Useful WordPress Plugins for Your Blog

BlogHer Original Post

Plugins are one of the reasons WordPress bloggers love them some WordPress. Plugins add functions and capabilities to your blog with all sorts of helpful and useful enhancements. There are currently over 14,000 plugins in the WordPress Plugin Directory.

smart phone with Wordpress app message

You don't want to install all 14,000 – or do you? Noooo, you don't. One caveat, if you have a wordpress.com hosted blog, plugins are not available. You have to be using a self-hosted blog from wordpress.org. If that defines you, here are some suggestions about great plugins for different situations.

A plugin I particularly like is WPtouch, which adds a mobile theme to your blog. In an era when mobile browsers outnumber desktop browsers, I love knowing my blog is accessible on the small screen. When mobile users come to your blog they see a simplified version of your blog that downloads quickly and is easy to navigate. If they want to see the normal version of your blog, there is a option that allows the user to choose the regular view.

Jane wrote about WordPress plugins at Dear Author. Dear Author is a site for readers and writers of (mostly) romance books. Jane separated the premium, aka paid, and the free plugins she uses:

Premium Plugins:

  • Backup Buddy. I use this to schedule daily, weekly and monthly backups of the blog. It also has features to help with the migration of a blog to a new host.
  • Gravity Forms. This is a “form” plugin that collects data and outputs it. I am using it as a contact form but also to collect winners’ names and addresses for book giveaways. You can also use forms to collect data and make new posts. I used Gravity Forms over at the dabwaha to collect the nominees for the RITA and that data was used to automatically create a new listing.
  • Ajax Edit Comments. A favorite of the commenters, this plugin allows the users to edit their comments. YAY!

Her list of free plugins is much longer and includes favorites like Akismet and Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.

Michelle at WordCount listed Best WordPress plugins for writers. There are several mentioned in her post, but these two seem particularly useful.

BuddyPress – The new WordPress plug in that makes your blog into a social networking site like Facebook, is also red hot right now, says Ron Doyle, a Denver writer, blog designer and the co-host of the WordPress chat.

Copyright Proof – According to the official description: “automatically Digiproves the content of every published blog post (new or edited). This gives you indisputable proof of the content, and the date and time of publication.”

Marilyn at A Lot of Loves listed 10 WordPress Plugins That You Need Right Now. In her section on plugins related to comments, Marilyn metioned another of my favs: CommentLuv.

CommentLuv: CommentLuv provides a link back to the last post on a commenter’s site. I think this is a must have for a blog as it encourages people to leave comments and it spreads the love and joy around the blogosphere.

Comment Reply Notification: When someone replies to a comment on my blog, the original commenter is sent an email showing their comment and the reply. I’ve been emailed by many people over the past few months asking me how I was able to set this up, and this is how. I love this plugin because most people don’t come back to the original post just to see if someone replied to them. There are other comment plugins that allow someone to subscribe to the comment stream, however I have found that very few people actually do that. This plugin solves this problem and encourages the original commenter to come back if a discussion is brewing.

If you aren't sure how to install a plugin on your blog, check out this video tutorial by Lori Randall, with the tongue-in-cheek title, Justin Bieber WordPress Plugin.

Are you already using WordPress plugins on your blog? Which ones work best for you?

Image credit: purplelime

Virginia DeBolt, BlogHer Section Editor for Tech
virginia.debolt@blogher.com

Virginia blogs at Web Teacher and First 50 Words.

Recent Posts by Virginia DeBolt

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