10 essential WordPress plugins for photographers

In the first part of this series, we looked at what kind of site a photographer might want. In the second, we looked at setting up a WordPress blog with photgraphs. In this final part we’ll look at all the exciting wordpress plugins that bring your site to life and do cool things under the hood.

The first thing isn’t a plugin at all, but it’s a good thing for that dreaded SEO (“Search Engine Optimisation”). Search engines bias towards sites that have keywords in the URL’s so go into Settings->Names and check the “Month and Name” option to get those keywords in. There, instant Google juice.

Something I like to have in my browser, in the blog dick-size war, is the Alexa plugin. This is a little graph and number in the bottom right hand corner which tells you how a site “ranks”. A ranking of 10,000,000 means both its vistors viewed some pages and one is probably your mum. A ranking of 1,000,000 means you’re getting some traffic: a few thousand visitors a month. A ranking of 100,000 and you’re on the radar: you’ve got a well-trafficked site and are a “playah”. A ranking of 1 and you’re Google. Good job.

Now on to the WordPress plugins.

There are often several choices for these and I’m not going to tell you which one is the “right one”. Try several. See which one is right for you. Look at the star ratings in the plugin search results. Many of these plugins create “widgets” that you can drop into your page design in the theme editor. This is a Very Cool Thing. These are all a one-click (and a bit of configuration) installs from the plugins sidebar.

The next thing that will happen when your blog goes live is comment spam. No use complaining, it’s a fact of life. Install the Akismet plugin and get yourself a key. In a month or so, you’ll see how much time and energy it’s saving you. In April, it caught nearly 500 spam comments on this blog.

A nice quick hack which will also help search engines it to have an XML site map. Install the plugin, enable it and forget about it.

Another defensive thing is to make sure that outbound links don’t break. Install a broken link checker.

You’ve made a great blog post and you want people to share it around on Facebook, twitter and so on. Install a social bookmarking plugin. Get those lovely icons at the bottom of your posts.

Now you’re getting some hits you want to see how many and where from. Install google stats. Register with google, get your token and plug it in to your plugin. Now sweat that graph.

If you’re like me and do a lot of linking out, you might want to see where your pervert visitors are going. Install an outbound link checker. As a bonus, some of these also insert some code into your template to open these links in a new window so you don’t lost your reader’s attention.

If you’re not too sweary or you’re like me and weary but don’t care, you can put a twitter gadget on your page. Not entirely sure how useful it is to display your own twits (like I’m doing) but maybe there’s another feed you’d like your readers to see to maybe a hashtag you can follow that’s relevant to your art.

More for the blogging photographers than the portfolio sites folks: there’s advertising. Sign up for Google adsense and drop an ad or two, or three on your page. If you review gear or namedrop a lot, also consider some kind of Amazon link and sign up for a referrer account.

A late addition to this article: related posts. Apparently this keeps people glued to your site a little longer and helps lower the “bounce rate”. I’ve installed it on here. Did it work?

Finally, it’s nice to get comments. To help with that, there’s a lovely plugin, rpx that lets people use Facebook, Twitter, Google and so on to log in to your site. This is many levels of awesome. It’s a little fiddly to set up, bouncing out to Twitter and Facebook getting API keys and secrets and so on but it took me less than half an hour to set it up on here. OK, so now leave me some comments!

And that’s that. You’ve taken a simple set of pages or a blog and with the judicious use of plugins have turned your site into something much more vibrant. Good job!

And you can now sign in here with Facebook or Twitter credentials. So no excuses for not leaving a comment!

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7 Responses to “10 essential WordPress plugins for photographers”

  1. supadean says:

    Hi Dave,
    Good article! I did try to login via facebook but it didn’t work. If you get it to work let me know. Cheers from Toronto.

  2. davehodg says:

    “Known bug, Ivan will fix” a month ago. This is the line of code:

    $string = preg_replace( ‘@< (script|style)[^>]*?>.*?@si’, ”, $string );

  3. kazanganti says:

    Thanks for the heads up on the RPX Plugin

  4. davehodg says:

    The irony is, I’ve just turned it off. I believe it was deterring commenters.

  5. Andy says:

    Great article thanks! Do you know of any wordpress plugins which I could use to sell my photos online?

    So client has a secure login to view their gallery. They select the images they want in print and then pay for them online.

    Seems quite simple but yet to find an elegant plugin solution.


  6. davehodg says:

    Just go with Photoshelter :)

    The process of making it seamless is laid out here:


    If you find a good plugin, let me know. But honestly, the contact I’ve had with Photoshelter and people I know who use it, leads me to the conclusion it’s The One.

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