Maintain All Your WordPress Websites From A Central Location

WordPress Central Command CenterWhen you build that first WordPress website, a few weeks later (maybe just a few days later) you learn about updates (plugins, WordPress core, or themes). Oh, that’s easy, just login, update whatever has an update available, and log out.

All good, right?

A few weeks later, you have five WordPress websites. Ten. Twenty. Now, how easy it is to login to all those websites, check for updates, perform the updates, and then log out? Pretty soon, it becomes extremely painful.

So what do you do?

This is why so many WordPress websites are not up to date. It’s just too much of a hassle once you have lots of websites that you need to login to, so most people just don’t bother.

It would be so much easier if we could do this from one place.

One option is to use Infinite WP as Joseph Foley wrote about a few months back. While Joeseph’s description is very straightforward and detailed, after reading through the process, I was exhausted. I determined that it was just too much work. Yes, I’m a bit lazy.

Another option is to use WP Remote – another free service. This one is pretty easy to get started with. Simply sign up for a free account, install the WP Remote plugin from the WordPress repository, copy the API key to the remote websites, and WP Remote should be able to access the information about your websites bringing it into the control panel for you. WP Remote provides the basic information (WP Version, Plugins, and Themes), so if you want to do more remotely, this is probably not the solution for you.

You could subscribe to a service such as ManageWP and pay a monthly cost starting at $6.30. Of course, the more websites you manage, the higher your cost.

An even more expensive option (in my opinion), is InfiniteWP. For $199, you can have all their addons which really make this a powerful suite of multiple WordPress website management tools. But, if you’re like me, that’s a bit of a steep price to pay when there are potentially other options.

Enter The Commander

WordPress Mission ControlCurrently in Beta, CMS Commander is a website that can:

  • Manage all your websites from one location
  • Perform one click plugin updates
  • Perform one click theme updates
  • Plugin installation to any number of websites at the same time
  • Theme installation to any number of websites at the same time
  • Fetch articles from legal sources and post to any number of your websites
  • Post images, videos, or affiliate products to any number of your websites
  • Consolidate your Google Analytics to a single dashboard
  • Schedule and create backups of your WordPress websites

When you sign up for a FREE Beta account, you can add up to 50 WordPress websites into your dashboard that you can manage from this one location. However, if you are like me, and are responsible for more websites, you can increase your limit by performing a few simple tasks.

  • Follow @CMSCommander on Twitter – you will receive an additional 10 websites
  • Tweet about CMSCommander – you will then receive an extra 15 WordPress websites
  • If you will “Like” CMSCommander on Facebook and also write a review of CMS Commander or link to CMS Comander you can increase your limit up to 150 websites

I’ve been working with CMS Commander most of this week in preparation for this article. I must say that it is easy to use, very powerful, and full featured. You can even potentially clone one WordPress website to a new one if your server is configured to allow it. This is the only feature that I was unable to use as my current server is not configured properly to allow the clone and assign proper ownership to the files. But, my new server should not have these issues.

I have been using another solution that is hosted on one of my domains so I have full control over the program. This solution – which is currently not available while the developer is enhancing the features – is WP Internet Management Center. I have been using this for about a year and it has saved me so much time that the initial cost for it is negligible. But, if I did not have this already, I would make CMS Commander my solution of choice – partly because of it’s features and partly because of its cost.

Managing a few WordPress websites is a pretty simple process because it doesn’t take too much work to login and update the WordPress core, themes, and plugins. But, when you add a few more websites, it begins to get harder. When you are managing tens of WordPress websites, or even hundreds of websites, it can quickly become a painful process occupying more time than you can afford. By using a centralized dashboard, you can greatly reduce the time spent logging in and taking care of these updates.

Do you use some other type of centralized WordPress management system? If so, please share your solution in the comments so others can learn from your experience.

If you have any experience with any of these mentioned, we’d love to hear about those experienced – good or bad. Be sure to post them here in the comments section so everyone can benefit from that experience.

Photo Credits:
scanlime via photo pin cc
MCA / Mike Allyn via photo pin cc

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19 Responses

    Mike McLin

    I’ve used both ManageWP and InfiniteWP and liked them both.

    I eventually decided on InfiniteWP because the core features were free.

    Another benefit of these systems is that it keeps your WordPress site server environments in sync. I can update my development (local), testing (remote) and production (remote) environments all at once.

      orhideja

      Goodday Mike.

      I appreciate your comments here and thanks for reading the article.

      I hadn’t even considered the implications of syncing your server environments as I don’t develop locally. I actually have a dozen or so sandbox websites set up on some domains that I’m cybersquatting on so I’ve never developed on a local machine. But, it could really help you out on that as well.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting. Looking forward to hearing more from you.

    Joe Hana

    You’re realy missing some important points here: You simply won’t control 50+ personal websites which don’t lets you earn money. Most probably you’ll earn money with your managed sites anyway – so I think it should not depend either if a service in this section is free or cost. Another important point is the data portability – and if a company is trustworthy or not. WPRemote for example could close ANYTIME and you’re lost – whily InfiniteWP is installed on your own server – which means you can run it FOREVER. Even if the company behind InfiniteWP stops developing its software you can still use it. As Mike said above – the core features are free – so you’ll be ok with them. Additional features are most likely interesting for business – but paying for them won’t hurt.

