Installing WordPress Multisite for TLDs

These days, a lot of the websites I create are using WordPress on the backend. It’s a breeze to install, fairly light weight, and the developer community around it is fantastic.

The only complaint that I ever have with it is that its framework is being updated ALL THE FREAKING TIME. And it probably wouldn’t bother me as much as it does, but having it say “There’s a new WordPress version” every time you login is kind of annoying. And its even MORE annoying when it happens on CLIENT sites because they expect you to constantly update it for every little change in version. Usually I just say “No thanks”, but despite this I still try and update it for the big releases.

And ladies and gentlemen, I believe that WordPress 3.0 is such a release.

Multisite Functionality Built In
If you’ve been a user of WordPress for any period of time, you may want to check out all the cool additions that are now in 3.0. For me, the biggest feature has GOT TO BE Multisite Functionality or WordPress Mu integration. If you’re not familiar with WordPress Mu, it allows you to run multiple sites off of one WordPress installation. But because it was always treated as a bit of a seperate product, there was an evident lack of consistency between the two products from a usability and functionality point of view. Now to be fair, I don’t know for sure that that has changed, but everything I’ve seen so far leads me to believe it has.



Why I Need WordPress Mu or WordPress Multi-Site
If you don’t know why this is so cool, you probably have not tried to use WordPress Mu and/or have never had a collection of sites powered on WordPress. In my case, I have done both. I had one site that is no longer up called Learn Stuff Online which was basically an About.com before About.com was what it is now. It was supposed to generate tons of AdSense revenue but it was a lot harder to manage than I thought it would be. I had multiple “subjects” on multiple subdomains (hometheater.lso.com, internet.lso.com, etc) and always updating html files to update content on the site became old quick. So one day I had an epiphony to try this whole WordPress Mu thing and I got it KIND OF working. To be honest, it took a lot of work and never felt all the way there as I had to do a lot of fudging on the functionality side to get things working the way I thought they ought to.



Fast forward a couple years, and now I have a collection of my own MFA sites that are powered by WordPress. And more to the point, they are all powered by their own separate WordPress installations. So when I need to create a new site, update the WordPress base or update the slew of plugins on these sites – It’s a huge pain. Now to be honest I don’t think that’s why I hardly update content on those sites, but I think it definitely has kept me at arms reach from doing anything really impactfull with them.

Multisite in WordPress 3.0 is Awesome
But now with WordPress 3.0, I can run all of these sites from a single WordPress installation. That’s right, I’m not just talking about subdomains or directories on a single domain (which you can do too), I’m talking about powering multiple TLDs with a single WordPress 3.0 installation. It took me a lot of figuring out to do it, but with a bit of research and a LOT of work, I did it – And I’ll show you how to do the same. Oh, and before we begin let me say that I host with LunarPages and I have a dedicated server. I’ll show you exactly what I’ve done and I think if you’re in a similar (or even not) a similar situation you should be able to do the same.

Steps to Install WordPress 3.0 Multisite

  1. Download and Install WordPress 3.0.
  2. Download and MANUALLY install the Trunk Version of the Domain Mapping Tool.
  3. Create new WordPress site.
  4. Map TLD to new WordPress site.
  5. Test new WordPress site.

Download and Install WordPress 3.0
So first, go to WordPress.org, download version 3.0 and install it on a domain on your server. Once you’re done and you can ensure that it’s working – go to the next step.

Download and MANUALLY Install the Trunk Version of the Domain Mapping Tool
This part of the tutorial is what I really gleamed from Otto’s post sited below and linked here: http://ottopress.com/2010/wordpress-3-0-multisite-domain-mapping-tutorial/. The domain mapping tool is what’s going to make sure that when someone hits one of your TLDs, that it goes to the appropriate place for your single WordPress installation to serve its particular content. To get the files, download them from here: http://plugins.svn.wordpress.org/wordpress-mu-domain-mapping/trunk/, and then follow steps 1-3 on Otto’s site to MANUALLY INSTALL the Domain Mapping Tool.

Create New WordPress Site
At this point, you should have the Domain Mapping Tool rockin’ and rollin so in your Dashboard go to “Super Admin->Sites” and fill out the bottom blanks under “Add Site”. So for instance, you can enter “test” for Site Address, “Test” for Site Title and an appropriate e-mail for Admin Email. Once you’re editing this new site, change the “Domain” blank to the exact address of your TLD (i.e, example.com). For “Path”, enter “/”. Under Site options, make sure Siteurl is the domain name “http://example.com”, under Home enter “http://example.com” and for Fileupload Url enter “http://example.com/files”. Then scroll all the way down and click the “Update Options” button.

Map new TLD to WordPress Site
Now at this point, your WordPress install should be setup to serve files and content for your new site. And even though we’ve pointed everything correctly in the Domain Mapping Tool, we haven’t actually setup your TLD to point to this WordPress location. For me, this was hands down the hardest part of the install as I couldn’t figure out how to get the server part of this whole thing working. What started me on the good path was Matt Dunlap’s post on the subject here: http://mattdunlap.org/website-development/wordpress/how-to-create-a-network-of-top-level-domains-with-wordpress-3-0.html where he directs you to editing your httpd.conf file. I did this and I believe I got it to work, but I really didn’t like editing my conf file directly. So instead, I went into my WHM and parked my new TLD on top of the domain I installed WordPress on. After that I was IN baby!

Test Final WordPress Site and Tweak if Necessary
So at this point if you’ve setup everything correctly and you’re money like me, you should be able to see your new site when visiting your new TLD. If not, you obviously need to find out what’s wrong. For me, it’s usually in the individual site settings under “Super Admin->Sites”. There’s a little checkbox labeled “Update siteurl and home as well”. This whole section just doesn’t update as I thought it would so I ended up going back in and editing this information again.

