Following is a list of my most-used and favorite plugins. I'd love it if you shared yours in the comments!
My activated plugins
Akismet is a great spam catcher as well. It's automatically installed in new versions of WordPress but must still be activated. (Activation requires an API key from WordPress.com. Simply follow the prompts to get your key when you activate Akismet under Plugins–>Installed.)
W3 Total Cache makes your site run faster and smoother by caching. Caching is basically keeping a copy of images and content that has already been seen so those things don't have to be fetched from the server every time, which slows things down.
WP Smush.it reduces the file sizes of images you upload to your blog, thus making your site run faster. I wrote more about the plugin in Optimize Your Images with Smush.It. I'd also recommend How to Resize and Edit Your Images Quickly.
WordPress Ping Optimizer keeps your site from being marked as a ping spammer. What's that? Remember the pinging services we saved in our Settings? Have you ever published a post but found mistakes and had to update it? Well, every time you update a post after it's published, your pinging services are notified. This plugin only pings them once when the post is published the first time. Very good idea.
WP Facebook Open Graph Protocol pulls the right thumbnail from your post to Facebook. I wrote about this plugin in How to Get Facebook to Pull the Right Images from Your WordPress Blog. Another plugin that I haven't used but looks promising is Facebook Like Thumbnail.
Social Sharing Toolkit is what automatically puts sharing buttons at the end of each of my posts.
Simple Social Icons allows you to add social media icons to your widgets in WordPress. It works great with Genesis.
WP Maintenance Mode is handy if I want to make design changes or do other maintenance without confusing anyone. Basically, I can work on my site as usual behind a screen that lets visitors know the site is undergoing a little maintenance and will be back to normal quickly. This is a nice thing if you have a demo site or a client site.
Genesis is the theme I personally use. These are plugins that make Genesis even more cool.
Genesis Simple Edits makes editing your byline (the bit of information like date and author name under your post titles) and your post footer (the bit of information like number of comments, categories, etc. at the end of your post) a cinch.
Genesis Simple Hooks is a plugin that is a bit more techy, but is a nice way to add elements to your blog layout (like banner ads under your header for example, or ads at the end of single posts, etc.).
Plugins for feeds
FeedBlitz Member Mail puts a check box at the end of the comment form, so anyone who leaves a comment can also subscribe to receive posts via email by checking the box. It's an easy way to build subscribers.
FeedBurner FeedSmith Extend does the same thing, only for FeedBurner. In other words, it keeps all your subscribers funneled through FeedBurner.
Other plugins that come highly recommended
Editorial Calendar is a great way to keep track of your posts by scheduling them. I have used this plugin only a little bit, but love it.
Easy Recipe recommended by Linda from The Gluten-Free Homemaker allows readers to print your recipes. Ziplist is a similar plugin recommended by Toni from The Happy Housewife and Phoebe from Getting Freedom from Debt.
Check out all my Nuts & Bolts posts.
What are your favorite plugins?
Other posts in this series
- How to Start a Blog or Website: Intro & FAQ
- How to Start a Blog or Website: Cheat Sheet
- How to Find (or Refind) Your Passion
- How to Decide What to Blog About: What Works for Readers?
- How to Decide What to Blog About: What Works for You?
- Understand Branding: 4 Tips
- Understand Keywords: Increase the Odds of Getting Found
- Writing Great Content: 3 Tips
- How to Write a Killer About Page
- 12 Blog Organization Tips
- How to Choose a Domain Name: 12 Tips
- How to Register a Domain Name
- How to Set Up Hosting and WordPress
- How to Change Your Nameservers
- How to Add a New User in WordPress
- How to Optimize Your WordPress Settings
- How to Install a Plugin
- My Favorite Plugins
- How to Get & Optimize a Feedburner Feed
- How to Choose a WordPress Theme
- How to Install a WordPress Theme
- Elegant Themes for WordPress
- How to Install Google Analytics
- How to Use WordPress: Tips & Tricks
- How to Start a Blog or Website: 10 Tips for New Bloggers
- How to Start a Blog or Website (In 15 Minutes or Less)