WordPress can be a beast when it comes to making sure your website does exactly what you want it to do. But one of the best things about WordPress is that it is extremely flexible and there are tons of plugins to make your site do the magic it needs to attract your target audience and ideal clients. After all, as a writer, that’s what your website is really designed to do. You don’t want to bloat your website with too many plugins, so let’s dive into the best plugins for WordPress.
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What Are Plugins?
Plugins are the things that make all of the magic happen on your website. Whether that’s scheduling appointments, combating spam, or setting up e-commerce, there’s a plugin for that (yes, I know, just like there’s an app for that). Because anyone can make a plugin for WordPress, and most are free, it is extremely easy to find a plugin to make your website function in the way you need it.
Most of the plugins on this list are free but some are paid or connected to a paid service to make the magic happen. I will let you know if the plugin requires a fee. Now, onto the list of plugins!
How to Install a New Plugin
To install a new plugin, go to the back end of your WordPress website. From there you’ll scroll down until you see Plugins. Click on Add New. From there you can upload a plugin or search for a new plugin. After locating the plugin, you want to click Install then Activate. Some plugins will have settings for you to configure, but you can wait until you’ve installed all of your plugins to configure those settings.
Acuity Online Appointment Scheduling
Acuity scheduling (which is a SaaS – software as a service – online appointment system) has its own app for you to embed your calendar into your WordPress website. This allows a client to book directly from your website without leaving. The plugin is free, but Acuity has paid options for its service.
Atomic Blocks – Gutenberg
Atomic Blocks has created an additional set of blocks to compliment the blocks (Gutenberg) which you already find in WordPress. If you find that you are building a page and there isn’t a Gutenberg block for it, Atomic Blocks may be your solution. This plugin is free.
Central Color Palette
This is a great plugin because it allows you to set your brand colors across your entire website. Enter the hexacodes once for your brand colors and you won’t have to worry about looking up your colors every time you need to change something or add something to your website. This plugin is free.
The app for ConvertKit (a service you’ll use to build your email list and send out email blasts) allows you to integrate your ConvertKit forms directly onto your website. The plugin is free but ConvertKit has paid and free options for you to use their service.
This has become one of my favorite comment plugins. I used to use others to manage comments but Disable Comments has a couple of great features. Among them is the ability to disable comments globally on your site, disable them on pages, and disable them on media. You can also bulk delete comments. It’s really easy to set up and use and the plugin is free.
Elementor is a page builder plugin that allows you to customize your website. It has a drag and drop builder, mobile responsive editing, and a large selection of widgets to truly customize your site. This is the free version of the plugin.
This version of the plugin requires paid service. You can customize your entire theme, including the header, footer, a single post, etc. If you decide to use Elementor Pro, you must also download and activate the free Elementor plugin I mentioned above. Elementor Pro starts at $49/year at the time of this writing for a one-site license.
LuckyWP Table of Contents
If you’ve ever wondered what a good solution to creating a table of contents would be for your blog, this plugin has got you covered. It can also create a table of contents for your pages but it’s unlikely you’ll need that functionality. LuckyWP also works automatically or manually and is compatible with Gutenberg. This plugin is free.
Page Links To
This is one of my favorite plugins because it allows you point a post or page in WordPress to any link you want. For example, if you had a page in your navigation menu that said “Portfolio”, but your portfolio is hosted on another site, this plugin will allow you to link to the other site easily. Page Links To is a free plugin
Although this is heavily used for affiliate marketing, there are other uses for this free plugin. Pretty links takes that ugly affiliate link or landing page link and converts it into something easily shared. There is a free and paid version of this plugin. Which you use is up to you, but the paid version is a yearly subscription starting at $49/year for one site. There are often sales and coupons available if you check the website often. Start with the free version and then decide if you need the other capabilities of the paid version.
SG Optimizer is the plugin installed by my hosting service, SiteGround, to help my site perform at optimal speed. Your host will have a plugin specific to them. I know Bluehost installs one for you as well. These types of plugins are free with your hosting plan.
Site Kit by Google
Remember the days when you needed separate plugins to manage Google Search Console and Analytics? Remember also having to install separate plugins to add in html to verify your site? Site Kit takes all of those headaches away. With a few simple clicks your site is verified, and you can connect to Search Console and Analytics with one plugin. This plugin is free.
Smush is my new favorite image compression plugin. It reduces image file sizes, improves performance and can also help boost your SEO (search engine optimization). There is a paid version, but you’ll be just fine with the free version of the plugin.
Titan Anti-Spam & Security
The Titan app combines anti-spam, anti-virus, firewall, and malware scan all into one free plugin. The biggest benefit is the anti-spam capabilities.
UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore
Having regular backups of your website is crucial to the health and survival of your website. If something should happen to your site, you will pull from one of these backups to restore your site to its former glory. Updraft allows you to schedule daily, weekly, monthly, etc. backups so you can set the interval you want. Also, you can select the destination of your backups. You can keep this plugin truly free by connecting it to a service like Google Drive to store your backups.
Nothing is more important to your website than its security. While you already have Titan Anti-Spam installed, Wordfence is the plugin I recommend to protect your site overall. It also has a firewall and scans for malware. This plugin is free.
WPFront Scroll Top
This is the newest plugin I’ve added to my site. One of the things that annoys me on mobile is when you have to scroll all the way back up to the top of the page manually. This plugin provides a button on the screen on desktop and mobile to allow visitors to go straight back to the top of your page. You can customize the button and its location in the settings and this plugin is free.
Perhaps the mother of all plugins and one writers and bloggers talk about the most is Yoast SEO. It is billed an all-in-one solution for WordPress. This includes on-page content analysis, XML sitemaps, and even customizing the image that is shared when you share links to your website. The important thing to remember is you don’t need the premium version. Go through the setup wizard to easily setup the plugin and watch the free videos on getting the most out of Yoast SEO. The free version of this plugin will suit most writer’s and blogger’s purposes.
That’s it! I know that was a lot of plugins but as we head into 2021, these are the plugins I believe will best suit the websites of most writers and bloggers. And as you can see, there really isn’t much I recommend specific to writers and bloggers. You’ll get a lot out of using and learning the Yoast SEO plugin for your writing, but SEO occurs both on- and off-page.
Try to keep the number of plugins down to a minimum in order to keep your website functioning properly. And although there are plugins out there I haven’t covered for more advanced social sharing and list building, these plugins are enough to get anyone started.
Do you think I missed any plugins? What are your go-to plugins for your WordPress site?