Business, Life and Business Life. Real Talk.

11 Cool WordPress Plugins I Use and 7 I Want to Try

As part of an on-going effort to help people achieve their goals in blogging and business, I’ve decided to start a page that will list, what I think, are the best WordPress Plugins.

One of the things I love about WordPress is the number of options you have to improve your site through extensions and plugins. This post is a highlight of some of the plugins I find most useful (or just plain cool :)).

Note 1: I will set up all the FREE plugins listed on my plugins page for you if you decide to use my services to get started.

Note 2: On my plugins page I list some plugins I no longer have to use since I switched to the Headway theme. I still list these plugins for your benefit.

The following is a short list of plugins broken up by category:

Cool WordPress Plugins

Subscription Optimization:

  1. Popup Domination ($): While most people will describe pop-ups as annoying, the fact is they work. I use this on a niche site to solicit subscriptions. But don’t worry…the subscribers get value in return with a report I worked my ass off to produce.
  2. ViperBar: This is a great plugin created by Glen Allsopp which creates a bar at the top of the page (above the header) where readers can enter their information and subscribe to your list.
  3. Quick Adsense: While this plugin was designed to place Adsense ads on your site, I use it a bit differently. In my post describing how to increase opt-in list subscribers I talk about how I use this plugin (hint: place ads to other on-site pages).

Getting Social:

  1. 1-click Retweet/Share/Like: This is the plugin that places the share buttons before and after the post which allows readers to share the post on their favorite social network.
  2. Sharebar: This places a bar to the left of your post that follows the reader all the way down the page with share buttons. Sharing your post is always one click away with this plugin (speaking of which, please share this post now :) ). You can also customize the plugin to add buttons that aren’t included by default.
  3. Tweet Old Post: Set up this plugin and have your old posts Tweet automatically to your account. This is a great way to revive older posts on your blog and bring in some extra traffic from Twitter.

Editing:

  1. Duplicate Post: This really belongs under the “Just Plain Cool” section because this plugin was a lifesaver for me when I was putting together the Bursting with Bloggers series. It allowed me to duplicate existing posts and edit a copy of an old post instead of starting from scratch and having to format a new post entirely. I can’t even being to estimate how many hours of work this plugin saved me.¬†(Phew! Thank God I found this plugin!)
  2. Publish Confirmation: If you read this post then you know why I decided to pick this one up. This plugin helps prevent any accidental posting on your part. So you will not publish anything until you’re absolutely certain you want to.

Protect Yourself:

  1. Simple Trackback Validation: This plugin prevents any spammers from sending trackbacks to your posts for the sole purpose of backlinking. It actually checks to see that there is a mention of your post on the linking site – it has prevented many attempts at spam-linking to this blog.
  2. Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin: This plugin is the best of both worlds. Not only does it prevent spam comments, but it also makes commenting very easy for the reader. It does not require the commenter to put in a CAPTCHA code. Instead all the commenter has to do to check a box stating that they are not a spammer – this prevents spam bots from leaving comments for the sole purpose of backlinking.

Just Plain Cool:

  1. WP FancyZoom: While this plugin doesn’t necessarily have any benefit in terms of optimization or SEO, it is just plain cool. And it does have design benefits (if you’re into that sort of thin :)). With this plugin you can place an image on your page, and it allows the reader to click the image to see a larger version (which will zoom up from the screen for them…I dare you to tell me that’s not cool!).

Plugins I want to try:

  1. Thank Me Later: This plugin automatically sends an email to people who leave comments thanking them for leaving one. I’m not sure if this is something I would use in combination with the ReplyMe plugin which I use now, but I have to look into it because I’ve heard good things.
  2. W3TotalCache: I currently use WP Super Cache to optimize site speed, but I’ve heard some good reviews of the W3 Total Cache plugin. This may be a better option.
  3. WP-Invoice: This is a good plugin for people offering services through their sites. While you can invoice clients directly through PayPal, using this plugin may make the process more efficient by invoicing from within WordPress.
  4. Add Sig: I currently use the End Content plugin to create a sign-up form at the bottom of each post. But the Add Sig plugin allows you to do that plus it allows you to customize different signatures for different posts. Not sure if I need to have that at this moment, but I can definitely see a lot of use for having the customization option.
  5. Author Box Reloaded: I currently dont’ have an author box at the end of any of my posts but I can definitely see some use for having one. It re-introduces you to readers on every post you write, and also has certain SEO benefits by interlinking pages on your site. I already have some post-content content, but this may be a good thing to add to the mix.
  6. Blubrry: Unfortunately I don’t have a podcast quite yet. But it is something I have been thinking about starting for quite some time now. This is plugin looks like a good one to get started in podcasting.
  7. Wordpres SEO by Yoast: I currently use All-in-one SEO Pack but I’ve been hearing some great reviews of the Yoast plugin. Maybe it’s time to try this one out instead?

