Blogging for Beginners: How to Install WordPress Plugins
How to Install WordPress Plugins
Are you new to blogging with a WordPress blog of your own? Are you overwhelmed by all of the Plugin options that surround you?
Believe it or not, you don't have to be a techie genius in order to get a simple blog up and running with a professional look, once you know how to install WordPress Plugins.
Plugins are pieces of code that you can install and "plug in" to your WordPress website. They're free, although their creators usually add donation buttons asking you to toss a couple bucks their way. Plugins add the fun stuff to your blog, whether it's images for your sidebar, social media buttons, email subscription fields, or whatever else you can dream up.
Learn About Blogging from the Pro
Darren Rowse started blogging before blogging was cool. His site, Problogger.net, is full of excellent information that helps bloggers at any level.
HostGator for Web Hosting
I have been with HostGator for a couple of years now. About six months ago, I thought I'd switch to another host called justhost to save some money. Big mistake. Justhost didn't respond to my emails and left me hanging in chat. I had some trouble and they were no help at all. The funny thing is that the review sites all said that justhost was a great choice. Anyway, I went crawling back to HostGator with my proverbial tail between my legs, and they helped me straighten everything out and get back on my blogging way. Save yourself the trouble and just go with HostGator.
What About You?
Do You Have a Blog?
No Plugin Option on Your WordPress Blog?
If you can't find a Plugins option on your WordPress menu, that means you've started your blog on WordPress.com instead of WordPress.org.
Both websites look almost identical from the outside, and unless you know that there's a difference between the two you can easily find yourself working on .com when you really wanted .org.
If you use your blog as a sort of journal to share your thoughts with readers, then WordPress.com is fine. But if you want to monetize your blog by running ads, then you need to (a) purchase a domain name, and (b) get yourself over to WordPress.org.
When you have a WordPress.org blog, you also have access to the Plugins that make it possible to customize and streamline your blog.
Why does WordPress have two different blog publishing applications? To make life more complicated, of course! Actually, I don't know why. I started one of my blogs, PaleoPregnancyGuide.com, on WordPress.com by accident. As it turned out, switching over to WordPress.org wasn't complicated at all and I was happy to find that the process was user-friendly.
So one way or another, get your WordPress.org blog going. Then you'll be free to add all of the Plugins you want. Here's how you do it:
Add New Plugins
On your WordPress dashboard, the Plugins button appears on the left side of your screen. Click on it or hover over it, and you'll see several options on the drop-down menu. One of those options is Add New.
Click on Add New, and you'll see a search field where you can type in the name of the Plugin you're looking for using keywords or the exact name.
For example, say you want one of those Pinterest follow buttons to put in your blog's sidebar so that readers can easily follow your Pinterest boards. Type in the words "Pinterest follow button" and the link to the Plugin will appear. You'll be able to see ratings, screenshots, and if it's been updated to work with the newest version of WordPress. If you decide to install it, click on the red button that says "Install Now".
Don't stress about deciding if you really want to use a particular Plugin. It's easy to deactivate and/or delete an unwanted plugin, and you're not fooling around with the code so there's no risk of causing chaos.
Adjust the Settings and Activate Your Plugins
After you've installed your Plugin, look at your Plugin page. Does your new Plugin have a Settings link underneath the title? If it does, click on it and follow the instructions. Leave any settings that you're unsure of at their default settings.
Be sure to activate your new Plugin by clicking the Activate link under the Plugin's title. You'll notice that the link turns to Deactivate in case you don't like the Plugin and want to turn it off. You may then delete it, but if you'd like to save the Plugin you can leave it there in your Plugins list. I don't usually save them, though, because I think it's asking for a glitch to happen when I have too many inactive Plugins piled up.
That might be all in my head or I may have read it somewhere--who knows?
Of the Plugins that you decide to keep active, some will also become Widgets. How do you know which ones will become Widgets? Go to your Available Widgets page to find out. Most of the time this is self-explanatory, though. Widgets are used to add elements to your web page (e.g., if you installed a spam-filter Plugin, you won't find a Widget for it).
Use Your Plugins' Widgets
Let's talk about the Plugins that do have matching Widgets:
In order to get them up and running on your blog, go to your Widgets page (you'll find that one under the Appearance button, which appears above the Plugins button).
Look at your Available Widgets. You should see a Widget for the Plugin you just activated. Drag that Widget into your Main Sidebar to the right.
Some Widgets require further information. Click on the arrow to the right of the Widget's name. Any fields that should be filled in will drop down. Once you fill them in, click save (if there is a save button) and you're all set.
I've included a screenshot showing the details of the Pinterest Follow Button (below) that we talked about earlier. This is what the Widget looks like when you click that side arrow. You can add a title if you want (I didn't). Under that, there's a field to add your Pinterest user name. Then, you click the radio button next to the style Pinterest button you want to use. I always checkmark "open in a new window" no matter what link I add. Click save, and you're good to go. Click the side arrow again to reduce the window.
Online Writing Bible
Seriously, an amazing guide to online writing that's full of tips you never even thought about.
How to Use Plugins Downloaded from Other Sites
You may also find downloadable Plugins elsewhere on the internet.
For example, I downloaded a Widget from Tiny Buddha that displays a new positive message quotation in my sidebar each day. In order to get it onto my website, I went to my Plugins screen, clicked on Add New, then clicked Upload in the menu (see the photo to the right).
I chose the Tiny Buddha Widget file on my desktop, then clicked Install Now. After the Widget was installed, it showed up on my Plugins page. I activated the Plugin and the Widget showed up in my Available Widgets list. I dragged the Widget to my Main Sidebar and BOOM! I started sending positive messages out into cyberspace.
If you're looking for something you'd like to add to your website but you're not sure if there's a Plugin for it, Google possible keywords along with the word "Plugin". This is a good way to find new Plugins that help make blogging life easier. Once you get the gist of how to install WordPress Plugins, you'll find the process is pretty simple.
Need Help Getting Started?
- OnlineBusiness Log
If you need some help getting set up with hosting, getting a domain name, downloading WordPress, or hosting multiple sites, OnlineBusiness Log has some great videos that are easy to follow. They've helped me out quite a bit.