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Most authors use WordPress to build their author websites. WordPress runs 60% of all websites worldwide and likely around 90% of all author websites. Many authors use WordPress because of the amazing WordPress plugins that add functionality to their websites. A plugin is like an app for your phone, but it runs on your author website.

Want to add a contact form? There’s a plugin for that. 

Want to add a progress bar to show your book’s progress? There’s a plugin for that.

The biggest downside of website-building platforms like Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly is that they can’t run WordPress plugins. A Wix website can feel a bit like a phone without an app store. It is great at first, but after you use it for a while, you need those apps. 

Plugins can add features to your website that would normally cost tens of thousands of dollars. They can help you rank on Google, sell more books, and grow your email list faster. But plugins are not all roses and butterflies. They can add security vulnerabilities and slow down your site. 

I should know. I used to run a WordPress plugin business, and I’ve spoken about WordPress plugins at official WordPress WordCamps. 

Each plugin you install slows down your site to some degree. Some plugins are “heavy” in that they slow your site a lot. Other plugins are “light” and slow your site very little. Some even make your website run faster. 

Only run the plugins you need and uninstall those you’re not using. 

What plugins should authors use?

There are three tiers of plugins:

  • Premium (paid)
  • Freemium (free with paid options)
  • Free (free with a long, reputable track record)

In general, I try to avoid free plugins that are not part of a paid service or have some sort of freemium model. It costs money to maintain a plugin, and that money needs to come from somewhere. 

It is important to get away from the “free stuff online” mindset. When something is free to you, someone else is paying for it. If the company offering the free service isn’t making money by selling to you, they are making by selling you

Online, you are either the customer or the product being sold. Put another way, the food in the coop is free for chickens because the chicken is the product being sold. If you want to keep your eggs and your life, become a paying customer! 

Premium Plugins

A paid plugin indicates that a programmer is responsible for maintaining it and keeping it updated and secure. Ideally, you want to use paid plugins, but you don’t have to pay for every plugin.

Freemium Plugins

 Freemium plugins offer a level of functionality for free. The free level has many but not all the features the paid version offers. While you may get the plugin for free, others pay to use it. That business model aims to give a lot of users the free version in hopes that the number of users who upgrade to the paid version will cover the costs and allow the company to profit.

Some freemium plugins are very profitable. They make millions of dollars because they offer a free product that allows people to sample the amazing functionality. Since it’s so beneficial to the user, many users are happy to pay for the next level of functionality.

Free Plugins

If you must go with a free plugin, choose one with a long track record in the plugin repository and a good reputation in the WordPress community. In the list below, I recommend some free plugins with a long history and good reputation.

Plugins Your Author Website Needs

Plugin #1: Yoast SEO

yoast logo, a wordpress plugin for author websites

Yoast is probably the greatest plugin on WordPress for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Put simply, it makes your site easier to find and allows it to rank better on Google. When someone types your name into the Google search field, you want your website to appear first in the search results. Having optimized SEO can make that happen. To learn more about optimizing your website’s SEO, listen to our Novel Marketing episode on SEO for Author Websites.

SEO is a complicated topic, and there are many technical aspects to it. Yoast SEO automatically does half the technical work for you in the background, so you don’t need to understand a canonical URL. You don’t even need to know what an XML site map is. As soon as you enable the Yoast plugin, it will do those things for you.

Yoast helps your site rank better on Google. 

Why is ranking important?

If you don’t rank for your name and your book titles, someone else will. Ranking well on Google means you’ll likely sell more books. If you rank low, fans will get irritated that they can’t find your site in their search results.

It’s important to rank for your name on Google because you want readers to visit your website when they’re looking for your book. You want them to join your email list and click your affiliate link to buy your book.

But if you don’t have great SEO, Amazon will rank higher than your website because Amazon has impeccable SEO. If Amazon ranks higher, that reader will buy your book from Amazon, which is still good, but you’ll miss out on that bit of affiliate income you would have made if they had clicked your link.

Why is Yoast the best?

Yoast does the work of two or three other plugins. It also educates you about how SEO works and shows you which things you can control so that your pages and posts are well-optimized. Check out the Yoast Academy, where you can learn the basics of SEO, WordPress, and the Yoast SEO plugin for free.

Yoast is the most popular plugin on WordPress. Yoast does a great job of keeping the plugin updated and has over a million users. They offer a paid version, but the free version will do everything you need.

Get Yoast

Plugin #2: Redirection

Redirection is the freest of the plugins I recommend. There is no freemium version, but it is a reliable plugin and has been in use for 10-15 years. The WordPress community generally supports it, and it’s had no issues. It’s a good plugin that is well-maintained.

What does Redirection do?

The Redirection plugin allows you to create URLs on your website that send people somewhere else.

Why is that useful? It allows you to create easy-to-remember URLs for listeners and readers.

For instance, instead of using a URL like www.AuthorName/Books/Series/BookTitle, you could create a redirection ULR like www.AuthorName/BookTitle, which is much easier for people to remember and type. When they type the shorter, more memorable ULR, it will take them to the original URL.

