“Build your own membership website
AND sell digital downloads
with The Rainmaker Platform”
Genesis, StudioPress, StudioPress hosting & the Rainmaker Platform are changing rapidly.
The Rainmaker platform was withdrawn from general release, but as far as I know is still available as a bigger ticket product with more hand holding.
This is a long post. In a nutshell, you need the Rainmaker Platform if…
If you have at least one downloadable product to sell right now. And you have a serious commitment to producing more top notch content that’s worth paying for.
But wait! You don’t just need good quality content. You also need to learn how to use the Raimaker Platform.
If you’ve got all that read on. Because the Rainmaker Platform could be just what you need to take your business to the next level.
What is the Rainmaker Platform?
Rainmaker Platform is a complete digital commerce solution. It allows you to set up an online store to sell your downloadable products. You can accept credit card payments then automatically grant the buyer access to your e-books, podcasts and other digital goods.
Rainmaker also enables you to host your own membership website, podcast network, e courses and forums.
And Rainmaker includes landing page templates that you can customize. An A/B testing feature is also built in to Rainmaker, which makes promoting and selling your digital products even easier.
Positioning yourself as an authority in your field is easy. Because Rainmaker includes WordPress, The Genesis Framework and StudioPress themes. All you need to do is publish and promote good quality content that’s relevant to your audience.
Themes Available in the Rainmaker Platform
Things you can do with the Rainmaker Platform…
- Build a WordPress website
- Set up payment gateways with PayPal, Stripe, Braintree, and Authorize.net
- Sell downloadable products
- Host podcasts, a podcast network or podcast series
- Sell e-books and build an e-book library
- Build and sell e learning courses
- You can make member only content that only logged in users can see
- Make member only downloads that only logged in users can access
- And make member only forums
- Set up coupons to help you promote and sell your downloadable products
- Build a team of affiliates
- Do SEO research using Scribe Content
- Build landing pages using pre designed templates and different content layouts
- Build portfolios to display your work
- Do A/B testing to discover which page or offer sells the best
- Track results and conversions, it’s like Google Analytics but easier to understand
- Email marketing (if you use Rainmail first 999 subscribers are free. Other services such as Mailchimp can also be used with Rainmaker)
- Set up automated email formulas that automatically send emails to your site members when they complete certain actions such as finishing an e course
Some Pros and Cons of the Rainmaker Platform
Things I like about Rainmaker
- The Rainmaker Platform provides everything you need to promote and sell e-books, e courses, podcasts and more.
- Just add your own content to build a website with similar features to Copyblogger.
- Rainmaker is a tailor made platform designed to help you become an authority in your field.
- Rainmaker takes away most of the complicated set up processes involved with building an e-commerce membership website. The Rainmaker team have chosen, installed and constantly update WordPress and the plugins you need to run your e-commerce membership site.
- I think of The Rainmaker Platform as “Shopify for membership sites selling digital downloads”.
- You have a definite set of boundaries. You can’t add more features but that helps you concentrate on building the best site you can within the boundaries you are set. This helps you concentrate on providing great content and you avoid wasting your time trying to add bells and whistles.
Things I don’t like about Rainmaker
- You do not get an email address with your domain name! You have to set this up separately.
- Rainmaker is expensive
- Although your website is set up for you, you still need to learn how to use it and that takes time! In fact learning how to run a Rainmaker site may take more time than you are willing to invest.
- Most people don’t appear to use the platform to anywhere near its full potential.
- If you only want one of the Rainmaker features, to sell e-books for instance, you would probably be better off using using a cheaper solution such as Easy Digital Downloads.
- Because Rainmaker includes things like the e learning system and pod casting tools, it could be difficult to leave the Rainmaker Platform and keep all of the special features Rainmaker offers.
- You can not add extra plugins to your Rainmaker site. You get all the features provided by the Rainmaker Platform but nothing more.
- The membership section of your site revolves around Membership Groups and membership access permissions. For me, getting all of the different access permissions right was one of the most confusing parts of setting up a Rainmaker site.
Authority Training is NOT included!
The Authority Training site is no longer included in your Rainmaker subscription price. “After 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time on the evening of Wednesday, September 16, 2015, Authority will no longer be included with Rainmaker Platform accounts.” (http://www.copyblogger.com/training-with-rainmaker/)
So… the Rainmaker Platform: Who Needs It?
One of my favorite questions is “Does that make sense to you?”.
I try put myself in someone else’s shoes and work out, if I was in your shoes, knowing what I know, would I buy this?
“So Philip, who should use the Rainmaker Platform?”
I think you should try the Rainmaker Platform if…
You want to run a membership site selling digital downloads, podcasts and host e learning courses. AND your time is too valuable to waste on figuring out a DIY solution.
