Wealthy Affiliate, with over 1.5 million subscribers, may be the most popular affiliate marketing program available. They've been around for over 14 years and offer a comprehensive training package aimed at newcomers trying to make an easy buck from their laptops.
But hype aside, is Wealthy Affiliate all it's cracked up to be?
Are their students actually making money - and is their business model still relevant in 2021?
Is Wealthy Affiliate Legit or a Scam?
Read below to find out!
WEALTHY AFFILIATE: SCAM OR LEGIT?
course review - Key points
Makes big promises to teach you how to create a business essentially advertising and selling products for other companies (affiliate marketing).
First month is $19. $29-$60 after that. Lot's of additional bonus content is also available for purchase.
Will teach you the fundamentals of affiliate marketing.
Super outdated business model with information that is simply not relevant anymore. Some of their methods are spammy and will likely do more harm them good.
This may have worked in 2016, but it's clear that they spend their resources coaxing new members into their group, rather than provide information that is actually usable in 2021.
LEGIT OR SCAM?
READ BELOW FOR FULL REVIEW.
I've spent the last two weeks, nearly 60 hours of research, to provide you with an honest, unbiased review in hopes of providing you with the necessary insight to determine whether or not Wealthy Affiliates is right for you.
I started my own journey into affiliate marketing back in 2014 - and at my best, was pulling in over $8000 a month.
Was it easy? Hell no.
I made tremendous sacrifices to pull off what I did. We're talking 70 work weeks, spammy marketing tactics, and in general, sacrificing a great deal of my well-being. I had put a lot on the line - and I had no choice but to try my best to make it work.
But was it worth it? The answer was yes until I came across Lead Generation.
While I haven't abandoned my affiliate portfolio all-together, in 2016 I switched my focus towards Lead Generation, which offers true passive income and nearly unlimited scalability.
It's a work-hard-get-rich business model, unlike affiliate marketing, and requires a brain, the willingness to learn, and some determination.
But the model works - and unlike other forms of digital marketing - it can actually offer a reprieve from the 9-5 office grind. If you're interesting in learning more, check out the link below.
Keep reading if you want to learn more about Wealthy Affiliates!
You will learn the following about Wealthy Affiliate in this article:
If Wealthy Affiliate can offer a reprieve from the 9-5 office grind.
If their training and the affiliate marketing business model is still effective in 2021.
Positive feedback and common complaints people have about Wealthy Affiliate.
The price of the Wealthy Affiliate program.
Is Wealthy Affiliate legit? Or a scam? Is it just another pyramid scheme?
I promise, if you stick with me here, you'll leave with a better understanding of what this program has to offer. Let's begin!
1. What is Wealthy Affiliate?
Wealthy Affiliate is a comprehensive platform devoted to the success and support of affiliate marketers worldwide.
It provides training, tools, and a wealth of other resources, including one of the world’s largest communities of affiliate marketers.
Over the past 15 years, Wealthy Affiliate has “helped over 1.5 million budding internet entrepreneurs.”
That’s actually an outdated number because as of January 2020, Wealthy Affiliate crossed the 2 million member mark.
The history of growth for Wealthy Affiliate is actually really fascinating.
Officially launched in 2005 by Kyle Loudoun and Carson Lim (more on them later), they wanted to help others to achieve the successes they had with making money online.
It originally was a subscription website that provided a weekly keyword list for $29.99 per month to help other affiliate marketers.
Within the first few months, they had successfully grown to 50 subscriptions, and needed to expand their offerings to provide additional help.
This was just the beginning of what would become a 15-year history marked by progressive growth, and constant evolution of the platform.
From adding training modules to a social component, Wealthy Affiliate was being pushed to revolutionize the yet to be formed space of eLearning.
Following the massive success and sale of MySpace in 2005, “WA Spaces” was added to the platform in 2006 which allowed members to create their own personalized web pages.
On September 26, 2006, the fate of MySpace was sealed when a previously closed social network opened up to any individual over the age of 13 with a valid email address, ultimately surpassing it in April of 2008 in search rankings.
Besides MySpace and Facebook, YouTube was also launched in 2005, and Twitter was launched in 2006. The Silicon Valley tech boom was in full swing!
One example of their early innovation (and failure) was to provide a core function on their platform necessary to affiliate marketing: a website builder and hosting platform.
