Due to WordPress being used to power so many different types of websites, it can be easy to overlook its more humble beginnings as a blogging platform. While WordPress is used increasingly as a CMS these days, with some predicting its eventual move towards being an app platform, for many bloggers it is and will always be their software of choice.
So with that in mind, it’s time to shift our focus away briefly from the eCommerce tools, and app themes that turn your WordPress site into a fully functioning business directories or social networks, and go back to the roots of WordPress with some great plugins targeted at bloggers that aim to help make them more productive, while also making managing their blogs an easier task.
The Best Blogging Plugins for WordPress
It does sound a bit strange singling out the best blogging plugins for WordPress – a software application that was conceived as blogging platform. But due to the platform being put to so many different uses these days, to build all kinds of websites, services, and apps, it’s worth going back to basics and highlighting those plugins which solo and multi-author blogs can really benefit from.
So here is a selection of plugins that those using WordPress as a blogging platform will find especially useful, and a few that all WordPress users can benefit from.
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP)
This popular and free plugin will appeal to bloggers who want to increase the chances of their visitors sticking around to read more of their posts.
Once installed on your blog, the Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) will display links to other posts on your site related to the post that the reader is currently viewing, with the aim of encouraging them to continue reading your great content. The YARPP display area can either simply list related posts or show a thumbnail image to help tempt reader to click through to a related post.
This blogger-friendly plugin has a few settings, but it can be left to run in its default configuration right out of the box, preventing you from wasting valuable blogging time on setting it up.
If your goal is making it as easy as possible for your readers to discover more of your content, then YARPP is a great way to do so.
Whether your blog generates income or not, installing a popup optin form plugin is a great way to cultivate what all bloggers covet: a loyal readership.
List Builder is a free popup mailing list optin plugin from the App Sumo team that can be up and running on your site in a matter of minutes. Once enabled, whenever a reader is about to leave your site, this signup plugin will detect their actions and display the optin signup form for your email newsletter or mailing list.
While the idea of popup optin forms can be anathema to many bloggers, by only displaying the form when the reader is about to leave your site, you can avoid disrupting their user experience and give them the opportunity to sign up to get more of your great content delivered straight to their inbox before they leave the site for good.
While the List Builder tool is free, for those with a bit more cash to invest in helping their blog reach its potential, the top of the range OptinMonster plugin includes a whole host of themes for its popup optin forms, plus a selection of other types of forms such as sidebar, in content, and footer sign up forms.
If you want a powerful way to connect with your audience when they are away from your site and let them know when new content has been published, the List Builder plugin is for you.
Broken Link Checker
Linking out to other websites in your blog posts is not only good for creating relationships with other bloggers in your niche, and helping your readers find other great content, but also for improving the rank of your own website.
However, if you’ve been adding external links to your posts for a while, then there is a good chance some of those links are no longer active. Broken links on your site can be frustrating to your readers and create a bad impression amongst your visitors.
So to solve all your broken link problems, the free Broken Link Checker plugin was created. This plugin will run in the background on your site and depending on how it’s configured, will either email you, or display a message in the dashboard of your site when it finds a broken link anywhere on your WordPress site.
This plugin is simple but effective and can save you a lot of time.
The free Word Stats plugin is an invaluable tool for bloggers who want to evaluate their written output and improve the quality of their writing.
While WordPress out of the box will display the word count on the post editor screen, Word Stats takes thing to another level and gives you plenty of insights into your content and writing style, in order to help you diagnose your written content and see where there is room for improvement.
Word Stats runs several readability tests on your content to help you refine it before you hit the publish button. You can also see stats such as average characters per word and per sentence, and also the number of words per sentence.
The plugin also creates a reports page where you can get an overview of all your content and see reports such as the number of words posted each month, and the top 20 keywords used in your continent.
If you want to become a better writer but don’t know where to get feedback, Word Stats is a great place to start.
Barley for WordPress
Sometimes blogging in WordPress can be a real drag. Switching between the post editor and the front end preview of your work when proofreading a post can be a really tedious affair, thanks to all the back and forth. Wouldn’t it be great if you could edit your content on the front end of your site?
Well now you can, thanks to the Barley for WordPress plugin which adds in-line front end contentediting to your blog. This does what it sounds like and lets you click on a post or page and begin typing, editing content, or formatting it, while having a live preview of what it will look like to your readers.
Once you start using this plugin you will wonder how you ever managed without it. While it is rumoured that in-line front end editing is coming to WordPress core, if you can’t wait and want to save yourself a lot of time and frustration when proof reading your content or even blogging in general, Barely for WordPress is highly recommended.
If you want to remove the need to switch windows when creating your content, previewing it, or proof reading your posts, Barley is for you. It’s not free but at a price that works out to less than $2 a month, it’s pretty close.
If you like to write your posts in advance and schedule them for future publication, then the free Editorial Calendar can make your life a lot easier.
While you can set a future date for posts to be published in WordPress, there is no convenient way to view which dates you have posts scheduled for. Thankfully the Editorial Calendar plugin solves this issue and allows you to get a quick overview of which dates posts are scheduled for.
Furthermore you can drag and drop posts around the calendar to adjust their publication dates with ease. You can also edit posts right from the calendar screen, saving you a few clicks along the way. If you are working with other authors on your blog, then the Editorial Calendar plugin gives you a quick and easy way of seeing when their posts are set to go live on your site.
If you want to stick to a regular posting schedule and write posts in advance to help you get ahead of yourself, the Editorial Calendar plugin is an essential tool.
Smart Layers Social Sharing Buttons
One of the best ways to getthe word out about your blog posts is to share them on social media, while also making it easy for your readers to share you content with their follower too.
By adding some stylish social media share buttons to your site, you can do a lot to encourage your readers to tweet or like your content on their social media network of choice.
While there are a lot of social share button plugins for WordPress, the free Smart Layers plugin by AddThis is a great choice. Some of the reasons to choose this plugin over the alternatives are that the buttons look good, the icons are fixed in place so they are always on display and easily accessed whenever your readers feel inspired to share a post, and that they cover all of the most popular networks.
While it doesn’t really matter which social share button plugin you choose, if you want to save yourself the effort of weighing up all the options, this plugin is a good choice.
Subscribe to Comments Reloaded
Comments are the lifeblood of any successful blog and while WordPress makes it very easy for your readers to leave comments, if you don’t take the necessary steps to notify a commenter that you have replied to their questions or comments, they will never know you did.
With the free Subscribe to Comments Reloaded plugin, your blog and your readers will never have this problem again. Commenters now get a great set of options for how they wish to subscribe to comments, and be notified when you or another reader replies to their original comment.
If you want to make the discussion on your blog posts more interactive, then installing this plugin is highly recommended.
VaultPress Managed Backups
VaultPress is the managed backup service from the creators of WordPress. With this service looking after your site you need never worry about losing and having to rewrite your one of a kind blog posts.
VaultPress allows you to restore previous versions of your content, or roll back the entire site, should something go terribly wrong. With prices starting from just $5 a month this is a very affordable way to keep your content safe and secure. However, for those on a budget, the free BackWPup is a decent alternative.
So there you have it, a selection of great plugins that will make life easier for bloggers when it comes to managing their WordPress site, and also help grow their audiences faster than ever before.
If you have any pro blogger plugins installed on your WordPress site that you just can’t live without, please share them with us in the comments below.