There’s 9 plugins I use to set up every single one of my blogs that I simply couldn’t live without, and I want to share them with you.
With over 40,000 plugins in the WordPress repository, finding the right plugins can be a daunting task. Many are outdated, and many will slow your blog down to a crawl.
However, with the right combination of plugins your blog will be lean, safe and fast as hell from day one.
I hope this selection of plugins that I use to set up my blogs will save you a tonne of time (and hassle) and get your blog cranking quickly.
Lets get stuck in.
- 1. THRIVE LEADS – Email list building Plugin (Paid)
- 2. WP FASTEST CACHE – Website speed plugin (free)
- 3. OPTIMISE DATABASE AFTER DELETE REVISION – Database optimisation (Free)
- 4. THRIVE ARCHITECT – Drag and Drop page builder (Paid)
- 5. YOAST – SEO Plugin (Free)
- 6. SOCIAL PUG – Social sharing Plugin (Free)
- 7. SMUSH – Image compressor (Free)
- 8. UPDRAFT PLUS – Website Back-Up (Free)
- 9. THIRSTY AFFILIATES – Affiliate management Plugin (Free)
1. THRIVE LEADS – Email list building Plugin (Paid)
Email subscribers are the backbone of all successful blogs, for this reason it’s essential you have a top quality plugin for the job. Yes there’s free email opt in plugins out there, but you get what you pay for, and this is definitely not an area to skimp.
I use Thrive Leads on every site I build (it looks like Maria Forleo does too). In my opinion it’s the best opt in plugin on WordPress right now. I’ve tried heaps of other opt in plugins but none come close.
Each one I’ve tried is clunky, ugly and slows my site down terribly.
However, Thrive Leads is different. The developers are marketers themselves so the plugin has been built from the ground up with this in mind. It’s intuitive, clean and very fast.
It’s super flexible too. You can create literally every kind of lead magnet you can think of:
And, everything is drag and drop so you’ll never have to touch a line of code… Ever!
Another feature which is crazy important in this industry is the ability to A/B split test your lead generation campaigns. If you’re not familiar with A/B testing it’s a process whereby you test different versions of a page/form together.
For example, does a red button convert better than a green one? Should your heading be Bold or normal? Should your background be of the ocean or the desert?
Continually running tests like this is what all top marketers do. A/B split testing helps you to find the 1% improvements and compound them over and over. Continual testing like this will transform you blog into a conversion generating machine.
If the sound of all of this excites you, check out the video below because the above only scratches the surface of that Thrive Leads can do.
2. WP FASTEST CACHE – Website speed plugin (free)
The speed that your website loads will have a direct impact on the bounce rate for your blog.
“Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page”
A recent study by Walmart found that their website load times were considerably slower than their competitors Amazon, Ebay etc.
As a result they carried out a complete overhaul of their website focusing on speed from the ground up.
The results were incredible:
- For ever 1 second of page speed improvement resulted in up to 2% conversion increase.
- For every 100ms page speed improvement say incremental revenue rise by up to 1%
This is where WP Fastest Cache come in…
WP Fastest Cache optimises your website for speed, and the results can be staggering. A simple one click can half the load time of your website. That’s huge!
To check the speed of your website before and after using WP Fastest Cache go to gtmetrix.com
If you want to use my exact settings for WP Fastest Cache to get the best page load times possible download my report below.
3. OPTIMISE DATABASE AFTER DELETE REVISION – Database optimisation (Free)
A ‘One Click’ WordPress Database Cleaner / Optimizer.
When I used this plugin for the first time I reduced the size of my database by 50% which reduced my page load time by 6 seconds!
With a click of a button you can:
- Delete revisions of posts, pages and / or custom post types
- Delete trashed posts, pages and comments (optional)
- Delete spammed comments (optional)
- Delete unused tags (optional)
- Delete ‘expired or all transients’ (optional)
- Delete ‘ping backs’ and ‘trackbacks’ (optional)
- Clear the ‘OEMBED cache’ (optional)
- Delete ‘orphan postmeta items’
- Optimize the database tables (optionally you can exclude certain tables, or even specific posts/pages, from optimization)
- Create a log of the optimizations (optional)
- Optimization can be scheduled to automatically run once hourly, twice daily, once daily or once weekly at a specific time (optional)
It’s simple, but very, very effective.
Here’s one I did earlier:
4. THRIVE ARCHITECT – Drag and Drop page builder (Paid)
Thrive Architect is another plugin from the Thrive team. This time around they’ve developed a complete drag and drop page builder plugin so that you can create professional grade pages in minutes.
There’s plenty of other drag and drop page builder plugins out there but I’ll only use Thrive Architect.
