I’ve been asked by a number of people “why, as a website developer, did I make the switch to using the New Rainmaker Platform?” I figured it would be best to write this review post as many people I know wonder if they should make the switch and it may help them make their decision easier.
I’ll review the main reasons why I chose to move to Rainmaker last October and I’ll also cover some of the pros and cons, as this WordPress hosted platform isn’t for everyone.
One of my big reasons for looking for another hosting solution was that my website load time and server response times were really slow. With Rainmaker, they tote that they have lightning fast servers. Seriously, I was blown away with this. When I tested my site, I found that it loaded 3 times faster than on my previous host. (Server response time.)
Built in SEO tools
Scribe is already a part of Rainmaker so there’s no need to purchase a separate subscription. Saves me an extra $97/month. I’m going to be re-evaluating my past posts to increase my SEO juice. Makes things a lot easier.
Built in shopping cart & payment processing
With the built in shopping cart and payment system, I don’t have to hassle with updates and new versions of shopping cart plugins.
Built in affiliate program
Again, no need for extra plugins and software. Set up various affiliate levels for each of your programs, courses, memberships.
Coupon codes & order tracking
Quickly make special coupons for tracking sales from different avenues or set up a “members-only” coupon for access to special areas of your site or content on your page.
Built in SSL
No need to sign up for a security certificate and worry about how to add it to your hosting account. Just a quick email to support and they’ll activate it for you. Included as part of your account.
One central login for members
No need for multiple logins for my free optin gifts and my member courses. All are contained within the Rainmaker backend. I can give access to multiple products/content depending on their membership levels.
Built in forums
No need to mess with other forum plugins as they have built in forums. Ready to match your theme. Set up and go.
Combined 3 sites into 1
Ease of management with built in tools for my membership area and free library. Before moving to Rainmaker, I had 3 separate sites set up. One was my main site, another was for my membership area, and the third was for my training program sales page.
Easy email integration
When someone signs up for my free library or any of my courses, they are automatically signed up for my newsletter. If someone upgrades from my free offer to a paid product and becomes a customer, they are automatically switched to my customer list in Aweber. 🙂
Reducing the amount of time I spend “tinkering” with code, plugins, redesigning my theme, etc.
Rainmaker is a hosted WordPress solution. Meaning they take care of all the updates, plugin management of basic core plugins for their system, and updated Genesis Child themes built right in.
Ability to upload custom themes
This was a major selling point for me. As a website designer/developer it was super important that I still keep my site branded the way I want. Since I already work with Genesis Child Themes, this was super easy to do. I just created my theme and submitted it to Rainmaker to upload to my account. It usually only takes about a week to get approved.
Concentrate on content
The way the themes are set up within Rainmaker, it limits the amount that I can futz with my site.
In the past 16 years, I’ve redesigned my sites at least a dozen times and done some sort of minor revisions at least twice that. Since all new theme designs need to be uploaded and then approved by the Rainmaker team, it is a lot more work to go through the steps to do any types of redesigns. You do have access to modify the CSS of your theme, but you’re locked out of the functions.php file as well as any page template files.
For me, this was actually a good thing as it shifted my focus to working on content and client projects rather than the distraction of messing with my own site, since I now have limited access to my theme.
No worrying about updates/compatibility issues with plugins
Since it is a hosted WordPress solution, you aren’t able to upload extra plugins. Everything you’d need is contained within Rainmaker. This does limit some functionality, however I’ve found that most everything I need is already built in.
Built in settings for adding a Podcast
Podcasting is something that I’ve been considering starting for the past year. When I’m ready to pull the trigger on it, Rainmaker has all the features built in and ready to go such as great file hosting, pushing to iTunes, etc.
Pre built landing pages
No need for a subscription to third-party apps like Leadpages. Rainmaker has wide assortment of pre built landing pages, sales pages, optin pages, etc. Pretty much, plug-in play.
A/B testing capabilities
Test your conversions with A/B split testing right from inside Rainmaker.
Easy to read statistics right when I log into my admin area. From traffic stats to sales statistics.
Whenever I’ve had any issues, I can email the support team and get a timely response. They are more than happy to help in any way.
As a member, you have access into the Copyblogger community forums. There is a wealth of information in there and the community members are extremely helpful.
Also as a member, you have access to the Authority Training and Forums. Priceless information to business owners and bloggers.
Here are a few pipeline items that I was really looking forward to when I signed up and now they are an active part of my account (included in an upgraded pricing level now):
Social media posting
Ability to send your content right to social channels from inside Rainmaker.
Learning Management System
This was a biggie and I’m looking at transferring my course materials that were originally set up in post styles to the LMS area. This allows you to set up specific modules that can be checked off by your members when they complete the sections. Great for tracking and seeing that members are actually consuming content.
Still waiting for:
I’m still on the fence about this one however if it works out, it would mean that I could move my list from Aweber and save myself the extra $20/month. Not sure when this feature will be integrated but I’ll probably test it out.
So those are the reasons I moved to Rainmaker.
I did want to cover the cost savings as well for those who are big into the numbers.
Here’s what I would have spent on everything if I had done the self-hosted route, not including all the extra benefits that don’t have a $ assigned to them:
Fast, reliable WordPress hosting $ 29/month
Scribe SEO $ 97/month
Shopping Cart updates $ 197/year
SSL certificate $ 99/year
Landing Pages membership $ 40/month
Authority membership $399/year
Average monthly cost $224/month
Rainmaker $ 97/month
For me, it was a no-brainer. I’ll admit that there are times when I re evaluate going back to the do-it-myself route, especially if I see a great plugin that I’d like to try, but I always come back to the fact that I’m trying to run my businesses as simply as possible and if I went back to the old way, it would be a lot more time consuming!
I do want to let you know that Rainmaker isn’t for everyone. At $97/month it is a bit higher than most hosting platforms and there are limitations as I’ve mentioned above. I think that for many business owners who are looking to do some major content marketing, this is the ultimate weapon for you to help streamline your process.
For those who just need a simple site, without all the bells and whistles, Rainmaker might be overkill.
Also, if you like to have full access to your theme files or need specific plugins for your website to run the way you want it to, the inability to access theme files and add plugins to this platform is a deal killer for you.
So hopefully this helps if you’ve been on the fence about making the switch. For those of you who are still unsure, I’d suggest you take it for a spin. They have a free 14 day trial and it should give you time to get in and take a look around.
If you have any questions about anything, feel free to ask in the comments or contact me and I’ll do my best to help get you answers.
(Disclaimer, there are affiliate links in this article to the Rainmaker platform. I am a very happy member and recommend it wholeheartedly.)
** Update **
As of January, I’ve moved my site from the Rainmaker Platform. Not because I don’t think it is an excellent platform, it’s only because it wasn’t what was needed for my business at this time.
Since I switched gears back to offering website development and strategic direction, the many features offered in Rainmaker weren’t necessary.
I do recommend it wholeheartedly for certain businesses and if you’re interested, we can discuss how it could be beneficial for your business. (Since I have hands-on experience with the Rainmaker Platform, I do offer custom design/development services for those who are interested in utilizing it for your business.)