One of the biggest draws to being a self-hosted blog (besides the graphics freedom) was the ability to add plugins. Plugins are these great little add-ins or apps you can use to make your site easier to run and/or have really cool features. While a lot of the plugins I use are the basic foundations of keeping my site running (like Jetpack and Akismet), there are a few that make my blogging experience super efficient and save me a lot of blog maintenance time.
Below you’ll find some of my favourite plugins, what they do, what I love and what I dislike. When you click on the title, you will be taken to the Plugin homepage where you can learn more.
**These links and comments are not affiliated with the respective plugin creators/companies! It is simply my take on using the services over the last year! I found posts like this extremely helpful for finding plugins for my blog in the past and wanted to contribute in my own way.**
My Favourite WordPress.org Plugins
(in alphabetical order)
What it Does: Allows comment-ers to link-back to their most recent posts when they enter their URL when commenting.
What I Love: I totally thought you had to pay for this plugin and so it was always on the back-burner for what to add next. But it is free for a basic version with minimal features. It’s great for a blogger like me who comments back on blogs who comment on mine so I can immediately jump to their most recent post.
What I Dislike: I get a ton of spam in my comment spam folder now. Which isn’t a huge deal because it is easy to clear but it’s a little annoying.
Featured Image from URL
What it Does: Instead of uploading an image to your own site for your featured image (what appears in the blog roll page), you can use a URL from another site (like Goodreads).
What I Love: Now that my blog theme actually requires me to set a featured image for my blog roll page, I had to find a plugin that would save me time and not require me to upload a ton of cover images daily. I know that there are a lot of reasons why you should upload book covers yourself instead of using the image URL from another site but I find it tedious! Because I already add the image in my review post, it’s so easy to paste it in the side widget on my post creation page.
What I Dislike: I have noticed that the image I set as my featured doesn’t show up when I view my blog on the WordPress Reader. I’m not sure if that is just WordPress itself picking an image at random but I find my featured image varies on my out-sourcing platforms. It also doesn’t format nicely on my blog roll page once I did an update but I think I just have to play with the code a little more.
What it Does: Creates a pop-up link bar on your blog.
What I Love: One of the biggest learning curves to my self-hosted blog was trying to figure out ways to make it easy for people to follow. Eventually I got a WordPress widget but when you go into the world of self-hosted, email subscribers are your main “follower” crew. But I find few people actually use emails to follow blogs, especially when you have sites like Bloglovin that create a nice feed for you to scroll through. The Hello Bar is created for email subscriptions but it does let you customize it for whatever link you like and so I choose Bloglovin! And since I started using it, I’ve noticed an increase in my Bloglovin’ followers.
What I Dislike: Not much really. It’s super customizable, they send me weekly updates on my stats (which you can unsubscribe to) and it’s FREE!
Revive Old Post
What it Does: Reposts old posts on Twitter, Facebook, Tumbler, etc. with hashtags.
What I Love: I’m all for a little self-promotion on social media but I don’t want to bombard my followers with old posts every hour on the hour. I love Revive Old Post because you can set how many tweets (what I use it for) go out and how many hours between them. You can add hashtags, select what categories get sent out and more.
What I Dislike: You gotta play around with it a bit to get what you want but it’s very easy to customize.
What it Does: Creates an image slide show that can be a widget or a feature on your site.
What I Love: I originally had this on my old theme as a way to feature my recent posts on my homepage. Now, it’s a widget on my site for the same thing. I really like that I can set it up when I create the post and it lets me set a date when it will automatically expire from the slider so my most recent content is always on display. It also works really well with my Feature Image from a URL plugin which I worried about at the start as some plugins clash.
What I Dislike: I was having some issues with the expiry aspect but it just took some playing around. I also had to play around with the image sizing but the code is pretty easy to figure out.
What it Does: Creates an archive of posts for a particular category on a page.
What I Love: I’m not sure how many people used my old post archive back in the day but it was something I did manually using both cover images and text. It was so tedious to update and one of the first plugins I looked for was an archiving one. This one does everything itself, creating a beautiful list with anchored links throughout the page.
What I Dislike: I title my posts with a “Series Review” or “Fresh Fridays”, etc heading, and in an ideal world, the plugin I use would be able to omit that and sort whatever follows the colon. I did find one that did that, but it was more of a search result listing order than an actual page with the full list of my posts.
What it Does: Creates a “broken link” page where readers can learn why that page is unavailable.
What I Love: My old theme had the ability to create my own 404 page but my new one doesn’t. I do keep an eye on broken links but they happen. Especially when you move post scheduling dates around a lot like I do. I think it’s just a nice way to tell people what’s up and why something they want to read may not be available right away.
What I Dislike: This is super easy to use and set up so no complaints.
What plugins do you love?
This post is super resourceful! I honestly don’t utilize plug ins as much as I should, but I’m taking some time this winter (hopefully) to focus more on my blog and spruce it up a bit. Also, I’ll always have you to thank for the Hello Bar tip 😉
haha I’m glad you enjoy the Hello Bar–I know it’s helped me a lot with getting followers. Good luck exploring all the plugins! I need to do that as well!