Categories
Business

15 WordPress Plugins To Instantly Improve Your Blog

Once you have your blog setup and theme installed – now what you may ask? Plugins are like mini programs that can “plug-in” to your website or blog. They are great features to have if you know which ones will be a great benefit and addition to your site. Below I have rounded up my top 15 wordpress plugins to instantly improve your blog. If you are just starting your blogging journey and need to set-up your blog

15 WordPress Plugins To Instantly Improve Your Blog:

Akismet

Every WordPress installation comes with two plugins pre-installed. One of them is Akismet, which is definitely a lifesaver! Even though Akismet comes pre-installed, it is not activated by default. You will have to take some extra steps to activate it. A typical blog or website gets about 80% of spam comments coming in – which can be a time consuming task to say goodbye to the majority of comments.

Sumo me

The pop-up form I use to grow my email list. Since using this pop-up form, I’ve been able to more than double my monthly email subscribers. they work on several CMS (content management systems) including WordPress, Squarespace, Blogger, Tumblr, Google tag manager, Shopify + Weebly.

I currently use the free version (which I feel has loads of good features included) but you can upgrade to get more in depth. Some free version included items are a list builder, smart bar, welcome mats, social share icons, scroll box, and even a place where you track where you audience is clicking throughout your website. (how freakin’ cool!)

Below is the Sumo Me plugin tool that allows me to customize my list builder pop up box. Does the pop up look familiar?!

WordPress SEO Yoast

I’ve tested a handful of SEO plugins on the blog, but none compare to this one. It can:

  • optimize your content for social sharing
  • analyzes pages for how well they are optimized for specific keywords and phrases
  • reporting is easy to follow and comprehend

Google Analytics Dashboard

This is a great plugin that brings Google Analytics reports to your WordPress site. The tracking component of this plugin will automatically install Google Analytics on your website by inserting the required tracking code in all your webpages. You will need to have a google analytics account before using this plugin.

Editorial Calendar

Love this calendar which is located directly within the backside of the blog for your eyes only. It gives you a view of your entire blog post publishing plan and allows you to glance at your monthly or weekly scheduled posts to keep you on track. It’s drag and drop is easy for adjusting your schedule. You can easily create blog drafts to save for later. It has helped me plan out my upcoming weeks’ blog posts.

Editorial Calendar WordPress Plugin

Jetpack

This is a plugin made by WordPress – so obviously it’s a great one to have! Jetpack comes with 33 tools already integrated. It allows you to use contact forms, seek out related posts, and view a built in analytics, and more.

Broken Link Checker

One of the most frustrating things when visiting a website is clicking on a link that goes nowhere. Am I right? It is definitely hard AND time consuming to go through each and every link within a blog post. Luckily the broken link checker quickly scans a blog post and points out the links that aren’t working correctly.

Simple Social Icons

Simple Social Icons allows you to add up to 14 of the most popular social media icons to any area on your WordPress blog or website. These icons include: Dribbble, Email, Facebook, Flickr, GitHub, Google+, Instagram, Linkedin, Pinterest, RSS, StumbleUpon, Twitter, Vimeo and YouTube.

It even allows you to customize the look! (genius!) You can change the size, shape, alignment, and hover color.

Better Click To Tweet

Create a tweet specifically for your blog post! This allows for more engagement and takes it social. This plugin integrates right into a blog post and allows the instant tweet from a viewer by hitting “click to tweet.”

Better Click To Tweet

Instagram Feed

It’s no secret that I LOVE Instagram – so I go out and find the best plugin to display those tiny squares as simply and easily as I can. This plugin’s options include Headers, Captions, as well as Likes and Comments. It even has a “load more option and a “Follow on Instagram” button which will make it easy for viewers to follow along.

nstagram Feed WordPress Plugin

Recipe Card

This is the plugin I use for all food and recipe blog posts. I use this plugin to display my recipe cards. It gives you tons of options as to how the recipe card is displayed. There are lot of different styles, colors, and fonts to choose from!

Recipe Card WordPress Plugin

Subscribe To Comments Reloaded

There are many times blog posts gather a lot of discussion between your community where viewers would like to be updated on. With this plugin, it allows users to subscribe to your comment feeds.

