Do you know which software or service you want to use?
If you’re thinking about starting a blog, there are a few important decisions to make before moving forward – the software or service being one of the most important.
Because unlike the name, look, or focus of your blog, the blogging software or service you decide to use won’t be easy to change once you get started.
This is just one of the many reasons I recommend beginning bloggers start with WordPress in the first place … and if simplicity isn’t enough of a reason for you, consider these 40,000 other reasons to start a blog with WordPress.
Okay, so those 40,000 reasons are really just one big reason to use WordPress, but the number is actually much much larger … and ever-expanding.
There are over 40,000 plugins available for bloggers using self-hosted version of WordPress – and they’re all free.
If you’re interested in taking your blog to the next level, either now or eventually, that’s one reason to consider before you start your blog.
What’s a plugin?
A plugin is like an extension … an add-on … a way to customize the functionality of your blog.
Here are a few examples of plugins:
Free Search Engine Optimization Plugins
As a blogger, it’s important for you to do what you can to help the search engines understand what your content is all about. This can mean the difference between appearing prominently within the search engine index and working in obscurity.
A couple plugins available to help you optimize your blog include the following:
- WordPress SEO by Yoast
- All In One SEO Pack
These plugins will help you sculpt your meta tags, optimize for your keywords, and even create your sitemap, which gives search engines a map of your entire site.
Free Social Media Plugins
The web is a social place, so it’s important you have the tools in place for your visitors to share your content. Fortunately, the WordPress plugin repository is overflowing with free social media plugins.
Among the most popular include the following:
As you’ll discover, most social media plugins offer some sort of premium solution on top of their free plugin, which gives you the opportunity to extend the functionality of your social media functionality.
For example, AddThis offers more advanced tools for premium customers, including those with more customization options, features, and functionality.
Free Analytics Plugins
If you’re interested in tracking the traffic to your blog, you can install a number of analytics plugins designed to bring your metrics into your WordPress dashboard.
This is helpful as it relieves you from having to sign in to a third-party to view your traffic.
A few of the more popular analytics plugins available for free including the following:
- Google Analytics by Yoast
- Clicky Analytics
If you’re just starting, this isn’t really important – in fact, you should probably avoid it as it quickly becomes addicting. If you’re attracted to tracking your numbers, whether it’s your followers, likes, or whatever, you may want to steer clear of analytics for a while.
Add More Functionality to Your Blog
If you’re like me and you plan to start a business sith your blog, you may need more functionality than the basic content management system provides. In this case, WordPress still has you covered.
Among the 38,435 free plugins, you’ll find specialized plugins designed to extend the functionality in ways most bloggers won’t need.
A few examples include the following:
- BBPress – Start a forum
- BuddyPress – Start a social network
- WooCommerce – Start a store
These plugins make it possible to bring your vision for a community, network, or ecommerce store to fruition using WordPress, keeping it affordable and independent.
If you’re interested in utilizing specialized plugins, be sure to test them with your WordPress theme because there may be conflicts depending on where you got your theme and whether it’s able to integrate smooth.
Considering the three plugins mentioned above are all owned by WordPress, you probably won’t have an issue regarding the function so much as design.
If you’re looking for a simple blog or something with a little more functionality, WordPress provides a blossoming repository of free plugins ready to be installed on any self-hosted version of WordPress.
If you’re not that serious about your blog, Blogger, Tumblr, and the hosted version of WordPress provide excellent built-in communities of readers interested in discovering content. However, if you are serious about your blog and hope to make a living with your career in the future, definitely consider a self-hosted installation of WordPress so you can take advantage of the growing collection of free plugins.
In addition to the free plugins available directly from the WordPress repository, you can find premium plugins from individual developes, including WPMUDev, Elegant Themes, and WooThemes, as well as reputable marketplaces, like CodeCanyon.
Do you have any questions about the world of plugins?
If you’ve started your blog already, what plugins are you thinking about installing?