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Site Management

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There are two parts to controlling a blog network

  • Software to manage the sites within the network
  • Software to manage the network itself (In our case Fightback Networks)

Exactly what you require will vary somewhat depending upon what your aims are.

Lets look at some scenarios:

  1. If you are joining an existing network and only adding in a few sites yourself then you will only really need the network management software
  2. If you are joining an existing network but adding lots of sites you will require network management and site management software.
  3. If you intentions are to create your own network, and not allow anybody else access, then you simply need a way to control a large collection of sites and a method to post to them as needed.
  4. If you want to create your own network, but also then share access with people you trust, you will need a way to manage the network and manage the sites.

We could go on, but as you can see the exact requirements will be different for each person.

Site Management Software

When you have <10 websites it’s not that hard to keep them all in order, software updates can still be a bit of a pain but its not a huge deal. However imagine if you had 100 domains… 1,000 domains even. Can you imagine logging in to each one and updating the plugins, themes, removing spam comments etc. It would be a full time job! Thus if you run a network of any real size you need a solution to keeping all the blogs in order.

In the past we have used ManageWP, they were probably the first high quality solution to this problem and we with them back in the beta stage of their existence.

The standard version allows:

  • One-click updates
  • One-click login to any dashboard
  • Install & manage plugins & themes
  • Manual backups
  • iOS and Android app

While professional adds:

  • Scheduled backups (including to Amazon S3, Dropbox, Google Drive)
  • Clone wizard
  • Client reports
  • Google Analytics integration

Once your blogs are in the system you simply login to their website and can remotely control all your blogs at once, you can for instance install a new plugin on 100 blogs with just a couple of clicks.

However this all comes at a price, 100 sites for standard and professional costs $432 and $1296 a year respectively. Clearly that is way above the level we want to be spending, and thankfully it would seem there is going to be a nice alternative.

 

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As of March 2014 MainWP is free for the base application, you only need to pay for the extensions if you need those. For a blog network the clone function can be useful.

MainWP, currently in beta but working well, seem to have taken it upon themselves to destroy ManageWP. Their service is pretty much equivalent to the professional package at ManageWP, each have a few things the other does not. However the main thing is its free for up to 5 sites, and then the other packages are a good 20x cheaper than ManageWP.

To compare if you have 25 sites then ManageWP is $448/year and MainWP is $24/lifetime (support comes at a small cost after the first year if needed).

I will be honest it’s not quite as good as ManageWP, but it is 99% there and getting better every day. It certainly has had a better and faster development than ManageWP in our opinion.

Currently it offers:

  • Connect and control all your WordPress installs even those on different hosts!
  • Track Google Analytics on all your sites
  • Perform offline checks on all your sites
  • Group all your sites for even easier maintenance
  • Clone and Migrate all your sites
  • Make, Schedule and Restore from Backup all your sites
  • Manage all your Users from one location
  • Manage all Comments from one location
  • Manage and Add all your Pages from one location
  • Manage and Add all your Posts from one location
  • Fix all common security issues from one location
  • Update all Themes from one location
  • Update all Plugins from one location
  • Update all WordPress installs from one location
  • Run everything from 1 Dashboard that you host!
  • Track Clicks Heatmaps for all your sites

Why so cheap? Well primarily because it is self hosted, thus they require no resources their end for you to manage your sites. You simply install their master plugin on one of your sites, its best to use a blank wordpress install so either buy a domain or create a free sub-domain on a site your already have.

It is definitely worth a look if you need a site management solution, while it is in beta it is pretty much fully working and any issues advertised on their forum. The only areas I find ManageWP are superior in at the moment are site cloning (which apparently is being worked on).

One thing we should draw your attention to is the clone function, this allows you to setup a blog once (remove the default posts and configure it) then clone that template out to all your other blogs. All you then need to do is go in to each blog and select a theme and a few other unique identifiers (different plugins etc on each), this massively reduces new site deployment time. As I just said this is not properly working at the moment in Sick Network, and it’s a very expensive option with ManageWP.

While in beta I would not personally deploy it on a moneysite, and even once its out I would never use such software on a high value moneysite, but its perfectly OK even now for our blog networks site control and its great to lock in such an amazing price.

Pobman

 

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