So, you want a high-traffic blog… (Photo: Bill Gracey)
The following post can be considered Part II in a series on how I blog. Part I, which covers mostly everything not below, is titled “How to Build a High-Traffic Blog Without Killing Yourself.”
Beginning at the Beginning
My very first blog post of all time was December 31, 2006 (scroll down here). One comment! Ah, success…
Who the hell designed that atrocity? Oh, it was me…
For many months, I “blogged” by imitation, putting out a lot of boring stuff. I felt, and still feel, that this imitate-before-you-create phase was critical to finding my own voice. But, as one then DoubleClick manager put it to me over wine, after reviewing my posts:
“A mediocre blog is more of a liability than no blog at all.”
Taking this to heart, I upgraded, both in terms of design and writing. I started publishing more original long-form content and organizing around a few central themes. I invested $1,500 and launched the blog you now see. Well, it was close…
The very first post was March 7, 2007. It scored six comments (a 500% increase!)… and I was ecstatic.
This work was done in preparation for April 27, 2007, the launch date for The 4-Hour Workweek. I viewed the blog primarily as a marketing tool. This changed when lightning struck with “How to Lose 20 lbs. of Fat in 30 Days… Without Doing Any Exercise.”
This post, my tenth out of nearly 400, remains my most popular post of all-time: 5,000+ comments and counting!
Since then, I’ve used this blog for social causes, as a confessional during hard times, as a diary, and for learning from people around the world. It’s now the heartbeat for everything that I do.
Here are some stats as of this writing:
Total spam deleted 1,170,822
These days, this odd blog often gets more than 1,000,000 unique visitors per month. It’s hard to believe.
How Do I Manage Things?
This blog is run by me and one assistant based in Canada. I don’t have an editorial calendar, nor a set frequency of posting. I have a few criteria for posts, and I try and write only when I can satisfy them. If that’s once every 3-4 weeks, so be it. If the spirit moves me three times in one week, that’s fine, too.
How I manage the tech, the trolls, the spam, etc. is perhaps best reflected in my tools.
This blog is run on open-source WordPress, hosted on a dedicated server at MediaTemple, and I use a collection of free plug-ins to keep me maximally productive in minimal time.
Below is the shortlist that keeps me sane.
Used by millions, Akismet is quite possibly the best way in the world to protect your blog from comment and trackback spam. It keeps your site protected from spam even while you sleep.
Out-of-the-box SEO for your WordPress blog. WordPress is excellent for Google juice to start with, and this makes it even better.
Audio Player is a highly configurable but simple mp3 player for all your audio needs. You can customise the player’s color scheme to match your blog theme, have it automatically show track information from the encoded ID3 tags and more.
Comment Probation AKA “Tim’s Probation”
This is my first plug-in! Well, kind of. While we drank vodka at the Word Championships of BBQ in Memphis, Matt Mullenweg and his team helped create this plug-in on the spot (Thanks Nacin, Otto, and Scott!). It solves an important problem for many bloggers. In WordPress comment moderation settings, you can typically choose between a) let everything through with no moderation (bad idea), allow comments to appear automatically for commenters who have previously approved comments, or moderate every single comment (hugely time-consuming). So what do you do if you get a smart but kinda snarky comment, one that makes you wonder if this guy is going to be a pain in the ass? If you approve him, he’ll have free reign to go nuts in your comments. If you have 20 comments a day, perhaps you can watch it all, but not at 100 or 1,000 comments a day. This plugin solves the issue: it allows you to put a comment author “on probation,” approving one comment, but not automatically approving future comments. Sweet!
Forwards all feed traffic to Feedburner while letting through some important User-Agents.
Allows you to integrate the photos from a Flickr RSS feed into your site.
Prevents WordPress 2.1+ from adding a more link to your website’s feed.
Bring the power of the WordPress.com cloud to your self-hosted WordPress. Jetpack enables you to connect your blog to a WordPress.com account to use the powerful features normally only available to WordPress.com users.
Limit rate of login attempts, including by way of cookies, for each IP. I view this as a must-have, as people try to brute-force WP passwords all the time.
How do you let someone moderate comments for you without giving them the ability to change posts or accidentally cause other trouble? Use this plug-in, that’s how. It creates a custom role that enables only Comment Moderation actions and pages.
Allows you to point WordPress pages or posts to a URL of your choosing. Good for setting up navigational links to non-WP sections of your site or to off-site resources. Since my content is scattered all over the place, this is very helpful.
Does nothing by itself but supplies common code for the Similar Posts, Recent Posts, Random Posts, and Recent Comments plugins. Make sure you have the latest version of this plugin.
Displays a highly configurable list of related posts. Similarity can be based on any combination of word usage in the content, title, or tags. Don’t be disturbed if it takes a few moments to complete the installation — the plugin is indexing your posts. Instructions and help online. Requires the latest version of the Post-Plugin Library to be installed.
