This post is written to address multiple questions I have received from my existing customers and readers of my blog – how to build WordPress blog with minimal number of plugins for speed and still profit from it. While the choices will greatly depend on what niche you are addressing and your goals, I’ll provide some of my personal choices that I think should be part of ANY WordPress blog, no matter how minimalistic it is.

But first, lets define minimalist:

min·i·mal·ist (mn-m-lst) n.

  1. One who advocates a moderate or conservative approach, action, or policy, as in a political or governmental organization.
  2. A practitioner of minimalism.

And now lets discuss how we can make our WordPress blog to follow the standart above…

No matter how small you want to make a footprint of your blog to increase its speed it will still require a few things to be optimal and profitable. WordPress is great platform for publishing but its maximum benefits realized through usage of plugins and proper themes to create unique look.

speed

WordPress Theme

You simply can’t get around this one. Theme defines the looks and feel of your blog but it also does a LOT MORE! It can contribute to your blog ranking in Search Engine results or it can take away from it. No matter how beautiful the theme might be – you have to evaluate it and be sure it is optimized for search engines.

It is very seldom that you will find a theme designer who is not only great designer, PHP coder (as required for the WP theme creation) but also understands SEO well enough to design theme for the maximum benefits! Majority of free themes you will find will fall short on one or more aspects of it – it is simple truth.

Choosing right theme that provides you with the look and feel you need, quality coding and also SEO benefits can be daunting task. If you have a few dollars I can only recommend professionally created themes I have reviewed in my article Blog Templates For WordPress Review. Not free but they will present you with best option you can find and I’m currently using a few of them so can judge the quality from first hand experience.

If paying is not your first choice – here is list of 48 Search Engine Optimized free WordPress themes by Courtney Tuttle. He took the guess work out of the process and did the optimization foor you! great resource.

WordPress Plugins

Plugins are what extends your blog functionality and enhances the visitors experience and hopefully turns them regular readers. But plugins are also the source of slow loading pages on blogs and a need for constant updates!

Here I want to list ONLY the absolute minimum of plugins I think your blog MUST have to take advantage of the great many promotional options and traffic generation strategies. So here is the list, without ANY specific order…

  • Akismet – SPAM defense for you blog. While there are many plugins that will help you do same work and in some cases even more effectively  – Akismet is designed and supported by WordPress development team and as such most reliable for your blog.
  • All In One SEO Pack – a Swiss army knife for your blog SEO. While I’m fully aware that great many SEO experts I personally respect (Andy Beard comes to mind ) recommend not to use the plugin – I think for the average person it provides perfect combination of features and simplicity of use. As you dive deeper into Search Engine Optimization you might want to rethink the usage of this plugin but for minimalistic blog and SEO beginner it is a great choice!
  • FeedBurner FeedSmith – make your blog content portable and compatible with MOST RSS readers while have access to statistics and Social Proof factor. This plugin turns any feed from your blog available to readers and gives you nice overview of access to it plus great many options for promotion. But one of the main reasons I recommend it – it gives you access to FeedBurner Ping Shot service that allows you offload new content notifications from your blog to feedburner! Must have for every blogger!
  • Google XML Sitemap – generate XML sitemap compatible with all major search engines and notify them when new content available. This plugin is NOT optional but becomes most effective when you stop been lazy and actually register Yahoo API and provide it in settings for proper notifications and when you use Google Webmaster Tools to submit and control how your blog is seen by SE. This is one tool you need to have to allow yourself some form of control of how your content is seen by Search Engines but you have to use it effectively. Expert WordPress system owners (Platinum level) have full access to that info (shameless plug).
  • Sociable – in this case I give preference to this plugin for one reason – it has less options for sharing but it is locally loading and unlike my favorite Share This plugin doesn’t slow down your blog! I include it because I know that my blog gets about 50%+ of total visitors from social sharing and having those options are crucial!
  • Ultimate Plugins Smart Update Pinger – controls when your blog pings multiple RSS aggregators and prevents your blog from pinging when you simply edit the post. I’m not sure if this functionality is been fixed in current WP core or not but it is NOT the main reason I recommend this plugin! I like the fact that plugin allows me to see a LOG of the last pings and helps me determine if services I use are still alive or stopped working. It helps me control the list of ping notifications to have it working 110% instead of guessing and combined with FeedBurner Ping Shot is makes my list extremely effective!
  • WordPress Automatic Upgrade – just as it states, this plugin helps you perform upgrade of the entire core blog with a few simple clicks. I do recommend that you create backups using cPanel, just in case as this plugin had issues with that function in past and be sure to test your backups!
  • WP Super Cache – since we are talking about speed, this plugin is must have on your list! It simply helps you offload the server and provide cached content to visitors making pages load very fast!

That is it! List above is what I consider an absolute must have if you are attempting to Build Minimalistic WordPress For Speed and Profit.

Do Share And Spread the word about this post if you like it! Social plugs are greatly appreciated and what keeps me working on helping you!