Starting a Great Blog Part 10 – WordPress Plugins

Welcome to part ten of the Starting a Great Blog tutorial. Today we cover WordPress’s plugin system. No, WordPress’s abilities aren’t limited to what the developers wrote in. Anyone who knows PHP can write a plugin that extends WordPress’s capabilities. Ready to get started?

To install a plugin, you first have to download it. Where can you find plugins? Well, check the WordPress Plugin Database first. If you still can’t find the plugin you’re looking for, try Google.

Want some plugins to try? Here are a few I like:

  • Peter’s Custom Anti-Spam: Use a Captcha to eliminate comment spam. What’s a Captcha? It’s one of those thingies where you enter the random letters from an image. It generally blocks automatic spam-bots, because they can’t read images very well.
  • Smart Archives: Create a nice date-based post archive page. Got too many archives to fit on your sidebar? Create an archives page.
  • WP-Amazon: Add Amazon links (complete with Associates ID) to your posts with ease. If you haven’t, you may want to take a look at Amazon Associates.
  • WP-Polls: Add cool AJAX polls to your blog. Admit it, you like using online polls. Now you can ask your readers’ opinion with a multiple-choice poll.

Once you’ve downloaded a plugin, FTP it to the /wp-content/plugins/ directory. Then head over to your blog’s admin panel. Click the “Plugins” tab.

On the “Plugins” page, find the plugin you just uploaded. Click the activate link next to it and enjoy.

NOTE: Before installing a plugin, make sure you read the plugin’s website and/or Readme file. Do what the help documents say (within reason :) ).

What if a plugin is malfunctioning and preventing your blog from functioning correctly? Head back to the plugins page and deactivate the plugin. What if the admin panel isn’t working either? Fire up your FTP client and delete the plugin. WordPress is smart enough to deactivate the plugin when it notices it isn’t there. Note that some plugins must use special (included) install/uninstall scripts to add/remove database tables.

Well, that’s all for today. Come back tomorrow for the next installment in the series.

Starting a Great Blog Part 11 – Social Bookmarking