A lot of beginners get confused after buying a hosting and installing WordPress. What they don’t realize is that they are only starting the real work now and that the next step is just as important.
We are, of course, talking about installing and using plugins for WordPress. Plugins are basically small PHP scripts, and they allow you to add extra features to your WordPress. That way, you can enhance your software’s functionality, and add things like slideshow, gallery, and alike.
When it comes to a number of plugins, there are thousands upon thousands of them out there. And, of course, you can’t use them all. Some of them are free, some of them you have to pay for.
They can bring any feature that you may think of, but you must not let yourself go and install everyone you see. If you do, they will slow your website down, and in the end, your visitors will stop coming due to speed issues.
The internet is a busy place, and you have to keep that in mind, otherwise, your site or blog might go out of business quite soon. But, that is a topic for another article. Right now, we are going to concentrate on how to install these plugins. We will provide instructions in detail, and all you have to do is keep reading.
Before we start
One thing that you should know before we start with our step-by-step guide is that you can’t install plugins if you use WordPress.com.
Users often complain to guides like this that they don’t see plugins menu in their own version of WordPress. If that happens to you as well, know that it is because you are using WordPress.com. It has its limits, which prevent it from using plugins. There is nothing you can do to change that.
Instead, if you wish to add plugins to your WordPress, you will have to use WordPress.org. This is a self-hosted version that is a very popular website platform. When you hear about benefits of WordPress, it is mostly this one that the stories refer to.
It is open source, and it is also free to use for anyone. All that you require in order to use it are web hosting and a domain name. This is the version that allows plugins, and it offers many more benefits apart from that.
WordPress.com is actually very limited if you are using the free version. And, since it has a free version, it obviously has premium versions as well. All in all, it loses to WordPress.org in more ways than one.
Currently, however, we are interested in the ability to add plugins, which is the benefit that WordPress.org offers. It is not too late from you if you have WordPress.com, and you can always migrate from it to this, more beneficial version.
With that out of the way, let us begin with instructions on how to install plugins on WordPress. We will talk about three different methods on how to do this, and you are free to choose whichever sounds best to you. The methods in question are: installing plugins using search, uploading plugins, and manual installation via FTP.
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Installing plugins via plugin search
Using the plugin search for installing plugins is the easiest way to achieve this. There is only one downside to this method, which is a limit on which plugins you get to use. Mainly, you only have access to those that you can find in WordPress plugin directory.
Those are all free, but you can’t install any plugin outside of the directory by using this method.
If this is acceptable to you, then start by going to the admin area of your WordPress, and then select the Plugins option, Underneath it, you will see the ‘Add New’ option, so click on that one next.
A new page will open, and on it, you will find a search bar in which you can type the name of the plugin that you want. If you don’t know its name, you can try typing its functionality. After that, you will get every plugin that is relevant in some way to whatever you entered in the search bar.
Check out the plugins that you got, and try to find one that looks good to you. When you find one that you like, click the ‘Install Now’ button next to it. After that, WordPress will download it and install by itself. When it is done, you will get a message that notifies you of a success. With it, there should also be a link that will allow you to activate the plugin.
Activating it is important because it won’t work unless you do, even after full installation. Simply click on the link, and you will fully enable it. Do so, and you are done. The next thing that you have to do is to configure the settings of this and any other plugin that you install.
However, configuration settings are different for each one, so there is no universal guide for that. It all depends on which one you want, or need on your WordPress.
Installing plugins by uploading
Since paid plugins are not a part of WordPress directory, you simply can’t get them by using the previous method. Because of that, WordPress will allow you to install them by uploading them yourself. This method is also pretty simple, and we will now explain what is it that you need to do.
Start by downloading a plugin that you need from another source. You can try using Google in order to find another source if you don’t have your own preference. One of them is https://codecanyon.net/category/wordpress. Here, you will find a lot of plugins for WordPress, and you can use a search bar for a more specific search.
There are other sources out there as well, so try to find plugins that you need from them. When you download them, they should be in a form of a zip file.
After downloading plugins of your choice, go back to your WordPress admin area, and go to Plugins. Once again, choose Add New, and then find the button that says Upload Plugin. You will find it on top of the Add Plugins page.
Click the button, and it will bring you to the uploading page. On it, find the Choose File button, and after clicking it, you have to find the plugin that is on your computer. Select it, and hit Install Now.
Once again, WordPress will take care of the upload and installation, and when it does, you will get a success message.
Again, upon installation, you will need to activate it by clicking on the link that the message will provide. Configuring its settings is the last part of the process, and you will have to find a way to do it yourself because the process is different for each plugin.
Install plugins manually by using FTP
Some web hosts might use restrictions on your WordPress, which would somewhat limit your ability to install plugins from WordPress directory. If this happens, then you can only try and install plugins that you want by using FTP.
FTP is short for File Transfer Protocol, and it is pretty much the most difficult way for beginners to use when it comes to installing plugins. However, we are still going to explain how it works. Only make sure to follow the instructions to the letter.
Start by finding the plugin that you wish to use from another source like we described in the previous method. When you download it, you should have it in a form of a zip file. Extract it on your computer, and when you do, you will have another folder that will share its name.
That folder is what you need to upload to your site manually, by using an FTP client. You can do this by accessing your web host through the use of an FTP manager. For that, you will need an FTP username and password. If you don’t have them, then ask your web host to provide it for you.
After you get the login credentials, open the FTP client on your computer, and use it to connect to your site. After you establish a connection, you will have to access this path through the FTP client: /wp-content/plugins/
Now that you are there, you must upload the folder that you got from your zip file. Upload it to your web server, and when you finish doing that, go back to your WordPress. Once again, you should go to the admin area, and select Plugins. If everything is done right so far, your new plugin should appear on the list.
Under the plugin’s name, you will find an option to activate it. Click on that to enable the plugin. When you do, all that you have to do is to configure its settings.
Once more, since settings are different for each plugin, we can’t tell you how to do this. You will have to try it out yourself, and see what happens.
As you can see, buying a hosting and installing your WordPress on it is only half the job. There is a lot more that you have to do afterward, and installing plugins is definitely one of the most important parts.
There are several ways for you to do that, and we have explained them all in this guide. Hopefully, the instructions were clear enough, and you will manage to set your plugins by following them.
Remember to only use the ones that you feel you really need since they will impact your site’s performance. And if you need ideas for plugins, there are many lists that you can find online via Google, or perhaps YouTube.
Ali is a freelance journalist with 5 years of experience in web journalism and marketing. He contributes to various online publications like Best10VPN. With a master degree, now he combines his passions for writing about internet security and technology. When he is not working, he loves traveling and playing games.