WordPress Plug-Ins: The Bare Essentials

This past weekend, I was a presenter at PodCamp Cincinnati. Many talented people in social media attended from the region, so I learned quite a few things myself. My favorite session was by Daniel J. Lewis, the event organizer, who gave a snappy session on essential WordPress plug-ins. I’m going to share a few recommendations from his session, as well as add a few of my own.


  • Akismet. It should be installed for you, so don’t remove it. It blocks spam. If you don’t have it, add it.

Comment system

  • The WordPress default comment system isn’t bad, but you can do better. I currently use Disqus; after hearing Lewis’s presentation, I’m considering a switch to Intense Debate.

Social sharing

  • Social sharing plug-ins make it easy for people to tweet, “like,” or otherwise share your post on their preferred social network. I currently use AddThis, but after Lewis’s presentation, I may switch to ShareBar, which has more dynamic functionality.

Site speed


  • According to Google Analytics, about 50% of my traffic comes from iPhone users. That means the site needs to be mobile friendly. WP Touch automates this. Once installed, it just works. Love.

Broken link checker

  • When links break on your site, it’s nice to know right away. I use Broken Link Checker to automatically scan my site every week. Through its interface, I can change URLs as needed, or remove the link entirely.

Social media widget

  • This plug-in allows me to easily build those appealing & visual sidebars that tell you where else I’m found online.
What WordPress plug-ins do you find indispensable? Share in the comments!


Posted in Digital Media.

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the co-founder and editor of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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Building Your First Website: Resource List | Jane FriedmanComputer & LaptopMelanie MarttilaMigration Time « virtualDavisLisa Ahn Recent comment authors

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Piotr Kowalczyk

I’d add WordPress SEO by Joast, an ultimate plugin to manage search engine optimization. But the plugin which I find especially useful for writers is a beauty called JetPack, which can replace several other plugins in areas of:
– spell checking
– sharing
– multimedia
– hovercards
– shortlinks
– mathematical equations

If you’re interested in JetPack, here’s more: http://www.passwordincorrect.com/2011/05/25/jetpack-a-single-plugin-which-is-making-writers-life-easier/

Jill Kemerer

I don’t use WordPress, but I think every blog should have an easy way to reshare posts. A tweet button should have the author’s twitter handle embedded, not a third party site. For example, I have tweetmeme set up to add @jillkemerer along with the link and title of my post when someone presses the retweet button. Some retweet services embed @thirdparty instead of the author. I usually, I track down the author’s t.h. and replace @thirdparty with the @author, but it’s time consuming. I’m all about easy promotion! 

Yvette M. Chin

It’s funny; I just relaunched the food blog the other day, so this was very much on my mind. Just some thoughts/questions: — Jetpack is just indispensable now that it took over WP Stats. — WP-Typography — WordPress Database Backup: on-demand backups — For a contact form, I use a combination of Contact Form 7 + Really Simple Captcha. — Grand Flash Album Gallery is the only free plugin (that I can find), that does slideshows in iPhone/iPad-friendly jQuery magic. Anyone else have any suggestions? — WP Touch breaks so many of the other plugins I use (rendering them inoperable on the… Read more »

Jane VanOsdol

Jane, Thanks for all the great tips on these! They are so helpful. I have a separate question on Web writing I’m wondering if you could clear up. Which style guides and dictionary are standard in the Web writing world? Is it the AP style guide and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary? Chicago Manual of Style? Both? I’ve been searching trying to find an answer, and it seems that each place kind of does their own thing. I am a freelance writer who just started working part time for an internet marketing company, and I need to standardize what all the freelancers… Read more »

igor Griffiths

Hi Jane when you mentioned Disqus my heart sank but I was pleasantly surprised when it came to leaving this comment.

Perhaps it is in the settings but far too many sites using Disqus are a real pain to leave comments on and thus I usually do not bother.

Supercache is a great plug in that is now part of my key plug-in group.

One I would add is top-commentator, this does as the title suggests, ranks your commentators in the sidebar with hyper links back to their sites. A little bit of love for your regular visitors.

igor Griffiths


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[…] WordPress Plug-Ins: The Bare Essentials | Jane Friedman Must-have plug-ins for new WordPress sites and blogs. Source: janefriedman.com […]

Krissy Brady
Krissy Brady

I work on both WordPress and Blogger–I have IntenseDebate on my Blogger blog and I love it! For my WordPress blog, I installed CommentLuv as an attachment to the WordPress comments system that’s already there. I love how convenient it is to reply to all comments directly in the comments section. A new WordPress plugin I recently discovered for those who want to launch an online store is wp-ecommerce, which allows you to sell both physical and digital products. I’m only in the beginning stages of setting it up, but I’m loving it so far! For sharing, I use the sexybookmarks… Read more »


These are tremendous tips from PodCamp.  I’m planning to implement many of them into my blog, Jane.  I hope to attend next year’s PodCamp. 🙂

Jessica Scott

Thanks for the great post. I’ve added a couple of the links above and found they dramatically improved my site appearance. I have a bad tendency to do things the hard way, so thanks for simplifying my life in this case!

Deeone Kingskidd
Deeone Kingskidd

Hi Jane, new to your site, but so far I’m loving what I’m reading. You’ve listed some very cool plugins here as well. 🙂 Thanks for sharing. As far as commenting plugins are concerned, I have found CommentLuv Premium to be an absolute gem. I’m not sure if Andy has debuted it yet, I got in when it was in it’s beta phase; but it has 7 plugins wrapped into one. I’d highly recommend just looking into it, if nothing else. 🙂 I’m also loving the idea of the Broken Link plugin. I’ve never even heard about that one. So… Read more »

Lisa Ahn

I just added the Social Media Widget that you recommend here — love it! Thanks.

Migration Time « virtualDavis

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Melanie Marttila
Melanie Marttila

Thanks so much for this 🙂  I’m learning more every day.  Soon it will all be second nature.  These are all great suggestions.

Computer & Laptop

A WordPress blog is completely seperate from your site and unless you know how to design and code designs to the WordPress theme format, you won’t be able to integrate the design. You can, however, look at the WordPress theme database for some pre-made themes.Thanks for sharing the information.


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