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So you have a new WordPress site. Nice! Now you need to install the best WordPress plugins to optimize your site for making money online. All of these plugins are free, but many do have premium or “Pro” versions with additional functionality.
(If you don’t have a new WordPress site yet, you should read How to Start a Blog and Make Money first.)
Oftentimes the process of installing lots of plugins can be laborious. Fortunately, there’s one plugin we’re going to install that’s going to make everything else simple:WPCore
WPCore is a free plugin with a great basic service (although they do offer additional paid functionality via the link above). We’re going to use it to install the “essentials” WP plugin collection by yours truly!
Let’s install WPCore now, via your site Dashboard’s left menu:
- Plugins > Add Plugins
- In the Keyword box, enter “WPCore” and hit enter
- The first result should be “WPCore Plugin Manager” by Stuart Starr. Click “Install Now”, then wait a few seconds until it’s installed and the button changes to say “Activate”, then click that.
When the plugin is activated the page will reload, and in the left menu you’ll see a new option for WPCore. Click that. On the WPCore page:
- Click “Add a collection key”
- In the field that appears, copy/paste the key of our collection: YLO4kri1bajaOXXMhwzx
- Click “Save Collections”
When the page reloads, at the top it should say “WPCore recommends the following plugins:” followed by a list. Underneath, click the “Begin installing plugins” link.
On the “WPCore Install Plugins” page, click the “select all” box at the top of the list. Then go to Bulk Actions > Install, and click Apply. This will install all our plugins at once! Sweet.
The next page shows each plugin being installed. Scroll to the bottom and click “Return to Required Plugins Installer”.
Now we have our list of plugins, and we’re ready to start activating. As opposed to how we bulk-installed them, we actually want to activate each plugin individually, because each one requires some quick config tweaks.
At the end of each section below, go to Plugins > Install Plugins to return to the remaining list and continue. We’ll start with Jetpack (“Jetpack by WordPress.com”), then proceed alphabetically…
The Best WordPress Plugins
Jetpack by WordPress.com
Go to Jetpack. You can start with the Free plan for the basic functionality, or for more goodies like Daily Offsite Backups, Automated Restores, Spam Protection, Priority Support, etc, you can start with the Personal plan (a great value at just a couple bucks/month) or better.
Proceed through the signup – if you created a WordPress.com site during the How to Start a Blog and Make Money process, you can use that – then return to the WPCore Install Plugins list in your Dashboard.
Click “Activate” under “Jetpack by WordPress.com”, and wait for the page to say the plugin was activated successfully.
Click the Dashboard link. In the “Please Connect Jetpack” box, click Connect Jetpack. Follow the instructions to authorize your account and return to your Jetpack Dashboard. Here you’ll see your Site Stats (currently empty, of course) and below that some options, such as Security Protect (which I recommend enabling).
Back up at the top you can click the Settings tab, then look through all the different options to configure your site to your preferences.
(When finished, remember: return to Plugins > Install Plugins to continue.)
Activate. Click the “Set up your Akismet account” box that appears at the top. This plugin actually ties in with Jetpack, so click “Get your API key” and follow the steps.
If you picked a Jetpack Personal plan or better, Akismet’s Spam Protection is included. But here’s a secret – you can still use this for free. On the plans page, choose “Get Basic”, and on the next page, you can name your own price – including $0, if you so choose.
Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights
Go to MonsterInsights to learn about its features, as well as the benefits of Pro. Then, you’ll want to create a Google Analytics account for your new site, before proceeding.
Activate. Click Dashboard. At the top you’ll see 2 notices. First, you can choose whether to “Allow MonsterInsights to track plugin usage”. This is strictly your judgment call, either is fine.
Next, click the link to configure your Google Analytics settings. Click “Authenticate with your Google account”. Follow the pop-up wizard to integrate Google Analytics into your site.
MailChimp for WordPress
Go to MailChimp to create an account, and then create a list. We’ll use MailChimp to build an email list which will be an important step in our ongoing marketing strategy. It’s free for your first few thousand subscribers!
Next go to MailChimp for WordPress to learn about its features, as well as the benefits of the Premium Add-on.
