If you want to get a website online quickly — or even just find an alternative to managing your own self-hosted WordPress website — Rainmaker could be just what you’re looking for. Below, we’ll be exploring exactly what Rainmaker, an all-in-one WordPress-based website platform, has to offer, and helping you to decide whether or not it’s the best option for your project.
Rainmaker is promoted as a complete solution for digital marketing and sales, but what does that actually mean? Who is Rainmaker for? What does this platform have to offer? And, ultimately, is it any good? These are just some of the questions we’ll be answering.
Let’s jump in.
What Is the Rainmaker Platform?
At its core, Rainmaker is a modified version of WordPress software that aims to simplify the process of getting a website online and publishing content in a wide range of formats.
Rainmaker is an all-in-one website solution built on top of WordPress, offering a simple site setup process, a small, but high-quality, selection of website themes, and a carefully handpicked set of features.
It isn’t just about helping you create a homepage for your business — it’s much more than that, and includes tools for creating all of the following:
- Landing pages
- A/B content optimization tests
- Protected membership content
- Online courses
- Discussion forums
- Email marketing campaigns
- Ecommerce stores selling digital products and services
- Payment processor integrations
By adding additional services into the mix, such as web hosting, ways of speeding up your website, automated backups, and security features, Rainmaker takes almost all of the work off of your hands when it comes to creating and managing a website.
Why Choose Rainmaker?
WordPress may power 25% of the web, but it’s not without its faults. One reason why WordPress isn’t the best choice for everyone is the ease of use (or lack thereof). Although publishing a new blog post with WordPress is relatively straightforward, there’s a lot you need to do before you can start publishing your content.
Rainmaker aims to simplify the process of creating a website and publishing content by providing you with everything you need in one package. The likes of shopping around for web hosting, evaluating countless WordPress themes, and searching out the best plugins — not to mention taking care of all the technical details — are handled for you.
By providing everything for you, Rainmaker lets you focus on creating content, generating leads, and selling your services and products — rather than researching, purchasing, and configuring the extras a self-hosted WordPress website needs.
When searching for a platform for your website, you’ll want to make sure it’s run by a reputable organization. Rainmaker certainly meets that criteria, having been created by the team behind the popular Copyblogger and StudioPress brands –- two of the biggest names in content marketing and WordPress themes.
In short, the goal of Rainmaker is to let you focus on publishing content, while all the technical details and product selection are taken care of for you.
Why You Shouldn’t Choose Rainmaker
Despite its benefits, Rainmaker isn’t for everyone. If you’d like full control over your website, then installing WordPress yourself, choosing your own web hosting, adding your preferred plugins, and selecting or creating your own theme is a better option.
As we’ll show you in the features section of this Rainmaker review, you do get a good amount of creative control over the design of your site. However, when it comes to picking and choosing themes and plugins, your freedom is limited with Rainmaker when compared with a self-hosted WordPress website.
If you’ve got advanced requirements for your website, such as customizing the underlying WordPress code or creating your own plugins to add specific functionality, again Rainmaker won’t be suitable.
However, if you want access to a platform that makes publishing content straightforward, includes a good selection of features and themes, and takes care of all the technical details, Rainmaker is well worth exploring.
Best Features of Rainmaker
On paper, Rainmaker has a lot going for it. It’s been created by a well-respected team with many years’ experience in the field of marketing and designing for the web. It simplifies the process of getting a website online and publishing content, while taking care of important tasks such as securing and backing up your site on an ongoing basis.
So let’s have a look at those features in more detail.
Quick and Easy Website Creation and Management
WordPress may boast a five-minute install, but after installing the software much more work will still be needed to get your website looking respectable. So, if your new website needs to be online ASAP, or if you’re not even sure where to start when it comes to looking for the best themes and plugins, Rainmaker could well be the best option.
As promised, joining Rainmaker and creating a website really does take only a few minutes.
Once you’ve created your account by entering your name and email address, you can log into your dashboard and start building your new website.
A helpful Rainmaker Overview Tour takes a few minutes to complete and does a good job of showing you the basics of what Rainmaker has to offer. After you’ve been introduced to the Rainmaker dashboard, you can then go on to choose a design for your website before adding your own content.
The whole process is very straightforward and very much an ‘all-in-one’ system –- there’s never any need to leave the Rainmaker dashboard and go elsewhere in search of themes and plugins.
Thanks to its 14-day free trial, there’s also no need to enter any payment details just yet. In fact, you don’t even need your own domain name to get started. Once you’ve built something you’re happy with, you can then register a domain name and launch the site at a later date.
We’ll cover the process of creating a new WordPress website with Rainmaker in more detail later on in this review, but, for now, let’s explore some of its best features.
Rainmaker Website Themes and Templates
As Rainmaker is brought to you by the same company as StudioPress, creators of some of the best WordPress themes around, you get a library of professional themes to choose from when setting up your new website.
