Adding WordPress plugins is a good way to add security and features to your blog. I will review the plugins needed to get your wordpress blog off the ground. You will want to review other plugins and other blogs to see what plugins and features are available to tailor your blog to your liking.
Adding WordPress Plugins For Security
Install A Spam Blocker
Akismet Anti-Spam is probably the best spam blocker but it comes with a monthly cost. Since this is a budget build, we will use Antispam Bee. Click on Plugins/Add New to add the Antispam Bee plugin. Type Antispam Bee into the search box on the right. Select it when it comes up in the area below. First of all click the Install Now button, then click the Activate button. Click settings and review. You can leave the default settings checked for now.
Adding WordPress Plugins For Search Engine Optomization
Install Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is the most powerful SEO tool I have found. First of all, click on Plugins/Add New to add the Yoast SEO plugin. Type Yoast SEO into the search box on the right. Select it when it comes up in the area below. Finally click the Install Now button, then click the Activate button.
Configure Yoast SEO
Click on the SEO/General link to begin configuring Yoast SEO. You should see a notification that says you are blocking search engines. This is correct. You want to block them until the site is complete.
Click on Features. You will see that everything is turned on. Finally click on Webmaster Tools. You will see text boxes for various verification codes. Add the codes when you get them.
Moving on, the Search Appearances/General tab is next. This tab asks you to select a separator for the page titles. You will configure the default page title structure.
Finally the rest of the settings in the Appearance tabs can be left to default at this time. Open the Search console tab and insert the google Authorization code. Instructions are included on this page. Click the Social Tab and insert links to your social pages. Click on the Tools tab and review the options, you will find some handy tools here.
You will utilize Yoast SEO once you start adding posts and pages to make sure they are SEO compliant.
Adding WordPress Plugins For Tracking Traffic
The best way to track traffic to your site is through Google Analytics
First of all, download and install the MonsterInsights plug-in (the free version) to track the traffic to your site.
Get your Google code by signing up for Google analytics and paste it into the MonsterInsights plug-in by clicking on Insights/Settings
You can click on Insights/Reports to check your traffic in the future. Your traffic should gradually increase if you have followed the instructions in the Yoast SEO plug-in and have continued to add pages with good titles, meta-descriptions and content.
configure Your Home Page
I have discussed earlier the option of having your front page begin with your most recent blog post or defining a front page. I think it is best to have some opening text, then begin showing blog posts. Consequently, this requires a plug-in. I have already showed you how to make your front page a static page, therefore you will want to add some blog posts after writing some text for the opening of the front page.
I have selected a theme that comes with a slideshow and three options for different posts just below the slideshow. You make the post sticky and be sure it has an image to make the post appear in the slideshow. Three posts appear in the Collection Area and are selected from the Appearance/Customize/Featured Posts Settings button.
Adding WordPress Plugins For Front Page Posts
Installing WP Show Posts
You will need to download the WP Show Posts plugin and and activate it. This plug-in will allow you to display posts on the front page.
To configure, click on WP Show Posts/Add New. Add a name and for this exercise for Post Type select posts.
The next option is Taxonomy. Taxonomy is a way of grouping posts, leave it blank for now. This will display all your posts, no matter what category they are in. If Taxonomy is left blank, terms will be blank. Indicate Posts per Page. Leave pagination blank.
Indicate how many columns you want for your blog post display. I made one column for this site but if you want a grid like a news blog you may want two or three.
if you have images of different proportions you may want to enter a number for width but keep the height blank. This makes multiple columns the same width. A grid will look best if all the images are the same proportion.
Do you want to display the entire post on the front page or just an excerpt? If you have one column, then you can display lots of text but if you have a grid layout for posts on the front page you want to limit the amount of text, relying on the image. Add some text for the Readmore textbox.
Configure how you want your posts to look on the front page I usually check only Include Date and select Below Title.
Finally, you can refine your choice of which posts are displayed by filtering by author ID, post ID, set display order, status etc.
This completes the adding WordPress plugins section. You may want to add even more WordPress plugins as you discover them and continue to develop your blog. Consequently feel free to continue adding WordPress plugins until your blog is configured just the way you want it.