Two days ago I abandoned my multi-network setup and these are some of my findings and experience when it came to managing multiple sites from a control panel.
The scenario was simple enough. I own a blogging site along with a local business website (which shall not be mentioned.)
The idea of controlling multiple sites from a single control panel sounded like the perfect solution at the time. I would also be able to perform updates, maintenance and create subdirectories to keep topics tidy.
I set up domain mapping with SSL for each site; a task that took me nearly all day. Then, I started to hunt down the necessary plugins for all the sites I was managing. This included security, SEO, optimizations, etc.
I became very busy and therefore I did not spent enough time on my blog other than updating. It was when I went back to blogging that I noticed things were less than perfect.
Not all plugins are suited for Multisite management and if they do support Multisite, it is typically through a premium package which is on a per site basis.
It becomes annoying to switch to the network admin just to try out plugins, themes, file edits, etc.
You start accumulating more than the basic plugins. One site might use contact form 7 and another one might not but you still have to keep the plugins or themes installed.
This also falls under the category of ‘plugins’ as backup solutions become very expensive to support Multisite while the free version works out of the box for a single site.
When I wanted to make the switch, I couldn’t find a single plugin that would extract a single site for free. I had to export things manually ( plugins, themes..etc) and I did not bother with the database. The tutorials supplied were migraine inducing,
Fortunately, my media is separated from the site itself and stored in the Cloud.
The idea was to create subdirectories to separate topics such as /technology, etc. During that time, WordPress rolled out an update that allowed customization for permalinks. Inserting /category into permalinks was a breeze and a capable SEO plugin such as YOAST can easily strip away the /category from the slug.
My urls could now read: meepingblog.com/photography/post-name. This was even better than creating subdirectories.
Managing multiple (single sites) is still an option without needing to touch a multi-network Setup. It’s called WP Manage and it is free for up to 5 websites. More than enough for my purposes.
It became frustrating if not outright annoying switching between the network administrator to the main site just to try out themes or plugins.
Solutions that were easy as pie did not work for a Multisite Setup. At times, there were problems introduced that were only affecting multi-network and this proved very frustration. Every little thing became a big deal including hunting down the option to uncheck ‘ sort Media by month and year’.
Certain SEO plugins were not adapted for the setup. Yoast SEO worked relatively well, however.
I found a little too late that my main domain meepingblog was attached to the network setup and separating it for deletion made the other sites unusable.
I learned tons of things from managing multiple sites and after a year, I believe I gave it a fair chance but it’s just not for me.
It is extremely convenient to manage multiple sites from a single control panel but the costs associated with it might be suitable for a company or a long-term project.
I hope this is helpful to someone else.