One thing I LOVE hands down about WordPress is the fabulous functionality options you can give to your website via FREE plugins. Did I mention the word FREE?! Ensue the celebratory, internet high fives all around.
The sky is virtually the limits with plugins when it comes to adding fancy features to your website. Want to add an email subscribe button to your blog? No problem. A sliding gallery? So easy. Shopping cart? Yes! There are a lot of great plugins out there written for just about every purpose under the sun. Here’s a list of my top 12 must-haves for blogs. Many come endorsed by me because I use them on this very site. Maybe there is one on the list you can use as well.
*And now a word of caution… not all plugins are great. You can spend hours searching the plugin repository and inserting 50 (Hint: that’s too many) of your favorite found plugins to only find your site looking crazy wonky. Why? Because not all plugins behave nicely with each other and integrate with your specific WordPress theme.
In addition, many plugins haven’t been updated to work with the latest version of WordPress. That said, only install plugins with good reviews and from trusted sources. And my best advice? Install them one at a time and check things on your site after installation so you can quickly identify which plugin is causing problems for you and deactivate it. And make sure you update them as well as updating your version of WordPress.*
Now for our favorite free WordPress plugins!
This is a great plugin for managing free file giveaways. In fact, it is what I use here on my blog to manage the free graphics downloads that I post from time to time. It allows you to organize your files and track the number of times they have been downloaded.
I love Woocommerce. It’s a great way to sell just about anything online… digital goods, physical goods, etc. Make sure your WordPress Theme is compatible (ie. Looks good, functions well) with Woocommerce. *Hint, our 2014 themes do!*
3. Meta Slider
Jetpack is a plugin by those at wordpress.com. I use many of it’s features for my own site including subscribe to posts and the facebook like box widget. It also has social sharing, subscribe to posts to recieve comment notifications and more. Definitely recommended for users switching from wordpress.com to self-hosted sites.
Easily display related posts underneath your blog posts to keep readers engaged. Some control options are included for the display of the related posts as well such as show thumbnail and amount of related posts featured. Nice plugin!
I use this on my own site and others! A great way to showcase your latest pins while adjusting the number of pins shown, columns, and display in your widgetized are on your site. Just insert your Pinterest username and go. Love it!
This is the best SEO plugin for WordPress period. I’ve personally seen results using this and can’t say enough about the SEO articles on Yoast’s site.
The most trusted, easy-to-use, and customizable contact form plugin out there. Go get it!
9. Easy Recipe
I’ve installed quite a few WordPress Themes lately for food bloggers who use and love this recipe plugin. Simple with basic customization options. What’s not to love?
Insert a handy notification bar at the top of your site. Customize the colors. Viola!
Links are SUPER important for SEO purposes. Install this plugin and instantly see whose links to your site are broken. Then, simply edit those urls so the broken links to your site do not result in a 404 page not found error.
This is the plug-in a lot of people use on their websites to add a custom pin-it button when you hover over an image. Lots of great options are built into this plugin and you can even turn off the button for images that you don’t want it to appear on upon hover. I can’t recommend it enough!
What about you? Any free plugins you can’t live without? Leave your links in the comments below!