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.

Hi! Remember me?

I’ve been trying to return to blogging for months now… I’ve been blogging in various places, but not here.

I’m in the process of creating a new blog; this one will remain and I will refer to it at times in my new blog because the stories told on these pages are still a part of me and tell of how I got to where I am today…

I have so many new stories to tell. Photos to share. It’s been hard to find my voice for the last year and know what to say or how to say it. But they are still a part of me and I want to record them.

My life is a mess. A beautiful mess.

Managing your time online

clocksphoto credit

When I first started blogging over 4 years ago, it was easy for me to manage my time. I sat down to write a post, edited it, posted it and that was that. I didn’t know anyone else who had a blog, so I didn’t spend time reading other blogs. There wasn’t Twitter. I wasn’t using Facebook. I didn’t know what a feed-reader was. My online life was manageable.

But soon, I realized that there were blogs. MANY blogs. Written by other people. And they were interesting. My “Bookmarks” list in my browser became flooded with links. I quickly realized that method was futile. I spent my time going through that list each day only to realize that there was nothing new to read. Wasted time.

Fortunately, I discovered feed-readers and that solved that problem.

Enter Twitter. And Facebook. And the hundreds of blogs that I ended up subscribed to. And all of the other social media sites that I became involved with.

If I hadn’t realized a way to wrestle all of those things under control, I’d be sitting in a corner sucking my thumb and rocking, mumbling something incoherent. That’s not to say that I have time management down to a science. I don’t. But I have found some things that help me maintain my sanity, while also continuing to grow my sites and business online. You won’t necessarily find anything new on this list, but we all need to be reminded of these things on occasion.

1) PRIORITIZE: Your to-do list is probably a mile long. Face it – you aren’t going to get it all done today (and that’s ok.) But what you can do is look your list over and find the items that have a glaring need for your attention. Put those things at the top of your list. AND DO THEM. If you can’t complete the entire task, break it into little chunks and check those off as you complete them.

2) STOP PROCRASTINATING: If it needs to be done now, do it. Ignoring it will not make it disappear off of your list. It will only serve as a further distraction as you start to worry about the fact that it isn’t getting done. So just do it. You’ll feel better once it’s checked off of your list.

3) USE APPLICATIONS/TOOLS THAT ALLOW YOU TO BE MORE EFFECTIVE AND EFFICIENT: When I first started using Twitter, I hated it. I found myself on the Twitter website obsessively refreshing to see if someone had replied to any of my comments (“Why doesn’t anyone else see how witty I am on there?”). I wasted so much time doing that, I had to just quit Twitter for a couple of months. Then I learned about Twhrl and was hooked on Twitter once again. Only this time, I was able to use it in a way didn’t take me away from other work I was doing. If someone responded to me, I received a little notice on my screen. There are so many applications that make using Twitter so much easier and I’ve tried most of them. Tweetdeck has been my favorite, and each new version adds something that makes me enjoy it even more. Try them out and see which one helps you the most.

(*NOTE* I will be posting tutorials on some of the helpful features for each Twitter application/tool in an upcoming series)

4) KNOW WHEN TO CLOSE OTHER APPLICATIONS: The internet allows us to be in multiple places at one time. On so many levels, this is a fantastic thing. But when you are trying to get work done, it leads to overload. If you have too many programs open on your computer screaming for your attention it will become a major distraction. If you need to write a blog post, close down every program except for the ones you need in order to write your post. Don’t keep Tweetdeck or Skype or GoogleChat open, unless you have to have access to write your post. (And if that’s the case, consider doing that portion of your post separately) Those are tools meant to help you. Just as you can turn off your phone to keep from being interrupted, you can turn these other distractions off as well.

5) ALLOW YOURSELF TO BECOME PICKIER ABOUT WHERE YOU SPEND YOUR TIME ONLINE: When I first started reading other people’s blogs, I had the time to do it. Soon, my reader had become too full. At first I tried breaking them down into types of blogs (eg: design sites; blogging friends; cooking sites…) but my reader still caused me anxiety when I’d open it and find 500+ new posts waiting to be read. I was so afraid of missing something that I’d try to make it through that list (Oh yes I did…). But when I got to the end, I realized that I couldn’t recall most of it. That is because not all of it was relevant to me anymore. My needs had changed. I no longer needed every single design site (And really — did I ever??). So I whittled my list down to the select few that I consistently found myself referring to. I did that for each type of site I had in my reader. If it was not useful to me, I removed it.

6) ALWAYS HAVE SEVERAL POSTS STARTED IN YOUR DRAFTS: At any given time, I have at least 4 posts in my drafts folder that I can work on. This allows me to work on them as inspiration hits, but it also keeps me prepared for those times when something unexpected happens and I need to get a post up. If you are a blogger with a regular posting schedule, this can be a life-preserver in a pinch.

7) DEDICATE PARTS OF YOUR DAY TO VARIOUS TASKS: If you were at work in a corporate office, you would most likely have some sort of schedule that you’d follow through the day. It should be no different when you are sitting in front of your laptop at your kitchen table. Come up with a schedule/game plan for how you will spend your computer time. Twitter won’t die if you aren’t on there every 20 minutes. Facebook will carry on without you while you complete your current project. Set aside times of the day to spend on each of the sites you frequent. Consider what times of day are most active on those sites. (eg: Twitter is most active in the evening/night hours… but you may have people you call on who are most active in the morning) Feel free to allow for flexibility with it, but be aware of how much time you are spending on each site and how much time it is taking away from the other things you need to get done, and plan your time accordingly.