Activate. Reload the page. In the notice at the top, follow the link to enter your MailChimp API key. Next, click “Get your API key here”. On the MailChimp site, copy your API key, then return to your site and paste it into the API Key field. Save.
Now go to MailChimp for WP > Forms. Go ahead and create a form which can be added to the site.
Lastly go to Appearance > Widgets. Under “Available Widgets”, click “MailChimp Sign-Up Form” and drag it into one of the sidebar options to the right, then configure and click Save. Congrats! You now have your mailing list signup form on your site!
This plugin will allow us to automatically add an author bio, disclaimer, or other info at the bottom of every post, as seen on this site.
Activate. Reload the page. You should be redirected to the StarBox Settings page. If not, go to Settings > StarBox. Configure to your preferences; here are the tweaks I made:
- Enable “Hide Author Box from custom posts types”
- Disable “Show the Open Graph Profile in meta…”
- Theme setting: Minimal
- Disable “Add Starbox in the post content or widgets with the shortcode…”
- Click “Save settings”, then “Go to user settings”
- Job settings > Biographical Info: set to what you want shown in the StarBox
Go to ThirstyAffiliates to review add-ons. The Blogger Pack is a good starting point, as Autolinker and Stats will be quite helpful and time-saving.
I prefer ThirstyAffiliates over Pretty Link Pro because it has a nice “shortcode” functionality, which will auto-update any references to your links should you make changes to them down the road. But both plugins have different benefits, so feel free to choose either.
We’ll use ThirstyAffiliates soon to add our affiliate links. For now we’ll install & make quick tweaks.
Activate. Reload the page. A new menu item called “Affiliate Links” should now be in the left menu. Go to Affiliate Links > Settings. Here are the tweaks I made:
- Link Prefix: I set this to “go”, but it’s all about your preference
- Link Redirect Type: 307
- Enable “Use no follow on links?”
- Enable “Open links in new window?”
Activate. Reload the page. You’ll likely see new notifications at the top, about SEO. Go ahead and click that, or just go to “SEO” in the left menu.
Under “Notifications”, follow the link to start the configuration wizard to configure Yoast SEO. Quite frankly, Yoast’s wizard does a great job at guiding you through this, so you can just follow that!
iThemes Security (formerly Better WP Security)
Go to iThemes Security Pro to review the premium functionality of this plugin. When it comes to WP security, iThemes Security Pro is the gold standard.
Activate. Instead of reloading, click “Dashboard”. When the page reloads, follow the new “Security” left menu link.
On the first load of iThemes Security, run the Security Check (click “Secure Site). I recommend you to “Activate Network Brute Force Protection”. Close.
Here are some of the other settings I recommend:
- 404 Detection: Enable.
- File Change Detection: Enable.
- SSL: Enable. Configure Settings. Note: Only change the SSL configuration further if you’ve activated an SSL cert for your site, as I recommended previously. This will force your whole site to use SSL, redirecting any insecure visits to the secure site. That’s a good thing!
- Front End SSL Mode: Whole Site
- SSL for Dashboard: Enable “Force SSL for Dashboard”
- WordPress Tweaks: Configure Settings. Take note of the “Disable File Editor” option. Non-advanced users should leave as-is, otherwise; advanced users just need to know this option exists.
Great job. You really did it – the best WordPress plugins. I’m proud of you. Here’s a pat on the back and a high five. No really, nice!
The Advanced WordPress Plugins
Oh boy, there’s more. Yes, I created an “advanced” WP plugin collection too.
I’m not going to go through it here, but feel free to check it out. It currently includes:
- Disqus Comment System
- Easy Google Fonts
- Easy Updates Manager
- Plugins Garbage Collector
- Table of Contents Plus
- WP Super Cache
If you’re interested in any of these plugins, you should check out their WordPress.org plugin pages for more info. I will write a new guide on them in the future.
Okay, we’re really all done with this best WordPress plugins stuff. Now I recommend reading about the Top Affiliate Programs. Yes, it’s time to get to the “money-making” part of all this!
Questions? Other ideas? Let me know in the comments below!
Questions? Hit me up on Twitter or in the comments below, & I’ll get at you ASAP!
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