You’re probably feeling a bit overwhelmed getting your blog created and launched right? Don’t feel bad, everyone is overwhelmed when they first start!
Between creating content, branding, social media account creations, and website design it’s easy to see how you can be scratching your head wondering how you’re going to put it all together.
If you’re confused about WordPress plugins and how they work, I’m here to tell you what plugins are for and what one’s I cannot live without for my blog!
Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you click on them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.
What are WordPress plugins?
WordPress plugins are essentially scripts of code that “plug in” to WordPress. They are a “saving grace” for anyone who does not know how to code. That would be me!
Plugins allow you to completely customize your website.
They allow you to have your own personal touches that are not included in your theme. If you want a gallery of photos to display as a carousel (which is really beautiful by the way) there’s a plugin for that!
Anything you want for your blog, there’s a plugin for it!
How do I install WordPress plugins?
Super easy! Log in to your WordPress dashboard and click on “Plugins.” Then, click “Add New.”
This will take you to a search engine full of all the plugins you can imagine. You can either type in a keyword or function you’re looking for like “backup” to get a backup content plugin or search in the category of “Popular.”
Sometimes searching under the “Popular” tab is the best way to go if you don’t really know what you’re looking for but need website customization ideas.
It will show you the most downloaded plugins by other WordPress users.
This is a great place to start because if you click on a plugin you’re interested in, you can see all the reviews of each plugin.
When you find one with great reviews and seems to be very user friendly, simply click “Install Now” then click “Activate.” You must click “Activate” for the plugin to work!
Now you’re all set! You can go through the setting of WordPress plugins by finding the plugin name tab on the side of your dashboard or look under the “Settings” tab.
FYI- You may activate and deactivate multiple plugins that do the same function to find the one you like! Once some plugins are activated you find they are not as user-friendly as you once thought.
To help with my own blog’s success, here are…
The WordPress plugins I can’t live without!
Updraft Plus- Backup/Restore
It doesn’t matter what your blog is about or if it’s an eCommerce or not, you need a plugin to backup your site. You’re playing a dangerous game if you don’t back up your site!
When I first started my blog, I accidentally added in code (by hand) that broke my website. In other words, my theme completely disappeared.
After a small panic attack, I realized I had the Updraft Plus plugin to help restore where my site was before I broke it.
But you need to either schedule routine backups automatically (I’d suggest at least once a month) or remember to click on the plugin in the tab on the side of your dashboard to manually start a backup.
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WP Fastest Cache
This plugin allows you to delete cache without modifying CSS and JS files. It pays off to use this plugin because it will improve the load time of your site.
The faster your site load time is, the better your SEO Google ranking is!
I’ve tried many cache WordPress plugins before this one and WP Fastest Cache was by far the easiest to use. You simply check whatever files you would like to delete, then click “Clear Cache.”
Smush does exactly that… It “smushes” and optimizing your images to improve your site speed. With this plugin, you can resize, choose to lazy load images, and compress all in one plugin.
When you activate Smush it does place a tab on your dashboard, however, I hardly go into it.
All you need to do is simply add media images to your post and the Smush plugin will automatically optimize it for you! So easy!
When I first started blogging almost three years ago, I was working with the classic editor. Then WordPress updated and added in Glutenberg and I absolutely hated it.
The way I see it is if the classic editor was working for me, why move to something else? I’m old school I guess:)
This Classic Editor plugin overrides Glutenberg and reinstalls the classic editor. This is a plugin I don’t necessarily need, but do love and recommend.
Shareaholic is a plugin I really only use for social share buttons. It is customizable in the sense that you can move social sharing buttons wherever you want in a post and the types of social media buttons you want to add.
But it has more functions than social sharing buttons!
You can actually enable advertisements through Shareaholic to generate revenue. I do not use these because I am contracted through Mediavine.
So I could not tell you if you can make any money from enabling these features (sorry).
But the potential for making money is there!
Google Fonts Plugin Pro
This is one of the few WordPress Plugins I will pay for and I do believe it’s worth it!
Google Fonts comes with over 870 different fonts, customizable text color, text sizing, and line-height.
This allows my site to not only have a unique look but since I can adjust text size and line-height I can optimize my site for increasing revenue for ads with Mediavine.
Unfortunately, spam comes with the territory of running a website. The longer your website is up and running, the more spam you will eventually receive.
Thankfully, this little plugin monitors and blocks your website from spam. Most of the time it’s blocking them without me even knowing about it.
Honestly, I don’t care if spams deleted or not as long as I don’t have to deal with it! I can’t imagine pouring through tons of spam comments every day!
Yoast SEO Premium
Many bloggers argue whether Yoast SEO plugin is worth buying or not. I decided to purchase the premium version and I love it!
So what’s the difference between free and premium?
The premium version allows you to add multiple SEO keywords! This greatly increases your ability to rank on the first page of Google and other search engines.
On top of this, the premium version also has…
-Internal linking suggestions
-Article readability insights
-A list of all outdated content (older than 6 months)
-Keyword search engine with the plugin
Just being able to add multiple keywords into one article is enough for me to pay for the premium version!
However, I have heard complaints from other bloggers who say the premium version did not help them rank higher in search engines therefore they feel it is not worth the money.
But you decide for yourself and weigh the pros and cons of Yoast SEO free vs. premium.
WP Last Modified Info
WP Last Modified Info is a very simple plugin that does one thing only… It adds in a last modified date to any article you update.
For visitors to your website, it’s important for them to see up-to-date content. I’ve been on websites where some articles have not been updated for over two years!
Personally, I want readers to see that articles are kept up to date with new information. Normally, you just see the original publication date.
Now with this plugin readers can see both!
If you’ve just started creating your website, I’m telling you now that plugins are amazing! They are little life savers that save my sanity of having to learn to code and doing the actual coding.
I don’t know how to code. But I have often thought about taking classes in coding at some point to help me with any technical issues that arise with my blog. Maybe someday:)
Thankfully, if you don’t know how to code like me, plugins insert all the coding for you and basically make your job so much easier for creating a website!
While there are millions of WordPress plugins available, the nine plugins above I’ve found to be my favorite, and two of them I pay for and I feel my blog would not be the same without them!
What WordPress plugins are making your list of favorites?