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WordPress Plugins

What Plugins Do I Use And Recommend Today?
I typically receive between 40 to 100+ emails each day. There are a number of questions that I get over and over again and one of the more popular questions is “What plugins are your currently using for WordPress?” I've answered this question on previous episodes of Podcast Answer Man. However, as time goes on, I either find new “must have” plugins or find better plugins to replace older ones.

In this episode, I give you my up-to-date list of plugins that I am now using on my site and I share a little bit about why I am using each of them.

Note: Before trying any of these plugins on your site, I highly recommend that you have a good backup of your WordPress database and all the files that exist on your website's server. (BackupBuddy is perfect for this)

My Can't Live Without Plugins!
If you were to ask me rank my plugins in order of importance to me, I have five plugins that would tie for first place. I'll list each of these essential plugins here. To learn the reason why I find them to be so essential, please listen to this episode. Again, please note that these first five plugins are of equal value to me.

BackupBuddy (Affiliate Link) – Good intentions are not enough when it comes to having a full backup of everything that resides on your web hosting server. BackupBuddy is a MUST HAVE plugin if you have a self-hosted WordPress website and want to have the best protection again losing data should your site get hacked or your server's hardware fails.

I am so incredibly thankful to Darryl Tott and the other members of The Podcast Mastermind that brought this plugin to my attention. Special thanks goes out to Cory Miller for coming on to the show to discuss BackupBuddy.

Lead Player (Affiliate Link) – I am using more and more video on my site. My dream plugin would be a plugin that allowed me to embed an “unlisted” YouTube videos onto my website and that would allow me to keep those viewing the video on my site from being able to click through to YouTube to see the unique URL of that unlisted video.

I'm happy to say that the Lead Player Plugin is my dream come true plugin. In fact, the creators of the plugin are actually working on (not in the current version as I write this) another dream feature of mine, which is to allow me to actually control the thumbnail image for each of these unlisted YouTube videos that I would embed on my site.

Lead Player actually works with regular YouTube videos as well, not just unlisted ones. While the items written here are the reasons that I chose to purchase this plugin, there are a lot other features that I am certain will appeal to other members of the Podcast Answer Man community. You can learn about all these features by listening to this episode or by checking out the sales page for Lead Player.

Pretty Link Lite (Link) – Being able to create my own custom branded short urls has been a major blessing. I have been using the Pretty Link plugin since it was first introduced. I just checked and I show that I've created 1,357 pretty links so far. The best part is that I've never had a need for anything more than what the Lite/Free version offers.

PowerPress (Link) – I'm a huge fan of the folks over at Blubrry and I'm incredibly thankful for the time, effort, and energy they have put into creating, maintaining, and supporting the PowerPress plugin.

This plugin does way more than I personally use it for. I simply use it for it's included 1 Pixel Out audio player and the ability to easily create media enclosures. With PowerPress, I can configure a WordPress installation for podcasting within ten minutes. I have a tutorial called WordPress For Podcasters that shows my step by step process how I configure PowerPress to work in my preferred method of setting up a podcast. You can get that tutorial by clicking here.

LiveFyre (Link) – LiveFyre is a commenting system that replaces the built-in commenting system that comes with WordPress. When I saw LiveFyre in action for the first time, it was love at first site. In fact, if you want to hear me fall in love with this commenting system, I encourage you to listen to episode 116 of Social Media Serenity where we first tested it out live, during one of our live shows.

The Other Plugins That I am Using:
As I shared above, the previously mentioned plugins all tied for first place. I list the following plugins in their order of importance to me.

Shareaholic (Link) – Shareaholic adds an attractive social bookmarking menu, and optional related content widget, to your posts, pages, index, or any combination of the three. To see this one in action, scroll to the bottom of this post and see where it says “Share And Enjoy!”

Audio Player (Link) – Please note that this plugin has not been update in over 2 years. It is NOT a plugin that I think 99.9% of my clients or students would ever need. However, I do still use it to place audio players on pages where I am not interested in creating a media enclosure. You can see this audio player in action my Podcast Answer Man Testimonial Page and my Plus Membership Page.

Google Analyticator (Link) – There are a lot of plugins that allow you to connect your WordPress site to your Google Analytics account. I can't remember how I came about using this particular one. However, I can tell you that I do enjoy the stats overview that it puts in my WordPress Dashboard. It's cool to be able to see a quick snapshot of how my traffic is growing each time I log into my site.

