429 – Managing Multiple WordPress Sites with These Handy Tools


Is there a plugin for that?

With more than 50,000 plugins in the WordPress repository, it’s hard to find the perfect one. Each week, I will highlight an interesting plugin form the repository.

For more great plugins, download my 50 Most Useful Plugins eBook.

Dinosaur Game lets you add the dinosaur game from Google Chrome onto your WordPress site.

Managing Multiple WordPress Sites with These Handy Tools

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Full Transcript

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Today we’re gonna to talk about different options when it comes to picking out a tool to manage multiple WordPress sites, right here on Your Website Engineer podcast Episode No. 429.

Hello, and welcome to another episode of Your Website Engineer podcast. My name is Dustin Hartzler. I’m excited to be with you here today because I’m gonna talk about some tools today that we can use to manage our WordPress sites. And these are new tools. Some of them I’ve heard about before, but I’ve never really explored them before because I don’t have a whole plethora of sites. I just have a handful of ‘em, and I manage those with Jetpack. And that’s one of the options we’ll talk about in just a couple minutes.

But first, I have a couple announcements, a plugin to share with you, and then we’ll dive into the content. The first announcement is WordPress 5.1 Release Candidate 2 is now available. So, what this means is they have finished working on WordPress 5.1. They are working on getting all the little bugs fixed, and this is probably going to be the last release that has happened with WordPress before 5.1 comes out. 5.1 Release Candidate 2 came out today, February 19th, and the live version is set to go out on Thursday, February 21st, so, just a day after this show launches.

So, if you haven’t tried out 5.1 yet, now’s the time. You wanna make sure that your themes and your plugins and everything are working properly. You can use the WordPress Beta Tester plugin, and you can set the option to be bleeding edge nightlies. And you can download that and get all set up on a test site. Never do this on your live site. And just make sure that you do a backup so you’re all ready to go. So, when the Release Candidate is changed to the live version, you will be ready to go. There were some things that were fixed, obviously. That’s what happens with these release changes. But nothing really, really big. They’re just doing the final tweaks to make sure that everything is ready to go.

And if you are a plugin or a theme developer that has a code out there on the WordPress repository, I recommend going in and changing it to a “tested up to” version to support 5.1. And so, you can find out – there’s a link in the show notes on how to do that. And that’s a to-do list item for me because I definitely need to do that. I have to go in, update, to make sure the as-heard-on plugin is working with 5.1. So, I’ve got that on my list for this week.

The next thing on the plate is WordCamp Dayton is going to be here in about 10 days or so. So, if you are looking for a localish WordCamp, if you live in kinda the five-state radius around Ohio, I would recommend checking it out. You might want to check to make sure the weather’s okay if you’re driving from several hours away to make sure that’s okay.

But we are all set to have a fantastic event. We’ve got a bunch of great speakers lined up. We’ve got food that’s gonna be happening. We’re gonna have community. We’re gonna have just collaboration and questions and just trying to figure out what this means with WordPress and what WordPress is. So, you can find out more at Dayton.WordCamp.org, and that will direct you to the right place, and you can purchase a ticket. And come join us in Dayton. It’s gonna be a lot of fun.

And then the other piece of news that I wanna share with you today is about the Get Options podcast. I’ve talked about this before. This is done with my friend Adam Silver and Kyle Maurer. And they have this podcast that they go and they answer people’s questions. And usually they have a snarky response at first, and then they give the real option. And it’s really a lot of fun. And I’ve been on the show a handful of times.

Well, this week – and Adam doesn’t know yet, but Kyle and I recorded a show without Adam, the regular host. And so, I got it all edited. It’s all working. And if nothing else – you head on over to getoptions.com. Look for Episode No. 86. And if nothing else, listen to the last two minutes. There are some fun bloopers in there. I had a terrible time getting the bumpers and whatnot working because of course I didn’t wanna ask Adam how he did it. And I didn’t wanna ask him for the bumpers because we were surprising him with this episode. So, there were a few snafus, and it made for good laughs. So, yeah, that is the last announcement.

