With over 54,000 WordPress plugins available, it can hard to know which ones you need. You often come across a free WordPress plugin offering amazing things that you don’t even know you need, until you come across it.

Even when you know what you want from a plugin, often there’s so many that claim to do the same thing it can be hard to know which one is right for you. It also isn’t always obvious which ones are free and which aren’t. In this article, we are listing our 10 essential plugins that you need as a blogger in 2019. 

Do You Have a Free WordPress Plugin From Our List?

With these 10 plugins installed you’ll have added all the essential functions covered for your site. For Free!

1. Google XML Sitemaps

This is a fantastic free WordPress plugin that will do wonders for your SEO.

Google XML Sitemaps improves the SEO of your website by making it easier to find for search engines. It does this by creating an XML sitemap for your website, which makes allows the bots at google etc. to find and crawl through your website.

It’s such a simple plugin and yet so useful. You don’t have to set up anything, just download and active it.

2. Contact form 7

Contact form 7 demonstration, a free WordPress plugin

Whilst the name ‘Contact form 7’ isn’t the most imaginative, it does sum up what this plugin does. 

Almost every website needs at least one contact form. It is a simple thing, but if you’re using the wrong contact form it could cause you a lot of problems.

Contact form 7 has several standout features, and is generally considered the best option when it comes to a contact form plugin. It has many stand-out features including the ability to create forms without any coding knowledge, the use of reCaptcha (see below) and link with Akismet (see below) that help prevent spam. 

3. Really Simple SSL

Really Simple SSL free WordPress plugin landing page screen shot.

This free WordPress plugin makes moving your wordpress site to a secure HTTPS/SSL site extremely easy.

Moving your website to HTTPS/SSL makes your website much more secure for your audience (and you). If your website is not HTTPS/SSL, Google Chrome will show all your visitors a warning that your site is not secure, something you definitely don’t want! 

Really Simple SSL will effortlessly move your site to HTTPS, handling all the redirects and updates required, and has been used for over a million downloads. 

4. MailChimp

Turning your page viewers into email subscribers is one of the most important parts of your website. With a substantial email list, you have direct contact with an audience that you know are interested in what you have to say. You can send them article links, product links, and much more.

Mailchimp is the go-to free WordPress plugin to deal with this. There are currently over 1 million sites using Mailchimp, and with good reason.

They have an easy to use dashboard on their website where you can create beautiful, customised sign up forms and pop ups. You can also build professional automated emails to welcome new subscribers, and so much more! 

Everyone from beginners to experienced website owners use Mailchimp. They make the process really easy. When you create a form for your site they give you all the code required, you just have to copy and paste it into your page.

5. Yoast

Yoast demonstration screen shot, a free WordPress plugin

SEO is again extremely important for your website. Poor SEO means poor visibility in search engines which means you don’t stand a chance of being ranked highly by search engines. You can find an easy checklist to follow to master your on-page SEO in our free blog resources, under ‘blogger hub’.

Yoast is a fantastic SEO plugin that makes the process of optimising your posts incredibly simple. It allows you to highlight your keywords, and tells you where and how often to use the keywords. It allows you to optimise your title, slug, meta-description, headings, and much more.

Then just write your article and see what Yoast has to say about it at the bottom. It uses a traffic light system to show you easily where you need to improve, and the little eye button even highlights the specific pieces of text that need improving! 

Yoast’s free version allows anyone to publish highly optimised articles easily and quickly. For even more features there is a premium version, but this is not necessary for most people. Yoast is by far our favourite and most valued free WordPress plugin.

6. Akismet Anti-Spam

It is inevitable that as soon as your website can be seen by the world, spammers will be leaving comments, sending you emails and generally being a pest.

Akismet Anti-Spam is a free plugin that will detect spammy comments, and therefore helps you remove them from your website. It does this really well millions use this free WordPress plugin worldwide as their anti-spam protection. 

It also links up nicely with Contact Form 7 as mentioned previously.

7. W3 Total Cache

W3 Total Cache landing page screen shot, free WordPress plugin

Caching is one of the best ways to reduce your page loading times, for repeat visitors at least. Essentially when someone views your website for the first time, it stores a version of your website on their browser. When they visit back in a couple of days, the browser remembers this and has it already loaded for them. 

W3 Total Cache is the best free caching plugin in our opinion. It is used by many businesses small and large for their caching needs. It excels above the rest because it can cache every part of your website and works with all different types of hosting (both shared hosting and self-hosted websites will work). 

Struggling with your loading times? Here’s 7 Easy tricks to make your website run super fast.

8. WooCommerce

Woo Commerce landing page screen shot.

To turn your blog/website into more than just a hobby, you’re going to need to monetise it. One way you might look at doing this is by selling products. Write some e-books, sell some related clothing, design your photography pre-sets etc. It doesn’t matter what it is, if you’re going to sell through your website, you’ll need an e-commerce plugin.

WooCommerce is the industry leader for free WordPress plugins, and with good reason. They cover all features you could possibly need.

Due to their popularity they have also been intergrated with hundreds of other popular plugins, meaning you can combine features and have plugins working together on your site.

9. Elementor

Only developed in 2016, Elementor already has over 900k downloads. It’s an easy to use page builder, with a ‘drag and drop’ feel about it.

There is a premium version with more advanced templates etc., but you can still create great pages with the free version. 

We’ve tested out a few different page builder plugins, and Elementor is head and shoulders above the competition in our opinion. It essentially makes the experience of building a page similar to when using Wix and other ‘drag and drop’ site builders.

You can pick and choose which pages and posts you create with the normal editor and which ones you use Elementor. This is particularly useful for bloggers because you’ll probably find that you don’t need to use it for standard blog posts, but if you want a special ‘about’ or ‘services’ page, Elementor will do it better.

If you’re struggling to get your head around WordPress, then I’d highly recommend Elementor.

10. reSmush.it

reSmash it landing page screen shot.

This is another free WordPress plugin to help the speed of your website. Images take up a lot of data and hence if your webpage is full of high quality photos, this could slow down loading times massively.

Of course, high quality images add so much to your blog/website that it is not an option to get rid of them. Instead what you need to do is compress your images. By this I mean run your image through some software that will reduce the size of the file, without affecting the quality of the image. 

ReSmush.ie is a brilliant, free image compressor plugin. As soon as you upload an image you’ll be able to easily compress them to as smaller of a size as possible. 

The only issue is that it won’t compress images larger than 5MB. If you want to compress larger images, or you don’t use WordPress, Compressor.io is a brilliant online free alternative that will get the job done.

One half of People of the Planet. Sharing our adventures, best travel tips and travel photography! We created People of the Planet to provide a place for all travellers to learn, explore and find travel inspiration.

Author Christian Larby

One half of People of the Planet. Sharing our adventures, best travel tips and travel photography! We created People of the Planet to provide a place for all travellers to learn, explore and find travel inspiration.

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