Lost with WordPress plugins? Check out this helpful guide to take your site from zero to hero.

First of all, what is a plugin?

Lets talk about what exactly a plug in is. A plugin is a piece of technology that ‘plugs-in’ code to your WordPress site.  There are WordPress plugins that create:

  • Members Areas
  • Contact Forms 
  • Website Back Ups
  • Consultation Forms
  • Online Courses

WordPress plugins enhance your site and make it functional and useful! There are more than 59,000 FREE WordPress plugins out there. This is why WordPress is one of the best platforms out there. Functionality features are endless. You can enhance your site without the hefty price tag that shopify or squarespace may add on. WordPress Plugins, for their most basic plan, are free. So, let’s get straight into which plugins I recommend and why!

WordPress Plugins

Jetpack

Jetpack is one of the first plugins needed for your site. And really, you only need the free version! Jetpack:

  • Speeds up your site by loading pages faster
  • Secures your site – protects it from brute force attack
  • Creates site analytics – how many people have visited your site? Where did they come from?
  • Includes site monitoring – Alerts you if your site is down

Jetpack does have other features, however I find the above to be the most useful. You can turn off certain Jetpack features. Therefore you only use what features you need and this prevent your website from slowing down.

Advanced Jetpack features include:

  • Site back ups – automated back ups so you don’t lose your most recent site version
  • VIP Support – Help from jetpack experts if anything was to go wrong
  • Paypal Payments – take paypal payments securely
  • WordAds – Enable Ads and earn some passive income

EWWW Image Optimiser

EWWW is a super handy, easy to use plugin that will speed up your site. How? 

EWWW is an image optimiser that optimises the size of your pictures. It optimises newly uploaded and original images on your site.

‘Why do I want my images to be optimised?’

Optimising images means your website page speeds are increased. This is better for customer usability and search engines. Search engines LOVE a speedy site and will rank your site higher that those sites with poor loading times!

Features:

  • This helpful WordPress plugin is totally free for the basic package
  • Encrypted with SSL (security)
  • Compresses an unlimited amount of images
  • And there are no size limits on your media images

UpDrafts Plus

This plugin is an absolute necessity! Another free wordpress plugin that lets you create website back-ups manually or automatically. Busy? Schedule your back-ups and stress less. I always try to download this as soon as I begin to build my site. This ensures you don’t lose any of your work in the early stages.

‘Why do I need back-ups?’

If your website was to go down for any reason, updrafts plugin restores it again with a single click. It is easy to navigate and is user friendly. There is lots of info on how to use this plugin. Check out the following link:

https://wordpress.com/go/reviews/updraftplus-review-is-it-the-best-free-wordpress- backup-plugin/

Features:

  • Free
  • Sends back-ups to your google drive
  • Back-ups can be manual or scheduled for weekly, fortnightly, monthly etc.

Social Media – Smash Balloon Social

I love the smash balloon social feed for my WordPress social media plugin. It allows you to embed your social media feed onto your site. Its great for aesthetics and brand consistency. It also keeps people bouncing between your website and social feeds. Once again, another free plugin that has a pro feature. I use the free version and am very happy with it.

Features:

  • Keeps branding on point on website
  • Free
  • Keeps clients bouncing between your website and socials

Contact Form 7

Contact form 7 is a necessary plugin that comes with most themes. It allows potential clients to contact you with ease. Feature this on your home page or contact page for maximum results. You can customise the form to include whatever fields your want. Use some CSS to spruce up the styling and you are good to go!

Features:

  • Free
  • Customisable
  • Easy to use

QSM – Quiz Survey Master

If you need a consultation form, a quiz or a survey on your site. Look no further than quiz survey master. I use this plugin on any site that needs a client consultation form. It is super easy to use and you can get results delivered straight to your email.

Features

  • Free
  • Easy to use
  • A great feature on a website
    that showcases professionalism

Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO is one of the most popular SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) plugins.

What is SEO you ask? SEO is how your website is ranked by google. Is it on the first page of google or is it on the 23rd?

Yoast SEO is a plugin that helps you analyse your website content and organise it in a way that google will love!

Like many other plugins, there is a free version and there is also a premium version.

Features

  • Free
  • Easy to use
  • Helps improve your site rankings by detailing how you have used your focus keyphrases

AISEO (All In One SEO)

On my own personal site, there was a plugin conflict between yoast and another plugin. This meant yoast would not work. Luckily, AISEO is a great alternative to yoast. It’s similar to yoast and easy to use!

Features

  • Free
  • Easy to use
  • Helps improve your site rankings by detailing how you have used your focus keyphrase

Wordfence

Wordfence is one of the most popular WordPress plugins for security measures. The free version of wordfence enables:

  • Malware Scanning – scanning your website for potential threats that can slow down or crash your website
  • Brute Force Attack Protection – This means it locks out attackers who are trying to get into your website after a certain amount of attempts
  • 2FA – 2 Factor Authentication – You know that really annoying verification thing you have to do on another device?  Annoying, but very useful.

