Let me guess: You currently house your WordPress sites at a host you’re not too happy with. (Or worse, they’re spread across multiple hosts, everything is everywhere, and your current setup is a bit of a mess.)
You know it’s time to find a new hosting solution (probably a managed WordPress host), but where do you even start? How do you actually tackle getting all your sites on one host in a feasible, and dare I say pleasant, way?
You’re in the right place.
In this article, I’ll start by covering a few topics you should think about before choosing a new WordPress host. (After all, you want to make sure you choose the right one!) Then, I’ll dive into some of the processes you’ll need to think about as you prepare to move your sites. (This will help prevent any downtime or tricky client situations!) And finally, I’ll cover the best way to actually start moving all your sites to a brand new platform.
*Note: If you’re looking to move a bunch of sites specifically to Flywheel, feel free to skip straight to this section to learn all about that super simple process!
Alright – let’s dive in so you can start your WordPress migration and get your sites hosted where they’re meant to be!
Step 1: If you have client sites, determine how you want those to be billed
When you build websites for others, there’s always the question of who gets the final bill. When you want to transfer WordPress sites to a new host, the same question must be answered (and preferably before you start the migration), that way you know you’ll be able to keep business running the way you’d like.
Here are the two methods I recommend:
If you don’t want to be responsible for the bill, transfer it to your client instead.
You should never handle your client’s money directly, even if they’re a close friend or family member. Not only is that method incredibly insecure, but you could also be the one to blame if something were to happen with the billing or their information gets stolen. (All things I’m guessing you’d rather never deal with.)
How to efficiently migrate sites from Adobe Business Catalyst to WordPress (+ over 20 resources!)
To avoid handling your client’s credit card and login credentials, consider helping them set up their own hosting account instead of going through you. If you host your sites on Flywheel, we make this process incredibly easy with a feature that allows you to move their site to our platform first, then transfer ownership and billing to your client. We’ll send them an email to help them get started, and you’ll maintain access to the site like normal (just minus the bill)!
If you’re building out sites for clients and want nothing to do with their hosting bill, transferring ownership and helping them get set up on their own is definitely the way to go.
Include the cost of hosting in your packages and resell it for a profit.
There’s a new strategy in the world of web design in which you, as the designer or developer, also take on the role of “hosting service provider.” Or at least that’s what your clients think. By bundling the cost of hosting into your other services, you can actually turn a profit, all while relying on your hosting provider to help with the hairy details.
Flywheel fully supports this method, which is why we even built a tool to help you bill for recurring services (like monthly hosting costs). It gives you the power to create a fully branded dashboard, that way your clients never even know Flywheel is in the picture. If you’re interested in generating recurring revenue, I highly recommend exploring the option to resell hosting and finding a WordPress host that’ll partner with you to do that.
Moral of the story: Before you move your WordPress sites to a new host, make sure the one you’re going to has features that support the type of business you want to run. At Flywheel, we pride ourselves on being partners for each of our clients, and that’s exactly the kind of relationship you should expect from a hosting provider.
Step 2: Work with your host to find the best migration workflow
Following the idea that your hosting provider should act like a business partner, you’ll want to reach out to them to establish a relationship before you start moving sites. This will give you a chance to ask questions about their platform, learn how they’ve helped clients like you in the past, and discover the best method for moving lots of sites. They might also be able to recommend the best pricing options. For example, Flywheel offers bulk plans (basically bundles of WordPress installs), and it’s the best way to get a little discount when you’re someone managing lots of sites.
Talking to your new host about moving to their platform will also help you learn what the migration process is like. Do you need to install any migration plugins? Will you need SFTP credentials for every single site? These are all questions they’ll be able to help you answer before you get too far into the process.
If you’re starting a large website migration to Flywheel, we’ll set you up with a specialized account manager who will help get the process started and work with you every step of the way. We know that moving sites to a new host isn’t always easy (or something you want to spend time doing), which is why we’ll move all your sites for you, for free. We also make a copy of your current site, so there’s no downtime involved in the process.
Whenever we bring over new sites to Flywheel, they’re handled by a real-life WordPress expert instead of an automated system. We love this personal approach as it allows us to work closely with you as the client and make sure everything moves over in tip-top shape! We’ve even built a streamlined tool just for clients like you with lots of sites. Here’s a glance at what it looks like!
Our group migration tool allows you to easily fill out all your site details in a single dashboard, that way you can stay organized and our team can start moving sites over to Flywheel! You can even change the order your want them migrated in, which makes prioritizing client sites a total breeze.
Even if you feel confident that you could move your sites yourself, I’d highly recommend talking to your hosting provider first to establish that relationship and make sure you’re using the best workflow available. You never know how they might be able to go above and beyond to help!
Step 3: Don’t forget to quality check!
Once one of your sites is moved to a new hosting platform, make sure you set aside time to do a little quality check and ensure the move went exactly as planned. After all, you know your sites best and will be able to identify if anything is off!
If you’re moving to Flywheel, each site migration is monitored by one of our WordPress experts, so we’ll do a personal check as soon as we move your site over. Once we’re confident it’s perfect, we’ll pass it back for your review. Again, since you know the site best, it’s possible we might miss something. In the rare case that happens, you can use that same group migration tool to leave feedback on the site, and our team of technical experts will dive back in to get it sorted out!
Step 4: Go live!
Once you’ve reviewed each and every site and are happy with the results, all that’s left to do is take ‘em live by updating DNS.
And guess what – once you’re at this stage, it means you’ve successfully moved a bunch of WordPress sites to a new host, hopefully with zero headaches during the process! Time to pat yourself on the back, celebrate, and get back to focusing on the parts of your business you love.
Bonus: Need to make changes after moving sites to a new host?
Moving to a new host shouldn’t result in more work for you (that’s the goal at Flywheel, at least!), but if you do need to make changes after the switch, just remember to always use a staging or local site instead of directly altering the live site. If you’re hosting sites with us, we offer staging sites through the Flywheel dashboard or local sites via Local by Flywheel, our free WordPress development app.
When you choose a new hosting company that acts more like a partner for your business, migrating lots of WordPress can actually be a lot easier than it seems. Have you gone through the experience of transferring from one host to another? What’s advice would you give to someone about to start the process? Any lessons learned? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
This article was originally published 6-18-2018. It was last updated 2-17-2019.