In 2018, I decided to go back to WordPress after spending a few years on Squarespace. My first experience using WordPress self-hosted wasn't amazing. I didn't take the time to find a theme that resonated with me, and it didn't feel like my blog. This time around, I made sure that my WordPress site felt like home, and this meant finding the right WordPress plugins.
I still have a couple of projects on Squarespace like my freelance website and the website for The Ambitious Freelancer. It was vital for me to host this blog on WordPress, though.
One topic I've meant to share here is a post featuring some of my favorite WordPress plugins. I have over two dozen plugins installed on WordPress. Each plugin does something a little different, and some are such a part of the background of my site that I don't notice them much. I wanted to share some of those fantastic plugins with you today.
If you are looking for some amazing WordPress plugins, keep reading. While I am going to mention some more mainstream choices like Yoast SEO, I also have a few other plugins that aren't as well known. Let's get started!
1. Ad Inserter
Recently, I grew a bit tired of adding my affiliate disclosure to every single post on The Happy Arkansan. Sometimes I would straight up forget to add my disclosure, and that's not okay. I wanted a plugin that would help me insert a general disclaimer on every post to make the process easier. I recently read a tutorial about using Ad Inserter to create a general disclaimer at the top of blog posts, and I got so excited to install it.
I've only been using Ad Inserter for a few weeks, but it's helped me a ton. I do have a few qualms about using the plugin. I wish I were able to add a bit more space between the plugin generated text and the start of my blog post, but it's about as great as it gets.
You can also use Ad Inserter to insert ads into various parts of your website that might not be as easily accessible without extensive knowledge of coding.
Overall, this plugin does an amazing job, and it helped me automate one part of the affiliate marketing process I was always struggling with.
If you want more Twitter shares, one of the best things you can do is offer a pre-written tweet that is easy to send out. Often readers won't do something unless they know you want them to do it. It's not anyone's first reaction to send out a tweet with a blog post they love unless they have a blogging mindset already. Better Click To Tweet is a simple plugin that allows you to pre-write message(s) that you want to be sent out with a link to your post. You can keep it simple and create a Click To Tweet with the name of your blog. Or you can get more advanced with quotes, stats, and other information from the blog.
I know that there are a ton of Click To Tweet plugins out there, but this one is my favorite. There is a premium version of this plugin, but I am not a fan of the premium layouts. I think the designs that come with the free version work just fine.
Better Click To Tweet couldn't be easier for your audience. This plugin can also be super helpful at breaking up long stretches of text when you don't want to include images.
When I first started blogging, I would create little “Related Posts” sections of my articles. These were helpful, but no matter how hard I tried, they never truly stood out. After looking for a solution to this problem, I ran across the Inline Related Posts plugin. This plugin allows you to add related posts to your blogs easily. You can include a general related post where they'll do the work to find an article that fits, or you can create a custom related post.
Custom related posts are posts that you handpick to add to your blog post. If you know the exact page you want to direct people to, this is the best way to go. I love that everything can be customized so you can make your related post unique to your brand.
Inline Related Posts shows up in your text editor, so it's simple to quickly add a link whether you know which one you want or not.
Insert Headers And Footers is another plugin that makes your life as a blogger so much easier. Have you ever needed to quickly add some code to your website for things like the Facebook pixel or to verify your Pinterest account? If you are a blogger, chances are, you'll need to add code to your header all the time.
I got tired of trying to mess with the code on my site. I'm savvy, but I try to avoid messing with my website's code if possible. You never know what you might touch and what it might break. I'd rather avoid it altogether. Using Insert Headers And Footers allows me to quickly make changes to the header and footer of my website, without messing up the actual code of my website.
If you aren't comfortable getting down and dirty with the backend of your website, consider downloading Insert Headers And Footers.
5. Pretty Links
If you use affiliate marketing to make money on your blog, you know that some links can be absurdly long. Even if you aren't using affiliate marketing, you know some pages you wish you couldn't shorten when sharing on social media. This is especially true if you don't currently have access to tools like swipe up on Instagram. How do you get people where you want them to go effectively? They already know and trust your URL, so what if you used that to drive traffic to links on your blog or links to other sites.
