Since its inception, the San Miguel Writers’ Conference has been devoted to putting on events in both English and Spanish. With this in mind we recently decided to change our blog and website to fully bilingual sites. Creating a platform in two languages has meant we’ve have had to start from scratch which has meant searching and testing new WordPress plugins and translation software.
While I was testing 50+ plugins I started thinking, “some of these are essential for a writer’s blog/ website. Authors’ could really benefit from my research.” So, here it is. Seven plugins you must have for an author’s blog.
(Some of these WordPress plugins may have conflicts with Jetpack. You may have to uninstall Jetpack if you want to use plugins where Jetpack does a similar function.)
1. Google Author Link: Have you ever done a search and seen articles come up with a small photo of the author next to the article. Well, that’s because the writer has signed-up for Google Authorship and installed the proper plugin on his/her wordpress site. Out of all of the following plugins this is currently the most important for a writer to have. Not only are people more likely to click on your article because of the thumbnail photo, but it also tells the internet that you are the author of the content. People may use your content on other sites, but Google Authorship tells search engines that you are the original writer and your version should come up first in searches.
To set up Google authorship you will need to link your published content to a verified digital identify owned by Google such as a Google+ account. A great guide on the steps to do this is, “The Definitive Guide To Google Authorship Markup.” But what plugin should you use on the backend of your blog to create the link? After trying out a few I found two that work good depending on your needs. Google Author Link is a lite plugin which stores your Google Profile URL on your blog. For each page or post the author is associated with the plugin will create the required link in the HTML Head. (This plugin can be used for single user WordPress sites and multi-author sites.)
2. WordPress SEO by Yoast: While looking for a plugin to do Google Authorship I came across Yoast one of the most powerful SEO plugins out there. Not only can it store your Google Profile URL, but it can do a tone of other things. Some highlights for authors are optimization of your content titles for SEO, optimization of your descriptions, and optimization of your keywords. You may have some great content on your blog, but if no one can find it then it won’t get read. Even if you don’t install this plugin you should read Joost de Valk’s article, “WordPress SEO,” to get an idea of how to move your content up the search engine charts.
3. Related Posts for WordPress (MicroKid Related Posts): When your reader gets to the bottom of a post they often want to read other articles by you. It’s a good idea to have some of your related content ready for them to read. Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) was on the top of everyone’s list so I tested it first. YARPP is a heavy plugin, but I couldn’t find any sort of manual override. So, I was stuck with posts linking to outdated posts like “May 2013 Author Reading in San Miguel.” Related Posts for WordPress is fully manual and allows you to choose what content best connects to your article. Plus, it’s slider image thumbnails look much nicer than YARPP’s boxy ones.
4. TinyMCE Spellcheck: If you’re new to WordPress you probably still have jetpack sitting in your blog’s backend. Jetpack is a hog that does about 25 functions poorly. One of these is spellchecking your posts. Instead of using jetpack’s spellcheck I’ve opted for TinyMCE Spellcheck. Not only does it check spelling and grammar, but you can also have it check for clichés, double negatives, and passive voice.
5. Genesis eNews Extended: One of the best ways to get your content out to readers is through email subscription. I started looking at subscription plugins because I realized Jetpack does not allow exporting of your whole subscription list. It also does not allow emailing your subscribers. And it does not allow subscribers to choose to receive posts monthly or weekly. (This may be different for wordpress.com users.) I already use a lot of Genesis plugins so I looked to them for a solution first. Genesis eNews Extended does a couple things I like. Most importantly it allows you to keep your list on a SMTP server like MailChimp, Constant Contact, iContact, and others. I mean why let a plugin like Jetpack hold your subscription list hostage when it’s your list. Genesis eNews Extended also looks great in your sidebar. Other plugins like subscribe2 don’t look so great unless you purchase the premium edition. Plus, subscribe2 doesn’t currently allow you to keep your subscription list on an outside SMTP server.
6. NextScripts: Social Networks Auto-Poster: You’ve written your newest post. You’ve clicked publish. Now what? Do you go to each of your social network sites and write about your article in their news feeds? Not with this plugin. Social Networks Auto-Poster automatically sends your content to websites like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Tumblr, LinkedIn, YouTube, and more. Once you’ve set up your accounts the plugin will do the rest.
7. Fancier Author Box: Wordpress comes with an author box you can use when you install it, but this plugin does so much more. It has a tab which features the author’s newest posts. It also allows the author to link to their social networks. Plus, it has more customization of style than most other plugins in this category.
If you have a favorite plugin which you think is essential for writers, leave a reply in the comments below.