I’ve written several posts on this topic, but I do believe it is time for an update. Plugins come and go, and my list of essential WordPress plugins is constantly changing. Here is my current list of faves!
15 Essential WordPress Plugins for Lifestyle Bloggers
As far as I know, Akismet is still the premier plugin for managing comment spam.
2. Comment Email Responder
I still love and adore this plugin. This allows me to reply to a comment in my comment section, and if I desire, it sends an email to the person I’m replying to with my response. The other thing I love about Comment Email Responder is that, unlike some systems that email the commenter, this one lets the commenter email you right back within your email program. In other words, it comes from my email address, rather than some no-reply email server.
I think it’s annoying to get an email reply from a comment I left for another blogger, and it’s from a no-reply email address so that I can’t just zap back a response. I either have to go back to the post and reply in the comments again, or I have to know their email address and plug it to reply privately. Comment Email Responder avoids that hassle. Granted, it may take the discussion out of the comment section, but it gives you more control over how you reply, which I really like. I’m all about giving the reader as much freedom as possible.
3. Better Author Bio
This is the one that makes that pretty little box at the end of my posts with my photo and bio. I get a lot of people asking me about this one. You can put anything you want in here and use hyperlinks to link within your site, which is always great for SEO. Plus, it’s just purty.
4. Subscribe To Comments
This plugin allows you to receive email notifications of new comments if you want to follow the conversation on a specific post.
5. Google Analytics for WordPress
This is one of those that I have because I know I’m supposed to. LOL.
“This plugin makes it simple to add Google Analytics to your WordPress blog, adding lots of features, eg. custom variables and automatic clickout and download tracking.”
I do rely heavily on Google Analytics for my stats so anything that makes it easier and more efficient sounds good to me!
6. And The Winner Is . . .
This is my favorite plugin for randomly drawing giveaway winners, eliminating the need for a random integer generator. I refuse to use Rafflecopter; I’m just an old school blogger at heart, I guess. So for me, the And The Winner Is . . . plugin has really helped simplify the task of drawing a winner when I host giveaways.
I have still never installed this one, but I like it when I see it on other sites. This plugin links back to the commenter’s last post. It’s a great way to give a little luv, if you will, to your faithful commenters via that highly coveted link juice. Jill at Diaper Diaries uses it on her site.
8. Easy Facebook Share Thumbnails
This is supposed to help the proper image to show when you post a link to a post on Facebook. It will take the featured image from your post, or you can set a default image instead.
I don’t know about you, but I HATE it when I go to share a post on Facebook and it pulls some random ad from my sidebar rather than an image from the post. You can control that somewhat when you are posting on your own wall, but if you put a link in a comment, you have no control over the thumbnail it pulls unless you use a plugin like this.
9. Post Template
I love, love, LOVE this one! This plugin allows you to create post templates for those posts you create over and over (I use it for my Daily Mom Style, Weekly Menu Plans, Recipes and Fashion Friday posts.) It saves tons of time writing posts with the same structure.
10. Social Media Counters
This is what puts those cute little Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Stumbleupon buttons at the bottom of my posts.
There are many different plugins that allow you to insert social media counters at the top or bottom of your posts so people can easily share your content. I’ve stuck with Social Media Counters because they are pretty and easy to configure, but I do not like that they don’t include Pinterest as an option.
Jenn likes Socialize because they can be on top of your posts, on bottom, on the side, or you can make them float so they remain static even as people scroll down through your content. I haven’t tried these, but I think they’re pretty nifty.
Jenn also recommends Social Media Widget for putting social media buttons in your sidebar.
11. Twitter @Anywhere Plus
This plugin allows you to type @JoLynneS or whoever you want to link to, and it automatically links to their Twitter profile.
12. WordPress Print This Section
This is great for people who want to allow people to easily print material from their sites. I used to use it for my recipe posts, but now I use ZipList (see #13). It really depends on your needs and preferences, so I’m including both in this list.
13. ZipList Recipe Plugin
If you post recipes, you need an easy way for readers to print and save them. I love ZipList for this. It enables people to easily print your recipes, or they can save them to their Ziplist Recipe Box and Shopping Lists. I have yet to use ZipList to its fullest potential. I really want to make use of the Recipe Box and Shopping Lists, but I haven’t gotten around to figuring it out yet. You can also format it to look really pretty in your posts. See, here is mine!
14. WP Minify
This plugin improves page load time, which, again, helps SEO, but it also alleviates the frustration of the reader who does NOT want to wait for your page to load.
Everyone needs this. EVERYONE. Stop what you are doing, and go download it now. About 25% of the population reads blogs on mobile devices, so you want to be sure your blog is mobile friendly. This plugin formats your site with a mobile theme so it loads quickly and simply on iPhone, iPod, Android, and other touch-based smartphones. It strips out all the pretty and just makes it neat and tidy and fast to read. See, this is what mine looks like on my iPhone.
You can switch back and forth from mobile view to web view at the bottom of your phone’s screen, if you want to see what it looks like on the web.
PHEW!!!! That about covers it. Those are MY favorite plugins or the ones that I think you should consider if you have a lifestyle type of blog on WordPress.
Want one more more? Jessica suggests Login Lockdown. She says, “Login Lockdown is one that I highly recommend for helping to prevent your site from getting hacked. It’s not foolproof, but certainly helpful.”
What would YOU add to this list??