To get people to your webpage with maps of your fantasy world, you could create a redirection such as www.AuthorName/maps. If you are the guest on a podcast like Writing Excuses, for example, you can create a redirection on your own site, such as, which would redirect people to the link where they could listen to your Writing Excuses podcast interview.

Besides redirecting people to the correct (and usually longer, more complicated) URL, Redirection also tracks how many people went to that link. That allows you to track and measure how many hits you got from that podcast interview.

The Redirection plugin is also incredibly important for measuring your marketing efforts by tracking how many people typed or tapped a link in the back matter of your book. To learn more about using the backmatter of your book for marketing, check out my episode on How to Use Your Book’s Back Matter to Sell More Books.

Let’s say you want people to sign up for your newsletter, so in the back of your paper book, you print your link to your newsletter signup form. That printed link lives forever in your book.

But what if you want to switch to ConvertKit? All those MailerLite links in your printed books would become invalid, and you’d lose those potential subscribers.

The redirection plugin allows you to create a URL, such as, which redirects to wherever you tell it to go. For example, if you print in the back matter of your book, you can change where that link directs people. If you want to stop directing readers to MailerLite and start directing them to ConvertKit, you simply change the link in the Redirection plugin on your website. Readers will never get an invalid link, and you won’t miss out on subscribers.

Redirections as QR Codes

You can also turn that Redirection URL into a QR code. Check out my episode on How to Use QR Codes to Boost Book Sales & Grow Your Email List.

At the end of every episode I record, you’ll hear me say, “To find the blog post version of this episode, go to The /398 is just a redirection created through the Redirection plugin that takes you to a much longer, more search-engine-optimized URL for this blog post, which is

The longer URL allows you to use real words that humans can understand and keywords bots understand, which is one aspect of optimizing SEO.

Plugin #3: JetPack

JetPack logo, a plugin for author websites

What does Jetpack do? 

Jetpack (Affiliate Link) is the Swiss Army Knife of plugins. It’s a freemium plugin that replaces the need for at least half a dozen other plugins. It went through an awkward adolescence, but it has recently been drastically improved and has become more powerful with these features:

  • Stats
  • Speed Boost
  • Contact Form
  • Related Posts  
  • Security
  • Backups
  • Super Search

I primarily use JetPack for the statistics it provides since Google Analytics has become almost impenetrable unless you buy ads. It’s another example of “if you’re not the customer, you’re the product.” Google Analytics is not nearly as useful as it used to be.

Jetpack helps me get the web stats I care about, like which blog posts people found useful and which topics people care about. Check out my episode on How to Get Good Website Stats.

I’ve also really liked its improvement to the search function on It’s made the search better and faster.

Why is Jetpack the best?

Automattic, the company behind WordPress, also made Jetpack. They have the best developers and the most money to fund their development. If you install the other plugins we’re recommending, you won’t need the paid version of Jetpack. The free version will be sufficient.

Get Jetpack (Affiliate Link)

Plugin #4: MyBookTable

MyBookTable is a freemium plugin I developed with my team. We created it specifically for authors to help solve a problem.

For a long time, I discouraged authors from having a bookstore on their websites. The functionality a web store requires can really slow down your website. It adds a lot of complexity and costs. In fact, I still discourage it for most beginning authors.

If you only have a couple of books to sell, most of your sales will come through Amazon, but you’ll still have a webpage on your website dedicated to your book. Your book page will have all the pertinent information and will be optimized to rank on Google. But you don’t want the hassle of handling credit cards, order fulfillment, or shipping.

MyBookTable has all the functionality of a bookstore without the checkout button, credit card handling, fulfillment, or shipping costs. Instead, it uses checkout buttons for Amazon and Barnes and Noble, as well as 20 other stores. It became the number-one bookstore plugin on WordPress.

I eventually sold the plugin to Jim Camomile, who was one of the first developers, and he now maintains it and fields customer support questions.

The free version gives you most of the features you’ll need, but the paid version has additional features. When you have a series, and you’re trying to connect books and series and coauthors, the plugin becomes more useful. If you have a dozen books or more, MyBookTable will dramatically reduce your stress and hassle.

If you only have one book, Divi will be sufficient for building your book page where people can click to buy on Amazon.

Plugin #5: Akismet

Akismet is a plugin that prevents most spam comments. It’s only useful if your website has a contact form or a blog. If you have neither, it’s not necessary. 

Certain bots browse the internet, filling out contact forms and commenting on blogs. If your website is popular, you might get tens of thousands of spam comments every day. But if you have Akismet, they will be blocked.

When I ran a website design agency, we put Akismet on every website we built. If the plugin was accidentally deactivated, we would hear about it from that client because they’d start getting tons of spam. When they reactivated the plugin, the spam stopped.

Akismet is free for personal websites, but business websites are supposed to pay for the paid version. That recommendation is enforced on the honor system. It’s a very generous plugin in that regard, and it’s been a very profitable plugin for Automatic, the company behind WordPress.

