This month marks the first anniversary of when I set up my Entrepreneur Writer blog.
It was the first time I had run my own self hosted WordPress blog, so there was inevitably a learning curve involved. I am very pleased I chose to go with WordPress for my new blog, however, and could not imagine going back to the Blogger platform I used for my old blog.
One big attraction of using WordPress is the almost infinite number of ways you can customize it using themes and (especially) plug-ins.
So for the benefit of anyone else who is just starting out with a WordPress blog, I thought today I would share seven plug-ins I have found especially valuable. All of these are free and can be downloaded from within your WordPress dashboard…
1. Antispam Bee
If you run any sort of blog that allows comments, protection from comment spam is essential. Antispam Bee has ticked all the boxes for me. It is amazingly efficient at blocking spam comments while allowing genuine ones through. I also like the fact that after you have approved somebody once, they are automatically approved in future.
2.Add to Any Share Buttons
This plug-in automatically inserts social media sharing buttons at the foot of every post. It includes Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, WhatsApp, and many more.
3.All in One SEO Pack
This plug-in ensures that all your blog posts are search engine optimized. For example, it lets you attach search engine keywords and descriptions. I don’t use all its many features, just those I consider most relevant in the context of this blog.
4. Email Subscribers
This plug-in has various options to send newsletters to subscribers. I don’t currently run a newsletter from Entrepreneur Writer, but I use this plug-in to allow people to subscribe to the blog and receive an email update every time I add a new post.
5. Related Posts for WordPress
I love this clever plug-in, which automatically adds links and excerpts of related posts at the end of every post. If you don’t like any of its selections, you can remove them and add a different post of your choice. This plug-in has made a big difference to the “bounce rate” of my blog (the proportion of visitors who read just one page and then click away). Before I installed this plug-in my blog’s bounce rate was around 90%, but now it has fallen to 10% or less. I put that down mainly or entirely to this plug-in.
6. iThemes Security
This plug-in helps ensure that nobody can hack into my blog. After you’ve configured it, it works in the background and sends daily reports of any attempted hacks. I am pleased to say that, touch wood, there have been no security incidents on EW since I installed this plug-in.
7. Official StatCounter Plug-In
I use this plug-in in conjunction with the free StatCounter service. It provides in-depth statistics about who has been visiting my blog, which posts are attracting the most traffic, and much more. I also use two other stats plug-ins, by the way, Social Metrics Tracker and Google Analytics Dashboard for WP.
I’m not suggesting that any of the above plug-ins are necessarily “best in class”. They are simply the ones I have chosen to use on this blog, in some cases after being unimpressed with others. They do an excellent job for me, and I am therefore very happy to recommend them to other WordPress users.
For completeness, I should add that I use the free Themify Base theme, which I like for its ease of use and clean appearance. And finally, I use Bluehost as my hosting service. I recommend them as a cost-effective and reliable platform for any self-hosted WordPress site.
If you have any comments or questions, as ever, please feel free to post them below.
- If you want to get up to speed with WordPress as quickly as possible, I recommend The Wealthy Affiliate. This membership site offers free basic training in WordPress, and you even get two free WordPress sites of your own to practise on!