15 Essential Plugins for Lifestyle Bloggers

15 Essential Plugins for Lifestyle Bloggers

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

1. Akismet

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.

7. CommentLuv

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.

CommentLuv screen shot

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.

social media counters screen shot

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.

If that’s a deal breaker for you, Melanie and Kelly recommend Digg Digg for social media counters that include Pinterest.

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!

ziplist screen shot

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.

15. WPtouch

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.

WPtouch screenshot

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??

Comments

  1. says

    Great list! Thank you! However, I can’t find Comment Email Responder. I was using one Comment Reply Notification, and it stopped working for me. So bummed.

  2. says

    So many good tips here! Thanks so much for putting this together, it’s extremely helpful. There were a few of these I’ve been wanting to try, or had heard of, but wasn’t sure what to do with. I’m on blogger, but I’m pretty sure many of these are applicable, or have similar blogger counterparts.

    • says

      I actually have the Tabber Widget but I didn’t install it so I didn’t know whether or not I should recommend it. I wasn’t sure how easy it is to style. I’ll look into Easy Fancy Box!

  3. says

    Thanks for the tip on wptouch. That was a concept/task that had fallen to the bottom of my priority list. Now it’s taken care of!

    What’s your feeling on how many plugins a site should have at most? I’ve heard at conferences that 20-25 only, more than and you risk them “not playing nice” with each other. I’m hovering around 20.

    • says

      I have heard the same. I just went thru with this redesign and deleted the ones I am not using. The ones I have I feel that I truly need. I have 26 that are active. Several are specific to Genesis (the theme I use) and the rest I really do rely on.

  4. says

    Hi! I just found this list while looking for a plugin to tidy up comments. I love the way your comments have little boxes and that they are under your post. Do you have a plugin for this or is it the way your theme is set up?

  5. says

    I can attest to the fact that askimet works!!! A month or so ago my blog was giving me fits and I ended up turning every single plugin off and turning them on one by one and reloading the page to figure out which one was screwing everything up. In just the one day that I had askimet turned off I had SO MANY spam comments going thru. I was very shocked at how many started showing up almost immediately upon turning the plugin off. It truly does work wonders!

    I installed a post template plugin but I am about clueless as to how to use it! Write a tutorial maybe? ;)

    Also I was reading your blogger outreach post and I went back through my site and made sure that I had “email me” links as well as the contact forms that way which ever way a person likes to contact they have both options. I hadn’t ever even thought about it much I just had 1 contact form on my about me page.

    Thank you for sharing all your useful info!! =)

    • says

      So glad it was helpful. And yes, Akismet DEFINITELY works wonders. When I was doing this blog redesign, we had to turn off the plugins a couple of times, and the spam went crazy.

  6. says

    I love your list. I have been having a difficult time cleaning up the site to improve load times. Another plug in I like is Yoast. It has greatly reduced my Alexa ranks and such.

  7. says

    THIS is one of the best posts I’ve read in a very long time. No seriously, I use some of them, but not even nearly all, and I know I’ll be installing new plugin the next hour or so :) THANK YOU

  8. seyi says

    Thanks a bunch for this list. How do you make your site look so beautiful? Would you let up on the theme you use and how to style the email subscription box and the tab that has all the pages? Really beautiful site

  9. Ben says

    Hi Jo-Lynne,
    Some great ones in there that I hadn’t heard of, like ‘better author bio’… always wondered how those little boxes worked.

    Some other you might like: WP Super Cache, Google XML Sitemaps and Related Posts.
    Cheers,
    Ben

  10. says

    Oh wow! I’m just seeing this post, and as a new blogger, this information has been EXTREMELY helpful! Thank you for compiling such a useful list!!

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