On Sunday morning I was sitting on the sidelines inside a domed athletic facility in the Twin Cities. I was watching my 16-year-old daughter play lacrosse. Sitting next to me was a good friend whom I’ve known for more than 20 years. He and I became solopreneurs in the same year, 1993.
We often compare small-biz notes, and one month ago while sitting on the same sideline, I told him I was experimenting with Rainmaker, the new content-management platform from Copyblogger. On Sunday I was able to tell him I made the leap from my WordPress website to Rainmaker.
Below essentially is the information that I shared with my friend.
The Company Behind Rainmaker
Rainmaker is a product of Copyblogger Media, a Boulder, Colorado-based company that launched in 2006. Copyblogger sells premium WordPress themes, Scribe SEO and marketing software, Synthesis WordPress hosting, Premise landing-page software, and now Rainmaker.
I’ve used all the Copyblogger products, except Synthesis. I’ve been pleased and I recommend them.
I think Copyblogger’s success has been the result of being in touch with the needs of small businesses that conduct online commerce. It seems like whenever they roll out a new product, my reaction is, “Oh yeah, I really need that.” For example, prior to their release of Premise, I was frustrated by the dearth of a high-quality landing-page plugins for WordPress. And then…shazam…Premise appeared and I said, “Copyblogger, please take my money!”
Copyblogger has done it again with Rainmaker.
As Copyblogger’s Brian Clark said in the comments of a post that compared Rainmaker and HubSpot:
The people we’re serving would never choose HubSpot. They gravitate to self-hosted WordPress, the most popular (by far) CMS on the planet. They might not be happy about it though, because WordPress out of the box is not simple, and without modification, it’s not powerful enough for true content marketing.
This is our market. And it’s huge.”
Yes it is.
Why I Considered Moving From WordPress to Rainmaker
As I outlined in this post, I needed a site with responsive design, increased stability, and ability to deliver higher conversion rates. I tried Rainmaker’s 14-day free trial. When it ended, I had concluded that moving my site to Rainmaker would be a good business decision.
Things I Like About Rainmaker
• [JANUARY 22, 2015 UPDATE] Page views are up 119 percent, leads are up 850 percent, and closes are up 636 percent. This is the result of overhauling my inbound marketing, plus Rainmaker. The Rainmaker platform made it possible to institute the inbound-marketing changes.
• I now spend zero time worrying about whether my website is down, been hacked, or otherwise has broken. As this extremely in-depth comparison of Rainmaker to HubSpot says: Rainmaker “takes all the grunt work out of maintaining a WP site because all your updates and plugins are handled for you, no hacking, crashing or open sorcery to worry about.”
• The Rainmaker support staff has been exceptional. When I was in Rainmaker’s 14-day trial period, I had nearly 20 questions that popped up. To contact support, I used email. Within an hour or two of sending questions, I would receive thorough, polite answers.
Here’s a specific example. Today I was in Google Analytics and saw I had a “redundant hostname” warning. I sent an email to support, asking what the message meant. They checked it out and gave me instructions on what to do. Problem solved, and it took only 5 minutes of my time.
You win with good people, and Rainmaker has hired some top-notch individuals (like Pamela Wilson of Big Brand System, who was a guest on my podcast) to work in customer service.
• The process of moving my website’s content from Bluehost to Rainmaker could not have been easier.
Step 1: in my WordPress dashboard, I went to Tools > Export, then exported all the content and saved the file to my computer.
Step 2: I went to my Rainmaker dashboard and Content > Content Tools > Import /Export and imported the file from computer.
Step 3: Leave for lunch while the content is being uploaded.
That’s it. I was shocked/surprised/overjoyed by how easy it was.
But if you don’t want to do the migration yourself, Rainmaker will do it for you at no charge, using their partner, Fantasktic.
• I like the “sandbox.” During the 14-day free-trial period, users are able to load their content onto the Rainmaker platform and use it in sandbox mode. I love this. The more I played in the sandbox, the more confident I became that Rainmaker was a good fit for me.
• I like the ability to match offers with content. This is huge for me, because I can deliver information to visitors when they want it. For example, in the sidebar next to posts about inbound marketing, I can place a lead-generation form that offers a free report on inbound marketing. I’m already seeing improvement in conversion rates, and I’ve barely begun optimizing it.
• The Rainmaker dashboard feels and functions a lot like WordPress, so the learning curve for me has been gentle.
• The Rainmaker features list is very impressive: forums, e-commerce, coupons, A/B testing, gated content, download manager. I haven’t used those features yet, but I’ll be diving into a few of them in January.
• All Rainmaker themes use responsive design. (I cannot emphasize this enough: if your website isn’t responsive yet, then you absolutely have to make it a top priority for 2015. You should’ve done it in 2014, but 2015 is better than never.)
• There’s a private, active, helpful Rainmaker forum that Copyblogger runs. A private subgroup on Reddit is being started, too, but that group is independent of Copyblogger.
• The $95/month fee is a good value when you compare Rainmaker to Hubspot, which is the platform that I think Rainmaker most closely resembles. Hubspot has been around for a while and it’s a more sophisticated tool for managing a sales funnel. But HubSpot caters to large companies and large agencies, and it’s reflected in their pricing. I gave Hubspot a try, but it felt like I was working with database software. I’d go bonkers if I had to work in that environment every day and pay $800/month for the privilege.
Something You Need to Be Aware Of
• With Rainmaker there are 29 themes to choose from, but all of them would have required a lot of customization to turn them into an online presence that represents The Solopreneur Life brand.
If you’re particular about design and you don’t want your site to look like hundreds of others, you’ll need to invest either time or money to customize your site. If you’re good at CSS — no worries.
Conversely, if design and branding isn’t a big deal, you shouldn’t have a problem finding a theme “out of the box” that serves your needs.
Things I Don’t Like About Rainmaker
• Design styles for landing pages can’t be customized. This blows my mind. Why would I not want to have landing pages that match the rest of my site? The kicker is that Copyblogger makes Premise, which offers custom capability for landing pages. So in moving to Rainmaker, I gave up the ability to customize my landing pages. I’m still mad about this.
• Some minor features that were available to me in my WordPress website (via plugins) aren’t available yet in Rainmaker.
• List management isn’t built into Rainmaker. This means I have to continue paying Mailchimp for list-management services.
• Email isn’t built into Rainmaker. This isn’t a big deal, but I’d prefer having my email served by my website host.
My “likes” outnumber my “dislikes” by 11-4.
If you use your website to make money, then you need to consider Rainmaker. As a business tool, Rainmaker kills my old WordPress website.
Platforms like Rainmaker are the future. Rainmaker is new and it will evolve and improve. As Brian Clark said, platforms like Rainmaker appeal to an enormous, untapped market. There’s a lot of money at stake, and I think Copyblogger will do whatever it takes to be competitive.
Have you tried Rainmaker? What do you think?