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).
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.