This is a question I get asked often from freelancer friends and web developers. The tedious task of maintenance and management for individual WordPress websites can get overwhelming, especially if you are a small or singular team – and frankly, not always worth the money. Well, at least not until you learn to automate a lot of the work you need done.
So how do I manage multiple WordPress sites efficiently? I utilize MainWP, an open source framework to manage multiple WordPress websites.
Why do I use it? Besides being free, open source, and self hosted, there are also these reasons straight from their website:
- Manage Unlimited WordPress Sites
- 1-Click Admin Access
- Manage Plugins and Themes
- Abandoned plugin check
- Multiple Backup Choices
- Security Checks and Hardening
- User Management
- Privately Host on your own server
- Search Engine Discovery Protection
- Content Management
- Uptime Monitoring
The best part is that’s not even the half of it. Because its open source, it’s a fast growing community that is being partnered with multiple 3rd party services and extensions, many you may already be using.
I’ve been using computers and software since DOS, and so I really appreciate solutions that are not only easy, but managed by a dedicated, helpful, and transparent team. The MainWP team actually does a really great job of not only providing overall useful and important WordPress information, but tools, tips, and tricks to utilize on your own web development path of growth. And no, they are not paying me to say this. This is actually something I’ve wanted to share and talk about for some time in hopes to help other new freelancers develop their tool-set and value effectively for their customers. This is also important in the aspect of saving time and money if your client list rises up to managing over 10 websites (which if you are doing correctly, takes quite a bit of time). MainWP has reasonable pricing packages for their extensions but you can utilize a large base of their toolset for free.
Now, some of you may be reading this and thinking “Ok, but how and what do you actually use from MainWP?” If you want more information on all of the capabilities (which I won’t be discussing in this post), and extensions they offer, please visit their website as they provide a ton of useful information.
For this post I’ll just be talking about the basic setup and the most common extensions I use. I have the full “MainWP Dashboard” installed on a separate dedicated domain. From there, I linked all of my WordPress websites with their “MainWP Child Theme Plugin” which allows the WordPress site to connect to my dashboard and provide full control. What I like most about this simple setup, is that I can automatically sync my websites daily and check to see any plugin updates that are available, WordPress updates, security concerns, and even abandoned plugins (plugins not updated after a long period). I mean honestly, this ability alone to view all this data from one area without having to login into each site individually and update each plugin individually is huge. If you are not already aware of a good WordPress maintenance checklist you can find one here.
Take your time to get familiar with these controls before you dive into the added extensions. And when you do, start one at a time because no software is perfect and if you are self-hosting it, you are bound to run into little bugs and errors before a flawless setup is complete.
Once you’ve gotten familiar with the MainWP basics, start looking at some of their extensions. My most popular ones are:
Uptime Robot – easily be notified if your websites go down, this can happen frequently with shared hosting. Its good to know in advance if a site is down that way you can notify your clients first.
Updraft Plus – This is a paid subscription, but I use it to download full backups to my Google Drive on all my WordPress sites on an automated schedule that saves 1 for every week up to 3 weeks.
Client Reports – If you are frequently updating a website and the client likes to be notified on all of the changes, this helps create a detailed report you can brand and send out on a schedule.
Branding – If you have a client that does a bit of editing themselves, easily brand the MainWP Child Theme Plugin to be your own.
Conclusion: There are competitors for MainWP but I’m a big supporter for open-source and self-hosted frameworks. If you have any questions about detailed setups or documentation on MainWP you can feel free to ask me or visit their documentation site here.