My Thoughts on WordPress a Year Later and The 5 Best Plugins

As I was flipping through my planner a few days ago, I realized that it was this time last year that I made the big switch to WordPress. Where does the time go?! So today, I’m sharing my thoughts on WordPress a year later and the 5 best plugins. Whether you’re already a WordPress user or considering the switch, hopefully my experience thus far can help you out! Grab a cup of coffee … this one is a little long!

My Thoughts on WordPress a Year Later and The 5 Best Plugins
 
First of all, let me just say that the switch to WordPress has been full of ups and downs and frustrations. Unfortunately, my site wasn’t totally properly transferred from Blogger and I think I’m still dealing with some of those issues. My files had to be moved to an entirely new server. I’ve cried too many tears when my site shuts down for no reason. I even lost comments and content! Because of that, there have been many times throughout the last year that I’ve yelled, “I WISH I WAS STILL ON BLOGGER!” And, to this day I still do love Blogger. Like, a lot. It’s ridiculously easy to use and most notably, free.

However, Blogger’s biggest downfall is that you don’t own your content. That’s ultimately why I made the switch to WordPress. Now, I have full ownership and control of my content. Exactly the way that it should be! Whether you blog as a full or part-time profession or just as a side project, we work too damn hard not to own our content. That alone has made WordPress worth it to me and worth the monthly hosting payment.

And, that brings me to my next and arguably most important note – hosting! Based on a recommendation, I went with DreamHost. I fully admit that I hardly understand any of the technical back-end stuff, so I was going to trust whatever someone in-the-know suggested to me. I haven’t been unhappy with DreamHost, but I’m wondering now if I should’ve done more research. Their customer service is mostly great, especially the live chat, but it sometimes can take one or two people to give me a straight answer or actually offer to help me fix something. Eight out of ten times, they will just provide links to articles and basically tell me to figure it out myself. Well, when I’m paying $11 per month for their services I expect help! If you decide to go with DreamHost, just beware of this and don’t be afraid to push back.

The other biggest lesson that I’ve learned is that it’s easier to start simple when it comes to design. As I’m sure you’ve all seen, WordPress themes don’t come cheap. It’s also not as easy to make changes on your own in the style sheet. Again, based on a recommendation my first theme was a Genesis framework child theme. Like I said before, I couldn’t tell you the first thing of what being on the Genesis framework means or what it does for your site. All I know is that it initially costs more money since you have to buy the framework and theme separately. So, why did I feel compelled to go the Genesis framework route? In my mind, that was what everyone else had because it’s the best. Well, fast forward to January of this year and I hate my theme. I switched to my current theme from White Oak Creative (that I LOVE!), and guess what? It’s not on the Genesis framework. Do I notice a difference in my site? Not one damn bit. So, unless you know what all of that stuff means and does for your site, stick to simple. Simple doesn’t equal boring, and you always can upgrade to more bells and whistles later on.

Okay, before this post turns into a novel, let me quickly share five of my favorite plugins. The other single best part of WordPress – there’s a plugin for everything and anything! Just don’t download and install anything that you don’t want or need since it can slow down your site.

Akismet Anti-Spam | Every WordPress site should have this. No exception! It does the best job at protecting against and filtering spam.

Yoast SEO | Duh, no surprise here. This is my favorite SEO plugin. I treat it as a game to get the green light on all my posts.

jQuery Pin It Button for Images | If your theme doesn’t come with a built-in Pinterest button, this plugin is a lifesaver. You can create your own and configure the appearance settings when you hover over images.

WordPress Editorial Calendar | This is arguably my favorite plugin ever. It’s a built-in calendar right into your WordPress dashboard. Easily create drafts and drag/drop posts to your desired publish date. This makes it incredibly easy to keep track of what you’ve posted and/or have planned for future dates.

UpDraftPlus – Backup/Restore | Don’t forget to backup all your content! I like this one best because it’s free, I can set the backup frequency, and I can store the files in Google Docs instead of on my WordPress shared server.

There you have it! My thoughts on WordPress a year later and the 5 best plugins. While it always hasn’t been easy, I don’t regret my decision to switch at all. After a few weeks, this platform becomes just as intuitive and easy to use as any other! If you’re thinking about making the switch, don’t hesitate to email me with any questions.

What are your favorite WordPress plugins?

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  • Biana Perez

    This is a great review of your thoughts a year later…I’ve been on blogger since I started my blog and I am hesitant to make the switch but I know I should LOL! xo, Biana –BlovedBoston

    • Girl, you rock your site so obviously Blogger works for you! I admit that I definitely miss not having a monthly payment, lol.

