Disclosure: Some of the links in the post below are "affiliate links."
People always ask, “What plug-in do you use for ____?” “Who do you use as a host?” “What service can’t you live without?” and more, so I thought I’d make a list of my blogging resources. Most of the things I use are free or have a free version. I’m all about free, ya know. But some are a cost necessity in order to have a blog. So, here is everything I use:
The Basics — Domain, Hosting, Platform:
- I buy my domain names through GoDaddy. Great place to buy your domain names, but I hear not good for hosting, so………
- Your site has to have a place to live outside your computer. That’s what a host does. I use A2 Hosting
They have plans starting as low as $3.92 a month, although you’ll probably want something little bigger. I’ve been very happy with them. They’ve been very helpful with the few questions I’ve had, and really no problems. Uptime is great. I’ve seen a couple of times they were down, but they had everything back up in a flash.
- My platform is WordPress from wordpress.org. The hosting account through A2 Hosting
has an easy, one-click installation. As a matter of fact, they bill themselves as A2 Optimized WordPress Hosting. If you don’t know the difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org, see this post.
- Using WordPress, you have to have a theme. That’s what keeps everything in place and makes it look pretty. I use a free theme, from WooCommerce called Storefront, that I’ve modified to my liking. If you plan to use WooCommerce to sell products, it’s a pretty good idea to have a theme that is built by the WooCommerce people. I’ve tried it the other way with themes that might have or might not have been compatible with WC and all I can say is wow to switching! Storefront is their basic theme, but they have many others that you can buy. You can also buy the pro version of Storefront that might have some features you’re looking for. So far, I don’t find I need anything more than the basic store.
- Photoscape — My main squeeze, the photo editor I’ve used for years and years. And years, is Photoscape. You rarely see it mentioned when people are talking about photo editors. I can’t figure out why, either. It’s good. It’s FREE. It’s more than a basic editor. A lot more. As long as I’ve used this editor, there are still features I’ve never tried. Actually, when I went to the web page to get the link, the list of features popped up and there were things on there I didn’t even know were there! Of course, if I’d paid attention to the main menu of the program, I’d have seen them.
- PicMonkey — In the event Photoscape doesn’t do everything I want, I see if PicMonkey does it. They each have a few different features. It has a free and paid version. A lot of people swear by PicMonkey
- And there’s the ever popular Adobe Photo Shop. Once upon a time, it was the uber expensive program of choice, but now it’s subscription-based beginning at $9.99 a month, but they also have a free version. (Click on “Photography” and scroll down to see all the options.)
These can change on a whim, but these are what I am currently using and why. So, okay. The why’s below are mostly the blurb from the plug-in’s official description:
- Ad Inserter — Puts ads (AdSense, Amazon, etc.) in the spots you specify.
- Akismet — Comes packaged with WordPress. It’s a spam catcher and does a fantastic job!
- Code Snippets — An easy way to add to your php files. You know when you’re trying to do something and find the answer in some forum where someone says just add this piece of code and you think, “Huh? Where?!” This does it for you. Yay!
- Comment Reply Email Notification — Sends an email notification to the comment author when there is a reply to their comment.
- CommentLuv — Automatically places a link to the commenter’s last blog post at the end of their comment. Just because it’s a nice thing to do.
- Contact Form By BestWebSoft — A contact form. Don’t know what else to say about that.
- Disclosure Picker — Adds an option in pages and posts to append a disclosure to keep in line with the FTC guidelines for blogging. There’s one at the top of this page! Because some of these are affiliate links. 😉 This plug-in hasn’t been updated in quite awhile, but I’ve had no problems with it.
- Easy Google Fonts — A simple and easy way to add google fonts to your WordPress theme. Because there’s a Google font I like and wanted to use.
- Fancier Author Box — Adds feature rich author box to your posts, pages and custom post types. See my smiling face at the end of this page and all the posts? That’s this one.
- Inline Tweet Sharer — Creates twitter links on your site that tweet the anchor text – for memorable quotes to help increase social media views.
- JetPack – This plugin does a lot of different things, among them a simplified site stats page, but the best thing it has going for it is that it does everything in the cloud, so it doesn’t make your site slow and heavy. I use it for related posts and have it automatically send new posts and products to Google+ and Twitter.
- Lazy Load — Lazy load images to improve page load times. Uses jQuery.sonar to only load an image when it’s visible in the viewport. Can you tell I copied and pasted that? I don’t really know what all that means, but it’s supposed to make your blog faster. I have a lot of problems with slow loading.
- I use the Pinterest button you get from Pinterest.
- Recipe Card — Create beautiful recipes that readers can print, save and review. Recipe Card optimizes your recipes for search engines and generates nutrition facts.
- Simple Custom CSS — The simple, solid way to add custom CSS to your WordPress website. Simple Custom CSS allows you to add your own styles or override the default CSS of a plugin or theme.
- SumoMe — Oh, my! I love this one. It’s responsible for the email sign-up slider and pop up (Hope I’m not annoying you too much with that) and the social media buttons. Of all the plugins I use, this one is in my top three. My email list is now steadily growing where before it was pretty much dead in the water.
- UpDraft Plus – Backup/Restore — Backup and restore: take backups locally, or backup to Amazon S3, Dropbox, Google Drive, Rackspace, (S)FTP, WebDAV & email, on automatic schedules. I’ve been having real problems with this lately and am considering deleting it. I most recently backed up my site through cPanel.
- WordFence Security — Anti-virus, Firewall and High Speed Cache. This is another that I can’t recommend enough. It took my site getting hacked for me to ever install this. Don’t let that happen to you!
- WP Masonry Layout — Allows you to show pictures in posts or pages with the Pinterest look. There is a free and premium versions. I pay $20 a year.
- Yoast SEO — My third must-have plugin. It prompts you to optimize every post, page, and product for search engines. Eliminates a lot of thinking and remembering, but at the same time makes you think and do things you never thought to do before.
- WooCommerce — The plug-in I use for my shop. WooCommerce has its own extras that I use
Social Media Helpers:
- BoardBooster – Schedules pins for you at times they or you designate throughout the day. You can also schedule a single post to go out to different boards, your own and group boards, over a period of days, weeks or months. No need to stay on Pinterest all day and night to keep a presence. You set it and walk away. Love it! They have a free trial. When it’s over, you’ll almost certainly decide to subscribe for as little as $5.00 a month.
- Facebook and Twitter — HootSuite. Lets you post and read posts all in one spot.
- Google AdSense — Those are the banners you see at the top and somewhere in the middle. I try not to annoy readers too much, but AdSense is a must have.
- Amazon Associates — This is the list of similar items at the end of most posts. I will also link to products I use when appropriate.
- Product Affiliate Programs:
So, there you have it. The most important, to me, resources for blogging.