We previously covered ten great WordPress themes for photographers so now it is time to turn our attention to the essential plugins required to keep your blog in tune and also help promote it on the major social networks.
WordPress version 3 brings with it a really easy way to install and manage your plugins in fact if a developer updates a plugin you can fetch and install the new script in seconds directly from your WordPress dashboard. The plugins are not listed in any order of importance but are all scripts that I have used and continue to use in WordPress.
1. Facebook Like
There is no debating Facebook is king of the social networks. This plugin allows you to add a Facebook “Like” button. You have control over where the button appears and if it features images of those who liked the article or just the count.
2. Flickr Feed Gallery
Most photographers have some sort of presence of Flickr. This plugin pulls your latest flickr uploads and allows you to display them on your blog. I generally opt for a sidebar display but you can easily add the images to your pages and posts.
3. Google XML Sitemap Generator
Getting your blog SEO right can be a challenge if you are new to how search engines look at your website. This plugin generates a XML-Sitemap compliant sitemap of your WordPress blog. This format is supported by Ask.com, Google, YAHOO and MSN Search.
4. Hyper Cache
Once your website starts getting busier you might need to speed it up with a Caching plugin. Caching is particularly important if you are on a shared hosting account. Hyper Cache creates an HTML version of your site and serves this page to visitors rather than the server having to re-render the page for each user. Hyper Cache is very easy to setup and manage.
5. Subscribe to Comments
I love this plugin. If you have ever asked a question in a blog comment you will be aware of the frustration of having to return to the article to look for a reply. This simple plugin allows users to opt-in to email alerts and sends an email when someone replies. Fear not though there is also the ability to opt out at a later date.
6. Yet Another Related Posts Plugin
Most blogs feature a related posts section at the end of an article. The related posts area helps attract the visitor to other content on your website. The YARPP plugin is the most accurate related posts plugin I have used and offers a range of customisations and controls. You can even rank the level of importance to put on titles, content etc.
7. Shadowbox JS
Probably one of the most annoying aspect of running a blog is comment span. Akismet goes a long way to removing the risk of spam but be aware of the odd false positive and remember to report spam when it arrives. After a month or two of running your blog you will be surprised at just how much spam this plugin will have blocked.
9. All in one SEO Pack
This plugin comes highly recommended by a number of professional bloggers and takes the hard work out of SEO optimisation. You have full control over keywords, titles and descriptions and you can also block search engines from spidering tags and even archives. Definitely one of the first plugins any new wordpress user should install.
I have used this plugin in nearly every WordPress site I have worked on. The easy to install button allows you to add a Twitter button (in this blog it sits at the top right of the page) that allows visitors to easily tweet the post to their followers. Better still the Tweetmeme button sends the tweet out as a retweet of your blog so it gives your own twitter name some exposure into the bargain.
What have we missed? if you are using a great WordPress plugin on your photoblog that isn’t listed then why not post it in the comments below?
(Note: We didn’t cover WordPress gallery plugins here, but if you are looking for one of those, consider NextGEN Gallery.)