They invested hundreds of thousands of dollars and thousands of man hours in developing their product (SiteRubix 2.0).
Sadly, their efforts were sunk by the rising tides of a free content management system growing in popularity [ WordPress, ever heard of it?], so they nixed SiteRubix 2.0 in 2008.
Did Kyle and Carson simply close up shop, or did they do what all great entrepreneurs do and continue to innovate?
You guessed it, they turned their energies into innovating and improving upon the Wealthy Affiliate platform and community.
In 2009, they launched WA Premium which included an all new virtual training center.
In 2010, they relaunched the WA Blog, and in 2011 a live chat feature was added.
2012 was a huge year for Wealthy Affiliate, mostly because it produced Jaaxy and it’s famous free membership strategy.
Jaaxy, the evolution of the original idea that launched Wealthy Affiliates, is a keyword search tool that helps WA members find and develop keyword strategies.
Why is the free membership strategy such a boss move?
When you have such a comprehensive platform, a free membership allows you to see the value in upgrading before doing so.
This one move astronomically increased the amount of users on the platform and the future potential earnings too.
‘12 also increased the social engagement aspects by introducing a rewards system, as well as launching the Level 4 training on Social Engagement.
In 2013, Wealthy Affiliate saw the launch of the Classrooms feature, private messaging, and SiteRubix was brought back from the dead to serve as a hosting platform for WA member’s sites.
2014 brought a system wide content organization system, as well as launching the Level 5 Training on Content Creation.
With such an increased demand and users over the years, 2015 brought about much needed performance and security upgrades to the entire platform, including more mobile friendliness.
And every year since, Wealthy Affiliate has continually evolved to better serve the WA community.
The latest unveiling was an entirely new website layout and design released in November 2020!
2. Kyle Loudoun and Carson Lim? Scammers or Legit Gurus?
Kyle Loudoun and Carson Lim are the founders of Wealthy Affiliate, and have been growing the business ever since 2005.
Over the past 15 years, Kyle and Carson have been growing the Wealthy Affiliate platform and team.
What started out with just the two of them, has now transformed into a 5 member executive leadership team, along with over 20 full time staff members.
But, where did it all begin for Kyle and Carson?
The year was 1999...
Brittany Spears and Backstreet Boys dominated the radio waves, Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace controlled the box office, and 12:00AM on January 1st, 2000 consumed the worries of millions.
The world was changing rapidly with the coming of the digital age, and before Y2K ended the world, the very first blogging sites grew in popularity in 1999.
Pioneering a path, internet entrepreneurs began creating blog websites they could make money with by connecting customers with products… aka Affiliate Marketing.
Flash forward to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada 2002...
While Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was completing a Canadian tour, we can find the 21-year-old college students, Kyle Loudoun and Carson Lim.
Like most college students, they were broke and had a lot of homework.
So, they set out to learn how to make money online.
This is how they discovered affiliate marketing.
Kyle and Carson didn’t succeed at first…
Like any great entrepreneur success story, there’s was built on a heaping pile of failures.
But eventually, their hard work and perseverance paid off when they started earning really great affiliate commissions.
It took Kyle and Carson 3 years to really start making good money, and that’s when the idea to monetize other aspects of their affiliate process came into the picture.
They knew that there were others out there who were eager to learn how to make money online, and would highly benefit from the 3 years of trial and error they had gone through.
So, this was the official birth of the Wealthy Affiliate platform.
What started off as a subscription service for a weekly keyword list, has now grown into a comprehensive platform.
On the About Us page of WealthyAffiliate.com, Kyle’s quote is “You cannot make people love a service, you have to create a service that people love.”
I think this quote perfectly sums up the 15 year journey that Kyle Loudoun and Carson Lim have been on with creating and growing Wealthy Affiliate.
3. How Do You Make Money With Affiliate Marketing?
Every product, service, course, or business in general has the same problem they are trying to solve.
You might immediately think the answer is making money, and you would be correct.
But, identifying the problem and effectively solving it are two completely different worlds.
How are people going to buy products or services if they don’t know they exist?
So, the name of the game is traffic through conversion…
First, you have to get the customer interested in your product/service.
Then, you have to close the sale with the customer.
