Chances are, if you have ever done any work with WordPress Multi-site or even just asked a question about it in the Multi-site forum, you have come across one of the Rennicks, a husband and wife team from New Brunswick, Canada, who are, without question, the go-to authority on Multi-site. If you have ever had a chance to speak with them directly, at a WordCamp or any other event, then you know they embody the WordPress community spirit; they both are super friendly, extremely knowledgeable and always willing to help out. WPTeach recently had the chance to conduct an interview with Andrea Rennick, and I am extremely grateful to her for agreeing to be our first interview and, more importantly, that I get to call her and her husband Ron friends.
WPT: How long have you been using WordPress?
January 2, 2005 – I set up my first WordPress install.
WPT: How did you get involved in Multi-site?
Well, this was maybe in 2006 I think. I am also a homeschooler and was involved in online homeschooling communities, which were pretty scattered. A certain magazine had started their own blog hosting site, but a segment of the community disagreed heavily with some of the magazines policies and philosophies. I started hunting around for a way to set up an alternate blog hosting site and homeschooljournal.net was born.
It was the alpha version of WordPress MU back then, and it took me a month just to get it installed.
WPT: Whats been the biggest perk of being such a known member of the WP community?
Everyone is super friendly! I’ve met so many nice people, and sometimes I get emails out of the blue that start with “You don’t know me but..” and end with “THANK YOU!”
I keep every single one.
WPT: Tell me about wpebooks.com
So WP ebooks is our main business venture. Right now it focusses on Multi-site entirely. Some ebooks are just instructions for a particular plugin that does a specific task in Multi-site. Domain Mapping is a good example; this lets you give one of the sub-sites its own full domain name. The ebook explains all the hard bits: how to set up the server, how to get domains pointed where they need to go, everything the plugin part can’t do for you. Ebooks like Network Home Pages show how to aggregate information to the home page and how to have things like global headers, footers, and menus.
The Replicator is our most popular. It allows you to set up once for the sub-sites as the default template and then, every time a new site is created, all those settings are applied–all theme settings, widget contents, media, pretty much everything.
WPT:What piece of advice would you give to someone looking at WordPress for the first time?
Keep trying, don’t give up, most mistakes are recoverable–especially after backing up your files and the database. I’d really encourage people to have an install somewhere and just fiddle around to see what happens, especially in themes. This is where I started, changing lines in css to see what happened. Some of it is hard, but you can do it. When I started, I had four children underfoot, was homeschooling all of them at that time, so this became a way to keep my brain active and sharp.
Did I mention I also have ADD?
WPT:What other WordPress things are getting your attention these days?
Ron & I both came on full-time working for CopyBlogger Media, so you will see me mostly over in the StudioPress forums helping out. I’m still doing support and documentation. Ron is still developing plugins.
Basically, the same tasks we have always been doing, except being paid to do them. That’s pretty awesome.
WPT:What’s the common misconception surrounding WordPress Multi-site?
That it’s really hard to learn and use and more server intensive.
It’s a different use of WordPress, and there are some changes plus a new way of managing the install, but you’re mostly “leveling up” your WP knowledge. As for the server: the difference between adding another site in a network and adding another install to your hosting account is negligible.
WPT: How would you define the “proper” use of WP Multisite? As in when does it make sense to use it?
It makes sense to use it most when you want:
- a large or small network similar to WordPress.com
- related or unrelated sites on one web account with a shared userbase
- a number of your own sites, for ease of maintenance
Once again, I’d like to thank Andrea Rennick for agreeing to speak to WPTeach. If you live on the eastern seaboard, make sure you keep your eyes open for an announcement regarding a WordCamp in Atlantic Canada in 2012. Rumor has it Andrea’s mom is sending us all home with lots of food…as long as we bring our own Tupperware of course!