    I manage about 30 wordpress sites with InfiniteWP – update all of them with a single click and feel pretty save. I can only recommend this tool.

      orhideja

      Goodday Joe and thanks for your comments.

      I don’t disagree with your logic here at all. In fact, it’s similar to what I discuss when I talk about hosting. I know people that want to run their “money” websites on the $3 a month hosting. Why? “Because it’s cheap.” For my business and my clients business, I don’t use “cheapie” hosting. We pay good money for a server with a Dedicated Server Guard installed that keeps crackers at bay.

      However, I see people running hundreds of websites that will not buy a $10 plugin – but instead will spend days searching for a free solution. So, for those people, the free solutions really appeal to them.

      If you’ll notice, I mentioned at the end of the article that I use a self hosted solution that I purchased. Why? Because I like the control of having it on my own installation. I manage about 93 websites as of writing this comment and have two more coming on later this week. My system does not have a backup or clone solution – I have several separate solutions to accomplish that process depending upon where the websites are hosted. However, the CMS Commander that I mentioned here has that capability built in – that’s a real value that I’ve not see elsewhere. Do any of the other solutions out there offer this for free? I haven’t seen it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

      Regardless, use what you like, what is comfortable for you, and what you are confident with. I find that all of us are passionate advocates of what we use and we are rarely swung elsewhere. But, if someone is not currently using a central control center, CMS Commander should be one that you take a look at. A year ago, it was difficult to find anything like this and now it seems like there are multiple options available. I’m actually very happy to see that because a few years back, it seemed there was only one game in town.

      Keep reading and commenting here. Your comments added to the lively discussion we’re having here.

    Mike Smith

    Maybe I’m missing something here from this article, but WordPress has multisite functionality built in. In conjunction with the domain mapping plugin (free, btw), you can map domain names to any of your sites. This is how we manage all of our sites and it works great.

    I understand that this article speaks more about a service that allows any CMS to be managed centrally, but I just find it interesting that it wasn’t brought up at all in this article, especially since it allows for one-click plugin and theme updates as well…

      orhideja

      Goodday Mike and thanks for commenting.

      You are correct. WordPress does have multisite functionality – although it has to be activated via some code changes and such. However, it will not work in my situation because many of my websites are for my clients. They are all highly customized and require different plugins on each of them. Plus, I believe that my clients would really have issues with their website data being in the same database and WordPress installation as other businesses – some of which are their competition.

      I do run several WordPress MultiSite websites for clients, but all the data in those installations are their own. Even on those, I still use my central dashboard solution to manage the installations.

      If you are running all websites that belong to you, then you are correct, MultiSite may be perfect for you. However, I have also seen plugins (and themes) that are not friendly in a MultiSite environment. That’s why I really like the plugins that are at WPMUDev – they are all maintained and compatible with the latest version of WordPress as well as MultiSite compatible.

    Lane Lester

    i also feel you gave short shrift to InfitieWP. I manage 25 sites with the free optios and greatly appreciate the updating of plugins, themes, and WP itself. Support is also very good.

      orhideja

      Goodday Lane and thanks for commenting.

      By no means did I intend to give short shrift to InfiniteWP. Since Joe had written a pretty good article about it within the past few months, I didn’t see a need to restate all that he had – so I just referenced the article that he wrote when talking about it.

      But, I did read his article and realized that there was more work to getting InfiiniteWP going than there is with the solution that I use. If you read a few of my other articles, you’ll soon learn that I don’t really want to work hard if there’s an easier way. Call it lazy or whatever – it frustrated my Dad too when we were working on the farm. I would spend more time finding an easy way to do it than it took to do the job. But, once I had the easy way figured out, it took a whole lot less time from then on.

      Same here. The easy way is the way that I will look for every time. And I’ll spend a lot of time going through different methods until I find it.

      Nothing wrong with InfiniteWP by any means – it’s just not for me.

    CMS Commander

    Thanks for your nice article James (I am the creator of CMS Commander). As you pointed out in your previous comments already it is a good thing that there are several products for remote site management on the market now, all of which with a different focus that should appeal to different people.

    The things that set CMS Commander apart is support for CMS like Drupal next to WordPress (although WP has the most features currently since my background is in WP plugins) and besides having all the core features like plugin updates and automatic backups it can also help you with publishing content and monetizing your sites (e.g. by searching for related affiliate ads, inserting related images and more from over 20 sources).

    Feel free to ask me any questions here, I will check back to answer.

    taneya_koonce

    To the creator of CMS Commander – can you share at this point when you will go to a pay service? I use ManageWP and they too were free at first, during the Beta period. I am hesitant to switch to another free service that will eventually charge. Perhaps you’ll have some core functionality that will always remain free?

      CMS Commander

      Hi Taneya,

      the launch of CMS Commander is only about one to two months away.

      There will remain a free account option for up to 5 websites. Other than with ManageWP free accounts will also be able to use all features of CMS Commander, including automatic backups and so on too.

        orhideja

        Goodday CMS Commander.

        After the “conversation” that Donnacha and I have been having, I have to ask for a little clarification here.

