One of the exciting advantages when you start self-hosting your blog is access to thousands of plugins on WordPress.org or online, both free and premium. In this post, I will share with you my top 10 plugins to get you started and a few useful tips.
But what are plugins anyway? For Mr Wiki, it is a set of software components that adds specific capabilities to a larger software application.
In yummy term, it’s the icing on your cake or sprinkles on your ice cream! The little addition to make things a lot better.
But, do you really need these plugins for your blog?
Yes. And maybe not, since I’ve noticed these days that a lot of themes come with so many add-ons already, which are very handy for your blog. However, some of these add-ons are optional and can be disabled and replaced with a different plugin to suit your blog best.
Here’s the top 10 plugins to get you started (in no particular order)
Everybody loves CommentLuv. It’s simple, very easy to use, and integrates well with WordPress comment system. For commenters, the little extra of being able to link up your latest posts on your favourite blog is a plus. So everyone will get the chance to also visit that commenter’s blog post. It’s a good deal, right?
If you’re not keen on your current comment system, there are few plugins to choose from to replace it. Disqus is one of them. It’s widely used and although it’s not entirely perfect — I noticed that the admin area for this plugin requires a few tweaking — I think that it’s a neat tool to encourage your readers to connect and share. You get a default notification on your Disqus bar the next time you are able to check it. Otherwise, there’s an option to also get notifications by email. Both work positively to carry on a conversation and grow your readers.
If you love CommentLuv, then you will also love this plugin, created by the same guy, Andy Bailey.
I hate spam with a passion and only then did I find out the many ways to filter them than using these even more annoying captcha. Personally, it deters me from commenting on someone’s blog especially when I’m using my phone.
Remember, you want your readers to have a smooth experience, not frustrated trying to figure the letters or numbers, which can be blurry at times.
Normally, suspicious comments get dumped into my spam folder with no hesitation (especially when there are too many links attached) but that also includes legit comments from bloggers. With G.A.S.P, you can now choose to redirect these type of comments to Pending. This way, the chances of missing out on legit comments will be reduced.
You are required to tick the box to ‘CONFIRM THAT YOU ARE NOT SPAMMER’ when you comment. Now, if a single click bothers you as a reader, then we can say that it’s this plugin’s only downside. But you know what? I’d rather be ticking this box every time than pulling my hair out because of captcha.
There’s actually a story why I ended up with this plugin, but I’ll save it for my next post. This plugin does what it says on the tin. It disables the ability to ‘right click’ on your photos or the ‘dragging the image’ option. You can also install a customized image or message so when someone tries to right click one of your images, it will show up like this.
It’s a step to prevent others stealing your work or at least let others know that they are not allowed to copy your content your images.
I’m saying ‘it’s a step’ because if they really want to steal it, I’m sure they will figure something out. It’s sad, but it’s a fact.
By far the best security free plugin I’ve come across to try. In fact, I prefer this better than Better WP Security, which when enabled, I encountered a few hiccups and had to disable in the end via cPanel!
Wordfence Security is a free enterprise class security plugin that includes a firewall, anti-virus scanning, cellphone sign-in (two factor authentication), malicious URL scanning and live traffic including crawlers. Wordfence is the only WordPress security plugin that can verify and repair your core, theme and plugin files, even if you don’t have backups. (source: from the Creator)
Are you a fan of featured sliders? Love to incorporate it in your post or across your blog? Then you want EasyRotator.
So many featured sliders rolled into one plugin to suit your preference. And if you love to get very precise on your blog, you can even set the height and width of these sliders to fit well with your content. See how I used it here for example.
You must have come face to face with this term already. Seach Engine Optimization. Gets your material out there and right at the top. I’ve only tried this plugin on a couple of my posts because sometimes it gets tedious for me, but I’m planning to make the most of this since I’ve seen a big difference when I applied this on one of my old posts. You should check it out and familiarized the options available.
I’m pretty sure that if we have some of these options on our Post Editor on WordPress.com, we’d all be jumping for joy.
TinyMCE adds extra features that you can use to edit your content, like different font styles, font size, adding tables and much more.
If you want an extra sidebar for a specific post or page, you can do so with this plugin. Custom Sidebars makes it possible for you to show different widgets on your sidebar to compliment your content or page you are promoting to your readers. Perfect if you blog about different topics and want to promote this to the audience with same interest.
Now, this one, I really like. This plugin will show related post thumbnails or link at the foot of each post, just the way you want it!
Engageya’s related posts plugin drives fresh new audience to your site by cross-promoting your posts with other related bloggers.
Click on thumbnails to see the Widgets area and features. IFB also uses this plugin!
But what I love about this is the fact that you get to choose the design of thumbnails, colour and even personalised ‘Related Posts’ to something else you prefer and also it promotes your fan page. You will also get reports on clicks, so it gives you an idea of how your old/new posts are doing. It’s free, so go sign up and just follow the steps.
There you have it, my top 10 plugins to get you started!
But before you go, here’s a few tips to keep in mind about plugins.
- Always check before you upload them by making sure that they’ve been updated, their compatibility with the current WordPress version, ratings, and how many times they’ve been downloaded.
- Once you’ve activated them, double check if things are still working fine on your blog. See if your layout still looks the same, your comment system is working fine and your subscription form still functioning. If you’ve noticed weird changes on any of the above or other functionalities, then try deactivating that plugin you’ve recently installed, and re-check. If that problem disappeared after deactivation, then you’ll know this plugin is not playing friendly on your blog.
Otherwise, I believe plugins are beautiful stand-alone creations for our blogs that if use well, can make so much changes and enhance your readers experience.