Raise your hands if this seems true, especially if you aren’t as technically adept (no worries, nor am I). You a new blogger completely overwhelmed by blogging process? WordPress sometimes seems incomprehensible and what the hell are plugins now?
Trust me, I was as confused until I figured out that plugins are small coded applications for better functioning of websites. Since a lot of us are non-coders plugins come to our rescue to enhance performance of our sites.
These software tools will save you tons of time, energy and money since most plugins have free versions, perfectly suitable for new bloggers. As your blog starts to grow you can consider upgrading to premium versions. Here are 7 best WordPress Plugins you can use as a new blogger.
What you should know before using WordPress Plugins
There are some not so good sides of using WordPress Plugins. But I assure you merits outweigh the cons. So before installing a plugin take these factors into consideration.
Installing Plugins is Addictive: When you realize the ease of using plugins and how smoothly these tools help you to run your site, you will be addicted to these. You also run the risk of installing too many plugins some of which are simply unnecessary.
So before installing any plugin just ask yourself “Is this really required?”, “What real value does this provide to my site?”
Affects Site Speed: This is just to reinforce the above point. I have repeatedly come across this advice from seasoned bloggers to restrain from installing too many plugins as it affects your site loading time.
Can you imagine your site being loaded with snippets and snippets of code, eventually it will be overburdened and start showing errors.
As a new blogger this is perhaps the last thing you want since traffic generation is crucial at this point. You cannot afford to have a slow site, abandoned by visitors due to high loading time.
Install from Known Sources: WordPress directory has tens of thousands of plugins some are developed by reputed developers and companies, who or which have teams dedicated to maintaining these tools.
So it’s best install plugins which have good reviews and are updated regularly. Be wary of any plugin which provides amazing functionality but hasn’t been updated for months. Such plugins can seriously compromise your site’s security.
Test a plugin: After installing a plugin test it out for a few days to see if it’s working properly, if it doesn’t work or affects your site speed or isn’t compatible with your theme then uninstall it immediately.
7 Freemium WordPress Plugins for New Bloggers
Almost all plugins mentioned here are freemium but when you are a beginner and have pennies to spare you may use free version until your blog grows and you start earning.
Yoast SEO: SEO is a tricky thing and as a new blogger when you absolutely have no idea how to optimise your blog posts, Yoast will come to your rescue. It makes SEO so easy for beginners that you will get a hang of it in no time.
Yoast analyses readability and SEO of your posts through a very simple system. What I love is just at the end of every post it has a long list of suggestions like whether you have interlinks within your posts? Whether you added alt text for your images? It also has different sections to add keyword, slug and meta descriptions to your post.
Yoast has a premium version costing around $89 a year. But for beginners the free version is enough and when you learn the basics of SEO you can move on to advanced premium plugins if you wish.
Smush: We love adding images to our blog posts and why not? Quality images add that little bit of grandeur to text heavy posts and retain the reader’s interest. But the downside is high resolution images are bigger in size and if not optimised properly take time to load affecting your page performance.
Smush is an image compression plugin and compresses your image size without compromising on the quality. This is one of my favourites I used at least two other image compression plugins but none of those come close to Smush. I didn’t notice any difference in image quality even after considerable compression and my images in fact load faster.
There is a premium version of this plugin and I don’t see a reason why you should upgrade unless you have an image-heavy blog. The free version is more than enough.
SumoMe: When you write a blogpost obviously you want it to be shared, Sumo plugin will allow you to do exactly that. When you install it social media buttons display at left side in desktop version and in footer area in mobile.
This plugin also allows users to add pop-ups, scrolls, add forms all for free. If you want to collect email subscribers but are on a tight budget you may consider using this plugin. Sumo allows you to design and time your pop-ups so that it appears exactly when you want it without being intrusive and disturbing the reader experience.
If this wasn’t enough already you can also track how many active users are on your site when you integrate your Google analytics with Sumo. Quite honestly the amount of value it provides is too good for the free version.
Askimet: Askimet is an anti-spam plugin automatically filters out all spam comments after you have installed it. I think Askimet is one of the must-have plugins since WordPress websites receive a considerable amount of spam comments from spam bots and at times from humans readers as well.
Askimet effectively eliminates most spam comments; however there have been complaints that this plugin at times blocks comments from genuine readers. I personally have never faced this issue though.
For beginners this plugin is a must, it has a free version, it is easy to install and user-friendly. Once you install this plugin you don’t have to do much. For its premium version, Askimet plans start from $5 a month for a single site.
WordFence Security: One of the most popular security plugins, WordFence helps you to secure your site and in case of any suspicious activity you will be notified immediately. No one wants to compromise on their site’s security and WordFence is one of the must-have plugins that beginners should consider installing.
Also this plugin, contrary to what I thought, is very easy to configure. The premium version of this plugin costs $99 per year but for small websites a free version would work just fine.
Updraft Plus: I have recently started using Updraft plus and I must say it saves me time doing manual back-ups. Having back-up of your site is something every blogger considers doing and more often than not takes it for granted.
I did manage do manual back-ups when I started. Once a month my posts would be saved in Google drive but then procrastination crept in and manual back-ups took a back seat.
UpdraftPlus saved me that hassle it does my back-ups weekly. You have the choice of hourly or daily back-ups if you post more than once in a day or thrice a week.
MonsterInsights for Google Analytics: This is again a very popular plugin to track your Google analytics. As new bloggers you want to track how well your site doing, which posts are performing well, where your traffic is coming from. After installing this plugin you can get an overview of everything from your WordPress dashboard.
One may argue here that this plugin is not that necessary, since Google Console does the exact same thing. But as wonderful Google Console may be it takes time to get used to it, I don’t find it particularly user-friendly. Plus you have to open the Console each time whereas this plugin allows the comfort of viewing your stats within the WordPress platform.
WP Fastest Cache: This plugin is for caching purposes. If you have no idea what caching means, I had no idea too, and maybe I still don’t understand the concept fully since the technology behind caching is complex.
But to put it very simply from what I understood, when you access webpages that content is stored in your computer’s directory temporarily and if you need to revisit those pages it easier for your browser to pull those files from that temporary storage area known as cache.
This is done to improve user-experience as it saves time and removes unnecessary traffic burden on a network. WordPress too works in a similar manner and cache plugins in WordPress are necessary to increase site speed and page loading time.
WP Super cache does all of this and it is one of the most recommended plugins for caching. It is easy to install and configure. It creates static files of your webpages to enhance loading time, along with host of other features like CDN (content delivery network) for faster distribution of your content.
So these are some of the WordPress plugins you may install when you are just starting out. I had read that number of plugins should be under 20 for any site for smooth functioning. Of course, as your blog grows you will have to install additional ones in case you want to display ads or sell your own products. But that’s a story for another day. Hopefully I was able to cover it all, what do you think? Would love to know your suggestions or any recommended plugins you would like to share?