Wordpress Rainmaker Review
I'm sure I am missing something: What is it about the Rainmaker platform? Enlighten me, please.
Brian Clark May Be the Best Copywriter in the World
Brian Clark started out as a blogger around ten years ago and now he's a multi-millionaire (okay, that's a guess) partner in Copyblogger Media LLC. He's also, apparently, a lawyer and an incredible business person.
He's also, apparently, a real straight-up guy. You have to like him. Matt Mullenweg, founder of Wordpress, likes him. So does everyone who matters: Andrew Warner of Mixergy likes him, Chris Brogan, Matt Medeiros from the Matt Report like him.
So why does it bug the heck out of me that everyone is so gung-ho about Genesis and the entire Copyblogger Media Rainmaker platform he and his (amazing) partners have created?
But Wait - There's More...
I've been around sites built on the Genesis platform, I've used Scribe and I am a proud member of the Copyblogger site. I read and reread Brian Clark's stuff voraciously. He is a consummate copywriter.
I decided to delve into my uneasiness with the new Rainmaker platform and the way Brian and his partners are offering a full solution to content marketers and business people who want to use Wordpress, for around $95 per month.
Copywriting = B.S.?
That's the erudite question I started with as I began my investigation. Is Brian Clark, since he's basically an incredible sales person, just full of crud or has he actually packaged something useful that will ultimately save people time and money?
What I did is two-fold. First, I spent that last couple months teaching myself how to make a Wordpress theme from scratch, since I figured I needed a better idea of the inner workings of Wordpress in order to understand why a framework is needed.
I'm no expert, but I have also spent around 200 hours over 7 months reading and learning about SEO.
Then I began to learn a bit about Brian Clark and his background. I've listened to interviews, read interviews, and read articles about him. I read what Matt Mullenweg said about the controversy between Brian Clark, Brian Gardner (founder of Studio Press and Genesis, which merged with Copyblogger in 2010) and Chris Pearson, former partner of Brian Clark's and founder of DIYThemes and the infamous Thesis framework.
Everyone Agrees: Wordpress is a Beast
I'm writing this in an Umbraco powered site, and I am, after a year and a half working in Umbraco, beginning to understand that Wordpress is a beast. Recently, I had a bit of a chance to experience Drupal (a friend, when I said I was experiencing Drupal deadpanned: "people still use Drupal? That is still a thing?") and I daresay, from my limited perspective, that Drupal is more of a beast than Wordpress.
But Wordpress is a beast.
So, being me, I decided to tackle that beast and learn it. I went straight to the source, in this case Automattic, the people who own Wordpress. I had already been a fan of their Thematic framework, so it made sense to use Shaper to learn theme basics. They extol the fact that by using their (free) tutorial, I could save 1000 hours in learning about theming. Well, if that is true, that I saved 1000 hours, then great. I spent easily a couple hundred, so I suppose that is quite the bargain.
What is 200 Hours of Your Time Worth?
Because really, you either build your own theme, you hire someone to build one for you, or you go with a good, solid framework. Why? Because what you need is not a pretty website. You need good bones. You need, in essence, a good framework.
At the end of the day, I'm a fan of using Genesis by StudioPress. If you don't want to spend the time to build a theme of your own, going with a trusted brand is a great idea. It's around $60, and comes with so much support and easy-to understand resources that $60 seems like a bargain. Thematic, the DIY framework, is great and well-respected, but you do have to muck around and get your hands dirty.
It's that value-for-money, the fact that he has obviously listened to his audience and provided exactly what they needed, that makes Brian Clark solid in my book. He speaks in a forthright way in interviews. People who matter trust him. He is also sensible and has learned over time how to build and maintain partnerships with people who are awesome.
What irks me still is the way Rainmaker and the Genesis framework is sold. What irks me, in essence, is Brian Clark's copywriting. I feel like I am not only being talked down to, but that he overstates certain aspects of the framework that just aren't that exciting. Wordpress SEO by Yoast is better than Genesis SEO. The fact that the Genesis framework uses modern html is not that cool. Not to me at least.
Do You Need The Full Monty?
Do you need the full package? What I still can't figure out, exactly, is whether you, the entrepreneur, the small business person, need what Rainmaker and Copyblogger Media offers.
I want to know what Guy Kawasaki would say. He doesn't even think you need a social media manager, so how does he feel about hiring out your writing to software (Scribe) and using paid version of a framework when there are free (competent) versions available?
The Final Verdict: I Don't Know
On the one hand...
Sorry. I guess I'm not a very good copywriter. I just don't know. What I have not yet seen is a direct comparison between, for example, Thematic and Genesis. I also have not fully answered for myself why a child theme based on the _S (Shaper) theme by Automattic isn't an appropriate option. And finally, what are you getting with the entire Rainmaker platform that makes it worth the price?
For the non-designer/developer, Genesis is not exactly self-explanatory. In fact, right on the Studio Press site they offer recommended Genesis developers. There is an admitted learning curve. There is also a great affiliate program, and those always make me a bit wary. Many of the rave reviews of Genesis and Studio Press come from affiliate links.
But on the other hand...
However, many of them don't. Many rave reviews of Genesis are based solely on the fact that the influencer writing about Genesis really admires Brian Clark, Brian Gardner, and the entire Copyblogger Media team. That says a lot in my book.
And, really, the cost to buy the Genesis framework is only $60.00. Compared to free, that is a lot. But we're not talking about a lot of money for something that many authoritative Wordpress people (including Wordpress founder, Matt Mullenweg) think is great. I think, at the end of the day, the value of the Genesis framework is understandable.
How Much is Wordpress Specific Hosting Worth to You?
But then, for the Rainmaker platform, the cost moves up to $95 per month. That's where I start to lose the thread. I see the value in paying $60 as a flat fee so that I don't have to throw myself to the wolves of Wordpress development when I really just want to blog and be a content marketer. That makes sense.
And good, Wordpress specific hosting should cost money. So I do understand that as well. As I read somewhere, if you have traffic over 0 people per month, you need to look into good hosting options. And if you are a content marketer, traffic is a huge part of your business model. So, is Wordpress specific hosting worth $95/month? Because that is what the Rainmaker platform costs, billed quarterly.
I am sure I am missing something. I'm sure I don't fully understand the value of the things offered in the Copyblogger Media package. I'm actually hoping to be enlightened in comments, private messages, or on social media.
I'm a huge fan of what Brian Clark brings to the world of content marketing. If I were a better student, I'd be using my words to sell stuff, too. But I am still on the fence about that value of the Rainmaker platform. Enlighten me, please.