  • Love your honest review here! I definitely don’t know the back end of so many things with WordPress, but I didn’t choose the genesis framework thanks to money and I don’t think it’s harmed me one bit. I just love that, if I so chose, I wouldn’t have to have the sidebar with my picture and description like blogger kind of has to have. So much more freedom with design! I use 4 out of those 5 alllll the time, but I haven’t heard of the editorial calendar. I’ll be downloading that one today!:)

    • Yes, I so agree with you! I hope you download the editorial calendar plugin and love it – it’s basically just a computer planner, but it makes it so easy to have it right there to plan/edit/move your posts around.

  • Debra Stachelski

    I’m sure this will be a very helpful post to all your fellow bloggers out there. I think it’s your desire to always make the blog better that always comes through in everything you do here.

  • Such a great post! I still need to make the switch… kind of dreading it!

    • Only do it when you’re ready to! I think your site is great as is, so if Blogger still works for you then just stick with that. 🙂

  • I am still learning WP since I just switched 2 months ago but I absolutely love it! I treat the Yoast plug-in as a game too! I get so excited when I get the green lights 🙂 I am definitely going to check out a few of the other plug ins too!
    Kelsey
    http://www.thepeacockroost.com

  • Thank you so much for summing this all up in a post. I started off on Blogger, so I don’t plan on switching over since it’s so expensive and there are usually a ton of headaches involved. But that said, I am not a fan of the fact that I don’t own my own content. I’m so not technology savy, so I’m also afraid of being uncomfortable in setting up posts and plugins and what not. Your site is beautiful, and I love how much you’ve learned since the switch. Happy Friday gurlie <3

    Green Fashionista

    • Awe, thanks for that, girl! I appreciate it. The switch definitely can be a headache if you don’t have someone good helping you. Mine wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been, but it was still frustrating nonetheless. I think your site looks great, and if Blogger works for you then that’s what you should stick with!

  • Yoast SEO is one of my favorites too! Can’t wait to check out the others!

  • My blog is currently hosted on Squarespace, but I’ve used WordPress before and a good SEO plugin is crucial! Great post!

  • rae

    thank you so much for this post. I am a new blogger and it is nice to see that i am not the only one who has cried over my blog. this was very helpful, thank you.

    • So glad that you found it helpful! Don’t make it a regular habit to cry over your blog, though. Just always remember that it should be fun. 🙂

  • Lindsay Newton

    I’m right at the year mark too with making the switch and it has been something. I also went with Dreamhost, and I am eh about them. I don’t understand so much on WordPress, which is the most frustrating part. Blogger was much easier to work with in terms of site design, moving things around etc. SO MUCH!

    • I agree with you! Although, all the plugins make WordPress pretty easy and intuitive, too in it’s own way. Dreamhost has definitely been frustrating, so I’m glad I’m not the only one that feels that way.

  • Such great info! Pinning for later… the big WordPress switch is still on my to do list (a year later lol). And it scares me so much that I don’t own my content!!!

    • Thanks for the pin, girl! Yes, owning your own content really was the main reason that I finally switched. We just work too hard not to own it!

  • I switched about 2 years ago, and for the most part I love it too. I use BlueHost. I have had a few down times, but they do have good customer service. I find all the technical stuff over my head! I have all these plugins except the last two. Need to check those out ASAP. Thanks for sharing!

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

    • I’m glad it’s not just me that doesn’t understand all the technical stuff. DreamHost makes me feel like I should be a pro at it! Hope you enjoy those plugins!

  • Thewifeslife1

    I have Bluehost and haven’t had problems until this week. I’ll be looking into SIteground. I use the same plugins except the last one. I think I need it. I use Dropbox for now, but I can’t tell when it’s updating. Being a new blogger sucks, everything feels so hard. At least I know it will get better. 🙂

    • It’s always a learning process, especially starting out! Sorry that you’re having trouble with your host – I think it’s just a crap shoot no matter who you go with!

  • I’m definitely going to have to check out UpDraftPlus and the editorial calendar! Right now I don’t really use anything, but it would be fun to use the drag and drop functions. I’m glad that you like WordPress though, even though you had such a difficult time making the switch from Blogger!

    • It wasn’t as bad as some horror stories that I’ve heard, but it wasn’t easy in the beginning! The editorial calendar plugin is so nice – it’s basically just an electronic planner. I love it!

  • I LOVE using the UpDraft. It’s linked to my google drive so I don’t ever have to worry about not backing up. I was happy when I made the switch from blogger to wordpress.