Lightbox 2 (Link) – In the episode, you'll hear me mention that I've not been happy with how this plugin has been behaving for quite some time. It turns out that that the developer discontinued this plugin back on April 13th, 2011. I'm still in search of a lightbox replacement. If you have a suggestion, please post it in the comments section below. – See Notes On Next Plugin

Fancybox for WordPress (Link) – As I mentioned in this podcast episode, I knew that my Lightbox 2 plugin was quite outdated. I am now using Fancybox for WordPress instead. If you want to see an example of what this Lightbox plugin does, scroll down and click on the image of the Podcast Mastermind Logo found later in this post.

Gravity Forms (Affiliate Link) – As I shared in this podcast episode, I've had so many issues with the free contact form plugins that attempt to you your server's send mail functionality.

Nearly 400,000 WordPress site are actively running Gravity Forms, which tells me that I'm not the only person who found the free plugins leaving much to be desired. I don't have any examples of forms to show you on any of my sites, at this time. However, I have used Gravity Forms on my site in the past and it works flawlessly.

Webinar Bridge (Link) – I shared my full thoughts on Webinar Bridge back in episode 224 of Podcast Answer Man. This plugin allowed me to create a page on my site were people could enter their name one time and I was able to both sign them up for my mailing list and register them for a GoToWebinar session at the same time. If you do webinars as much as I do, this is an amazing tool to have.

Use Google Libraries (Link) – This plugin allows your site to use common javascript libraries from Google's AJAX Libraries CDN, rather than from WordPress's own copies.

A number of the javascript libraries distributed with WordPress are also hosted on Google's AJAX Libraries API. This plugin allows your WordPress site to use the content distribution network side of Google's AJAX Library API, rather than serving these files from your WordPress install directly. I'm told that this plugin helps take the load off of my server.

W3 Total Cache (Link) – W3 Total Cache improves the user experience of your site by improving your server performance, caching every aspect of your site, reducing the download times and providing transparent content delivery network (CDN) integration.

WARNING: W3 Total Cache is a pain to configure. I only suggest that use use it if you either know what you are doing or have someone else who knows what they are doing to set it up for you. Thankfully, the folks at ServInt offered to set this up and configure it for me. Last year, John over at did a lengthy blog post about setting up WP Total Cashe.

WP (Link) – To find out what this plugin does and how it works, I simply invite you to read the details at it's WordPress plugin page. I'm told by people I trust that this plugin is helping my site run faster by reducing the file size of all my images on my site without reducing the quality of any of my images. Sounds like a bit of magic to me. 🙂

WPtouch (Link) – One of my favorite things about modern day smart phones is that they have mobile web browsers that make it possible to see full websites the way that they were designed to be seen on the web.

For some reason, many people believe that we should all optimize the layout of our site to fit within a little five inch screen. To that, I say WHATEVER!!! Thankfully, this plugin gives me the ability to offer a mobile browser optimized version of my site if my vistors scroll to the footer of my site if they are viewing it from a mobile device.

Note: It is configured, by default, to automatically show the mobile optimized version of your site when displayed on mobile devices. Thankfully,they included an option where I could set my full web design view as my default view for all browsers. 😉

Akismet (Link) – Ah, the old days of comment spam. These days, if you launch a WordPress website and leave it online for 30 dyas without running either a spam filter plugin or a full comment system replacement, like LiveFyre, you are likely to receive thousands of spam comments per month, if not per day.

If you are using the WordPress comments system, The Akismet plugin checks your comments against the Akismet web service to see if they look like spam or not and lets you review the spam it catches under your blog's “Comments” admin screen.

While I still have this plugin installed, and activated, I currently have no use for it at all. I should probably go in and turn it off. Follow my advice and just use LiveFyre!

Taking My Public Speaking To The Next Level!
I signed up for Kent Julian's Speak It Forward Bootcamp that will take place in Georgia on October 25-27, 2012. I've been doing a lot of public speaking over the past few years and I'm going to be delivering my first Keynote speech at the end of this month. I'll do a decent job with my talk. However, I'm ready to take my public speaking to the NEXT LEVEL! Maybe you will consider joining me.

I'm Coming To Dallas/Fort Worth
I'm so excited to announce that I am going to be speaking at the Catholic New Media Conference. The conference is going to be held in the Dallas/Fort Worth Texas area on August 29th-31st. I'm very honored to be the Keynote speaker that will open up the event on the 29th. I'll be talking about “How To Market Your Message To The World.” If you are in the area, or willing to travel there, I would love to meet you in Dallas next month. I'll be there for the whole conference.

Shop With B&H Photo & Support Podcast Answer Man
I am thrilled about the relationship that I have formed with the folks at B&H Photo, Video, & Pro Audio. They have amazing prices on podcast equipment and so much more. Best of all, their customer service is almost as good as my own.

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    Blue Host Affiliate Signup
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    The Podcast Mastermind
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    Free Month of Media Hosting With Libsyn!
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