One theme, multiple domains

I'm new to this forum and the plug-ins, so please forgive me if this has been asked before.

I have been creating a theme for two months now which I had planned to license to clients by offering them hosting service with the use of the theme while they hosted with me. Really, the idea is for them to use the theme as their website and have email through the domain name. I had planned to manually create a domain for each client, install WP, install the custom theme and custom plug-ins I have created, etc.

The customer needs to be able to own their own domain name ( which shows my theme, enter their own content easily like WP does, and create email accounts, receive and send emails from the domain.

1. Can I create a wordpress MU site that does that? Do I just need to upgrade my existing, test site to multi-user and then add the domain-mapping plug-in?
2. Should the multi-db plug-in be installed from the get-go?
3. What about the multi-domains plug-in - when should that be used?



  • Mason
    • DEV MAN’s Sidekick

    Hiya Andrew,

    First up, welcome to WPMU DEV!

    From reading your questions it sounds like you're in exactly the right place :smiley:

    I think a WordPress Multi-Site is the best solution here. The advantage of doing it this way is that each of your websites can be managed through as single install. That makes upgrading and overall management much easier as you'll have a "Super Admin" login to go between sites easily.

    I'd take a look at our documentation on Multisite here:

    Meant to be read it order, but skip around if there's content there you're already familiar with.

    You're existing test site should be fine for moving to a multi-site install. You're running WordPress 3.0.1 right?

    As far as multi-db goes, the question to ask yourself is how many sites (and how much traffic on each one) is realistic? If you're in the hundreds, one database should be fine. There's no problem with adding it and it can be done at later point if necessary.

    Definitely look at our domain mapping plugin. If you're charging people for their sites and want to do this through paypal (automatic subscriptions) then I'd also recommend our Supporter plugin.
    Domain Mapping -
    Supporter -

    Additionally, since each site is using the same theme, you might want to consider our New Blog Template plugin. It allows you to set up one of your sub-sites as a template that each new site created will pull it's settings from. So you can even put pages, posts, widgets, and other settings right in your template site that will then be transferred to any new site.

    Of course, the new sites can go from there and customize as they please. I highly recommend this one:
    New Blog Template:

    Finally, the multi-domain plugin is more for a situation where you're offering people to sign up and create their own blog/site and you want to offer them the ability to choose a top level domain. Maybe they want to have their site be "" or maybe they want "". This plugin let's you provide the ability for them to choose - while still keeping everything on one install.

    Pretty cool, eh?

    Hope this helps ya get started. Let us know if you have anymore specific questions, and again, welcome! :smiley:

  • AndrewTraub
    • The Crimson Coder

    Thanks for the prompt reply - only one other consideration that I thought of after. My theme writes its CSS file - the user can modify all the colors from within the admin area (as well as fonts and layout) - since it writes the css file, would that mean the css needs to be stored in the wordpress database? Whatabout the fact that I want to allow them to also use a custom.css class - how does that work with a multi-site setup?


  • Mason
    • DEV MAN’s Sidekick

    Hiya Andrew,

    Good question.

    Yeah, normally the way I've seen this done is that the custom CSS bits are added to directly into the theme's header or top of "body" on page load. It can be a lot of extra code, but it makes sure it's loaded after any stylesheets, etc.

    Take a look at some of our themes here for pointers on how to implement it. (I "borrow" good code ideas from them all the time ;D) Maybe one of our expert theme developers can even stop in and provide some further pointers.

    I also found this tutorial, may be a bit basic for ya, but maybe helpful:


  • AndrewTraub
    • The Crimson Coder

    One thing I don't understand is how email works with the domain mapping plug-in.

    If the customer owns the domain "" and I map "" with the domain mapping plug-in, then:

    1. What DNS settings would the customer set for ""
    2. Is it possible for me to host the email as well?
    2.5 Could the above be accomplished by my hosting the domain and redirecting the www part?



  • wpcdn
    • Syntax Hero

    Hi Andrew,

    Domain mapping simply points the web traffic for that domain to the site on your WordPress multisite network.

    1. You'd have the customer change the "A" record of their domain to point to your server.
    2. You couldn't host the e-mail as part of the WordPress scenario, however you could by installing the appropriate software to host and manage e-mails (either raw components or something like cPanel, DirectAdmin, etc.).
    3) Yes, if you're hosting domains and e-mail and such. For example, we offer cPanel hosting, domains, etc. If customers want a multisite blog instead of regular cPanel hosting, we can still register a domain for them and set up an e-mail-only cPanel account...and point the domain to their blog for the web part of things. That way we're giving them a domain, e-mail and WordPress multisite. Also, if you're handling everything for the client, item #1 above can be easier for the client because you can take care of everything for them. The time needed to do that is probably less than the time troubleshooting issues with DIY domain record modification.

    Hope this helps.


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