9 WordPress Plugins To Help Your Blog Run Without You

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The bigger your blog gets, the less time you can afford to spend sweating the small stuff. Luckily, there are a bunch of free WordPress plugins out there that will happily sweat the small stuff for you. Get these bad boys up and running, then let automation work its magic.

1. WP Status Notifier

Looking to outsource the writing of your blog posts? Rather than have contributors email you content, then going to the trouble of transferring each one to WordPress, simply set them up with contributor accounts and install this notifier plugin. They’ll be able to log in, write their posts within the WP interface, and submit them for review once complete.

The notifier plugin ensures you get an email whenever a post is awaiting review. Then it’s just a matter of clicking through, checking the copy, and hitting the publish button. For extra automation brownie points, you can have the emails sent to an assistant to review and approve posts for you.

If you need help setting everything up as described above, here’s a handy how-to screencast.

2. Tweet Old Posts

I tried an experiment last year on my personal blog where I scheduled just one archived post to be tweeted out every night while I slept. The result was 10% more traffic per month. I was scheduling those posts manually, but with the Tweet Old Post plugin you can automate the whole thing.

I especially like that you can exclude certain posts from being tweeted out, so any duds you might have in your archive aren’t destined to fall flat a second time. Just be sure not to go overboard with this plugin and tweet out links to your blog every fifteen minutes.

3. Thank Me Later

A handy plugin for following up with new commenters via email. Create a custom message and set it to send a day or two after someone comments on your blog. By default, your automated message will only be sent once per email address, ensuring you won’t annoy your most outspoken fans. The follow-up emails also provide a nice opportunity to offer folks a free gift or entice them back with links to popular posts.

4. YouTube Channel

If you’re posting regular content to YouTube, use this plugin to get your latest video showing up on your blog automatically, and look all the fresher for it. The plugin works well right out of the box, but you also get a bunch of handy configuration options. Use the autoplay feature wisely!

5. Backup to Dropbox

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have regular, automated backups of your WordPress blog. There are countless backup plugins out there for WordPress, and I’ve tried many of them. Backup to Dropbox is by far my favorite because it automatically backs up both your database and your files to a secure location (Dropbox) complete with version control. And it’s free!

The plugin is pretty straight-forward to set up, but follow this tutorial if needed. What usually proves trickier is restoring your blog from a backup should the worst happen. Bookmark this screencast for just such an occasion.

6. Google XML Site Maps

I expect you already know that a sitemap makes it easier for search engines to crawl and index your blog, but the hidden bonus of this particular plugin is that it automatically notifies Google, Bing and Ask.com whenever the content of your blog changes, thus getting your latest and greatest content indexed quick-smart.

7. Broken Link Checker

Simple and effective. You’ll never have to worry about broken links again with this plugin, which emails you whenever it finds one pointing towards the abyss. Broken Link Checker also has just the right amount of configuration options for those who like to tweak. Besides checking links in your posts and pages, it will even scour your comments and blogroll, and also check that your YouTube videos are embedded right.

8. WP to Twitter

This plugin requires a little jumping through Twitter API hoops to get it all set up, but it’s worth it. It provides a space below the WordPress post editor for you to craft your tweet, so you don’t have to settle for the plain old title + link tweets that you see everyone else pushing out automatically. Like the best automation tools, this one helps hide the fact that you’re automating.

9. Add Link to Facebook

This is pretty much the same as WP to Twitter, but for Facebook. Simple, automated links pushed to your Facebook page or profile can be a thing of the past, as this plugin gives you complete control over how your update will appear. Schedule it along with your next blog post, then kick back and relax.

(By the way, if you’re looking for an equivalent plugin for LinkedIn or Google+, note that the latter doesn’t exist yet, and the only way to get your posts feeding through to the former is to use the profile applications they provide.)

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Niall DohertyNiall Doherty travels around the world without flying while creating professional-grade WordPress blogs for fellow rabble-rousers. He’ll handle all the technical stuff and get you up and running within 72 hours. Learn more at http://50dollarblogs.net

Comments

  1. Thanks for the opportunity to post on here, Laura. Happy to answer any WordPress-related questions anyone might have via the comments.

  2. These all look really helpful, and they’re all new to me!

    #5 Backup to Dropbox is going to be a lifesaver. Not backing up is one of those mortal sins I just haven’t gotten around to correcting. Downloading it now!

    Thanks Niall!

    • Hope Backup to Dropbox is working for you, if you scan the forums of the plugin it’s littered with unsuccessful backups, watch out, there’s no perfect backup solution out there yet because hosts are always so different. I’ve done a ton of research in that area and this is a decent plugin but doesn’t work for a lot of people

      Love the WP notifier plugin Laura/Niall!

      • Thanks for the heads up on that, Robert. I must check all the sites I have it running on and make sure the backups are working as scheduled.

      • Just as a follow-up, I’ve been testing out an alternative to the Dropbox plugin, called iDrive for WordPress, and that’s been working great on several sites.

  3. Those are great plug-ins. I use onlywire plugin to send my new post out to tens of social sites. I also us a back up plug in but it emails me the back up files. I love the idea of backing up to Dropbox instead.

  4. Niall and Laura

    Thanks for this post. I found it helpful – loved how you just offered up some handy plugins. I just downloaded and activated the Youtube Channel one for my healthy coaching videos. Wouldn’t have thought of it otherwise. Thanks!

    Johanna
    http://www.johannavoss.com

  5. This is a great list :)

    WP Status Notifier and Thank Me Later are 2 that I’ll certainly add to the site and check out!

  6. This is an incredibly useful post – thank you very much. I’ve already added Tweet Old Posts and will look at the Dropbox backup later this morning.

  7. Thanks,Niall. I’m in the process of changing my website and that’s one of the things I was looking for, excellent timing. I’m going to investigate all of them now and try to determine what I need. Thanks.

    http://www.katyabarry.com

  8. BAM! Awesome post is awesome :D It doesn’t solve the original problem I was having of trying to find a good way to replace the commenting system on my blog (only to find that Disqus, IntenseDebate and Livefyre were ALL not what I’m looking for), but some of these are really awesome ways to show engagement on my site :)

    Appreciate it!

  9. really great post, thanks for the resouces and thanks for the screencasts. I particularly like the tweet old posts and back up to drop box ideas. We also use Onlywire, I don’t know about an increase in traffic but it sure saves work, we were posting notifications to networks manually before so that’s a huge help. In a similar vein to broken link checker I love SEO smart links, it’s invaluable in building a great web of internal links.
    Thanks for the great ideas.

  10. This is a great list. the only I’m having an issue with is the backup to dropbox. I still am not sure about the integrity of that service. I know a ton of people use it.

    Blog B2B or Not

  11. Warner Jones says:

    I tried to Google +1 and it gave what popped up was some meta information for an advertisement.

    Also, I tried to sign up for your newsletter with the bottom form on this article and it gave me an error at infusionsoft.

    Am I doing something wrong?

  12. What a great list! Thanks for sharing!

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