9 Essential WordPress Plugins for Launching New Websites

This year, TeacherCast officially will celebrate it’s 13th anniversary. To mark this occasion, I recently decided to redesign the entire website and give it a fresh coat of paint. Since 2012, TeacherCast has been designed using WordPress, a dynamic and robust Content Management System (CMS) that, through it’s organizational system of pages and posts has allowed me to create practically any type of platform I can imagine. But how did this happen? How do I build in all of the features into the website so you can take advantage of them? If you are thinking about starting a new website on a hosting platform that allows you to add your own themes and plugins, you might be wondering what steps you should take first.  In this post, we are going to take a look at 9 Essential WordPress Plugins for Launching New Websites that you might consider using to get your data transferred to your new website and get yourself up and running quickly.  If you have any suggestions on additional plugins or have any questions, please leave us a comment below or Tweet to us @PodcastingToday. When starting out a brand-new WordPress blog, you are given a fresh install and the opportunity to create the podcasting website of your dreams. This could be a very easy task for some. WordPress and its powerful Content Management System provides a very quick and simple infrastructure to create a new post and drop in an audio file into the post editor. However, WordPress also provides you with the ability to add functionality through its Plugin’s system to allow you to give your podcast exactly what it needs to get noticed. The problem with plugins is… Which plugins should you choose? Which should you not choose? What plugins are going to work for my particular website theme? How do I make the most of WordPress and not get stuck with plugins that aren’t comparable? How do I put myself into the position to design once and have to build something that I will soon need to destroy and start over? (This is the most fun thing to do in my opinion) Many of these WordPress Plugins are the “Top 10 of WordPress Plugins” and I am adding them here because they have been great friends of mine for several years. Some of these plugins are not so well known but have also been friends who have served me on many website projects. This list certainly isn’t the definitive list of plugins. If you have your own favorite plugin, please feel free to add your list and links to the bottom in the comments area. The Essential Plugins These plugins are the “Can’t Live Without” plugins. Whenever I start a new WordPress project, these are the first extensions that I install. The best part of these plugins is that they are of the “set it and forget it” variety. They are very lightweight and won’t slow down your website very much. Astra Theme Pro Theme / Spectra Pro Builder I decided to go in a slightly diferent path this time with my primary theme. I choose the Astra Theme from Brainstorm Force. The theme comes complete with a number of options and I have been having fun making use of as much of them as I can. The Astra theme is free and you can find it on by doing a search in the Theme options. For this build, I decided to purchase the upgrade and create TeacherCast using Astra Pro which brings even more functionality to the design. On top of Astra Pro is a builder plugin called Specta Pro. This block based designing plugin is what has allowed me to create dynamic pages, post grids, and so much more. Akismet Akismet is a vital plugin to use when creating a WordPress website because if functions as your SPAM filter. It is a “free” plugin that manages comments made to your website and determines if they are real or spam. Installing Akismet requires you to sign up for their service where you will be given an install code. Keep this code handy as you can use it over and over on future WordPress websites. Jetpack One of the most underrated plugins in the WordPress repository is Jetpack. We all talk about the differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com. There are several great features of .com that are not available in the .org or “self-hosted” versions of WordPress. This is where Jetpack comes in. To fully install Jetpack, you will need a free account on WordPress.com. To obtain this, simply sign up for a WordPress.com blog and use your login credentials. Jetpack gives you the ability to install which of its powerful modules you wish to use on your website. Jetpack is also the needed plugin for your self-hosted website to connect to the official WordPress app. In addition to being a useful plugin for the reasons listed above, when I am on my mobile device, it is the JetPack app that I use to create blog posts on the road. Captivate Sync All of my audio podcasts are hosted through Captivate, a dynamic podcast hosting platform. One of the best parts about partnering with Captivate is their WordPress plugin called Captivate Sync. Not only does this platform serve as the go-between from the website to their platform, but it also creates individual podcast posts that are searchable on the website. If you are looking to start a podcast this year, I HIGHELY recommend checking out Captivate! ConvertKit If you are creating a website, then you need to be thinking about your email marketing. I have been a proud supporter of ConvertKit for almost a decade. They now have a pretty awesome WordPress Plugin that helps connect me to my account. The plugin connects through an API and pulls in all of my forms so that all I need to do is add a button to the post or page and it all just works. Plugins for Migrating your Website Many people find WordPress after setting up their homepage on another service. WordPress makes it very easy to transfer your old posts and content into your new home. Just a bit of advice: When you input your old