Updated January 11, 2016
For the past two years, my blog has been running self-hosted on the WordPress platform. Since moving over from Blogger, I have absolutely loved all of the control I have had over my blog. I feel that it looks and runs more professional. I could go on for hours about why I love WordPress far more than Blogger, but that’s another story for another time. At the end of the day, I own and control the way my content looks and is managed.
One of the biggest benefits of moving to WordPress is the vast majority of plugins available to customize your website to your liking. With the click of a button, I can install a plugin that will do magical things. There’s even a plugin that will display lyrics from “Hello, Dolly” on every page of your site. I guess if you’re a die-hard Louis Armstrong fan and run a jazz blog, you would love that.
I have read countless posts on which plugins to download, what are the essentials, etc. And yes, I absolutely must have the Yoast, Akismet, Wordfence, Simple Social Icons, and Shareaholic plugins. However, there are some other not so obvious plugins that I just love the heck out of. Let’s take a look at my top WordPress plugins and why I love them so much! Oh, and by the way…. all of these plugins are free!
Pretty Link Lite – This is a recent new love of mine. You can create any link you want, shortened, with your domain name. I started using this with a specific thing in mind: Instagram. You see, when you click a blog’s link in an Instagram profile, it doesn’t track a page view in Google Analytics. It registers as if someone is just typing in your blog name and hitting enter. I followed this tutorial to set up a Google Campaign in order to track those pageviews, but the link to put in my Instagram profile was long and icky. That’s where this plugin comes in. I shortened the link to read as megoonthego.com/hello. It takes you to my blog. Ever since doing this, I realized how much traffic I actually get from Instagram. I can see how many people are clicking in Google Analytics, and I can also see it here in the plugin settings.
WordPress Editorial Calendar – This is a simple, yet absolute must have for me. It installs under the “posts” section of your dashboard, where you can see visually how your posts look. I hate looking at a long list of drafts. I like to come up with drafts and move them around in the calendar. You can also move them off to the side (not pictured here because I’ve got to keep a few secrets, right?) and back on to the calendar. You can see my posts from July below. And a post I didn’t end up publishing, too. Haha.
Content Views – I love this plugin! Thanks to Jessica for the recommendation. For my menu at the top, you can find posts within categories. I used to create galleries by hand to show all of my posts within a category on one page. This plugin allows me to have those posts show up on that page automatically! It’s definitely a lifesaver… just look at my videos page below.
jQuery Pin it Button for Images – This is the easiest plugin to use in order to add a “pin it” hover button for the images on your blog. I have tried so many others, and this one is hands down the best. It’s simple, and that’s what I like.
Related Posts by Zemanta – This shows suggestions at the end of each blog post. There are lots of plugins that do this, but sometimes the suggested posts can be a little off and irrelevant. What I love about Zemanta is that I can choose which posts to suggest. This is especially helpful for extremely popular posts, such as my Best Cheap Makeup post (up to 354,000 pins on Pinterest!). I am able to suggest other relevant posts that I would love those readers to check out.
Simple Instagram Embed – This one is simple. It enables me to embed Instagram photos, simply by copy-pasting the link to the Instagram photo in the text/HTML view of the post editor. It then looks like this (only thing I don’t like is I can’t figure out how to center it):
Jetpack Publicize – I know Jetpack typically comes standard with a WordPress blog, but some of the options are pretty powerful. When activating the “publicize” option in Jetpack, I can have my posts shared on social media easily. In the post editor, it gives me the option to have it automatically post to my social networks. I can also customize what text displays in the social share. I can literally say, “set it and forget it!” (To myself, not in the text box there…)
I really could keep going, but I am going to leave it at this handful of dear plugins I love. Fellow WordPress peeps, what are your top (not so obvious) WordPress plugins? I have to know, because #GIMMEALLTHEPLUGINS.
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