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5 Key Ingredients of a Multisite Powered Digital Publishing

5 Key Ingredients of a Multisite Powered Digital Publishing

WordPress is the biggest supporter of content development and media publishing. Not only do newspapers such as The Sun and The New Yorker use it, but WordPress also helped some of the biggest names to build their brand on top of it.

The popularity comes as a result of the powerful features that WordPress has as an open-source product, such as Multisite. It allows you to run many sites under one WordPress installation. All those sites create a multisite network. The sites in this network share one database, and they also share the same plugins and themes.

In this article, we’ll sum up the key ingredients of running a multisite-powered digital publishing experience.

1. A Giant Digital Media Platform

woman typing on a laptop

With Multisite, you can administer your content and distribute it across your entire network of subsites. Swift cross-portal publishing is also possible.

The core concept is that you have one site to ‘broadcast’ from which you can publish content to the other sites of your network. The network itself is now your content hub. It transforms your content publication process and makes workflow adjustments easier.

Let’s take The New York Times blog network as an example. Founded in 1851, the New York Times is one of the world’s oldest newspapers. As we moved toward online forms of publishing, NYT has developed a network of blogs that uses a WordPress Multisite installation. It powers over 60 blogs, which cover various topics from politics, to culture and arts.

The New York Times blog directory

2. Shared Functionalities and Domains

website category archive

With Multisite, you have one Network Administrator that assigns themes and plugins for all of the subsites. Each subsite has its administrator, who can customize the assigned theme and plugin options for a distinctive look and feel.

This way, each of your subsites can have a unique page layout, its subdomain or subdirectory. Yet again, several shared elements and functionalities between the sites.

In terms of coding, WordPress Multisite is a solitary codebase with a shared set of plugins and themes. When you want to add a new site, you do it through the WordPress admin, which doesn’t ask you to create brand new WordPress installations.

When you structure your Network of content sites, you’ll need to decide between subdomains or subdirectories.

Subdomains come in the following format:

Google and other search engines see subdomains as a new site and not as part of your existing network. This means subdomains don’t receive or benefit from any SEO ranking already established by your chief site. This is useful if you want to provide people with their site and keep everything within your network, without hurting your SEO ranking.

Subdirectories, on the other hand, come in the following format:

Google and other search engines count subdirectories as part of your main site. This means that they are affected by the SEO of your main site and can and will affect the SEO of the main site as well.

One of the key contrasts between subdomains and subdirectories is that custom domains can be mapped to sites on subdomains or subdirectories. However, subdirectories can’t be mapped on sites on subdomains.

3. Single User Registration with Different User Roles

On a WordPress Multisite network, you have one registration, but many different roles across the network! With only one account any user could have different access/user roles to the subsites in the network – writer, editor or just a subscriber. This way, users on the network could have hierarchical roles, depending on which site they are.

For example, if one of your niche writers has a user name of “celebwriterone”, then he/she will be the only user with that unique name across the network. If the administrator or the writer alters the name to “CelebWriter” then the username will be changed across the entire network.

4. Ongoing Updates and Development

laptop displaying charts and graphs

A network of sites has the same goals, code-level functionalities, and plugins across the various groups of subsites. You will also have various teams that will work on each of the subsite groups as well. For that reason, you must build and manage your Multisite network with high-end DevOps work. It is key for managing content, code, and features across the entire network.

What is important about design and development is that Multisite is very complex, and you need to partner with an experienced if not 100% specialized, digital agency to go for it. Multisite is a standard feature, but it can be quite difficult to build around all user groups and subsite groups and types of content.

Also, hosting and maintenance are key because Multisite is usually built when heavy traffic is expected.

5. Substantial Revenue Growth

woman analyzing metrics using a tablet

As a publisher, you’re nothing without an audience. However, you have to know how to monetize your daily content efforts. Growing your audience should help you raise brand awareness, and boost your revenue. Some digital media companies have so much content, that they need to create many portals dedicated to their trusted partners. The Multisite feature makes the branding and content management process much easier.

