While I'm definitely not an expert blogger by any means, I have been writing here at Get Fit Fiona for over 4 years now (that seems like such a long time!), I have learned a few things along the way. My blogging skills have gotten infinitely better since I started. I've learned a bit of code (both HTML and CSS), how to use Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest to share blog content, and even how to edit photos and create graphics.
I thought I'd share a bit about more of the behind the scenes stuff of blogging. Plugins are great for people who don't have any coding skills (or just a few like me). For more on the basics of what plugins are, check out this explanation. There's a plugin for just about anything you'd want to do on a blog. Seriously. Google plugins and you'll find thousands and thousands that do all kinds of cool things. For instance, take a look at my sidebar. The social media icons are a plugin. So is the Mailchimp opt in for my newsletter. The Instagram tiles are a plugin as well.
Today I'm going to share my 5 must have plugins for bloggers. I've been very lucky to be able to connect with a great coding/Wordpress community here in Calgary. I've learned lots from them, and quite a few of the plugins I'm sharing with you I learned about from them. I figure they were generous enough to share their knowledge with me, I should pass it on by sharing it as well.
I learned about this plugin from the local WordPress meetup. It allows you to save backups of your website hassle free. I was able to download it and set it up in under twenty minutes. If I can do it on my own, so can you. I'm not a technical person at all, but Updraftplus made it really easy. You can pick how often it backups your site, from every 12 hours to every two weeks. You can also configure it to save backups to a number of different places (Google Drive or Dropbox for example). I now have the piece of mind that if something happens to my blog I'm able to simply use my backup to restore it.
Wordfence Security is another plugin I learned about at the WordPress meetup. It protects my blog from people trying to log into it and also any bad code that may cause problems. Once again, it was super easy to install get get working. It lets me know when there's suspicious long in attempts and sends me an email every time someone logs into my WordPress account (thankfully that's only been me so far).
If you've done any kind of research on SEO you'll know that Yoast is one of most well known free plugins for WordPress. I've found it really easy to use. It only takes an extra minute or two to fill out the form at the bottom of the screen when I'm writing posts. As soon as I hit publish I know that it's easier for people to find it through search engines. It's nice to have the plugin do the more complicated stuff while I can focus more on creating more great content.
I know I've mentioned CoSchedule on the blog before, but I have to share it again. CoSchedule (affiliate link) is essentially an editorial calendar that lets me also schedule social media shares for my posts. I can schedule tweets and Facebook shares right from the page that I write the posts. It's really intuitive to use and helps to keep me organized when it comes to post ideas. While this is the only plugin on this list that you have to pay for, I've found that it's well worth the cost. Plus you get a free trial to check it out before laying down any money. If you want to check out my review of CoSchedule, click here.
Mailchimp for WordPress – Top Bar
When I signed up for a Mailchimp account over the summer to start a newsletter for my readers, I knew I wanted a non-annoying no popup way of letting people sign up for it. I absolutely HATE popups when I'm checking out other blogs, so I knew I didn't want one on mine. When I found the Mailchimp Top Bar plugin I thought it was awesome. Not only is it easy for people to sign up, but it's out of the way and they can even hide it if they want.
Do you use any of these plugins? Share one of your favorites in the comments below.
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