Wordfence even logs attacks that have occurred and lets you view the reports! Super handy and quite interesting.

Paid Members Pro

Where do I even begin with this plugin?! I cannot believe it has a free version. Paid members pro enables you to create a members area on your website. Members can log-in and access ‘secret’ pages that the general public can’t!

You can take payment via a monthly subscription or a once off payment. A great way to make passive income or give your members an exclusive members area to play in.

Features:

  • Free
  • Can upgrade to premium with for extra features
  • Take a once off or monthly subscription payment
  • Can be hooked up to LearnPress course – Check out Gráinne Gibsons coaching site where I created a members area using LearnPress and the free version of Paid Members Pro!

Mailchimp

An absolute must have if you are wanting to include email subscriptions/ marketing on your website.

Marketing emails lets you get personal with clients and potential clients. Your email goes straight to their inbox. You can have a daily weekly, monthly email etc. Little reminders of why they should buy from you that slide into their inbox!
Marketing emails create trust, brand identity and is a super cheap form of marketing!

“How do I get their emails?”

 Offer a free template, free gift, discount or some sort of freebie to get that email. Ever noticed why so many brands offer 10% your first purchase? That is to get your email.

Mailchimp Features:

  • Free
  • Up to 2000 subscribers on free mailchimp
  • Form Builder
  • Basic customisation on the free version
  • Premium mailchimp – €59 per year
  • Abandoned cart feature with woo commerce – this allows you to target people who have left something in their cart. Send them little reminders to buy and increase your chances of a sale.

LearnPress

Recently for an online course, I used the free version of the LearnPress plugin. I absolutely love this plugin. It is really amazing what you can get on the free version!

The LearnPress plugin was simple to use and allow me to create an online course with minimal coding. I used CSS to style my client’s course, however you can get away without that if you just want something simple.

Potential buyers can buy the course with one payment, or if you link it with Paid Members Pro, they can purchase it with monthly subscriptions!

LearnPress add-ons (for free!!)

  • Offline Payment
  • Bb Press
  • Course Reviews
  • Course Wishlist

LearnPress add-ons (at an extra cost) can include:

  • Certificate of Completion
  • Assignment Add-On
  • Stripe Add On
  • Content Drip Add On (Dripfeeding content week by week to clients)
  • Random Quiz Add On

Thirsty Affiliates

Affiliated links for monetising your website.

Extra income? Yes please!

Thirsty affiliates enables website owners to add in affiliated links to their websites. You receive payment once customers have used your affiliated links and purchases product from a certain site.

PlugIn FAQS

‘I have so many plugins, will they slow down my site?’

Plugins are a way of installing more code to your site. Therefore the more code for the server to download, the more time it takes to load up your site. More plugins may slow down your site, however, there are plugins that are of better quality than others and you need to choose carefully.

Query Monitor is a great programme that allows you to determine what plugins are causing issues on your site. Make sure to delete if after you use it though to save on space.

A simple way to ensure you aren’t slowing down your site is to delete unnecessary plugins. If you have 15 unused plugins installed on your site, they are more than likely going to slow down your site. Get rid of the plugins that are not absolutely necessary.

‘What is a plugin conflict?’

A plugin conflict is when plugins clash with each other and cause an error on your site. This actually can happen quite a bit so try not to panic when it does occur.

Plugin conflicts occur when:

  • A plugin has not been updated
  • Its incompatible with the theme you  or your developer developer has bought
  • Poorly written code
  • Complexity of certain plugins code
  • Plugins have not been updated

‘How do I fix it?’

You need to find the plugin causing the conflict first. You need to:

  1. Ensure all plugins are updated.
  2. Go through each plugin, one by one, deactivate them
    3.When you have deactivated one plugin, check to see if the error has fixed it self
    4.If the error is gone, then that’s your problem plugin
    5.Replace plugin with an alternative one

It’s like a process of elimination.

There are alot of plugins out there and alot of information to take in.
If you need a bit of help on this,
get in contact below and I can perform a free site audit!



14 different WordPress Plugins that I highly I recommend

AOIFE LOUISE ELIZABETH CONNOLLY

Passionate about creating purposeful & strategic websites that embody your business. 

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"Working with Aoife was incredible ! Her attention to detail and ability to turn such a simple idea into something so detailed is amazing and I couldn’t be happier with the website. From start to finish she was so organised, helpful and driven. Anything I asked was done and no questions were left unanswered. I can’t wait to work with Aoife again in the future. Incredibly trust worthy and excellent at what she does! Thank you Aoife!"

GrAinne Gibson

Connolly & Fee

"We recently employed ALEC Creative to refresh our website & we were beyond delighted with what they did.
Aoife was wonderful to work with– she provided guidance & support where we needed, putting forward creative ideas & concepts that suited our brand vision so well.
We will continue to use ALEC Creative going forward and would highly recommend to anyone in need of a website design/redesign."