        1) Are you saying that Beta users will only have the ability to manage 5 websites once you launch?
        2) If the answer to #1 is yes, are you considering an “extra special pricing” model for your Beta testers?
        3) Do you have any idea on your pricing model that you would be willing to share – even if it’s preliminary?

        I’d suggest that you read the conversation that we’ve been having here as well. After you post your answers to these questions, I may have additional questions or additional comments. But, I’ll await your responses.

    Donnacha Mac Gloinn

    James, you are seriously missing the point of InfiniteWP, it is the most important WordPress-related product in years and you do your readers a serious disservice in not taking the time to understand it before you so dismissively write it off.

    InfiniteWP is a breeze to set up, the author of the article you linked to simply chose an unnecessarily complicated route, as was noted in the comments. Doing it the normal, recommended way, it is pretty much the same as installing WordPress but with less details to enter. Saying that you were too lazy to install InfiniteWP is like saying that you are too lazy to drive to the airport and decided, instead, to swim to Australia.

    The free version gives you all you need to greatly simplify the management of an unlimited number of sites: one place to login to all your sites, one-click updates of plugins, themes and WordPress itself, one-click backups and restoration from backups, and bulk installation, activation and deactivation of plugins and themes. It is important to stress that, unlike most “freemium” products, the free version of InfiniteWP gives you enough functionality to save you time every day and completely change the way you work with WordPress.

    For people managing just a handful of sites, the free version is more than enough and, as Joe Hanna pointed out above, they give you the code, unlike a hosted service where you have to worry about investing your time into something that might not be around in a few months – I’ve met the WP Remote guys, they are nice people but even they aren’t exactly sure what they’re going to do with it, they certainly don’t see it as their core business, not even remotely.

    You also misunderstand the pricing of InfiniteWP’s premium add-ons. If you do happen to need an advanced feature such as one-click installation and cloning – and, let’s face it, that is a very specific feature that would only really be needed by someone who makes a LOT of sites with WordPress – well, you can buy an add-on that gives you that functionality, for an unlimited number of sites, for $99 per year. On a hosted service such as ManageWP that advanced feature is only available at their Professional level, so, that would cost you $129.60 per year for just 5 sites, $226.80 for 10 sites etc.

    Likewise, being able to apply your own branding to the plugin you install on each managed website – and, again, this is something you would only be interested in if you have a lot of clients – would mean having to upgrade to the even more expensive Business level on ManageWP, costing $259.20 per year for just 5 sites, $453.60 for 10 sites etc … OR you can buy a $99 InfiniteWP add-on and use it for an unlimited number of sites.

    Their $199 launch offer, which ends on the 30th, is mind-blowing value IF you need any of the advanced features provided by the premium add-ons. You describe that offer as “a bit of a steep price to pay when there are potentially other options” – seriously, what are these other options?

    They are offering you LIFETIME access to all 6 of their current add-ons (which I consider to be great value even at their normal prices of between $49 and $99 each per year, $434 per year in total), all 3 of their upcoming add-ons (worth $167 per year in total) and LIFETIME access to all of their future add-ons, for as long as they keep making them. No monthly subscription, no future price increases, you hop onboard with one payment of $199 and you have got something you can base your business upon for years to come, no matter how many websites you end up managing.

    How, exactly, is that “a bit steep”? Running just 5 websites on ManageWP at Standard level costs $4 per month, $9 per month at Professional level (the minimum level if you want to include scheduled backups, cloning and user management) and $24 per month at Business level (the minimum level for client plugin branding). Think about that. Only 5 sites. Per Month. As your business grows, your subscription costs will keep climbing up and up.

    I should note that ManageWP is an excellent service and their most expensive level, Business, has features that InfiniteWP does not yet offer – in fact, InfiniteWP probably won’t ever have some of their Business level features such as SEO Analysis and uptime monitoring but, unfortunately, ManageWP’s pricing just didn’t work for a business like mine. Luckily, however, the main point, the killer feature has always been the ability to manage multiple installations of WordPress and even the free version of InfiniteWP gives you that … with NO limit on the number of websites.

    If anything, InfiniteWP’s ability to run locally gives it the edge over ManageWP. That unique ability gives you the convenience of simultaneously managing local and remote installations of WordPress. It also gives you the ability to only turn it on as and when you need it, a security edge that hosted services cannot compete with: at the most basic level, using a hosted management service means both having to trust other people with access to your websites and, also, having that potential gateway to the backend of your websites sitting there, 24/7, as a target for hackers.

    In my opinion, ManageWP are trustworthy guys and their service is as secure as any hosted service can be – but it is impossible to argue that is not better to simply avoid having to trust anyone else and to avoid having depend on someone else’s ongoing ability to keep hackers out. The math is obvious.

    So, James, I seriously urge you to look again. I have no connection with InfiniteWP but I do care about WordPress, I want to see it become easier and cheap for people to share their thoughts and ideas online. A tool like this is going to create a whole new wave of WordPress entrepreneurs offering comprehensive management services alongside hosting, design or whatever other services they dream up, and that is good for everyone, especially the end-users.

