As I was flipping through my planner a few days ago, I realized that it was this time last year that I made the big switch to WordPress. Where does the time go?! So today, I’m sharing my thoughts on WordPress a year later and the 5 best plugins. Whether you’re already a WordPress user or considering the switch, hopefully my experience thus far can help you out! Grab a cup of coffee … this one is a little long!
First of all, let me just say that the switch to WordPress has been full of ups and downs and frustrations. Unfortunately, my site wasn’t totally properly transferred from Blogger and I think I’m still dealing with some of those issues. My files had to be moved to an entirely new server. I’ve cried too many tears when my site shuts down for no reason. I even lost comments and content! Because of that, there have been many times throughout the last year that I’ve yelled, “I WISH I WAS STILL ON BLOGGER!” And, to this day I still do love Blogger. Like, a lot. It’s ridiculously easy to use and most notably, free.
However, Blogger’s biggest downfall is that you don’t own your content. That’s ultimately why I made the switch to WordPress. Now, I have full ownership and control of my content. Exactly the way that it should be! Whether you blog as a full or part-time profession or just as a side project, we work too damn hard not to own our content. That alone has made WordPress worth it to me and worth the monthly hosting payment.
And, that brings me to my next and arguably most important note – hosting! Based on a recommendation, I went with DreamHost. I fully admit that I hardly understand any of the technical back-end stuff, so I was going to trust whatever someone in-the-know suggested to me. I haven’t been unhappy with DreamHost, but I’m wondering now if I should’ve done more research. Their customer service is mostly great, especially the live chat, but it sometimes can take one or two people to give me a straight answer or actually offer to help me fix something. Eight out of ten times, they will just provide links to articles and basically tell me to figure it out myself. Well, when I’m paying $11 per month for their services I expect help! If you decide to go with DreamHost, just beware of this and don’t be afraid to push back.
The other biggest lesson that I’ve learned is that it’s easier to start simple when it comes to design. As I’m sure you’ve all seen, WordPress themes don’t come cheap. It’s also not as easy to make changes on your own in the style sheet. Again, based on a recommendation my first theme was a Genesis framework child theme. Like I said before, I couldn’t tell you the first thing of what being on the Genesis framework means or what it does for your site. All I know is that it initially costs more money since you have to buy the framework and theme separately. So, why did I feel compelled to go the Genesis framework route? In my mind, that was what everyone else had because it’s the best. Well, fast forward to January of this year and I hate my theme. I switched to my current theme from White Oak Creative (that I LOVE!), and guess what? It’s not on the Genesis framework. Do I notice a difference in my site? Not one damn bit. So, unless you know what all of that stuff means and does for your site, stick to simple. Simple doesn’t equal boring, and you always can upgrade to more bells and whistles later on.
Okay, before this post turns into a novel, let me quickly share five of my favorite plugins. The other single best part of WordPress – there’s a plugin for everything and anything! Just don’t download and install anything that you don’t want or need since it can slow down your site.
Akismet Anti-Spam | Every WordPress site should have this. No exception! It does the best job at protecting against and filtering spam.
Yoast SEO | Duh, no surprise here. This is my favorite SEO plugin. I treat it as a game to get the green light on all my posts.
jQuery Pin It Button for Images | If your theme doesn’t come with a built-in Pinterest button, this plugin is a lifesaver. You can create your own and configure the appearance settings when you hover over images.
WordPress Editorial Calendar | This is arguably my favorite plugin ever. It’s a built-in calendar right into your WordPress dashboard. Easily create drafts and drag/drop posts to your desired publish date. This makes it incredibly easy to keep track of what you’ve posted and/or have planned for future dates.
UpDraftPlus – Backup/Restore | Don’t forget to backup all your content! I like this one best because it’s free, I can set the backup frequency, and I can store the files in Google Docs instead of on my WordPress shared server.
There you have it! My thoughts on WordPress a year later and the 5 best plugins. While it always hasn’t been easy, I don’t regret my decision to switch at all. After a few weeks, this platform becomes just as intuitive and easy to use as any other! If you’re thinking about making the switch, don’t hesitate to email me with any questions.