It doesn’t cost a lot of money to start a blog and get it quickly set up. In fact, all you need is a host, a domain name, a theme, and a handful of WordPress plugins to start your very own blog and side hustle.
Plugins can help you stay organized and efficient, improve your social shares, protect your site from hackers and data loss, as well as keep your overall site running smoothly.
But before you go on, don’t forget to check out my list of the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2020 deals for bloggers and entrepreneurs! You’ll find all the coupons and sale deets there so check back often as we get closer to the sale weekend.
10 Best Free Plugins For WordPress
If you’re not sure which basic plugins you need to help you build a profitable blog, I highly recommend checking out the following 10 best free plugins for WordPress.
Best of all, they don’t cost a thing to use so if you’re not making any income from your blog yet, these are great options for you!
Before we start, if you’re currently hosting your site on a free platform, I recommend that you become self-hosted so you can freely customize your site, use plugins, and monetize your site. You can read my easy to follow tutorial on how you can start your own self-hosted WordPress blog for just $3.95/month here.
1. UpdraftPlus Backup
UpdraftPlus Backup is the first plugin I recommend getting is for back-up purposes because the worst thing that can happen as a blogger is that you lose your content that you’ve worked so hard on.
Things can happen out of our control, such as if someone hacks into your site or you make a mistake when you are updating your site and you need to restore a previous version.
I recommend UpdraftPlus Backup to back up your site regularly. It’s a great plugin that can automate how often your site is backed up at an exact time you want the backup to start running.
You can even set the place you want the backups to be saved, such as Google Drive and Dropbox, so they’re easily accessible when you need them.
All you need to do is just set it up once and forget about it!
2. Yoast SEO
If you want to improve on your SEO game and gain organic traffic from Google, you’re going to need to have a SEO-optimized site.
Yoast SEO is a great plugin to help you improve your SEO rankings by giving you a list of guidelines that you need to follow in order to rank higher on search engines.
You don’t have to follow all of their guidelines to rank highly, but it’s a great starting place for your posts as a beginner.
3. WP Smush
Making sure that you have a fast loading site is extremely important if you want to retain your audience and be rewarded by Google so every second counts. You don’t want your audience to not want to come back to your site because it’s too slow for their liking.
One of the big things that slows down sites are images so it’s best to reduce the sizes of these images as much as possible while keeping the quality of the images.
WP Smush is a great plugin that will help basically smush all of your image sizes once you have uploaded your compressed images so that they won’t take up a lot of space and your posts will load much faster.
You’ll want to remember to make sure that your images are resized to the right dimensions based on your theme though before uploading to your server but having a plugin such as WP Smush is an extra layer of help on top of that.
4. Pretty Links
If you’re monetizing your blog with affiliate links, I recommend that you use a plugin that will cloak your links.
You know how sometimes when you hover across a link, it shows a long url that looks spammy? You don’t want your viewers to see that long url.
Instead, use Pretty Links which will allow you to set a shortened link name of your choice. All you have to do is set it up once in the Pretty Links dashboard and then you only have to edit the long url once without having to update the links on all of your posts. It’s such a time saver!
It even includes a detailed analytics section so you can see how many clicks you get with each link and on which posts.
Pretty Links also has a paid version of their plugin but I truly believe you don’t really need it when you first start out. The free version is just fine and works well!
If you’re looking for a great free form plugin to add to your contact me page, which you should have by the way if you want others to be able to contact you, you’ll want to check out WP Forms.
The WPForms lite version is straightforward, easy to set up, and comes with a lot of basic features that does the job if you’re just looking for a basic no-frills form plugin.
If you’re a beginner at blogging, you’ll want to start off with using Jetpack.
What I like about Jetpack is that it includes a ton of features that you can choose to turn on and off depending on your needs.
You don’t want to be running all of the features in any plugin if you aren’t using them fully because it can really slow down your site, so having the option to pick what is turned on is great!
Just to name a few, Jetpack gives you site stats (great to have in addition to Google Analytics), Wordfence (you’ll want this to protect your site from security threats), related posts, social sharing, and more.
7. Inline Related Posts
Keeping your audience interested and clicking to other parts of your site is important to keep your bounce rate down.
By sprinkling links to other related posts throughout your blog post, this will help reduce the bounce rate and keep your readers on your site for longer.
Inline Related Posts is an essential plugin you should use that will automatically add in related reposts within your posts.
If you’ve ever seen a line within a blog post say something like: “Related Posts: Blog Post Title Here…”, that is probably an inline related posts plugin working its magic!
All you need to do is set it and it’ll do all the hard work for you so you don’t have to do it yourself.
8. Social Pug
Looking to increase your social shares and show social proof on your blog? You’ll need a good social sharing plugin.
I recommend Social Pug. The free version of this plugin is lightweight but very customizable which is great for a speedy site.
9. Lazy Load
I’ve stressed how page speed is important to retain your audience and look good in the eyes of Google so I had to include another plugin that can help improve the site speed.
Lazy Load is essential if you have lots of high-quality pictures.
How it works is it reduces the initial time it takes to load each page by only loading images as a viewer scrolls throw your page.
10. Broken Link Checker
Lastly, you’ll want to have a broken link checker to ensure that all of your links within your site are working properly while staying efficient and productive.
Imagine you didn’t have a plugin that checked each one of your links.
If you had hundreds or thousands of posts, you couldn’t possibly check all of these external links regularly because it’d be way too much work! In fact, it’d probably be pretty much impossible unless you checked your links as a full-time job.
Broken Link Checker is a must in my books especially if you have a lot of affiliate links that are monetized because you want to make sure they’re working properly all the time.
I do recommend only installing this and activating it when you need to check your links because it can be a resource hog and slow down your site. Just make sure you remember to check every so often!
Liked this post? Please share it!