25 Essential (and Free!) Plugins for Every WordPress Freelancer and Business

wordpress-pluginsThe internet is an amazing tool that provides anyone the means to grow their business and career in a meaningful way.

The first hurdle, though, is creating a website that allows you to go about your work without hindering your productivity.

To help you get started – or even find plugins you hadn’t thought of – this list contains solutions that will help you manage and organize your work, from making your site easier for your visitors to access, to completely managing invoicing and payment.

Each of these plugins is up-to-date, ensuring you’ll get the most out of compatible resources. And many of them are hugely popular in their categories, some with well over 1 million downloads.

Starbox

Starbox plugin

Starbox offers an elegant, professional and stunning author box for your posts whether you have Multisite enabled with many authors, or you’re just a one man – or woman – show. It provides tons of options, including the ability to add a tab that lists the author in question’s latest posts. You can choose between different styles and placement of the box – either before or after post content.

This plugin makes you want to click through to an author’s profile, rather than quickly skim the excerpt or pass it by it all together. It’s incredibly easy to use right out of the box and doesn’t require any additional coding.

You can’t land on any page these days without viewing social media links because – let’s face it – they’re essential to communicating your message and Starbox is no exception. You can easily link up your social profiles with sleek icons.

Business Deal Countdown

Business Deal Countdown plugin

With a simple shortcode, the Business Deal Countdown plugin adds a configurable timer to your WordPress site. Don’t think for a second that this is a regular, run-of-the-mill countdown clock because it’s anything but that.

With the shortcode, you can place the timer on any post or page you choose and it will not only count down to the end of an exclusive offer, but will also make that page unavailable once the time is up. At that time, users will be redirected to any other page of your choosing such as a one with a message mentioning the special offer has ended.

Why is this so important? Adding a time limit for your potential customers to see will make them act fast. They’ll be more inclined to read over your offer and go for it for fear that they’ll miss it all together.

BigContact Contact Page

BigContact Contact Page plugin

There’s a good reason why this plugin has the word “big” in it – It’s much more than just a contact form creator; it also offers the ability to display your business hours, directions and other similar contact. The most impressive feature, though, is that it allows you to create an appointment form so our site’s visitors can schedule an appointment with you.

There are many possible layout options so you can arrange your forms in the best way possible to suit your theme and needs. As if all these features weren’t enough, BigContact also includes basic spam filtering so you don’t have to worry about getting annoyed with junky messages.

While you get more scheduling features in our Appointments + plugin, BigContact is still a a great multi-functional plugin, especially when you consider its $0 price tag.

Relevanssi

Relevanssi plugin

Have you ever used WordPress’ own search box? It sucks. I’m sorry to say it, but it does. When you search for terms you know are a part of a post’s title, that post won’t likely appear at the top of the search results – Bummer! Relevanssi fixes this issue.

With this plugin, you can expect better search results listed by relevance – not just by the most recent post date. It can also search with phrases, matching key words or quotes. You can also customize the excerpts that appear for posts in the results, search terms are highlighted and many other options.

Relevanssi has many advanced featured already included, but if you would like this plugin to work for multisite with other even more advanced options, you’ll have to upgrade to premium.

WP Review

WP Review plugin

This plugin allows you to easily add review posts to your WordPress site with an incredible amount of customizations available. You can choose to use star, point or percentage ratings and it’s completely compatible with multisite networks.

WP Review is lightweight so it won’t cause your site to lag and it was originally made a s a premium plugin so quality is assured. You might be wondering what’s wrong with this plugin if it used to be premium, but now it’s free. The creators simply wanted to give back to the lovely and supportive WordPress community and this plugin is how they are able to fulfill that reciprocity.

So there you have it – a solid plugin that even displays your ratings in Google’s search results for your posts. If you post reviews, you will become very fond of this plugin.