In fact, there are more than 30 high-quality themes to choose from covering a wide range of styles, including designs for agencies, authors, blogs, educational institutions, lifestyle brands, news and magazine sites, portfolios and restaurants, as well as a whole host of other business-focused templates.
After activating your theme of choice, you have the option of importing its demo content to get your website fully set up and ready for your own content.
I found importing the demo content and setting up the theme with Rainmaker so much quicker and easier than trying to achieve the same outcome by installing a StudioPress theme on a self-hosted WordPress website.
Because the Rainmaker StudioPress themes are all high-quality products, they each include a selection of useful page templates, including landing pages to help you promote your services and products more effectively.
Because Rainmaker uses the Genesis Framework as the foundation for its themes, if you already happen to have one, you can request that your own Genesis child theme is applied to your Rainmaker website. Once the code is checked over and your theme has been approved by the Rainmaker quality control team, your new website will have its own custom design.
Although the Rainmaker themes are high quality and ready to go, you still get access to a selection of website customization options. The main set of customization options is accessed from your Rainmaker dashboard, with the controls displayed through the WordPress Customizer interface.
The Rainmaker theme customization controls are a little on the limited side, especially compared with some of the highly flexible themes available for self-hosted WordPress websites. However, this lack of freedom and choice considerably speeds up and simplifies the website-building process, helping Rainmaker appeal to its target audience — those who want to create a professional website as quickly and easily as possible.
Rainmaker does make it very easy to carry out the essential customization tasks, such as changing the accent color for your site, or uploading a new homepage image. At the same time, Rainmaker also helps prevent decision fatigue by removing the more granular options, such as the ability to choose from an extensive range of typography settings or enter custom heights and widths for your layouts.
If you really do need more control over the appearance of your website, you can add your own custom CSS to your chosen theme. This feature allows you to fine-tune the appearance of your site, including the design, layout, and formatting. It’s also worth pointing out that plans are under way to bring additional advanced settings to the Rainmaker theme customizer controls.
Easy Content Publishing
Rainmaker’s goal is to remove all of the distractions of running a website, so you can focus on publishing content that will grow your business. To further this aim, Rainmaker features great support for publishing a wide range of content types, including blog posts, portfolio items, podcast episodes, online course modules, membership content, media library items, and, if you’re an author, your catalog of books.
To help you promote your products and services more effectively, there are also 15 customizable landing page templates. Through the landing page builder, you can choose a goal for your sales page, and then add your own choice of elements and custom content to the page.
The elements that you can add to your landing pages include feature lists, video players, opt-in forms, call-to-action buttons, testimonials, and links to custom content and to your social media profiles.
Thanks to the simplified user interface of Rainmaker, adding your own custom content to the page elements and other areas of your website is very straightforward. The flipside of this, however, is that you could miss out on some of the powerful optional features and the increased flexibility available to users of the standard self-hosted WordPress software, such as a greater number of page elements and more detailed customization controls that are available with the best WordPress themes and plugins.
However, for Rainmaker’s target audience, not being slowed down by endless decision making will be part of the appeal.
Once you’ve inserted your choice of page elements and added your content, the page you’ve created through the builder interface will take on the style of your chosen Rainmaker StudioPress theme.
Detailed Documentation and Support
As Rainmaker is all about getting your website running as easily as possible, it’s great to see such a useful set of support content available. As well as the detailed FAQ, which should answer all of your pre-sales questions, there’s an easily accessible support form in your site dashboard should you need more help.
You’ll also get access to the Rainmaker training series, a set of webinars, a detailed knowledge base, and the Rainmaker community forums. This content isn’t just focused on helping you use the Rainmaker platform, but also covers how to create great content, promote your products and services online, and generally make your business a success –- another way in which Rainmaker boosts its credentials as an all-in-one solution.
Other Rainmaker Features
On the surface, Rainmaker is just a simple way to get a professional website online. However, the more you explore what it has to offer, the more it becomes clear that this is a powerful platform that can help you grow your business.
One interesting feature of Rainmaker is the Conversion tool. Rainmaker wants to help you turn traffic into leads, sales, customers, and clients, and the Conversion tool is a key part of what facilitates this. Through the Conversion section of your dashboard, you can create products and other offers, and then monitor and manage how they’re performing.
This could include creating a digital product, setting up a membership course or starting an email list. You can then use the Conversion tool to understand how your visitors are responding to those offers. By using the Rainmaker A/B testing feature, you can run experiments to optimize the promotional content for increased leads, sales, and profits.
Through the Traffic section of your Rainmaker dashboard, you’ll find tools to help you promote your website and get more exposure. The outreach tools in this section, for example, will help you find other websites with similar audiences that you can approach to start building relationships.
Through the Social Schedule tool of the Traffic section, you’re able to post and schedule updates, and add links, photos, and other content to your social networks from within your Rainmaker dashboard. The Affiliates tool, meanwhile, gives you an easy way to run your own affiliate program and manage your affiliates.
