Can I make a confession?
I’m not a tech expert. I don’t know my PHP from my HTML or SQL or any other of those terms that the “technically inclined” seem to spout a thousand miles a minute.
I’m a writer. And if you’re on this site, so are you.
If you’re like me, you could probably make some improvements to your writer website.
When you’ve got a self-hosted WordPress site (and you definitely should), having the right plugins can make the difference between spending hours trying to do a simple task — or being able to accomplish it in one click.
After an extensive search and personal trials, I’ve come up with a list of WordPress plugins that are a definite *must* for any writer website.
Here are the free plugins that will make your life easier (some of them have premium versions, but the free versions offer plenty of features for you):
1. WordPressSEO by Yoast
There is a reason why WordPressSEO by Yoast is hailed as the most complete SEO solution for WordPress. This popular plugin not only gives you a comprehensive list of ways to improve your SEO, but wraps everything in a simple, easy-to-use package with detailed analysis, reports, and suggestions.
WordPress SEO by Yoast is like having a personal SEO expert right in your WordPress dashboard, and it’s suitable whether you’re a first-time or advanced WordPress user. The premium version is $69 and adds a redirect manager, multiple focus keywords, and support.
Alternative option: All-In-One SEO Pack
2. WordPress Editorial Calendar
WordPress Editorial Calendar lets you organize, schedule, and plan your blog posts — helping you have a better understanding of your content strategy. Carol reports that this is the one plug-in she couldn’t run this blog without!
With a drag-and-drop visual calendar, WordPress Editorial Calendar lets you quickly edit your posting schedule, see a month of planned posts at a time, and manage posts by multiple authors.
Alternative Plugin: Draft Scheduler
3. Google Analytics by Yoast
This comprehensive analytics tool has a number of features that make it the default choice for anyone running a WordPress site. Yoast’s spin on the plugin makes it easy and quick to install and operate right from your WordPress Dashboard.
Of course, having Google Analytics makes it easier to integrate any Web advertising you may want to do straight from the plugin, and the plugin has features such as A/B split testing and gives insight into your demographics and audience. The Premium version has AdSense tracking, 24/7 support, and custom dimensions (which allow for more detailed analytics) starting at $89 per site.
Alternative Plugin: JetPack
4. W3 Total Cache
The quicker your writer website loads, the better. Studies have shown that even a fraction of a second will make a difference between a visitor staying on your site or leaving for a competitor.
W3 Total Cache is one of the best cache plugins available because it has a huge set of customizable features that will allow you to optimize your site loading time to your precise specifications.
These options may be a bit daunting for the new WordPress user — thankfully the plugin provides spectacular user support in the form of a walkthrough for setup, as well as an FAQ and vibrant user forum in case you have questions. The Pro version starts at $99 and includes fragment caching to increase caching ability, and exclusive extensions which have higher performance caching (such as Genesis Framework).
Alternative Plugin: WP Super Cache
5. Social Networks Auto Poster
Tired of having to manually copy and paste the link for each and every blog post onto your various social media profiles? Social Networks Auto Poster (or SNAP) takes this annoying task out of your hands by providing an SEO and reader friendly social media post as soon as you publish your blog post.
Of course, there are also a range of customizable paid options, and you can tweak when your post is published or how it will be displayed. The Pro version starts at $49.95, and includes Google+ integration, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and scheduled postings.
Alternative Plugin: JetPack
6. Image Inject
Ever wasted too much time looking for the right image on free Creative Commons? Well, Image Inject allows you to search for those images right from WordPress on Pixabay (over 150,000 available images) and Flickr (over 200 million available images). Then you can quickly and easily insert them into your post.
This plugin even adds the proper attribution links, saving you time from combing the internet and having to manually insert those pictures and links themselves!
Alternative Plugin: Flickr Pick a Picture
7. Updraft Plus Backup and Restoration
Updraft Plus has plenty of customizable options to enable you to back up your website exactly how you want.
You can choose from more than a dozen options for where to back up (Microsoft One Drive, Google Drive, Dropbox), and which sections of your site or plugins you want to save. It automatically resumes failed backups, and even restores your site using backups from other plugins!
The Premium version starts at $70 for a single site, and includes multiple storage destinations, no ads, and forum and email support.
Alternative Plugin: BackWPup
Spam comments may seem innocuous, but they can hurt your SEO rankings and expose you and your readers to viruses and malware.
Akismet provides a robust way to stop comment spam, and it’s constantly updated to adapt to changes in spamming techniques and technology. With a track record of protecting WordPress users from more than 100 billion spam comments, it’s easy to see why Akismet should be your first choice in protecting your site from spam.
Akismet Premium plans start at $5 a month and include email and chat support, advanced spam stats, and increased checks for spam.
Alternative Plugin: Spam Protection by CleanTalk
CommentLuv is great — especially for new bloggers — because it encourages engagement and a sense of community by allowing commenters to showcase one of their own blog posts in a non-intrusive way.
Not only that, but CommentLuv can also help readers find other valuable and relevant posts, giving them an additional reason to visit your blog regularly.
CommentLuv’s Premium level starts at $67 per single site and includes advanced dofollow controls, click stats, automatic updates, and access to other premium plugins such as GASP and TwitterLink Premium.
One possible drawback: Carol reports she’s taken her CommentLuv Premium down because it conflicted with some of her other plugins after vthe most recent WordPress updates — here’s hoping that gets resolved soon!
Alternative Plugin: Subscribe to Comments
10. Sumo Me
Looking to grow your subscriber list? Sumo Me is a great free plugin which makes this list because it’s got features you’d normally only find in paid premium plugins, such as useful subscriber statistics and asynchronous page loading, to help your site load faster.
In addition, Sumo Me is easily integrated into Mailchimp, providing the perfect one-two punch if you’re looking to capture and nurture your subscribers.
Sumo Me offers premium versions and added plugins from $10 per month with support, and no ads/branding.
Alternative Plugin: Scroll Triggered Boxes
11. Nimble Portfolio
Nimble Portfolio is a wonderful plugin that helps blog owners showcase their best work in a visually stunning way. Nimble is integrated with Youtube and Vimeo for video portfolios, and can also help to provide PDF previews.
It’s mobile responsive, too, so your portfolio will look just as stunning on a desktop as it will on a smartphone or tablet.
Premium versions of Nimble Portfolio start at just over $20, and include VIP customer support and a year of free upgrades.
Other suggestion: Google Document Embedder
JetPack is an awesome, multi-functional plugin that offers a wide range of services:
- A content delivery network feature (to help improve page load times)
- A social networking feature
- In-WordPress site stats
- “Related posts” features
- Subscriptions to updates
In short, JetPack is the Swiss Army Knife of plugins. Although there are some drawbacks, especially with the size of this plugin, they can be worked around by only selecting features you need. JetPack is free, but you can add in other premium tools such as VideoPress and VaultPress.
These are the plugins I like best to get you started. But there are so many WordPress plugins available! If there’s a function you wish you had on your website, try Googling “WordPress plugin for ____,” and you’ll probably find a solution.
What WordPress plugins help you with your writer website? Tell us in the comments below.
Daryl George is a freelance writer who creates compelling content about freelancing, customer service, marketing, and ecommerce.