Note! This is just one of my Rainmaker posts – Be sure you check out everything I’ve written on the New Rainmaker Platform!
I did it.
I’ve converted my whole website, including its membership area: to Copyblogger’s refreshing, relatively new Rainmaker Platform.
In case you haven’t yet heard about Rainmaker.fm – or the Rainmaker Platform – it is Copyblogger’s WordPress-based, hosted ecommerce platform, tailor-made to make it easy for solopreneurs, service professionals, bloggers, experts, etc to share what you love with the world, market it, and sell it.
1. I already HAD a membership platform. One built on WooCommerce.
2. I wasn’t keen on the idea of a hosted membership website platform.
3. Rainmaker wasn’t yet EU-business friendly (EU VAT / MOSS compliant).
So, what made me change my mind? Read on…
Does WooCommerce = a good membership website?
Fast forward 7 months: and I had gone NUTS.
In short, to run a WordPress membership website, I needed:
- – WordPress
- – WooCommerce
- – WooThemes Helper
- – WooCommerce Subcriptions
- – WooCommerce PDF Invoices
- – WooCommerce EU VAT Number / WooCommerce Taxamo
- – WooCommerce Newsletter Subscription (MailChimp)
- – WooCommerce Stripe Gateway
- – WooCommerce Menu Cart
- – WooCommerce Mixpanel
- – Groups for WooCommerce
- – itthinx Groups
- – itthinx Affiliates Pro
- – itthinx Updates
- – Spokal
- – WordPress SEO
… And that’s even far from being the complete list.
While WooCommerce was a vast improvement upon my original choice of EDD / Easy Digital Downloads, which was a disaster (please – don’t get me started…) it was still a maddening situation. Always plugins to update – for security reasons – and for essential bug fixes. And with each update: a risk of new bugs occurring.
Often those updates could (and did) break crucial functionality on my site.
So I wanted to switch – to a hosted platform
Not wanting to deal with all those plugin/technical issues, I had two choices:
1. Outsource the task of managing and coping with the above.
2. Find the root cause – and do something different.
I chose the latter.
After some thinking, I realised that finding a hosted membership platform, could potentially be the ideal situation: essentially outsourcing all the code updates and other technical trivialities, to the makers of such platform.
Benefits of a hosted membership platform:
1. All code has been designed – and tested – to work harmoniously, without conflicts.
2. All customers are using the same combination of plugins/code. If something doesn’t work: it’ll quickly get discovered and fixed, as every user will be experiencing it.
Finding a solid, hosted membership platform
For general ecommerce webshops, I’ve worked a lot with (and highly recommended!) Shopify over WooCommerce. Shopify being a hosted ecommerce platform, means much less fuss. Higher reliability and better stability, than WooCommerce. Don’t get me wrong: WooCommerce is good. But Shopify is truly GREAT. Really.
Sadly, Shopify is only great for shops that sell physical goods. You can’t effectively sell memberships with it.
Hmm… If only I could find some kind of “Shopify for membership websites” solution…
But hold on for a second here… Last time I checked, the New Rainmaker Platform wasn’t yet ready for Europe, and the burdensome VAT (tax) regulations. And especially not the new 2015 MOSS (Mini One Stop Shop) scenario.
MOSS – a blessing in disguise
The 2015 MOSS EU VAT mayhem introduced by the EU now requiring ANYONE (worldwide!) selling electronic services to consumers located within European countries to charge (and periodically report and pay) VAT, based on each customer’s home country… Well, that’s a very complicated (hence unwelcome) regulation to introduce.
Fortunately, big challenges breeds new solutions. And MOSS has proven to be somewhat a blessing in disguise. It has forced providers of ecommerce platforms (and plugins) to support European commerce rules and regulations.
I used Premise, Copyblogger’s discontinued membership plugin (the one Rainmaker is built upon) some years ago, and asked Copyblogger to please support European ecommerce and accounting rules. Their reply? Not exactly affirmative. More along the lines of “yeah, maybe, whatever”.
When MOSS came along – they suddenly had to find a solution.
And they did.
Taxamo to the rescue!
So when it came to my attention that Rainmaker Platform now supported Taxamo’s VATMOSS reporting tools: switching to Rainmaker became a real possibility. Plus, when I found out that Taxamo was also working on an e-invoicing solution: I was ready. Ready to rock me some Rainmaker 🙂
Benefits of the Rainmaker Platform:
Zero plugin conflicts (eureka!)
The developers at Copyblogger / Rainmaker have full insight into the code of the platform. For me as a user, that translates to: no more contacting various plugin developers, documenting bugs, only to be told “this plugin doesn’t work with that plugin because of a conflict, so please try to contact that other plugin dude and let him know this issue…” etc.
Easier outsourcing / delegation to your assistant
Think about the clear benefits of using a solid, documented platform. It’s much easier to tell your assistant that if he/she needs help, Rainmaker has a well organized Knowledge Base + video tutorials and webinars. Still issues? Use the email form and write Copyblogger support directly.
Rainmaker is tailor-made to the needs of content marketers
Split-testing your landing pages? Easy to do in Rainmaker.
Scribe is baked into Rainmaker. I’ve tried various WordPress plugins and approaches to SEO content optimization. Scribe is (by far) the best copywriting optimization plugin available. Every pro blogger / copywriter should try Scribe. Read why in my review.
Rainmaker is much more focused. So focused in fact, that it should be no secret I wish there was more, here and there. But that’s a good thing. The Rainmaker platform forces me to focus on creating content, not fiddling with my website.
Rainmaker pricing – expensive?
First of all: think of the Rainmaker Platform as inexpensive outsourcing of stress and worries. I do.
Secondly, consider the cost of quality WordPress hosting!
Hosting for WooCommerce
The best WooCommerce hosting is by itself expensive. At a minimum, it’ll set you back around $29 for either Media Temple’s Premium WordPress, WP Engine (check their new website redesign, by the way!) or similar high-class hosting plan.
Rainmaker being a hosted platform: you don’t need hosting. That by itself brings the pricing down considerably.
All in all, once I added up all the recurring, yearly renewal costs of a multitude of premium (paid) WordPress plugins, Spokal, SSL certificate (incl. with Rainmaker) it added up to a cost equal to that of Rainmaker.
Now that server issues, plugin updates, plugin and theme conflicts, caching etc; are no longer my business to deal with + the generally great support from Copyblogger’s tech team: the choice to switch my membership website to the Rainmaker Platform – was a no-brainer. Put simply: Rainmaker Platform is a STEAL for me.
A brave new world
Now I can finally get back to producing high-quality learning content (as advocated by Copyblogger in this free online course) for my popular Headway Hero video tutorial and manifest all the other great plans I have.
I have so much I wanna share with you – in the coming months (and years)! Blog posts, video tutorials and much more. I sincerely hope that, with my switch to the Rainmaker Platform: 2015 will be a great year!
But hey! Yo! What about the theme and design here??
Rainmaker only allows using Genesis child themes! So yeah: I had to switch away from Headway (OMG! Who would’ve thought that would ever happen!?) and design a Genesis child theme. The next blog post in this Rainmaker series (yes, there will be more than this and the next one) will cover my Genesis vs Headway theme experiences.
Questions? Don’t hesitate! Post ’em below!
Note! This was just one of my Rainmaker posts – Be sure you check out everything I’ve written on the New Rainmaker Platform!