Now that you have successfully installed WordPress, using my previous post, How to Install WordPress and Avoid the Stress of Learning Code, it is time to consider what you plan to do with the software. You know you are starting a blog. Chances are you want people to read it. That’s where WordPress plugins come in.
WordPress plugins are essentially apps for your WordPress website. You install them on your dashboard and use them to control your website. They aren’t a necessity, but they will definitely simplify your life! Trust me, you want plugins, unless you are a coding genius. And let’s face it, most of us aren’t!
After you login to your website through WordPress, you will see the following image.
This is your dashboard. It is the control center for your website. From this dashboard, you will operate your entire website. It’s pretty straight forward.
Installing WordPress Plugins
The first thing I am going to show you how to do is install plug-ins. I am not an affiliated with any of the following plug-ins. I only promote them because I love their products! Seriously, they make my life much less complicated!
Next, you will see “Plugins” on the lower part of your Dashboard (see the picture below). Hover your cursor over Plugins and select “Add New” in the pop-up menu.
You should see something resembling the following screen.
This looks pretty intimidating, but it’s pretty straight forward. Think of it as iTunes or Google Play on your cellphone. You are looking at apps. That’s all plugins are. You will see the name of the plugin, followed by a brief description. Following the description is the name of the author
Under the introduction section, you will see the number of reviews, stars, and installs. You will also see the last update that was made and whether this plugin is compatible with your version of WordPress. Always stay up-to-date on your plugin updates. This will make your site more secure.
At the top, right, you will see a search box with the words “Search plugins…” inside. In the drop-down menu, choose “keyword” unless you have difficulty finding an app. Then, explore the other options in the drop-down menu.
I will be honest; I don’t care for the accuracy of this search box. It’s hit-and-miss. If you can’t find something you are looking for by searching the title and author, try searching the subject, such as “SEO” or “Fonts”.
My Must-Have WordPress Plugins
I highly recommend installing all of the following WordPress plugins. Each one has its own unique purpose and excels at its use. Hopefully, if you are viewing this post at a later time, you will still be able to locate these useful plugins.
1. Google Analytics for WordPress
This plugin will help you keep track of the analytics for your website. It will also help you verify your website through Google so that you have access to statistics about your website. Knowing this information will help you write better posts for your target audience.
2. AddToAny Share Buttons
This handy little free plugin will add share buttons to the bottom of all of your posts. This gives your users the ability to share your posts on social media, which is free advertising and marketing for your blog. Until you have been operating your website for a while, social media is your best marketing tool. Make it easy for your readers by adding buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.
3. Font Organizer
This isn’t a vital plugin, but I love it for customizing my posts. It helps me brand my websites. If you want to change your fonts without learning code, install this app. Any Google font can be added and used on your posts. This will help make everything appear more unified. Use the same fonts on your graphics to increase brand recognition.
4. Insert Headers and Footers
If you need to insert any code into the header of your WordPress website, you will want this app. Instead of locating your website’s files and manually adding the code, all you have to do is copy and paste the given code into the header section created in the Settings by this handy app. This will save you time and make blogging much easier.
I started out with MailChimp, but switched over to MailerLite and haven’t looked back. I ended up loving the layout and it offers more free options for small blogs, cutting your costs. As your blog grows, you can upgrade to very reasonably priced packages.
6. Yoast SEO
by Team Yoast
If you want search engines to find your website and your content, SEO is an important part of the puzzle. I will be creating a future post (or two) on this topic, but for now, all you need to know is SEO is how search engines find your website.
Yoast SEO analyzes your content to optimizes it so that search engines are collecting your data and using it for your readers. It is a great way to identify SEO gaps in your content and resolve them to improve your search engine rankings.
The Tools for Success
That’s it! You now have all of the plugins that will be useful when you create posts and promote them on social media. They will help you build a solid foundation on which you can monetizing and promote your blog. Yes, you can make money blogging!
The next post will cover how you can write your first post and (gasp) publish it! I know! It’s very exciting and I hope that you will join me for that post!
If you have missed the two previous posts in this series, you can start from the beginning by reading How to Start a Blog: Web Hosting for Beginners. You can also skip ahead to the second post, How to Install WordPress and Avoid the Stress of Learning Code, if you already have a website and web hosting.
If you have plugins you can’t live without, share those in the comments on this post. If you found this post useful, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest with the buttons below.