20 of My Favorite Free WordPress Plugins – Part One


The thing I love about WordPress is it’s infinite possibilities and there are so many ways to customize and add features to your site. I have been creating dozens of WordPress blogs for some time now and have kept a list of my favorite plug-ins. I realized recently I need to share what I’ve learned! This is my list of plugins that are either absolutely necessary or can add some great features to your site! Having all 20 on one past was just too much so I split it into two parts, part two will be coming soon!

If you have never added a plug-in to your WordPress site, all you need to do is hover over Plugins, click Add New, and search the name of a plugin until you find it. Install, activate, and wah-la! The settings are usually in Settings or in their own tab.

Note: These are in no particular order.

1. Google Analytics Dashboard for WP

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Everyone who has a site should set up a Google Analytics account. This keeps track of your site’s stats and gives you almost any information you’d ever want. This plug-in gives you that information right to your Dashboard in the admin so you can quickly see your traffic. There are so many options to view (Sessions, Users, Organic, Page Views, Bounce Rate, Location, Pages, Referrers, Searches,  & Traffic Details) and you can even edit the color to match your branding!

2. Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP)

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This plug-in will give you the Related posts after each entry. You can change the settings to decide how many posts will show and with pictures or not, and what I love most about it, is you can create a custom one; so when I’m developing a site, I can make it exactly how I want it to look! But if you want to do it yourself, the default works just fine.

3. Instagram Feed

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Do you see a lot of sites having a grid of their instagram feed on the footer? Or like on my site, in the header? This is the plug-in to use! What you have to do is download and activate, configure the settings to your Instagram account, choose how many photos, uncheck a few default settings, and add the shortcode where you would like it! If you are using a Genesis theme, it makes it a lot easier to add the shortcode exactly where you would like. It is super simple and is a quick way to bring some color to your site and promote your beautiful Instagram Feed.

4. Google Captcha (reCAPTCHA) by BestWebSoft

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If you have used WordPress before, you know how annoying Spam comments are. This plug-in completely eliminates them! I am using it on my website and as you can see it’s not the prettiest thing, but it definitely does it’s job. I’ve tried a couple reCaptcha plug-ins and I found this one to be the quickest and easiest to add. When you download you add your info to a form and it will give you code that needs to be pasted into certain places of your site. So having a Genesis theme and the Genesis hooks plug-in makes this very simple.

5. Responsive Video Embeds

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I just recently found this plug-in and if you want to embed youtube or vimeo videos on your site, this is absolutely necessary so they will stay responsive and look good on all screens. All you have to do is download and it will automatically do it, but instead of grabbing the embed code Youtube gives you, you just paste the URL and it will do the rest for you! If you don’t believe me, see a demo here!

6. jQuery Pin It Buttons For Images

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I have been using this plug-in for a while and I haven’t found one that works better. What I love about this plug-in is you can add your own custom pin-it button instead of using the ugly default one. I have found that there are certain images you don’t want it to pop up when you hover (like your signature, share buttons, or related posts images) so you add the code I pasted similar to this. I just keep adding more classes with a comma when I see them pop-up where I don’t want them to.

div.jpibfi_container img:not(.zem_rp_content img, .ssba img, .archive .site-container .site-inner div .content article .entry-content img)

 7. Minimal Coming Soon & Maintenance Modescreenshot-1 (1)


I have used this plug-in for ages and I absolutely love it. While I am working on the site, I will have this plug-in activated so reader’s only see a “Coming Soon” page. But this plug-in will give you SO many design options and space to add a subscription email and all kinds of stuff! Plus it’s so pretty and simple, and you know that’s what I love.

8. Post Featured Image Generator

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A lot of themes (all I have used or create) pull a featured image from each post to use throughout the site, but if you are importing from Blogger or you have a lot of content and might not have used the “Featured Image” option on all your posts, it will create a blank and it won’t look very good. This plug-in will help generate featured images to those easily. What it does is grabs the first image of the post and makes that the featured image and all you have to do is push a button to generate!

9. EasyRecipe

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This plug-in will make your recipes look so sleek and so much easier for your viewer’s to read. You have lots of options such as author, prep time, cook time, servings, and even a nutrition section. In the settings you can choose a Display Style — my favorite is the ‘Tastefully Simple’ one.

10. I Recommend This

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 8.45.31 PMAt work, I had a client that wanted the option to ‘like’ your post. This is easy in Squarespace or other blogger platforms but it isn’t in WordPress by default. I went through so many plug-ins and when I found this one, I could hear angels singing ‘Hallelujah’! I had to do a bit of CSS overwriting, and it’s another one where you add the shortcode where you want, but it works well and set up is pretty simple! This is what I am using on my current site. To get the heart, I add Font Awesome to the site and add this code before the shortcode: <i class=”fa fa-heart”></i>.

The next 10 are here!
What plugins do you like? I always enjoy finding new ones that work well and make my job easier! Please let me know of any that are on your list!

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