Plugins I don’t have to use since switching to Headway:

  1. Exclude Pages: This plugin allows you exclude pages form your top navigation menu by un-checking a box within the page back-end. Couldn’t get any simpler really. However, I have no use for this plugin any more since switching to the Headway theme because I now use custom menu navigation.
  2. Homepage Excerpts: This plugin allows you to have shortened version of your full post on your blog homepage. This is great if you do not want to display your entire post on the front page (which I don’t). Of course, Headway has internal options that allow you to do the same thing.
  3. Thumbnail For Excerpts: If you are using excerpts on your homepage you probably want to have an image thumbnail to spice that excerpt up. This plugin allows you to insert an image thumbnail next to your excerpt. But again, Headway offers a similar option internally.

I hope that list was helpful! And remember to check out my plugins page for a full list of plugins I use!

Your Two Cents:

Do you use any of the plugins I listed above?
Do you have any plugins that you find extremely useful that you think should be added to the list?
Have you tried any of the plugins in the “Plugins I want to try” section? If so, what was your experience with them?
How sweet is WordPress? :)

 

50 Responses to 11 Cool WordPress Plugins I Use and 7 I Want to Try

  1. I have seen people use Thank Me Later and I would get like 5 e-mails a day from them because I left a single comment. So I have never tried it on my blog and I don’t think I ever would. I love ReplyMe :)

    When it comes to W3 total cache, I used it, it didn’t do an amazing job and the fact that it has access to your .htaccess file is a bit risky at times. They recently had a security problem so I removed it.

    Some of the plugins listed are great but I don’t use them because I am using Thesis and it is very easy to add codes instead of plugins, like author box and share buttons.

    Awesome post, Eugene :)

    • Eugene says:

      Haha, I know what you mean about the 5 e-mails a day. Always so exciting to get a new one just to realize its from the same person again :).

      I had no idea that W3 had access to .htaccess file (obviously, I haven’t tried it yet :)), but that’s a big no no for me, thank’s for the heads up.

      Yeah, I’ve tried a few premium themes already and was debating between going for Thesis or for Headway. I think Headway just did a better marketing job on me with the “drag and drop theme” thing :). So far I’m loving it.

      Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment! I really appreciate it!

  2. Dino Dogan says:

    Thank Me Later is the coolest plugin Ive ever seen, the first time.

    Once you see it the second time, it becomes annoying. Very weird dynamic.

    I love Tweet Old Post of course, simple awesomeness.

    I use Digg Digg instead of Sharebar, but it’s the same idea…I really like both.

    I’ve always used All In One but have installed Yoast on one of my blogs…its more powerful than All In One, has more options and may not be for a casual, moderately technical blogger. I see Yoast as a “Im really deep into SEO stuff” kind of plugin.

    All In One is more of a “let me do the bare minimum so I dont get left behind” kind of deal :-)

    • Eugene says:

      I know exactly the dynamic you’re talking about. I think I may stay away from Thank Me Later after all. Already have ReplyMe going, so there’s really on reason to add anything else.

      I was checking out Digg Digg too and realized it does pretty much the same thing. Plus I can add whatever other button I need to Sharebar, so there’s no reason to switch.

      That’s what I keep hearing about Yoast…how it’s more powerful. “More powerful” always gets me! But maybe that’s for a later point in time when I want to focus more heavily on SEO. Thanks for clarifying between the two.

      And thanks for stopping by! Always good to have the Chief-in-charge here :)

  3. The list looks pretty much awesome. I’ve added it to my watch list. Particularly the pop-up plugin.

    • Eugene says:

      Thanks! The Pop-up one is great if you want to build your list quicker. It definitely increases your opt-in rates.

  4. Adam Daly says:

    Love it. WP FancyZoom is the first I’m going to try. I’ve had problems with lightbox and other plugins, but it sounds like this might be the ticket.

    • Eugene says:

      Seriously…try it. When I found this thing and uploaded it I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Still think it’s pretty cool :).

      Thanks for stopping by and dropping a line Adam!

  5. Eugene,

    Some interest8ing programs here in both your use and “may use” catagories. Of course a few that I already knew about and either use, don’t for cause or I flip back-and-forth on constantly depending on mood.

    (like pop-up domination.. I like it for a while then I hate it…then I like it again.` It works but there are, of course negatives.)

    The main one I was left “wanting to try” was duplicate post, which is something that could be very good in my other niche where my posts are far more, ‘generic’ and I could just rework and riff off of a handful of templates.

    • Eugene says:

      Hey Steve,

      If you can work off of a handful of templates I think that this plugin might be your golden ticket.

