I have exactly 20 minutes to write this post before I dash off to make some homemade pancakes for my husband and I to enjoy for dinner. I recently splurged and bought maple syrup from iherb.com, just because their shipping was free to Korea (I would have normally spent the 12 dollars I paid for the syrup in shipping), and NOW I have to incorporate that liquid gold into our daily diets for a while. I’ve missed maple syrup so much over the past 1.7 years, I feel like I should be writing a post about its wonderful goodness. As much as I’d like it to be, this post is not about syrup, but about WordPress plugins.
A week or so ago I wrote a post called Blogging 101. I shared with you my wisdom (for what it’s worth) on how to grow your blog rapidly. The post got some great responses, and I’ve decided to expound on it and make it into a mini-series. I’ll be covering a multitude of topics on all things blogging, and I can’t promise it will be a weekly thing (lets face it, no one has time for that). Today I will be introducing to you my favorite plugins to use with WordPress.org, as I know there have been quite a few blogs making the move from Blogger to WordPress lately.
I am so thankful to have had Lisette, my partner-in-Wordpress crime, by my side to discover new things every day. We bounce our design ideas, plugins and everything else cool off each other morning, noon, and night! I’m mentioning this because she introduced me to some of these plugins, and also because she’s super cool. No apologies, I shamelessly endorse my friends and their blogs on my blog.
Top WordPress Plug-ins
Genesis-Simple Hooks: First of all you have to purchase the Genesis Framework to get this slice of heaven to work. Buying the Genesis Framework for $59.95 will be one of the best things you’ll ever do for you blog (if you’re into making your own design and doing your own customizations.) Not only is Genesis SEO friendly, but it has a ton-and-a-half of child themes you can choose from to fit your needs. Some of those come at a cost. I currently use Genesis with the Pretty Young Thing child theme as my design building block.
After you get all that sorted out, one of the first plugins you should install is Simple Hooks. This little plugin does a butt load of work for you. Designing a layout and can’t figure out how to get your social media buttons where you want them? Or you header? Or your menu? Want to group your in-post ad, related posts, and signature all in one neat little bundle at the end of your post? Well this guy is for you. Thank you for making my life much easier Simple Hooks. My perfectly centered social media buttons owe it all to you.
Add Signature: So not every one is ready to dive into the complicated yet awesome world that the Genesis Framework brings. Hey, that’s ok! If you asked me about it 4 months ago, I would have passed on any sort of Genesis trial. I’ve been working on my design ability over the last month, and it’s slowly becoming less complicated to code in both HTML and CSS. I found Add Signature back in April when I first moved from .com to .org. It made my life easy by being able to add my signature AND my Passionfruit in-post ad to the bottom of all my posts, pages, or anything else I wanted. I still use this for my signature. The rest are coded from Simple Hooks.
Add Signature also gives you the option to input multiple signatures, just in case you like to break it up every now and then. :)
WordPress SEO by Yoast: This is one of the plugins that Lisette told me about. Although I’m not super obsessed with SEO, it’s good to get your posts out there and boost your blogs ‘online footprint.’ WordPress SEO by Yoast guides you step by step into making every post you write a search engine friendly post. The closer you can get to all green lights (little yellow and red), the higher up your blog post will be rated (and easier found) when it comes to someone searching for a specific keyword.
Yikes. I hope I haven’t lost you on this one. Just download it. Yoast does a GREAT job explaining what you need to do in the plugin, and it’s very user friendly. Not as complicated as it sounds; it does all the work for you!
Nrelate: I used to use Linkwithin to add related link thumbnails to the bottom of each new post. However, after wanting to change to FIVE thumbnails instead of three and failing twice at doing so, I decided to nix that tricky little plugin. I didn’t like it that much anyway. Then Nrelate came waltzing into the picture. Not only does it do everything Linkwithin did, but it does so much more! I can customize the size, how many, and the design of what the related thumbnails look like. Win. win. win.
Hello Bar: Have an announcement to make? Want to encourage followers to try out something new? Wanna get your readers to follow one of you other social media networks? Then Hello Bar is pretty darn close to perfection to you. Not only can you customize the color, text, link, and size of your Hello Bar, but you can choose to have it scroll with the reader, or have it disappear after a certain amount of time. I’ve had a Hello Bar for the last few months. Unfortunately with my new theme, the social media buttons don’t appreciate the attention Hello Bar is pulling from them. I’ve done my own variation on the right hand side of my page above my picture.
Disqus: I switched from the default comment system to the new, user-friendly, easy to install Disqus system. I was hesitant to download this plugin at first, but now that I have it I’ll never go back. Its bright, cheery, and I swear readers are in love with it! My comments shot up from 10 a post to over 30+ a post, and my readers are engaging in their own conversations on my comment system! I absolutely love it when my readers come together to discuss things. Especially when it has to do with something I wrote! If you ever want to make a blogger proud…there’s your way to do it! I’ve also had absolutely zero spam messages since I made the switch. Let me tell you: breath. of. freaking. fresh. air.
Jetpack: If you’re a WordPress.com user you already have this pre-installed to your dashboard. However, if you just moved to WordPress.org, you do not…and should download Jetpack immediately! I recognize the fact that there are those out there that aren’t in love with this plugin, but that’s not me. I love 90% of everything that comes with Jetpack. Namely Akismet (I run this spam-proof comment system underneath Disqus-JUST in case!), Sharing (allows readers to share your posts on social networking sites), and WordPress.com stats. I love, love, love the stat counter from Jetpack. It’s simple and easy to use. I also have Google Analytics , but I swear you need a graduate degree to figure out how things work.
If you peered closely at this last Jetpack stat image, you may have noticed it says it’s currently 4:17am. Don’t worry, that’s US time. I’m all the way over here in South Korea where it’s already Thursday, July 25th. Tricky tricky! By leaving my stats page in-sync with Pacific Standard Time, I feel slightly connected to home. At least I know what everyone’s doing at all hours of the night. ;)
I have a confession to make. I stopped this post about halfway through to eat my pancakes and maple syrup. It was pretty much to die for, and I’m going to go to bed real happy. I went all out and made it All-American Ihop style with hashbrowns, eggs, bacon, AND sausage. I had one happy husband on my hands.
Now check out a couple more of my sponsors! Kim is back for round two (to which I jumped up and down for an hour over…too excited), and you can read her original questions about her blog and dream destination here. Sarah goes down in history with having the happiest, sunflower-y, summery, amazing blog button ever.