10 Plugins to Improve Your Blogging Experience
There are plenty of roundup posts for bloggers that talk about the best WordPress plugins for your blog. But what about the plugins specifically for blogging, for improving your posts, both how they look and how you write them. In this roundup I’ve been more selective, and picked out the plugins that will actually improve your blogging and blogging practice. Check them out, install them, and make your blog a better place.
When I was writing this post, top of my list was going to be After the Deadline, a plugin for checking your spelling, grammar, and improving your writing overall. However, After the Deadline has been merged with JetPack so if you want to use the most up-to-date version you’ll need to get JetPack installed. So as well as After the Deadline you can get stats, the wp.me URL shortener and gravatar hovercard popups.
If you’ve ever been lost for the perfect word, then you’ll find the WP Synonym Plugin useful. A synonym is a word with the same or similar meaning as another one – so basically you’re installing a thesaurus. Once installed, a new post meta box will appear just above your Publish meta box. Insert a word, run a search and WP Synonyms comes up with a list of alternatives. Don’t be lost for the right word again!
nRelate is an advanced related content plugin for WordPress. Using related posts is a great way to send visitors on to other relevant content they might be interested in. nRelate has a bunch of features that go beyond a lot of the other related posts plugins. You can set a relevancy threshold to ensure your posts are showing up with the right results, choose your thumbnail size, automatically share content from different sites, and use it to create advertising revenue.
Choosing some great typography for your blog can make it look better, improve overall readability, and show off your awesome typographical taste. UpThemes has created the Typecase plugin to give you quick and easy access to over 500 web fonts stored in the Google Fonts repository. From the WordPress admin screen you can browse, find, and select fonts for your blog. You can check out our tutorial on setting up Typecase.
(Image CC License Jon_Gilbert)
Images are really important to increase the overall appeal of your posts. A diverse range of media can be great for engagement. But too many images can slow down your blog, especially if you haven’t reduced your file size and resampled your images. WP Smush.it uses Yahoo’s Smush.it tool to automatically reduce your image file size, making for faster load times and a better user experience.
It can be difficult maintaining a regular blog over time, and to become a better and more consistent blogger it can help to start planning out your posting schedule. The Editorial Calendar plugin shows all of your posts in a calendar format. If you’re not happy with the schedule, you can drag and drop your posts to new post dates. You can also use the draft drawer to manage your drafts, and quickly edit your posts.
Many blogs close their posts with a short bio about the author. This is an effective way to give your reader a bit more information about you. The social author bio plugin adds a short author bio to the end of all of your posts. This can be even more useful if you have a multi-author blog and you want proper attribution. As well as adding a bio, the plugin adds social media links, homepage links and gravatar.
(image CC License Sue Richards)
If you’re attending an event a great way to bring your readers along is to use a live blogging plugin. The Live blogging plugin uses custom post types to create micro entries which are included in whichever post has been activated as the microblog. It also includes Twitter integration which can post the first 139 characters of your post to Twitter. This lets you blog throughout the event, bringing people live updates both on Twitter and on your blog.
If you get a lot of comments and discussion on your blog, you may want to move away from native WordPress comments. Disqus offers the most complete commenting system around. It does, however, move your comments away from WordPress core, which some people aren’t keen on. It does provide you with many more options than native WordPress comments, with RSS options, more powerful moderation and admin tools, and support for Disqus community widgets. If you’ve got a lot of discussion it’s definitely worth a look.
Ever been reading a post and when you come to the end a slide appears and suggests relevant content? Ever clicked on it? The Simple Slide plugin adds a similar slide to your website. It slides in when a reader reaches the end of the post, to recommend other content that they might be interested in. This method is proven to increase engagement and time on site, and if set up properly can be helpful for your visitors.
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