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I was reading the list of 48 Unique Ways To Use WordPress earlier today, when it struck me that many of these ideas and more would be even better on an MU platform.

Especially the section where Raj notes getting a domain and setting up a blog on subdomains. Um, Raj? This is exactly what MU does, with the click of a button. 😀 For example, look at a site such as about.com. Could be done in MU with not a lot of work, actually.

My own Site of the Week section is a small start in highlighting sites that are already out there making waves using MU.

Now before I get started, I have to say in big bold letters that this will require actual work and probably a whole pile plugins and tweaks. Out of the box, WordPressMU is a blog farm, plain and simple. Then again, WordPress is “just” blog software, right? The other thing I noticed is that I’ve talked to a lot of people lately who are intimately familiar with WordPress enough to recode whole sections of it, but haven’t even looked at MU yet.

If you are one of those people, I think you’re going to be not only pleasantly surprised, but creatively refreshed. And before you think I am giving away great ideas, most of these have been done, I’m just suggesting how they can be done with MU. Ideas are a dime a dozen (or less) and they also fall under the 80/20 rule, meaning 80% of the people reading this will never actually do anything about it. The other 20% might want to start taking notes. 😉

Niche blog networks – niche blogs are hot, networks are hot. Using WPMU combines the two. The added bonus over using a standard install and categories is as follows:
a) the keyword is further to the start of the domain name
b) you can have pages related to each topic
c) did I mention the obvious? One code base to look after. 🙂
d) minimal theme tweaks, you can make them look the same (all use one theme) or different (each use a separate theme)
e) can easily aggregate the blog contents, or just headlines onto the main blog.

If I were going to do a site like this, I would close off blog signups and manually create the blogs as needed from the backend. I would let users sign up because it enhances the community feel.

1. Celebrity gossip site – use the main blog to aggregate content from the sub-blogs and have those sub-blogs be celebrity-specific. I’d be all over this if my time wasn’t all used up already. From what I’ve seen, celebrity related sites bring in pretty good ad dollars.
2. Hobby site – again, each sub-blog focuses on a specific hobby. If you are crafty or have some sort of hobby, you know how they are often related. One good niche site and some related blogs all running off the same code base, and you have one awesome resource.
3. An artist collective – set up a few good photoblog themes, maybe streamline the backend, get some artist to signup and showcase their work, and you have an instant online gallery.
4. Movie site – a new movie comes out, a new blog goes up. All under one umbrella. Think of IMDB but different. Possibly better.
5. Music artist site – a combo of 1, 3 and 4. You could use each sub-blog for one particular artist or a genre of music. Pages can then be set up to highlight things like albums and personal stats.
6. Real estate – each blog could be area-specific or even per listing. In the past year, I both bought and sold a house. Many of the Realtor sites we’ve seen and tried to navigate are outdated and horrible to use. Much easier to remember 123mainst.myrealtor.com, isn’t it?
7. Podcast network – One site, many blogs each featuring a particular podcast.

I’m sure your brain is racing with even more niche ideas with great categories suitable for a separate blogs under one site umbrella. To aggregate the posts onto the main mage, either use the sitewide feed plugin  and parse it or any one of the most recent posts plugins.

Educational uses – again, people learn all the time, and using MU opens up a whole new world. A lot of sites are out there based on MU, but I feel there’s room for everyone.

8. school site – each grade or class can have its own blog with the teacher reporting what’s going on Parents and family can then see for themselves what is being done in the classroom. Saves a lot of take-home papers. 😉
9. Class site – each student has their own blog, the site is run by the instructor who could even grade their work (the blogs themselves).
10. online courses – each blog is its own online course. The instructor runs one blog, the students can either be subscribed to that blog for follow-up or have their own blogs as well. Your call.
11. Homeschooling or homework site – in one sense, the site I run is already doing this in some places. Students can set up a blog to keep track of the work they did each day, logging results, writing essays, answering questions. it goes on and on. homeschooling parents can also log their days in blog format to keep family up to date on activities.

Health – again, many people are interested in health issues, in being healthy or staying healthy, or in coping with conditions. A bunch of blgos on one site can be a great support network.

12. Diet blogs – either have the blogs concentrate on particular diets, or dieters can sign up, document their diet and interact with other site networks.
13. Disease-specific blog – Cancer can be deadly, and diabetes is an ongoing daily thing. Both topics can be set up with sufferers using their blog to get support, keep people updated, and document progress.
14. Fitness blogs – either to track progress, or highlight specific ways to get fit, this can be done easily.

Family
15. New moms love to show off their babies. Give ’em a place to blog it all. Don’t forget a gallery plugin and loads of upload space.
16. Geneology – under a family surname domain or ancestor’s name, have each branch of the family use their blog to keep the cousins up to date.
17. Got a family that loves to blog? Get a surname domain and have each family member use their name as the sub-blog. Safer for your kids than Myspace.

E-commerce
– this section blows my mind, and apparently others too, as I see people asking all the time.There’s just one problem: any of the e-commerce plugins out there don’t quite work with MU. Yet. This is one of the ideas that requires the most work and/or money to implement.

