Whether you’re a book author, journalist, freelancer or even just a blogger who’s serious about writing, you need to have a website that will draw visitors and help you promote (and sell) your work. It’s also handy to have a website that helps you build relationships with your followers and fans. This isn’t always easy, especially if you’re on your own and not working with a major publication, publishing house or other company or agency.
Luckily, building and maintaining a self-hosted website that will help you meet your (and your readers’) needs doesn’t have to be difficult. In this post we’ll describe 15 popular WordPress themes and plugins that are useful for writers of all kinds.
There are dozens of themes available that are either designed specifically for writers or that work well for writers. We’ll cover five of the most popular here; if you’d like to see more, have a browse of WordPress.org’s theme directory.
1. Author Pro
Author Pro, developed by StudioPress and built on the Genesis framework, is designed for book authors to build a library of their work in order to promote and sell it. It’s mobile-friendly and comes integrated with the Genesis Author Pro plugin, which enables you to display your books and information easily. With this theme you can also display upcoming events and link to social media channels.
Typist was developed by Parks and Parker for people who are serious writers and don’t need bells and whistles – just the content. It has a clean, responsive layout with plenty of white space, allowing site visitors to focus on your content. It doesn’t have a lot of customization options, but it doesn’t need them to come across with an elegant utility. Typist is priced at $38, making it one of the more affordable options on the market.
3. The Writer
Obox Themes developed The Writer for writers, authors and columnists – those who work with long form articles for telling stories. The layout is customizable and mobile-friendly, and post layouts are intended to provide distraction-free reading: just the reader and the story. Clean, minimal and easy to read, The Writer showcases content like no other theme.
Literatum by Kohette is beautiful and stylish – great for writers, journalists and bloggers who want a contemporary look. As with other themes, the focus is on the content; posts are designed for long form pieces and include featured images with parallax effects. Ajax navigation makes it easy for readers to find their way around your site. Another nifty feature is the support for interviews, with question and answer buttons.
What’s fun about Rain is that you can upload an image of your choosing and the theme will overlay a dripping window. It also plays an audio file of a rainstorm – but you can this turn off. Rain features a split panel interface, with one side showing the chapter title and the other side showing the text. This theme is extremely minimal, but is awesome for featuring a single work with a number of sections or chapters.
The ten plugins we’ll talk about here are less focused on featuring content and more on making marketing, site use and maintenance easier for you: the writer. For more plugins than are listed here, check out the plugin directory on WordPress.org.
6. Contact Form 7
The Contact Form 7 plugin is extremely helpful for writers who want to make it easy for readers or clients to get in touch with them without displaying their email address. It enables you to customize forms and manage multiple forms, and is also great for building email lists.
7. Yoast SEO
WordPress SEO is pretty self-explanatory: it is designed to improve your site’s search engine optimization. What makes this a handy tool for writers is that it forces you to write relevant, focused content and come up with additional tags and keywords so that your site can achieve the highest position possible in search results. It’s hard to draw in more readers if your site doesn’t show up high enough in search engines!
8. Google Analytics by Yoast
Google Analytics is a powerful tracking tool that analyzes your site traffic and metadata. Want to know who’s checking out your content? Curious about the number of site visitors you get, and their demograpics? Perhaps you want to look at what type of posts get more traffic, or when is the best time to publish a new post? These are questions Google Analytics can help you answer.
9. Editorial Calendar
Editorial Calendar is a must for any writer working on a deadline and/or with multiple projects. You can easily create post ideas, see when posts are to be scheduled and published, or manage multiple writers if you aren’t putting out content on your own. This plugin also contains a draft drawer for easy draft management.
10. Broken Link Checker
There aren’t many things more irritating than clicking a link only to find that it doesn’t lead anywhere anymore. That is what the Broken Link Checker plugin is designed to help you avoid – you wouldn’t want to alienate readers because of a broken link! It constantly monitors your site for broken links and lets you know when it finds any so you can fix them or decide what else to do with them.
11. Digg Digg
Digg Digg is a popular plugin for social media sharing. You can display the number of times your content has been shared and customize it in various ways, such as making it a floating bar or adding left or right scrolling effects. Using plugins like this makes it easy for your site visitors to help you share your content.
Imagine that you’ve just posted an update about your latest chapter, or shared a short story, or written a post about an important issue. You get excited to see that you have comments, but quickly realize that they’re nothing but spam. Akismet is designed to filter out comments like that so the only ones you have to moderate are the ones directly relevant to your post.
13. Front-end Editor
No one hates typos more than the writers who make them, especially those who are particular about their grammar. The Front-end Editor was created to allow you to edit typos and other errors directly from the front end, rather than having to log into the back end and publish an update to fix it. Don’t worry about just anyone being able to use this plugin; it only allows those with login credentials to make edits.
14. Google Doc Embedder
The Google Doc Embedder plugin enables you to embed PDFs and other files into your pages with the Google Docs viewer. You also have the option of allowing downloads. This is an awesome plugin for writers because you can easily share things like work samples and chapter teasers with your readers.
15. Copyright Proof
Something many writers worry about is having their content stolen. With Copyright Proof‘s copyright notice and digital content certification, it’s easy for you to prove your ownership and protect your content. This plugin includes an optional feature that captures the IP addresses of anyone attempting to steal your content.
Out of all the themes and plugins available for writers, these 15 are some of the best and most popular. Showcase your content with style, and use plugins to maximize your website’s capabilities so that your content can be shared far and wide.
Do you have a favorite theme or plugin that helps you as a writer? Tell us about it in the comments below!