Time management doesn’t always come naturally to us. We want to do what we want to do. But sometimes, we have to do other things. With some focus dedicated to those things, you will soon find that your day feels more in control.

How do you manage your time? Share in comments.

The Ultimate Blog Party is Here:

(I’ve been a fan of Janice and Susan since 2006 when I first started blogging, and I’ve been so excited to watch their sites grow over the years. They are brilliant, savvy women. No one does sites for women better than them.)

Ultimate Blog Party 2009

Welcome! I hope that you will enjoy your visit and return to MMM often.

I’m always late to the party (actually, last year I managed to be the very first person on the UBP Mr. Linky. But that was an exception), so let me just jump right in with my intro:

I am Karla, the founder of Modern Media Mom. I’ve been blogging at my (neglected) personal blog, Looking Towards Heaven, since March of 2006. I love blogging. Recently, my other sites: Fruition Designs (where I sell Mommy Cards, stationery and Blog Design) and Modern Media Mom have nudged out a lot of my personal blogging time, but I’m trying to find more balance with it all.

My mission here at Modern Media Mom is to help you sort through the technical talk so that you can actually use the internet and technology to make your life easier.

Peek around. Hang out! You are sure to find useful and helpful information here.

I also have the latest headlines in technology that are relevant to you.

I’d love it if you’d subscribe (see that bright orange RSS button in the upper right corner? You can subscribe via feedreader or email) and spread the word.

You can also follow Modern Media Mom on Twitter.

If you have a blog or a mom-business, be sure to join in the fun at 5 Minutes for Mom!

PS: Enter UBP09 on your Blog Design order form, and you’ll get 10% off the Completely Custom package, 15% off the CompletelyUnique package and 20% off Completely You package, from now until March 30th.

2008: A Year in Review. of sorts

As I went through my old posts to do a simple Year In Review (basically taking the Title and First line from the first post of each month), one question kept crossing my mind: I write some dang good stuff! And everyone and their brother and mother and dog should be reading my blog. ;0)

These obviously aren’t my best posts, but it was fun to scroll through and be reminded of the events that took place over 2008.

If you’ve been reading me throughout the year – thank you for putting up with me. I’ve grown to love each of you for your encouragement and for “just being you” with me.

For my new readers – welcome! I can’t wait to get to know you! And if you really want to know more about me, this is a good place to start.

Here’s to an amazing 2009!

January 2008

WhatThe?! Week 5

Leave your guess in the comments.

WhatThe?! is the now defunct contest that I used to hold on my blog… there was no grand fanfare; no closing ceremony, no crying… it just sort of faded away as things got busier and busier for me.

I enjoyed running the contest, but it was so hard tracking down the people who won each month. I cringe when I think of the people who didn’t hear from me (GREAT BIG “L” on my forehead). And the response to it was rather… ummm lacking… (thank you, my 3 loyal participants)

February 2008

Not An Episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

Two years ago this week, we moved to Tennessee.

I still love reflecting on this time of my life. So much was learned and it’s never far from my mind. And I am also so thankful to be out of that apartment.

March 2008

Portraits of Women

I love looking at paintings in galleries.

This video amazed me. But as I looked at it again, I couldn’t help but notice how much our definition of beauty changes over time.

April 2008

WhatThe?! Week 17

Want a chance to win some super fab jewelry?

see January above.

May 2008

Capturing Motherhood in a Photo

I adore this photo.

Where has the time gone… seriously. I entered this photo in a contest that wanted to see photos that captured motherhood. This photo speaks this to me in volumes. I’ve now got it framed and sitting by my bed.

June 2008

Drink the Coffee [or else]

Few things earn an eye-roll from me more than stupidity issues that provoke silly behavior that gets worked up into stupidity silly behavior and craziness.

The dust up of Rachel Ray wearing a SCRAF caused me to take up the cause and post about other offensive scarves. [eyeroll]

July 2008

WhatThe?! Week 30

Want a chance to win a blog button for promoting your blog?

Dang there were a lot of months in 2008 that started on a Thursday! (the day the contest went up each week)

This particular WhatThe?! photo caused me a TON of embarrassment. tons. I addressed it here.

August 2008

Q&A Frump Style

So I’ve got some questions for you.

And people actually replied!! I have missed doing fashion and beauty posts – I will have to get back into the swing of those. But again – no one participates. So is it worth it?

September 2008

Where you’ll find me

As mentioned previously, my kids and personal hygiene have been neglected for the past week.

This was the relaunch of Blissfully Domestic, from its humble original beginnings, to its new fancy digs. So much work went into and we learned a lot about what it really takes. But the end result was fabulous. (and then we all slept for a month)

October 2008

No Wonder I look Like a Hag

Text above:

Wow – what an exciting way to start a post. Actually – this was a post in a series of vintage ads that I posted. I have several more where that came from. Advertising and manufacturing takes some freaky creepy directions at times.

November 2008

*original post removed*

We’ve started something new and fun over at Blissfully Domestic: a linky post where you can add your posts from the prior week – share your favorite tips, your cute crafty idea… anything that is Blissfully Domestic related.

We are always thinking of fun exciting ways to expand Blissfully Domestic. 2009 shows no signs of slowing down either.

December 2008

So This Girl Walks into a Blog and Makes a Big Announcement

While it may appear as though I’ve been missing on the blogging scene – the truth is that I have had my hands ALL OVER it; just in the background.

This was a big huge fat deal for me. I launched my first big solo blogging adventure! I have huge plans for ModernMediaMom.com in 2009. Be sure to give me your feedback and what you would like to see me write about. I want it to be a useful site.

I can’t wait to see what 2009 holds. Here’s to new friendships, true friends and living life together.