Simply put, plugins are tools to extend the functionality of WordPress. There may be features that you’d like for your blog that don’t come with the basic version of WordPress (think like having a Pinterest “Pin It” icon appear when people hover over your images).
Just like themes, you can upload plugins in the .zip file format (which, conveniently, is also the format they come in when you download them). However, most plugins can be found in the Plugin Directory right within WordPress and have a simple “install” button. Once you install, be sure to select “activate”.
To search for plugins, click on the plugins menu on your WordPress sidebar and select “Add new”. From here, you can search for plugins using key words.
Setting Up Plugins
Once you’ve installed a plugin, there are typically settings you need to fill out. Some plugins will be added directly to your WordPress menu, whereas others may be found under the “Settings” section of your menu.
My Favorite Plugins
Here are a few of my favorite WordPress plugins. I’m linking all of these as well, however, if you use the search method explained above, you can just paste the name in exactly as they appear below and you’ll be able to install them without having to download and upload.
- Akismet: Akismet is key to reducing the number of spam comments you get, and comes with WordPress, so you already have this one. However, you need to activate it to set it up. To do so, you need to create a free WordPress.com account and then get your API key. Once you have that, you can go into Plugins > Installed Plugins, find Akismet, and click on “settings” to input and update.
- Comment Reply Notification: When someone leaves a comment on your blog, and you reply to it, it does not automatically notify them of the response. This plugin ensures that they are notified by sending an email letting them know that you (or someone else) have responded.
- Contact Form Plugin: Want a simple contact form? This plugin will give you that!
- FD Feedburner Plugin: I use Feedburner for my RSS feed, so this plugin automatically redirects RSS subscribers to that feed.
- MailChimp: I use Mailchimp for my email subscription newsletter, and this plugin creates a widget that allows me to add a simple subscribe form in my sidebar.
- Maintenance Mode: This is great for when your site is live but you want to make updates. You simply turn it on to “true” and it will give visitors a notification that you are performing maintenance and to check back later.
- Pinterest Pin It Button For Images: This will add a “pin it” button to your images when people hover over them.
- Search Meter: This keeps track of what people are searching for within your blog. This is good to know because it helps you figure out the kind of content your readers want to see more of.
- Simple Social Icons: This is a widget that provides a simple way to put your social media icons into your sidebar. I currently use this in mine.
- WordPress Editorial Calendar: This makes it possible to see all of your posts and drag and drop them to manage your blog. I use this to keep me organized as to what is getting published and when.
- WordPress SEO: For those of you looking to optimize your blog for SEO, this is a great plugin to help ensure you do so.
What are your favorite plugins?