Finally, you must deliver a quality service/product that was presented prior to the transaction.
Affiliate marketing works by driving traffic to the point of sale.
If someone purchases the product within the designated time period, the marketer gets paid a commission of that sale.
This is all accomplished through specific links and tracking cookies, and each platform is unique in how it handles these.
Sometimes, there is a very small window of opportunity to collect an affiliate commission from a purchase.
In this case, a good affiliate marketer would do a much better job of pre-selling the potential customer, in order to increase the likelihood of an immediate transaction.
Other times, there is a very large window of opportunity, with some companies offering lifetime commissions to the marketer who gets the potential customer to the platform first!
4. Is Affiliate Marketing Legit or a Scam? What About Wealthy Affiliate?
Affiliate Marketing is a legit online business model.
If you have ever taken someone’s advice about a restaurant, dentist, or anything else...
That’s called a referral, and Affiliate Marketing is simply getting paid for giving referrals.
Of course, those referrals have to purchase something for you to get paid.
But, what about Wealthy Affiliate, is it legit or a scam?
There have been many wondering online whether it is a scam, but rest assured it is legit.
Is Wealthy Affiliate a MLM?
Well, not explicitly… even though it is dangerously close.
In Wealthy Affiliate, you are equipped with the skills and training necessary to promote literally any product on the planet, so in that way it is not.
In fact, you are encouraged with countless blogs and other resource materials within the community on picking the right niche/product.
However, the Affiliate Bootcamp training teaches you how to be an affiliate with Wealthy Affiliate, and you earn commissions on your referrals.
“Okay, that’s not too bad… Maybe they just needed a way to thoroughly teach affiliate marketing...”
Did I mention that if you become a paying (premium) member you earn double the commission rate of the starter member?
Not to mention the lifetime commissions and cookies.
This has led to affiliate marketers finding success by simply promoting the Wealthy Affiliate platform.
Who can blame anyone?
The reason someone gets into affiliate marketing is to make relatively passive money, so if it works it works.
Check out the commission structure for yourself.
According to WA, 12% of all free starter referrals end up going Premium.
For example, if you were able to send 1,000 people to join the free starter plan on Wealthy Affiliate, you could expect 120 people to become premium members.
Let’s also assume that 1 in 8 upgrade to yearly, so out of the 120 people 15 will upgrade to yearly.
If they paid monthly, you’d make $1,181.25 per month and $1,762.50 per year on just their memberships, not including if they make any other on platform purchases.
That’s $15,937.50 per year...and if you were a paying premium member you’d make $31,875.
Please note, that these numbers were just made up math, and that earnings of this nature take a lot of dedication, hard work, and time.
A vast majority of affiliate marketers work for years and never see this kind of income.
From my investigation, WA marketers who were expressly promoting the platform were accomplishing a 1.5% to 2% optin rate from traffic to free starter plan registration.
So taking the higher conversion percentage, in order to get 1,000 people signed up for the free starter plan, you’d need an audience with 50,000 people!
So be prepared to invest a substantial amount of time and a little bit of money on the front end before you ever start seeing returns.
5. How Much Does Wealthy Affiliate Cost?
Pricing for the platform is really straight forward.
As of November 2020, there are now three plans: Starter, Premium, and Premium Plus.
The Starter plan is free, and has a good number of features that you can utilize right away.
The Premium plan is packed full of features that would take months to fully utilize.
The Premium plan starts at $49 per month, or $495 per year.
By choosing the yearly option, you are getting 2 months free.
The Premium Plus plan is a recent addition that includes even more features, advance tools, trainings, and more.
The Premium Plus plan starts at $99 per month, or $995 per year.
With the annual option, once again you're essentially get 2 months free.
The addition of a third tier membership (Premium Plus) is the focus of the specials at the time of this article.
I've seen this type of special first month pricing before, but it was buried in BBB complaints.
Basically, the first month pricing promotional - when it's run - is you get the first month at the lower plan's price.
Previously, you could have access to the Premium plan for free for the first month, then going to $49/month each month after.
Right now, you can sign up for Premium Plus for $49 during the first month, and then it goes to $99/month each month after.
Pros of Wealthy Affiliate
6. Interconnected Training Material
The Wealthy Affiliate platform offers an interconnected learning experience.