Allows readers to receive notifications of new comments that are posted to an entry. Based on version 1 from Scriptygoddess.
A complete integration between your WordPress blog and Twitter. Bring your tweets into your blog and pass your blog posts to Twitter. Show your tweets in your sidebar, and post tweets from your WordPress admin.
Protect your content, themes, plugins, and settings with real-time backup and automated security scanning from VaultPress. Activate, enter your registration key, and never worry again. (Note: I pay for this one.)
On-demand backup of your WordPress database.
Generate footnotes for posts.
Enables a user to control the visibility of items on the blog by making posts and pages selectively hidden in different views throughout the blog, such as on the front page, category pages, search results, etc… The hidden item remains otherwise accessible directly using permalinks, and also visible to search engines as part of the sitemap (at least). This plugin enables new SEO possibilities for authors since it enables them to create new posts and pages without being forced to display them on their front and in feeds.
Very fast caching plugin for WordPress. This is the only thing that could save the blog from crashing when I hit the front pages of Digg, StumbleUpon, etc.
And… that’s it!
What are your favorite must-have plug-ins? Also, did you like this post? Would you like to hear more about how I blog, or anything related to writing?
Thanks for letting me know in the comments.
Odds and Ends:
Here’s an update from my birthday challenge, which started one week ago, sent from Kushal, the CEO of Vittana.org:
Just thought you might enjoy a first-week update:
* You and the extended 4-hour family have raised over $81,000 in the first week! (This includes your match + $10,000 to kick things off.)
* 4-hour family from 23+ different countries including faraway places like Germany, Israel & Kenya have joined your Give-Back Birthday.
* On average, 100 people join your Give-Back Birthday every day. That’s one person every 3.6 minutes. More than 700 people have participated already.
* In total, you and the extended 4-hour family have already changed the lives of 152 Vittana youth studying 47 different livelihoods, everything from nurses to teachers to mechanics.
* The country your fans care most about? Bolivia is now #1, coming out of nowhere, with 38 helped youth. Paraguay and Philippines are close behind with 35 and 32 helped youth each.
* Your total impact already? More than $12 million in new lifetime income to fight youth poverty!
Want to know how your team has already made $12 million in “total impact”? Total Impact = the estimate of new lifetime income generated by your Vittana Loan.
Say, for example, you helped 25-year-old Ana Lizbeth increase her income from $5 to $9 a day by funding half of her loan. In that case, half of her $58,400 of additional lifetime income would get credited to your Total Impact score.
Why $58,400? She’ll earn $4 more per day, which works out to $1,460 more per year or $58,400 more in her working life.
How do we know it’s accurate? Our local partner gets current income, estimates 3-year earning power and we do annual follow-ups to make sure it’s tracking according to the original estimate.
Thank your readers, Tim — for EVERYTHING they do in this world! 🙂
To raise the full $100,000, we need to rally about 300 more people to join in the next 72 hours. I think we can do it, but it’d be a shame to fall short. Please keep it up!
Could you be one of those 300 people?
Please visit this page (it needs to hit $60,000 for me to match to $100,000, as I already put in $10,000). Even $1 can make a huge difference. If the spirit moves you, here you go.
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.
Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration.)
203 Replies to “How I Blog — The 21 WordPress Plugins That Keep Me Sane”
I’ve enjoyed using the plugin called upPrev plugin. It creates that New York Times little popup at the bottom right of your blog.
iIt’s not that intrusive… especially if you have a content column on the left and a sidebar on the right. And it generates decent click traffic.
Cool plugin! Not to hack Tim’s blog, but I’m participant in your latest course and wanted to let you know it’s really great and I’m learning tons! Thanks!!!
Another one that you guys should consider is Facebook’s “Recommendation Bar” (Not Box) as a similar alternative. It just came out of beta today and is potentially a more viral alternative.
More info here: http://www.fastcompany.com/1843907/facebook-recommendation-bar
This can be added with the Facebook for WordPress plugin.
It can take me more than an hour to find a Flickr image for my blog posts. In many instances I stop trying to get the image I have in mind and use what is convenient.
Great suggestion Derek! I’ve been using nRelate’s FlyOut (and their related content) and it works great.
Thanks for sharing the list of useful plugins, I have found here some that helped me a lot and also I was looking for security plugins, you can check the listed here are very useful: https://www.cloudways.com/blog/best-wordpress-anti-spam-plugins/, These plugins help to protect the website from hackings and malware.
Been waiting for this one for a long time. Nicely done.
Gravity Forms is unreal for creating simple forms as well pretty complex tests and such with logic built in. Used it to create the Should I Quit Test and it worked like a charm.
I agree with Scott. Plus, this was a very informative post Tim. A post like with monthly would be awesome!
