Did you know that you can change a single/standard/normal WordPress site into a site that can comprise multiple sites? That’s the beauty of creating a Network in WordPress. The end result is one single WordPress installation, with individual WordPress Admin panels, that uses one domain and subdomains for each site (read more about subdomains on Wikipedia).

Unfortunately it is not possible to use sub-directorys for a multisite that has been converted from an existing site (i.e. that is not new), because, according to WordPress:

“The main site in a sub-directory installation will need to use a modified permalink structure, potentially breaking existing links”

Before I show you how to do this, I am going to assume that you have already an existing single install WordPress site that is configured and running correctly.

1: Edit wp-config.php

Find your wp-config.php file, and add the following after the first <?php line:

define( 'WP_ALLOW_MULTISITE', true );

2: Disable your plugins

Before going further, you are going to need to disable all of the plugins that are enabled for your site so that WordPress can successfully convert your site to a multisite.

  1. Login to the WordPress Admin (aka wp-admin)
  2. Go to Plugins
  3. Select the checkbox at the top of the page (next to “Plugin”) – this should select all of the plugins
  4. In the “Bulk Actions” dropdown at the bottom of the page, select “deactivate”
  5. All plugins should then be deactivated

3: Configure your network

  1. Go to “Tools”, “Network Setup”
  2. On this page you will have confirmation that subdomains will be used to create your multisite, and then underneath you can change the “Network Title”, which simply appears as the name of the site in the toolbar when you login to the WordPress Admin, and the “Network Admin Email”, which is where you would like to receive notifications
  3. When you are happy, press “Install”

4: Edit wp-config.php and .htaccess

What you have just done is to make the necessary changes to the database, next you need to make the necessary changes to the wp-config.php and .htaccess file.

Please follow the instructions given on the page as they are well written: firstly change the wp-config.php file; secondly change the .htaccess file.

Having done that, you can just refresh the page, and you will be shown the WordPress Login. Go-ahead and login and you will now find that are now shown a slightly different view of the WordPress Admin: this is the new Network Admin.

Done!

The Network Admin is where you go to create the sites you wish to have in your multisite site as well as install new Themes and Plugins that you wish to make available to these sites.

Don’t worry, your original single site is still there, and you can find it by going to “My Sites” in the toolbar where you will see “Network Admin”, which is the admin you are currently in, and under this will be the name of your original site, and if you select “Dashboard” for this site, you will be taken to the admin for this site, which looks just like how it did before you did any of this!

By the way, when you want to create another site, just go to “My Sites”, ‘Network Admin”, “Sites” in the toolbar, then select “Add New”.

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