SVG Case Study

SVG Case Study plugin

With the use of a simple shortcode, you can add detailed testimonials or case studies to your site to showcase your experience and skills. You can even add multiple large images and different sections to each case study.

You can use this plugin to build your freelance portfolio or display instances of many of your happy customers in great detail. It’s a new plugin, but it works well and can help you style your testimonials page without coding.

It’s easy to install and straight forward to use. Just be sure to keep an eye out for future possible updates to ensure this plugin stays relevant.

Dynamic Widgets

Dynamic Widgets plugin

Dynamic Widgets is not your typical widget creating plugin. While it does allow you to place widgets anywhere on your site, it also allows you to show or hide them based on conditions you set.

There are so many options such as being able to show a special offer to only certain customers on certain pages, show a greeting in their language by detecting their geographical area, tips and solutions if they reach an error page and so many more possibilities.

It’s as easy to install as most other plugins and has a fairly robust settings page. It’s a great tool for adding a bit of personalization to your visitors’ experience.

Light Full Screen Slider

Light Full Screen Slider plugin

If your goal is to stand out while also featuring your image content then this plugin is a great one for you to consider. It’s lightweight and implements a fullscreen slider on any page template where you would like to have slider capabilities via a tiny snippet of code.

While you do need to edit your page templates, it doesn’t require lengthy knowledge in coding. You just need to enter in one line of code that’s provided to you after the plugin is installed and you’re done.

From there you can adjust the options from your dashboard’s “Settings” page under the plugin’s name. As far as plugins go that require coding, it’s very straight forward, simple to use and the result is beautiful.

Social Share Button

Social Share Button plugin

I use this plugin regularly for the sites I create because it has stunning pre-styled layouts for adding a bar to posts or pages with social media share buttons in it. There are styles for professional and personal use alike and are very easy to implement.

Simply choose which buttons you would like to add from a long list of available and popular social media outlets. You can also choose to add a button that allows your visitor to share your content the old fashioned way – through email.

It’s installation is quick and painless as is the set up process. It’s been around for quite some time, but is updated regularly making it a reliable and excellent way to add social media share buttons to your WordPress site.

UpdraftPlus Backup and Restoration

UpdraftPlus Backup and Restoration plugin

One of the very crucial points to consider when choosing a backup option for your site is where the backups are stored. Believe me, it really matters.

If your backups are stored among the files of your site and you can only complete a restore of your site through your dashboard, you’re in for a wild ride. If your site goes down because it’s hacked, you can kiss it goodbye. You won’t be able to do a site restore because you won’t be able to access your dashboard.

The best kind of backup is the kind where the backed up files are stored offsite and this plugin allows you to do that. You can choose from a wide number of offsite backup options including Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon S3, FTP, email and many other popular outlets.

If you need to restore your site, you’ll have a backup copy ready to go that you can use to restore your site externally, such as through FTP. It’s a solid plugin that is updated regularly, has over 1,500,000 downloads and hundreds of thousands of happy users. It’s a solid plugin worth considering.

Multimedia Customer Feedback

Multimedia Customer Feedback plugin

This plugin is one of the coolest out there for allowing your visitors to give you feedback. You can allow your visitors to do everything from upload a video testimonial, to post their own photos, audio and text as a part of their feedback response.

It looks great and can be implemented through a lightbox or an iFrame. You can also email customers who you would specifically like to request feedback from and even pay them through PayPal for their testimonial if you wish.

It’s also responsive on mobile devices so you don’t have to worry about frustrating anyone who is trying to give you feedback. It has other options such as digital content protection and social media sharing.

Footer Putter

Footer Putter plugin

This plugin’s name may be memorable, but that’s not the only reason why you should consider installing this plugin. It offers you an incredibly easy way to input professional looking content in your footer.

From elegantly displayed privacy policy and terms of service links, contact information and an automated update system for the copyright year, this plugin has everything you need to legitimize your company or freelance business. It’s all displayed very beautifully with many layout options available.

