Lessons Learned from One Year of Blogging Part 4: WordPress and Plugins

When I first started with WordPress, I downloaded wayyy too many plugins.

I initially chose them by sorting by popularity and number of downloads and what I thought I would need.

Well, after about a year I’ve deleted and uninstalled all the excess.

What’s left is a core group of plugins that are integral to the functioning of my site.

 

When looking at plugins, I’ve learned there are several things to always look for:

  1. Reviews In general, it’s good to read reviews and feedback on a product that you plan to use. Initially, I went by rating when choosing plugins, but the reviews often hold some valuable information. Information on updates, ease of use, and functionality are what I usually look for. Rating and number of downloads come second to comments in the reviews.
  2. Compatibility WordPress gets updated on a regularly throughout the year. Some plugins don’t update very frequently, if at all. When WordPress updates, sometimes a plugin will malfunction or break your site. I always check to see when and how often the plugins are updated before installing.
  3. Support If you are using a paid plugin, often times that includes additional support. Even free plugins have support. I prefer to have a plugin where there is some sort of support. If there isn’t support available and the plugin doesn’t have many reviews or downloads, I stay away.

When installing a new plugin, I always also make sure to back up my site first. And you should too!

Fortunately, I’ve never really lost anything from activating a plugin, but I have broken my website a few times.

As long as you understand how to access your server and modify files/folders, you could manually deactivate a plugin.

Otherwise, make sure you know how to contact tech support to fix the issue for you!

 

Today, I only have 9 plug-ins active. Here is what they are (not in any particular order):

 

WP Ultimate Recipe 

This plugin allows me to post my recipes in the format that you see. I haven’t really messed around with any other recipe plugins since this one gets the job done. If you’re looking for a recipe plugin, it’s definitely one I’d recommend and plan to continue using.

 

Youtube

Though it has many other functions, the sole purpose of this plugin was to create my video gallery page, which can be found here All Day  I Eat -Videos

 

Display Posts Shortcode

Display post short code is another plugin that I found to be very helpful. I use this to link to older related posts (at the end of a post). I used to do that manually, but this takes care of it automatically!

 

Ad Inserter

This is probably my favorite plugin because of how much time it has saved me. Before I had this, I was manually putting advertisements into each of my posts and that took a lot of time. Now that’s automated! Plus, this can also insert all types of code so you can add other items, like site updates, email subscription forms etc anywhere on a post!

 

Jetpack

I think many WordPress websites have Jetpack installed. And that’s because it has so many different options and features. You can look at your site statistics, enhance your security, push posts to your social media channels, enable spam protection and so on. Those are the main features I use and I’ve had it since day one. They have good support that I’ve contacted in the past when I ran into problems.

 

Yoast SEO

This is another important plugin because it helps me ensure that whatever my posts are about, they are search engine friendly. A significant portion of my traffic today comes from Google and I think that’s in part due to this plugin.

 

Sumo 

I added this plugin to help grow my email subscribers. I’ve used it to also make minor design adjustments after learning what gets clicked the most and where. It has other functions too, but those are the only two I’ve really used.

 

Updraft Plus

This is absolutely essential for anybody with a WordPress website because it does automatic back ups at specified intervals. I have it create a back up every every week and I keep at least three back ups in storage. I have used it successfully to restore my website and complete two site migrations without any issues.

 

Wordfence

For security, this is the main plugin (aside from Jetpack) that I have installed. This acts like an extra firewall to prevent people from getting access your website. For my base level security, that is set up on my server and is completely separate of WordPress. That is likely the same situation you are in and your host probably manages it for you.

 

Akismet Anti-Spam

Last but not least is Akismet anti-spam. What this does is prevent computer programs (bots) from automatically spamming your site with comments or filling out your forms for you etc. I’ve had it from day one and have never had spam problems~!

 

What do you use on your website? Is there anything you think I should add or remove from my list?

 

 

Yo! I'm Pat, a self-taught cook, indoor gardener, and world traveler. Here I share my knowledge of Japanese cooking, indoor gardening, and points travel.

If it's your first time here - Choose Your Adventure Or... learn more about me.

I post new videos on YT each Weds. Live Cooking Season 2 will resume in early May join me in my kitchen!


   

12 thoughts on “Lessons Learned from One Year of Blogging Part 4: WordPress and Plugins

  • December 11, 2017 at 3:33 pm
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    I don’t use a lot of plug ins and really don’t understand how they may or may not help me. I suppose this would matter more if I move to a self hosted sight? I am interested in the recipe plug in! Do I still have to use short code with that? Thanks for the post! 🙂

    Reply
    • December 12, 2017 at 5:02 pm
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      hi DeeDee, yes if you are on wordpress.com i dont think plugins can be installed. for the recipe plugin, no short code is required! what shortcode does is allow you to pull in text (and many other things), by just typing in a few characters. a very simple example could be typing in ‘123’, could bring back the text ‘onetwothree’

      Reply
      • December 12, 2017 at 6:59 pm
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        Thanks for clarifying, that is what I thought. I do use their short code for my recipes and it really isn’t that hard. One day I may pull the cord and head to a self hosted site 🙂

        Reply
    • December 12, 2017 at 5:02 pm
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      hi DeeDee, yes if you are on wordpress.com i dont think plugins can be installed. for the recipe plugin, no short code is required! what shortcode does is allow you to pull in text (and many other things), by just typing in a few characters. a very simple example could be typing in ‘123’, could bring back the text ‘onetwothree’

      Reply
  • December 11, 2017 at 12:01 pm
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    Thank you for sharing this! I have quite a few plugins active on my blog (probably too many!), some of them the same as you, but I would recommend Shareaholic and Pin It Button for Pinterest.

    Reply
    • December 12, 2017 at 4:58 pm
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      thank you Monika! have you found a lot of people click on the shareaholic icons?

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      • December 12, 2017 at 11:48 pm
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        I think they are more likely to click on those than the jetpack ones, which I’ve also kept.

        Reply
    • December 11, 2017 at 11:24 am
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      i use wordpress self hosted, initially i was on shared hosting, but moved to the cloud earlier this year (while also learning how to maintain a server) currently, i have linode as my host 🙂

      Reply

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