WP Smush – Image Optimization

Large image files might be slowing down your website/blog, which you might not even be aware of. WP Smush resizes and optimizes all photos, limiting the lag time on your website. PLUS – with your page loading faster – search engines such as Google will love you for it (and rank you higher!)

WP Super Cache

Site speed is something that we take very seriously. In order to make sure that your site scales and sustain huge loads of traffic without crashing, you can utilize this plugin.

Pinterest Pin it Button For Images

Make images easily share-able to pinterest with a “pin it” hover button over blog post images.

So many plugins to choose from – it was hard narrowing it down to 15! What are your favorites? Do you utilize any of the plugins listed here? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!

Categories
Business

The Best Tools And Resources To Grow Your Blog

Learning how to start a blog is easy (as I outlined step-by-step), but the key is to find those apps, tools, products that help keep you working smarter, not harder. These blogging resources are all ones I use or have used in the past and would recommend! One way or another – this list of the best tools and resources to grow your blog will save you time (and we all know time as a business owner or blogger is crucial!)

Images:

Canva – your design center! This online tool helps me with everything design wise for my blog. I create my blog photos with text, social media photos, and all worksheets with canva. You can even create your own invitations, recipe cards, banners, newsletters! You can even upload your own fonts into the program. I use this daily and it definitely is a staple in my business.

Picmonkey – This is another design tool I have used to edit photos with. It’s free and easy to navigate around.

Unsplash – I have and use some stock photos on my website/social media platform. This is a free stock photo website chuck full of every type of photo you could think of. Whether you blog about travel, food, design, fashion, or business there is a wide array of photos waiting for you there!

Creative Market – Fonts, mockups, design elements … It’s dangerous! A one stop shop for creative entrepreneurs. They even have freebies every week (It’s like Christmas every Monday!)

Dropbox – I’m constantly taking and storing photos for my blog and business and Dropbox is a great way to store and share photos with others you are collaborating with. It is free up until 2GB of space. I pay $8/month and it is SO worth having that extra space.

Marble Contact Paper – I wanted to find a section in this blog post to mention this contact paper, because it is super cheap and I use this all of the time. Building a blog and business it is crucial to take photos to match and fit your brand. I use marble backdrops in a lot of photos and this contact paper is easy to use and easy to clean if it gets dirty at all! I photograph food quite frequently and it has yet to show any signs of spillage. You can’t beat $8 for this roll of marble contact paper!

Phone Lens – I love my wide angle lens – perfect for capturing those landscapes or interiors that are too big for the function of your phone’s camera. I have this bundle of lens for $9.99 and couldn’t be happier with the purchase.

Productivity:

Asana – I’ve tried many different productivity tools and nothing seems to work……BUT Asana. I love making lists and checking them off just like the next person. I also find it to be the best resource for collaborating with team members and others you are communicating with. Quite frankly, I didn’t like how the other platforms were set up – and this was WAY easier to navigate. That was my big thing when learning a new program is that I wanted something I didn’t have to spend hours learning what and where to look for certain functions. Here is your answer!!

Blog Planner – After a few years of blogging I finally feel like I have a great system in place to organize my thoughts, to-do’s and social shares I need to stay on top of weekly. Download my FREE blog planner printable. PS – it even has a spot to keep track of your blog analytics. (Score!)

Themes:

StudioPress (Genesis) – One of the all time most popular and extremely powerful frameworks for WordPress. I currently use on my own blog. One of the best features is being able to utilize plugins to make your blog look exactly the way you want! I would highly recommend for your WordPress blog.

Restored 316 – These are the most beautiful themes I have come across. I have set up some blogs before using these themes and they turned out dreamy. So many beautiful ones to choose from!

Theme Forest – Theme Forest has a wide array of blog themes. The theme I use now is called the Florence theme. I love the functionality and sleek design of it. Of course, they have a theme to fit everyone’s personality.

