9 Free Essential Plugins All Bloggers Should Have

Today we are going to talk about the plugins I find myself repeatedly returning to. This guide applies to the self-hosted website owner or to a blogger with a WordPress.com business plan.

For the longest time, this website was hosted at DigitalOcean. [You can check out why I recommend DigitalOcean right here.] This isn’t the case anymore but I am still hosting other websites there. Although I try to strictly stay away from plugins (since they tend to slowdown WordPress), there are a few plugins I couldn’t live without.

Keep in mind, these are my recommendations based on personal experience.

Autoptimize: Speeds up your website considerably. There are tons of guides on how to properly tune this beast. Don’t use more than one caching plugin as they will conflict with one another.

Media File Renamer (Auto Rename): This plugin’s function is a simple but super useful one. It renames the filename of your picture based on the title so instead of EAF786- etc. It would rename Apples (title) as apples.jpg. It’s a must-have for sure.

Jetpack: Full of functionality but most importantly, what allows WordPress.com to communicate with your self-hosted site. I use their publicize feature, lazy load and subscription modules among many others. Jetpack comes installed by default on WordPress.com business plans or you can get it from here.

Add Category to Pages: Super useful if you make a lot of lengthy guides and want to keep these organized. You can also use permalinks manager lite for custom taxonomy alterations.

Elementor: (Optional) There’s a free and premium version but it’s basically a drag and drop page builder. This website is powered by Elementor (premium). Elementor deserves its own post so I won’t go into too much detail here.

jQuery Pin It Button for Images: This is the classic ‘Pin to Pinterest’ button you see when you hover over an image. This can be controlled to show on the front page or posts and can be fine-tuned for your specific needs. Mandatory if your blog is heavy on images.

SEOPress: Less bloated than Yoast Seo and packed with more features. No nagging headers and no decisions made for the user in future updates. Yoast Seo was my must-have but I didn’t like the way they changed things without letting the user choose (such as not letting media redirect to the post and instead to the attachment page.) SEOPress offers redirects and other essential things that are not locked under a pay wall. Their plugin is very easy to use.

Smash Balloon Instagram Feed: This is an Instagram feed widget and it applies mostly to sites that are self-hosted. A free and premium version is offered but I find the free version enough to suit my needs.

Akismet Anti-Spam : Spam-control at your fingertips. Also works wonders with contact forms.

You’ve learned about all my must-have plugins. Let me know in the comments below the plugins you can’t live without.

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