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So you want to create your own blog — a place where you can express your thoughts with the world or perhaps share your most intimate experiences.
Whether you want to develop a travel blog on which you can document your journeys around the world, a cooking blog where you can share your recipes, or a blog for your small business so you can provide helpful information to your target audience, WordPress is one of the most popular and useful platforms for bloggers of all kinds.
To get started building your very own blog on WordPress:
- Register your domain name — select a catchy phrase that defines your business using this useful tool
- Choose a web hosting service, such as Bluehost
- Set up your blog on the WordPress platform
- Choose a theme for your blog
- Start downloading plugins
This is where we come in — with some very helpful tips. Plugins are essential to the health, ease of use, and value of your blog.
With so many plugins on the marketplace to choose from, it might be hard to know where to begin. Here is a list of 11 essential WordPress plugins for any kind of blog.
The Akismet WordPress plugin is one of the best tools for anti-spam on the marketplace.
This plugin analyzes your comments and evaluates the users that post them, checking them against a global database for potential spammers.
While free for personal blogs, if you’re using it for a business or commercial enterprise you’re going to have to pay a small fee.
2. Essential WordPress Plugins: Yoast SEO
If you have a very limited understanding of SEO but realize its importance, Yoast SEO is for you.
This comprehensive plugin helps you learn SEO as you go, giving you a ‘green light’ for a well-optimized page, and a yellow or a red light if you need improvement.
Not only will the plugin let you know you need improvement, it will point out exactly where you need improvement.
Did you forget to use your focus keyword in a Meta description? Yoast lets you know.
This is an essential tool for anyone that runs a blog and cares about SEO.
Google Analytics Dashboard
Google Analytics is hands down the best way to measure and track your website performance.
But rather than visiting the Google Analytics homepage every time you want to learn more about your site traffic, use this dashboard built directly into your website.
This plugin provides helpful stats, daily measurements, Page reports, and individual Post reports.
The best part? You can customize it by altering the tracking code and tailor fit Google Analytics to your needs.
What you write is valuable — and you would be devastated if everything disappeared in a site crash. Ensure this doesn’t happen with BackWPup.
This is one of the most essential WordPress plugins you’ll need with some very helpful features.
BackWPup saves the entire installation of your theme, not just the content of your posts and pages. It offers connections to external backup servers including Dropbox, S3, and FTP.
BackWPup makes it easy to restore your blog and you can schedule backups that suit your needs.
Editorial Calendar is a powerful organizational tool that allows you to view your entire blog post schedule.
The calendar shows you dates and times that you’ve scheduled content to go live so that you don’t ever overlook a post. Drag and drop posts from one day to the other or edit them directly from the calendar.
Editorial Calendar allows you to really take charge of your blog with a helpful overview that is especially important when managing posts by multiple authors.
For added protection from hackers and spammers, consider installing Wordfence.
This security plugin helps protect your IP address and prevents foreign users from entering your website using their Web Application Firewall technology.
Wordfence will send you customized emails in the event of suspicious activity so that you can take action sooner rather than later. There is also a premium version available with added security features.
The importance of social media is growing exponentially — and coincides directly with your blog. Frizzly is a unique plugin that lets you share your images with readers.
The application works by placing a Pinterest, Twitter, or Facebook share button directly over an image, allowing a user to share at will.
Frizzly encourages additional social media sharing in an easy and attractive manner.
Simply input your social account information into the Settings area of the plugin. Frizzly will also add share icons before and after the content of your posts.
WP — Optimize
Every time you update a draft, that previous revision is saved in your WordPress database.
After you publish a post, you probably won’t ever need to look back on that version, so why not declutter your WordPress platform with WP — Optimize?
In addition to removing unnecessary draft revisions, this plugin also removes spam comments — permanently. This decluttering feature allows for your website to run to its full potential — fast and efficiently.
Your post title often determines whether or not a reader will actually read your post or simply scroll on by. A strong title is a necessary component to every post and page on your website.
So why not experiment with which titles work best?
Title Experiments is the perfect application for A/B testing, which is the process by which bloggers can determine which title works best for each post.
Mail Chimp Forms by Mail Munch
Mailchimp is a powerful marketing tool. It is one of the easiest ways to build a subscriber list and send out email campaigns outlining your most recent blog post, or perhaps a new service that your company offers.
Mail Chimp Forms by Mail Munch is a useful plugin that allows you to design and implement MailChimp popups, side bar widgets, landing pages, and more.
This plugin allows you to instantly connect with your MailChimp account, build unlimited forms, and also provides analytics and reporting for your forms.
Aesop Story Engine
Improve the way your content appears to readers with the Aesop Story Engine.
The plugin offers a suite of tools for developing beautiful, long-form storytelling themes for WordPress. Aesop allows writers to enhance their content with interactive features and more visually appealing elements.
A few of these features include an audio player, video player, character insert, gallery component, quote, and map.
Plugins are necessary for any WordPress website.
The right plugins can enhance the reader’s experience and simplify the blogger’s challenge of creating an interactive platform that is both functional and attractive.
With so many WordPress plugins to choose from, it can be hard to know which ones are worth installing.
Quality trumps quantity, so we’ve created this list as a starting point to help you develop your own blog.
While this is not a comprehensive list of all the great plugins WordPress offers, these are definitely ones that will be helpful to any blogger, regardless of industry.
Are there any plugins you feel we might have omitted from this essential wordpress plugins list?
If there are any additional plugins that substantially help the way you run your blog, please share them in the comments below.
We appreciate your input and look forward to hearing from you!
Sarah Saker is a business coach and freelance writer who specializes in helping SMBs setup processes for customer support and predictable growth. When not writing or coaching, Sarah can be found on her (small but growing!) family farm. Connect with Sarah on about.me/ssaker for coaching or writing help.
Image source: Author-owned