The key to managing multiple WordPress sites
As you’re growing your web design business and start taking on more clients, you’ll also start managing multiple WordPress sites – and that’s where things can get tricky. It’s a good problem to have (because that means that business is booming!) but being responsible for juggling so many different clients and sites and meetings and passwords can also cause you to fall behind on your workload if you’re not prepared.
Luckily, if you plan ahead and set some practices in place now, managing multiple WordPress sites can be a breeze. To keep your clients happy and scale your business, you need one thing first and foremost: an organized workflow with the right tools.
First, let’s talk about organization.
How to keep your design business organized
When you’re managing multiple WordPress sites, you’ll start to work with a lot of information. For each and every client, you’ll have to know their usernames, passwords, plugins, themes, credentials, logos, brands…and the list goes on and on. Unless you’re a team of one with an impeccable memory, you’ll need to store that information somewhere that your entire team can access. You also need to think about securely storing some of those items, instead of just leaving ’em out in the open on a Google Sheet.
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For storing credentials, consider using a password management tool such as LastPass or 1Password. Tools like these will keep login information secure while also speeding up your workflow. Instead of shuffling through papers or performing “Command + F” to try to find a password hidden in a document, these tools will allow you to sign in with just the click of a button. Plus your team can share passwords, so even if someone is out of the office, the rest of the team can continue working as normal without wondering how to log into a site.
As for organizing assets, this depends largely on your team size and what system everyone wants to use. You could store items locally on your hard drive, sync them with DropBox, or even store them in a Google Drive that you share with clients. The only real requirement is that everyone agrees to use the same system – if even one person is naming files differently or saving assets in a different location, it can cause some serious headaches down the road. Choose a consistent location and then establish a naming system for your folders as early as possible. If all of your files follow roughly the same pattern for each client you work with, you’ll be able to fly through folders to find the assets you need instead of trying to remember how you named something or where you saved it.
To keep both your team and clients organized, you should also consider creating a list for each client that details the theme, plugins, and any extra functionality you’ve built for their site. Your team will appreciate the ability to see that information all in one place, and then in a few months when that client has questions, you can quickly get caught back up to speed. Plus, you can (and should!) provide this document to the client to ensure a successful site handoff.
The last piece of the organization puzzle is to know who’s in charge of what on your team. When you’re working on a client’s site, it’s critical that you know else is currently involved or has been in the past. Then if you have questions pop up about the custom code or past design decisions, you’ll know who to turn to. This can also help you smooth out your workflow by establishing who should be working on what, and when. For example, maybe one person on the team is in charge of mockups and design, then the project gets passed off to the developers. At every step of the process, your team should know who’s involved and who needs to sign off on it before it moves onto the next step.
Now that you’ve got some ideas on how to stay organized, let’s talk about the tools to get the job done.
How to find the right tools for your agency
As you can tell, time is incredibly important when managing multiple WordPress sites. The more you can streamline your process with the right tools for the job instead of relying on your team to manually perform tedious tasks, the better you’ll be able to optimize your workflow. While every client will have their own unique site requirements, you might want to consider creating a “toolbox” for your team of the themes and plugins that you regularly use. For example, are there any plugins you install on every site you create, such as Jetpack or Yoast SEO?
Create a (well-organized) folder and store all of the zip files for these plugins in it. Then, the next time you create a site, you can click, drag, and install your go-to plugins super quickly.
As for themes, when you find certain templates that are easy to customize or companies that offer stellar support, add them to the toolbox also. Then when a client comes to you needing an eCommerce site, instead of digging through the thousands of themes out there, you can turn to your curated list to simplify the process.
Once you create your toolbox, don’t forget to update it periodically. If a new version of a plugin is released, make sure you update the zip file in your folder. If you run into problems with a theme, take it out of the toolbox so you don’t repeat the same issues. And as you discover new products that you love, be sure to add them so you can install them for a future site. The toolbox is meant to be a guide, not a limitation. Keep it fluid and allow the tools inside to change over time.
Every agency operates a little differently, so the optimum workflow for your team may look a little different than the agency’s down the street. Just find what works best for your team, and if something doesn’t seem to be working, invest the time to find a better solution. It’ll definitely pay off as you continue to scale.
These tips are useful, but they’re just the beginning of what it takes to manage lots and lots of WordPress sites. From managing servers to struggling with security plugins, these non-billable burdens are pieces that you and your team don’t have to manage. In six chapters, this ebook will cover everything from mastering site performance for every single client to embracing growth and drastically scaling your agency (in a cost-efficient way!).