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These plugins are the best-est.
After years of blogging, and as a web designer, I’ve tested out a lot of plugins on WordPress. Some have been great additions for my clients’ projects as well as my own websites.
Others, well, have sucked and quickly got deleted. Expunged from the server, pronto!
But we’re going to focus on the ones that have made a phenomenal impact on my blogs so much so that I wouldn’t be able to “do business” without them.
If you’ve ever wondered “how does she get her site like that?” on anyone’s site, including mine, today’s a fantastic day. I’m going to fill you in. So today, here are my top 10 WordPress plugins that will probably blow your mind (and I’ll explain why) and make your life a whole heck of a lot easier.
1. Ad Inserter
Ad Inserter is a plugin you can use to control how your ads appear on your pages. If you’re using Google AdSense, this would be a great plugin to add. I use the manual block method with the shortcodes, with Elementor formatting, for most of my new material on the site. You could mess around with “after 3rd paragraph, before content,” etc. but I stick to shortcodes because I have a specific template I use for my blog pages now. I love that you can see where the blocks are on the page if you want to go up to the admin dashboard at the top to see how everything lays out. It’s perfection.
Analytify connects directly to your Google Analytics. I like this one a lot and use it regularly, because it tells me very quickly what my top pages are for a set timespan, along with my general stats that I check daily, just at a glance. I have found it to be reliable and accurate, so this is a plugin I can highly recommend.
Blog like a pro with Elementor. Let’s face it–Gutenberg wasn’t exactly a smash hit. It still has some formatting issues, and you may not like how your WordPress theme displays your articles, especially if you want to have images to the side but not necessarily have them take up a whole page frame because you’re trying to include your pin image also. So Elementor gives you more control over your website’s appearance, and it’s going to be your best friend with creating landing pages. You’re going to LOVE creating landing pages as you and I get to know each other better. And you’ll be aces at them, too. Elementor, in my opinion, is a must. (Full disclosure – I have the pro version.)
As a designer and “recommender” of software tech for blogs, I have to go with Elementor over Divi, hands down. Divi ties you to their software, and if you stop using it, you’re left with a ton of shortcode on your site. With Elementor, your data like text and images stay. But that’s just one major plus of using Elementor over Divi. (Personally not a fan of Divi at all.)
4. Etsy Shop
If you run or open up an Etsy shop, this is a fantastic plugin to have. It’s responsive now, unlike before when the plugin first came out. So you can display items in your shop without having to do a lot of tech. It operates with shortcodes from a single Settings panel, and you can insert them wherever you want. Works great in widgets as well as Elementor blocks. So if you’re on the fence between switching from a broad marketplace setup like Etsy has going on and having your own store without the marketplace, you can slowly make that transition with the Etsy Shop plugin.
5. Patreon WordPress
I have to admit, using Patreon WordPress has made it super simple to run a membership-based portion of my website. This is where my members have access to materials the rest of the readers do not. For a monthly fee, they can easily access their login page via the Patreon WordPress plugin, and log in easily to get their downloads. So if you’ve ever wanted to have a membership website, this is one way to do it. The other membership plugin you could use, if you’re taking payment from your own shop, is Simple WordPress Membership.
6. Simple WordPress Membership
Simple Membership has allowed me to offer full-site access to all my products (worth over $1000 now) and accept payments on my store. I use this primarily for my Lifetime Access Pass, which allows my members access to ALL of my products in my shops. You can easily add members with email, name and provide a password. You set the levels, and can decide what content, including images, the reader has access to. The plugin has already built-in login member pages, making it really easy for your audience to gain access to their downloads and see your new content. I love it.
7. Selz WordPress eCommerce
Selz in general is probably the best 3rd party merchant software I’ve found that doesn’t require extensive underwriting or additional hassle. You sign up, verify your bank account, and you’re ready to go. You know those horror stories you hear about people signing up for Stripe and then getting shut down after 7 days or so? That doesn’t happen with Selz. You can use it for FREE, too, up to 5 products. This particular plugin integrates with WordPress easily so you can add “blocks” from Selz, adding in your products as you see fit. I love it. I actually make more book sales on Selz than I do on Amazon, so this is a definite must-have for me. Get $30 in a free credit here when you sign up.
I don’t like Stripe at all because they don’t have great customer service, and they’re known for shutting merchants down left and right for sometimes no reason at all. Selz has never given me hassle and their customer support is same-day, and via chat, too. They’re based out of Australia. You can offer digital products, physical goods, and services. Highly recommend.
8. WordPress Editorial Calendar
This is what I use when I start drafting headlines for future blog posts. Sometimes having a visual representation of scheduled content works better for some bloggers. If you like to see things mapped out content-wise for your blog, this is a must-have. There are other versions, but this is the one I use on my own blogs and it works great. That way, when I think or write a great headline, I don’t forget it and can quickly add it to the calendar for later drafting. This plugin will also help you schedule out content with set release times and dates. Never lose a clever headline again! Think of it as a way to prompt yourself into writing content…
9. WP Optimize
My blog on the backend is HUGE. Lots of stuff going on and moving gears everywhere. Plus, tons of media, plugins, and extensions. So, WP Optimize is what I use to keep things loading fast for my readers. Page caching is a big deal when you’re creating a lot of content, loading images, and running PHP processes. Use this to speed things up a bit.
This is a more recent discovery, because I had an issue with my media library and searching for images. I was like, there has to be a better way to do this. Did you know you can use folders to organize your media library on WordPress? Yeah. So I categorize my images by source type, namely by a subscription or the original artist/photographer. Because I know instantly which images belong to which photographer or artist. You could also use this to categorize function or topic, too. Whatever floats your boat! But this is a new must-have for me to stay organized with my images, pages, and posts (yes, you can put posts and pages in folders, too) so that as your blog grows bigger, you don’t necessarily have to rely on categories or tags to keep things neat and tidy. It’s like a Marie Kondo for content in WordPress.
And that’s it! Those are my top ten WordPress blog plugins that help me run my blogs efficiently. (And with the exception of Elementor, have been absolutely FREE).
So now you can see some of the backend of my blog and what makes everything run. Feel free to try out some of these plugins and see which ones you like having. You might find a way to improve your processes or content production as a result.
PS – What plugins do YOU love the most?
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