Welcome back to The Ultimate Guide to Book Blogging! If you’ve never been here before you can catch up on previous posts in the series here.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.
Note: This post was updated in September 2017.
If you have a self-hosted WordPress blog, plugins are what will customize and optimize your blog so that it runs smoothly and efficiently. Here are the 12 plugins I think every book blogger should install.
Jetpack is the official suite of plugins by WordPress for WordPress. Connect it to your WordPress.com account and gain access to a host of tools that will improve the performance of your website, boost security, and encourage reader engagement. My favorite Jetpack tools are Site Stats, which allow me to see up-to-the-minute traffic stats, and Related Posts, which adds a beautifully styled list of related content at the bottom of each post. Related Posts encourages readers to stay on the site and read more.
Askimet is one of the most useful plugins there is. It will save you time and headaches by filtering out the thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of spam comments you will inevitably receive over the course of your blog’s lifetime.
Hackers are everywhere on the Internet, and it’s likely that at some point over the course of your blogging career, they will target your site. The All in One WP Security plugin is like having a 24/7 team of security guards watching over your blog. It helps protect your blog against brute force login attacks, allows you to blacklist suspicious IP addresses from trying to access your admin panel, and so much more. (Note: If you have managed hosting, you may not need a security plugin. Ask your hosting company if you’re unsure.)
Backing up your files is super important. If you’re updating to a new version of WordPress, migrating to a new web host, or performing any number of routine maintenance activities, your blog is at risk of accidental deletion or unwanted changes. If the worst happens, you want a complete backup ready so you can restore your blog to its former glory. VaultPress is owned by WordPress and it’s the most user-friendly backup plugin I’ve ever used. The cost of that security is $39/year. If you can’t afford that, UpdraftPlus Backup and Restoration is the best free backup plugin I’ve used. (Note: If you have managed hosting, chances are you don’t need a separate backup plugin. Check with your hosting company if you’re unsure.)
5. Comet Cache
Comet Cache improves your readers’ experience by increasing server performance and reducing the time it takes for your page to load. Studies have shown that people browsing the Internet have ridiculously short attention spans. This means that it’s important for your site to perform well, lest readers become impatient and give up on a slow-loading page. To boost your performance even more, consider buying WP Rocket. WP Rocket costs $39/year. (Note: If you have managed hosting, you may not need an additional speed boost. Check with your hosting company to find out if they offer performance tools that overlap with WP Rocket.)
Big, beautiful images and graphics are essential to a blog’s success. Unfortunately, large image files are the biggest enemy to website performance. One way to address this problem is to compress your image files. Smush is a free plugin that automatically compresses all .jpg image files when you upload them to your media library. It will speed up your blog and, once the plugin is installed, it doesn’t require any effort on your part!
7. Yoast SEO
If your site runs on the Genesis Framework, you already have a search engine-friendly site, but it’s still important to have a dedicated SEO (Search Engine Optimization) plugin. This will make it easier for search engines to index your site and readers to find your content on the World Wide Web. Yoast is by far the best SEO plugin.
If you want to increase traffic to your blog, it is essential that you make it easy for people to share your content. Social Warfare is the best way to do that. It adds share buttons to your posts that scroll with the page and you can style them to match your blog theme exactly. It also allows you to set a specific message and image for each social platform. For example, if you click the Pinterest share button at the bottom of the screen, you will see that I have a specific Pinterest-ready image and message ready to go. It also has a “click to tweet” function, which you can see in action right here.11 WordPress Plugins That Will Take Your Blog to the Next LevelClick To Tweet
Social Warfare costs $29/year and trust me–it’s the best money you’ll ever spend on your blog. Still, if you can’t afford it, there is a free version, but it’s not as customizable.
9. Revive Old Post
As a blogger, you probably put a lot of effort into promoting new content on social media, but if you’re not promoting your old content too, you’re losing out on a ton of traffic. Revive Old Post completely automates the sharing process so you don’t have to lift a finger to drive traffic to your archives. There is a free version of this plugin, but I recommend the pro version, which costs $75/year. The pro version grabs the feature image of each post to share along with the title and link, which attracts more clickthroughs.
10. WP Subscribe Pro
Cultivating a loyal readership is important and one of the best ways to do that is to build an email subscriber list. And to do that, you need to be aggressive. Sticking a subscription form in your sidebar isn’t going to cut it. You need a popup. “But popups are annoying!” you say. They certainly can be if done improperly. What you want is an intelligent popup that will only appear when someone is about to leave your blog. WP Subscribe Pro does just that and you can customize it to match your blog. At the time of this writing, WP Subscribe Pro is on sale for $27. (Normally, it’s $39.) If you’re on a tight budget, use the free version of MailMunch. It has all the same functionality, but will require you to display the MailMunch logo under your popup subscription form.
The Ultimate Book Blogger plugin is the only plugin designed specifically for book bloggers by a book blogger! It costs $35/year. If you write a high volume of book reviews, the fee is well worth it. One of the most time-consuming parts of writing a book review is formatting it. This plugin makes formatting as easy as 1-2-3. All you have to do is enter the book’s information–title, author, publisher, etc. into the form and voila! The plugin will automatically format all of that data into a beautiful, uniform blog post. It even automagically sorts all of your book reviews into an archive.
This list is certainly not comprehensive. At the time of this writing, I have 30 plugins installed on my blog. The plugins listed here are pretty universal, but you will figure out which additional plugins, if any, are essential for you. Your WordPress theme may also have dedicated or recommended plugins. For example, I use the Genesis Framework, which has a number of dedicated plugins such as Genesis eNews Extended (great as an adjunct to WP Subscribe Pro for building an email list), Genesis Simple Hooks (which makes it easy to add code snippets to my site), and more. Cook’d Pro, my child theme, also has recommended plugins to enhance the function and aesthetic appeal of the design.
Questions? Leave them in the comments section below.
Check out The Ultimate Guide to Book Blogging for more tips and tricks on how to become a book blogging wiz!