To run your blog or website, and to scale your business, you do need to invest in plugins, tools, and resources to help you out. If you are overwhelmed and confused, this list of blogging tools for beginners is a good starting point.
In this post, I am going to share the essential plugins for your WordPress site, as well as recommendations for additional free and paid options.
The second section of the Blogger’s Tool Box has paid tools like Keysearch, premium themes, email marketing services, etc. that are useful in skyrocketing your blog traffic and making things easier and smoother for you.
Disclosure: This site uses affiliate links and I may earn a small commission when you use my links and make a purchase without incurring an additional fee yourself.
Remember the fewer plugins you install, the better it is for overall site speed and security. Some of the plugins may not mean much to you if you are just starting out, but they will be useful when you start blogging and publishing a lot of content
Essential Plugins for WordPress
- Askimet Spam: To block spam comments
- Contact Form7: For use on your Contact page. This plugin will replace the need to have your email address on the website
- Smush or Short Pixel: To compress images, and help to load faster
- Grow by Mediavine: For social media sharing buttons
- WP Super Cache (free) or WP Rocket (paid): To cache your blog to load faster
- Google Analytics Dashboard: To track the visitors to your site
- UpdraftPlus (free): For site back up
- Yoast SEO or RankMath: This SEO plugin allows you to optimize your posts to get visitors from search engines
Additional Plugins that you may want to install
- Easy Table of Contents: As the name suggests, this plugin inserts a ‘Table of Contents’ to all of your blog posts. You can customize it via each post
- Smash Instagram Balloon: Pulls your Instagram feed at the page footer. It is nice to include pictures from Insta, but this plugin does slow the website, so use with caution
- Simple Social Icons: (part of Genesis Framework) This plugin allows your readers to follow you on Instagram, Facebook, email, Twitter accounts.
- ConvertKit: Email marketing service, this plugin allows you to insert pop-ups, inline email sign up forms (you can also embed URLs via Convertkit directly without a plugin)
- Table Press: Plugin to create comparison tables for comparing products and services
- Elementor: Page Builder (or you can use Gutenberg/ Block editor to drag and drop and build pages)
- Mediavine: If approved Mediavine publisher, this is an essential plugin to load ads on your site
- RewardStyle: If approved RewardStyle member. Use this plugin to insert ‘lookbook’ (not required if using text links)
- Genesis Framework or Generate Press: Parent themes plugins
Tools for Setting up your Blog
The resources listed below are essential blogging resources to improve SEO, reach more audience, and automate your processes
- Blog Domain Registration: Use NameSilo to register your domain. Their domain registration is very affordable for a year, including the renewals after. Domain registrations are on an annual basis. Within your renewal, NameSilo also gives your domain privacy (so your personal information is protected).
- SiteGround: For my web hosting for both sites, I use and rely on SiteGround. You can also add a site security component for $20/year. I have been with them since 2018 and never had any issues. You can add multiple domains to two of their hosting plans. Click to sign up here
- Paid themes: Themes make it easy to customize your website. This includes all the fonts, colors, placement of widgets, sidebar, etc. that appears visually on-site (and backend as an administrator especially with category archives). There are free themes available, which you can activate as soon as you install WordPress. Paid themes are backed by creator support, and they assist you should you have any technical issues. Plus paid themes are just so pretty!
- As a beginner blogger, I recommend using 17 Avenue themes. Their themes start at $45 USD, and it has the Genesis Framework included in the package (worth $59 USD).
- Some of my sites also use Restored316 themes, and they are a premium theme, starting at $75 USD + you pay for the Genesis Framework at $59 USD.
Everyday Blogging Resources
Once you have your website or blog up and running, it is now time to grow your traffic and build an audience. The tools mentioned below are paid tools that I personally use, and have found success
- Keysearch: For keyword searching for posts (SEO), I use Keysearch, it is one of the affordable tools out there. You can sign up here, and grab a 20% off discount today! Use code – KSDISC
- Convertkit: I use Convertkit for email list building and marketing. I was with MailChimp earlier but found ConvertKit to be much easier to use. Plus they also allow you to segment your email list based on readership likes/topics, etc. You can click to grab a free account for up to 1000 subscribers
- Tailwind: You must use Pinterest to grow your blog traffic and business. Tailwind is useful in automating pinning while you are busy doing other tasks. I do Tailwind for automatic pin scheduling, and recommend it, to maintain your Pinterest traffic referrals. Click to try out Tailwind!
- Canva: I like the designing bit for Pinterest. I use Canva for designs for pins, e-book covers, optins, and more. I have the Canva for work subscription as it allows me to use my own fonts, re-size, and access a photo library for all of my pin designs and graphics. Click to see what you can do with Canva
Essential Pages to have on your Blog
- About Page: This page is all about you – the person behind the blog. Take time to write your story, why you started the blog, and include a couple of images. This makes your site trustworthy and something your readers can relate to
- Contact Page: This is for readers to contact you. Use a contact form plugin (free), or simply type in “name”@yourblogname DOT com.”
- Privacy Page: You can find templates here
- Work with me: Highlight brands or sponsored work you have completed, to land future trips (this is like your resume)
- Disclosure and disclaimer page: This page highlights the affiliate relationship with business partners
I hope you found this post useful in setting up your blog. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us!