Are you missing some of WordPress.com’s nice features in your self-hosted WordPress blog? Here’s how you can add many of these features back for free with some great WordPress plugins.
We’ve recently shown you how you can easily run WordPress software on your own site for free, and how to easily install it manually via FTP or Automatically with Softaculous. Running WordPress software on your own site gives you tons of flexibility and the ability to take you blog further than you could with the free, hosted WordPress.com. However, WordPress.com does give you some features that are not included out of the box with WordPress software on your own site. These include integrated spam protection, site statistics, spelling check, and more. Thankfully, you can add many of these features back into your self-hosted WordPress blog, so here we’ll look at how you can do that quickly and easily.
Find Your WordPress.com API Key
First, though, you’ll want to get a WordPress.com API key. Two of the best plugins for WordPress, Akismet and WordPress.com Stats, both require a WordPress API key. If you already have a WordPress.com account, you can easily find this key to use in plugins. Head over to WordPress.com, and login with your standard account. In the menu bar at the top, click My Account and then select Edit Profile.
Click the API Key and other Personal Settings link here.
Now, you’ll see your API key listed at the top of this page. Copy it, as you’ll need it to activate these other plugins on your self-hosted WordPress site.
Create a new WordPress.com Account for an API Key
If you don’t already have a WordPress.com account, you can create a free account without a blog so you can get an API key. Head over to WordPress.com, and click the orange Sign up now button to get started.
Enter your information, and then at the bottom of the form select Just a username, please. This will give you a WordPress account without creating a new blog. Once your account is setup, find your API key using the instructions above.
Blogs today can often get more spam comments than legitimate ones, so filtering out the good from the bad can be a daunting task. WordPress.com makes it easy by including Akismet spam protection, and you can add this same protection to your self-hosted WordPress blog with the included Akismet plugin.
To add this to your WordPress blog, login to your Dashboard and select the Plugins link on the left toolbar.
You’ll notice that two extensions are installed by default: Akismet and Hello Dolly. We want to activate Akismet to spam protection on our blog, but before activating, you’ll need an API key. If you do not already have a WordPress.com blog or an Akismet account, you can signup for a free WordPress.com account as listed above. Or, if you only want to use Akismet and do not want any of the other tools, click the API key link in the plugin description.
If your site is a personal site or you are making less than $500/month from it, then you can use the free API key. Scroll down and select use Akismet for free. Otherwise, choose the plan that fits your business.
Select the bullet at the top of the page with your API plan, and then enter your contact information. If you chose a for-pay play, you’ll need to enter credit card or PayPal account information to complete the purchase.
You will now receive an email containing your API key. Copy this, and then go back to the plugin page on your WordPress dashboard to finish setting Akismet up.
Now, back in the Plugin page of your WordPress dashboard, click Activate under the Akismet plugin description.
The page will refresh, and let you know that the plugin is ready to use. Click the enter your Akismet API key link to finish setting it up.
Enter your Akismet API Key or WordPress.com API Key in the box. You can choose to have Akismet automatically delete spam comments after a month, and then click Update options.
The plugin will let you know that the key was verified. If it didn’t verify, make sure you entered the key correctly and try again. Now your blog is protected with industry-leading spam protection, the same one used on WordPress.com, so you won’t have to worry about junk comments filling up your site.
Many bloggers love Google Analytics or other stats tools that let them know more about their traffic. But one of the simplest stats tools is the one built into WordPress.com. This lets you see a simple graph of your site visits and most popular posts directly from your WordPress dashboard. Even if you want to use Google Analytics or another stats tool, we’ve found WordPress.com Stats to be a nice compliment to more complicated tools, as it lets you quickly see what you really want to know as a writer.
To install it on your site, click the down arrow on the Plugins menu on the left, and select Add New.
Enter WordPress.com Stats in the search box, and click Search Plugins.
This should bring up the WordPress.com Stats as the first result. Click Install Now under its name.
Click Ok at the prompt to confirm that you want to install it.
WordPress will now automatically download and install the plugin. When it’s finished, click the Activate Plugin link at the bottom.
You’ll see a banner on your Plugins page letting you know that Stats needs an API key. Click the WordPress.com Stats link in the banner.
Enter your WordPress.com API Key you found above, and click Save.
Now when you login to your WordPress dashboard, you’ll see a new Stats widget that shows a graph of your stats and popular posts. Click View All to see more detailed statistics.
After The Deadline
Spelling and grammar mistakes can be embarrassing, especially if your writing is published online for everyone to read. WordPress.com incorporates an advanced spelling and grammar checking system called After the Deadline, and you can now add this for free to your self-hosted WordPress install so you can keep your writing good and correct even when you’re editing blog posts online.
To install it on your blog, enter After the Deadline in Install Plugins page as above, and click Search Plugins.
Click Install Now under its description, and then accept the prompt as above.
Once its installed, click Activate Plugin underneath the information.
Now, whenever you’re editing a post in WordPress’ online editor, you can click the ABC button to check your writing.
It will underline spelling, grammar, and context problems it notices. Click the underlined word to chose the correction, or click Explain for more information. No spelling or grammar checking system is perfect, but After the Deadline does find and correct more errors than many similar tools.
WordPress is a great platform for your website, and is a great option whether you’re running it on your own server or on WordPress.com. With these plugins, you’ll be sure to get the same great experience, whether or not you’re hosted on WordPress.com. We’ve found these to be some of the most useful plugins on our WordPress sites. What are your favorite WordPress plugins? Sound off in the comments and let us know!