      You have no idea how happy I was when I found this thing in the midst of publishing the interview series. It was a godsend.

      And I’ve never seen it on any other “plugin list” post so I always look at it as my little secret. Glad to share the secret with you, though. Hope it helps!

  6. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love some of these suggestions! I’ve never heard of some of these plugins, but I can assure you I will be checking several of them out asap. Simple Trackback validation looks great as does Publish Confirmation.

    Thanks for the list!

    • Eugene says:

      Simple Trackback Validation is a great one! The funny thing is that hours after this post went live I got bombarded with several SPAM trackbacks – which the plugin blocked. I have comments set on auto-approve, so the validation plugin is a must-have for me.

  7. Hector, what about the basics like Sociable, Google XML, All in One SEO, Statpress and Tweetme and Nextgen Gallery?

    • Eugene says:

      Hey Charlie, I think you meant to say “Eugene”? :)

      All of the plugins that I use that aren’t included on this list are on the plugins page I mentioned at the beginning of the post.

      I do use Google XML, All-in-one SEO (as I mention in my comment about Yoast), and Statpress. I don’t have use for Sociable or other plugins of the sort because I use 1-Click Retweet along with the Sharebar. That’s a combination I really like and think I’m goint to stick to. I used to use SexyBookmarks but didn’t like the extra step readers would have to take to connect to Twitter and THEN share.

      I also don’t have any use for NextGen Gallery. At least not yet. Maybe some day :).

  8. Thanks for this cool list of plugins. I am currently using Tweet Old Post, Thank Me Later and WP Super Cache (added two days ago). I am considering deleting the Thank Me Later plugin since I now reply to all comments. You mention a few that I would like to investigate when time permits. I am hesitant to add many plugins since I was told that the Thesis them is quite robust (I still need to explore Thesis functionality also).

    • Eugene says:

      Yeah, on second thought I don’t think I’m going to try Thank Me later because I already use ReplyMe. Might be a bit redundant. Thesis is really robust, but I fell in love with Headway because it is so easy to make design changes and insert custom codes (and you don’t have to be a pro coder). I think you need to know how to code a little more with the Thesis theme.

  9. I would like to save some plugins from one of my wordpress blogs and upload them to another wordpress blog I own. The only way I can see so far is to back up my entire WP database and use phpmyadmin, but that backs up the entire site, all I want to do is reuse the plugins.

    • Eugene says:

      Try going into the file manager in your actual hosting account and zipping the plugins folder. Then you can keep a zipped file of all your plugins that you can upload at any time. I use HostMonster which allows me to copy and paste files very easily from one site to another as well…not sure which host you use though.

  10. Hi Eugene,

    I use many of the same plugins as you, but I also use WPSubsribers to add sign up forms all over (header, footer, sidebar, inpost, pop-up etc..). And I have signed up with VaultPress to create backups of my blog. Both are paid plugins.

    I have installed W3 Total Cache plugin just a few minutes ago. So, I have no idea if it’s working, but I’ve read so many good things about it, I just had to try myself.

    I use Digg Digg to add various social media services to my blog (it works with both top, bottom and side of the posts).

    I have been looking for the author box reloaded, but I didn’t know the name. Thanks a lot :)

    Jens

    • Eugene says:

      You’re very welcome. Glad I could help :).

      Brankica just mentioned that the W3 Total Cache has access to the .htaccess file, so that’s a bit of a red flag for me. I may stay with WP Cache for now.

  11. I’m familiar with WP since I did most of the work to create my business blog. Now I have two upcoming projects for a non-profit and a personal blog of my own. I’m not a graphic designer. Would you recommend Woo Themes instead of Headway, or do you feel Headway offers enough additional benefit to be instead of Woo Themes? I can’t see whether Headway offers themes to start from, or whether it’s more appropriate for someone more confident in their design skills than I.

    • Eugene says:

      It depends on what you are looking for. If you find a theme on Woo Themes that you absolutely love, then you might as well go with that one because all of the design work is done for you.

      I really like Headway because it offers you a lot of design flexibility without having to actually code anything. The back-end of Headway is really impressive. It has something called a “visual editor” where you can edit the design of your blog on the fly by clicking buttons and dragging fields. So you can have a 3 column design on one page, a 2 column on another…whatever you want.

  12. myrna Greenhut says:

    So much good info shared, I can’t wait to try some WP plugins.

  13. Eugene, I’m always amazed at how when I think I’ve pretty much gotten all the plugins one needs, then I realize there are clearly some new ones I’m missing out on. This was really, really great my friend—-and well done.

    Marcus

    • Eugene says:

      Thanks Marcus, and always a pleasure to have you here.

