A Simple Guide To The Blog Plugins You Absolutely Need ★ Learn HOW To Blog ★ DebiStangeland.com

A Simple Guide To The Blog Plugins You Absolutely Need

And a few more you might really like.

The hot topic out on the web right now is plugins. New bloggers want to know which ones to add. Seasoned bloggers are looking for the ones that add the most value. And everyday hundreds of new ones are added to the lineup. It’s enough to make your head spin.

As I look around in different groups, forums, and reply threads there are a few plugins that show up time and time again.

There is a simple guide to blog plugins you absolutely need. There is also a list of plugins you might really like too.

Let’s start with the ones you need.

**Updated March 2016**

1. Aksimet (free)

Akismet filters spam. No blogger I know tries to operate without it. It’s at the top of every single list I see and it works.

2. Click-To-Tweet (free)

Click-To-Tweet is a lovely little plugin that makes beautiful tweet boxes. It’s uber simple and customizable only via CSS it works extremely well and it’s free. It makes blog posts look incredibly professional.

3. Disqus (free and my comment system of choice)

Comments and comment systems seem to be a hot button issue these days. I don’t care what you use for a comment system I only care that you have one. Comments are important for bloggers. Big giant sites can do what they want. If you are a small to medium-sized blogger, you need a comment option on your blog.

I like Disqus because it’s simple, professional looking, and widely accepted across the web. It has fostered wonderful conversations on my blog. That’s important to me and it should be to you too.

To grow your site there are a few blog plugins you must have. And a few you might really like. This simple guide will help you know if you are on track. ★ Learn HOW To Blog ★

4. EWWW Image Optimizer (free)

This plugin optimizes your images so they don’t slow down your site. It is a workhorse behind the scenes and you need it.

Here’s what the developers say about it:

Why use EWWW Image Optimizer?

  1. Your pages will load faster. Smaller image sizes means faster page loads. This will make your visitors happy, and can increase ad revenue.
  2. Faster backups. Smaller image sizes also means faster backups.
  3. Less bandwidth usage. Optimizing your images can save you hundreds of KB per image, which means significantly less bandwidth usage.
  4. Super fast. The plugin can run on your own server, so you don’t have to wait for a third party service to receive, process, and return your images. You can optimize hundreds of images in just a few minutes. PNG files take the longest, but you can adjust the settings for your situation.
  5. Best JPG optimization. With JPEGmini integration, nothing else comes close (requires an API subscription).
  6. Better PNG optimization. You can use pngout, optipng, and pngquant in conjunction.
  7. Root access not needed Pre-compiled binaries are made available to install directly within the WordPress folder, and cloud optimization is provided for those who cannot run the binaries locally.
  8. Optimize everything With the wp_image_editor class extension, and the ability to specify your own folders for scanning, any image in WordPress can be optimized.

You can read more on their site, but these are some important reasons to use it.

5. Limit Login Attempts (free)

Hackers are out there in abundance. Don’t let them take your site down. Limit Login Attempts allows you to put restrictions on how many times someone can try to get into your site. This will also apply to you, so if you forget your password a lot you might want to make sure you account for that.

Limit Login Attempts will alert you, via email, when someone is trying to get into your site. If you are self-hosted there is an important second step you will need to take. When you get the email saying an IP address has been locked out of your site, log in to your CPanel and add that IP address to your blocked IP list. Every host has this service and it will add a second layer of protection to your site.

Here’s a short video to help you see how this is done:

6. SumoMe (free)

Social sharing is a must on your blog. The easiest, most beautiful way to do this is by using SumoMe. Their buttons are customizable, they offer an enormous variety of platforms, and their tracking is great. You can use this plugin for free and there are also pro versions and add-ons you can use for a fee.

I’ve used this plugin since 2014 and have even tried a few others since then. I always come back to SumoMe.

7. Google Analytics by YOAST (free)

This plugin makes adding analytics to your site a breeze. They do the hard work. all you have to do is add your tracking code. It couldn’t be more simple.

This is a must have.

8. WP Edit (free)

So it used to be, before all the upgrades of WordPress, that the edit bar was pretty good for writing posts. Somewhere along the line that all changed. Tools started disappearing until the whole thing was pretty bare bones. To combat the losses most of us installed Ultimate TinyMCE. Then WP 3.9 came along and Ultimate TinyMCE was rendered useless.

Enter WP Edit. This plugin became the new Ultimate TinyMCE and added some stellar features to the backend editor.

