One of the great things about self-hosted WordPress blogging is the amount of plugins available to help you make your blog just the way you want it.

For anyone not on WordPress, plugins are additional solutions that you can install to your site’s admin area, and they then offer extra functionality to your blog and how your readers interact with it.

These can range from social sharing options, design tools, subscription options, e-commerce solutions and much more.

In my last post, I spoke about the process that went into the redesign here, and Ken Mueller (an awesome part of anyone’s blog community) suggested sharing the plugins I use on here.

So, here they are.

1. afterRead

If you look to the bottom of my posts, you’ll see a simple reminder to subscribe to the blog. This is created using afterRead, a great little plugin to offer a call-to-action to your readers after they’ve read your content.

2. Akismet

One of the most-used anti-spam plugins around, Akismet is one of these plugins that’s pretty much a given on any WordPress site or blog. As well as blocking its idea of spam, it’s also pretty effective at learning from your manual filters to improve its anti-spam filters.

3. Align RSS Images

This one is more cosmetic, as it’s a plugin that works on your RSS feed (this is where subscribers can read your blog). What I like about Align RSS Images is that it keeps the image formatting used on your blog post in the RSS feed, as opposed to losing the alignment like normal RSS feeds.

4. BackupBuddy

Probably one of my favourites, and definitely one that any blogger serious about their content needs, BackUpBuddy saves your content, widgets and themes in case your site crashes. It also makes migration to a new host or server super easy. It’s a premium purchase, but highly recommended.

5. Clicky for WordPress

For any site owner, analytics are key to monitor reader behaviour and where your traffic is coming from. Clicky is an awesome alternative to Google Analytics, and less scary for the average blogger. My friend Brankica wrote a great overview of Clicky – check it out.

Web analytics for WordPress with Clicky

6. Clicky Popular Posts Widget

While not a standalone plugin per se, the Clicky Popular Posts Widget is a nice addition from developer Konstantin Obenland that monitors your analytics and shows the most popular posts based on visitor interaction, as opposed to social sharing or page visits. Which, for me, is more useful.

7. Fix RSS Feeds

One of the possible dangers of changing designs or web hosts is it can mess up your blog’s RSS feed, and your subscribers aren’t aware of new posts. Fix RSS Feeds does exactly what it says on the tin, and fixes any errors caused by a migration or design change.

8. Genesis Responsive Slider

Officially my favourite WordPress framework, Genesis (affiliate link) offers a rock-solid theme platform with great plugins. Like the Genesis Responsive Slider, which offers a cool slider gallery for images which also resizes itself based on the browser you visit on (including mobile). A very cool plugin, and used on this blog’s home page.

9. Genesis Simple Edits

While I did the redesign of this blog myself, I’m no coder, so plugins like Genesis Simple Edits are hugely useful. It allows you to edit your footer code, as well as post meta and byline without messing around with the style CSS. So, perfect for coding idiots like me.

10. Genesis Simple Hooks

Again, perfect for non-coders (although more experienced WordPress users will make this plugin sing), Genesis Simple Hooks gives you a ton of control over various aspects of your blog, and singles out the area you want to change then lets you insert code without touching your main CSS.

11. Google XML Sitemaps

While your blog might be full of awesome content, if the search engines don’t know how to read it properly, you’re screwed. Google XML Sitemaps makes it easy for search engines to index your blog and point people to the content they want to find.

12. Gravity Forms

Along with BackupBuddy and Livefyre, Gravity Forms is one of my favourites. Much more than a simple form builder, this plugin lets you create contact forms, add pricing options, create feedback questionnaires and much more. Incredibly flexible and worth the purchase price.

13. Livefyre Realtime Comments

One of the best parts of any blog is the comments section, and Livefyre is the best comments platform bar none. Realtime updates, social network comment integration, friend tagging on Twitter and Facebook, commenter moderation and way more besides. Oh, and the new Livefyre 3 is due imminently and plain out rocks (sneak peek below)!

Introducing Livefyre Comments 3

14. Login Lockdown

Like any popular product or platform, WordPress attracts its fair share of hackers. To help prevent your site being compromised, Login Lockdown disables sign-in attempts if the wrong user and password details are entered more than the amount of times you set. Very useful.

15. Premise

For any bloggers looking to monetize their blog (or simply grow traffic), Premise (affiliate link) is perfect. From the guys behind Genesis, this plugin lets you create landing sales pages, membership site solutions, social sharing for extra content options, and much more. Very comprehensive, highly recommended.

