Lesson 4: Install Plugins

Now, it’s time for everyone’s favorite part: installing plugins. I’m going to show you the default plugins I install on every site I build. But, before I do… a quick word of warning. WordPress plugins tend to be like phone apps for most people.

They’re exciting.

And, it’s easy to fall into a “more is better” mentality.

I, on the other hand, try to install as few plugins as possible. Because every plugin you install adds complexity to your site. It’s more “stuff” for you to manage. More possibility for conflicts and errors. And, decreased site speed.

So, try to be thoughtful about what plugins you install.

I know, party-pooper.

But, it is the right call.

That said, here’s my default list of plugins:

  • Yoast SEO. As the name implies, handles SEO setup for you.
  • MonsterInsights. Connects to Google Analytics for site stats.
  • Custom CSS and JS. Easily add CSS and JS snippets. Handy for tracking codes.
  • Elementor. Page builder. What I use to do all the building on my sites.
  • Wordfence. Security plugin.
  • WP Super Cache. Caching plugin to improve site speed.

Most of these are going to have free and premium versions. That’s become the standard business model in WordPress. The free versions are still very useful. They do most of the basic stuff you need done.

And, the premium options just add even more features.

So, up to you, how to handle that.

Personally, I have premium versions of Yoast SEO, Custom CSS and JS and Elementor. Ok, so let’s talk about how to install plugins.

The first option is the…

Install Plugins From the WordPress Repository

Head over to Plugins > Add New:

On the right side, type in the name of the plugin you want install into the search bar:

And, click the “Install” button on the plugin you want to install. Once installed, the button text will change to “Activate”. Click the button again and the plugin will be fully activated and running on your site.

That’s it.

You’ll be able to find and install most plugins this way.

Some, however, are not in the WordPress repository and will needed to be installed manually. But, don’t worry, it’s still pretty simple. Here’s what to do:

Install Plugins Manually

With these plugins, whenever you download them… what you get is a “zip” file. So, it might look like this in your browser:

Once the file is downloaded like this, we’ll again go to Plugins > Add New, but this time we’ll click on the “Upload Plugin” button:

Here’s what you’ll see:

Click the “Choose File” button and find the .zip file you just downloaded on your computer. Then, click the “Install Now” button. This will upload and install the plugin on your site. Once it’s done, you’ll see a page like this:

Click the “Activate Plugin” button and it’ll be activated and running on your site.

And, that’s it.

So, that’s installing plugins. I’d get started with the ones I recommended:

  • Yoast SEO. As the name implies, handles SEO setup for you.
  • MonsterInsights. Connects to Google Analytics for site stats.
  • Custom CSS and JS. Easily add CSS and JS snippets. Handy for tracking codes.
  • Elementor. Page builder. What I use to do all the building on my sites.
  • Wordfence. Security plugin.
  • WP Super Cache. Caching plugin to improve site speed.

And then, only add more when you truly need or want it for something.

Ok, next up is themes.

We’ll talk about those and the one I recommend in the next lesson:

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JOHN MORRIS

I’m a 15-year veteran of freelance web development. I’ve worked with bestselling authors and average Joe’s next door. These days, I focus on helping other freelancers build their freelance business and their lifestyles.

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