Honestly, at times, it sort of feels like 15 years of marketing knowledge that’s been slowly stacked over time.
There is value there, especially for newbies.
Not only are the lessons made up of text, graphics, and videos…
But there is a continuous discussion thread attached at the lesson level.
If that weren’t enough, they also offer a live chat feature and additional weekly live courses. *some features are only available to premium members*
The layout is a bit disorganized and chaotic at times, but there are multiple ways to access trainings.
When you login, you’ll be brought to your dashboard.
Immediately, you’ll see an endless amount of blogs in the middle of the page.
Often showing more popular/recent blog posts, there are some categories like “motivational” or “success.”
I will say that I attempted to look for recent success stories, but was sad to find way more posts from 2014-2017.
This could’ve simply been from the amount of interactions with those blog posts and how that factors into the platform’s content promotion…
On the far right side of the screen you’ll see live community interactions - comments, posts, etc.
These two features really integrate the community aspect of the Wealthy Affiliate platform.
But the main focus from this dashboard is the menu on the left hand side.
The sections are self-explanatory, except maybe research - which connects you to Jaaxy.
After you’ve clicked on the training portion, you’ll see the popup menu with all of the options.
There are 2 main courses that you would look at: Online Entrepreneur Certification and Affiliate Bootcamp.
There are 5 levels with 50 total lessons inside of the Online Entrepreneur Certification, and 7 phases with 70 total lessons inside of Affiliate Bootcamp.
You can also utilize “my training activity” to easily pick up where you left off or find a specific lesson you were previously working on.
Inside of “Training HQ,” not only can you find all of the lessons from inside the two main courses, but you can also find other lessons that other members of the community have made.
The “Classrooms” organizes all of the lessons by content topic, like “everything wordpress,” “the Wealthy Affiliate platform,” or “WA Affiliate Program.”
But, even with all of these different ways to find the information that you’re looking for, they are all still interconnected.
For example, if you have skipped a lesson in the Online Entrepreneur Certification but looked for that info elsewhere, you would find the lesson you missed.
Somehow, it all works together… even if it seems chaotic and feels overwhelming at times.
7. All-in-One Platform
If you’ve been in the marketing game for more than 5 minutes, you know what it’s like to have tons of open tabs on your web browser.
More than likely, a lot of those tabs will have tools of the trade opened up and ready for you to use them.
Your website, keyword tools, SEO tools, content tools, etc.
That’s one problem of convenience that the Wealthy Affiliate platform solves by providing such a comprehensive platform.
Here, once you login to Wealthy Affiliates, you not only have access to the training modules and community…
But you can also build your websites, host them, perform keyword research with Jaaxy, and connect with affiliate platforms to find new products to sell!
This is a huge step towards convenience, and can add a whole new level to the overall experience.
With these features on their platform, they are much more empowered to provide more accurate training material.
Plus, they can also provide better technical support in case you get stuck!
Additionally, by providing an all-in-one platform, they can continue to develop and refine it to promote a better overall experience for their Wealthy Affiliate members.
8. Wealthy Affiliates Community is (Mostly) Awesome
Honestly, this is probably what really sells the WA platform.
The training is pretty good for beginners, and the fact that everything you would need is on the same platform is a plus.
What really sets this platform apart from every other affiliate marketing course out there is the unparalleled community.
The Wealthy Affiliate website states that there are over 800,000 members from 195 countries in the WA community.
This isn’t just a large platform, it is a very engaged platform of users.
With this wealth of knowledge, you would be hard pressed to find a question that couldn’t be answered by someone with a level of expertise in it!
There is always someone online who could potentially help you with something you are stuck on.
After only spending a few moments inside of the platform, you can see that this is absolutely true.
Whether it’s in the live chat, discussion questions on a lesson, or on a blog post, the community engagement is really high.
Why is this?
Firstly, it is a core principle that the entire program is built upon, the “pay it forward mentality.”
Secondly, the internal ranking system includes the factor of being helpful in its algorithm.
We’ll get to the ranking system later, including that little note “we do take affiliate activity into consideration when determining rank, although you do not have to be an affiliate to be in the top 10…”
But, clearly stated in the image above are ways to quickly boost your rankings.
Being actively engaged in the community is incentivized through this ranking system.