    Gravity Forms had a similar launch offer a couple of years ago and, I’ll admit, I did hesitate before spending the “steep” $150 for a lifetime Developer license but my reward for that early support is that I now save $199 every year on something that every serious WordPress developer needs in his tool belt anyway. InfiniteWP, right now, is exactly the same situation, but you are telling your readers that it is not worth it and, sadly, many of them are going to miss out on something important because they take your word for it. That is just plain wrong.

      orhideja

      Goodday Donnacha.

      Consider me properly scolded.

      You are correct, I did misunderstand the pricing on the InfiniteWP package – I was under the impression that it was $199 per year for the items they had listed. Also, I did not explore InfiniteWP deeper because my colleague had recently written here on WPMU.org about it. $199 for a lifetime – that does sound like a great deal and if I were in the market for something like this, I would be very tempted to take them up on it. However, I am also the proud owner of some “Lifetime” products that come from companies that are no longer in business so the tools I have are of no value because WordPress has left them behind.

      Like you have pointed out (and several other commenters), I prefer systems that I host on our servers and not something that others host on their servers. I have purposely avoided certain tools for use on Facebook because the developers will not release their code and want to host them on their servers. If they chose to stop hosting them, and you’ve done client work based on those items, then you are suddenly scrambling to find alternatives. Because of that, I agree, I would not pay for a system hosted by someone else – more than likely.

      I had four purposes in writing with a primary focus on CMS Commander in this article:
      1) Investigate and review a new tool that has come on the WordPress scene (you might be surprised how many tools I investigate and NEVER review).
      2) Share something that I had found (purely by accident – I wasn’t even looking for it) and thought it would be useful to someone that is looking for something like this and either doesn’t have the money to purchase a system or just doesn’t want to purchase a system.
      3) Explore some capabilities that CMS Commander has that I had not seen elsewhere.
      4) Engage our readers in some conversation about tools that they are passionate about – and I believe I have definitely accomplished this.

      In all seriousness, we are all passionate about the tools that we use, like, and trust in our business. If you will note in my article, I already use something like this that I host on my own server. It is very powerful and does most of the things that all the others do – and the developer is actively supporting it. It was a breeze to install and setup and I’ve even Beta tested several versions as he’s developed it further. It is my mainstay product and I will continue to use it until it no longer works. Even with self hosted tools, a developer can choose to no longer upgrade or support them and we run the same risks. (Just take a look around the WordPress repository for numerous examples).

      It appears as though you and a few others are using and are comfortable with InfiniteWP and that’s good. I use another tool that I’m very happy with and have developed a relationship with the developer and that’s good. But, for someone like the gentleman I had lunch with just last week that has built over 3,000 WordPress product review websites (he, his wife, and their five children are churning them out), he is unable to fork over even the $199 for the lifetime package of Infinite WP, so he’s looking for an affordable solution. Of course, I didn’t have one for him until you posted that InfiniteWP is free for Unlimited websites. I just might revisit it for his application to see if it is as easy as you describe.

      BTW, your analogy was a bit off. My “laziness” is not like saying that I’m too lazy to drive to the airport to fly to Australia, so I’ll just swim there. I’m lazy – not stupid. I look for the easy and simple methods to do whatever I do. Now, that “easy and simple” is whatever is easy and simple for me and may or may not be the same thing for everyone else. The system I use required that I install a plugin on my WordPress website that I will use to access all the other websites, install a corresponding plugin on each website I wish to access and control, copy and paste an API key from one to the other, and I was good to go. I could do this or get one of my people to do it.

      For me, that met my criteria – easy and simple. For others it may not – or that may not even be their criteria. Regardless, it works for me and that’s what I use.

      Please don’t misunderstand my passion for anything but passion. I love WordPress and want to see it developed further. I despise when a developer rushes a plugin to market, then after he’s sold a ton of them realizes that he is in over his head, and just withers away leaving all those buyers with either an incomplete product or a non-functioning product. That hurts the entire community. However, when something works, I like to see it grow. Plus I like to see multiple options for people to take advantage of because that causes all others to step up their game.

      I really do appreciate you commenting here. Your comment is probably the longest comment that I’ve ever seen on WPMU or anywhere else. I can see the passion that you have for WordPress and the community. It shows in every word, sentence, and paragraph that you wrote. Without a doubt, I have never taken that much time to write a comment – that I can remember. Regardless, you did exactly what I wanted to see here – you presented a strong case for a tool that you use and trust and even compared/contrasted another tool that you do not use. Very outstanding comment – could stand alone as a post itself.

      Oh, you make me jealous about Gravity Forms. I did not discover them until a few weeks after their Lifetime Deal was no longer an option. At the time, I wasn’t so jaded about Lifetime and probably would have taken advantage of it. But, I didn’t even know Gravity Forms existed. But, since I’ve discovered them, I LOVE, LOVE Gravity Forms.

      Wow, I guess I wrote almost as much as you did – sorry to write so much, but I hope between your comment and my reply that others find it useful.

    Donnacha Mac Gloinn

    James, thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed response.

    Just to be clear, I wasn’t chiding you for being lazy, I was chiding you for not correctly identifying the laziest route – our primary job as coders is to work out the easiest ways to get things done, inspired laziness, and you cannot imagine the thrill I still get when I update all my sites, all my friends’ sites and all my client sites with a single press of a button, saving me an hour of boring, repetitive work right there – honestly, it adds more buzz to my morning start than my coffee.

