One advantage WordPress.org (aka self-hosted WordPress) has over Blogger, and even WordPress.com, is the ability to install plugins, separate little applications that do specific things to make your blog work better. Here are a few of my favorites:
Akismet is a plugin that identifies spam comments; Block Top Spammers takes that information and allows you to block those spammers.
I love these plugins because I didn’t realize how much Blogger blocks spam comments for their blogs. Sure, there are still the occasional weird comment that gets through, but for the most part, I never worried much about spam comments when I was on Blogger. It was a totally new thing for me once I came to WP – from day one, it felt like I was inundated with spam comments. So, I use Akismet to identify known spammers, then Block Top Spammers to, you guessed it, block them from leaving comments again.
#2 – All-in-one-Favicon
I’ve mentioned this one before, but it makes adding a favicon to your self-hosted WP blog so easy that I had to share it again. All you have to do once you install the plugin is upload your favicon image to your Media files, then copy that file URL to the appropriate space in the All-in-one-Favicon section under Settings.
As a nice touch, you can upload your favicon for both the front end and the back end of your blog, which is great if you’ve got several blogs you jump in and out of, or just want to keep things looking the same.
#3 – CommentLuv
CommentLuv is a great way to let visitors link back to their most recent blog post, and all with just a simple checkmark. Super easy to install, super easy to configure, and it gives a little love to readers who take the time to stop and comment.
I found out about this plugin from the Just Be Enough crew, and I’m so glad I did.
I love replying to comments directly, especially when someone’s asking a question. But WP doesn’t have an email response feature with their native commenting system. I believe other plugins, like Disqus and Intense Debate do have this feature, but other than responding to emails, I’m pretty happy with the way the general WP comments work.
Now, with this plugin, I can leave my responses (and answers) right on the blog, and Comment Reply Notification will email that response to the original commenter. I can also configure which replies get emailed, which is nice.
I used to use LinkWithin, both here and on the old blog, and was really quite happy with it. From the moment that I installed it, I could tell it was doing exactly what I hoped – drive traffic to older blog posts. I ended up switching to nRelate earlier this year because there were a few more options with it – such as size of the photos, style of the plugin, and specific categories to include in the related content – and it’s been just as effective.
No matter which you choose, I’d highly recommend a related post plugin; I like knowing older blog posts can still be seen.
If you offer occasional freebies, like PDFs, Electric Studio Download Counter is a great little plugin that gives you a simple number counter for every file format you specify. It’s simple, really only measuring the number of times the specified files have been downloaded, but effective if that’s the only stat you care about.
#7 – Ecwid Shopping Cart
I found out about this plugin thanks to the lovely Dannielle, and have been using it for my bead destash page. I knew I wanted to do a destash, but I didn’t want to pay any shop fees because I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to go through it all or how much interest people would have in it. At Dannielle’s suggestion, I signed up for a Ecwid account (it’s free up to 100 products), loaded up my products, and added the Ecwid Shopping Cart plugin to bring my new shop over onto my blog.
Now, why did I go with Ecwid over E-junkie, where I already have account? Because my E-junkie account is for digital items, and Ecwid is free. The next plan up for Ecwid does allow both physical and digital goods to be sold in the same shop, so if you’re looking for an all-in-one shop solution, give it a look. At $17 USD per month for 20,000 products (both physical and digital), it’s cheaper than pretty much everything else out there.
Want more plugin suggestions? My buddy Libby’s got her list of favorites right here. What are some of yours?