A good example of such a digital media company would be The Wall Street Journal.

wsj multisite content management

Monetizing digital publishing is not a walk in the park. But, if done right, especially with a scalable Multisite network, there is no limit to your income.

Choosing a monetization method for your network can depend upon several factors. Namely, your resources, web traffic, the time that readers spend on your site, readers’ interaction with the content, etc.

Recommended: WordPress Publishing Explained: Key Revenue Growth Techniques

Native Advertising

According to Business Insider, by 2021, native advertising will form 74% of the digital spend. As sponsored content, native advertising is a type of paid media that mixes into the editorial content.

BuzzFeed blog archives

Image source: BuzzFeed

The goal of native advertising is to promote the advertiser’s service while providing a certain value to the audience. Because of its nature, native advertising is not intrusive at all. In fact, in some cases, it doesn’t even look like advertising.

With native advertising across your multisite network, you can earn a decent and steady income for your media business. Most publishers reveal that native advertising forms 10% of their entire income, while a small percentage of publishers rely solely on native ads.

When you choose your native advertising partners, make sure their values are relevant to yours and the values of your target audience.

Regarding the business model itself, you must be profit-oriented with your network of sites. However, you need to pay attention to your audience as well. Integrity is everything, and no matter the fee that brands will offer, you cannot sacrifice the reputation of your company. If someone offers you a serious amount for controversial content, you need to refuse and look for partnerships elsewhere.

In a nutshell, native advertising can be extremely profitable for publishers. But, you need to make sure that the content across the network is beneficial to your readers and advertisers as well.

Paid Subscription

Digital subscriptions are on the rise. It seems that consumers are tired of low-quality content and are willing to pay to get the value that they are craving.

Some media publishers such as WSJ use a paywall where they utilize artificial intelligence to comprehend the reader’s behavior and deliver personalized subscription suggestions accordingly.

WSJ paid subscription

Image source: WSJ

Having audiences that want to pay for your content is the simplest and most sincere way that you can boost your revenue as a publisher. With the right price, you’ll ensure a steady and growing income for your media company.

If you think about it, it’s like having regular clients for every other type of business, or even better, it’s similar to our WordPress Retainers service.

DevriX provides WordPress Retainers and technical support for fast-paced companies. So far, we’ve developed WordPress solutions and scaled platforms that generate up to 900,000,000 page views per month. That includes a lot of maintenance and core updates. But, building a reliable and scalable WordPress multisite solution is not a one-off project.

In a nutshell, you’ll get a full-stack team that will solve your problems and grow your business.

If you nurture the relationship with your readers, people will never look for content elsewhere. You need to prioritize the happiness of your readers first, and the profits will come naturally.

Memberships and Donations

Memberships are transparent business models that bring people with similar interests closer. A membership is supporting a cause with an acknowledged contribution. It’s all about the cause and making the members feel significant.

BrainPickings donation widget

Image source: BrainPickings

With Multisite, you have the potential to develop a big community of people who love your content. The advantages of a membership business model for your Multisite publishing are the following:

  • It generates a massive word of mouth. You provide exclusive content across multiple sites, and your brand will stand out among a vast pool of high-end content.
  • A centralized audience that’s mindful of your content.
  • More relevant pieces of content as a result of members’ feedback.
  • Steady revenue by constantly fulfilling and exceeding the expectations of your readers.

If people are willing to become a member of your exclusive content community, you can expect this model to blossom.

Wrapping Up

What is the difference between a regular digital publisher and the one which uses WordPress Multisite? A multisite network can become your editorial content epicenter where you can manage each of your niche blogs, market them, and align the UX of each web app all from one place.

There’s not any reason anymore to switch between platforms along with using different usernames and login data. In a Multisite environment, you can maintain all the information and content of your digital magazine centrally. And most importantly, your multisite network will ensure a substantial revenue for your media company.