    I did realize that the main purpose of your article was to review CMS Commander, I just thought it was unnecessary to start with a pseudo-review of some other options before getting to the real meat. I do think that CMS Commander is interesting but I’m not convinced; the vast majority of my sites are WordPress but I do have a few dozen Joomla installations, so, in theory it would be nice to update everything from one dashboard … but … lack of focus kills software and I can’t help but feel that a WordPress-specific app or service is going to do a better job and cope better with unexpected WordPress problems than one that spreads its focus, particularly to far more problematic software such as Joomla and Drupal. My prediction is that the weight of Joomla and Drupal support will drain too much energy from CMS Commander although, obviously, I hope that I am wrong about that.

    I am quite reserved about most products, I certainly don’t sign up to “special” deals without really thinking it through and I only ever publicly enthuse about deals and products that I think are really important. Gravity Forms is certainly an example of a must-have tool and I believe that their tactic, of building early momentum among the WordPress hardcore by offering a spectacularly good deal on lifetime Developer memberships, was ingenious and clearly worked, permanently entrenching them as THE plugin for forms. One of the puzzles of the commercial WordPress world is how incredibly bad most companies are at pricing and understanding the value of early momentum, of building up a loyal core of early evangelists – I presumed that, after Gravity Forms, everyone would copy that tactic but, no, no-one seems to have noticed how cleverly Gravity Forms played it.

    As it happens, ManageWP is a perfect example of pricing fail. Vladimir has chided me for saying this in the past, pointing out that pricing is hard, really hard and, obviously, I accept that it must be supremely stressful to see money flowing out a company before you really have any idea of what the potential market it. Even so, I would say that MWP failed to recognize the valuable asset that they, as an innovative and exciting new company, had built up during their beta period: their community of early adopters.

    Seriously, it was like a religion, we were all so excited about the potential and, in particular, a lot of us recognized the most important change in WordPress usage over the past two years has been the shift from “normal” WordPress sites to lots of really small, far more niche sites that, individually, get a lot less traffic / earn a lot less money but, cumulatively, are more effective. We saw MWP as the tool that would finally make running such networks more practical and, it was clear to us, would open the door to a fundamental change in how mainstream users perceived the idea of their online presence; we had already seen a dispersal towards multiple “points of presence” – Twitter, Facebook etc – but the obvious next step would be individual companies realizing that they also wanted five smaller, more focused websites rather than one monolithic one.

    Your friends, the family with 3000 websites are a perfect example of this trend – the realities of Google mean that, instead of creating a review site about, say, Cincinnati generally, it is much more affective to create 50 websites, each reviewing a different aspect of the city: bicycle shops in Cincinnati, plumbers in Cincinnati, Pizza in Cincinnati, dumb things that Cincinnati politicians say etc. I understand that, to people accustomed to the monolithic approach to websites, this may seem a tad spammy but, actually, given that we are already awash with so many irrelevant websites, a sudden downward shift in granularity by legitimate websites would be a very good thing, continuing the Internet’s beneficial trend of surfacing ever smaller niches. I actually see it as being anti-spam, because good content gets to push out the automated, spun content.

    The originally suggested pricing for MWP seemed poised to usher in this new age but, at the last minute, before coming out of beta, MWP got scared, listened to the wrong people and decided, possibly on the basis of their most enthusiastic fans yelling “You’re so awesome, you should charge TEN times more!!!”, that it would be a lot safer to step into the Vaultpress slipstream and target the high-end. I think that this was a dumb, dumb, dumb mistake … BUT … of course, it was their product, their hard work, their decision to make.

    My regret about the whole thing is that they failed to recognize the value of the beta community they had built up and who, obviously, ended up feeling burnt by the sudden change in pricing – the same people I had met in conferences before the change, the people who had been so evangelistic about ManageWP, I would meet them in later conferences and they would just shrug their shoulders and say “We got played”. Nobody got nasty about it but people were definitely disappointed; a few of the main participants in the MWP forums voiced that disappointment but the vast majority just disappeared, moved on to other things.

    It was a damn waste, completely unnecessary and totally predictable. ManageWP could have kept ALL of those early users and turned them into their most vocal supporters by copying the Gravity Forms strategy = give your earliest users a reward and get the most engaged WordPress users onboard too, and turn them all into your unpaid evangelists for the next ten years, by running a ridiculously good deal at the start. MWP did the exact opposite = suggest a certain price and then reveal, at the last minute, that the level at which that price applies includes pretty much none of the features that matter.

    If MWP had taken a gamble and played it smarter, I am absolutely convinced that InfiniteWP, Worpit, WP Remote and any other competitors WOULD NOT EXIST TODAY – ManageWP would have locked-in the early users and could then have ramped up their prices for the late-comers, just as Gravity Forms did. Instead, by creating the sense that they had been less than honest with their earliest users, they released, into the wild, the idea that something better should exist. By setting their prices so high, they exposed their underbelly and, once they had established a base of users paying a certain amount, they lost the ability to compete against newcomers on price. The rich pricing space they left underneath has attracted competitors and, I guarantee you, you will see many, many more emerge over the next year, all biting at MWP’s ankles.