Editorial Calendar is one of my favorites.
Also one of my favourites!!
I’m actually not sure how I would live without this plugin – for anyone writing ahead of time, Editorial Calendar is absolutely necessary.
I just wish I could also ‘schedule’ my Mailchimp campaigns on the same calendar!!
Mindy & Luke, do you have a link to the Editorial Calendar you’re recommending?
Wow, Tim. Can’t believe the timing you shared about your very first blogging site. Btw, I emailed Amy re: whether you’ll be interested in hearing about a suggestion for your site, despite of you being on tight deadlines for the book. Is the best thing to do being to send the suggestions with screenshots and reasoning?
Yes, please, Stan. Screenshots and reasoning to Amy would be ideal. Thx!
Thanks for sharing this Tim. Great post. I’m surprised you don’t use DiggDigg for social media links. Although, it seems to have a conflict with WP Super Cache and other cache plug-ins. At least on my end.
It’s always awesome to get a behind-the-scenes look at what simplifies your life. This is highly relevant to me so I’m taking notes and making an action plan for tomorrow to implement some of the stuff here.
Thanks for the great WordPress resource man!
I like Optin Skin from Viperchill.
Great for people like me who can’t make optin forms. You can basically put them anywhere in the blog.
Nice collection of plugins – a little more than the obvious essential ones but not over the top.
A quick note… if you use the ‘Contact Form 7’ plugin, it has occasionally been noted to conflict with WP Super Cache. I’ve experienced this personally. Just something to be aware of.
A couple you missed if I can so humbly point them out:
Tiny MCE Advanced
Geopress by the WP Coach (installs a configurable KML file – essential for local SEO).
Google XML Sitemaps
Great read and hatting/tips! I Evernoted it for future ref. I actually forwarded it to a VA of mine as well for some correction for her! LOL!
Akismet absolutely saved my life when I first started out. I’ve seen the Popularity Contest being used a lot and I love the concept plus from a user stand point it makes it so easy to learn about a new blog fast. Thanks so much for the useful tips Tim. The hits keep coming!
WPtouch – too much traffic these days on phones and tablets not to have a mobile optimized version of a site. This plugin does it.
I agree, but instead of WP Touch I might would prefer to go with a responsive theme that adjusts layout depending on screen type desktop, tablet, phone. There are not as many responsive theme choices, but most of the ones I have worked with are pretty nicely done.
oooh, thanks for this. Just tried it and it works great.
Great list Tim,
However I would suggest moving from All In One to Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin and form Super Cache to W3 Total Cache. They are more advanced than the ones you are using.
another timely post perfect for my current journey through the WP trenches!
SEO by Yoast is a great free one too
I use that one too – but I didn’t want to get into a ‘my favorite SEO plugin is better than you favorite SEO plugin’ pissing match with Tim 🙂
haha, well I plan on trying several – not sure if that will bring some kind of google penalty though!
Btw guys, meant to show you a couple examples of Gravity Forms in action if curious.
Conditional logic that computes a score, for Should I Quit Test: http://shouldiquittest.com/
A simple form creator for our Living Legends Reader Spotlights: http://bit.ly/OqGZiW
My buddy Jonathan Fields turned me on to this last year and it’s been unbelievably useful.
Hope it helps!
Thanks for sharing your original design. While definitely cringe-worthy, it does show how far you’ve come. I’ve been a reader of yours since the 1st edition of 4HWW and have always loved your blog design. Keep up the great work and thanks for sharing!
Thanks so much for reading my stuff (sometimes drivel, otherwise known as “dribble” on the Internet) for so long! Really appreciate it, man. Truly.
In addition to WP Super Cache try cloudflare.com. They provide free CDN services which significantly speed up and reduce your server’s load; plus code optimization (makes it smaller & faster), DDOS protection, downtime protection (caching), and anycast hosted dns.
Also, your favorite Linux/FreeBSD + nginx webserver + PHP-FPM make a fantastic setup for both low and high traffic WordPress sites.
Side note: I engineer this kind of stuff and I’m not affiliated with anyone mentioned.
Wow Tim, thanks for the Comment Probation plugin, I have been using WP for years and didn’t realize – if you approve a comment, that account now has free reign to comment unmoderated? Sounds like a design flaw in WP, but this plugin will go on every site I own asap. Thanks mate! (PS Can I interview you for my new Copywriting Secrets Book?)
Compfight is quite useful. It allows you to find Creative Commons licensed photos for posts so you don’t have to waste time wading through Flikr or waste money buying stock photos.
Interesting thanks for sharing 🙂
Ooh – that’s going to help a lot. Thanks, John!
Wow — great idea! I always wade through Flickr, and it is time-consuming!
Thanks for the comments, all 🙂
Me too! Sometimes I spend more time looking for just the right photo on Creative Commons than I do writing the post. LOL.
