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Top WordPress Plugins for the Smart Blogger

Top WordPress Plugins for the Smart Blogger
Web

If you’re a blogger, then you probably know about the power of the WordPress platform. Straight out of the box, WordPress is one of the best solutions for blogging. It has a number of SEO benefits built straight into the software. However, the smart blogger knows how to optimize WordPress for even further performance using plugins. Here is a list of plugins that the A-list bloggers are using.

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  • Akismet – If you run a blog, then you need this plugin.Fortunately, it comes preinstalled with WordPress. Popular blogs get hundreds of spam comments every day. Akismet helps eliminate this problem. Don’t waste your time deleting spam comments. Akismet will automate the entire process with ease by running hundreds of tests on your comments, trackbacks, and pingbacks to ensure their validity.
  • Bad Behaviour – This plugin isn’t as well known as the others but it should definetly be on your list. Bad Behaviour denies automated spambots access to your PHP-based Web site. This plugin complements Akismet by preventing spammers from ever delivering their junk in the first place.
  • Digg This – This plugin automatically adds a Digg story link whenever it detects incoming links from Digg.com. This is an excellent way to promote your articles on one of the most popular social bookmarking sites around.
  • Show Top Commentators – If you are looking for a way to increase your comments and the interaction among your readership, this plugin is an excellent choice. Show Top Commentators encourages discussion by rewarding readers for making a comment. The top commentators are displayed in the sidebar with the number of comments they have made and a link back to their website.
  • Related Posts – This plugin will find other blog posts that are related to the current post based on keyword matching. You can then display the related posts at the bottom of each article. This is an excellent way to keep visitors at your site for longer periods of time. Customize this plugin to display as many or as few related posts as you desire.
  • Adsense Deluxe – If you run adsense on your blog, then this is the number one plugin to implement. Adsense Deluxe allows you to automatically insert Google Adsense with ease.
  • WP-Cache – This plugin is an extremely efficient page caching system that will make your site much faster and responsive. This plugin is very useful for handling sudden bursts of traffic coming from social bookmarking sites like Digg and Slashdot. WP-Cache basically creates static versions of your pages so that they can be served to your visitors without querying the MySQL database.
  • Feedburner Feed Replacement – This popular plugin was recently adopted by Feedburner and renamed “FeedSmith” . This plugin forwards all of your feed traffic to Feedburner. FeedSmith often causes an elusive “bump in subscribers” when you first activate it because it will detect all ways to access your feed. Readers coming from http://www.yoursite.com/feed/ or http://www.yoursite.com/wp-rss2.php will both be redirected to your FeedBurner feed so that you can accurately track your subscriber base.
  • Ultimate Tag Warrior – This is the best tag system for WordPress. Ultimate Tag Warrior will help you pick up more traffic from Technorati and adds a number of SEO benefits to your blog.
  • Google Sitemaps – This plugin will automatically create a Google compliant sitemap of your WordPress blog to ensure that all of your pages are indexed in Google. This is one plugin you definitely don’t want to be without.
  • WordPress Dulplicate Content Cure – this plugin will eliminate any worries you might have about duplicate content. The WordPress Duplicate Content Cure prevents search engines from indexing WordPress pages that contain duplicate content. This includes archives and category pages.
  • Popularity Contest – This plugin allows you to show off your most popular posts in the sidebar of your WordPress blogs.
  • SEO Title Tag – Title tags are one of the most important on-page factors for search engine optimization. This plugin allows you to optimize your title tag for optimum traffic.
  • WP-ContactForm – If you’re looking to avoid email spam, then this is the plugin for you. This plugin allows people to contact you without actually emailing you.
  • WordPress Database Backup – Talk about a lifesaver. This plugin comes installed with WordPress, providing an easy way to backup your WordPress database. You can download the backup file or have it emailed to the address of your choice.

If you know of other great WordPress plugins, feel free to share them in the comments.

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Kim Roach is a productivity junkie who blogs regularly atThe Optimized Life. Read her articles on 50 EssentialGTD Resources, How to Have a 46 Hour Day, Do You Need
a Braindump
, What They Don’t Teach You in School, and Free Yourself From the Inbox.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

Curiosity

Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

Patience

Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

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Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

A Feeling for Connectedness

This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

How to Self-Taught Effectively

With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

1. Research

Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

Learning the Basics

Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

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Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

Hitting the Books

Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

Long-Term Reference

While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

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2. Practice

Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

3. Network

One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

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4. Schedule

For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

Final Thoughts

In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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