The nice thing about running a self-hosted blog on WordPress.org is that you have endless possibilities in adding functionality to your blog. Not that you should – always select carefully, what you need and what not, but technically you are all set.
These extensions are called plugins in WordPress. They are not related to your theme or your blog itself, but can be installed to add some extra functionality like contact forms, spam protection, backup services and many more. In this article I want to show you my Top 7 of the most essential plugins you need when you start a blog and how to install them.
Backups are essential! Really. What if your blog gets hacked (plugin No. 5 is a way to prevent that!) or your hoster has problems with his servers? Then it’s important to have a current backup of your content to get your blog up again in minutes. BackWPup is my favorite backup plugin – you can set how often backups should be made and where they should be stored. And the easy restore functionality can be a lifesaver!
If you are searching for any cool functionality to add to your blog, be it a slider or share buttons, you can be quite sure that Jetpack has you covered. It contains a lot of ‘mini plugins’ and you can activate the functions one by one, so you don’t have to add any unwanted features.
One important thing about blogging sure is the discussion with your readers. To prevent your blog from spam comments, we recommend to use the Antispam Bee plugin. It helps you filter spam comments, so you don’t have to do this manually. Also, in comparison to e.g. Akismet, another popular spam protection plugin, Antispam Bee is compliant with the privacy laws of the EU (important for German and European bloggers!).
Contact Form 7
Every blog needs a contact form, so readers or potential collaboration partners can get in touch with you. There are a lot of popular contact form plugins, but the one that we always use is Contact Form 7. It lets you build all kinds of forms (not only for contact purposes) in a sweet and easy way.
Limit Login Attempts
When running a WordPress blog you have to be aware that security is your very own concern. One step towards a more secure blog is to install a plugin that limits the number of login attempts into your dashboard. Hackers will probably try to guess your password by trying thousands of combinations – a so called Brute Force attack.
Limit Login Attempts Reloaded lets you specify how many attempts you want to allow and for how long to block the user if the wrong password is entered too often.
It’s good practice to set all links that go from your blog to another page as No Follow links. This means that search engines won’t consider this link when building their scores. This is especially crucial if you include paid links, e.g. in sponsored posts. Those links have to be No Follow links, otherwise you take the risk of being punished by Google.
A great plugin to set all your outgoing links to No Follow is Ultimate Nofollow. It has a lot of settings and also lets you remove the No Follow attribute from comments or other sections.
A very handy plugin for fashion bloggers is Editorial Calendar. It helps you plan your posts and visualize on which day which post is scheduled. It has an easy drag and drop functionality to change post dates and gives the perfect overview of your articles.
How to install a plugin in WordPress
- Find Plugins in the side menu of your WordPress dashboard
- Select Add New or click the Add New Button in the top left of the plugins page
- Search for the plugin you want to install and click Install Now
- When the plugin is installed, click Activate
- Under Plugins > Installed Plugins you can see all your plugins, and update or deactivate and remove them.