There are also more advanced settings included that allow you to show or hide the footer content such as for landing pages or any other page of your choice. It also optimizes your site with Google best practices to ensure your site isn’t looked over when displaying your site in search results.

Auto Terms of Service and Privacy Policy

Auto Terms of Service and Privacy Policy plugin

Just as the name suggests, this plugin will automatically generate a terms of service and privacy policy content and displays them effortlessly with shortcodes. While it’s not a substitute for professional legal services, it’s still a plugin worth considering in the interim or if you’re strapped for cash.

It borrows the page content from WordPress’ own legal pages to help you generate one with your business name and information. They’re both available under a Creative Commons license so it’s available for you to use for free.

Publish to Schedule

Publish to Schedule plugin

This isn’t your ordinary publish to schedule plugin. Yes, you can schedule your posts, but this plugin allows you to do it automatically.

Simply set up the days and times you would like posts to be scheduled and sit back and relax. Once you’re finished writing, your post will automatically be placed in an available spot eliminating the need for you to worry about organizing your posts yourself.

If you don’t like the date and time that’s automatically chosen you can easily change it so you don’t have to worry about ending up with a messy schedule. It has straight forward options and it’s an easy plugin to install, set up and use.

If you’re looking for an easier way to schedule your post content, then this plugin has every potential to help you out. Now you’ll be able to focus more time on writing and less time on little organizational tasks.

Sitestillup

Sitestillup plugin

The Sitestillup plugin checks your site every hour to ensure it’s still up and running. If it’s not, you are notified immediately. Your site is additionally scanned for viruses and this pluing includes a verification seal to display on your site so your visitors can rest easy knowing your site is safe to visit.

Since this plugin will regularly and frequently checks your uptime, you won’t have to worry about losing traffic, sales or leads due to downtime you don’t know about. It’s easy to use and install, but does require you to sign up for a free account on the corresponding website.

Social Networks Auto-Poster

NextScripts: Social Networks Auto-Poster

If you’re tired of manually tweeting and sharing your posts once they are published then this plugin offers you a very suitable alternative. Not only are posts shared automatically, this plugin goes many steps further and allows you to customize the shared posts to optimize your shares for increased traffic.

There are currently 28 social media sites and networks available to post to including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Evernote, Reddit, Pinterest, Flickr, YouTube, Deviantart and so many others. The list consistently grows, too!

The most notable aspect of this plugin is that each post is automatically customized to meet the standards and formatting for each network so you don’t have to worry about posting anything that looks messy or unreadable.

Setting up this plugin is a little more involved since you need to allow permissions for each social media site you would like to post to, but not to worry because detailed instructions are available. Free support is also available if you run into issues which also adds to this plugin’s stability and ease of use.

Organize Series

Organize Series plugin

This plugin helps you make each series you have written in post format more visible by adding new taxonomies for each arrangement. Visitors will be able to easily search for and access other posts apart of the same series.

There are also other cool options like being able to have a featured image for each one of your series and placing posts in whichever order you’d like your visitors to view them. You can even add a table of contents, extra navigation for the series and so many more options.

It’s easy to install and works perfectly right out of the box. It’s an easy way to organize your work in a clear and effective way to help boost readership and readability. If you run into issues both free and premium support are available.

Hire Me Status Widget

Hire Me Status Widget

This isn’t a plugin so much as a widget, but it can be certainly a useful one if you work and get paid based on your time rather than by products. It adds a fixed status to your site that clearly states if you are available for hire.

It works for businesses and freelancers alike as you are able to adjust the plugin to accommodate whether you are an individual or a company with many available workers. Installation and usage of this widget is as easy as it gets to use and set up.

It’s a great way to let your potential clients know right away whether you are available before having to spend tons of time searching for an free spot in your calendar or communicating back and forth.

Ebyline Payments

Ebyline Payments plugin

If you run a site with many contributors, the Ebyline Payments plugin helps make it easier for you to pay your writers for their work through PayPal. You can easily keep track of projects, payments and can even track your payment history.