For plugins, I like Smart Archives and Maintenance Mode.
And…I have two plugin ideas that I’m working on now. One of them was inspired by your 2009 Wordcamp presentation. 😉
Thanks for the great list, Tim! Rock on.
Consider using something like photodune.net (no affiliation) for inexpensive stock photos (web size are about a buck). IMO, the time it saves in not having to diddle around looking for Creative Commons photos that don’t require a link, or the time it takes to add links according to the requirements, is money well spent.
It is very helpful that akismet is the way to protect your blog from comment and trackback spam. I like akismet because it protect my site while i sleep.
A slightly faster, user-friendlier option is PhotoDropper.
Disclosure: I’m the developer of PD.
We’re still working hard on it!
I strongly recommend PhotoDropper, I’ve been using it for a while it’s working very well. Useful and easy to use! Makes the search for photos in Flicker a lot easier.
It can take me more than an hour to find a Flickr image for my blog posts. In many instances I stop trying to get the image I have in mind and use what is convenient.
Thanks so much for this tip
I personally prefer foter.com, which you can install as a wordpress plugin (and contains all creative commons photos, not only those from flickr).
A couple plugins that I use on almost every WP site are Backup Buddy, Simple Social Icons, and Word Fence security.
All of these are great plugins! I love wordpress, it is such a great cms. One neat plugin I use on a couple of my blogs is called Sharebar it adds a little floating share bar to the side of pages and posts for easy social sharing. You can then add whatever social network share buttons you want to the bar. Its really great for encouraging social sharing.
Personally I would love to read more about your blogging/ writing habits. I know you have some information out there but specifically how do you come up with content ideas and your research methods.
Thanks for another great read.
WordPress 2.1 (re: Full Text Feed plugin)? Really, Tim?
Excellent post Tim! Thought it might be helpful to mention that some of the “free” plugins that you suggested do have monthly cost, specifically Vaultpress and Akismet. Both well worth it. Thanks again for the behind the scenes view of your blog.
Wow – a lot of plugins here that I’ve never heard of. Definitely the first one I’m going to try is Popularity Contest – I’ve been looking for something like that!
Thomas, I noticed you are a mobile app tycoon eh? Any chance you can use your coding skills to bring Popularity Contest into the WordPress 3.+ world?
I will be adding several of these plugins to my blog.
I’ve always wondered what some of your WP plugins were. Thanks for sharing.
For anyone interested, here are some other plugins worthwhile looking into:
* No Self Pings
* Print Friendly and PDF (Tim: lots of your readers would love this one)
* Tweet Old Post
One thing to keep in mind for people who use subscribe-to-comments and alike. Some people will get emails from posts they subscribed to months or years ago, and they have the tendency to flag those emails as spam. This will hurt your email deliverability – especially if you have an email list on the same domain. Something to keep in mind and to consider.
This comes at such perfect timing I can’t even tell you. I was just adding a Facebook page to link my wordpress blog. I have no idea what I’m doing with any of it but I love the process. Your work inspires me to be creative and live the best life. Thank- you.
Dude, I had been searching for the “Most Popular” widget on the right sidebar for so long! Sad to see the widget, Popularity Contest, is now deprecated, though. 🙁 Anyone got skills in the Ferrissverse who can bring it back to life for WordPress 3.+?
Bummer that this plugin got mothballed… If anyone can suggest a current / supported alternative to Popularity Contest I’m sure folks would love to know! 🙂
I installed a couple on my websites. A few more everyone should consider:
– Instapress – For showing off your Instagram photos
– Use Google Libraries – Not really any reason not to have, speeds up website.
– SEO Facebook Comments – On my blog, I like to keep things personal using Facebook Comments.. easier to make connections that way too.
– WordPress SEO – Like Ben mentioned above, this plugin by Yoast is top-notch, and I’ve tried them all! It has an easy import option if you’ve used other popular SEO plugins as well.
I use a couple others for different websites too.. really just depends.
One of my favorite WordPress plugins that hasn’t been mentioned is ‘Comment Redirect by Yoast.’
It allows you to provide a unique page to first-time commenters, after they have posted their comment. Great to offer some value-added content, or provide links to other useful resources for engaged readers.
Thanks for this collection. Just bought BackupBuddy didn’t know about WordPress Database Backup.
I hope that my blog will run into the problem that you use WP Super Cache for.. 🙂
Hey Alex – you won’t need the WP Database Backup if you have Backup Buddy.
Tim – Why do you have WP Database Backup at all? IMO WP-DB-Backup is THE most dangerous plugin ever. It is extremely popular but it fools people into thinking they are safely backed up, when really it just does the database ie only posts, comments and the like.
You backup with Vaultpress from the makers of WordPress itself, which is at the high end, so why have more.
