I am no expert in HTML, coding or any sort of website building. I see myself as some sort of a cluey person, but when I decided to start my own WordPress website, I did not know where to begin.
After getting my host, domain and theme sorted I started to customize it to how I wanted it. There are a few plugins that I recommend for anyone who is just starting out.
Contact Form 7
A feature that most websites/blogs should have is a contact page. That way readers will find it easy to contact you. Contact Form 7 is a very simple and basic plugin. Fill in your details, write your message and click send. You can check it out here by clicking the ‘Contact’ link right at the bottom of this website (send me a message while you’re there!).
Disqus Comment System
A personal preference of mine, but one that I favour. I follow and regularly comment on some of my favourite blogs out there and have noticed that many use Disqus. I found that commenting using Disqus to be a lot easier to use – you can sign in with your twitter! So I decided to use it on my own website. You need a Disqus account to use it but it’s very easy to setup. It’s also very easy to manage. Have a go, check it out below this post.
Google Analytics For WordPress
If you want to get serious about blogging and your website, you’ll want to keep track of how you are doing. You’ll need a google analytics account to set up your website with tracking, then link it using this plugin. Google Analytics tracks information like pageviews, new users, sessions, bounce rate, what countries users are accessing your site from etc. It’s really handy. I check it out every day to see what posts are doing well, and how many people have visited.
iQuery Pin It Button For Images
This is a great plugin for creating a small hover over button on your images so you can ‘pin it’ to Pinterest. There is a HUGE community of people on Pinterest and sharing my blog posts on Pinterest is important as I get a lot of my traffic from there. Try it for yourself. Hover your mouse over the WordPress image above and you’ll see a little badge I designed that when clicked you can pin to Pinterest.
This plugin allows the posts to be shared on your other forms of social media like Twitter or Facebook when you publish a post. While you are writing it, there will be an option to ‘broadcast’ the post to your own social networks. Easy squeezy.
Get readers to keep coming back by giving them an option to subscribe to your website/blog. Any new posts will be sent directly to their email so they won’t ever miss a post. See it? On the right sidebar there… subscribe!
UpdraftPlus – WordPress Backup and Restoration
Because I am a complete newbie and I tend to dabble now and then in the coding part of the website, backing up regularly is extremely important. My husband did something to his site and realized he hadn’t ever backed it up. Luckily it was just a host server problem but that gave me the kick to back up my site – just in case.
WP Instagram Widget
You’ll notice this widget in the sidebar there (follow me!). It’s just a simple plugin that creates a widget connecting your Instagram feed to your site. It’s displays some of your recent photos and is just another way to connect to your readers.
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin
One of the ways to improve your bounce rate on your website is to use a ‘related posts’ plugin. The bounce rate is a percentage of your readers who leave your site rather than staying on your site and browsing other pages. They say that 60% or lower is pretty good – I think! This plugin adds a few related posts at the bottom of each post that readers can click on after they’ve finished reading the post to encourage them to stay on your site for longer. Took me a while to configure this plugin though and I’ll give you a few tips. I wanted to use the images/thumbnail option for displaying my related posts. You need to make sure that every post has a ‘featured image’ set to it otherwise it won’t be displayed. After I did this though, the images were distorted. To fix this problem see the next plugin.
I use this problem to fix the distorted thumbnail images in my related posts. It’s really simple, select the image that you’ve assigned as the ‘featured image’ for that post and regenerate it. No more distortion!
That’s it… so far! Bear in mind I am like you and just starting out but I did find all the plugins mentioned above to be quite good. If you have any questions please leave a comment below! Or if you have any plugin suggestions I’d love to know about them!