9 Free Must Have WordPress Plugins For New Blog Owners

pluginsSo, you’ve just started your very first self-hosted blog. (If you’re not quite there yet, check out this tutorial.) Now you need to figure out what to do with your fresh WordPress installation.

The main things you’re going to want to think about (besides the content itself) are:

  • Your WP settings.
  • Your theme.
  • Your plugins.
  • Your widgets.

I’ll be covering all of this over the next few days, but first I’m going to share a list of plugins I install on every single WordPress installation I set up (unless I end up getting a paid alternative) and they’re all free.

Oh, at the end I’ll show you how to install these as well.

This helps you with the on-page SEO. You can add keywords and write out what title/description you want to display on Google when people find your site in their results. This will help your site and pages rank more easily. It’s pretty easy to use. You don’t even need to mess with the settings to benefit from it – just be sure to fill out the SEO section when you write blog posts. It’ll be under the text box where you write the post itself.

This plugin is how I show recent posts by commenters under their comment. It encourages comments which is the main reason I use it.

On my blogs I now use CommentLuv Premium which is paid and offers features to encourage social sharing and helps to block spam comments. It’s pricey but if you can afford it I do highly recommend it. If not, go for the free version.

I love this plugin because it gives you a visual of scheduled posts. If you’re like me you don’t always have time to write posts when you need to. Instead I write 2-3 in a day and schedule them to post later. The editorial calendar plugin adds a calendar inside of your WordPress dashboard and shows when each is set to be posted. You can also drag and drop posts to different days if you decide you don’t like when it’s scheduled for.

It’s important to have a cache plugin on your site because it helps load times a lot. My recent site was getting 3 second load times recently and just adding WP Super Cache reduced loads to under a second.

I tried one called W3 Cache but it actually messed up my site and HostGator support had to manually remove the files for me. They suggested WP Super Cache and I love that you don’t need to mess with the settings to get it working.

You’re going to want a “Contact Us” page somewhere and this is the best plugin to set them up.

This is a newer one I found. It also helps with page load times by reducing the file size of images without making them blurry or look bad. Between this and WP Super Cache my new site now has load times of about half a second.

Akismet comes pre-installed with WordPress but not activated. When you go to your plugins page it’ll show you how to get it set up.

The plugin blocks spam comments very well. I get over 1000 spam comments a day here now and maybe one every other day makes it to my inbox thanks to Akismet. I have had some legit comments end up in spam so it’s a good idea to check the spam folder off and on, especially to start. Once you start clicking “spam” and “not spam” on things it’ll learn which to let through and which to block better.

One of the worst things that can happen as a blogger is losing your site. One big way to keep that from happening is to back everything up! This plugin can automatically back up your site based on how you set it. I have it put my back up in DropBox so I can access it from any of my PCs.

If your theme doesn’t have social share buttons build in, you need to add them! I like this plugin because it looks very clean and is easy to use. I use it on all of my sites. And it’s free!

Don’t let the name fool you, it also does G+, Pinterest, and some other social networks.

How to Install WordPress Plugins

Step 1: Go to the links above to download the zip files for the plugins you want to install.

Step 2: Log in to your WordPress control panel.

Step 3: Go to Plugins > Add New

Step 4: Find where it says “Upload” at the top.

Step 5: Browse and find the plugin zip file.

Step 6: Press upload.

Step 7: When the window pops up saying it’s installed, click “Activate.”

Step 8: If the plugin has settings, go through and read over them. If not, enjoy your plugin.

If you get stuck installing any of these plugins or figuring out the settings, let me know and I’ll tell you how I did it.

Good luck!

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  1. Great tutorial. I wish some of these were available for blogger- specially the editorial one.
    I’m commenting from the ultimate blog challenge on FB.
    Summer Ross recently posted..FF- Imaginary English and Freebie FridayMy Profile

  2. Amanda, thanks for this list! My site is slow, so I’m going to go get the WP SuperCache. I also want to change some of the plugins I have now for some that you’ve mentioned here because they look like they’ll work better than what I’m using now.

    Very helpful info!
    Becky@OrangeKittyPLR recently posted..Halloween PLR ArticlesMy Profile

  3. Hi Amanda,

    Thanks for these great tips! I’ve got a few of these and will definitely check out the others. having the right ones sure makes everything run smoothly which makes blogging a lot more fun, too. I have Yoast for SEO. How is that different from the one you mentioned?
    Deb Dutilh recently posted..What Does Wayne Gretzky Know About Real Communication?My Profile

    • They are both very similar. Yoast is newer and has more options. If you know how to use it, a lot of people say it’s better but the one I use is just a little simpler.

  4. Hi Amanda,

    Great information that you provided and the steps are great also.

    Have a nice day.

    Tony Matos recently posted..Anti-Aging PLR ArticlesMy Profile

  5. Hi Amanda
    This is a great list of plugins. I use or have used all of them at one time. One I would add is Limit Logins, to help prevent login attempts by hacker robots.
    Barney recently posted..P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler)My Profile

  6. Hello Amanda,
    Thanks for the list. I do see a couple that I don’t have: the cache plugin and smush it. I’ll have to look into them, because a faster loading site would be amazing. Before I installed Akismet, I had several 100 spam comments a day, and it took up too much time to put them in my spam folder. I was amazed at it’s abilities to sort through my comments.
    Keri Kight recently posted..Why it’s Impossible to Please EveryoneMy Profile

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