And for those who don’t want that premium option there are other solutions as I cover here – http://bit.ly/PYcOTc
My two cents. I like the Spyder Spanker Plugin from spyderspankerpro, Tim, because it lets me use a GUI to stop bots. Sometimes you look in your logs and see bingbot hitting your site like nuts, only to find it’s from a malicious IP address and is faking the user agent.
One plugin I always install by default on my blogs is Web Ninja Google Analytics. It makes it extremely easy to install Google Analytics, and even gives you a stats summary on your admin dashboard. Easy to use, works well.
I also like Digg Digg. It adds a floating bar with share buttons to the blog.
Thanks for the plug-ins recs Tim!
Post request: A detailed post of how you begin, research and compose your articles for this blog. An expansion on your answers in “Paulo Coelho: How I Write”
Are you a Scrivener fan? Do you have a preferred time for doing interviews? What is the lead time from draft to publish? How do you decide a topic? What role does your virtual assistant play in the process?
Thanks for the great article. I liked the part about your stats. It’s amazing how blogs and message can really compound when you resonate with an audience. I appreciated everyone’s follow up comments as well. Here is a list of tools that I use on the blogs that I build.
Publishing tools (content recommendation)
Zemanta, Insights, Inbound Writer, Viper’s Video Quicktags
Syndication and Sharing
ABC3k, Network Publisher, Pinterest “Pin It” Button, TweetMeme Retweet Button, Google+ Plugin. Share and Follow
Bad Behavior, Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin, Akismet
SEOpressor, Internal Link Building, google xml sitemaps, Tag Grouping
Add To Post (can add content before or after posts automatically)
What are you actually using Jetpack for? It’s really just a collection of different nice to have plugins.
I mine opinion however if you don’t use it all then it’s just a super heavy plugin taking up a lot of resources for those of us on a shared hosting account.
Also regarding caching I’ve moved to W3 Total Cache. It makes advanced stuff like setting up CDN on amazon cloudfront a total breeze (if you jut have an Amazon AWS account it’s all point and click).
Hey Tim, thanks for sharing your blogging insights as I’ve always been curious about your blogging process. I’ve been following you since the 4HWW days and your blog is one of the few I actually still look forward to reading.
I would also recommend the SI CAPTCHA Anti-Spam plugin for WordPress as well. It easily cut my spam by 80% just by putting in a simple CAPTCHA box in the comments section for free.
Keep up the awesomeness!
I wonder if it also affected the amount of comments you received. Did you notice a drop-off after you installed it?
Thanks for sharing, Tim! How do you manage ad space?
I use iSocket.
I enjoy your blog. Happy birthday, I donated $35 to the cause.
Great to see the plugins used on a such a high traffic blog.
Quick question: You have this design for quite a while now (how many dog years is one Internet year?). I was wondering if you had plans to update it (not that there is anything wrong with it per se), especially to make it more tablet and mobile optimised, with (I believe) a fully responsive design being the best option.
I’d be happy to help to pay back for the reading and learning from your writing since 2008.
In the past I used super cache to but now I run all wordpress websites in combination with Varnish caching. You do have to get varnish up and running on your webserver, but once configured, it makes your website fly.
There is a wordpress plugin to make sure that the cache is cleared for a secific page when you hit save after editing. It also offers a full cache purge at the press of a button.
As I mentioned, it takes a little effort or some help from a specialist but once running it will drastically decrease load time and high traffic will no longer be an issue.
Great input. I use varnish as well. Much more efficient because it happens at a server level.
cForms II from Delicious Days (not in WordPress.org repository) is bar none the best forms tool for WordPress. VERY user friendly.
Then Better WP Security might be a good idea too.
It does so much I can’t even explain. 🙂
I loved this article and I forwarded it to many of my blogging friends, but I was hoping you could give some suggestions for a sales page/site.
I am set to launch an info product in October per your recommendations in 4HWW, but I was hoping you had a new sample page or site recommendation to base our sales site off of. I have an early version of 4HWW and pxmethod.com is no longer available.
you are just great.
Always good to see a glimpse behind the kimono 🙂
Just keep in mind that “overusing” plugins can slow down your site, so make sure every one has a purpose and if there is a key aspect to your site you need a plugin for, don’t be afraid to get the paid version.
Although it is slightly a “fad”, blogging can be such a powerful tool and I definitely get tons of value from your blog, Tim.
Thanks for sharing and I am happy to share too.
I see so far in the comments no one has mentioned a plug in if you wish to use a contact form. I use Fast Secure Contact Form which connects to Askimet to make sure the message I am receiving is not spam. It works great!
Also, I like you Tim use VaultPress by WordPress to back up my site constantly. It saved me when my 300 plus article site was hacked a few years ago on another hosting companies system. I left them right after the event. All I need to do was contact the team at VaultPress when the hack happened and they re installed an uncontaminated version of my site and I was up an running in no time.
