WordPress is a really powerful content system, but most people don’t use it to its fullest potential. Here’s a peek under the hood at my favorite plugins that I use to run my site.
If you’re not a small business owner or someone who runs a blog, this post may not be super interesting to you, but if you know someone who’s running a business, please share this post with them!
A little disclaimer here: technically, I don’t “run” my site. I leave that to the techies. I realized a couple of years ago that I’d never get the real growth in my business that I wanted if I insisted on doing everything myself. The techies keep the site upgraded, patched, secure, and functional. That allows me to just focus on content. When something gets broken, they are there to fix it.
Even though I’m not the one doing the installing and configuring, that doesn’t prevent me from sharing with you the WordPress Plugins that I find the most useful on my website. Some of these I knew about before the techies got involved, and others I didn’t find out about until the techies installed it and I got to play with it.
So without further delay, here are the top 5 WordPress Plugins that I use in my creative business.
Maybe you think this is a dumb thing to mention, because it’s practically the default on WP installs these days, but if you haven’t activated this and configured it on your blog, you are eventually going to be overwhelmed by spammers and opportunists. Turn it on, and let it help you filter out your comment spam.
Let me tell you… I’ve tried just about every eCommerce plugin in the WP universe. It even got so bad at one point that I left WP to put my shopping cart on another platform while leaving my blog here. Fun times. When I was forced to move my shopping cart less than a year after I’d changed it, the techies suggested coming back to WordPress. I balked at the idea because I’d had such bad experiences before.
So I decided to draft a 30 page list of requirements that my website had to meet for me to be willing to try it again. And guess what? Woo had an answer for everything. And even to this day, anything I can think of, Woo has it solved.
Just the other day I was trying to do something and I asked the techies about it, and they turned something on in Woo and boom. Done.
Now here’s the thing… not everything is in the Woo Core. A lot of things are solved by Woo Extensions. It’s kind of an interesting universe, to have plugins for your plugins, but because these things are so tightly integrated (and a lot of these extensions are paid, so you know there are real people behind them testing & supporting them) it’s a really stable environment for eCommerce. My business would simply not run without Woo.
3. SEO Redirection Premium
I am constantly moving things around and changing titles and slugs. Sometimes I’ll have a typo and need to get that fixed, or I’ll decide that a post I wrote 3 years ago would benefit from having a better title than “To Market, To Market.”
This redirect tool automatically sets up the redirects behind the scenes, so if I change a post so that it’s better for searching, this will pickup the change in the URL and set it up so that anyone who visits the old link will be sent automatically to the new one.
You can also set up rules, which is especially helpful if you’ve moved all your posts from mysite.com/blog/whatever-post to mysite.com/whatever-post.
My most recent favorite use for it is correcting 404 errors. Maybe they typed something in wrong, or another site had the wrong link, or maybe something didn’t get picked up correctly in a redirect. Well I can use this tool to see all the 404 errors that people are hitting on my site, and set up redirects to get them to the right place. For example, I used to have a category called Crapology 101 (ugh. What was I thinking?); now that category is called Business Insights. So if someone were trying to get to /category/crapology-101 I can send them to /category/business-insights.
Anyway. It’s just great. Love this tool.
4. All in One SEO Pack
Some people use Yoast. That’s cool too. Whatever you use, pick something that’s going to help you with SEO on your site. I used to have all sorts of problems getting the correct image to show up in social media whenever I shared a link to my blog posts or website. Now, there’s no issue.
It’s also helped me make sure my titles and post descriptions are the right length for search engines to pick up. You still have to write compelling copy, but at least now I know people will see it.
5. S3 Media Maestro
I’m sure you’ve heard of Cloud based storage like DropBox or OneDrive. Well, Amazon (yes, THAT Amazon) has cloud storage called S3. It’s basically a place to put images, files, and other media to keep your own website nice and compact, and not use up all your bandwidth trying to share your 20 minute shoelace making video.
So S3 Media Maestro helps you easily create links to the content that you have on the cloud (they also support CloudFront.)
It has an added benefit though, and that’s to protect paid content from being easily re-distributed.
No, it doesn’t prevent people from downloading files to their hard drive and then emailing it to all their friends, but it does keep them from grabbing the link to the content and sharing it that way. Essentially, if you’re going to swipe my content, you’re gonna do some work.
The thing is, if you just upload files through the “Add Media” link, it’s going directly into your /wp-content/uploads/ folder. And that means, once you put it there, anyone with the link can access it.
If you have content behind a paywall that people pay to access, this is a great plugin to have. Now, I’m not talking about downloadable patterns – there’s a way to do that with Woo that’s tied into the shopping cart. I’m talking about files or other things that you may want to present in more of an organized fashion, like a class or a membership area or something like that.
Passwords and paywalls and such can protect the pages and posts you protect that way, but they can’t do anything about the stuff you just upload into /wp-content/uploads/.
What plugins are you using in your creative business that you can’t live without? Anything on this list that’s new to you? Share in the comments!