21 WordPress Plugins I Wouldn't Run My Business Without

21 WordPress Plugins I Wouldn’t Run My Business Without

If you're about to begin your journey of online business, you'll most likely come across the name “WordPress.”

WordPress is a framework. It's like the frame of your car; it holds everything together and makes it work. You still need an engine (hosting), you still need to give it a coat of paint (themes), but the frame is the backbone.

While there are many options for software to build your site, WordPress is my recommendation.

WordPress Plugins for Business

Photo credit: bobbigmac / Foter / CC BY

There are thousands of themes, or skins, to customize the look of your WordPress site. Additionally, there are hundreds of thousands of plugins that add functionality.

Regarding these plugins, I'm often asked

What plugin do you use for…?

If you've ever wondered the same thing, or if you're looking to build a WordPress site for your business, this post is for you.

WordPress plugins are like apps for your phone. They “plug-in” to your WordPress installation and allow you to add features.

Over the past three years, I've tested hundreds of plugins across almost every category. There are three things I always look at when testing them.

I evaluate WordPress Plugins by asking

  1. Is this plugin easy to use?
  2. How much value am I, or my readers, getting from the added functionality?
  3. Does this plugin make my site load slower? (Ie. is there a performance hit to my site?)

Here is a list the WordPress plugins I'm using today in my business, what they do, and why I recommend them.

Bit.ly Shortlinks – Allows me to use a custom shortlinks with my site. It replaces wp.me/123AbC with ellory.us/123AbC for every blog post. I recommend this plugin because it allows you to brand each shortlink to your site. I teach a module on how to use this plugin to create custom branded links in my Online Business Training Course.

Learn How to Start a BlogBlubrry PowerPress – The most popular plugin for podcasters using WordPress. PowerPress makes it easy to configure everything for your show before you submit it to iTunes and other directories. I teach you how to configure and optimize this plugin in my bestselling ebook on podcasting.

Disqus Comment System and/or Livefyre – The comment system in WordPress is ok. However, it requires additional plugins to block spam. Disqus and Livefyre do a better job of preventing spam and look better doing it. I recommend testing each of these options. I recommend them because they have more features than the built-in option.

Want me to help you grow your blog in ? Then check out my free 30 Day Blog Transformation email course!

Drop Caps – I learned about Drop Caps from Michael Hyatt. This plugin makes the first letter of a post or page larger than the rest of the text. This makes your post look more like a book and makes it clear where the starting point is. I like it because it adds flare to your site.

Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) – The backbone of my online store. EDD helps with creating products and all the way through the sales process. I recommend EDD because it's a free plugin that doesn't take a percentages of sales. With it, you can create discount codes, track sales, and even view the purchase history of your customers. Read more about EDD here. I also teach about how to get the most out of EDD in my online course.

Easy Digital Downloads – Affiliates Pro – This is one of only two premium plugins on this list. Affiliates Pro (AP) is a $60 plugin I purchased to plug into EDD. AP allows you to create your own affiliate program, again, without having to pay someone a percentage. Within AP you can configure commission rates, view top referrers, and generate affiliate ads with short codes.

Evergreen Post Tweeter – Have an evergreen post? This plugin automates the sharing of older content. While I don't currently use this plugin, it's been great for me in the past. Customize your tweets with hashtags and even exclude certain categories.

Jetpack – While I deactivate most of the options within Jetpack, it has its uses. Here are the parts of Jetpack I do use:

  • Contact Form – it's too simple to not use
  • Enhanced Distribution – pings search engines of new content
  • Google+ Profile – it can't hurt, right? Enables Google Authorship
  • Publicize – connect social profiles for automated sharing
  • Sharing – adds social media sharing buttons to your posts and pages
  • Spelling and Grammar – duh
  • WP.me Shortlinks – short urls, works with the Bitly plugin
  • Widget Visibility – additional widget options, sometimes its better to use HTML code
  • WordPress.com Stats – nifty info on your dashboard

List category postsWant to show a list of posts by a single category? This plugin allows you to do it. It works great if you want to feature guest posts or posts from a certain topic.

Members – One of the many free options for restricting access to content. I use Members as the gatekeeper for my online course. If you don't want to go with a full-featured solution like Wishlist Member, try the Members plugin.

nrelate Related Content – While I'm not currently using nrelate, I've used it in the past. It displays content “You might also like:” at the end of your posts. The folks at Bluehost told me this plugin was a resource hog so I've indefinitely disabled it. I've also found that linking within your post drives more traffic than nrelate's images at the bottom.

OptinSkin – The 2nd of 2 premium plugins I use and recommend. OptinSkin allows you to create great looking optin forms and split test them as well.

P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) – Plugins rarely, if ever, make your site faster. The team at GoDaddy developed the P3 plugin to test the performance hit each plugin gives your system. I recommend you test it out to see which plugins are slowing down your site.

Pretty Link Lite – This plugin makes ugly links “pretty” and easy to remember. A critical part of my business. Pretty Link takes a long URL like https://www.ellorywells.com/downloads/start-professional-podcast-200-less/ and lets me turn it into https://www.ellorywells.com/Podcast200. I also use this on featured podcast images to make it easy for listeners to go directly to a podcast episode.

Scroll Triggered Boxes – While SumoMe is great for a scroll-triggered optin form, sometimes you want something else. This plugin is similar to WordPress Pop Up Plugin in that it allows you to paste HTML into it's popup creator.

Simple Social Icons – Simple Social Icons is, well, simple. I recommend Better Social Media Buttons for speed and options, however, Better Social Media Buttons isn't technically a plugin.

SumoMe – Developed by Noah Kagan's team at AppSumo, SumoMe is the free answer to premium plugins that do basically the same thing. SumoMe is a software suite that includes popups, slide-ins, a smart bar and several other cool things. I recommend it because it's not JavaScript based, adds minimal code, and doesn't seem to make my site any slower.

Use Google Libraries – “Allows your site to use common JavaScript libraries from Google's AJAX Libraries CDN, rather than from WordPress's own copies.” This plugin should make your site run a little faster.

WordPress Editorial Calendar – This calendar plugin allows you to see a calendar of the posts you scheduled. Instead of trying to remember dates, you can see where each post falls on a calendar month. This plugin is more of a visual tool than a functional one for me. You can also drag and drop posts within the calendar view to reorder or reschedule them.

Want me to help you grow your blog in ? Then check out my free 30 Day Blog Transformation email course!

WordPress Pop Up Plugin – SumoMe is good for popping up subscribe forms, but this plugin allows you to popup almost anything. You can paste in HTML or design your own within the plugins popup creator. A good (and free) alternative. I've tested a dozen popup plugins and this was the most user-friendly.

WordPress SEO – This plugin is a must. WordPress SEO adds an SEO box below every post and page. Using this box, you can see how well you've optimized your content for search.

Question: What plugins are indispensable to your business?


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  • Mark C. Vogler says:

    Would have been nice for links to all plugins, but great choices!

  • geeknews says:

    Here is the link to PowerPress.. You can also have integrated podcast hosting by using the plugin with Blubrry Podcast Hosting http://create.blubrry.com/resources/powerpress/

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