Before you pay for Rainmaker I would expect you to already have some…
- Member only restricted content
- Plans to run a Member only forum
- You already pay for Scribe Content SEO
- You want to build a team of affiliates without using an affiliate program such as Share A Sale
But the people who will benefit most from the Rainmaker Platform want to SELL downloadable products. If you’re not SELLING things, it’s hard to justify the cost of rainmaker.
As you can see The Rainmaker Platform has a lot of features. But there’s one obvious fact. (At least it appears to be obvious to me :-)
If you just want a standard website, and you don’t want to sell anything, you probably won’t benefit enough from Rainmaker to justify the cost.
If on the other hand, if you need the host of features Rainmaker offers, Rainmaker could prove to be a real bargain.
Why shouldn’t you just buy a set of premium plugins and build your own Rainmaker?
You could. But if your business revolves around selling downloadable digital products and you have a membership aspect to your website, Rainmaker is tailor made for you. The time and hassle you save could more than cover the cost.
Will your Rainmaker site pay for itself? You do the math…
Rainmaker costs $1,495 per year. Or $28.75 per week. (correct at time of writing – July 2016)
Now let’s assume you want Rainmaker to enable you to sell your e-books.
If your books sell for $29.95 each, which is a fairly common price for e-books. You only need to sell one book a week to cover your costs. And you know the costs to run your Rainmaker website are predictable and stable. So you have a definite goal and you can clearly see if you’re making or losing money.
So, because you know that you only have to sell one e-book a week to cover your costs, the price of Rainmaker doesn’t look quite so high. Does it?
In fact selling one e-book a week to enable you to break even sounds like quite a doable prospect.
Landing Pages Available in the Rainmaker Platform
BUT there’s more!
Because your site is built on the Rainmaker Platform you also have many more options available. Rainmaker is not just about selling e-books or running a podcast network. There are many other Rainmaker features that take your site visitors from seeing your landing page to making a purchase. After they purchase you can follow up and keep in touch with automated emails and also sign customers up to your email list. Hopefully after making their first purchase and receiving your auto responder or mailing list emails, they will decide to join your membership site and become an ongoing part of your members only community in the process.
Using the Rainmaker Platform, you could start by selling one e-book for $29.95. Then slowly build a library of e-books, podcasts, e courses and member only content that you could sell.
You could then introduce forums where you could interact with your customers, learn more about what they really want. You would now be well on your way to building relationships that make your customers love you and feel that you are an indispensable part of their plans.
Invest your time in your content instead of wasting your time on website technicalities
Building a publishing empire like this is a big task. It takes serious commitment and many hours of hard work.
Your time is precious and it’s limited. Do you really want to deal with all of the technicalities of building and maintaining a complicated e-commerce membership website? Wouldn’t your time be better spent creating and publishing top notch content?
The simple step by step plan for Rainmakers
- Write an e-book that you can sell for $29.95.
- Promote your book and sell at least one copy a week.
- Up sell other digital products to your book buyers. For instance you could offer a coupon to buy a second e-book at a 30% discount.
- After they’ve learnt the basics via your e-book and podcast bundle, offer an e course with a member only forum similar to a mastermind group.
- Finally, encourage the most enthusiastic members of your member forums or mastermind groups to become affiliates. These people know first hand the value you offer and can help you spread the word and grow your empire.
A good return on your investment
If you have some useful knowledge to sell, do you think a plan like this would bring in more than your $28.75 weekly investment? I’d say it’s got a good chance, wouldn’t you?
The real beauty of The Rainmaker Platform is that it can transform ordinary WordPress website owners into online entrepreneurs.
Let’s not get carried away, Rainmaker is not magic
First of all you need to be committed to producing good quality content for your website such as e-books, podcasts and e courses etc. You’ll also need to police your forum and interact with your customers. That is if you do choose to have a forum.
Then you will need to learn how Rainmaker works. You won’t learn Rainmaker in one afternoon. It takes time.
How do you get started with your Rainmaker website? Do things one step at a time…
- First learn how to upload and sell e-books.
- Then later, learn how to upload and sell podcasts.
- Now you’re ready to build and upload an e course, so learn how to do that.
- With access to all of these like minded people who are reading your blog posts and e-books you might decide to add member only content to your site or even a mastermind type forum.
This plan would let you spread your learning curve over several weeks.
I highly recommend that you start selling your first e-book as soon as possible so that you can offset the cost of running the Rainmaker Platform.
Learning how to use the Rainmaker Platform
The Rainmaker Platform has a lot of built in help.
When you’re logged in to Rainmaker you always see a green “Quick Help” button at the right hand side of your screen. This opens a help index that explains everything you need to know when you’re building your site.
You also see a “Help” tab in the top toolbar whenever you’re logged in to Rainmaker.
The help option has three main choices…
- Quick Help
- Help Mode
- Knowledge Base
Quick Help is a pop out index that appears to the right of your screen. Search the index or choose a topic from the list.
