Both WordPress and its ecosystem of themes and plugins are seemingly always in a state of change. While WordPress core updates are usually limited to a few times a year (save for a quick bug fix/security release), plugins in particular are constantly being tweaked.

Regardless of what’s being updated, there is always the possibility of something breaking. Plugins may not have kept up with core updates and end up hindering the functionality of a site (or worse).

With that in mind, let’s explore some best practices for juggling multiple WordPress websites.

1. Keep Backups

Whether you manage one WordPress site or 100, make sure to use backups. There are tons of free plugins that can back up the site’s database and/or file system.

Depending on how often the site’s content changes, you’ll want to run backups accordingly. If something goes wrong due to an update or security issue, you’ll be glad that you have a stable copy of your sites backed up.

2. Craft a Plan

Ideally, you’d use an all-in-one dashboard that allows you to update multiple sites from a single screen. The ubiquitous Jetpack plugin includes this feature, as do third-party services like ManageWP. These solutions are great because you have everything you need, all in one place. This will save you a lot of time having to manually login to each site individually.

jetpack banner

Short of using a unified dashboard, you’ll want to come up with a schedule for keeping your sites updated. Whether you want to update everything at once or do a few sites per day, it’s important to ensure that you have everything regularly updated (at least once every two weeks, if not more often).

3. Do Your Homework

While it’s tough to keep up with what’s running on every site you manage, it pays to look at a plugin’s changelog before hitting that update button. This is especially true if you’re working on a site using WooCommerce or another mission-critical plugin.

Unless there’s a vital security fix that absolutely needs installed right away, it may also be a good idea to give new releases a few days to see if any further bugs are discovered. Checking support forums first can save you a huge headache.

Also consider using a staging environment. Having a place to safely test updates beforehand is always recommended for eCommerce sites and those that get a lot of traffic. Some web hosts offer staging as part of their packages. Otherwise, you can also set up a local staging environment on your own machine.

4. Use Reputable Themes and Plugins

Just because a theme or plugin is readily available for free doesn’t mean it is any good.

For every site in your care, only use themes and plugins that are highly rated by users and receive regular updates. While a plugin that was last updated two years ago may in fact be fine, think about whether or not any future updates will come should something break.

It’s no fun having to cut functionality out of a live site because of an abandoned plugin.

5. Be Proactive

Managing multiple websites is a big responsibility – one that requires constant attention. Getting lazy (or too aggressive) at the wrong time can lead to serious problems.

That’s why it pays to stay proactive. Read up on WordPress related news and see what new releases hold in store. Make sure that you have an idea of what changes you may need to make to accommodate cutting-edge features.

Consistency is the Key

Let’s face it: No matter how much you plan, something will break sooner or later. But if you maintain a consistent approach to managing your WordPress websites, you’ll give yourself a better chance of avoiding problems.

And, when something does crop up, you will be better prepared to deal with it.

Successfully keeping multiple sites running along in a healthy manner takes some commitment. Still, it’s an achievable goal if you take the right steps.

Written by Eric Karkovack

Eric Karkovack is a web designer with well over a decade of experience. You can visit his business site here. In July 2013, Eric released his first eBook: Your Guide to Becoming a Freelance Web Designer. He also has an opinion on just about every subject. You can follow his rants on Twitter @karks88.

7 Comments

  1. Hello Ekarkovack,

    Being “proactive” is key of success for all business man or any developer. well as a professional developer we must practice each and every section of WordPress.

    Thanks

    Regards David

    Reply

  2. Wow this was so helpful being that I own more than 1600 websites in my company portfolio.

    Reply

    1. I deal with approximately 100 and thought THAT was a lot. I couldn’t imagine taking care of 1600+ without some serious tools to help out.

      Reply

  3. Hi Eric,

    Informative post indeed! Always keep the site backup because we don’t know when our site get hacked or our server crashed. So always keep the up to date site backup in a safe place.

    Using good themes and plugins is must thing. Always keep up to date to your themes and plugins and use them from original author sites. Don’t go for pirated site to download crap sooner or later your site will be hacked if you use pirated themes and plugins.

    Thanks for sharing the great post!

    Reply

    1. Thank you! You’re absolutely right – using quality themes and plugins go a long way towards helping to keep things running smoothly.

      Reply

  4. Thanks for sharing this article , i messed few times with my site now i ll try with this methods

    Reply

    1. Thank you!

      Reply

Leave a Reply