    MWP, unable to lower prices for fear of cannibalizing their existing users, have now been forced into the trap of pouring money into advertising and, in the most brutal sense, this has been effective: the major WordPress news sites have conveniently avoided any mention of InfiniteWP, despite it being the best WordPress product in years, because they cannot afford to lose MWP as an advertiser. It is pretty sad stuff, but this cannot last, word gets around, people aren’t stupid, discredited news sites will lose their influence and, ultimately, no amount of advertising will stop your current customers eventually finding out that they are paying too much.

    Anyway, that is why I bothered to write a comment in the first place, because people need to know that InfiniteWP have a stunningly useful product and, hallelujah, they have adopted the Gravity Forms strategy of offering a ridiculous good launch offer. Just like Gravity Forms, you will hear people moaning, for years to come, that they missed out on the original offer because they heard about it too late. Seriously, I advise all of you to take the time to understand what InfiniteWP, even just the free version, could enable you to do – the InfiniteWP guys have absolutely no clue about marketing but they have made an amazing product and we should be encouraging companies that want to get their work out into the world at a reasonable price.

      orhideja

      Goodday Donnacha.

      You and I have sparked more conversation that I’ve seen here in quite some time. BTW, I didn’t take offense – I think I said that before, but even if I did, let me state it again – I was not offended. I only said consider me “properly scolded” because you were correct. Maybe I should have given more of a review of the others or just not mentioned them. My purpose in mentioning them was to say that there are other options – not to raise them up or put them down – although I may have unintentionally done so. I don’t have an axe to grind with any of these – or others.

      I’ve BETA tested software almost my entire adult life. Sometimes people ask me why I do it. There are several reasons, but one is that I like being on the forefront of technology and software. By Beta testing, I can get things before others do. Call it pride or bragging rights or whatever, but I just enjoy that. Secondly, I like having a part in shaping the future of things that are relevant to my work and things that I’m passionate about. I don’t have to have the byline or the accolades of having a part in it – I just like being involved. And the third reason is very much a self serving reason. When I Beta test, I get the software for FREE. Well, usually. And I usually get the updates because I get to Beta test them and help debug and shape them.

      I love woodworking and used to do that for a full time income. I was a tool tester for a major tool company – still am actually. I received a call a few years back from my rep with the company and he asked me to come to the distribution center and bring either my truck or my trailer. When I left, I had my truck overfilled with tools for me to test and report on. The tools were mine to keep and the only way they would ask for them back was if there was a serious safety issue or they were going to replace them with a newer tool (analogous to a software upgrade). Today, over five years later, I have a table saw that has never been marketed anywhere because mine is slightly different in a lot of ways. But, I sent them a 30 page review complete with photos and drawings of things that I liked, disliked, and improvements that could be made. How was I rewarded? Oh, I’ve accumulated additional table saws, miter saws, tile saws, drills, air tools, and tons of other tools. Plus, when I go to buy a tool, what is the first name I think of? Yep, the name that is on those tools. If I’m looking for a tool that I can’t find from their company, I call my rep and ask if they make such a tool. We have a wonderful relationship and I tell every woodworker I meet about the great value of their tools.

      When I used to teach business development courses to business owners, one of the courses I taught was about creating raving fans in your customers. Some business owners “got it” and others just didn’t understand. Raving fans can be your best, most effective, and least costly advertising channel. However, if you’ve betrayed a customer’s trust, then they are no longer an advocate and if they’re like me, they can be a very vocal non-advocate. I talk – a lot. I write even more (as can be seen here). Treat me right (as a customer or as a Beta tester) and I’ll become your greatest supporter. I can see that Infinite WP has done that with you. Treat me wrong (or someone else wrong), and I’ll become your worst PR story – as I can see you and many others are about ManageWP.

      As long as InfiniteWP continues to treat their Beta testers and free customers as they apparently have, they should have people that come to their defense (as you did here) when they feel that someone is not giving them a fair shake. BTW, your passion has inspired me to personally review Infinite WP even if I don’t write about it here.

      But, if any company does what you have stated ManageWP did, and betrays their Beta testers, then there will be a ton of “me too” people that will make it their personal mission to trash them at every opportunity. That is not a business model that can sustain for very long and will more than likely result in either limited growth for that company or potentially even their eventual demise. It’s a shame when companies become short sighted – or even worse are run by the accountants rather than by the experience of real people. I’ve seen successful companies that start running strictly by the books (the financial books) and remove the human element. Eventually, they either have to abandon that business model OR they eventually close. Not a sustainable business model.

      Thanks for such a lively discussion here. I have really enjoyed it and look forward to your next comment. I will definitely remember you as long as you post using the same name. The developers of CMS Commander could do themselves a positive by reading our discussion and taking it to heart so they do not repeat the mistakes of ManageWP. I would love to see their platform sustain because I am a strong proponent that competition breeds success. If there’s only “one game in town” then there’s no need to innovate. Having a competitor creates innovation and improvement.

    James Mowery

    Hello everyone,

    I’m James Mowery, CEO of ManageWP America.