Some of the paid JetPack plans include Akismet. I recommend trying the free version and upgrading if you like it and want more features.

Each of these companies offers refunds if you don’t like their paid versions, but that’s more hassle for everyone. They’re trying to avoid that by giving you free access to most of the plugin’s features. If you’re not happy with most of the features, paying for more features won’t make it better.

Plugin #6: WP Super Cache

WP Super Cache speeds up your website by creating cached versions of the pages, which causes your pages to load faster. It reduces strain on your server, which means it can save you money. You’re less likely to get an overage charge when you have a viral blog post that gets a lot of hits.

If you need even more speed, I recommend WP Rocket, which is the paid plugin I use.

WP Super Cache is mostly free, and WP Rocket is only for paying users and costs about $60 per year.

If your web host tells you you’re using all your server bandwidth or nodes, install the WP Rocket plugin before you upgrade your hosting.

Plugin #7 Bloom

Bloom is an email opt-in plugin that offers many customizable options for adding a popup signup form to your website. If you have the Divi theme on your website, Bloom comes with it.

Popups are incredibly effective for growing your email list. When we deployed our first popup on, we went from 30 to 300 new email signups each month.

A good popup needs a delay before it pops for your website visitor. I recommend setting a 30-40-second delay before it pops. Bloom allows you to set the delay time, where on the screen it pops, and a timer for how often your web visitor sees the popup.

I use Bloom. My popup doesn’t pop right away, but when it does, it slides up from the corner of the screen. It directs the web visitor’s eye to my reader magnet.

You can use Bloom to get people to sign up for your reader magnet, whether it be a tip sheet, a guide, or a short story. To learn more about reader magnets, check out the following episodes:

Most good popup plugins are priced around $10-20 per month, but Bloom is the best bang for your buck, especially if you’re using Divi.

Many email marketing services, such as ConvertKit and MailerLite, also have WordPress plugins for popups, but they don’t offer as much control over when and where it pops. Bloom gives you beautiful control over all those elements.

Plugins to Avoid

Social Media Integration Plugins

The worst kind of plugin is any kind of social media integration plugin. PinIt, Share on Twitter, Post to Facebook, and the like should be avoided.

Those plugins send your web visitors’ data to its platform without permission. Since you probably have not mentioned that in your website’s terms of service, it’s potentially illegal.

You’d need to add legal language to your privacy policy on your website to ensure you’re within the legal parameters. Integration plugins and social media plugins are notorious for poor privacy.

Besides being potentially illegal, those plugins can really slow your website. Every time a user loads a page with a social media integration button, that webpage calls back to Pinterest or Facebook, and that slows down your website. It can’t finish loading the page until it hears back from the social site.

To add insult to injury, you’ll rank lower on Google because of your slow website.

And here is the worst part: no one ever clicks those buttons.

The kind of people who are savvy enough to share something on social media don’t even use those buttons because they know how to copy and paste the URL.

All social networks, with the possible exception of Twitter, deprioritize posts with links that take people away from the social network to another website (like yours).

These plugins do a ton of harm with no benefit. I’ve turned these plugins off for many websites and have never seen an impact on traffic stats.

Sometimes, there’s a benefit to people talking about your content on social media, but only when someone creates their own content on that social network by writing their own post and using their own photo. Clicking a “like” button on your website won’t help your web traffic.

Disallowed Plugins

Elegant Themes has published a list of really bad plugins that are poorly made, really slow down your website, and are disallowed. To make sure you’re not using any disallowed plugins, check out the list at Elegant Themes.


How to Build an Amazing Author Website

Learn how to build your own amazing author website, even if you are not a techie person. In this course, you’ll also learn how to craft a website your readers will love. 

Students who have never built a website discover that by the time they’ve completed this course, their own website is live on the internet. Sometimes, they do it in a single day. The best part? The course is free! 

My hope is that you will use my affiliate links, but either way, the course is yours to keep at no cost to you. 

Michelle Levigne, author of Dancing on My Grave: Book & Mug Mysteries #2

Becca Sheridan thought she knew what was up, but a series of mysterious events make her question everything. When her square dancing club is abruptly kicked out of their meeting place, and her rival from middle school gets involved with Conrad, Becca is thrown into a tailspin. Conrad’s strange behavior, his estranged relatives trying to take over the family business, the sudden death of his grandmother without a body to bury, and an uncle who vanishes all add to the confusion. 

But it’s the discovery of a dead body in a nearby creek that makes Becca realize the truth is closer than she ever imagined. With the help of her friends from the Book & Mug coffee shop, Becca must piece together the clues to arrive at a shocking answer. If you enjoyed Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, you’ll love this thrilling mystery filled with powerful emotions.  

You can become a Novel Marketing Patron here.

 If you can’t afford to become a patron but still want to help the show, you can! Just leave a review on Apple PodcastsPodchaser, or Audible.

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