With how many thousands of different WordPress plugins as there are out there, how do we know which ones are really worth the time and effort we put into setting them up and figuring out how to use them? Especially in the world of food blogging.
In today’s post, I’ve done the guess work for you! I’ve used many, many different plug-ins on my website in the past few years, and sometimes there really are the ones that you feel excited about and work great as soon as you install them! Others? Not so much..
While there might be some other plugins out there that have more (and better) options with the Pro packages, these are all the free plugins that I have found to offer great help in many different areas.
So if I were going to create a food blog today, these are the first 10 I would find and install on my website:
(These are not in order of “the best” as they’re pretty much all covering different areas and topics.)
Have you ever gone to a website, read a post and then scrolled to the bottom to see the 308 comments, only to find that they’re all spam and half in Chinese? It’s a frustrating feeling, isn’t it? It usually makes me feel as if the writer doesn’t care enough about their website and content to keep it clean and free of spam.
When I first moved my website over to WordPress, setting up Akismet was one of the first things I did! It’s probably one of the most important and easiest plugins to set up and it has literally caught every piece of spam. It says it’s been about 99% accurate, but I would say more like 110%!
Another “essential” plugin, Jetpack keeps track of your stats, related posts, publicizing, data back-ups, protects against spam and hackers, and so much more! I mainly just use it to track my stats, but it has a boatload of different options, all to be used in that one plugin!
This is another plugin that you will love for all of the different options is allows you, as well as the handy breakdown of your stats and what post was visited however many times, etc.
3. All In One SEO
I have to be honest – I’m not very good at SEO (search engine optimization) and figured I wasn’t going to find an easy way around it, but guess what!? I did!
I was listening to Michael Hyatt’s “This is Your Life” podcast and heard where he was talking about how simple the All in One SEO plugin was, and that even for people who don’t understand how SEO works, it was still very easy to use and navigate. So I put it to the test!
All you do is install it, and then at the bottom of each post, you’ll have a section where you fill in the title that you want to appear in search engines, the description, and a few key words or tags you think might help pull the post up in searches. Super easy and it’s already bounced up my traffic from search engines!
4. Image Watermark
Watermarking your pictures is sometimes something we forget to do if we’re in a hurry to upload and post. With the Image Watermark plugin, it allows you to watermark every image that’s uploaded to your website, without even a click of the mouse! It’s simple to install and use and makes stealing your pictures so much harder for people to do.
5. Mail Munch
Without Mail Munch, I wouldn’t have much of a following for my newsletter! It pops up a little window every 10 days to 2 weeks (you can change the settings) for any visitor that hasn’t subscribed yet. It knows when their mouse moves off the page and then pops up the window right before they leave. Very, very effective in growing your following!
(Also see my other post in the Blogging 101 series for more info about setting up a “freebie” for each person to get after they subcribe to your blog! This is also another super simple, but very effective way to gain new followers.)
6. Mail Poet
Once you have Mail Munch set up and are growing your email list, it’s time to send those subscribers something exciting! I started a weekly “Recipe Spotlight Newsletter” where I featured a recipe off of PGC and then two or three recipes from other bloggers. It went over really well and was not only a good way to promote my recipes and other bloggers’ at the same time, but had a new theme each week and was interesting for the readers!
7. Recipe Card
Before Recipe Card, I typed recipes out and then copied and pasted them.. It was a very poor system, but I was new to blogging and didn’t know what else to do! Now with Recipe Card, I have a clean recipe at the bottom of each post, ready to be saved or printed at the click of a button! The recipe card designs are very simple and pretty, and can be changed at any point. The fonts, pictures, sizes, and all other portions can be switched and redesigned, which makes them really easy to use!
You know those little buttons that you see all over the blogosphere? “Sharing is caring”? Those simple little buttons make your social media presence much bigger and sharing much easier for your readers! They’re simple to get on your site and you’ll be grateful you did.
Not only will they make it easier for readers to share, but you can track how much your post has been shared on different sites, thanks to the little numbers on each icon!
9. User Role Editor
This widget is a great help when trying to figure out and customize the roles of different guest writers! You can easily edit and create many different roles, as well as tweak them and add or remove different capabilities.
A life-saver when working with new guest bloggers and you don’t like the default WordPress role options or capabilities!
10. Visual Recipe Index
This plugin is a lifesaver for food bloggers! It’s an automatically updating recipe index that can categorize your recipes and keep everything up to date, without you lifting a finger! I really liked all of the themes and options you could choose from, as well as the fact that I sometimes used this for keeping track of other posts that weren’t just recipes.
So I hope that you’ve found some great new plug-ins to look into and don’t forget to check out the other posts in the Blogging 101 Series: