We build all of our author sites in WordPress. And there are many good reasons for that. One of them is the multitude of plug-ins that WordPress allows you to use — from ones that create photo slideshows to contact forms and more.
Here are seven that we install on each and every author website we build. Best of all, they’re all free!
1. WPNewsman Lite. Do you want to easily collect email addresses and send out newsletters, blog alerts or general updates to everyone on the list? This plug-in allows you to do just that with very little work on your end. The list of email addresses is maintained by the system (you don’t need to keep your own spreadsheet), and all the legal issues surrounding SPAM are taken care of for you with confirmation emails. Simply install the plug-in, craft your messages, and everyone who opts to sign up is automatically added to your email list. It’s easy and oh-so-valuable.
2. All in One SEO Pack. You know that you need to optimize your site for various keywords. This easy-to-use plug-in allows you to do that. In one place, you can put in the site-wide title, description and keywords. The plug-in also allows you to customize that same information on a page-by-page or blog post-by-blog post basis, if you so desire.
3. Sucuri Security. The simple explanation for this plug-in is that it keeps your site safe from hackers. Here’s the more complicated explanation that the creator provides: It “will check for malware, spam, blacklisting and other security issues like .htaccess redirects, hidden eval code, etc.” To keep your site safe (and to make sure you’re notified if a SPAMmer is trying to access your site), this plug-in is essential.
4. Ultimate Google Analytics. What good is having a site if you don’t know how many people are looking at it, what they’re viewing on your site, or how they’re finding your site? Sign up for a free account with Google analytics and then enter your account number into this simple plug-in. You can then log back into your Google analytics account any time to find out how many visitors you’ve had, which pages of your site they’re visiting, and where they came from.
5. Contact Form 7. You want people to be able to contact you through your website. What you don’t want is your email address printed on the site for every person (and every SPAMmer) to have access to. This simple plug-in allows people to fill out a contact form, which then comes to you in an email. It essentially allows people to email you without actually having your email address.
6. Akismet. Do you have a blog with a commenting feature on your site? Most authors do. But here’s the problem: those comment areas can be bombarded with advertising. I hear from authors all the time who are getting a massive amount of SPAM through this form. Enter Akismet. As the makers of the plug-in describe it, “Akismet is quite possibly the best way in the world to protect your blog from comment and trackback spam.” Enough said.
7. Simply Sociable. In today’s world of social media, you would be remiss if you didn’t make it easy for your readers to share your pages or posts via Facebook, Google+ etc… Simply Sociable is an easy plug-in that, once you install it, automatically adds share buttons to the end of each blog post for Google+, Twitter, and Facebook. To quote the famous infomercial, “Set it, and forget it.”
Now, this is far from a full list of plug-ins. There are thousands of them out there; many of which are helpful to authors. And while we often install many additional wordpress plug-ins for author websites (i.e. one that creates a slider on the homepage or allows people to open a book cover and take a peek inside), these are the seven that we think all authors should be taking full advantage of.