I love Pretty Links because I can easily use it to create easy to remember links for my followers online. I can also track link clicks or uses easily using the Pretty Links dashboard on my site. Again, Pretty Links is a time saver. There is a way you can code these links yourself, but Pretty Links manages everything for you seamlessly.
When I am working one-on-one with a brand or a guest poster wants to see a preview of her blog post before it goes live, Public Post Preview comes in handy. Sometimes I want to send out an unreleased blog post to someone for approval or so it can be looked over in case I am releasing something provocative.
I honestly got tired of creating blog posts in Google Docs, only to have to recreate those blog posts on the blog once everything was finished. Many brands still want their blog in a Google Doc, but if I can get away with sending a public post preview, I will.
This plugin isn't super special. I only got this plugin because I recently got a new WordPress theme with an author box built-in. It mainly worked by using Gravatar, which I am not the biggest fan of. Simple Local Avatars allows me to upload pictures straight to the user. In turn, this updates the author boxes my WordPress theme creates. The Simple Local Avatars plugin is very niche, and not everyone will be excited about it, but I love that it exists.
Title And Nofollow For Links is another plugin that helps me crush it with affiliate and influencer marketing. I hate coding nofollow links on my own, even though it's not that hard. Coding the links by hand still takes up a substantial amount of my time, and it was a big reason why I moved away from Squarespace. Affiliate marketing is a huge part of my blogging income, and I love how easy it is to follow federal regulations with this plugin.
When you install Title And Nofollow For Links, your links include a few new options: you can add a title, and you can check a box that wraps your links with nofollow code. Yep, creating nofollow links is as simple as checking a box now — no more coding and doing the most.
I will say that this isn't exactly frequently updated. Tere is another plugin called External Links – nofollow, noopener & new window that seems to be updated more frequently. I haven't noticed any issues with Title And Nofollow For Links, though.
Site speed is everything. If you are having issues with site speed, updating your server may help, but that can be expensive (says the girl who spends hundreds every year on hosting this website.) Another way to improve your website site speed is by using a caching plugin. There are so many caching plugins available, but one of my past themes suggested WP Super Cache, and that's the plugin I continue to use today.
I'd be lying if I told you I knew everything this plugin does for my site. I know that caching helps you view the site faster the next time you look at the same site, though.
There are other things you can do to reduce load times, specifically by compressing your images and making them more blog-friendly. You don't need a 3000×4000 image on your blog. I use a ton of external resources like saving my images smaller when I grab them from Lightroom or running them through Bulk Resize Photos. You can also download the plugin Smush to help compress and optimize images that are already on your site.
10. Yoast SEO
Last, but not least, the WordPress plugin heard around the world, Yoast SEO. Search engine optimization is critical to me as a blogger. I get most of my traffic from Google, and I love when y'all tell me how you found me on Google. I've been playing around with Yoast SEO for a while. I love how it helps me optimize my pages for SEO and readability.
I recently made the switch to Yoast SEO Premium, and I have to say I love the transition. It wasn't cheap, but it will be of value to me and the growth of my site. One of my favorite parts is the Yoast internal linking section it adds to blog posts. It was a little wonky at first, but once I let Yoast crawl my site for the linking structure, it was able to give far more accurate linking help.
I also love that Yoast SEO creates an orphaned posts section of your posts page. I was shocked by how much orphaned content I have. Orphaned content are the pieces on your blog with no internal connection to other pieces. Google establishes the importance of pages based on how much other people link to them and how much you link to your content. Seeing the amount of orphaned content I have has given me the motivation to go back through content and add even more internal links.
Conclusion: My Favorite WordPress Plugins
WordPress has a plethora of plugins you can add if you have a self-hosted blog. It can be confusing to know which WordPress plugins are worth your time or money. I hope that today's article has given you some behind the scenes on which plugins I use regularly. The best part about WordPress is how customizable it is. Go out there and find plugins that speak to you!