Rainmaker also provides a set of reporting tools. If you want to monitor and understand your traffic, review data collected through forms, evaluate the performance of your affiliates, view the results of A/B testing experiments, and learn how popular your podcasts are, the results section of your Rainmaker dashboard covers all of this and more.
As Rainmaker integrates easily with Google Analytics, you can view the full set of stats for your website in Google’s Analytics dashboard. However, as the vast amount of data provided by Google Analytics can be overwhelming, you can view a simplified version of your website analytics through your Rainmaker dashboard.
Some of the other features you get access to when signing up to Rainmaker include:
- RainMail email marketing service (free up to 999 subscribers)
- social sharing buttons
- a selection of content and sidebar layouts
- dynamic sidebars
- responsive sliders
- maintenance mode
- affiliate program functionality
- Google Analytics integration.
So now we know what Rainmaker has to offer, let’s find out how easy it is to create a website with this online publishing platform.
How to Create a Website with Rainmaker
In this part of the Rainmaker review, we’ll quickly walk through creating and setting up a new website. Thanks to the 14-day free trial, you can fully test the Rainmaker experience yourself and see what type of website you can create — without entering anything more than your name and email address.
Once you’ve completed the simple registration form, you can then either download the quick start guide or just jump straight in to setting up your new website. After giving your site a name and description, you can take a quick tour of the dashboard, before previewing the different themes to find the design you want.
Once you’ve chosen a theme from the 30-plus available options, you can choose to personalize its appearance through the customizer.
Changing the colors, switching the background images, and editing the demo content of the homepage of your website are all carried out through the user-friendly customizer interface. The navigation menus, sidebar areas, and widgets of your website are also configured through the customizer interface.
Once you’ve personalized the theme’s demo content, you can use the design tools to customize your website further. However, if you’re happy with the look of your site, you can start creating new pages or adding your own content to the existing templates.
As Rainmaker is essentially a modified version of WordPress, content creation takes place in your dashboard area, rather than through a front-end editor.
When the ability to edit posts and pages through a front-end editor is available for Rainmaker, it will make this a much more user-friendly publishing platform, giving it a real advantage over choosing a self-hosted WordPress website. However, as things stand, new users shouldn’t have much trouble understanding the relationship between what they see in the Rainmaker editor, and how their content will look when it’s published.
Your other website content, including blog posts, landing pages, and portfolio items, can be managed in the same way.
Once you’ve chosen a theme, carried out some customization work, and added the essential pages, your website should be ready to go live. You also have the option of using the advanced features of Rainmaker to sell products and services from your website, create a membership area, add discussion forums, and all the other useful features we covered earlier.
If you’re not sure of anything or would like a critique of your site, you can join the Rainmaker community forums and post questions there.
Publishing your website and making it available to the world requires you to register a domain name, choose a pricing plan, and enter your payment details.
Does Rainmaker Offer Value for Money?
At first glance, Rainmaker isn’t cheap. At either $125 per month billed annually, or $145 per month billed monthly, it works out as a rather hefty $1,500 or $1,740 per year. When you consider WordPress is free to use, and that there are plenty of free, non-commercial themes and plugins to choose from, this does seem a tad expensive.
However, when you take into account what you’re actually getting for the money, the prices start to make sense. With Rainmaker, you get to choose from a selection of premium themes, with access to various powerful website features that would otherwise require the purchase of a number of commercial plugins. Then there’s the cost of web hosting, maintenance services, and access to support staff to take into consideration.
However, the real value of Rainmaker is the speed with which you can build a professional-looking website. With fewer decisions to make and a considerably more user-friendly interface than a standard self-hosted WordPress installation, Rainmaker actually provides a pretty good value alternative for those who don’t have the time (or required skill set) to put together their own self-hosted website, or simply don’t want to invest in having a custom web design project built from scratch.
With Rainmaker, there’s a little less freedom than you’ll get with your own self-hosted WordPress website — which, in theory, comes with practically no restrictions at all. However, while this type of tradeoff typically doesn’t always work out well in the long run (depending entirely on what it is you actually need from a website, of course), with Rainmaker, sacrificing some choice and flexibility results in one of the quickest ways to get an extremely capable, easy-to-manage, professional-looking website online right away.
The extremely high-quality library of themes and the ability to use your own custom theme design (provided it’s a Genesis child theme) are both huge plus points for Rainmaker. And while you can’t upload your own choice of plugins, the Rainmaker team have said openly that they’re willing to consider new feature requests.
Because of the price, Rainmaker may not be a suitable choice for those on a tight budget. But, if you’re looking to create your own business website and don’t have the time or skills to build and manage everything yourself, I’d highly recommend giving Rainmaker’s 14-day free trial a shot!
Using/used the Rainmaker Platform yet? Thoughts?