If you are a listener / viewer of our show Podcast 451, you will know on our last episode, Zoe and I talked about How To Build An Author Website (which can be seen HERE. During all the info that was being thrown around on it, plugins came up and I realized that a lot of our listeners are either new to building a website or new to wordpress or really just had no freaking idea what the hell we were talking about.
Since I know the internet loves lists, I thought I would break it down for you here and also include some honorable mentions.
But first, let’s get to know what the hell a plugin is…
I got this from wikipedia…
a plug-in (or plugin, extension, or add-on / addon) is a software component that adds a specific feature to an existing software application. When an application supports plug-ins, it enables customization. The common examples are the plug-ins used in web browsers to add new features such as search-engines, virus scanners, or the ability to utilize a new file type such as a new video format. Well-known browser plug-ins include the Adobe Flash Player, the QuickTime Player, and the Java plug-in, which can launch a user-activated Java applet on a web page to its execution a local Java virtual machine.
and here is another …
One very popular feature of WordPress is its plugin architecture which allows users and developers to extend its abilities beyond the core installation. WordPress has a database of over 30,000 Plugins, each of which offers custom functions and features enabling users to tailor their sites to their specific needs. These customizations range from SEO (Search Engine Optimization) enhancers, to client portals used to display private information to logged in users, to content displaying features, such as the addition of widgets and navigation bars.
So long story short, a plugin is a simple little thing you ‘plug in’ to your wordpress that makes it do something really freaking cool! That’s all you have to know.
So here are the 6 plugins that I really think every author should install in their wordpress site.
MyBookTable – Hands down, this is the coolest thing I have ever seen. It takes all your books and turns your website site into a little mini store with nice buttons for people to purchase your stuff at whatever store they like. It also gives you the ability to offer a free, downloadable sample for each book. Seriously, this has changed how I operate my site.
Mailing List – Which ever service you belong to, you need to get the plugin for it to integrate it into your site. I use mailchimp so that’s all I had to search. If you use any others, I’m sure they have a plugin available. If they don’t, you may want to change providers
Contact Form – This makes the Contact page so much nicer and easier to deal with. For years I just had a line that said ‘contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org’ It didn’t look great but I didn’t really care. Then I noticed that i hated sites that did that because whenever I would click that link, it would open Outlook on my PC and I didn’t use outlook. I would get upset and then most of the time forget to contact who I was trying to
contact in the first place. This leaves a nice, clean form for them to fill out that goes directly to your email, without making your visitor leave the page.
Acurax Social Media Widget – now even though this one is really cool, you don’t really need it if your theme that you have picked has social media buttons on it already. If you look at the top of my site, there are a ton of social media buttons. So I don’t really need this one. But I have had themes that didn’t have this in the past and this would’ve saved me a lot of headaches.
Social Media Feather – This one is great for having the social media buttons at the bottom of your page for your visitors to share your posts and hopefully make them viral. WordPress has an option for this anyway, but if you want more control over your buttons, this is a great little plugin to have.
SumoMe – This one is the one that I have been needing. It is a popup ad to get people to subscribe to your mailing list. It is very simple and super easy. I have screwed up so many sites over the years trying to code in a good popup ad into my site and never came up with good results. This plugin is so freaking easy to use and it isn’t intrusive at all. I highly recommend this if you want a popup ad.
Now here are some others that I use that I really like that you don’t need but are fun to have…
Blogger Redirect 301 – This I got because I had a blogger blog for years and there were people who were subscribed to it. I didn’t want to take it down because the last thing I wanted to do was confuse my readers, but i really wanted to start blogging on my own website. So this plugin reposts your blog wherever you need it to. In my case, my blogspot blog.
Form Maker – This is cool if you need people to sign up for something or if they need to order stuff. Or even if people want to hire you for a speaking gig. You have a lot of options. I use it for people who want to sign up for my street team. You can see how it looks by clicking HERE
Social Opinion Poll – This is great if you want to get your fans to vote on something. I have used it in the past for fans voting on their favorite Black Star Canyon covers and I also put a bunch of story ideas up and had fans vote for which ones they wanted to see in the upcoming volume of Creepology. It’s fun and it is hooked up with Facebook so when people vote, it will appear on their social media pages, thus exposing more people to your work. If you can think of fun ways to use this, it’s worth it.
So those are the plugins I think every should use.
Some might be asking though, how the hell do you get them.
If you go into your dashboard, under Appearance and above Users, you will see Plugins. Click on this and then go to add new. In the new update to wordpress this is up by Plugins at the top of the page. This will take you to a new page with a search bar. Type in the Plugins I stated above (one at a time of course) and they should pop up below. Click install. once they are installed, click activate or else they won’t work. If you are having a hard time finding them after this, just go into your plugins again and scroll down installed plugins and click on settings for whichever one you want.
I hope this helps.
I want to thank Simon Whistler from Rocking Self Publishing Podcast for making the amazing video tutorial called how to build an author website. He showed me MyBookTable and SumoMe. I will be forever indebted to him