Last week, we talked a little bit about author websites, and what you should put on them. This week, we’re going to spend a little bit of time in the “back-end;” that is, the stuff that you put on your website to make it pretty. This post will primarily focus on WordPress self-hosted websites and the plug-ins that we love. As always, if you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers!
What is a Plug-In?
When we talk about WordPress, we’re talking about WordPress.org, not WordPress.com (don’t know the difference? Check this out). WordPress itself is a highly customizable solution that can be modified through code. But for those of us who don’t have the time/energy to come up with our own customizations, an army of developers have come to the rescue with a plug-in for literally anything you could possibly want.
In a nutshell:
A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress.
Source: WP Beginner
Here are some examples of plug-ins that we use here at SGR-P:
- Yoast SEO: Helps us manage our search engine optimization on pages, posts, and more.
- Downloads: Manages our review copies so we can deliver them to our army of reviewers
- WooCommerce: Supports the eCommerce part of SGR-P with integration to Paypal
- MetaSlider: Adds that pretty slider on the front page of the website
We also have plug-ins to speed up load time, replace images after they’ve been uploaded, and to add a custom profile photo to our SGR-P presence. So you, see, there really is a plug-in for everyone
Best Plugins for Authors
We’ve compiled our favorite plug-ins for authors below. This isn’t necessarily an exhaustive list, but it’s a good place to start. Like most plugins, these are free to use.
We mentioned this one above–and yes, we heavily utilize it on both sgr-pub.com and susherevans.com. Search Engine Optimization is “the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.” In other words, if someone searches for something, the likelihood they’ll end up on your page vs someone else.
Yoast is a great tool to help make sure the words on the page (and associated images, headers, and links) help move your stuff higher on Google’s search results. They give you two scores: how easy-to-read your content is and your SEO score. The more green you have, the better you are!
Why is this helpful to authors: Because you want your content to be at the forefront of every Google search of your name.
MooBerry Book Manager
This is a lesser-known plugin, but it’s still one of our favorites. This plugin creates a new “content type” on your website (called “books”) where you can add everything about a particular book: series, links to every bookstore imaginable, links to download for free, places for editorial reviews, etc. It’s super easy-to-use and the organization works great.
This is a plugin that integrates with your Mailchimp newsletter which makes it easy to get signups on your website. Email marketing is something we’ll cover in a future blog post, but suffice to say, it’s another tool in your marketing arsenal. Having an easy-to-use sign up form on your website is crucial, and this plug-in makes it simple.
Word of caution: We’d recommend not having a pop-up newsletter subscriber box on your website. While it might get you some subscribers, you’ll lose more in people leaving your page because they ignored you.
If you’re like us and you like keeping track of your site visitors and other analytics, then using Google Analytics is probably already in your arsenal. We like the ease of the Monster Insights plugin to add the tracking number, monitor activity, and more.
So we’re cheating a little on this one. The CoSchedule plugin is free, but the service itself is not (and it’s pretty pricey). However, it’s one of the better tools we’ve come across to schedule and manage a whole lot of content across a whole lot of different social media.
For busy authors with a lot of stuff to promote, the tool is a lifesaver. You can set up templates for recurring activities (such as promoting blog posts) and the auto-scheduling and calendar tools help you visualize your messaging in real time. We use it for both SGR-P and S. Usher Evans blogs, for event promotion (like our Twitter chats), book blitzes, and more.