Blogging and Writing

What Are These Plugins Bloggers Talk About?

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I talk about plugins sometimes, but I know a lot of people don’t have access to them, so I thought I’d give a quick overview so you know what on earth a plugin is and what you are/aren’t missing out on.

There are a gazillion plugins out there, give or take a few. They’re bits of code that do a specific function, or set of functions, that WordPress doesn’t already do on its own. They’re called plugins because you can stick them in and pull them out without having to change anything in your site’s code.

Plugins are accessible for bloggers who are self-hosted or have the WordPress.com business plan or above. My understanding, which may well be wrong, is that plugins can break your site or cause security vulnerabilities. If you’re self-hosted, you’re free to break your site as much and as often as you want and it’s nobody’s problem but your own. On WordPress.com, people on the higher plans pay for it to become WordPress’s problem.

Classic editor

The plugin I think quite a few people wish they had is the classic editor plugin, which gives you the pre-Gutenberg WP experience. This plugin is created and maintained by the WordPress.org team, who say it “will be fully supported and maintained until at least 2022, or as long as is necessary.” I don’t think the existence of this plugin has anything to do with pandering to people on the high-end WordPress.com plans, because chances are, those folks are paying for more functionality, not less. My guess is that this is about people on WordPress.org wanting to create more options for themselves.

SEO plugins

Search engine optimization (SEO) plugins don’t automatically make your site a Google magnet. They provide the framework and you do much of the work. Yoast is probably the most popular. It gives you feedback on your posts and suggests changes to make them more search engine friendly. You can also enter what’s called a “meta description,” which a search engine would typically use as the little snippet of text it shows in search results. To go back and optimize old posts takes a buttload of time, and the amount of time to optimize all of your new posts is fairly substantial, so it’s definitely not a sit back and wait for it kind of deal.

There are various other plugins that get more specific, which probably aren’t all that interesting for the average blogger. One I like is Redirection, so if I delete a post, instead of someone trying to get there and getting a 404 error page, I can automatically re-route them to another post. I get satisfaction from weeding out posts that are no longer relevant, so Redirection is my friend.

Image compression

Images can be big, which can use up a lot of room as well as make your posts/pages take longer to load. There are websites that you can use to compress images one at a time, but an image compression plugin can automate that.

Minor functionality

There are all kinds of plugins that add little bits and pieces. For example, the little arrow that shows up in the bottom right corner of my site that you can click on to go to the top of the page โ€“ that comes from a plugin that does that and nothing else.

There’s a plugin that lets you add a Pin-it button to all your images. I used to use it, then decided it was slowing down my site so I got rid of it, and now it’s back. In general, the more plugins you have, the slower things get.

Are you missing out?

Probably not, aside from the classic editor plugin, if the classic editor is something you miss. If you do care enough to make a decision based on that, you’re probably far better off going self-hosted than upgrading to the business plan.

Being able to use plugins can really boost the traffic coming in from search engines, but you’ve got to put in a lot of work, and the traffic that comes from search engines isn’t going to engage with your site the way WordPress people do. So is it worth upgrading or switching to self-hosted for the average blogger? I don’t think so. Going self-hosted is a far cheaper way of going about things, but the downside is that you can break your site as much and as often as you want to, if you’re so inclined.

Have you ever thought about upgrading your plan or switching to self-hosted to have access to more features?

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22 thoughts on “What Are These Plugins Bloggers Talk About?”

  1. I pay a monthly fee to a company that built my website. I know I have the yoast plugin and that it’s on the WordPress platform but don’t mind paying the company to do the meta descriptions for all my blog posts. I simply send them an email and they do all the hard work. Learned some new things in this post ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Indeed. Between podcasting and blogging, I happily pay software companies to do the techy stress-inducing stuff. Keeps both writing and recording fun, which motivates me to keep going.

  3. I don’t have the business plan, so I have little in the way of plug-in options. I likely wouldn’t use the Classic one: I like blocks (except for the occasional copy and paste from Word glitch). The Redirection one sounds good, although I’ve yet to cull my site. I should get on that.๐Ÿ˜

    1. I like culling so much that I’m getting to the point where there isn’t really any more that needs to be done, but I want to anyway…

  4. God bless the classic editor plugin! They’d better not do away with it! Oh, no, they’d better not. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

  5. I was so use to the Classic Editor which was the default when I first created a WordPress account back in 2011.
    Now that I understand the block editor I really don’t mind it, love the re-use feature.
    I thought about upgrading, so I set out to do just that. Then it came to the total cost my plans were quickly deflated. So, for now I will stay with the free version.
    There are plugins I hear about and think that would be great to use, but the free version cannot access them. Bummer! ๐Ÿ™

  6. I won’t do self hosted even though I’ve a decent enough background for it to be not completely intimidating.

    I hate keeping software up to date via patches and I REALLY REALLY loathe when I can’t automate boring tasks like domain renewal or SSL certificate renewal. SSL makes http into https and Google and all modern browsers favour sites which use it.

    5 years of no automatically renewing over 25 domains and deploying easily 40+ SSL certs due to extremely restrictive IT security requirements = I never ever want to do that again. Automation really helps.

    So just 1 domain and 1 SSL should be okay right? No, I was a IT volunteer for a blogger running WordPress self hosted but her hosting provider (GoDaddy) was absolutely shit, and whatever Certificate Authority she bought her SSL cert from was never prompt. And she herself ought to have set reminders y’know. Don’t just expect your unpaid IT volunteer to scramble, doing all these things manually needs time. And anyway I couldn’t persuade her to use Let’s Encrypt (free SSL, easy to renew. My work SSLs cost over $100? each).

    So, if I ever go self hosted or want to use plugins, yes I’ll pay WordPress etc to do it for me.

  7. I have both WordPress Blogs. Both have their advantage and disadvantage. And I use the Block Editor. The only thing of the Gutenberg Editor I donโ€™t like, the color variety is limited and the font colors are not as nice as they are of the Classic Editor.

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