NOTE : This was a REALLY long post and I will probably come back and edit it when I get the chance to make it much more helpful.

Also, it wouldn’t be nice of me to not credit the various pages I found that helped me out installing WordPress Multisite on my own server:

New Blogger Chad Dukes Puts it Out There

Those of you that subscribe to this blog PROBABLY don’t know of The War Machine a.k.a. Bradley Fukes a.k.a. Chad Dukes. But you probably should as he’s one half of the radio team “Big O and Dukes” which have a radio show here in the Washington DC area. But that’s neither here nor there at the moment…

Chadwick has recently started a blog called The Fukerton where he talks about several things you’ll find on his show including video games, girls, comics… Basically whatever is worth a decent discussion. Well after a little while of plugging away at his blog trying to make a buck, yesterday he said this over the air…

Chad Dukes (podcast from Segment 10 [10/16]) –

This website thing is just eating me alive dude like just trying to learn everything about like running a website is so time consuming and I have so much more respect for like people that actually do it for a living that like Tyler Durden and all these blogs that we go to like superficial and deadspin and bloody elbow and all these blogs..

I get a feeling that a lot of people think the Internet is like a goldmine and it’s just a way that you can just make a quick buck and become famous real quick… It is A LOT of F’ing work – I got like 3 guys helping me out and it’s just… I just have a lot of respect for people that do that for a living at this point.

It’s such an unbelievable amount of work and really, I’ve earned a great deal of respect for people that do it now just trying to do my little low rent thing. So, I dunno… If that’s the way that you can make a living doing that then more power to you. That’s a hustle like no other. That’s like selling cans. You know the people who collect cans and sell them? Like to me, that’s what blogging is like. It’s just like selling cans where you know you make so little money…

And it goes on from there. My advice for the guy (coming where I am with my site now) is try and figure out really WHY you’re doing the blog and WHAT you want to do with it. I think we’ve all been where Chad has been but for all of us (and I’m thinking Chad included), our blogs are a labor of love and if we’re lucky enough to make some side money from it that’s just a bonus.



So anyone else have any advice for Chad a new blogger? And BTW, if you want to check out his show, you can listen to a live stream from wjfk.com from 10:20ish to 3pm (EST) or check out his podcasts that you can also get from WJFK!

What Needs to Change for You to go PRO?

I was reading a couple of posts on ProBlogger yesterday, namely about how he became a professional blogger and what he thought of the professional blogging industry.

They posts make for interesting reads so I won’t summarize them, but after reading’em I got to thinking about the big professional bloggers – John Chow, Darren Rowse and Jeremy Shoemaker and in particular started to ponder how all of them were able to become professional bloggers.

Thought 1 – How Did They Get So Many People to Frequent Their Blog?
On the subject of making money from your blog, this was the first thing that popped into my head because obviously, the more people that come to your site, the more value ads have for advertisers, the more money you can charge. So naturally I said, “So to go PRO, you gotta get those people to your blog right? Well why would people do that?”

Thought 2 – Why Would People WANT to Frequent Their Blog?
I wish I could remember where I first saw it but simply put, a user visits a site because it provides some kind of value. Maybe it’s humor, maybe it’s web development lessons, but whatever it is, it’s something. So then I thought, “Ok. So to go PRO, you gotta provide something of value to your readers… My blog is about technology, video games and blogging…”

Thought 3 – Am I providing substantial value on my subjects for my readers?
This was a hard one to think about because it’s never easy or fun to deal with your own faults. For me and this site, I again talk about three things… Technology, video games and blogging.

  • Strike 1 – On the technology side, I think it’s fair to say that I rarely bring news or reviews of technology (aside from video games) to my readers. Nor do I share technological items with them.
  • Strike 2 – On the video game side of things, there are sites that are better than mine. They do more comprehensive reviews, often review full games, and give games to their readers.
  • Strike 3 – Out of the three things that I mainly talk about on here, I’m probably best qualified to speak about blogging and web development. But I rarely do so. Instead, I spend most of my time speculating on how to make money online which relative to others, I haven’t done yet.

Thought 4 – If I were ever to go PRO, something has to change.
You know that ol’ 20/80 rule right? Well I think if I honestly analyzed how things have been going on here, I’d probably be more “successful” at things if I decided to talk more about things that I have authority on such as web development and blogging. After all, most people who visit the big bloggers’ sites go there because they want to know WHAT TO DO… What WILL work. The biggest problem for me is that I think I’d get bored if I limited my topics like this.

Even if I just wrote about web development and blog tips, I’m too interested in web entrepreneurship not to bring it up. But I really don’t have much authority to speak about it which brings me to my final thought…

Thought 5 – To be an authority on making money online, I have to start making money online.
Going back to the big make money online bloggers, we all visit their sites because we consider them to be authorities on what they write about. They’re authorities because they’ve become successful making money online.

But did they make their first monies with the blogs we’re familiar with?

Probably not. And I guess that’s the thing we often forget about. I kind of think it like these guys have corporations. And the only part we see is their public front, kind of like their PR dept. But what started making them the money is their individual departments and subsidiaries that we tend to overlook (such as Darren’s photo blog or Shoemoney’s past experience in the ringtone market).

Now don’t worry, this post doesn’t mark a “midlife blog crisis” for me or anything but more a reminder for all of us that if we’re looking to go PRO with our online efforts it definitely doesn’t happen overnight, and often it comes from the sum of our various projects – Earning us not only money, but invaluable wisdom that we can share with others.