You may have seen (probably not) in my earlier posts that, once upon a time, I had a failed attempt at blogging. I don’t mind mentioning it because every day of blogging has been a step in learning for me, and I can’t pretend that it’s easy. SEO, CSS, HTML, and all the rest just doesn’t come naturally to me. I love writing. With pencil and paper.
In January of 2015 I bought a domain. And after a month of trying to blog, I had to give up. I half-blame it on the fact that I was newly pregnant and so everything was tough for me (except the pregnancy, oddly enough). But I also blame it on the fact that I went from pencil and paper to self-hosting a website with upkeep costs (on an HP that was intent upon crashing every 4 minutes <–mostly true). In December of the same year–11 months later–I tried again. But this time, I did it right.
I started a “free” blog, one that was not self-hosted, on WordPress.com. You can still visit it here. It was so so so so so much easier the second time around for three reasons:
- Free blogs give less control and hence there was less for me to do
- There was less pressure because it was free
- I wasn’t as confused because I “knew” what a control panel looked like (and what to expect)
And I liked blogging on my free website. But after about 5 months I was ready to try blogging on a self-hosted one again. I wanted my blog to really be my own. And so I purchased a domain, signed up with WordPress, and the rest is what you are reading right now! (Thanks for that!)
Since my journey of blogging, one of my favorite aspects of the back-end of things has been (and always will be) the plug-ins. If you aren’t a blogger, then think of plug-ins as apps that help your blog run smoothly. If you are a blogger, you’ll understand why the three following plug-ins are my favorites of the moment.
Plug-in #1: Yoast SEO
This one is helpful because it appraises my posts AS I’m writing them. It checks for two things: the SEO quality of my posts, and the readability of my posts. The plug-in gives green, orange, and red lights to me, depending on how I’m doing. It also gives me an explanation for WHY I’m getting the light that I’m getting. For instance, I tend to write in the passive voice, but that is not considered as “readable” as the present tense. I’ll get an orange light at the foot of my page, with an explanation that I have been using 16.7% passive, which exceeds the maximum recommendation of 10%. Or my SEO will be off. For instance, I will establish a certain word as my “keyword” to boost my SEO for the post, but the plug-in will give me a red light if the keyword only appears once in my post.
In other words, this plug-in really forces me to be a better blogger. It helps me construct my articles better, and pushes me to ensure that I am getting good SEO for each one. Even though the plug-in can’t prevent me from publishing an article with low readability and bad SEO, it’s pretty much impossible to do when I have the ability to monitor both those factors as I type!
Plug-in #2: Jetpack by WordPress.com
This was my LIFE SAVING plug-in when I made the switch from my free blog to my self-hosted blog. It single-handedly transferred all my followers from the free blog to my current one. That was NOT an easy task. And I didn’t think anything could do that. But it can, and still does, when I need it to! It has so many functions that can be turned off and on, and the ease of use is incredible. I recommend it for any blogger, but especially for those who want to bring things over from one blog to another.
Plug-in #3: Wordfence Security
My blog security. This plug-in monitors and blocks everything from bots to crawlers to hackers. They send security updates and notifications to my email too. I don’t want to breach my security by saying everything that it does–but I’ll just tell you this: it gives my blog complete protection and gives me an awareness of any malicious activity that threatens my blog. This plug-in is an absolute MUST HAVE. There is a free version and a premium, and either are completely effective and necessary.
That’s a wrap for my three favorite plug-ins. I use a lot of plug-ins, but it really wasn’t hard to narrow down the list. These three are ones that I use more than any others, and for good reason. If you haven’t added a plug-in to your blog in a while, I would highly encourage you to do so. There is always some plug-in out there to make your life easier. And if you don’t have Yoast SEO, Jetpack, or Wordfence, those are my top three recommendations! Leave a comment below if you have a favorite plug-in. I would love to know so I can get it!