Supercharging Your WordPress Blog Network Setup
1 vote, 5.00 avg. tacos (86% score)

This post was done by Benedict, my SEO superstar in the Philippines.   Ben finds and sets up my expired domains with basically no input at all from me.   He will be volunteering some posts from time to time.

 

Building a single WordPress blog can be a breeze – you just buy a domain, get a web host, install WordPress, choose the theme, settings and plugins you like then you’re good to go. Problems arise when you’ve got 50 domains that you need to work on to build your own expired domain blog network.

Some bloggers brag that setting up WordPress with a standard Twenty Eleven theme merely takes five minutes. But installing your preferred plugins and setting them all up manually can take more than 15 minutes (more plugins mean more time needed). Plus if you don’t want to stick with the standard theme, choosing and setting up the theme options can take a chunk of time. All in all, it really takes 30 minutes or so to make your WordPress blog look legit.

Imagine 30 minutes for each site and you will set up 50 newly acquired expired domains. Sure, there may be tools out there that can manage multiple WordPress blogs (e.g. ManageWP). But you may encounter problems using multiple web hosts/IPs or themes. Plus it comes with a cost too. So how can you maximize your time in setting up WordPress to build your blog network?

We found a free WordPress plugin that does the trick. This is the Backup and Move plugin. It’s a plugin made to “clone” your WordPress site when you want to change your web host. Actually, this can be also useful when your host screws up and you got yourself this plugin to protect you when that happens. For our purpose, however, this plugin is an amazing time-saver when you want to set up WordPress blogs without going through the hassles.

 

Using Backup and Move for Your Blog Network

The first step is to install Backup and Move plugin on to an empty blog (delete the “Hello World” post and the “Sample Page”). Make sure you set up the permalinks, if you do not want the default setting (e.g. wordpress.com/?p=123). Put all the plugins you need and set them all up as preferred. If you have a theme in mind, you need to set it up as well. It is recommended to use a flexible and customizable theme (Thesis, Genesis etc.) so you can easily change up the look of your blogs so all your sites won’t look the same. You can even setup your .htaccess to your preferred security settings. Delete unnecessary files in your Worpress folders (e.g. wp-config-sample.php).

Of course, you should setup the standard pages (About, Contact, Privacy Policy) to save time in setting these up every single time. You can also set up your preferred Categories as well. If you want other Users in your blogs aside from the admin, you can set it up as well. This can be helpful if you want easy access for your outsourced writers.

When everything is set up exactly as you wanted, you can now create a backup using Backup and Move. It saves a .zip file which you can download. That .zip file contains all your WordPress files and database you need to “clone” the exact settings you made on another blog. For the rest of the 49 blogs, you just need that .zip file and the restore.php. We use Filezilla to transfer these files to the web host.

Here’s a video walkthrough from the author of Backup and Move:

By the way, you need to setup a MySQL database and user first before you can install all the files using the restore.php. Don’t be afraid of it, it’s just easy. Most cPanel hosts have the MySQL Database Wizard in it, so no need to worry if you installed it correctly or not.

After successfully installing your backed up site, you need to delete the restore.php. Now, go to the site – change the site title and site description. You now exactly have the same WordPress, plugin and theme settings from your previous blog! It will just take you 10 to 15 minutes to setup each WordPress site using this method. Now, you won’t forget any plugin you need installed in each site or fail to set up your preferred theme option.

Supercharging Your WordPress Blog Network Setup
1 vote, 5.00 avg. tacos (86% score)
  1. Dude that was brilliant. I used to try to set up 10 sites at a time on different tabs and as one was updating i would jump to the next and so on for all the setup. This post takes my process and blows it away.

    Wish I knew about it a year ago, anyhow thanks for this.

  2. ManageWP does have a similar clone function, but you have to pay for the service. This is free, so that’s sweet!

    How to you keep track of all the log ins and users?

    The nice thing about ManageWP is if someone on your staff leaves, you can remove their access in bulk from all sites with the push of one button, pretty handy.

  3. You can come up with a scheme for creating passwords like %&Domainname&%Someword so that you never have to remember what the password is. Also Lastpass makes management great. You can share login credentials without giving away the password. Of course you would have to unshare access to all sites you shared if someone leaves. Not as convenient as one button in ManageWP but also doesn’t cost anything.

    • Steve’s right. You can devise a scheme to track users. There’s this plugin where you can manage WP Users – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/user-access-manager/. It also comes with a variety of features like limiting users to post in certain categories, etc.

      ManageWP sounds great. But it has a monthly fee and a 250 site limit, I believe. If you’re still starting up and your budget is limited, Backup and Move is your best option because it’s free.

  4. Thanks this is great!I am new to affiliate marketing .
    I have learn new thing here would definitely comeback
    to learn more !