    I have a couple of points I wanted to make, but I would first like to say that it’s fascinating to see that there is such a great spur of competition and activity within the WordPress management arena — more competition equals more opportunity to innovate. It’s healthy, and it’s a sign of progress. We here at ManageWP love this. We thrive on the competition — we see it as an opportunity to make ourselves even better. After all, there’s plenty of opportunity in the WordPress arena, so we don’t feel that we need to step on anyone’s toes in order to be successful. Success is meant to be shared!

    However, there are some concerns that I want to address, starting with this article. I don’t particularly agree that ManageWP was given a two-sentence mention in this article. Yet I do want to point out that we respect and love the writers at WPMU. We love the work you guys do. We have worked with several of the writers at WPMU, and we wholeheartedly respect their opinions.

    However, this article didn’t feel right to me, nor does it justify the work we have done and the opportunities that we have created for our competitors.

    I want to point out that we were the first to market successfully with this idea. Vladimir Prelovac, our incredible founder and brains behind the operation, and the person who has created an incredible suite of WordPress plugins, has given so much to the WordPress community. He’s been personally invited to attend the WordPress Community Summit to participate and help the WordPress community thrive. He has written a published book called WordPress Plugin Development to help aspiring WordPress developers. He has given so much to the WordPress community. We here at ManageWP look up to him, and it’s a pleasure to work along side him. He’s truly someone that WordPress developers should, in my opinion, look up to. Along with our dedicated team, you won’t find a bunch that is more passionate and more driven to do things right.

    ManageWP has been built by a core of WordPress enthusiasts; we love the WordPress community and will continue to support it with the likes of WordCamps and other WordPress related events. We will invest in WordPress companies, because they will keep the community thriving. And we will welcome competition, because if we didn’t have competition, then there wouldn’t really be a worthwhile product/service to take to market.

    But I also want to point out that ManageWP has a team of nearly 20 people — and that might turn into 30 people soon enough! — around the world helping to build, support, and maintain the ManageWP service that focuses on providing the highest quality of security, service, and functionality to marketers, web developers, web designers, universities, governments, high-end enterprises, WordPress enthusiasts, hobbyists, and everyday people. That’s full-time employees, and that’s a lot of customers. We have nearly 40,000 customers, and we will eventually be powering over 200,000 WordPress sites, with hopefully many more after that.

    And let me tell everyone something that they really need to understand: QUALITY people power is not by any means of the imagination cheap — it’s something that has to be invested in for the long term, because without great people, a great service can’t sustain itself in the long term.

    Furthermore, the cost of providing premium level support and rapid solutions to our valued customers is not by any means easy. It requires significant amounts of effort to accomplish this. It requires support systems that we have developed ourselves. It requires hiring the right people to provide this level of personalized support, so that you don’t have to go through Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 Tech support, escalations, and all that other BS that you normally get and expect with typical support operations. Once a premium service reaches a tipping point, if there is not a reliable and recurring source of revenue to fund an experienced and dedicated support team, things will eventually go horribly wrong. We’ve all seen this happen, and we’ve all experienced horrible support.

    We here at ManageWP have taken the necessary steps to provide the highest level of support because of one very important reason: we are determined to provide our customers the highest levels of care that we can.

    Of course, we here at ManageWP could have gone an entirely different route — a route that is fairly common in business today, and a route that, personally, disheartens me. We could let go most of our hard working and dedicated staff to save money and optimize profits. We could skimp on paying for high quality servers, services and tools, because who really sees that stuff anyways? We could have decided to not give a damn about security, and just put any random code out in the wild. We could have opted to go with the default WordPress XML-RPC instead of producing our own OAuth encryption that goes above and beyond what WordPress offers. We could have not invested in sponsoring WordCamps, which helps local communities thrive and grow their WordPress awareness and influence. We could have skipped in creating new and innovative features for our platform, to allow it to stagnate until it was unbearable while going to the bank. We could have milked this project for every last nickel and dime possible, and then simply pick up and moved on to the next best thing.

    But it doesn’t stop there, as we could have done even worse….

    We could have not bothered with investing in extraordinarily talented American and European employees. We could have decided to not setup shop in the States, in Virginia, to better serve our fellow American customers. We could have opted in outsourcing our work to places that you couldn’t pronounce or point out on a map for rock-bottom prices while quickly throwing together code instead of getting an office staffed with full-time employees in the heart of Belgrade in Europe. We could have produced the cheapest quality product possible, and we could have sold it for a massive premium when we first started — a tried and true cash grab operation.

    We could have been all those things. And to be honest, if you’re a business that wants to go for gold without even running the race, then these are the type of things that are done in the business world. We’re not saying this tactic is wrong — we’re just saying that this isn’t the business model for us.

    We decided that we wanted to be different, to be better, to be a proper business that takes care of our customers for the long term. And for our customers who have proper business needs and understand the value in these things, and for our customers who see value and are willing to pay to optimize their businesses, they happily support us. And for that, we are grateful. Because we happily support them.

    We decided that we want to do things the right way. We are providing the highest levels of support possible, and we are expanding our support operations. We have been investing in high-quality and secure technology. We have hired a full-time security expert to ensure that ManageWP’s servers are safe. We have a full-time design team. We have a full-time development team. We have a full-time support team. We have a full-time blogging team working on providing WordPress coverage. We are building a sales team to help address the needs of individuals. We’re expanding our reach to multiple platforms. We’re enabling our customers to make money. We’ve even been written about in .net magazine! And that’s only the beginning — we have so much more in store that I simply can’t wait for us to reveal to the world.