      I was under the impression that I had it all figured out too for a while, but there’s always a little something you can add…that’s the beauty of WordPress. I remember seeing the picture effect on Robert Dempsey’s site and thought it was really awesome – I figured he did some fancy-shmancy coding to get that done. Then I came across FancyZoom completely by accident and had to have it. I think that plugin is just awesome :).

  14. Steve says:

    Surprised that you don’t mention anything about backup plugins…

    • Eugene says:

      Hey Steve,

      I have one installed, but I don’t have it activated. I’m not sure why…I know I should probably get on that. When I do I’ll ad it to my Best WordPress Plugins page, where I’m trying to keep track of all the plugins I use either on this site or my other sites.

      • Steve says:

        Just my two cents but I use Back Up Buddy on all my sites. I had to learn the hard way. I’d really encourage you to check it out. (I have no affiliation with Back Up Buddy or iThemes except being a happy customer).

  15. Adnan Ali says:

    popup domination really works, i heard about it a lot but yet now not tried it.

  16. Jk Allen says:

    What’s up Eugene!

    I only use a couple of the plugins mentioned here…but glad I ran across this because that means I have a few new plugins to checkout. The use Publish Confirmation, Growamp Spam Check, and a Reply email confirmation plugin, but not sure if it’s the same one that you’ve listed that you want to checkout.

    The thing I love about WordPress plugins are that they are so easy to setup…and you can get pretty complex functionality out of some of them, enhancing the experience for both the reader and author.

    One that I didn’t noticed mentioned above, but that you use and that many other bloggers use is CommentLuv. I think this is a cool plugin.

    Have a good week Eugene! Move yet?

    • Eugene says:

      Hey Jk,

      I have a separate page of all the plugins I use, I just wanted to highlight a few with this post (hopefully I have CommentLuv listed on there, I’ll have to go check :)).

      The functionality you get with some of these plugins are really impressive. WordPress is one of the greatest things to happen to the internet. The community of developers is amazing. Anyone can set up a website or business with a few clicks…crazy when you stop and think about it.

  17. Thanks for the list. The Author Box Reloaded sounds like a really good plugin. It would be great for people who come to your post via search engine to be able to see the box at the bottom and lean a little bit about you without having to find your “About Me” link, and leave the page. I also use All in One SEO Pack, but have heard good things about Yoast’s WordPress SEO.

    • Eugene says:

      I’ve been looking for the Author Box for a while now, and now that I found it I still haven’t installed it :). I’m not sure if I should or not since I already have related posts and an opt-in form separating my content from the comment field. I’m just not sure if I want to add more clutter (or maybe it wouldn’t be clutter?).

  18. I really like Thank Me Later, I’d definitely recommend it! I’m not sure how different it is from ReplyMe either or if you’d need both, but I do like it for myself!

    • Eugene says:

      ReplyMe lets commenters know every time there is a direct response to one of their comments. As Dino said, Thank Me Later can get annoying after the first time you see it. So I think I might hold back on that one for now, especially since I already use ReplyMe

  19. Walter says:

    Frankly, I not familiar with some of the plugins you have mentioned here but I think they are worth checking. I have been very careful with plugins because I take into consideration the resources they will take once installed–there are some plugins out there that slows your site. :-)

    • Eugene says:

      That’s really smart Walter. I tend to just install plugins to play around with them and see if they’re useful. I’ve never really taken lag time into account when doing so. Probably something I should take a look at and research with some of the plugins that I am currently using. Thanks for the comment!

  20. Thanks for Popup Domination plugin, i’m trying it right now on one of my blogs and it’s working wonders! Will just have to wait and see if those subscribers have any long term value.

    • Eugene says:

      People can say that popups are annoying all they want, the fact of the matter is they work. I think it depends on who your audience is and what your goals are…but it’s definitely an effective tool.

  21. I actually bookmarked this post because I need to have this list since I only know few of these plugins. I think the protect yourself plugins is one of the most useful set of plugins that a wp user can make use of especially there are lots of people after of just leaving their footprints in different blogs.

    • Eugene says:

      Yep, if you’re creating a presence online protecting it is definitely really important. I’m still looking into some good security plugins (for anti-hacking and such).

  22. Hey Eugene,

    I didn’t see commentluv on your list. It’s a pretty good one, plus the premium version comes with several other useful plugins as well. It might be a good investment for you. :)

    Great list.

  23. wpsupersweep says:

    Great post – just subscribed to your feed – thank you! The WPSuperSweep is a plugin I recommend for all wp blog owners, I’m using it on all my sites now.

    • Eugene says:

      Thanks Ken. I haven’t heard of that plugin. I’ll have to check it out.

      • Ken Reno says:

        hey Eugene, yea it’s pretty cool – they have it on WSO and was really popular with my readers. What’s new and exciting your way? Hope you’re well!