Useful WordPress Plugins

I am often asked what plugins are useful on a WordPress site. The main thing to determine is what you are using your site for. Sure there are a lot of plugins out there. I am amazed at what plugins can do for a site. But just because it is available doesn’t mean you should use it.

So here is my top 10 list of useful plugins that every blogger should have – whether a power blogger or beginner.

Contact Form 7: This is a very nice contact form that does allow for customization (I use it on my business site). You can also create multiple forms and use each one on your site. There are other contact forms available, but I like the ease of use of this one. (and it’s free)

WP Database Backup: Any blogger’s worst nightmare is to go to their site and realize it’s GONE! It can happen. Backups are so important. This plugin would be worth paying for if you had to (but it’s FREE!)

Tweet Meme Button: Allows users to tweet your post. Anymore, it is pretty much assumed that you’ll provide this option somewhere on your posts/pages/site.

Sexy Bookmarks: I love this plugin. I’m sure I’ll get tired of seeing it everywhere some day, but for now, I think it is an attractive fun way to allow your users to share your site on various networks (you get to select which ones are shown)

ShareThis: does the same thing that Sexy Bookmarks does, but in a smaller manner.

All-In-One-SEO Pack: This works “out of the box”, so it’s great for beginners. But advanced users will appreciate being able to tweak things even more.

WP-Touch: More and more web users are accessing sites via their smartphones. A site can look totally different on a mobile device. This plugin will allow the visitor to see your site on their device without you have to do any special coding or resizing. Another option is WP Mobile Edition.

WP Super Cache: Speeds up the time your users have to wait for your site to load. (explained via a lot of technical mumbo-jumbo… but all you need to know is FASTER!)

Yet Another Related Post Plugin (YARPP): Keep your readers on your site longer by showing posts they may have missed. This plugin will show posts that are related to the current post (obviously…)

Google XML Sitemap: Helps search engines better index your site, and notifies search engines when you create new content.

I’d add Askimet, but it is included by default now when you install WordPress. USE IT!! 85% of comments on the internet are spam.

To install a plugin:

You can install a plugin by either downloading it to your computer and then uploading it to WordPress OR install it directly to your site via WordPress.org.

Click on “Add New” via your “Plugins” page on your dashboard (see below)

Then decide whether to “Search” (WordPress.org plugin directory) or “Upload”. Or to really be adventurous, filter them by what is popular, featured or recently added.

Install the plugin by following the screen prompts. Once it is properly loaded it will ask if you want to activate. Activate and then be sure to change any setting necessary for the plugin to properly function (*Not all plugins have settings options)

What are your favorite plugins? Which one would you cry over if it suddenly stopped working on your site?

Need more info or help on this topic? Do a google search, or feel free to ask questions in comments or email me.

Amazon Associates now integrated with Blogger

As of today, if your blog is hosted on Blogger.com,  you can easily add affiliate links to all of your posts.

With this integration, you will be able to link relevant text to products sold on Amazon directly within Blogger, while crafting your posts. No need to open a separate tab to hunt around for products.

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To add links to your site:

1) Open an Amazon Associates and Blogger account, if you don’t already have one. If you already have a Blogger account but not an Associates account, you can create your Associates account directly within Blogger (so create your Blogger account first)

2) You will need to create a gadget associated with your account. Blogger provides simple steps for doing so.

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(click images for more detail)

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2) Once the gadget is created, your post area will now look like this:

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Write your post as you normally would, including any text regarding a product.

3) Highlight the relevant text and the Product Finder will recommend the ones most closely associated with the text.

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4) Choose to either insert the product link or an image of the product. The link will automatically include your Associate number.

Amazon wants to hear what you think about this, so they’ve created a hashtag (#AMZN4BLGR) to use on Twitter. Or you may contact them via the contact form.

Work at Home Profile: Jo-Lynne/DCRmom, blogger and blog designer

AVATAR Name and type of Business:
Musings of a Housewife, DCR Design, Chic Critique, Reviewsings

How long have you been in this business:
I’ve been blogging for 3 years and designing blogs for 1.

What is the biggest challenge about having your business and family under the same roof?
Balance. :-)  I fear I work too much.  Let me rephrase that.  I’m quite sure that I work too much!  But I love it.  I’m just not sure that my family loves it as much as I do.

How have you managed child care (if applicable):
I’m the childcare.  We don’t feel that at this point I’m making enough to allow for regular childcare, although that would be lovely.  My children are aged 9, 6, and 3.  My 9-year-old is in full day school, and my 6-year-old is in half-day school.  My 3-year-old attends preschool 2 mornings a week.  I try to use that time to work.  I would rather run errands in the afternoons with my girls; that way at least I’m interacting with them, even if we’re not doing activities that are FOR them.  I work at night after they go to bed.  And I do a lot of work when they are around, playing, watching TV, entertaining themselves.  They do that very well.

What is your favorite part about being in business for yourself? Least favorite?
I just love making my own hours and making my own rules.

What is the biggest mistake you’ve made as a work at home business owner/employee?
I don’t feel like I’ve made any grand mistakes yet.  I’m pleased with how things are going.  The only thing I could do better would be to have set working hours, but that’s very hard to do because our days are not highly structured so I just try to grab work time whenever I can.

What is the best decision you’ve made as a work at home business owner/employee?
I keep meticulous records.  Come tax time, it’s complicated because I have so many different revenue streams, but I have good records so my accountant (i.e. my husband *grin*) can figure everything out.

What advice do you have for anyone considering starting a work at home business or job?
Have a plan.  Keep good records.  Love what you do.  And don’t let your work run your life!

Book Review and Giveaway

This week on Modern Media Mom, I am discussing Working at Home. This is a great series for anyone considering it or already in the midst of it.

There is also a book review and giveaway. I’m giving away FOUR copies of Making Work at Home Work by Mary Byers. This book is perfect for moms trying to balance working at home and taking care of the home. It’s a hard juggle, and this book would be an invaluable tool for any mother trying to make it work. Whether you are a blogger trying to make some extra cash via your blog or are running a fully-incorporated business you’ll want to read this book.

Not many people have entered, so head over and enter.

(and don’t forget to peek at the kitten updates. They are getting cuter and cuter everyday.)

like my ugly new look?

We are home from church today, because, remember this? yeah, round 2… things like this are so hard with kids… I think I know how he’s been getting it, so I had to let another mom know about it so she could take care of it on her end. That’s not a fun part of parenting. I end up attempting to do a nice little tap dance.

Anyway…

I was trying to watch our church’s webcast and waiting for it to be posted and decided to tweak my template some more. Wanted to move a few things around.

On this blog, I had never updated to the new blogger. I had kept it under beta to keep my template. This morning, for some reason, I decided to update it because it seemed to be saying I could easily revert to my old template.

HAHA HEE HEE HO. What a silly silly SILLY girl I am! That’s not how it works! Not only can I not upload my old template into the new blogger (it reads XML code and my template is not) but it ate all of my widgets and things on my sidebar.

To say I’m anxiously waiting for my brother-in-law to respond would be an understatement.

So please bear with my ugly new look until I can get this all figured out.