Let me explain…
Drag and drop is quick and easy, perfect for the novice. However, for all of that ease comes the trade off of limited functionality and bloated clunky code slowing your pages down.
It’s for that reason that I have steered clear from drag and drop plugins for WordPress until I stumbled upon Thrive Architect.
With Thrive Architect I can now create literally any page I want in a matter of minutes, all fully optimised for mobile (every time), with complete control over everything.
I haven’t found a drag and drop page builder plugin on WordPress that’s even close to being as feature rich as Thrive Architect, which is why I have it in my arsenal every time. I’ve tried a lot of different plugins in the past but this one is so much more intuitive, and so flexible that I haven’t looked back.
With Thrive Architect I can create industry leading squeeze pages in minutes and run A/B split tests on them right from the get go. It’s so, so easy.
No coding skills needed whatsoever!
They also have a huge catalogue of conversion focused templates for Squeeze pages, Sales pages, Contact pages, Homepages etc. The template repository is huge!
Check out the video below to learn more:
5. YOAST – SEO Plugin (Free)
Yoast is the number 1 used SEO plugin for WordPress for good reason.
It’s free, and it works.
If you’re unfamiliar to SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), it’s basically a marketing discipline, focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. SEO encompasses both the technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic, and increase awareness in search engines.
Here’s a great SEO guide for beginners.
Yoast will help you optimise every piece of content you create to rank well on Google. It highlights all of the key SEO mistakes you’re making and offers solutions as you go. It’s like having your own SEO employee for free!
With over 5 million downloads Yoast is an essential piece of every serious bloggers tool kit, so if you haven’t got it already, go do it now.
6. SOCIAL PUG – Social sharing Plugin (Free)
See the social buttons floating on the right hand side of my page over there ->
They look pretty cool hey!
You can also find them at the bottom of this post too.
We all know how important social sharing is nowadays so it’s imperative that you make it easy for your users to share your content.
Now there’s a tonne of plugins in the WordPress repository to drive social shares, however, many of them are expensive and a lot of them are just crap.
Social Pug is super simple to set up too with a really clean user dashboard interface (ref image below), so save yourself a headache and give Social Pug a try. You’d be hard pushed not to like it.
7. SMUSH – Image compressor (Free)
Big images are the the number 1 cause of slow page load times, which is where Smush comes in to save the day.
Smush compresses each image as it’s uploaded to your site, drastically reducing its file size. The process is simple, quick and automatic.
I choose to go one step further as I’m pretty aggressive with my page speed optimisation, and I compress my images before I even upload them to my WordPress site. I use compressjpeg.com for this task.
It won’t work for all images as sometimes it’s compresses the images too much, but 90% of the time it’ll be fine. Expect an extra reduction in image size by another 25 -50%
8. UPDRAFT PLUS – Website Back-Up (Free)
Backing up your website isn’t glamorous whatsoever, but it is crazy important. Hacking, server crashes, malware etc. are a reality and you WILL encounter problems at some point.
As the saying goes:
“It’s not a case of IF you’re going to get hacked, but WHEN!“
I’ve had numerous issues in the past which have nearly lost me everything. Thankfully I had backups saved and could get my sites back up and running.
You DO NOT want to lose all of your hard work, so put aside a few minutes to get Updraft Plus set up and back up your blog periodically.
Updraft Plus allows you to back up your website in heaps of different ways, so whether you use Dropbox, Google Drive or any other popular cloud storage system, Updraft Plus should have you covered.
As a side note, if your site does get infected by malicious malware (which it probably will at some point) and you simply can’t get rid of it with Malwarebytes or similar, then reach out to the guys at Securi. They’re not cheap, but they’ll get your site back online within 24hours.
They’ve saved my ass in the past.
9. THIRSTY AFFILIATES – Affiliate management Plugin (Free)
The first path to generating income from your blog will almost always come from affiliate sales. Thirsty affiliates makes managing all of your affiliate links super easy.
- Cloak long ugly affiliate links
- Protect your commissions from theft
- Insert affiliate links into blog posts easily
Although this is a simple task, I can’t overstate how important it is to be organised in this area to maximise your affiliate opportunities.
Not only is Thirsty Affiliates the best plugin for sorting and storing all of your affiliate links, it also allows you to cloak your affiliate links which is huge.
What cloaking does is create a pretty URL redirect for all of your affiliate links.
I use these plugins because they set my blogs up from the ground up to be optimised for conversions. I want all of my sites to be clean, lean and fast, so I’m very picky which plugins I use on my sites and recommend to others.
When you start a new blog you need all the help you can get, so give these plugins a go, set it and forget it, and go smash out some killer content.
Do you have any absolutely must have plugins that I’ve missed?
Pop it in the comments below and get the conversation started.