Whether you’re a web designer or developer, or you simply enjoy running your own websites, you may find yourself in a situation where you’re tasked with managing multiple websites at once.
Keeping track of sites for clients or for multiple projects can quickly become exhausting if you’re not careful. You have to keep track of things like login details, plugin updates, backups, security monitoring, SEO, and other site changes/updates.
If you’re not careful, you might find yourself logging in to the wrong sites, forgetting passwords, updating the wrong applications (or not updating them at all), and generally making a mess of things.
But the good news is that if you’re running more than one site, there’s plenty of help available.
If You’re Running Client Sites on WordPress
If all of your sites run on WordPress, you’re in luck. WordPress allows you to manage multiple sites from a single dashboard using a variety of plugins and third-party applications and services.
WordPress’ staple plugin Jetpack comes with a feature (called Manage) that will allow you to connect to other WordPress sites with Jetpack installed.
Other plugins like WP Pipeline let you manage multiple websites while giving you the ability to group certain site types together and sync site updates so they happen across multiple sites at the same time.
There are even third-party services like ManageWP or CMS Commander that will let you quickly update plugins and themes, delete post revisions, and remove spam comments on multiple sites from a single location.
This solution works best for designers, developers, or site owners that already have multiple WordPress sites running on different servers. It also works well if you have a variety of clients that you are building or managing sites for temporarily and plan to turn over to them later.
You still want to make sure that you have a good way of tracking things like site analytics and that you have access to login information in case your plugin or third-party service crashes or is inaccessible for some reason.
If You’re Running Multisite on WordPress
Multisite is different than running multiple sites. Having a multisite means that you’re installing WordPress once on your server, but you’re running more than one site from that single location.
This is a good option for designers, developers, or agencies that manage multiple sites on their client’s behalf (where the client has limited access to the backend), or if you’re a site owner that wants multiple sites without having to pay for additional hosting. For example, BBC America uses Multisite to host its network of blogs.
For the most part, running Multisite is the same as running a single WordPress site – you have one central dashboard where all of your admin panels will be. The only difference is that there will be a few extra screens for managing your network of sites.
However, these screens are only accessible to the “Super Admin” who manages the network, which may make things difficult if you’re working in a team or if your clients need access to certain site elements.
You may not want to use Multisite if your clients need their sites hosted separately or want control over their website down the road, even if you’re managing them now. Some other considerations against using Multisite include:
- Each site needing a unique IP address
- Each site needing its own database
- Your host not having the necessary server requirements
- Third-party vendors/admins needing to install their own themes or plugins
- Not having access to the files on your server for editing
While using Multisite can be a great solution for some developers or site owners that want the most bang for their buck, it’s definitely not for everyone.
If you’re considering using Multisite to simplify your life, make sure that you plan on retaining full control over every site you manage for the long haul.
If You’re Running Client Sites on Multiple Platforms
Of course, you may be in the position of managing multiple sites that aren’t all living on WordPress. So how do you manage sites from multiple platforms without pulling out your hair?
The best solution is to have a plan for tracking necessary tasks and simplify wherever possible.
For example, you could still limit your work by using plugins and apps to manage your WordPress sites from one location while keeping a workflow of non-WordPress sites using other tools or resources.
You can also simplify other aspects of site management, like social media and analytics. If you’re often logging into multiple social networks to repost the same content, sites like OnlyWire, Ping.fm and HelloTxt let you update several networks at the same time.
You should also create a simple calendar that includes things like plugin or platform updates (if you don’t have them setup automatically), site backups, security scans, and content publishing dates and times.
Basically, whatever you can simplify using third-party applications or plugins, you should.
Managing multiple sites can sometimes be a headache, but you can make it a lot easier by using tools and plugins to help simplify the process.
If you’re managing a site for only WordPress websites but you still need the freedom to allow multiple-user access or to turn it over to a client in the future, consider using a single-dashboard plugin or service that will allow you to view everything from one location while keeping the sites separate.
If you really want to keep everything together on WordPress, you can always use Multisite. Just remember that your sites will not have separate databases or IP addresses, and you will have limited admin access for editing.
If your sites run across a variety of different platforms, come up with a plan to simplify as much of the process as possible. Combine what elements you can using third-party applications or services and keep a running calendar or spreadsheet for other miscellaneous recurring tasks.