I delivered my first beginners’ blogging workshop this week and, apart from getting to speak about my second favourite subject for two hours, I also got to espouse the virtues (as I see it – I’m no techie expert just someone who’s muddled through almost three years of blogging) of using WordPress as your blogging platform.
Now, I’ll be upfront and say I haven’t ever had a Blogger blog but I have helped a friend with her “back-end” (insert inappropriate giggle here) and I do find the dashboard and functionality of WordPress a lot easier to get my head around. It seems to be a more flexible system too, thanks to what are called plugins.
Plugins can be likened to apps for your phone or tablet. They’re super easy to install and activate and in seconds you can have a new functionality on your site without so much as picking up the phone to your web developer. Most are free too – some will ask you for a donation, which I like to make, as a way of saying thank-you for sharing something so useful.
Now, just as I like to browse all sorts of things on the inter-webs, I also love a good plugin search. To my inner geek delight, I’ve found is that there is basically a plugin for every possible widget you could want for your WordPress blog.
Installing a plugin is as simple as heading to your WordPress dashboard and, clicking plugins, and add new. This brings up the search function and you can search for the plugin you’re seeking. Click install, then activate. Some plug-ins require that you fill-in the settings. In these cases, the settings forms for these plugins will be found under the settings tab in your dashboard.
Here are my 10 favourites. Most I’ve been using for years; some I’ve just uploaded and am already in love with.
1. All in One SEO Pack (for making optimising of SEO on my posts and pages super easy)
2. WPtouch (allows people looking at your blog on their phone to see a simplified version that doesn’t take as long to load)
3. CommentLuv (for giving people commenting on my blog a chance to link up a post from their own blog – with the latest version you can choose from one of your last 10 posts)
4. Google Analyticator (for having my Google stats sitting on my dashboard so I can check them at a glance every time I log on)
5. Google Calendar Events (for having my public events calendar in my blog’s sidebar)
6. LinkWithin (this offers posts that people might like to read at the end of each post – it may help to keep readers on your site longer)
7. RSS Blogroll (I link to my favourite blogs in my sidebar and it shows up when they’ve published a new blog post)
8. WordPress Editorial Calendar (this helps me to schedule my post and create balanced content)
9. YouTube Brackets (this plugin makes loading a Youtube clip so easy, once installed you just have to use around any YouTube URL link to embed it in your post or page)
10. Google +1 (this new plugin works to facilitate Google’s version of the Facebook like button. You’ll see +1s showing up on Google searches … so please +1 me!)
There’s one big, yawning gap in my plugin library. Pretty please (I promise I’ll click the Donate button!), can someone please develop a Pin it Pinterest plug-in so I can make it really easy for people can pin straight from my blog? Yes, I know there’s a HTML code on the Pinterest site that I could get put into my blog but my geeky brain hasn’t extended that far. Yet.
… speaking of Pinterest
Do you have a favourite WordPress plugin? Would love you to leave a comment below. And if you’re on Blogger, don’t hate me … just explain to me how your gadgets and widgets work. And why your “back-end” looks smaller than mine?