16. RSS Cloud

Because not everyone knows what an RSS feed is, the RSS Cloud plugin is a great way to make it easy for readers to subscribe. It points RSS Readers to the right format and content, makes the subscription process easier, and also updates servers when a new post goes live.

17. RSS Footer

There’s nothing worse than writing great content, then seeing an automated feed scrape pull your content and used on another blog. RSS Footer offers some protection by inserting a link and copyright at the end of each post, and linking scraped content back to your original source.

18. SEO Data Transporter

One of the biggest pains in changing WordPress themes is that you can lose all your SEO settings you so carefully cultivated. Thanks to SEO Data Transporter, this allows you to migrate all your SEO settings from plugins like Yoast SEO to a new theme with SEO built in, like Genesis. All the major platforms are supported and makes this plugin essential for any blogger.

19. Simple Lightbox

Ever been on a blog, clicked an image and it expands to full size? That’s a lightbox effect, and Simple Lightbox does exactly what the name of the plugin suggests – offers a pain-free way to have an elegant lightbox image gallery on your blog. (After a comment from Jon Loomer, I checked Simple Lightbox load times, and it was close to a second each time, which is a lot of load. Therefore, i deactivated the plugin and am removing its recommendation here).

20. Simple Social Icons

With the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and others showing the benefits of using social networks to build your audience, making it easy to follow you is important. Simple Social Icons allows a clean and customizable selection of the top networks to display, so your readers can find you on your chosen networks.

Simple Social Icons

21. Simple Trackback Validation

One of the ways spammers attack your blog (if they can’t bypass your comment filter) is by linking to your blog with their crappy content, which affects your standing in search engines if you’re linked with questionable content. Simple Trackback Validation checks the IP with the URL of the link and confirms it’s valid before approving.

22. SocialBox

Similar to Simple Social Icons, SocialBox is a smarter way to display your chosen networks, with follower and subscriber count on show too – always a great way to highlight your social currency when looking to attract advertisers to your blog (or even new subscribers – a high subscriber number usually equates to consistent quality).

23. Social Sharing Toolkit

You write great content – you want it shared, right? Social Sharing Toolkit does this and much more. As well as offering a host of the most popular sharing networks to allow your readers to share your content, it also has enhanced features like auto-linking Twitter names and hashtags, and offering more following options for your readers to connect with. A great social plugin.

24. Timthumb Vulnerability Scanner

Earlier last year, there was a major hack on WordPress sites using the code used to display thumbnails next to blog post excerpts. This caused huge headaches for a lot of bloggers, so the Timthumb Vulnerability Scanner plugin was released. This scans your database, highlight potential risks, and cleans these files for you. A must-have for any blogger that uses images.

25. Ultimate Maintenance Mode

If you want to make changes to your blog, or redesign it, but you don’t want to build offline and then transfer the data, Ultimate Maintenance Mode lets you create a maintenance message for your readers, and overlays it on top of a faded screenshot of your blog (or an image you upload). It’s one of the sleekest maintenance options out there, and I love it.

26. Viper’s Video Quicktags

If your blog is one that has a lot of videos on it, it can be a pain in the ass to grab the embed code, insert in your post, format and make sure it’s mobile-friendly too. Viper’s Video Quicktags does all this for you, and even inserts a little message with a direct link in your feed to say the post contains a video, in case it’s not displayed properly via email subscription.

27. W3 Total Cache

There’s nothing worse for a reader than visiting a blog and waiting for it to load. And waiting. And waiting. If your blog is taking too long to load, then you not only risk losing readers, but being punished by search engines too. W3 Total Cache is one of the most comprehensive options out there for scrunching your blog into less memory chunks, thus making it load faster.

Your Turn

And there you have it – my preferred plugins, some of which are always on, some of which are used when necessary.

There are other plugins that I haven’t mentioned here – WordPress SEO by Yoast, for instance, is great for getting you found on search engines. Since Genesis has a rock-solid SEO component built in, I don’t need to use any SEO plugins here.

Most of the above plugins will be great options for you to check out, some less so – for example, the Genesis plugins (with the exception of Simple Social Icons) are made for the Genesis framework only.

One thing to keep in mind – the more plugins you use, the more chance of impacting your site speed, so be careful with how many you use at any given time.

How about you – do you use any of these or, if not, which plugins are a must for your blog? Share away in the comments!

