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5 Great WordPress Plugins To Help You Start A Blog

5 Great WordPress Plugins To Help You Start A Blog

Whether you’re a blogging veteran or just starting out blogging for the first time, making sure your WordPress setup is as streamline & effective as possible is crucial. However, slugging through the WordPress plugin directly to get the plugins you need functionality for can take hours and be a real pain. So we’ve simplified things for you. Avoid the headache & the runaround with these 5 essential WordPress plugins to help you start your blog.

1. WordPress SEO by Yoast

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    100% of new bloggers spend entirely too much time worrying about “SEO (Search Engine Optimization). The truth is that SEO takes years to master and is constantly changing. It’s tough to keep up with the changing landscape, and 99% of bloggers are better served by focusing on writing a regular schedule than figuring out SEO. Yoast’s SEO plugin lets you bridge the gap of making sure that the posts you do write are SEO-friendly without spending hours and hours of your time make sure you’re manually making each post as SEO-friendly as possible. Download WordPress SEO by Yoast (Yoast has both paid & free versions of their plugin).

    2. Gravity Forms

    This is hands-down the best form creation tool out there. It’s also a paid plugin—why pay for a plugin that just creates forms? Well, it does more than that. Hook it up with Zapier and sync contact forms to your email address or pull that data into any other application that you like. Don’t want to do that, but want to make a multi-party survey form? Instead of paying a subscription to survey monkey or another service, you can create the forms right on site and collect the entry data over a series of pages. It’s almost hard to explain how great Gravity Forms is until you’ve tried to use other form plugins and pulled your hair out for a good hour or two. Give it a shot, and you won’t be disappointed.

    Download Gravity Forms (Gravity Forms is a paid plugin). Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 10.07.40 PM
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      3. OptinMonster

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        I’ve tried a ton of different pop-ups, and OptinMonster combines both usability & design (as well as performing better than other pop-ups I’ve tried). Not only does OptinMonster give you a traditional pop-up overlay, but they also have alternative email collection abilities including the “slide-in,” “sidebar and after-post,” and a footer opt-in as well as a few other ones on the way. If you’re against pop-ups, you should watch this video by Derek Halpern on why you’re an idiot if you’re not using pop-ups. Download OptinMonster (OptinMonster is a paid plugin)

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        4. iThemes Security

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          If you’ve ever had your site hacked, you know what a headache it is because of both the financial and mental resources you have to expend in order to get it back up & running again. Avoid this at all costs. Stop getting hacked before it even starts. iThemes runs 30 checks to secure your site checks and notifies you if you’re getting brute-force attempts on your login. Once you start seeing how many bots and scripts are out there looking for common, already-known vulnerabilities, you’ll be glad you took proactive measures on this front. There’s nothing more annoying and time-wasting than getting hacked. Download iThemes Security (iThemes Security has both free & paid versions of the plugin).

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          5. WP Super Cache

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            As your site grows, you’ll add more pages, files and images, and as you do, you’ll see that it slows down over time. Besides upgrading your hosting (which can be expensive), the next fastest win you can make id installing a caching plugin that basically takes a photo of your site and serves it up whenever someone visits the site (which saves time & resources). WP Super Cache is free and is the most lightweight & effective caching plugin out there. Speed up your site and install it now. Download WP Supercache (WP Super Cache is a free plugin). For more tips on blogging, check out our 25 blogging tips for new bloggers.

            Featured photo credit: Wesley Fryer via flickr.com

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            Last Updated on August 29, 2018

            5 Killer Online Journal Tools That Make Journaling Easier and More Fun

            5 Killer Online Journal Tools That Make Journaling Easier and More Fun

            Journaling is one of the most useful personal development tools around. Not only does it help us process emotions and experiences, work through internal conflicts and improve our self-awareness, it also provides us with a way to keep a day-to-day record of our lives. Traditionally an activity limited to pen and paper, the expansion of consumer technology has enabled journaling to go digital.

            Saving your journaling entries online enables you to access them from anywhere, without having to carry a notebook and pen around, and provides you with digital features, like tagging and search functions.

            Here are a list of five online journaling tools you can use to bring your practice into the modern age:

            1. 750words

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            750 words

              750words is a free online journaling tool created by Buster Benson. The site is based on the idea of “Morning Pages”; a journaling tool Julia Cameron suggests in her creativity course The Artist’s Way. Cameron advises aspiring creatives to start each morning with three pages of stream-of-consciousness writing to clear away the mental clutter, leaving you with a clearer mind to face the day.

              750 words is the three-page digital equivalent (assuming the average person writes 250 words per page) and lets you store all your journaling online. Each morning, you’ll receive a prompt asking you to write your 750 words, and the site keeps track of various statistics associated with your entries. The site uses a Regressive Imagery Dictionary to calculate the emotional content from your posts and provides feedback on features like your mood, and most commonly used words.

              750 words is simple to set up and is ideal for anyone who finds it challenging to maintain a consistent journaling practice. The site uses a number of incentives to motivate users, including animal badges awarded to journalers who complete a certain number of days in a row, leader boards, and opt-in monthly challenges.

              2. Ohlife

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              ohlife

                Ohlife is designed to make online journaling as easy as possible. Once you’ve signed up for your free account, the website will send you an email each day asking “How did your day go?” Simply reply to the email with as much or as little detail as you like, and your response will be stored on your account, ready to view next time you log in.

                Ohlife’s appeal lies in its simplicity: no stats, no social sharing, no complicated organisational systems—the site is designed to provide you with a private, online space. Simply respond to the email each day (or skip the days you’re busy) and Ohlife will do the rest.

                3. Oneword

                oneword

                  OneWord is a fun online tool that provides you with a single word as a prompt and gives you sixty seconds to write about it. The concept’s aim is to help writers learn how to flow, and the prompts range from the everyday mundane to the profound.

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                  Oneword is not a private journaling tool: if you sign up, your answers will be published on the site’s daily blog, which contains a stream of users’ answers, and might be used by Oneword in the future. If you’d rather keep your answers to yourself, you can still use the tool for fun without giving out any personal details.

                  4. Penzu

                    Penzu is a journaling tool that allows you to store your journaling notes online. The service also offers mobile apps for iOS, Android and Blackberry, so you can journal on the go and save your notes to your account. The basic service is free, however you can upgrade to Penzu Pro and get access to additional features, including military-grade encryption and the ability to save and sync data through your mobile, for $19 per year.

                    With either version of Penzu, you can insert pictures, and add tags and comments to entries, as well as search for older entries. You can set your posts to be private and viewable by you only, or share them with others.

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                    5. Evernote

                    Evernote isn’t a purpose-built journaling tool, however its features make it perfect for keeping your journaling notes in one safe place. With the ability to keep separate “notebooks”, tag your entries, include pictures, audio and web clipping, Evernote will appeal to journalers who want to include more formats than just text in their entries.

                    Available online within a web browser, and as a stand-alone desktop app, the service also comes with a series of mobile apps covering almost every device available. These allow you to make notes on the go and sync between the mobile and browser versions of the app.

                    For additional features, including text recognition and the ability to collaborate on Notebooks, you can upgrade to Evernote’s premium service, which costs $5 per month.

                    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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