When I moved to self-hosting this blog, one of the things I was most excited about was installing plugins (talk about nerdy!). If you’re not a blogger (or are new to blogging), you might be wondering what plugins are–I sure didn’t know for a long time. They’re basically like little add-ons that extend the functionality of your blog. They can do all sorts of helpful and useful things. If you check out my Contact page, you’ll see a form for contacting me, which is the plugin Fast Secure Contact Form. The catch is that on WordPress, plugins are not available for free (WordPress-hosted) blogs. Once I had the ability to install them, I wasn’t quite sure which ones to get. To figure it out, I did a little bit of searching for phrases like “best plugins,” and googled things that I wanted to be able to do and figured there must be a plugin that could do it. Here are some of my favorites so far.

1.  Grab & Save
It seemed like a huge waste of time that if I wanted to put an image on my blog without stealing someone else’s bandwidth, I had to first save it to my computer, then upload it to my blog. So I was pretty excited when I found this plugin. It cuts out the middleman and allows you to enter an image url and directly upload the image to your blog. It seems trivial, but it saves loads of time.

2. Editorial Calendar
This has changed the way I blog. It shows your present (and future) posts in a calendar format, which really helps me to decide what to post, and when. It really helps me to keep a more consistent schedule.

3. and 4. nRelate Related Content and nRelate Most Popular
See the thumbnail links at the bottom of this post, which suggest related posts you might like, and the ones on the right side of the page, which list my most popular posts? These are both incredibly useful plugins. It’s a shame for great content that you created months (or years) ago to be totally forgotten, and these plugins prevent that from happening by giving your readers new ways to discover older content on your blog.

5. Jetpack
Jetpack does too many things to list here. It’s a super plugin, with everything from stats to spell-checking to a comment system. Definitely a must-have.

6. One-Click Child Theme
If you’re ready to modify your blog’s theme, you should know that you can’t just start mucking around and modifying the CSS of a downloaded theme, because when you update your theme, all of your changes will be lost. You instead must create a child theme, and make your changes to that theme. This plugin simplifies the process of creating a child theme.

7. Backup
This one is kind of boring, but important. You can set it up to automatically backup your blog, so that if something happened to the files on your server at least you wouldn’t lose everything.

8. Pinterest Pin It Button
This one does just what it sounds like, it adds a “Pin It” button to your posts to help users add your images to Pinterest.

9. Google Analytics
Adds Google Analytics to your blog, to give you more information about your site traffic. But you can’t actually see it on your dashboard until you install the next plugin…

10. Google Analytics Dashboard
This integrates your Google Analytics data into your dashboard, so you can easily see it.

If you have a WordPress blog, do you use plugins? Are there any you couldn’t blog without?

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