Here’s what they say:

  • Easily insert images, media, YouTube videos, and clip art.
  • Create tables via a graphical interface.
  • Adjust table cell border and background colors.
  • No need to learn HTML and CSS (although the basics can certainly help); use buttons with visual interfaces instead!
  • Easily access all shortcodes available to your WordPress environment; and insert them into the content editor.
  • Use shortcodes to insert columns.. similar to “magazine” style layouts, in your content areas.

Note: If you have Ultimate TineMCE, WP Edit takes it’s place. It works with WP 3.9 and above because after 3.9 Ultimate TinyMCE is no longer compatible. So as long as your WP updates are current to 4.1, you can delete Ultimate TinyMCE and add WP Edit. Clear as mud right?

9. WP Total Cache (free)

So, if the #8 made your head spin, #9 will make it pop right off. Let’s avoid that if possible.

I won’t bore you with the details of why you need a caching plugin. If you want to read it for yourself, feel free. All I’ll say is, be kind to your readers and add this one to your arsenal. You need it. If you use another caching plugin, that’s fine. If you don’t have one, use this one.

I have also used WP Super Cache but prefer Total Cache for my sites.

So there you have it, the top 9 plugins you absolutely need.

Because I believe in being well equipped for success, I use affiliate links. If you decide to purchase something I’ve suggested I may get a small commission, at no additional cost to you. This income helps to pay for my site costs. Thank you for supporting my work in this way.

But what about some other ones that are cool and neat and special?

Here’s my list for that. I’m not going to explain each one in detail, but if you have questions, let me know.

1. MailChimp for WordPress (free – this is by far my favorite plugin for adding people to my email list. You can use it inside a post using shortcode. It’s fantastic!)
2. Easy Digital Downloads (free – for selling products and giving away freebies)
3. Leverage Browser Caching Ninja (free – a backend workhorse that helps with speed)
4. Magic Action Box (free – for adding sign up forms around your site)
5. Maintenance (free – for when you need to work on your site)
6. Permalink Finder (free – this is a great help if you decide to change your permalink structure or combine a couple of sites together. Keeps readers from getting a 404 page if they misspell something.)
7. Remove query strings from static resources (free – helps with speed)
8. Contextual Related Posts (free – the perfect way to entice readers to stay on your site)
9. WordPress Editorial Calendar (free – if you aren’t ready to pay for CoSchedule, use this until you are)

There you have it. If you weren’t sure which plugins you should be using, now you know. If you have any suggestions or questions let me know.


Comments (10)

  1. Reply Kate @ Teaching What Is Good

    My favorite plugins (all free) that you haven’t mentioned are: Broken Link Checker (nothing makes me more nuts than having broken links on blogs — this shows you want is broken and allows you to fix, unlink or dismiss) and Comment Reply Notification (this automatically tells a commenter when their specific comment has been replied to and helps to build further discussion).

    Thanks for these GREAT suggestions!!

    1. Reply Debi @ DebiStangeland.com

      Those are great plugins Kate. I like your thinking. Broken Link Checker is definitely a handy tool to have.

      Thank you for sharing them with all of us here. More important resources we can all use to become better bloggers.

      ROCK on!

  2. Reply Melanie

    I recently migrated my site to WP (myself, so proud!), and I’m loving all the great plugins. Right now my top 3 favs are:

    1. TinyMCE Advanced (where I was able to create a custom color palette that matches my theme)
    2. Genesis Simple Share (for great post share buttons)
    3. Yoast (to help me with SEO on posts)

    Your list is fantastic. I’m going to look into EWWW to help speed up my site. Pinning this for future reference. Thanks, Debi!

    1. Reply Debi @ DebiStangeland.com

      Melanie: Thanks for sharing your top 3. Looks like you’ve found some real winners. I love when I can match colors too. Now I have a theme that allows me to do that seamlessly. YOAST is the best isn’t it?

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Rock on sister!

  3. Reply Jill Gottenstrater

    Debi, thank you for always providing such valuable content. Your Monday Motivation email is one of my faves! Appreciate all you do. Keep up the awesome work!

    1. Reply Debi @ DebiStangeland.com


      Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m glad you are finding value in the weekly emails too. I know I find a lot of it just putting them together. Thanks for the love sister. ROCK on!

  4. Reply Barbie

    Thanks Debi. You are a wealth of information. I use many of these plugins you recommend already and will have to check out the others.

    1. Reply Debi @ DebiStangeland.com

      I’m sure you’ve got some great plugin suggestions too Barbie. I’d love to hear them. Thank you for stopping by.

  5. Reply Mel Smith

    You found some that I didn’t know about! Thanks!

    1. Reply Debi @ DebiStangeland.com

      You are so welcome. Enjoy!

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