I mention this service on the resources page, but it is such a game changer that I wanted to do a more in-depth review here.
ManageWP is a service (and plug-in) that allows you to manage multiple WordPress blogs from the same dashboard. Using the term “WordPress BLOG” is a bit of a misnomer these days, because so many people create all of their websites using WordPress, even if there is no intention to use it as a blog, in order to take advantage of the ease of use in creating a website. You can accomplish this by simply setting the first page as a static page, and then adding other pages, without ever creating a blog post.
Manage Multiple WordPress Blogs from a Single Dashboard
In any event, whatever you are using WordPress for, you can manage all your WordPress sites from a single location. This translates to a quantum leap in efficiency. A simple example to illustrate the point involves plug-ins. I listen to a couple of podcasts that review the latest and greatest WordPress plug-ins. I recently learned about an amazing plug-in called “Rich Snippets”, which allows you to have greater control over the “snippet” that the search engines post when they return your website in an Internet search. Before ManageWP, adding the plug-in to my websites would have meant logging onto each website, downloading the plug-in and then activating the plug-in. With ManageWP, I just select the websites where I want the plug-in to go, and it is downloaded, installed and activated on all of those websites. Alternatively, I can just have the plug-in downloaded and installed, but only activate it as the need arises for a particular site.
The same is true of keeping everything current. Without ManageWP, you need to take a periodic look at your plug-ins page for each website to see if any need to be updated. The same is true for your themes and WordPress itself. With ManageWP, every plug-in and theme needing updating is displayed on the dashboard, and whatever you want to update can be updated with a few clicks, across all your sites.
Publish Blog Posts to Multiple Blogs
Creating blog posts also becomes far easier. You want to use this feature judiciously, because Google penalizes for duplicate content. but if an article you are writing has relevance to more than one of your websites, you can have it posted to multiple sites. What I like to do is to send the article to the two or three websites where it has relevance, and then edit the articles to make them a more precise fit for each particular site, while at the same time changing them enough to keep Google happy.
Backup Your Websites OFF the Server
Finally, I love the way ManageWP handles back-ups. Most of the hosting services offer easy scheduled back-ups, but if you’ve just made a major revision of the site and want to back it up, you have to go into your hosting service’s control panel and create a manual backup. With ManageWP, there is a back-up button right there on the control panel. Better yet, ManageWP lets you set up the backups so that they are stored on whatever cloud service you use. It does no good to backup your site to the same server where it is hosted, if a server crash is what takes it down. I set my hosting service to back up all my sites once per week, but then I add a redundancy by manually backing up whenever I finish working on a site. Having all the sites listed on the control panel adds yet another redundancy of sorts because when selecting a site to backup, I inevitably see other sites and think, “I might as well back those up as well”.
I use dropbox, and the integration was crazy simple. I created a folder called “Blogs”, and sent all the backups there. ManageWP then asks if you want to create sub-folders for each website. Automatically, it adds a folder for that individual blog, so you end up with each website with its own directory and backup.
I learned firsthand the importance of making backups off the same server. I have a number of websites that are still on GoDaddy (I now create all my sites on either HostGator or BlueHost). One of them became very slow, and after all efforts to optimize the site, GoDaddy confessed to me that it was the server. (Why is that acceptable? “Oh yes, Mr. Morris, we see what the problem is. You’ve been a valued customer for so long that your website is on a really old and slow server. Sucks for you.”) To GoDaddy’s credit, they did agree to move my site to a new, faster server, and even stayed with me through the entire migration process. When it was all migrated, GoDaddy “turned off” the old site, and advised me it would be a couple of hours before the new site would appear. The next day, I typed the URL into my browser, and all that appeared on the screen were the words, “page ok”. Well sorry, but that was not OK at all. Turned out, the migration had not “taken” for some reason, and all the content was just GONE. GoDaddy informed me there were no “take backs”. They could not go back to the old server to retrieve the website or the backup. I had about a 30-second panic attack until I realized that I had a backup in my dropbox. I dragged it into the WordPress directory, and the site was back.
So what is the price of all this wonderfulness? Oh don’t be smug, I gave it away in the title. Yes, ManageWP is FREE, for up to four WordPress websites. [Wait! See update below!] When you hit five, it’s time to pull out your wallet, but it is totally cheap — about 50 cents per website per month. I liked ManageWP from day I found it, and it has always been the equivalent of warp 12 in efficiency, but the publishers recently undated the interface to make it truly amazing, greatly improving the ease of use. Originally, you had to manually install the ManageWP plug-in on any WordPress site you wanted to add to the dashboard, and now they have even eliminated that step. Now you just open the dashboard, click “add website”, type in the URL, and bingo bango, it’s there. Truly magic.
[UPDATE:] Competition is a wonderful thing. With the introduction of Jetpack Manage (discussed in a moment), which provides free WordPress management for multiple sites, I guess the people at ManageWP decided people were less likely to pay for the service. So now ManageWP is free for an UNLIMITED number of sites. They plan to make money from charging for some add-ons, but all the good stuff I just described part of the free version. ManageWP just partnered with GoDaddy as well, so I’m sure that will result in come beneficial integration.
If you have multiple WordPress blogs, you must get ManageWP.
Introducing Jetpack Manage.
Jetpack is the suite of accessories that comes with any WordPress installation. Recently, WordPress entered the world of multi-site management, and added Manage to the Jetpack accessories. It is a work in progress, and someday may come to rival ManageWP, but it is certainly not there yet. Here are some of the features that ManageWP offers that are missing in Jetpack Manage:
- One-click plugin updates across all websites
- Theme updates
- Automated backups
- Uptime monitoring
- Website migration
These are some of the main reasons that I use ManageWP, so Manage would not work for me. It’s also a far more involved process to make it work with all your WordPress sites. But it does provide a level of multi-site management, so you may find it to be a workable solution.