Get my latest posts as soon as they're published

Join over 12,000 smart subscribers and receive my latest posts as soon as they're published - simply enter your email below (I respect your privacy and will never spam you).

Alternatively, click here to subscribe to the RSS feed instead.

Connect With Me

Here's where you can find me on social media.
182 comments
Sabina
Sabina

Hi Danny, You have a nice list of useful Wordpress plugins listed here. I've just ran into your article and noticed that from this list I only use Akismet for my personal blog. I've also used the SEO plugin by Yoast on other blogs and found it an intuitive and helpful addition. The other resources you've mentioned are definitely worth taking a look at. I'd like to point out an alternative to Gravity Forms, which is 123ContactForm plugin for WordPress. 123ContactForm is a stand alone form builder that offers this kind of plugin. Some key features of it are extended publishing options (besides your blog, you can publish a form on Facebook or on a website), advanced payment & branding options and real time updates on all types of accounts. Plus, it has a free basic account plan. I'd be glad if you would take a look at it and let me know what you think. Cheers!

ASHRAF KAMAL
ASHRAF KAMAL

Great list... Thanks for recommendation....

Sudarshan
Sudarshan

Hi Danny, thanks for the list. Shout out to Akismet and Clicky; love both of them. If you're interested in live chat on site, do check out our WP plugin ClickDesk ( http://www.clickdesk.com/ ) - has over 50,000 downloads; combines chat, phone, email and social in one platform.

Katrina Moody
Katrina Moody

I wonder if you guys have heard of the Foobox plugin? I haven't had a chance to try it on my own blog yet, but it was tested for performance, and it adds the lightbox effect AND sharing icons on top of the image too - I think it looks pretty neat.

Rob
Rob

Hey! I'm wondering if you're still using Premise and W3 Total Cache together? They seem to create a conflict where thousands of duplicate users are created when someone tries to signup for a new product.

Ron Leal
Ron Leal

What is the name of the social share plugin that you are using? That one inside a box floating on the left?

Connecticut
Connecticut

Extreme miniaturization of electronic gates is causing the effects of phenomena like electromigration and subthreshold leakage to become much more significant. These newer concerns are among the many factors causing researchers to investigate new methods of computing such as the quantum computer, as well as to expand the usage of parallelism and other methods that extend the usefulness of the classical von Neumann model.

starttorun
starttorun

afterread looks interesting thanks!

starttorun
starttorun

afterread looks interesting thanks!

andrea
andrea

Hi there, I thought I had left a comment already somewhere, but cannot find it... So if this is a duplicate comment, I apologize:) I was wondering, why have you now moved to Disqus? I couldn't find any reference to the switch on your blog, only posts where you say how good Livefyre is:)

andrea
andrea

I am here looking for info on livefyre and noticed that you have switched to Disqus. May I ask why?

Ari Herzog
Ari Herzog

I never heard of afterRead -- though know of comparable plugins and scripts. But it hasn't been updated in 2 years; that doesn't concern you regarding Wordpress version compatibility?

totalbounty
totalbounty

Akismet, afterread and Backupbuddy are just something I first install when I create websites. Pretty amazing plugins. This is a good list.

totalbounty
totalbounty

Akismet, afterread and Backupbuddy are just something I first install when I create websites. Pretty amazing plugins. This is a good list.

jonloomer
jonloomer

 @DannyBrown I added Simple Lightbox, but P3 tells me that it takes a second to load (or more than half of the time of all of my plugins). Just don't think I can swing that.

 

I know there are a ton of Lightbox plugins. Is it possible that there one that isn't a resource hog?

jonloomer
jonloomer

 @DannyBrown I added Simple Lightbox, but P3 tells me that it takes a second to load (or more than half of the time of all of my plugins). Just don't think I can swing that.   I know there are a ton of Lightbox plugins. Is it possible that there one that isn't a resource hog?

TriBaby
TriBaby

Great list! I'm currently looking to add a simple sales page with a couple of eBooks and some digital products on it... What plugin would you recommend for Visa and Paypal payment? I've trawled through the various eComm solutions but would love your feedback?

TriBaby
TriBaby

Great list! I'm currently looking to add a simple sales page with a couple of eBooks and some digital products on it... What plugin would you recommend for Visa and Paypal payment? I've trawled through the various eComm solutions but would love your feedback?

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Hi Sabina, thanks for the heads-up, and I'll be sure to check your form builder out!