There were some mentions of earning real incentives and prizes, but that was debated in the discussion section.
I think the real reward is simply getting to be helpful, and watching your stats increase.
It’s like some sort of digital karma counter lol
Beyond just helping others when possible, there is a massive opportunity for networking.
The long-term growth potential for your business and yourself (aren’t they connected anyway???) by being able to network with like minded online entrepreneurs is HUGE!
A lot of the folks on the platform are new to the digital marketing world, but there are a lot who have been around for a minute.
There are also a lot of people who have become very successful in the space too!
This is the real value of the Wealthy Affiliate platform… you get to be immersed in a community that could potentially help you succeed long term.
In fact, on the Wealthy Affiliate website, they make the very bold (or very dumb) promise…
It does clarify that they’ve never seen anyone fail as long as they didn’t quit.
Honestly, that part of not quitting until success starts showing up, generally takes between 2-3 years.
It can happen sooner with affiliate marketing, but more than likely not for a newbie.
Because speed to success is dependent upon skill and working capital, of which newer marketers don’t typically have enough of either.
9. Free Starter Membership
This is a huge plus for me because it totally eliminates the risk if you’re brand new.
There are thousands of online marketing courses out there, and choosing one is often really difficult from the buying side of the sales page.
It can be dangerous for your bank account searching for a new path forward.
If you were serious about investing, a lot of courses would sell you beachfront property on the moon next to the Sea of Tranquility.
Heck, even some of them would throw in a bonus stack of learning how to moon snorkel!
(BTW, there is a Sea of Tranquility on the moon, but there’s not any water.)
The point is that when you’re looking to invest into yourself, you are hopeful of a better future.
This naturally makes us want to partner with the hope-focused, future paced messaging of a well crafted sales process.
However, without the right boundaries in place, things can go sideways in a hurry.
There’s a possibility that you could end up with less money in your bank account, and a deed to property on the moon…
But more than likely, you’ll invest into a program that isn’t actually a good fit for you and your goals.
That is why the free starter membership is such a HUGE plus on the Wealthy Affiliate platform!
Sure, you don’t get all of the access that you would’ve with the premium membership, but you get enough.
You get all of the foundational pieces needed to see if this is a good fit for you.
What is included in the free starter plan?
Cons of Wealthy Affiliate
10. Wealthy Affiliates is a Low Key MLM (Pyramid Scheme)
Listen, this one is going to be interesting to answer, as so many have pointed out online already.
Let’s set the record straight up front: Wealthy Affiliate is NOT a MLM or a Pyramid scheme.
So why do so many people suspect that?
Even though they are not an MLM, they do borrow elements of MLM’s, and these trigger internal red flags for some.Sort of Smells Like an MLM Factor #1: the Affiliate Bootcamp.
Granted, this course is optional, and a lot of this confusion could be eliminated by simply changing the title of the course to “WA Affiliate Bootcamp.”
Because that’s exactly what you are learning in this course…
“The process of creating and establishing a business in a niche related to the promotion of Wealthy Affiliate.”
On the one hand, this is an optional course, and if this were a true MLM it would be mandatory.
However, the questionable part of it all is that they even place it as an option to their ideal customer, who is new to digital marketing.
Even though the WA affiliate program offers some great perks (lifetime cookies & commissions), the badge of approval at the top could be misleading to their new members.
Instead of seeing it as “Wealthy Affiliate is a great platform to promote if you choose to promote the Affiliate Marketing Niche…”
Some might view it as “promoting Wealthy Affiliate is the best way to get started with affiliate marketing.”
Partnering this interpretation with the fact that the Affiliate Bootcamp exists right below the core online entrepreneur course, this often leads new members to simply turn around and promote WA instead of other products.
Because it lowers the barrier to success by showing you exactly how to do it and how you can be successful at it without having to figure out a niche/product on your own.
Sort of Smells Like an MLM Factor #2: the ranking system and “ambassadors”
I told you we would get back around to this.
This post seems to be dated newer, but the information is outdated because there are no longer 12 spots, but 25 ambassador spots.
Isn’t ambassadors a popular term for the MLM members?
Yes, but WA defines an ambassador as someone who is “paying-it-forward and helping others within the community!”
So the ranking system essentially shows the top 200 members of the Wealthy Affiliate community, and the top 25 are given the title of ambassadors.