Finally, I just thought I would put the word out there that I have a new site with a FREE e course to help people build their wellness businesses. In case, anyone is looking for extra ideas I have used to build my wellness business check out the Grow Your Wellness Biz site when you click on my name by the picture on this comment.
Enjoy a wonderful day,
Happy birthday Tim. It is a pleasure to donate to such a great cause.
Great to see what’s behind the curtain.
One of my fav plugins is ReplyMe. What is does is when I reply to a comment, that person will get an email with their comment and my reply.
I like it cause it shows that I do appreciate their comment and did reply to it. Often we leave a comment on a blog and have no idea if it got a reply. The only way is to go back to the blog post and check.
Ooh Benny I’ve been meaning to ask you what that was. Installing Reply Me today!!
might already be on here but SEO for wordpress by Yoast. i have seen incredible results from using this plugin
I also recommend SEO Yoast instead of All in One SEO. It has more options and is a little more intuitive I think.
Yoast allows you to control your Titles, Meta Descriptions, set keywords, and track them and so much more. It’s an easily available free tool you can use to optimize your Search engine results.
Thanks again, Tim. I just started blogging about three months ago, so many of these tools and plugins are unnecessary and confusing. As I get better, I’ll use this post as a resource on what to do next.
All The Best
Really interesting timeline Tim.
The OIO Publisher plugin is a useful (commission free) ad server.
The Custom Post Type UI (user interface) plugin unlocks a lot of useful features in WordPress – it has a learning curve, but doesn’t need programming skills. Add in the Mini Loops plugin (a steeper learning curve – this plugin works on custom post types as well as posts), and the combination gives you many options for presenting rich content through WordPress.
Awesome list Tim!
One addition I use on a lot of WP sites, for those who can’t afford the (very reasonable) $15 /mo for VaultPress – “Updraft” is a great, free alternative.
You can use it to do scheduled backups to almost any remote server (rackspace, amazon etc.)
Thanks a lot for sharing what’s running at the backend. First of all, I’m glad to see a high traffic blog like yours that actually has more than 20 plugins. Yeah, we all know that more plugins can slow things down but if they are essential and configured correctly, it wouldn’t be a problem and your blog is proof.
I’m also pleasantly surprised to see a lot of plugins you use are very familiar as I use most of them as well, except for jetpack which I stay away from as I noticed it eats up a lot of server memory from my VPS.
Those you use that I don’t use yet are vaultpress, limit logon attempts, comment probation, and popularity contest, and I’ll give them a try soon once I decide to remove some other plugins (20+ plugins are okay but 30+ might be pushing it too far… hehe).
Some I use that I would recommend are W3 Total Cache (shaved about 3 seconds from my loadtime using WP Super Cache), Max Blog Press Subscribers magnet (effectively tripled my email subscription rate by making it easier for visitors to subscribe), and Ninja Affiliate for automated conversion of keywords to links (saved a ton of work for me).
By the way, what wordpress theme do you use?
Wow. Amazingly useful post — partly for the post itself but also for all the great additions by the commenters.
[note apropos this topic: the auto spell check here flags “commenters” :)]
Can’t wait to play with everyone’s great suggestions.
been waiting for this list for a long time!!! Thank you soo much tim. The fact that you only configure a few plugins… im impressed!
Not related to this post of yours but thought you might find this article interesting:
Awesome stuff Tim, I like this kind of post, I’ll use several of these plugins on my sites.
Thanks for the list, Tim! Just downloaded a few plugins from your list and messing around with them now. 🙂
I’ve been hesitant to invest too much into our blog until just recently. I really hate having to force people to register to post a comment, so I think I’ll start with Akismet. I expect the rest will be huge assets as well. I’ll post back on my experience with them.
Not sure I remember 35, Tim, but I do ‘get’ being a Cancer…July 1 being my date. Obviously you’re a student of science and research…my M.S. is in bacteriology so I get the science bit. Work as a science editor now. Wondering how you lean spiritually? Do you believe that horoscope has any influence on personality or personal traits? My international friends (Trinidad and India) know detailed information based on astrological signs and I find it FUN and sometimes applicable.
Just watched your 2009 video about blogging (linked in today’s post)…excellent and thanks. Haven’t gotten a blog off the ground yet, but get closer each month…you made some notable points..and I took notes.
Finally, since you’re busy, and might not have time for pets(?) happy to cybershare either of my dogs…they will be the main blog topic once it’s up and running. Take care and keep up the good work. Don’t think you’re exactly the guy portrayed in the media–a good thing.
Did I say thanks…
Hey Tim, great list. Actually read all the comments as I see most of my favorites you are either using and or has already been mentioned. So excuse me if I repeat ; )
I have gone through quite a few sharing plugins, and am using Twitter Facebook social share which has the main ones I need. I’m not a huge fan of the floating boxes, as they don’t work good on mobile and can also be lost on a certain smaller browser windows.