  5. Do you have anything to mass update plugins and WP updates? I use Lastpass too, but it can become a little messy when you have hundreds of sites to manage.

  6. We’ve used WPTwin for this same purpose. We use it both for making a “template Clone” that already has the WordPress theme, basic layout, plugs, permalinks and standard pages, ready to be filled with it’s own particular content, KWs, photos. etc.

    AND

    we’ve used it as a “site-moving” tool, cloneing an existing site with all it’s content & plugs, then redeploying that clone onto a new hosting account. With WPTwin, somehow it moves the MySQL database, too, so you don’t have to re-do that when you deploy the clone onto the new account.

  7. I wasn’t aware of the Backup and Move plugin but I am certainly glad you pointed it out.

    This will come in handy for some of my clients live work sites.

    You stated: “But installing your preferred plugins and setting them all up manually can take more than 15 minutes (more plugins mean more time needed).”

    You can actually decrease this amount of time by adding your preferred plugins into the WP Plugins folder a default zipped theme.

    When you got upload your theme your plugins will then also be loaded with it and remove the time of having to install them individually.

  8. What is your strategy for hosting and ip diversity for your money sites? Cant imagine it is very good to have 30+ sites on each hosting account and then links from the same domains in the link network pointing to the same ip where the money sites are hosted? What do you do here?

  9. Hey guys –

    I use Manage WP at the moment and love it – but it’s definately too expensive to do this sort of work so I’m probably going to drop it at some point and move over to XMark Pro.

    This is basically Manage WP but with a whole bunch of additional extras AND it is self hosted!!

    It’s not cheap – but neither is Manage WP and once you start stacking up the sites I think this solution will have paid for itself in no time!

    Check it out here – watch the video and tell me that it’s not awesome :-)

    http://xmarkpro.com/

    • Thanks for the link. Currently I use ManageWP for my WP network management needs. However, I’ve been doing a lot of R&D on this topic and will be preparing a review of MWP versus two new competitors: Worpit and InfiniteWP. The latter is free (as in beer) and self-hosted. Worpit is basically in between and in early development. I’ve spoken to its head honcho and there are some cool features that are coming down the pipe.

      XMark Pro is a little different than the three of them because it goes above and beyond what they do. The domain management piece looks like it will come in handy. It looks like they have a free trial so it’s worth checking out.

      MWP is expensive but is by FAR the most polished and seamless tool. Its competitors do not even come close (yet).

      • Heya, developed of xMarkPro here. Yeah, xMarkPro does go a bit above and beyond the others, but that doesn’t necessarily need to be true. If you’d prefer, you can use it exactly as you would ManageWP, and the others. Simply add in your sites, upload the WP plugin, and receive full centralized management.

        As for the comment just below this, I can only comment on xMarkPro, but it fully supports multiple servers / hosting accounts. If you have a bunch of existing WP sites, you can simply import a CSV file for their data, and instantly gain centralized management over all of them. For new domains that you want to create, there is full support for multiple servers. For example, say you have a bunch of Hostgator accounts. Through the Domains->Server Manager menu, you can simply enter the cPanel login of each account, and from there can instantly create a new domain with WP installed & configured on any of your accounts.

        Oh, and for the comment above… thanks for the comment on the promo video, but honestly, it’s about 16 months old so totally out of date now. :) There’ll be a new one there within the next couple days.

        As stated above, 15 day free trials available, so feel free to give it a spin at http://xmarkpro.com/. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact us.

        Thanks guys!

  10. Anyone else had problems with the back up and move plugin? I’m finding once I have a new site setup it redirects me to the previous one.

    • Deactivate you’re 404 plugin before you make the backup – i had the same problem on ixwebhosts, it just means you have to manually activate the 404 plugin but that only takes 2 seconds

  11. I just used it and it’s working fine. Make sure you fill out the correct information in the /restore.php

    If you think there’s an error. You can delete everything and start over.

  12. FYI for anyone who might run into these issues… I had a few problems setting this up, here are some of the issues I encountered.

    1. In the restore PHP prompt, it asks for the DB user first and the DB table name second… so just take note of that. it threw me for a while. (I kept putting the Table name in first and user in second.)

    2. When i unpacked the site, nothing would load , my browser would just download the index.php file.
    I tried to unpack it on another host and the same thing happened.
    The cause was my .htaccess file . I needed to clear the line at the start of this file which was changing the way php was handled. Probably just as easy to delete it and then let wordpress re-create it when you set permalinks up.

    3. If you put a trailing ‘/’ in your old-site URL or new-site URL it won’t handle it correctly. You then need to go into phpMyadmin , go to the wp_options table and manually edit the site URL.

    Finally it works.! (definitely took more than 15min >_< )

  13. I attempted to visit logiclord.com to download the restore.php file but it is now a parked domain. Any thoughts on how to get my hands on that file?

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