WordPress is (arguably) the world’s favorite way to put a website on the internet. It has no doubt been an invaluable tool for consultants and agencies to have an online presence.
Even though WP is one of the easiest content management systems around, there are also a limitless amount of options. Choosing the right theme and plugins can seem daunting.
You have a feeling there may be useful or even consultant-specific options, but have been unable to find them.
Hopefully we can change that.
We’ve compiled a list of both free and paid plugins that you really can’t live without (or at least you’ll think so once you use them). Whether you’re a marketing consultant, agency owner, or freelance writer, designer, or developer, each item on our list is inherently useful for consultants.
Let’s get down to business.
But First… A Bonus List of Plugins You Should Use
Before we get to our elite eight, there are some of you who might not have downloaded even one plugin. It’s for that reason, we’ve put together a bonus list of a few plugins for WP sites in general.
- Contact Form 7: You’ll have a contact page, right? This one is pretty much standard (standard awesome that is).
- Captcha: To go along with your contact page (and other forms), you may want to consider this little guy to distinguish real people from sales bots.
- Google Sitemap: Help Google search your site by having this one. It’s really easy to use.
- Ewww Image Optimizer: Make your images take up less bandwidth (making your site faster).
- Google Analytics (by Yoast): See who’s looking at your site (and when and from where).
P.S. Here’s a massive post with the some of the best WordPress plugins when you’re just getting started.
Plugin #1: Editorial Calendar
One of the best things you can do to build a pipeline of future customers is to create an email list. Although, it won’t be that helpful if you don’t provide amazing content regularly. Blogging, writing industry news, or creating reports are crucial to building goodwill with potential clients.
The key (as with most things) is consistency. If you aren’t the best at remembering when you want to post things, or like to plan out intricately intertwined content, having a calendar will help. Better yet, what if you could have a plugin that helps you schedule and plan out your posts as far out as you choose?
That’s exactly what the aptly named Editorial Calendar Plugin will do. You’ll be able to put content onto the platform without publishing AND organize it however you like with a drag and drop menu that’s easy to read.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Plugin #2: Sprout Invoice
If you’re a consultant, it means that you invoice clients regularly, and you probably know that online invoicing software saves time. Depending on your industry you may use PayPal, Freshbooks, or maybe even the old fashion DIY version. Unfortunately, you can either send an invoice cheaply and have to track all of your customers by yourself, or pay a monthly fee to have another software keep things tidy for you.
Since you are already using WordPress, why not have a plugin that takes care of invoicing and tracking clients?
Sprout Invoice does just that. This handy tool allows you to take several payment processors including PayPal, Stripe and several others. Along with the ability to send and collect bills, it can track payments received and even set up recurring payments. In all, you’ll find dozens of options to help you keep the financial side of your business in order. The coolest part of this consultant friendly software? There’s a free version!
Cost: Free (add-ons available)
Rating: 5 out of 5
Plugin #3: VaultPress
With websites, one thing is always certain. Your website WILL go down. Whether it’s malware you received from a hostel internet or the server of your webhost had a malfunction, chances are it will happen.
Instead of losing everything and starting over, you need to regularly backup your site. Some hosts do it for free, but with WordPress there are several plugins that offer a really good backup service. But if you want something that will put your mind as far at ease as it can go, you may want VaultPress.
This plugin does have a monthly fee, but includes a few extra features that may even keep your site from going down in the first place (it’s preferred and used by the experts at WPBeginner). You’ll receive daily security scans with detailed reports to keep you safe from malware and daily backups. The lowest price plan is $9/mo and includes 30 days worth of backups along with a basic scan for nefarious activity attached to your website.
Cost: $9/mo (for their basic service)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Bonus: If a paid option isn’t right for your budget try BackupWordPress. It’s got a solid rating (4.7 out of 5), and does the job just fine.
Plugin #4: WP-Super Cache
Do you ever go to a website and wait a few seconds and it still hasn’t loaded? On the internet, time can literally mean lost money. If your site takes just four seconds to load, you’ve lost 25% of your visitors.
Take a second and think of the percentage of leads you send to your website. Now, imagine 25% of them leaving before ever seeing how awesome you are. Fortunately, there is a great way to fix it. Caching.
Caching is a science, but WP-Super Cache does a great job of getting you started. Basically, it does some shuffling of the digital space your site takes up (increasing page load speed). There are other things you can do to make your site faster, like signing up with Cloudfare, but downloading this plugin will definitely make an impact. Oh, and it’s free!
Rating: 4 out of 5
Downloads: 1 Million+
Plugin #5: Gravity Forms
Consultants love their forms. Filling things out does more than make you feel productive, it helps you keep track of progress, get to know your clients better, and can assist you in finding problems on the job.
With gravity forms (and maybe some add-ons), you can create some awesome forms to put right on your website. Things like questionnaires, surveys and other user generated content are a few of the options you’ll find. While this plugin isn’t free, it’s definitely the favorite among heavy form users. At $39, there are plenty of high profile users who have publicly stated how much they enjoy it.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Plugin #6: Inline Manuals
If you have mastered using WordPress for your consulting, you may have considered having a backend where your clients can log in to access certain data. For instance, if you’re an SEO consultant some of your clients may like to see where they are ranking for certain keywords. Clients could log in to see a report, access files or just about anything you can think of adding.
The biggest problem would be “onboarding” new clients into the system. Helping them understand how to log in, where to go, etc. can be a pain. That is, unless you download the Inline Manuals plugin.
This handy tool allows you to set up tutorials, add inline documentation, and other step by step features to train your clients to navigate your site. You set it up once and it’s good to go. Now, having this attractive feature won’t add to your workload. There is a basic free version that will definitely give you an idea if it’s for you. It’s also “hot off the presses” as a relatively new plugin, but the options make it tantalizing.
Cost: Free (Paid versions available)
Rating: No Reviews Yet
Plugin #7: Broken Link Checker
Chances are that your website isn’t going to be hundreds of pages, but each one is vitally important. Any potential prospects who are checking up on you won’t want to find pages they were hoping to read with a 404 error.
You may be thinking this one is a little too basic, but don’t be so hasty.
A broken link could at best make you look sloppy and cost you money at worst. Keeping tabs on a couple of dozen pages, forms and pictures is too much on top of your normal “grind”. Broken Link Checker is a necessity for routine maintenance.
This plugin keeps regular track of all of your pages, comments and images to make sure everything looks they way you want it. A great tool to keep you looking good and best of all, it’s free.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Plugin #8: Drip Email Marketing
Ok. So you may have figured this one was coming and maybe we are a bit biased. As a consultant you are busy closing leads and doing the work you’re getting paid to do. Setting up and following up with your email list is profitable, but takes so much time.
With Drip, our passion is to make your marketing automation process as easy and effective as possible. Our visual builder can help you lay out the perfect pipeline based off of what your lead chooses to receive.
If you’re a consultant, our email marketing can easily become an automated member of your team.
Cost: See Our Options
Rating: 5 out of 5
What plugins are you using to advance your consulting career? Tell us which ones we missed in the comments below.