When it comes to plug-ins for a new WordPress site, everybody has an opinion. If your site is brand new, don’t listen to everyone. Choose your plug-ins carefully. It can also be very frustrating to install and configure the plug-ins. I did a quick video in our Facebook group that talks about this as well as shows you how. Here are some WordPress Plug-Ins Do’s and Don’ts…
WordPress Plug-Ins Do’s and Don’ts
DO install a few basic well-known plug-ins, such as spam filters, google analytics, and editors for your theme.
DON’T install all the plug-ins that some well-known blogger uses. Just because they use those plug-ins, doesn’t mean you need them at this time. Remember, they have been blogging a lot longer than you and have carefully selected (hopefully) their plug-ins based on how they are representing their content.
DO research your plug-ins. Make sure they are regularly updated. Do not choose a plug-in that was last updated in 2008. Much has happened since then, and many vulnerabilities to your site will appear. This can cause your system to slow way down, or even crash.
DON’T install several plug-ins of the same type unless you are temporarily testing them and intend to delete shortly. This can absolutely affect the speed of your site as well as confuse WordPress. For example, consider if you installed 5 different social media icon plug-ins. If they were all enabled you could have a mess on your screen with nothing but Facebook icons.
DO backup your site before installing and activating plug-ins. It takes just a few minutes and will save you if the plug-in doesn’t work correctly.
DON’T automatically subscribe or pay for the “pro” version of every plug-in. If your blog is very new and you have little traffic, you will be wasting money. Some of the “free” versions will last you for years of functionality.
DO review and inspect plug-ins that others are using. It’s always good to be in the know for future things. HOWEVER…
DON’T go down the rabbit hole of plug-ins. There are over 60,000 plug-ins just in the “popular” section. You could spend hours looking and trying, only to find that it isn’t needed or is too advanced for your blog at this time.
Start with Basic Plug-ins
I highly recommend the UpdraftPlus free version. It is automated and handles your backups. You can even back up to OneDrive, Dropbox, etc. I would not recommend the premium version at this stage of your blogging journey. Do not use the plug-in from the WordPress store. Instead, go to https://www.updraftplus.com and download the free version.
This plug-in will protect your blog from spam. Simple, easy to use, no issues. When you install and activate this plug-in, it will take you to their website to sign up and receive your API key.
The plug-in is free for personal use, but this is one I recommend you pay for this one to use it commercially. The price is $5 per month. Here’s what their website looks like:
After you have the API key, return back to the plug-in and put it in the area for API Key.
You will need to choose whether or not to review each spam before discarding…(not recommended) and whether or not to display a privacy statement (recommended). Then simply save and you’re off and running.
This one is a bit complicated, but not too bad. First, go to https://marketingplatform.google.com/about/analytics/ Click to Sign in to analytics. Now here’s the wrinkle:
BEFORE you sign in to analytics, you need a google account dedicated to your blog. So if you do not already have one, go to your hosting cpanel, and create an email address to handle analytics. I would create one called [email protected][yourdomain].com or [email protected][yourdomain].com. Once you have completed that task, go back to https://www.google.com and create a new google account using the email address you just created.
NOW, you’re ready to sign in to google analytics. You will be asked a series of questions, then asked to verify your email address. Once you have an account, you will choose Google Analytics by MonsterInsights as your plug-in. Google will guide you through the process. I do NOT recommend you upgrade to the pro version for this one.
This plug-in takes the guess work out of security for your site. Easy to install, accept default settings, and move on. No need for the pro version at this time.
Simple to install, handles the simple social media buttons on your site. I recommend upgrading this one to pro if you plan on using social media with your site. The pro version is $29 per year per site.
The most common and largely effective SEO tool. SEO is Search Engine Optimization. It’s the thing that gets your posts noticed on search engines. This plug-in helps you see where your post could be improved. Don’t try to do EVERYTHING is suggests, but do pay attention to it. There is a premium version that is $89 a year. I highly recommend the premium version AFTER you’ve been blogging a while and have started a following. Until then, stick with the free version.
While there are tons of other plug-ins that, in time, you will want to add, remember that the more plug-ins you have activated, the potential for slowing down your site is greater. Choose wisely. In addition, when you start adding more features and have more followers and traffic, you may want to change your hosting as well. But that’s further down the road.
If you want to play around with email marketing in the near future, there are two most common ones: MailChimp, MailerLite, and ConvertKit. All three are at no cost for less than 1,000 subscribers, or at least that was the pricing model at the time of this writing. I recommend you start and end with ConvertKit, unless you think you will always have less than 500 subscribers. It is complicated to go from one to another, so while you have zero or just a few family members subscribing, now may be the time to install, activate one, try it for a day or two, deactivate, activate another, and so on.
HOWEVER, start with creating content. Once you get content on a roll, then you can play with new options. It’s probably way down the road before you’ll need any more plug-ins.
So if you haven’t already, join our facebook group at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/569218553546582 We have a live video discussing this very topic.
Remember to include these costs in your startup and annual budget! For more details on having a blog budget, see the post here.
Until next time, happy blogging!
-Annie, Your Fairy Blogmother
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