I always install Google XML Sitemaps for page ranking, and Vipers Video Quicktags is a great one for embedding videos easily while have some customization on the video skins. Also Livefyre for commenting system and nRelate Related Content is great for sharing posts like the Similar Posts you are using. One has to be careful on related posts plugins and some can really slow down your sites performance.
I was driving today and wanted to re-read one of your post … and it hit me ..
I could not do this while driving … and when I get to my destination, I start doing something else. So …
You should do podcasts!
Really – record it, have someone transcribe it so you can post it… do your regular magic with adding images / videos / links, and this way, people who have time – will read it … and people on the run can listen to the same post.
Just an idea – but I think it will be popular!
This is a timely reminder I have to get all the plugins sorted for my new blog. It is also very interesting to look through your first blog as it is a lesson that everyone started somewhere and not everyone was an overnight success.
How were you doing for traffic in those early days? I see you didn’t have many comments but were you getting the numbers in?
Awesome post!! I’ve got both of your books and love them both. I recently started my own blog/podcast and I already use some of the plugins you mentioned in this article. Hopefully someday my blog will have 1/10th the traffic yours gets! 🙂
Very helpful, thanks!
Wow, there’s a lot of plugin’s I never even thought about using, especially from all you other commenters. I run 15 right now, and mine seems to be running r e a l l y slow. I couldn’t even think about adding another one. But I may have to give super cache a try. I like the compfight one though. Definitely would save alot of time looking for featured images to use.
Thank you Tim and thank you guys for these suggestions.
Its all about WordPress! There are a few I need to download. Thanks!!!
Media Temple is a great host I use them. Also, I used all in one seo for a long time but switched to the yoast seo plugin and so far it seems pretty good.
Tim, one of the things I love about your blog is that it starts a conversation that leads to suggestions and recommendations in the comments that rival those in the original post. I have worked with a number of these plugin solutions, but some of the suggestions you made and others made in the comments are going to make me sit down and create a new checklist of must-have plugins for new projects. I am beginning to wonder if this post is not your way of crowd sourcing some recommendations for the next version of your blog. As always, love the site.
Nice list of plugins… I’ve heard great things about the “backup buddy” plugin, it’s a premium plugin though, so not free unfortunately:(
While its possible to get the list of plugins used at your website by looking at the source code 🙂 it is really informative to get an insight into how you’re using them.
Here is the list of must-have wordpress plugins I use and recommend to others:
Insights: allows you to quickly search and insert information (links, images, videos, maps, news..) into your blog posts. http://bit.ly/N3gIpF
nrelate Related Content: to display related content http://bit.ly/N3gFdm
The Slide by SimpleReach: Random content post slider. Awesome to keep visitors on site (not that Tim needs this 🙂 ) http://bit.ly/N3gMFT
WordPress Automatic Upgrade: Extremely helpful. Allows you to upgrade your wordpress installation with few clicks. http://bit.ly/N3gTB7
WordPress Editorial Calendar: Allows you to conveniently schedule your posts, especially when you have a lot of new content coming in or you work in a multi-author environment. http://bit.ly/N3gY7R
I’ve seen a few people mention W3 Total Cache as a replacement for WP Super Cache, and I agree, but no one has really explained why.
The long of the short of it is that W3 allows for a wide range of opcode caches, which are generally mush faster at delivering content than disk based caching methods (when configured correctly). W3 also has very good built in minification, allowing a person to combine and minify stylesheets and js.
That’s basically it, hope that’s useful to someone. 🙂
Timmy – holy crap, time goes way tooooo fast!!! I remember sharing 4HWW first time on my blogspot blog, haha
What is the plug in for the Tim’s caves, popular, etc?
I need to throw one on my blog asap with all the content amassed
Thnx Big time, brutha!
Keep kicking ass!
Thanks for sharing your stats. As a new blogger, its helpful to see the stats for such a large blog as yours, and know what to reach for. Great job on your success!
Limit Login Attempts=
This is something I was always concerned about, but never even thought there was a plugin for this.
18 lockouts since I set it up
Thanks again Tim for helping me make my blog even more awesome, and now even more secure!
Been waiting for this post 🙂
The caption under your initial blog design is interesting: “Who the hell designed that atrocity? Oh, it was me…” The CRITICAL thing about you then-new blog isn’t the design, rather, it’s that you got it up and running!! ACTION, baby… You took it. You weren’t perfect in your abilities/approach/design. But you moved past all of that and got it out there, then refined as you learned. For me, this is the big takeaway. The 21 plug -ins are great to know, and very, very helpful. But you didn’t start with all of them, and neither do the people trying to get their blogs up and running. They just need to do it!
As always – thanks for guidance and insight – we’re all grateful to you for leading the charge!
