One of the best things about having a WordPress site and blog is the ability to customize and enhance it using plugins. That is why I wanted to share some of my top plugins picks for bloggers and side hustlers.  These plugins will help make your blog more secure, SEO friendly and automated so that you can make the most of your limited time.

1. Akismet

Akismet is now automatically installed in new versions of WordPress but must be activated before it works. It's the top plugin for blocking spam comments on your blog posts.

Price: Free | Learn more

2. Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights

Google Analytics is the best tool for website analytics.  It tells you everything you need to know about your visitors: what pages they visit, how they are finding your site, how long they stay on your site.  This plugin makes it easy to add you Google Analytics tracking codes by entering the code directly or logging into your Gmail account. This way you can see site analytics right in your WordPress dashboard.

Price: Free | Learn more

3. Yoast SEO

I feel like such an SEO rookie, so this is my go-to plugin.  It's the most user-friendly as it adds a section to the bottom of your blog post so that you can add a headline and meta description and get scoring for your SEO. Also love that I can customize the images and description used when posts are shared to Facebook and Twitter.

Price: Free | Learn more

4. Sumo

Highly recommend this free tool for your blog which has a lot of features (including pop-ups and list building options).  I mostly use the social sharing feature.  What I love about them is that you can choose where you want the buttons to appear and you can customize the look of them to match your site's branding.

Price: Free | Learn more

5. Gravity Forms

This is a contact form plugin and it’s easily customizable.  If you want to see how I use the plugin, check out my contact page.  This gives people an easy way to send you a message on your site.

Price: $39/year | Learn more

6. BackupBuddy

The best security you can have for your site is up to date backups. With BackupBuddy, you can make a full copy of your entire site and move it to a new host without losing any blog posts or settings.  You can set up a weekly backup scheduled to send to your Google Drive or Dropbox and feel safe knowing that you have a backup of your site.

Price: $80/year | Learn more

7. iThemes Security

This used to be called Better WP Security and is a free tool to secure your site. It limits logins and protects your site as soon as it's installed.

Price: Free (with Pro option) | Learn more

8. Pretty Link Pro

If you are thinking of doing affiliate marketing as a way to make money on your blog, this plugin is truly a must-have.  You can turn long gobbledygook links like this into this  This makes it easy for you to remember and for other people to link to. I bought the Beginner edition which is well worth the price.

Price: Free (with Paid option) | Learn more

9. Broken Link Checker

This plugin comes in super duper handy as it works in the background to find broken links on your website.  It'll alert you when it finds a broken link and you can easily go in and update them.

Price: Free | Learn more

What are some of your go-to WordPress plugins? Which are most helpful to you?