Hosting:

IPage – The task of finding one of the best web hosting providers can be quite daunting as there are hundreds of web hosts out there, all claiming to be the best. Sure, there are a number of decent service providers out there but after due diligence and careful research, I decided to go with IPage, which is also the web host for my other websites. Aside from the reliable and stellar service, I specifically chose IPage for the following reasons:

  • IPage offers free installation for all major blogging platforms, including WordPress.
  • WordPress, the world’s most popular blogging platform highly recommends IPage since 2005.
  • IPage is widely considered an industry leader in web hosting services, providing exceptional 24/7 support, which is made available via email, phone and web chat.
  • IPage also offers a 30 day money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied with the services for whatever reason.

Social Media & Scheduling:

Board Booster – The most amazing pinterest tool out there. My followers and clicks back to my blog have grown dramatically since starting. I spend less time on Pinterest now than I did before.

Hootsuite – HootSuite is a social media management platform that allows you to track all of your social media accounts on one main dashboard. There are over 35 recognized social media platforms that can merge with HootSuite. Once all of your accounts are connected, you can schedule posts, respond to mentions, see who is saying what across all of your feeds, and create lists of the people you want to monitor closely. At $8.99/month HootSuite is well worth your money as you build and engage your social audience!

Later (formally known as Latergramme) – Later allows you to plan and schedule your Instagram photo publishing through an app on your phone or through a browser on your computer.

  • Easily plan & schedule your Instagram posts
  • Upload images from the web or phone
  • Management from the web app or mobile app
  • Get scheduled images pushed to your phone

Website Tools & Apps:

Active Campaign – I use Active Campaign to capture subscribers from my blog. It’s great to use and easy to navigate around. There are great features to set up multiple lists, add automation emails, create forms, and more. The pricing is cheaper than most as well – which is always a plus! 🙂

Google Calendar – I’ve tried so many different ways of keeping my life in line. AND not just mine by having it be visible to my husband as well. Google Calendar is great because it allows us to share our schedules with each other AND integrates with gmail. It’s a dream when tools are synced together.

Google Drive – This tool enables you to share, edit and comment on documents, presentations and forms from anywhere. It’s easy to access and they even have a great phone app as well so it’s all right there when I need documents on the go. It’s also easy to share information with others you are collaborating with.

Google Analytics – Being able to track your audience on your webpage is SO important. Google Analytics is absolutely free as well. It can show you: who visits your website (geographic location, which browser they used, what language they speak, etc.), what they do when they get to your website, where they arrive on your website from, how the user interacts while on your website, and much more.

Afterlight – My all time favorite image editing app via mobile. It has amazing filters (if wanted) and does a great job of editing images slightly with more contrast, brightness, or even if you need to crop or rotate your photo.

Gmail – SO many reasons to jump on the gmail bandwagon. You automatically get signed up with a google account which allows you access to every google service out there. You get unlimited number of custom email addresses, the ability to organize your email with labels and filters, and you can also add in photos to your signatures. All these perks and more!

Instapage – I create all landing pages via Instapage. The drag and drop feature is easy to use and I can create the page in minutes! They have optimized templates available to use and ready to go at your fingertips.

WordPress Plugins

A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. In the WordPress community, there is a saying that goes around: “there’s a plugin for that”. haha. They make it super simple for users to add features to their website without knowing a single line of code. There are tons available to download – but how do you know which ones are the best and work the best for your blog?

Well, I’ll have those answers for you SOON!

Technology & Office Necessities:

Monitor – Being able to have both my laptop and monitor open at the same time with different browsers open is a definite game changer.

Wireless Keyboard (Silver) – Everything wireless, please. Oh – and silver/white! 🙂

Wireless Printer – Great quality printing and is also wireless. I said goodbye to all of those pesky cords always in the way! And it looks a lot cleaner as well!

Wireless Mouse – A white mouse that’s wireless? I’m in.

White & Gold Desk Lamp – Adding some extra lighting to my office space was a great idea and use it quite often when working those long nights!

You’ve reached the end of the list- whew! Hopefully you found one thing…or a couple of things that will help you in the blogging/business field.

If you’ve got any blogging or business resources that have changed your life that aren’t included on this list, feel free to drop me a line below in the comments. Is there a resource on this list that is your favorite?