Let’s face it, Blogging is fun. Why else would millions of people do it?
Its creative, it allows you to speak out to the community, to receive feedback and criticism from people that share your interests or hobbies.
On the other side, Blogging can be quite tedious activity if you don’t use the right tools for it.
To be honest initially i started using WordPress for this blog just because i had some brief experience with it few years ago, and my hosting was supporting it out of the box so i looked no further. And boy was i lucky
WordPress really is powerful blogging and CMS platform. Its main strength comes from thousands of various plugins that can be used to extend and customize it beyond recognition.
I won’t go into details on how to add or setup your WordPress installation since this is trivial.
I will just list some cool WordPress plugins i use on regular basis that make my life as blogger much easier and more fun.
So here they are, in (almost) random order:
- WP-Mail-SMTP – this one is my favorite. It allows you to use custom SMTP server for sending any email from your blog. Since many hosting providers block the default PHP email command to prevent spamming, you have to use this plugin to setup WordPress to use your SMTP server to send outgoing emails. If you happen to be one of the (un)fortunate users of GoDaddy’s hosting like myself, make sure you use these settings for the WP-Mail-SMTP plugin instead of the settings you received from their support when you created the email account:
SMTP Server: relay-hosting.secureserver.net
SMTP port: 25
Encryption: No encryption
Authentication: Do not use SMTP authentication
- WP Ajax Edit Comments – this one allows your users to alter their comments on your posts if they made some mistake or just want to add more text etc. Everything is highly configurable and you can set time limits, configure which fields can be modified etc. Its very annoying for blog visitors when they realize that they made a typo in their comment so this nice plugin gives them opportunity to fix this easily so its must have in my opinion.
- Comment Reply Notification – this plugin is also comment related and allows users to be notified if someone replies to their comment on your blog. Its user friendly so they can uncheck a checkbox and do not receive notifications etc
- Akismet – this is installed by default with WordPress but still i want to mention it. Akismet filters spam comments based on large online spammers list so it makes your life easier – you dont have to constantly waste your time on marking bogus comments as spam – this plugin does this automatically for you. One drawback is that in order to use it you have to create an WordPress API account but this is very easy and its worth it i can tell you that from my personal experience.
- Light Social – this plugin ads small social bookmarking widget on bottom of the each page and post that allows your readers to bookmark your content on various social bookmarking websites. It has it all: Delicious, DotNetKicks, Reddit, Digg, Stumbleupon, Tecnorati etc)
- Fast and Secure Contact Form – with this one you can easily put contact forms on your blog (on posts, pages, widgets etc) to allow you readers to send you some feedback. Its highly customizable and currently i use only small part of its features but still i find it very useful. Off course there is an option to protect your forms from spammers by adding CAPTCHA otherwise it would be useless.
- Google XML Sitemaps – Search Engine Optimization is very important if you want your blog to reach your readers so be sure to install this plugin. It adds XML sitemaps to your blog for all important search engines and it will instantly increase the visibility of your posts.
- Post Ideas+ – this one helps you easily write down ideas for future blog posts directly on your blog so you don’t have to memorize them or write on small papers that you will later lose. If you keep forgetting things like me you will use this plugin very often
- Visitor Maps and Who’s Online – this plugin keeps track of all your visitors on all pages of your Blog and then allows you to see detailed statistics about every visit. It uses GeoLiteCity free online database to determine the city of the visitor based on his IP Address. So you can see and publicly show map of the world with pinpoint markers of cities of your visitors – very nice!
- Backupify for WordPress – this plugin allows you to make full backup of your WordPress blog – Just in case! You have to create an account with Backupify.com but this you should do anyway since it supports backups of many other services like Twitter, GMail etc. Backup everything i say!
Without all these cool plugins it would be so hard to create content for my blog that i would probably gave it up long time ago (or never even started it in the first place).
So i recommend you to take a look on each of them and try them out on your WordPress blog – it is very likely that some of them they will become natural part of your Dashboard.
For those of you not using WordPress: what can i say, maybe its time for you to consider a change of Blogging platform?
And last but not the least, I’m sending a BIG THANK YOU to the authors of WordPress and all its plugins wishing them that they continue with the great work they have been doing so far.