I’ve been blogging on the WordPress platform ever since I started my blog, almost two years ago, and with a blog, you come across a bajillion plugins. How do you know which ones you need and how do you know which ones you can do without? Well, I put together a little “plugins essential” guide for you. These are what I believe are the top 5 plugins every blogger needs if you’re on the WordPress platform. Obviously, these are my opinions only and I’m sure there are plenty of others out there that I haven’t touched on, but these 5 are the ones I highly recommend, as they make your blog run more smoothly and efficiently. All but one are free, but the one that isn’t free, is still worth the dough.
1. RSS No More
This plugin probably applies to almost every food blogger out there. I seriously cannot stand RSS feeds in my Google Reader that give me 2 sentences and a click-over to their blog to finish the rest. I mean, I get it. I get why people do it (minimizing stolen content, more traffic), but do you know many of your readers HATE this? And it also could lead to LESS traffic. People hate the teaser. They want to see pictures and get a “taste” of your blog post before they click over. If I see in my reader a 3-4 sentence teaser and then a click over, chances are, I skip the post altogether, unless you’re one of the regular bloggers I read.
I typically have my posts cut off in an RSS reader right before the recipe. It gives the reader all the pictures and my entry, but if they really want to go see the recipe or go comment on my post, they can click the link at the bottom.
This plugin gives you the ability to use the “more” sign in your editor (it’s the button on the left next to the spell check) as where the RSS feed will be cut off.
Example, right before my recipe, I click the “more” button in my editor and I type my recipe below that. What readers see is below, where it says, “Click to grab the recipe to Mint Chocolate Pudding Cookies.” You can customize this, as shown below. In step 1, that is what the link will say wherever you put the “more” sign. The title of your blog posts automatically comes right after that. Then, in step 2, you can customize the RSS feed footer. As you can see, mine says copyright 2012 Table for Two | Julie Chiou.
I LOVE this plugin. It gives me the ability to reply back to my readers’ comments and ensure that they’ll actually SEE the reply. There are so many times where I’ve asked a question on a blog or have just commented on a blog to show some love, and never get a reply – or so I think. I’d sometimes, out of curiosity, especially if it’s a question I’ve asked, will go back to the blog and check the comments section. 95% of the time, there is a reply to my comment from the blog owner, but how was I even supposed to know that? There was notification. There was no way for me to know unless I went back to the blog to check – and let’s face it – how many readers will actually do that? They’ll just think you don’t care & that could be a loss of a reader! We don’t want that! That’s where this plugin comes into play.
Every time you reply to a comment, your reader will get an email! This has helped me tremendously as far as helping a reader out with an answer to a question to my recipe or just showing them some love back. Below is the general template of how the email would show up to them. It basically shows them their original comment and then it shows your response to it.
You want to know how I stay organized and how I’m able to schedule out my posts a month in advance? With a lot of planning and this plugin.
This plugin is essentially a calendar where you plug in all your posts so you can see what’s coming up or what you’re planning on making in the coming week. WordPress doesn’t really give you that option to see your future posts in a calendar view. I know some people have physical day-planners or calendars on their desk, but I use this. It really helps me see what I’ve got coming up. You can create a new post right in the calendar, schedule it, and even type it out. However, I only create a new post in it so it’s like a placeholder for a certain day and then when I need to fully write a blog post, I go into the actual post itself and edit it in the editor.
Does your blog take too much time to load cause of all the content you have on it? Start serving your visitors cached versions of your site. They’ll ALWAYS get your updates, but with cached versions of your site, they get pages/your blog so much faster because it’s pages that’s been saved in the cache and the blog doesn’t have regenerate itself all over again. If you post a new post, it’ll still show up – you don’t have to worry about that. That’s the only time where I think it doesn’t “regenerate” a cached page.
I just recently got this and let me tell you – I can go to bed at night now. This service, for $15/month, backs up EVERYTHING on your blog – like EVERY.THING. and stores it in versions and you can restore your blog from those saved versions. Say, your blog crashes and dies cause of a WordPress upgrade – go into your VaultPress dashboard and you can restore the most recent copy of your blog. Now, I haven’t had to do that yet, and I hope I never have to, but this plugin is essentially giving me peace of mind knowing that I will always have 3458230e903485 versions of my blog because it’s backed up every hour. When you first get it, it takes like 5 hours (depending on how much content you have) to do the initial backup, and then every hour after that initial backup, it just backs up everything that’s changed, like new comments, new pictures, deleted plugins, added plugins..everything that’s different than the previous backup.
I hope this has helped and has allowed you to discover some new plugins that you never thought you’d need! If you have any questions about these plugins, feel free to ask me and I’ll try to answer them the best I can. I’m pretty familiar with them since I use them every day, but I’m not calling myself a plugin pro ;)
What plugins have you used that you love? Share your thoughts and discoveries :)