I have tried all sorts of blogging platforms since I first started blogging back in 2001, but WordPress is the one that eventually stole my heart, and at the moment it would be hard to persuade me to move anywhere else. I love the mix of simplicity and infinite customisability. And of course, there are the plugins. Those magical things that add features that make your life easier, the reading experience more enjoyable, and ultimately help you run your business more efficiently. Here are 8 of my absolute favourite WordPress plugins.
Pretty Link Pro is link cloaking and redirection tool that will allow you to create your very own short links. So, instead of using a service such as bit.ly, you can just create short(er) links with your own domain name. For example, you can get to this blog post by clicking on https://herlovelyheart.com/plugins rather than the actual url (https://herlovelyheart.com/8-of-my-favourite-wordpress-plugins), which would take up quite a few more characters in a tweet for example. The longer the original url, the more sense it makes to cloak it with something shorter and more memorable. And if you use affiliate links, you can make them look a lot neater by cloaking them with a Pretty Link.
One of the most powerful things about Pretty Link Pro is that you can see statistics right from your WordPress dashboard, so you'll know at a glance which links or posts are performing the best. And if you, for example, feature or interview someone on your blog, you can insert links to their site in the blog post as Pretty Links, and then give them actual statistics of how much traffic your post has driven to their site.
Another good thing about Pretty Links is that they are editable. So if you have used a Pretty Link to link to a product or page that has since changed or moved, you can edit the Pretty Link to point to a new url, which means all the links out there you might have emailed, blogged or tweeted will still take the reader somewhere useful instead of being dead links.
Public Post Preview does what it says on the tin, it allows you to give a preview link to a blog post draft before publishing. I use it most when an interviewee wants to check an article before it goes public, or when I want someone else to check or proofread a post without actually adding them as a user on WordPress.
Drag & Drop featured image is one of those nifty little plugins that saves time. It let's you upload a featured image (which are needed for plugins such as the one below to work) directly without having to go through the media library.
This is a new acquaintance, but I'm already loving it. Contextual Related Posts is a plugin that allows you to add those thumbnails at the end of each post, with suggestions for further reading. I used to use a different plugin for a long time, but it got pulled, and afterwards it took some trial and error to find a replacement I was happy with it. This one has enough editing capabilities, so that it can be styled to work with your blog, but it's not overly complicated to use. So far so good.
If you want an easy way to make your blog social media friendly, SumoMe is it. The only way to get readers to actually share your posts on social media, is to make it as easy for them as possible. SumoMe adds those little social media icons you see on the left to this post (go on, click on one, you know you want to! :D), so that sharing is just one click away. The free version has enough styling options for most people, plus there are other powerful features built into SumoMe for those who are intentional about building their email list.
I can hear the yawns all the way over here at the mention of the term SEO (aka Search Engine Opmitisation). Well, this little plugin makes good SEO easy peasy. Yoast SEO allows you to easily add and edit the meta descriptions and titles of your posts and pages. It even has a nifty traffic light system that indicates whether you've optimised your post well.
I'm pretty serious about backups. I guess it comes with the territory of being a photographer in this day and age, and having to be vigilant about backing up your work in a manner that sometimes makes you feel like you are running a data centre instead of a photography business.
When it comes to my blog/s, I'm very aware of how big a time investment has gone into setting everything up, and into creating all the content, so I am slightly terrified of the prospect of losing everything in a crash. So, to be on the safe/neurotic side, I am currently using two different services for backing up. I've used Updraft Plus for a few years now, and I like the way it can back up to multiple services such as Amazon, Dropbox or FTP all at once. I've set mine to take a backup every day, and I also get a little daily email to confirm this has happened, which always makes me have a moment of calm.
I signed up to Blog Vault only recently, after hearing good things about it from people who's sites had been hacked. I'm still testing it out, but I like the fact that everything is backed up at their end (at a cheaper rate than Updraft Plus' cloud service, which I don't use) and how simple the restore looks. Blog Vault could also come in handy for migrating your site/s from one server to another. I think I will eventually choose between Updraft Plus and Blog Vault, but for now I'll sleep doubly safe at night.
Do you have any favourites you would add to my list? I'm always on the lookout for new clever plugins, so I would love to hear about your must-haves!
If you want to check out what other plugins I use, I put together this document with a list of all the WordPress plugins I currently use. Enjoy!
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