18. Set up shops for users – one site, and each blog is owned by whomever, selling whatever they want. Feel free to niche that, though.
19. One store, many departments – selling a load of stuff? Have each blog be a separate department.

Miscellaneous – sometimes my mind wanders all over into unrelated territory. 😀

20. Churches under one diocese or main church – sub-blogs are individual churches in different areas.
21. video blogs – each blog is someone’s own personal video stream or collection of v-logs. Like your profile page at Youtube, but with blog functionality.
22. Corporate intranet site – getting running on work servers, and each department can have its own blog, with team members as authors. managers and even other departments can stop in and check on project progress.
23. Support sites of any kid – people need support and want to interact with other people, usually based on some sort of interest or need. Find that need and fill it. Got a hobby, and interest, a fandom perhaps? Ever wish related blogs were all in one spot? WPMU will do it.
24. Election blogs – I hear my neighbours to the south have some sort of big election coming up. Candidates or the reporting thereof can be on a seperate blog on one site. Or have one site and each blog have different party news. Although that might work better in a country with more than two political parties… 😀
25. The biggest and final one – SOCIAL NETWORK. Hey, development is headed that way already. 😉

Basically any site you can think of, especially ones with related (or not) subdomains or subdirectories, can be run off one WPMU installation. Not out of the box, and not necessarily easily, depending on the idea, but the fact remains it can be done.

How much work are you willing to put into it?

26 COMMENTS

  1. Some good ideas. I started using standard WordPress for developing Holiday property rental sites, but have now moved to WordPress MU as having everything “under one roof” so to speak, opens up a lot more new and exciting possibilities.

    The ability to aggregate data from multiple blogs/sites in to a main site has got to be the major selling point for MU (if it was for sale…), other than ease of updates, and…

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  3. Hi,
    Im using WordPress MU too, never experience the Single Blog of WordPress. I think you’re right about this under an umbrella. That’s why I choose MU instead or WordPress.
    In ur statement about E-Commerce, those e-commerce plug-in don’t quite work with MU yet? I’m concerned about this cause I’m planning to use for “Points Number 18” as you stated above.
    Care to enlighten me.
    .-= Fred´s last blog ..My very first Blog ! =-.

  4. Hi,

    Im currently doing a website portal (which i think better to use wordpress MU + Buddypress) for local entrepreneur who want to setup a business in a particular location.

    I want to integrate google map (API) so that each user can view the map which represent their store and they can do :

    1) check how many competitors ( within specified radius)

    2) other ideas….

    can anyone tell me where to start? or even understand my project?

    Faliq
    .-= faliq´s last blog ..faliqhazwan: What do you want most and hope to get from twitter? =-.

  5. This is just the post I was looking for. I have an idea for a network of niche sites related to one of my passions. I’m working through the planning stages and trying to learn as much as I can. After some great feedback and ideas from posts like this one, I realize that WordPress MU is the way to go. Thanks for a great post!

  6. Similar to one of your ideas, I have seen some larger churches set up WPMU and have each of their ministries have a subdomain, along with staff members/leadership being able to have a subdomain. It seems to work pretty well and could work for all kinds of larger groups.

  7. I use it for a development environment.

    This way I have just one Database and can add and remove environments instantly. Also I only have to remember one Login,password and admin URL.

  8. Andrea

    Very nice article with brilliant ideas. Also very frustrating in a way….more about that a bit later.

    In the last couple of years I played around and was forced to work with scripts like PHPNuke (I fully understand why some people are suicidal), Joomla (Oh the horror!), etcetera. Luckily my path crossed those of WordPress (Single Blog/Multiple Users 🙂 ), Drupal and Magento. Two months ago I started my own business and amongst other niche-specific market scripts, I now only work on WP, Drupal and Magento. What a pleasure!

    Something was still lacking though. Until I discovered WordPress MU (Multi Blogs/Multi Users 🙂 ) and BuddyPress. For the last couple of days I went on a discovery trip through the code of these two scripts and I must say that I am in 7th Heaven.

    The lack of decent, excellent themes for these scripts I can still handle. I am quite capable of doing my own thing there, but, and this is the frustrating part, the communities around WP and WPMU are still, by far, not business orientated hence the lack of decent plugins for business directories, etcetera.

    For instance, I am busy with a community site where it is imperative that it includes a fully fledged Business Directory where all businesses in the area can list their (brick and mortar – not web links) businesses with full contact details, logos, photos, services, etc. And pay for these listngs online. The closest I’ve seen was a plugin called Another WordPress Classifieds Plugin or somehing like that. But, the emphasys is still on social networking alone and not on business/corporate orientation.

    WordPress is not only a blogging tool anymore!

    I am also advising a big local shopping mall and WPMU + BuddyPress is excellent for their, and the various shops’, needs. Still, the business side of things are lacking. Although taxonomy is moving in that direction, to treat all entries as post is most definitely not the way to go.

    Sorry for the rant. I feel better now.

  9. ¨If I were going to do a site like this, I would close off blog signups and manually create the blogs as needed from the backend. I would let users sign up because it enhances the community feel.¨

    I tried this last night and gave me a headache!

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