step and then click installed plugins. You can find Yoast SEO plugin pretty easily now when you scroll down. There’s also a setting button at each plugin, so feel free to click on it and see what the plugin does. This is not necessary at most plugins to have them work. Once you click activate, they should function already.
My plugin recommendations for bloggers
Here, I will let you know what tools I use with every blog I start. They are my personal preference and you might like some other, which is fine. No advice can cover every topic, so free to experiment. As you can see, it is really easy to install new plugins. Uninstalling them is one click as well.
- Yoast SEO – I love this tool. It helps me writing better articles by checking my readability, creates XML maps that help with Google search, helps you verify your website with webmasters like Google webmasters and more. I wish they had an affiliate link due to how much I promote them to everyone I know. Yoast, if you ever read this, call me. You got an amazing product!
- Smush – This is a must-have plugin if you are uploading your own images on your website. It optimizes them for a website use without a loss of quality. It also sets your images in a way that allows your page to load even if the images are not downloaded. People come to your site for the text in most cases, loading images should not be an obstacle. It also saves you time, because you don’t have to optimize every picture manually.
- Instant images – Speaking of images, unless you are an artist, you will most probably use sites like Unsplash to find images for your articles. Instant images plugin adds a little lightning bolt icon to your text editor that allows you to search images from Unsplash instantly and add them to your article without the need of saving them to your PC and then uploading them to your site.
- Sassy Social Share – This plugin adds social media sharing buttons to your website, allowing your readers to easily share your articles with just one or two clicks.
- Mailchimp or Newsletter – both are great plugins that help you build your own mailing list and set up messages you can send to your readers. You can create mailing campaigns and, well, pretty much do anything around e-mail marketing
- Site Kit by Google – This plugin makes it incredibly easy to connect all the analytical and advertisement tools from google with your site. I highly recommend using google above any other analytics. It’s free and the analytical power it provides is stunning. You can’t go wrong with it.
Optional plugins and tools for your blogging journey
I was wondering if I should add these tools above, but I believe they are pretty much optional and you don’t really need them, but they are nice to have.
- WP AutoTerms – This plugin helps you create your legal pages to cover all the basic stuff. You can make these pages with one click, then you just edit some stuff you don’t see fit. It pretty much saves hours of research.
- Blog2Social – A great plugin that publishes your articles to all your social media accounts once they are done. You can even select on what day they should be shared and it also has a repost function. They call it the Revive Old Posts function. It basically takes your old articles and reposts them to your social media accounts in intervals set by you. If you look at Printful Twitter account, they use this or a very similar system with their blog.
- Search & Replace – This plugin does pretty much what you’d expect. It searches through your entire WordPress site and lets you replace a phrase or a link in just a few clicks. When I was changing all my links from HTTP to HTTPS, this plugin was a life saviour! It replaced over 300 links (this includes image links) in less than a minute.
Last by not least, my all-time favourite! This isn’t really a plugin for WordPress. Rather it is a browser extension that checks for your grammar mistakes and any typos you might’ve made during writing. The newest feature also shows you what tone your paragraph conveys.
The premium function of this extension even shows you how to make your sentences easier to read. I honestly love this extension and have been using it for a long time, so you can imagine how happy I am that I finally earned their sponsorship.
Yes, the links are sponsored, but I’ve been using the app since 2016 when I started my writing journey. As a non-native speaker, I use their app every day and got better thanks to it. They even send you insight e-mails with your stats, like the most common mistakes you make. With it, I wrote almost one million words. I highly recommend you to check it out. Nothing turns people away from your blogs like a bunch of typos and grammar mistakes.
And that’s it! When it comes to plugins, you should be covered for the start. There are definitely more plugins you will find yourself using and I can’t possibly describe them all, but these are all that I use and that I’ve been happy with. Hopefully, you will be too. If you find yourself using some plugins you love and would want to share them, let me know in the comments below. I’ll add them to the article for everyone to see.
As always, if you’ve enjoyed my article, please feel free to share it or leave a comment. It warms my heart seeing that people actually read these and that I managed to help someone. In any way, have a wonderful day, you beautiful person!