What is a plugin?
A plugin adds functionality to your self-hosted WordPress site. You might think of plugins like you think of kitchen appliances. You have a kitchen which allows you to cook, but different appliances allow you to add special functionality to your kitchen. For example, if you want to make toast, you'd add a toaster. If you want to make waffles, you'd add a waffle maker. Smoothies? Maybe a blender.
In the same way, a self-hosted WordPress site is great on its own, but you can make it even more functional ad easy-to-use by adding plugins.
Can I use plugins with Blogger or WordPress.com?
Unfortunately, no. This is why I highly recommend a self-hosted WordPress site (which is different than a WordPress.com site, explained here). There is just no comparison.
Limit your plugins
Plugins are no doubt, very handy. However, they can slow down your site and some can be pretty finicky. So, my advice is to use as few plugins as necessary. Avoid going plugin crazy. Related: 6 Useful Things to Know About Plugins
If your site breaks, it could be plugin-related
As I mentioned above, plugins can be quite buggy. Therefore,
- Keep your plugins updated (upgrade notices are under Dashboard–>Plugins–>Installed)
- If your site breaks and you're not sure why, deactivating your plugins and reactivating them one by one can oftentimes lead you to the site-breaking culprit
How to install a plugin
Can't see the video? Watch it here.
The vast majority of plugins can be installed this way:
- Login to your Dashboard
- Go to "Plugins" (in left column)
- Click "Add New"
- Search for the name of your desired plugin in the search field. (Note: The vast majority of plugins can be found this way. However, on occasion a plugin is not available in the Plugin Directory. In that case, simply download the plugin from the appropriate site and then follow the instructions in How to Install a Plugin or Theme Via FTP to install it.)
- Click "Install"
- "Activate" your plugin when prompted, or, go back to "Plugins–>Installed" and "Activate" your plugin
- You may need to change your plugin's settings (which are often found under "Settings" or "Plugins")
Next time I will tell you my favorite plugins.
Note: This original tutorial demonstrated 2 ways to install a plugin–via your WordPress Dashboard as explained above and via your server using FTP. Because most plugins can be installed using the method above, I have opted to remove the instructions explaining how to install via FTP to reduce confusion. However, you may still access those instructions here: How to Install a Plugin Via FTP.
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