It’s easy to set up and use, and payments are secure and encrypted. The plugin even generates reports for tax purposes making it even easier for you to manage the writing side of your site and business.

It’s a solid plugin that integrates well no matter what theme you are using. It’s a great plugin to consider to help you streamline the payment process if you have freelance writers contributing to your site.

Contact Form Clean and Simple

Contact Form Clean and Simple plugin

This contact form plugin doesn’t just allow visitors to contact you with basic captcha spam filtering. It does a lot more than that.

It features a clean script to minimize the possibilities for incompatibility, has Akismet spam filtering integrated along with reCAPTCHA and uses Twitter Bootstrap to ensure your forms are responsive across devices. The only limitation is that it only provides a simple contact form with a name, email and message fields.

You won’t be able to customize the form to your liking with as many options as you’d like, but it’s a great contact form if your needs are simple. The fact that it includes spam filtering is an excellent bonus to help save you time and from filtering through a lot of spam.

Pizzazz Portfolio

Pizzazz Portfolio plugin

This portfolio plugin is unique in that it it only requires one page to feature all your work. There is a main content area for viewing selected content from a carousel and even supports Vimeo and YouTube videos.

Visitors won’t have to worry about waiting for a new page to load every time they wish to view one of your projects. They’ll love you for it since waiting is not most people’s favorite thing to do.

It’s also fully responsive and includes optional social media share buttons. Your portfolio content will also be fully and easily indexed by search engines. There are a lot of options to make your portfolio professional and help it stand out on the page.

It’s a great plugin to consider if you’re wanting to focus on a great user experience with a professional look. If you’re looking for even more features, it’s worth looking into the commercial version of Pizzazz.

Types – Custom Post Types

Types - Custom Post Types plugin

Types allows you to create fully adjustable custom post types and even allows you to include multiple multi-line text boxes with the WordPress visual editor attached. It doesn’t stop there.

You can also add custom fields to user profiles as well. You can even control which fields each type of user can see and edit.

Not only can you fully customize and create any kind of post type you can dream up, you can also fully customize the look and feel in both the editing and front page view with CSS.

It’s easy to install, set up and use so you can get started creating custom post types in seconds.

WP-Invoice

WP-Invoice plugin

WP-Invoice is a multi-functional invoicing plugin that allows you to bill your clients and customers while also allowing you to process their payments securely through PayPal or Authorize.net.

The invoices you create are hugely customizable and you can also send a link to your invoice to clients through email. If you have enabled user registrations, you can also allow invoices to be pre-filled for an improved user experience.

On the payments front, this plugin is just as impressive. Not only can you accept payments, but you can also integrate recurring billing and split payments.

It has many useful features that help to make invoicing and payment super easy, breezy and as painless as possible.

WP Project Manager

WP Project Manager plugin

WP Project Manager is a great way to manage writing or any other kind of project with your team or contributors right from the dashboard. You can communicate with each other, plan projects, assign tasks and even upload files for review.

It’s easy to install and use while also allowing you to set permissions to restrict or allow access to members and also includes a calendar to display all the tasks visually. You can also set a time limit for each task with a timer that you can both start and stop to help increase efficiency and reduce redundancies.

Editorial Calendar

Editorial Calendar plugin

This editorial calendar plugin includes an easy drag and drop interface to easily manage and view scheduled posts. The status and authors of the post are also displayed to give you an even better overview of your blog and posts.

Infinite scrolling is set up on the calendar so you can schedule posts as far in advance as you could ever possibly need or desire for added flexibility. Don’t worry, though – there is a button that instantly brings you back to the current date so you won’t get lost among the scheduled posts.

There are many features that make this plugin special and highly useful for any blog whether you are a freelancer or you are managing many contributors and posts. It’s a popular plugin and it’s not difficult to see why.