For many freelancers, the website builder of choice is WordPress, and rightly so. It’s free and supported by a large community of developers and designers.
For freelancers new to WordPress, this article will focus on a selection of best WordPress plugins that are highly recommended.
What is a WordPress plugin?
WordPress powers over 60 million sites on the Internet and a plugin is a piece of software, that can extend and improve functionality or add new features to your website. Here are a selection of the best WordPress plugins for freelance websites.
Keeping your website secure is very important in the digital age, where hackers are targeting WordPress sites due to the sheer numbers powered by it. The main focus of this plugin is to notify you when any changes are made to the core WordPress files, including themes and plugins.
Another useful feature is being able to identify any ‘Failed Logins’ and detect bots and hackers attempting to gain access to your website. If you have users logging in to your site, you can also see who is logged in.
The plugin is free, but there is a charge if you want Sucuri to clean up your website from any hacks, or use their Firewall for extra security.
When updating WordPress, you must backup all files. Don’t take the risk of losing your content should anything untoward happen to your website.
It’s also a sensible idea to regularly backup your website in case any issues arise with your hosting, and you need to move to another host. Never rely on the hosting company for backups.
With this plugin, you can schedule times when you want to backup your website (recommend doing this at least once a week) and files can be stored in Dropbox, Google Drive or your favourite storage service.
WP Super Cache
To ensure user experience with your website is a positive one, remember speed is a factor. Google has also announced that site speed is one of its ranking signals, especially on mobile devices.
Without getting too technical, the WP Super Cache plugin will serve static files, instead of processing the heavier WordPress scripts. The result is your website loads faster on all devices.
Cache plugins can be technical, so enable caching under the ‘Easy’ tab and let the power of the plugin do the work for you. Making changes in the ‘Advanced’ settings could cause issues with your website.
When creating content to showcase your skills on your freelancing website, you want potential clients to find it in the search engines like Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo.
The Yoast SEO plugin will help you optimize your articles. If you’re new to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) then, the traffic light system built into the plugin will allow you to improve on-page optimisation.
Think about the type of keywords your ideal client would use to find your content on the search engines.
While the plugin can help with optimising your articles, you must spend quality time completing keyword research to target the best search terms. There’s more to search engine optimization than installing the plugin, but it will help you get started.
Contact Form 7
As a freelancer, you want potential clients to contact you for quotes, and not have them jump through hoops to contact you. This plugin creates a contact form on any page and is easy to implement.
The added benefit of this plugin is it integrates with the Google reCAPTCHA service, which stops bots from submitting spam into your email inbox.
Really simple SSL
Your freelance website must have a valid security certificate, and SSL has to be set up correctly, otherwise, potential clients are going to receive a warning that your website is not secure within their browser.
Your website host will be able to advise you on how to install a certificate, and you might have to pay a fee for this. It’s also essential if you are collecting personal information because you want this to be collected securely, so no data is stolen.
Once you have the SSL certificate installed on your domain name, you can then activate this plugin and it will make sure all of the URLs on your website starts with https and also redirects visitors to the secure version of your page.
WordPress plugin updates
The importance of updating WordPress plugins is critical to the security of your website. Make sure you update plugins when notified, after backing up your website.
Be careful about the plugins you install on your website, and how many you have activated. Plugins add additional functionality but can cause your website to load slow and be open for hackers to add malware and steal data.