Help Mode, after turning on help mode you will start to see little green icons in your Rainmaker dashboard. Just click one of the green help icons to get context sensitive help.
There are three main types of help…
- Articles (green stripy icon)
- Walk Through (green bubble icon)
- Videos (green video icon)
The Walk Through help option provides tool tips at each step of the chosen process, there is a walk through for creating an e course for instance. The tool tips contain text such as this…
Click View All
This will open the Learning Management System (LMS) page where you can add a new course.
Knowledge Base, this is the main centre for all Rainmaker help. From the top toolbar click Help > Knowledge Base. You can search the Knowledge Base or choose from options such as…
- Your Guides
- Quick Answers
Can you have too much help?
There is so much help built into the Rainmaker Platform that at first I felt overwhelmed. But as I got to know Rainmaker and I focused on individual tasks, I really started to appreciate how useful all of this help became.
Help Options available in the Rainmaker Platform
Is building your own Rainmaker website really doable?
First you need to approach your Rainmaker website with the right attitude and a serious commitment to producing good quality content. Then you need to learn how to build your website using the Rainmaker Platform. If you’re willing to do that, a digital commerce or e publishing empire of your own could be clearly in sight.
The only way you’ll know for sure is to try the Rainmaker Platform for yourself.
Luckily you can try the Rainmaker Platform for free and you do NOT need your credit card!
Click here to take Rainmaker for a test drive.
Will Rainmaker steal your clients?
As a freelance web designer or small agency, should you fear losing business to the Raimmaker Platform?
I don’t think so.
First of all, WordPress.com already offers all inclusive package deals. And I can’t remember anyone claiming that has taken their customers. I couldn’t list the number of products, services and plugins that offer membership capabilities or more complete solutions, OptimizePress is one example.
The Rainmaker Platform is one solution tailor made for a specific audience. But if you work regularly with that specific audience I think it makes sense to learn as much as you can about Rainmaker.
What should you do if several of your clients say “We’re going to try Rainmaker instead of your services”
First explain all of the benefits you offer as a small business that a much larger business can’t compete with. In person help and advice is difficult if not impossible for a large business to actually deliver.
If all else fails keep on good terms as your client makes the move. Then wait and see if they like Rainmaker. If they do like Rainmaker and want to stay there, you will know first hand that the Rainmaker Platform is delivering the goods that your clients want.
If that happens study what Rainmaker has to offer. And ask your ex clients what they like best about Rainmaker.
Research and find the best premium plugins that make the foundation of the Rainmaker Platform. You could even sign up for a free trial of Rainmaker and use what you see as a blueprint for your own offer.
Then build your own package deal at a similar price but with more hand holding than the Rainmaker team can offer.
As a freelancer you have one big advantage. You can offer…
- A concierge service.
- Individual set up service.
- Ongoing, personal paid by the hour advice and support.
I think Rainmaker could teach freelancers and small agencies a lot about how to make money
- First know your clients needs and tailor your offer to solve them.
- Then make sure you have a healthy profit margin.
- Set strict limits on what services or products you offer.
- Make sure that the service you offer is excellent in comparison to your competitors.
Then make sure you know your product inside out and offer to help your clients in ways only a smaller more personal business can.
Rainmaker is ready made but it is still complex. Many Rainmaker site owners will never really understand all of the available features. You could offer to do the more complex parts of the site set up process for them, either in Rainmaker or in your own alternative product. Then all your client has to do is add their own content. If they could afford both Rainmaker and your set up services, many ordinary site owners would end up with a much better site than they could ever build themselves.
Rainmaker is not cheap.
Could a small agency really build it’s own Rainmaker alternative?
You could at least try. Cherry pick the best premium plugins. Many premium plugins have an offer to install the plugin on unlimited or at least multiple sites. This enables you to offer a package deal including premium plugins at an irresistible price. You could also include premium services like Unbounce. It would also make sense to include WP101 plugin and add your own tailor made videos.
If you charge a premium price, you can spend more time helping your clients get their sites set up just the way they want them.
The most important point is that you can offer top quality premium plugins at a fraction of the price your clients would have to pay if they bought the plugin themselves.
It would be your job as the professional, to include only what is needed to maximize your clients success. I would also resist the temptation to add bells and whistles minimizing the complications of running a complex system like this.
I’ll leave you with a quote by Carrie Dils
“Try piecing those features together one-by-one and you’ll pay through the nose (not to mention the time investment for integrating those services). With Rainmaker, it just works out of the box.”
So is the Rainmaker Platform right for you? Take it for a two week test drive, you DON’T even need a credit card!
Looking for a StudioPress theme or hosting?
Check out the two links below…
When you sign up for a WP Engine plan, you receive the Genesis Framework and 36 StudioPress Themes free. That’s over $2,000 in value.
Buy a StudioPress theme outright and use it on all of your sites. There are three ways to get all of the StudioPress themes AND save.