I wanna move on over to the “is there a plugin for that” section. And I saw today that there was more than 54,000 plugins in the WordPress repository. That just blows my mind that there are so many out there. But then as I was searching and looking for a plugin, now I kinda know why there’s 54,000 plugins.

And the one that I wanted to tell you about today is called Dinosaur Game. And this plugin allows you to add the Dinosaur Game from Google Chrome onto your WordPress site. So, I don’t know if you’ve ever tried this before. You try to load a web browser in Google Chrome, you try to load a website, and you’re offline, there’s no Internet, you have this little dinosaur, and it says, “Internet cannot be found,” or – I’m not exactly sure what it says. But if you use the spacebar, it’s actually going to start the game. And it’s kind of like the dinosaur runs from left to right across your screen. And then you’ve got to jump over different objects by using the spacebar or up key on your keyboard.

And now there’s a plugin that you can add this to your WordPress site. You basically add the plugin, install it, and then use the short code dinosaur-game. And you put that on a post or a page, and then you can play that right there on your site.

So, that’s some of the reason why there’s 54,000 plugins in the repository because there’s plugins like this. There’s really not a lot of functionality or a lot of good purpose for having this. But it is one of those plugins that is out there. If you’re interested in adding a dinosaur game for your site, more power to you. And you can find it at Dinosaur Game if you search for that in the WordPress repository, or you can find the link in the show notes for Episode No. 429.

All right, today let’s talk about how to manage multiple WordPress sites from one dashboard. And there are tons of tools out there. We’re gonna talk about a handful of ‘em today. And they are WordPress management tools that make it super easy to manage multiple WordPress websites from a single dashboard. And this will save you a lot of time in keeping all your WordPress installs and plugins up to date.

Think about it. I just told you at the beginning of the show that we’re gonna update to WordPress 5.1 this week. It’s gonna be coming. And if you want to manually update all of your sites – let’s say you have 10 websites. You have to open up 10 different browsers. And then you have to navigate to the update section. Then you have to do this. You have to do everything 10 times.

But with a tool like these ones that we’re gonna talk about, it gives you the ability to easily manage multiple WordPress sites, so you can quickly update your WordPress software on all your websites. You can monitor themes and plugin updates across all of your websites. You can install them easily. You can automatically backup your WordPress sites and store it on an offsite location. You can manage users, comments, and other WordPress options. And you can do that all with these tools that we’re gonna talk about.

And you can do these whether you’re an individual and you just have a handful of websites that you’re responsible for or managing, or if you are a freelancer or an agency that takes on multiple clients and now you have hundreds of projects that you’re keeping online and up to date. One of these tools are gonna save you a lot of time.

And I’ve been doing some classes inside of Automatic, and it’s called Productivity Office Hours. And mainly going through and sharing some of my work flows and my tips and my tricks of how I manage all the things that I do in a day and how I do things quickly and efficiently. And so, that’s kind of where this mindset was coming from this week. I wanted to see what other tools are out there and to check some of ‘em out because I only know and I’ve only used Jetpack, and I wanted to see what else is out there.

So, Jetpack is the first one. It is that powerful plugin that comes with WordPress site management features. You need a WordPress.com account to start using it, and it is free. It works as a free plugin, and it connects your website to WordPress.com servers. And then as long as all of your websites are connected to the same WordPress.com or Jetpack account, then you’ll be able to see them all in the same area. You can manage the plugins and core updates across all your websites. It also comes with downtime monitoring and basic brute-force attack protection.

So, that’s kinda what comes in a basic plan. And then if you want more features and more things like malware scanning and security fixes, site activity logs and more of – like with automated backups, it’ll cost you some money. The personal plan starts at $39.00 per year and goes all the way up to $300.00 per year for a professional Jetpack account. And like I said, with the additional payment, you get some of those other features. So, you get the backups built in, and you get that malware scanning and security fixes and all of that kind of stuff as well. So, that’s the first tool that’s out there.

