WordPress Plugins for Digital Wordsmiths

Plugins can literally make or break a WordPress installation. Some, I use as the job demands. But others are on a list of must-have favorites that I install the moment I log in to a new WordPress dashboard.

I’m always on the lookout for new plugins — and ways to get rid of unnecessary ones. I run between 15 to 35 plugins per WordPress install, depending on the site. Yes, I think that less is more when it comes to plugins. But I’d rather recommend a plugin that won’t change with theme updates rather than suggest that too many people hack their functions.php file. (And the truth is, it’s not plugins slowing your site down, but poorly coded plugins.)

Here is the list of the plugins I install for my friends and clients. (Don’t miss my 5 minute guide to WordPress plugins that will help you navigate the options on this page!)

(Did you know? When you go to add new plugins in your WordPress dashboard, you can enter a username under “Favorites” and see anyone’s favorite plugins. My username is gretchenlouise. Find my ever-changing list of favorites–and the plugins I’m trying–on my WordPress.org profile.)

Social Sharing

Social Follow

  • Simple Social Icons
  • Jetpack Social Icons

Comments & Spam

  • Akismet: It doesn’t quite catch it all alone, but it’s a good start at combating spam in WP.
  • Antispam Bee: A good option if your site produces revenue but you still want a free anti-spam plugin.
  • Comment Probation: Don’t necessarily want to give someone all commenting rights after approving one of their comments? Put them on probation.
  • Subscribe to Comments Reloaded: Offer comment subscriptions, customize and add a privacy policy link to each email, etc.
  • Yoast Comment HacksMore options and cleaner notifications on the admin level.

WordPress Backup Solutions


Backups, Optimization, & Security

Click here for 6 Simple WordPress Security Tips (and additional security plugin recommendations).

SEO and Analytics

  • WordPress SEO
    set your default Facebook thumbnail, add custom text to your RSS feed, create a sitemap, and so much more — all in one plugin!
  • Google Analytics for WordPress
    easily install Google Analytics to your site, prevent Google from tracking visits by you and other site authors–and then put your Google Analytics stats right in your dashboard where you can keep an eye on them (see instructions & more from WPBeginner here)
  • Ninja Forms (free) or Gravity Forms (pro–affiliate link)
    add any number of highly customizable contact forms for your site
  • Auto Post Thumbnail
    automatically set the first uploaded image as the featured image thumbnail when you hit “publish” (can be problematic with custom post types like slides)

Plugins to Extend the Genesis Framework

RSS Plugins

Related Posts Plugins

  • Jetpack Related Posts Module

Check out my reviews of the most popular Related Posts Plugins.

Optional Plugins

  • WP 101 (affiliate link)
    brings WordPress tutorials right into your dashboard
  • Editorial Calendar
    if you schedule your posts in advance, this drag-and-drop plugin may be a lifesaver!

Advanced Plugins

  • Search Regex
    change your site URL and need to change every image link?  easy.  want to eliminate your last name from your posts? simple.
  • WooSidebars
  • Widget Logic or Dynamic Widgets
    define appearance of widgets based upon what pages, categories, etc. they should be in (WL allows you to write all the PHP rules yourself — DW gives you checkboxes for each page/category/etc.)
  • CodePress Admin Columns
    eliminate all the extra columns that pugins like Yoast’s SEO plugin add to your post/pages views
  • MyBook Table 
    must-have plugin for authors

Plugins for Group/Contributor Blogs

  • Edit Flow
    full of features for the flow of editing posts and providing editorial comments
  • Members
    redefine roles and capabilities of your site contributors (or keep your site hidden from anyone but logged in users when it’s in development)
  • Drafts for Friends
    handy option to give guest posters a public preview link to see their post before it goes live
  • Simple Author Box
    thank your writers with a beautiful bio and links to their social media profiles
  • Author Avatars List
    easily create a page showing all your site’s authors

Click here for more of my group blog tips.