A multisite network is becoming more popular day by day because it offers so much more than just a standard WordPress installation.
It can be used to manage a business, personal projects, community, and make money!
Multisite can make life much easier
When you move all your sites into one Multisite network, you only have to manage one WordPress installation.
When there’s a WordPress update you will only need to do it once.
You can also update your plugins across multiple sites at once.
Same goes for third party themes, you only need to update them once.
Whenever there is an update you will need to test your code on all of the affected sites before running the update.
For that, it’s essential for you to set up a local copy of your network so you can test updates before you activate them on your live site. Also, it’s essential to keep track of which themes and plugins you’re using where.
Hosting Client Sites
Most of the web developers and designers are nowadays setting themselves up as hosting resellers.
This generally involves buying a reseller hosting package from a hosting provider. You can manage your clients’ sites yourself and also charge them for access to their own control panel.
If you want more ease in life, you’d much rather be interacting with the WordPress backend than with cPanel or Web Host Manager.
And you’d like to save some money and hassle too.
Multisite gives you the answer
The Pro-tip is to buy a single hosting package Instead of using reseller hosting to host multiple client sites. Then create a Multisite network and host your client sites on that.
You can use domain mapping to map your clients’ domains to their sites. So that to any visitor, the site will seem as if it were hosted on its own domain. But you’ll only have to manage your code from one place.
This means that if you use the same plugins on every single client site (backup, security, caching and SEO for example). You’ll only need to keep one copy of each on your network, and you can simply network activate it.
A word of warning: when you update WordPress, and the themes and plugins you install, you’ll be updating live sites that are critical to your clients.
You should keep a copy of your network on your local machine which you use to test updates before you activate them on your live site.
This is critical – don’t be tempted to skip it, or you could risk your clients’ sites going down.
Serving a Community
Multisite is also a great tool for supporting a community.
You can easily use a Multisite network to let your community of users create their own sites, or manage ones that you set up for them.
There’s always an option to enhance the community aspects of your network with plugins like BuddyPress, which adds social media functionality.
Be honest, you’ve been wondering when I’d get around to this, haven’t you?
Multisite isn’t just about supporting your own projects or creating something great for a community. Also, use it to make money and if luck favors, lots of money.
Multisite can allow people to create their own sites and you can charge for this or for premium features once they’ve set up a free site.
The most important fact is that the world’s largest and most well-known network of blogs WordPress.com is also a Multisite network.
Tools to Get the Most From Multisite
So you’ve now got an idea of some of the options for a Multisite network, and the possibilities it offers.
There are plenty of tools and techniques you can use to make Multisite work for you with the minimum of hassle.
There are free Multisite plugins out there that will provide you some useful enhancements to your network.
The most useful is the fact that on your plugins and themes pages in the network admin. It shows you which sites in the network have which themes and plugins installed.
This means that when you’re updating your network, you know which sites you have to test. Very useful.
Creating a Development Network
If you’re hosting sites for anyone other than yourself on your Multisite network. It’s essential that you keep a copy of your network for testing, updates, and development. This can be on your computer.
If your network is large then it might be difficult to copy the entire database. For this case, you will need to set up a new network locally and then import each site separately.
You should do things the other way around. The first thing would be creating a network locally for development and then when you’ve tested everything, copy it to your live server.
Always update your network on the development version first before copying it to live. It’s recommended to use a version control system like GitHub to track your changes. This way you can change things back whenever you need to.
Creating a Staging Network
A staging network lets you be even more thorough when it comes to testing as well as your local network.
This is a midpoint between your local network that you use for development and initial testing and your live network.
Always make changes locally first and then use a system like DeployHQ to push your commits from GitHub to your staging site.
You should keep the staging site on the same server as the live site and with the same environment. Test that thoroughly and then pushes the same commits to your live site.
By following these steps you’ll never directly edit the code in your live site. Thus you’ll have a safe development process that avoids problems.
Network Security, Backups and Performance
It’s important to keep your network secure.
This means keeping it backed up, making regular security checks, hardening it to protect against tacks, and optimizing it for performance.
It’s essential that you do all of this to avoid downtime if you manage sites for other people.
Door to Unlimited Possibilities
Hopefully, we’ve given you some inspiration for things you can do with Multisite.
In our view, it’s a great tool with lots and lots of possibilities.
By using the tools above you can use Multisite to make your life easier and boost your web development business. Good luck!