I have to admit that I do get a free version of the pro version of Jetpack. Just as being an Automatic employee, we get to try out all of the platforms and all the software that we have. And I really like the pro version. It’s $300.00 per year. The tricky part about the Jetpack plan and that pro version is $300.00 per year per site. And so, it will get kind of expensive to do that if you want to go that route. I think the free version is really good if you just have some basic sites that you’re monitoring, you wanna keep your plugins updated, it’s gonna work perfectly for you.

All right, another one that I wanna talk about is called InfiniteWP. And it is a powerful WordPress site management tool optimized for agencies, developers, and freelancers. And you can manage unlimited websites for free. But the free version is limited to managing only WordPress plugin, theme, and core updates. It also allows you to create on-demand site backups, but you need the paid addon to store them on a remote storage location.

So, the real power with InfiniteWP is unlocked with their premium plan, which includes the paid features like easy website deployment, a staging website, migration, malware scan, uptime monitoring, client reports, managing comments, a publishing post and pages, two-factor authentication, Broken Link Checker, and more. They also let you White Label the plugin so you can add your own branding. So, your clients see your logo instead of InfiniteWP.

It’s not a SAS application, but you install the WordPress management tool directly onto your site. And you can install it via the installer plugin or via cPanel. And then once it’s set up, you can add websites that you wanna manage and install InfiniteWP client plugins on those websites. And then the client plugin connects your websites to all the InfiniteWP admin panels. Gives you infinite control over the sites you manage, kind of like the name, InfiniteWP. And it’s free, like I said. And then there’s also paid plans that start at $147.00 per year, and that goes up to 10 sites.

So, way more manageable price-wise than Jetpack, but it has tons of features. And Jetpack’s not really made to be the all-encompassing tool for developers. It’s more for managing multiple WordPress sites for an individual person. So, that is the second one, InfiniteWP.

No. 3 on my list here is called CMS Commander. And it is a paid WordPress management tool. You need to manage your sites from CMS Commander dashboard. In order to connect your websites, you’ll need to install the client plugin on each site. It allows the usual features like one-click updates, backup management, two-factor authentication, basic malware scanning, custom branding, and more.

What makes CMS Commander a little bit different than the other tools is that it has content management features. So, you can utilize third-party sources like YouTube, Flicker, Yelp, and more to add content to your website. It also connects with an article spinning service to rewrite content and post it to your website. And so, this is good for affiliate marketers. And it also offers integration with popular affiliate networks like Amazon, ShareASale, Commission Junction, and more. So, plan for this is $8.00 per month for individual websites, and then business plans for agencies and large network sites start at $30.00 per month.

And so, that is CMS Commander. I have to say from the visual UIs, this is probably the least likely one to use if you’re gonna pick the one that looks the coolest. It just looks a little bit more archaic. But it does have some features in there that could work really well for some of your clients or some of the people that you’re managing WordPress sites for.

The next one up on my list is called MainWP, and it’s a free WordPress management tool supported by paid addons. So, it comes as an admin plugin you install on your WordPress website, and then you log into the MainWP Child plugin on all websites you wanna manage.

And then MainWP comes with very easy-to-update management, uptime monitoring, security monitoring by Security.net, vulnerable plugin and theme scanner, user content and management, and more. It comes with extensions for several popular WordPress backup plugins like UpdraftPlus, and it allows you to make your backups and manage them how you want. You can find extensions for bulk upload articles, client reports, access controls, and more.

The core plugin is free, with paid extensions for the different features. And it looks like these features run anywhere between zero, for free, and they have a lot at $39.00, and just a couple at $69.00 for some of the modules. And so, those are some of the price points. As I’m looking here on their website, if you want to add boilerplate to your sites, like “about us” or “terms of use” or “support policies” or any page with standard text, that’s a $39.00 addon. Or if you want to do branding, so, if you want to brand MainWP to your own branding, then that’s $69.00 to add that. If you wanna add Broken Links Checker to be built right in, that’s going to be $39.00.

