Last Updated on December 25, 2020 by Kelly Thoreson
Plugins will make your blogging life WAY easier. As you become more familiar with WordPress, you’ll get to know your plugins, which ones you love and which ones you can do without.
Until then, fall back on my know-how and install the plugins below, all of which I use and love FOR FREE. In this post I’ll explain just what a plugin is, why you need them, and my list of 13 essential ones! Let’s go!
What is a Plugin?
As a brand new blogger, you may not entirely understand what a plug-in is and that’s okay.
The easiest way to think of a plugin is like an app for your phone. When you got your phone, you immediately installed your favorite apps on it so it could do all the things you wanted it to.
Plugins on WordPress are no different and they can make your blogging life MUCH easier.
Why Do I Need Plugins?
They make it so you can do impressive stuff with your blog without knowing how to code. Like lay your blog posts out in a nice grid for people to browse through, automatically compress your images so your site runs quickly, and easily allow your readers to share your content on social media!
How Many Plugins Can I Have?
Well champ, you can have as many as you’d like BUT … it is best to not exceed 15 plugins. If you install too many plugins, it will slow down your site.
Now, let’s look at my list of must-have FREE plugins!
1. WPS Hide Login
What it does: Allows you to edit your WP dashboard login URL.
Why you need it: Every WordPress blog has the same WP Dashboard login URL nomenclature: yourdomain/WP-admin/. This leaves you vulnerable to the bad guys of the internet. Don’t let the bad guys win, get WPS to protect your blog!
Get WPS Hide Login here:
After you install WPS Hide Login and customize your URL, be sure to install the next plugin as an extra defense against the baddies.
2. Limit Login Attempts Reloaded
What it does: Limits the number of login attempts that can occur incorrectly before locking. This is a good thing, just don’t forget your password.
Why you need it: There are bad people in the world. Sorry to break it to you! These people don’t care that you’ve been pouring every free moment you have and all your emotional energy into your new blog. They just wanna get in there and be nefarious and things. Booooo!
Get Limit Login Attempts Reloaded here: https://wordpress.org/plugins/limit-login-attempts-reloaded/
3. Easy Table of Contents
What it does: Automatically inserts a sweet lookin’ table of contents into your posts.
Why you need it: Humans want instant gratification and your audience is no different. Make it easy for your readers to scan your content by adding a table of contents.
Get Easy Table of Contents here: https://wordpress.org/plugins/easy-table-of-contents/
4. Elementor Page Builder
What it does: Makes it so you can VISUALLY edit your pages. As opposed to changing something, then visiting the page and realizing it doesn’t look the way you want it to, then going back and changing it again, REPEAT REPEAT REPEAT.
Why you need it: It will save you a lot of time and frustration. Especially in the beginning, Elementor makes it possible for you to create a professional looking blog without knowing how to code.
Get Elementor Page Builder here: https://wordpress.org/plugins/elementor/
Helpful Resource: There is a lot you can do with Elementor! Read How to Create a Complete WordPress Website With Elementor from Elementor.com to get started!
5. Google Analytics Dashboard Plugin (MonsterInsights)
What it does: Shows you an easy to digest breakdown of your website’s traffic statistics.
Why you need it: You need to know how many people are visiting your blog every day. More than that, you need to know where they’re coming from and how long their spending on which parts of your blog.
Get Google Analytics Dashboard Plugin for WordPress by MonsterInsights here: https://wordpress.org/plugins/google-analytics-for-wordpress/
Helpful Resource: Watch this video on adding and installing this must-have plugin!
6. MC4WP: Mailchimp for WordPress
What it does: Allows you to see your email list stats and insert sign up options into your posts and pages without leaving WordPress.
Why you need it: In my opinion, Mailchimp offers the best FREE version of an email list service. I have used Sumo, Convert Kit, and Mailchimp. They’re all wonderful in their own ways but I have to say, if we’re solely comparing the free versions – Mailchimp is THE way to go. Also – YOU NEED TO BUILD AN EMAIL LIST. Don’t be dumb like I was and wait 6 months to start collecting emails. You want to make money blogging? Build your list.
Get Mailchimp for WordPress here: https://wordpress.org/plugins/mailchimp-for-wp/
7. Post Grid by PickPlugins
What it does: Makes it easy to insert a visual grid of your posts in any page.
Why you need it: It makes your blog look professional and helps your readers browse posts. Remember my homepage? Think that I just intuited how to magically make my featured images appear in a nice grid for you to look at? Super secret time: I didn’t, Post Grid did. Looks nice, huh?
Get Post Grid here: https://wordpress.org/plugins/post-grid/
8. Shortcodes Ultimate
What it does: Allows you to insert shortcode into your blog without having to know how to code. What’s a shortcode? It’s an itty bitty piece of code in brackets [like this].
Why you need it: Even if you know how to code, shortcodes are SUPER useful. Most new bloggers don’t know how to code but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to enhance our posts with elements like:
Hint: I created the list above in about 60 seconds using Shortcodes Ultimate! The plugin comes with almost 50 shortcodes to make you look like the blogging pro you’re going to be! Fake it til you make it, right?
Get Shortcodes Ultimate here: https://wordpress.org/plugins/shortcodes-ultimate/
9. Smush Image Compression and Optimization
What it does: No, it doesn’t take you on a tour of the Jersey Shore’s smush room, thank god. Smush takes your blog’s images and compresses them (makes their file size smaller) so your site will load faster. It is one of the easiest plugins I’ve ever used!
Why you need it: Google has said numerous times that site load speed factors into your ranking. Also, if our readers have to wait too long for our website to load, they’ll just leave. Wah-wah.
Get Smush here: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-smushit/
10. Social Icons Widget by WPZOOM
What it does: Allows you to add, “follow me” social media icons to pages.
Why you need it: Make it as easy as possible for your readers to follow you on social media. Don’t make them hunt around for your contact page in order to follow you. With Social Icons Widget by WPZOOM you can put follow me icons everywhere!
Get Social Icons Widget by WPZOOM here: https://wordpress.org/plugins/social-icons-widget-by-wpzoom/
11. WPForms Lite
What it does: Lets you create and add forms, like contact forms, into your blog.
Why you need it: Again, making your blog easy to use for your audience is top priority. WPForms Lite makes it easy to create and place contact forms!
Get WPForms Lite here: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wpforms-lite/
12. Social Snap
What it does: This plugin inserts social media sharing icons on pages and posts.
Why you need it: You want everyone to share your content, right? Encourage your audience to share your content by adding these icons!
13. Yoast SEO
If you haven’t heard of Yoast SEO, get ready – you’re gonna see it EVERYWHERE. And for good reason! Yoast SEO is, quite simply, the shit.
What it does: SEO (search engine optimization) is confusing. Yoast SEO makes it simple.
Why you need it: Because, as a new blogger, you have enough to figure out. Let Yoast SEO guide you through the processes of optimizing your blog for search engines so you can put your energy into creating content!
Plugins will make your WordPress life much easier and they will save you precious time and energy.
You don’t have to spend hours researching plugins, just install the ones above and get on with creating your blog! It’s easy to let tasks like plugin research sidetrack us, remember what you’re here to do: create lots of life-changing content for your readers!
What are your favorite WordPress plugins? Leave your answer in the comments below!
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