posts, they will import and automatically be activated. My advice is to turn these posts off and activate them one at a time so you can check each of them for new formatting against the theme. Another piece of advice is to do the importing step after you have a solid series of plugins installed. You wouldn’t want to import and format 100 posts and amend them to your new theme . . . and THEN add the SEO plugin. Turn on a few posts, see how your site looks, and then continue building functionality. WordPress Importer WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS). This means that all of your content is saved as a database. This format makes your pages and posts very easy to import and export. The WordPress Importer provides a simple interface to bring in your posts from other CMS’s. The process of transferring over 800 podcasts and 400 written blog posts was super easy and barely an inconvienence thanks to this plugin. Yoast SEO For WordPress Once you get your self-hosted website up and running, you will want to make it available to the outside world. Luckily, WordPress by default is one of the most SEO friendly out of the box solutions you can find. But what can you do to make your website stand apart from all others in the eyes of search engines? I introduce to you to Yoast SEO. Through Yoast, you can set create your post and give it a some extra “Google Mojo” that will allow search engines the ability to track and see your awesome content. Pretty Link Pro Whenever you listen to my podcast, you will hear me giving away my twitter address as TeacherCast.net/twitter. This is done for two reasons. First, I have the ability to grow and secure my company branding. To say TeacherCast.net reminds my audience what my website is. To then say Twitter gives my users an easy tag to remember where they are going. Secondly, as a user of the Pretty Link plugin, I have access to complete analytics on each of these custom URL’s. If you really want to take advantage of this plugin, use the premium Pretty Link Pro and really explode this plugin\’s functionality. There are thousands upon thousands of plugins in the WordPress Repository and many of them are excellent. When starting a new WordPress project, these are the six plugins that I simply can’t live without. They are all stable plugins that allow me to build a strong foundation for my project. Google Site Kit A long time ago, when TeachaerCast was first created, I had a large learning curve. I needed to know about Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and how all of the technical back end fits together. Luckly we now have Google Site Kit, an all-in-one plugin that helps you to connect to a number of Google services in a nice and clean package. The plugin goes one step further and provides all of the important dashboards inside your website so you no longer need to bounce out and into several platforms. Edit Flow With a great blog comes great responsibility. It\’s totally awesome to create a great post and share it, but as they say in radio, you\’re only as good as your latest piece of content. WordPress comes with several options to write posts and save them as drafts, but it doesn\’t give you a visual overview of the work you have done over a long period of time. Edit Flow is a multiuse plugin that allows you see a full months worth of posts and schedule them over the course of several days. It provides a calendar where you can quickly plan out posts in advance without having to enter the post editor several times. This plugin works great for multi-author blogs just as easy as it works for single user blogs looking to set up a full year editorial calendar. Broken Link Checker Over time, things change, other websites get updated, and you realize that many of your visitors are getting something known as a “404 Error.” It\’s not a bad idea every now and again to activate and run the Broken Link Checker Plugin. This will crawl your site and identify posts which need to be updated to links that are no longer valid. This is a time saver and certainly something you should think about doing a few times a year. Conclusion When it comes to building a website and choosing your plugins, there are a ton of things to think about. For many new web developers, there is a tendency to throw a bunch of fancy plugins on your site to make it look pretty. The reality behind plugins is that each new plugin adds a bunch of code to your website that needs to be loaded, perhaps every time one of your web pages loads for your user. Many of the plugins listed above, such as Duplicate Post or Broken Link Checker should be installed, used, and then removed so that it\’s not hanging out on your website taking up space and potentially slowing down your website. The same idea goes with Jetpack. Where I am a big fan of the plugin, I no longer use it on TeacherCast because it has several features that I no longer need. If you are looking for help building your website, please feel free to reach out. I’m happy to set up a 1:1 coaching session with you. Did your favorite plugin make the list? Share your thoughts in the comments section below or Tweet to us @PodcastingToday. For additional information, please visit www.EducationalWebDesign.com. Please Like, Subscribe, Follow … and Share! Subscribe to my Newsletter Social Media Audio Podcasts Contact Me Contact Page : TeacherCast.net/Contact Let’s Chat Visit My Bookings Page Professional Development Invite me to your school, conference, or company for a professional learning opportunity, featured speaker role, or keynote speech How to Write a Good Email Signature so others will Notice You – February 3, 2024 9 Essential WordPress Plugins for Launching New Websites – February 3, 2024 How To Value Individual Staff Profesional Development Through Micro credentials and Incentive Programs – February 3, 2024

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