So, you can see some of those things that are free, and some of those things, like if you wanna clone your websites through MainWP, that’s a $69.00 addon. If you want Code Snippets so you can add Code Snippets to your child sites from one centralized location, you can do that with a plugin for $39.00. And so, those are some of the things you can do with MainWP.

iThemes Sync is another one that I’ve used in the past. And this is a powerful WordPress management tool brought to you by the folks behind BackupBuddy. There’s a limited free version that you can use for up to 10 sites, and this free version allows you to manage WordPress updates from a single dashboard. You can install themes and plugins from WordPress.org or upload them manually.

The real power of this comes with the paid plan. And it gives you access to uptime monitoring, client reports, user management, security integration with BackupBuddy, cloud storage and Google Search Console, and much more. It’s one of the easiest to use ones that I remember using. And I just really like the way that iThemes adds their extra polish onto their services. The paid plans start from $11.00 per month, and that’s billed annually for up to 10 sites.

And then I’ve got a couple more here. ManageWP. It is a free WordPress management tool allowing you to manage all of your WordPress sites from a single dashboard. The dashboard is hosted on ManageWP’s website, and then you connect all of your websites by installing a worker plugin on each site. The plugin acts as a bridge between your websites and your ManageWP account. So, you use a single dashboard.

You can install one-click updates for all your plugins, themes, core WordPress files. It allows you to moderate your comments for all your sites on the ManageWP dashboard. The main functionality is free for unlimited sites, but it also offers paid addons with a monthly subscription basis. The automated monthly backups, security scans are free. But you’ll need paid addons for real-time backups and automated scheduled security scans.

Other features that are included are performance analysis, uptime monitoring, SEO rankings, and historical logs of all activities performed by ManageWP on your sites. And so, if you are an agency, you may want to use their client reports you can send your clients to keep them in the loop. So, that automatically fires off. And it also offers White Label services, which entirely hides the ManageWP branding and allows you to offer your clients that user experience with your own brand. So, like I said, it is free for unlimited sites, and then they do have some paid addons as well.

And those paid addons start at just a couple dollars per month. And so, it just really depends on what you’re looking to add. So, if you wanted to add backup, it’s $2.00 more per month per website. If you want to add SEO ranking, it’s $1.00 per month, and that’s per website. And then you can also look at their bundled costs. So, if you have more than 25 websites up to 100 websites, it’s gonna be $75.00 for backup for all of your websites, and you can do it all in one package which has all of the features built in. And so, you can do that when you have bundles if you’re using lots of sites on ManageWP.

And the last one that I wanna share with you today is called WP Remote. And it is a simple way to manage updates, just like all the rest of ‘em. It’s a basic WordPress management tool, and it doesn’t have a lot of features. It’s kinda limited based on some of the other ones. But it allows you to install WordPress updates from core, plugin, and themes. You can also use it to create a backup or download them to your computer or store them to AWS or SFTP account. It’s free for freelancers and individual website owners. Agency plans start from about $20.00 per month, and it allows you to add more users, so more people can manage your sites besides just you if you need to do that.

So, which one is the right option? It’s gonna be hard to tell. It all really depends on what features you’re looking for and the ease and how much you wanna spend. And I found that InfiniteWP is probably the best management tool. It’s perfect for freelancers, agencies, and developers. But if you only have a couple sites, you don’t need all those advanced features, then maybe iThemes Sync, the free plan, or the Jetpack free plan will do what you need for basic website management.

So, I hope that this helps, and it kinda showcases some of those tools that are out there. I wish that I had more sites that I could really put through the test and put all of these to the test. It was more of just an experiment, just to see what these things did. And I don’t have a lot of websites these days. I probably could, but I just don’t have the time right now.

So, that’s what I wanna share with you today. And this week we’ll be talking more about WordPress. And next week we’re gonna get ready for WordCamp Dayton. And I’ll be on the Get Options podcast again when everybody comes to Dayton for the WordCamp, and we’ll get another version of that out there. But if you’re interested in hearing Kyle and I banter on about a few different things, answer a few questions, and have some silly bloopers at the end, be sure to check out Get Options podcast. That’s Episode No. 86.

Until next week, take care and we’ll talk to you again soon. Bye-bye.