It’s seriously time for a new photo shoot, Ferriss. I don’t think you’ve even had hair since 2008. 🙂
For those who like Mashable’s social media sharing system, its the Digg Digg WordPress plugin.
Awesome list Tim.
I have some favourites.
1) ClickToTweet: Tweet a random text, a wisdom or any phrase worth to be the next famous “Tim tweet” and it would uniquely appear in the post. Next to it you would find “tweet this” button. Comes with Google Analytics integration and it’s customizable. Very effective for spreading viral tweets.
2) Clicky: A plugin requires a clicky account. It’s awesome as it offers real time monitoring for your website visitors. You can use it to test visitors’ behaviour toward certain pages and links within pages “yea it’s that good” and it offers a boat load of analytical data. I know you love that Analytical stuff.
3) Comment Redirect: simply direct your first time commenter to a special “Thank You” page. New commenters loves it. And encourage them to come back and builds a community.
4) Sociable: best tool to encourage your readers to share.
5) WordPress backup to dropbox: Requires a Dropbox account but it backup your blog and upload the copy to your dropbox account automatically. Less tasks. More productivity
6) Studiopress Genesis framework: It’s not really a plugin but I can’t start a website with it. When my first online business got hacked it was a nightmare. This framework gave me better security and SEO customizability. I can’t thank these folks enough.
This is my very first comment on your blog. But I was an avid reader for your blog for months. Studied everything you preach, practised and recommended it.
Will do my best to participate and add value to be part of this awesome community
Thank you very much for this wonderful comment, Mohamed! Welcome to the community!
Pura vida 🙂
Thanks for this Tim, your timing is remarkable as I have just set up a self hosted blog and have been wading through countless plugins and teaching myself as I go. This will save me heaps of time and increase my learning curve 100%.
Wow, this is an awesome resource!! Thanks Tim!
Quick question, I know most of you will be WordPress devotees, but does anyone use Weebly at all? I’m new to blogging, and started out with Weebly, as it’s so ridiculously easy to use for a non-techwise newbie like me! Anyone else a fan?
Thanks Tim. Found a few plugins that I should have been using.
I have tried to sign up that site but pay pal just tells me they cannot accept my card. Been trying for about 30 minutes now but looks like its not going to happen!
Great stuff there. I always recommend 4 plugins to my new bloggers. The only one not included that I recommend is The Google Sitemap plugin. Using this I know that Google knows where to go on my site.
Thanks Tim –
Very useful post!
I like Sociable (great selection of nice looking social sites icons in different sizes and formats).
Hey Tim – I know it’s your blog, your domain, your voice, a free country, etc., and I really enjoy your work. I just wanted to let you know that as a vegan / Animal Rights person, I was a saddened by the rodeo picture. I hope you won’t hold that against me because I really like your stuff.
Redirection is a must
Hey Tim, I counted the plugins you shared and there are 20 plugins only not 21. I think you missed one plugin.
I love php-exec plugin, it allows you to put php scripts on your posts or pages but in html or editor mode.
I love also the custom permalinks plugin, it allows you to put .html, .php, .asp, .jsp, and other web extensions.
or without extensions like with or without forward slash(/)
See in this sample wordpress blog – http://frwt.comuv.com/frwt-html-asp-php-extensions
Thanks for sharing Tim, I will use some of the recommended plugins.
Also wanted to say I love your book ‘The 4 Hour Work Week’. I’m working @ making it happen for me.
Hello Tim! I will never forget the first reading of 4HWW. It opended up the door to a whole new world for me. Still working on getting throught that door, though, haha.
How about SEO Facebook Comments, “This plugin will insert a Facebook Comment Form, Open Graph Tags and ALSO insert all Facebook Comments into your WordPress Database for better SEO” from the repo.
I just started using the Facebook Plugin for WordPress (https://developers.facebook.com/wordpress/). It does a nice job of integrating WP posts with my Facebook brand page. It has additional features like adding like and share buttons, as well as some analytics benefits.
I love posts like this. It gives aspirational bloggers tools for the now. I immediately added the ones I didn’t already have. Thank you for your insight and generosity Tim.
Very useful post. Out of curiosity, what happened with the forum? I’m assuming that the spread of Facebook kind of took it’s place, but wondering if there is any insight regarding building a platform for users beyond comments or a Facebook page. Responses from former forum users are welcome. Cheers -George
Hi Tim, just wanted to say thanks. Implemented a scaled down version of your PR strategies and immediate results!
Great post Tim,
Have started using some of these plug ins on client sites already.
Thanks for all of the advice yet again.
I have worked with a number of these plugin solutions, but some of the suggestions you made and others made in the comments are going to make me sit down and create a new checklist of must-have plugins for new projects.
Thanks for the list Tim! Planning on starting my personal blog sometime in the future. It’s amazing how things change in a matter of time.