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Hey there Rob,

I haven't seen any conflict in that side of things, although I did disable W3C after some other conflicts. HyperCache seems a good alternative.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Hey there Rob, I haven't seen any conflict in that side of things, although I did disable W3C after some other conflicts. HyperCache seems a good alternative.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Hi Andrea, I was being emailed and Twitter DM'd from readers on issues with commenting on Livefyre, or comments disappearing. I do love the platform, but reader experience is more important t me than choice of comment system, so I changed over to the updated Disqus 2012. I'll be keeping an eye on Livefyre, though. :)

andrea
andrea

Besides, is it me, or does it take forever and a bit for the comments to load?

davidbitton
davidbitton

@jonloomer @DannyBrown The client JavaScript? If so, W3TotalCache and CloudFront CDN.

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

 @jonloomer it's interesting - i just ran P3 again and Simple Lightbox came up as a second to load, even with W3C. Agree with you - way too much for one plugin, I deactivated it and I'll update the post accordingly. Cheers, Jon!

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

 @jonloomer Possibly - there are a ton on WordPress Extend. Although, as @davidbitton mentions, W3C and a CDN option is great for minimizing load (I use Amazon too).

davidbitton
davidbitton

@jonloomer @DannyBrown The client JavaScript? If so, W3TotalCache and CloudFront CDN.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown moderator

 @TriBaby Pretty much all the solutions come with Paypal and Visa support (and you can pay by Visa with Paypal, even if you don't have an account).  However, I use eJunkie for my digital downloads, and never had a problem with them:

 

http://www.e-junkie.com/

Latest blog post: Everything Is Dead

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

 @TriBaby Pretty much all the solutions come with Paypal and Visa support (and you can pay by Visa with Paypal, even if you don't have an account).  However, I use eJunkie for my digital downloads, and never had a problem with them:   http://www.e-junkie.com/

andrea
andrea

Hi there, if you had problems, fair enough, but, pray, do elaborate on that. I have switched to LF myself and I would like to know what is in store for me. I have to say Disqus is not problem free either... I had written a comment then I was asked to log in and in the process I have lost my comment (lucky for you, so you get a shorter version). Anyway, you might as well update point 13 of your list, as you have done with 19.

jonloomer
jonloomer

 @DannyBrown  That's too bad. Good to hear I'm not the only one, but too bad it's a problem. Good plugin. Seems to be hard to find a good image/lightbox-like plugin that isn't a resource hog. I had previously deactivated another similar plugin before reading your recommendation. 

jonloomer
jonloomer

 @DannyBrown  That's too bad. Good to hear I'm not the only one, but too bad it's a problem. Good plugin. Seems to be hard to find a good image/lightbox-like plugin that isn't a resource hog. I had previously deactivated another similar plugin before reading your recommendation. 

jonloomer
jonloomer

 @DannyBrown  @davidbitton I already use a CDN and Amazon cloud server. Had to turn off W3C since it was conflicting with the CDN.

TriBaby
TriBaby

@DannyBrown @TriBaby thanks Danny I'll give that a try!

TriBaby
TriBaby

@DannyBrown @TriBaby thanks Danny I'll give that a try!

NickRich
NickRich

 @DannyBrown per JonLoomer's site the W3TC plugin is now broken I have concluded, as the CDN is enabled but no urls are changed, the Upload Custom files button returns a blank page. Have tried uninstalling and reinstalling. @jonloomer 

davidbitton
davidbitton

 @DannyBrown  @jonloomer Yes. CDN is enabled; Amazon CloudFront Origin Push. I then setup 8 CNAME entries. I also set minify to manual, and then use the CDN for minified content as well.

NickRich
NickRich

 @DannyBrown per JonLoomer's site the W3TC plugin is now broken I have concluded, as the CDN is enabled but no urls are changed, the Upload Custom files button returns a blank page. Have tried uninstalling and reinstalling. @jonloomer 

davidbitton
davidbitton

 @DannyBrown  @jonloomer just go to my site, www.codenoevil.com and then view source. You'll see all of the CNAMEs.

davidbitton
davidbitton

 @DannyBrown  @jonloomer Yes. CDN is enabled; Amazon CloudFront Origin Push. I then setup 8 CNAME entries. I also set minify to manual, and then use the CDN for minified content as well.

DannyBrown
DannyBrown

 @jonloomer  @davidbitton Hmm, strange. I'm guessing you set up the separate CDN settings on W3C?