This collection contains 10 new and noteworthy plugins that both beginner bloggers and experienced WordPress users alike will find useful. Although new bloggers will be able to enhance their website by installing some of these free plugins, even experienced WordPress users should be able to find one or two new plugins here that they can use to upgrade their blog.
Amongst this collection you will find note taking plugins to help you keep track of the topics you plan to blog about, social media plugins for encouraging your readers to share your content, email marketing tools to manage and grow your subscriber list, and a few other tools to make it easier for your visitors to find and read more of your great content.
OneNote Publisher for WordPress
Every blogger needs a good note taking app. You never know when inspiration for a new post topic will strike, so having a place to quickly save those ideas is an essential feature of any blogger’s toolkit.
Microsoft OneNote is a cross-platform note taking app that is free to use. Its allows you to clip from the web for offline access later on, receive useful links via email, and store photos taken with your phone’s camera in your virtual notebook.
Best of all, for WordPress users there is now an official plugin available. This plugin adds a publish from OneNote button to the WordPress editor, allowing you to quickly search your notes and insert your saved content into the post. This gives you the option of authoring the outline of your posts in OneNote, before importing them into your WordPress blog for completion.
Better Click to Tweet
Love them or hate them, those click to tweet quotes are certainly becoming increasingly popular. While they can be slightly annoying if the tweetable quote isn’t very inspiring, when used correctly, they can be a great way to encourage more social shares for your blog, and hopefully draw more visitors back to your website.
This newly released plugin picks up where the Click to Tweet plugin from Todaymade left off and includes improved character counting and translation-readiness.
ChimpMate: WordPress MailChimp Assistant
Starting an email newsletter subscriber list for your blog is one of the most important tasks you can carry out. With MailChimp offering free accounts for anyone with under 2,000 subscribers, the free ChimpMate plugin is a good choice for new bloggers just starting out on their journey.
This free plugin includes a good selection of different email opt-in forms to help you grow your subscriber list. The user interface might be a little on the clunky side, but there aren’t many free plugins that let you create lightbox, slider, and widget opt-in forms in one package.
Note: Custom Content Sidebar Widget
Note is a simple but effective plugin that allows you to enter a range of different types of content to the sidebar area of your blog. After activating the plugin, you can add the new widget to your sidebar area, and then begin adding content to it, all through the WordPress Live Customizer tool.
This then gives you a live, front end preview as you add your custom widget content. Note was originally created for the Conductor plugin, which we reviewed a while ago. However, it should work with any WordPress theme.
Postmatic: Posts and Comments By Email
If you want to increase user engagement on your blog, then the free Postmatic plugin might be able to help you out. With this plugin installed on your site, your readers can opt-in to have new posts emailed to them automatically, rather than having to keep checking your blog for new content.
To help encourage discussion on your content, your subscribers can then leave a comment, simply by replying to the new post email. This removes many of the barriers that might otherwise prevent a reader from leaving a comment, such as filling out the form, or creating an account. Postmatic makes use of MailChimp and Rackspace to handle the email correspondence, ensuring they are able to deliver a robust service.
Popslide: Custom Content Slide-In Windows
If you don’t want to inflict pop-ups on your visitors, but you’d still like access to some of the results they can produce, the new and free Popslide plugin could be a good compromise.
Instead of firing pop-up windows at your visitors, Popslide will display a slightly less annoying slide-in window. Unlike the ChimpMate plugin featured earlier, this option doesn’t limit you to displaying just email opt-in forms.
Instead, through the Popslide interface you can add any custom content to the slide-in area, all through the WYSIWYG editor. You also get a good amount of control over how the slide-in area looks and functions, and at the moment you can upgrade to the pro version for free, in exchange for sharing a link to the page on Facebook.
Auto Featured Image from Title
Almost all blog posts can be enhanced with a good featured image. However, if you keep forgetting to add these images to your blog posts, then the free Auto Featured Image from Title plugin might be of interest to you.
This plugin has the ability to generate a custom featured image for each post on your site, should you forget to add one yourself. The plugin uses the post title, and then applies that text to one of the included seven images. There are also three fonts to choose from.
Either you’ll end up loving these auto-generated featured images so much you’ll never have to worry about adding your own again; or the threat of their use will force you to start uploading more appropriate thumbnails to your blog.
TimeSpan: Time to Read Plugin
If you want to let your readers know what sort of time investment they will need to make in order to get to the end of your blog posts, then the free TimeSpan plugin was made just for you.
Once live on your site, this recently released plugin will add time to read information to the beginning of all your posts. While the plugin uses the tried and tested North American average of 250 words per minute, you can override this with your own value.
WP Couch Mode: Distraction-Free Reading Mode
If you are publishing long form content, then making it as easy for your visitors to read those posts without getting distracted should be one of your main priorities. While you could switch to an ultra-minimalistic WordPress theme, another way to remove distractions is to install the WP Couch Mode plugin.
This free plugin gives your readers the option of viewing your posts in distraction-free mode. Clicking on the read mode button, opens the post in a new distraction-free pop-up window. This then makes it as easy as possible for your visitors to focus on the content they are trying to ingest.
Auto Load Next Post
Last but not least, the freshly released Auto Load Next Post plugin gives you the ability to add a feature to your site, not yet seen on many WordPress blogs.
With this plugin active on your site, when your readers get to the end of a post, the next article is automatically loaded. This should hopefully increase the number of posts each visitor to your site views, without actually requiring them to manually seek out those articles.
Unfortunately this plugin doesn’t work with every theme, and can require a bit of effort to set up correctly. However, if you do take the time, you can add a nice feature to your website that makes it easier for your visitors to read more of your content.
Whether you are a new blogger or old, hopefully you will have found at least one new plugin you can make use of on your website. From growing your email list to helping your readers find more of your great content, there should be something for everyone here.
Have you discovered any interesting new WordPress plugins lately? Which features do you think every new blogger should use a plugin to add to their site? Share your thoughts in the comments below.