7 Ways To Make WordPress Multisite Work For You

7 Ways To Make WordPress Multisite Work For You

If you’re new to Multisite you may feel as though you’ve been tricked… You were told that it makes managing multiple WordPress sites so much more convenient, but now you’re finding new limitations and complexities every day.

Don’t panic.

Here’s what you need to do to get to the other side where you can say “I’ve got this” and finally have multisite working for you.

Check out these seven tips for making Multisite life a little easier:

1. Give Yourself a Crash Course In WordPress Multisite

When you first start your new life as a super admin you’ll find there are many new things to learn about how Multisite changes your dashboard, file structure, as well as theme/plugin settings.

For example, when a plugin is network activated, it will disappear from the dashboard list of plugins on all of your networked sites.

If you’re new to the process this might cause you to think that it’s not active anywhere. However, the plugin is indeed active on all all sites across the network.

It’s not easy to see when you’re surfing one of the sub-sites but it is evident if you visit the network admin.

That’s why you need a crash course in WordPress Multisite, so you can pick up on little subtleties like this.

The good news is, there are plenty of excellent and organized resources available to get you up to speed.

For example:

How to Create a Network: This reference will walk you through the basics of setting up a Multisite network or help you to make sure that yours is set up correctly.

WordPress Multisite Network Administration: This is a WordPress codex resource that provides a basic introduction to user access, permalinks, file upload path, and how plugins and themes work, .htaccess examples, and more.

WordPress Multisite Manual: In this comprehensive manual, beginners at WordPress Multisite will learn about the super admin role and how it relates to other user roles. As well as: how to optimize your WordPress network options, creating WordPress sites using your sign up page, network administration and more.

The Ultimate Guide to WordPress Multisite: In this ultimate guide to Multisite, we show you everything you need to know to get started with Multisite and create your own network of blogs or sites.

Unfortunately, you can’t just download this into your brain. You’ll have to study for a bit, but you’ll get the basics down in no time.

2. Get Spam Under Control

Spam can be a multisite killer
Source: https://whatismyipaddress.com/spam-rules

It’s imperative to have spam control in place before you launch your Multisite network.

Otherwise, spam will rule your life, overtake your inbox and cause your site to slow to a snail’s pace.

Multisite spam is particularly vicious, so you’ll need to call in the cavalry. Akismet Anti-Spam is a great solution for combating multisite spam with one plugin. Download the plugin for free to test out its signup protection features.

3. Make Network Admin More Convenient

You’re going to be spending a lot of time in the WordPress dashboard while administrating your multisite network.

If you start to feel like everything is three to four clicks away, you need to make the dashboard more convenient for yourself.

Here are a few gems that can help:

Multi Site Plugins Add New

A look at the great plugin, multisite plugins add new

This plugin adds an “Add New” sub menu item to the plugins menu on all sites inside of a network for super admin users.

That means that regular users won’t see it, but adding plugins will be quicker for you when you’re working around the network.

Multisite Toolbar Additions

A look at the multisite toolbar editions plugin

Multisite Toolbar Additions is a Multisite plugin that ads handy admin links to your toolbar.

The main features of the plugin are custom navigation menu (which can only be seen by super admins), as well as network-wide plugins and themes, widgets, and content management functionality.

Multisite Enhancements

A look at multisite enhancements the handy WordPress Mutlisite plugin

If you work frequently with WordPress Multisite, you’re going to need more information or menu items.

This plugin enhances the network area for super admins with useful functions.

These functions include: enabling an ‘Add New’ link under the Plugins menu for admins,  and adding several handy items to the multisite ‘Network Admin’ admin bar.

Keep in mind these are just a few time savers for administrating your network.

If you’d like some more, be sure to check out our article: 25 Must-Have Plugins for WordPress Multisite Networks.

4. Create A Solid Development Environment

You need a place where you can build and break things without worrying about destroying your production site.

You’ll also frequently find yourself needing to test plugins for multisite compatibility.

If you are hosting an active publishing community and you make a feature available that hasn’t been tested, you may be in for a flood of bug reports and support requests.

Save time by perfecting new features on your development environment first.

Some time ago we posted 10 Ways Set Up a Testing Environment for WordPress and many of the options in this article have multisite capabilities.

One of those is “DesktopServer,” a product from ServerPress that makes it super easy to create a development environment. It even supports multisite sub-domain and domain mapping. The “BitNami WordPress Stack” is another option.

5. Set Up Regular Automatic Backups Of Your Multisite Network

Backing up your multisite is incredibly important
Source: imgflip

There’s no getting around this one.

One day you’re going to need a solid backup of your multisite network and it had better be there waiting for you or else you’re in trouble.

Not all backup solutions are compatible with multisite, but some of the most popular plugins include: JetPack, Snapshot Pro, and UpdraftPlus.

We also have a great article on backup plugins you can check out, if you’re looking for more options: 11 Free Quality Backup Plugins for Protecting WordPress.

6. Save Time While Managing Multiple WordPress Sites

Many people opt to use multisite because of how much time you can save in managing multiple WordPress sites from one core installation.

There are also plenty of plugins you can use to make managing your network faster and more efficient.

For example you could:

  • Employ User Role Editor to change user roles and capabilities.
  • Try User Switching to quickly swap between user accounts in WordPress Multisite at the click of a button.
  • Add Beehive to your dashboard to view the data for your entire network, as well as individual sites.

There’s no reason to be worried about having all your eggs in one basket when working with Multisite.

As long as you have regular backups in order, it’s all good. Sites are also not set in stone once they are a part of your network.

If you find that you’re not saving time having one core to update, break them apart. You can always import or export sites into and out of the network as requirements change.

7. Automate Your Multisite Network To Make Money

Learn how to make money with multisite

If you really want to make Multisite work for you, one of the best ways is to set it up to create a new stream of income.

One way to do this is to set up a hosting business using Multisite. We break this down in our article: “How to Build a Hosting Business With WordPress Multisite.”

Some other options for making money with Multisite include:

If you really want to make multisite work for you, all you need to do is find your passion and build a community around it.

It takes a little bit of effort to do your homework and get the right tools into place, but the reward is that you’ll become a master of multisite networks, save yourself a ton of time, and possibly even make some money along the way.

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Sarah Gooding
Sarah Gooding Sarah enjoys staying on top of the latest WordPress and BuddyPress news. Get in touch with Sarah on Twitter @pollyplummer.
Rick Crawshaw
Rick Crawshaw Rick is a copywriting and marketing fanatic who calls the beautiful land of New Zealand home (yes, it's as stunning as you've heard). When this kiwi's not making words sing off the page, you'll likely find him stuck down a weird YouTube rabbit hole, or bingeing throwback 90's sitcoms.
Have you unlocked the secret to dominating WP Multisite? Share your tips, tricks, and frustrations in the comments below.