    Most importantly, we decided to invest an incredible chunk of our revenues into people to help us produce, design, develop, maintain, support, and expand the highest quality product in the marketplace.

    We are investing in the future of our company, so that when WordPress makes some drastic changes in the future, you can be sure that ManageWP will adapt and work with those changes to continue providing you the service that you demand from a product that you invest in.

    Again, all these things that we are accomplishing have costs associated with them. It’s not only a number in a spreadsheet. It’s a serious business that we are running, and business, for us, is primarily about the people and experiences, not only the money. And when we can provide people with jobs to help contribute to the WordPress community, we have done something incredible. We value that, and we’re proud to provide that. We will continue doing this. And because we do this, we have the ability to invest in the WordPress community itself with an incredible platform to manage WordPress blogs of any number. Furthermore, if we have an opportunity to sponsor a WordPress event or pay for advertising on a WordPress-focused blog, publication, or newsletter, which directly helps those people behind the events and publications to continue to make a living, then we can’t help but feel great about that. We hope that others can appreciate that as well.

    But, again, few people write about or realize these things, which is very unfortunate.

    I know that I personally and that Team ManageWP feels that the path that we are taking is, in our hearts, the right one to take. It’s the path that results in happy people, happy employees, and happy experiences for our customers. We want people to be able to accomplish what they set out to do in the business world, even if it isn’t necessarily with us.

    So for those of you that care about these things and truly value your business and hope to make it grow, we completely understand. We know that feeling, we love that spirit, and we hope and are willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that you have an incredible experience with ManageWP. We invite you to try us out. We invite you to email us, communicate with us, and express your thoughts and opinions, good or bad. And we welcome all suggestions, because it’s our customers who are driving our development and our future. (We also have been giving away some amazing goodies to those who suggest great ideas for us!) :) And if you need something, please let us know!

    And I invite you to get to know us on a more personal leve: http://managewp.com/about

    Finally, I invite all of you to try out ManageWP. I encourage you to get in contact with me personally or any of Team ManageWP if you would like to discuss our service or your needs, because we are here to serve you. We will do whatever we can to meet your needs. Send me an email at [email protected] or to our support team at [email protected]. Or visit the Contact Us page on ManageWP.com for more personal ways to get in touch.

    And, once again, thanks to the WordPress community for supporting us. We will continue to support the WordPress community in any ways that we can (and if you have suggestions for that, please email us as well!)

    Best regards,
    James Mowery
    CEO, ManageWP America

      orhideja

      Goodday James.

      First, let me say that I learned more about your company from your post than I did in the time that I spent on your website and I truly appreciate you coming here to wpmu.org. I also appreciate you taking the time to write such a lengthy comment. You comment shows the passion that you possess and I’m sure so many of your team members possess as well. It’s refreshing to see some of the things that you posted here and I’m glad to have “met” you here.

      Second, let me say that it was not my intention (as I think I have stated before, but maybe not very clearly), to run your business down in any way. Some time ago, I stumbled upon a WP Management platform, was researching it with the intent of purchasing it, and they went out of business. I searched for quite some time trying to find another WordPress central management platform and found nothing. There may have been some out there – maybe even ManageWP – but I was unsuccessful in finding them.

      Meanwhile, I kept adding WordPress websites to my ever growing accounts. To keep them updated, I had to log in to each of them. Finally, almost a year ago, a WordPress developer offered his new WP Management Console and I immediately grabbed it because I could self host it and it was something I was looking for. I have been using it ever since – and still do to this day.

      Very recently, I stumbled upon CMS Commander which was in Beta and was offering some really unique features in their system. So I decided to write about the “new kid on the block”. But, I also wanted to make mention of some of the existing alternatives.

      Additionally, although I invest $1,000’s each year into WordPress plugins and tools, I find that I am the exception in many circles. It seems that many WordPress users confuse Open Source with FREE (oh, I’m probably going to get blasted for that comment); therefore, I find that many that I communicate with regularly bristle at paying for anything dealing with WordPress. Because of that, I’ve tried to make sure that I can find some FREE tools to write about. Sometimes, I extol the virtues of those free tools, while other times I don’t have such wonderful things to say about them – so generally, I don’t write about those.

      So, bottom line is that I had found a FREE tool that I thought many members of wpmu.org would like to know about and decided to expose them to it. WOW!!! Was I ever surprised. I have learned that there are a number of wpmu.org members that – like me – don’t mind paying for good WordPress tools.

      Once again, I had no axe to grind with any of the tools that I made quick comments about – I only wanted to show a few of the other alternatives available and then highlight a new, free (for now) potentially valuable tool that some users may wish to take advantage of. Even though that FREE tool is available, and I have a 150 website account in it, I am still using my system that I purchased previously.

      James, I apologize that I offended you in any way and that you feel shorted by my two sentences. I will take you up on your offer to contact you, so expect an email from me.

      And once again, thanks for reading and commenting. With each comment this thread becomes a more valuable resource for future readers.

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