But, what does it take to get on the leaderboard and rank in the top 200?
In the blog post explaining what this whole thing is, it had mentioned perks and incentives for rising in ranks.
However, that was pointed out as being no longer a thing by some in the discussion comments.
Oh good, no actual prizes for being a high performer.
What’s that, a trip to Vegas for the high performing WA affiliates you say?
Sort of Smells Like an MLM Factor #3: Super Affiliate Conference in Vegas
That’s right, for those who are successful enough at getting people to sign up for the premium plan…
You get invited on a trip to Vegas with Kyle, Carson, and the executive leadership team.
The info states that you’d need to have 300 upgrades during the course of 2020 to qualify.
Updates reflect that if you were to get 100 premium plan sales between Sept 2020 and Jan 01, 2021, you’d get an invite to Vegas in 2021.
Know what else is interesting?
Most of the few success stories found on the platform (beyond the “i made my first sale” type stuff), have done so ONLY because they have promoted Wealthy Affiliate.
Like I said before, Wealthy Affiliate is NOT a MLM… but they also don’t deter their eager newbies from acting like it is one.
11. Wealthy Affiliates Offers Very Limited Control Over Their Platform
So one pro for Wealthy Affiliate is that it’s an all-in-one platform…
The other side of that perspective actually makes it a negative.
From the overall perspective of ownership to the in-platform function, limited control is a negative.
Since everything is all on one platform, if you did build a business on it, you might have a difficult time transferring ownership if you ever decided to leave.
This would include your web design, domain name, hosting, and you’d certainly lose the data recorded on the platform for your site’s performance.
Control is one of the five fundamental factors to consider when looking into a business model.
The biggest issue with affiliate marketing and control is you are at the mercy of the platform you work with.
For example, in early 2020, Amazon cut their affiliate commission percentages once again.
This means that for the small number of super successful folks who had spent thousands of hours and dollars to establish a successful Amazon associate business…
And with one little commission update, they are now having to rebuild and expand in order to compensate for the new reduction in profit.
For the vast majority who had put in hundreds of hours and dollars into the journey…
They might have lost everything.
As another example, today’s local coffee shops depend a great deal on internet service for additional transactions.
This is why control is such an important factor in building a business, and why it’s specifically a negative when it comes to this Wealthy Affiliate review.
Not just the aspect of lack of control in affiliate marketing, but this specifically extends to the Wealthy Affiliate all-in-one platform.
However, we must remember the target audience for Wealthy Affiliate are those who are new to affiliate marketing, and perhaps even new to internet business.
That is the appeal of an all-in-one platform to those who know, and a good service for those who don’t recognize that appeal.
For newbies, the website builder and the hosting feature can really help by simplifying that whole process.
It’s relatively simple to use, and definitely gives you an advantage if there was ever a technical issue.
Instead of having to figure out how to fix wordpress issues, you’ve got the support from the closed platform.
But, if you like having full control over your website, you will feel imprisoned by SiteRubix.
You are limited to what is inherent in the builder, including themes and other elements.
So, the negative of lacking control exists both in terms of using the WA platform to build your business, and the technical access to the websites you build in your business.
12. Lacks Advanced Training
For a training platform that has been around for 15 years, you’d expect to see some more advanced training.
Instead, you are provided a very basic understanding of how it works and how to get started.
However, it is glaringly obvious to an experienced marketer that there is no true advanced training.
What advanced training are they lacking?
A more holistic perspective on SEO, including off-page SEO and backlinking, and an in-depth training on PPC advertising.
In the Online Entrepreneur Certification, Level 1 goes over essentials like navigating the WA community, a basic understanding of affiliate marketing, picking a niche, and starting a website.
Level 2 expounds on getting the website finalized, how to grow the site organically (only on-page SEO is covered), and how to build keyword focused content all in order to increase website traffic.
Level 3 focuses on how to monetize the traffic you earned through the affiliate process.
These were the original courses, though they have been updated.
Level 4 demonstrates how to utilize social networks to help drive traffic to your website.
This stuff may still work, but it was popularized back in 2012-2014 so there are a lot more people wise to this magic trick.
Level 5 is all about upgrading your overall content strategy and tactics.
They do a good job of teaching the fundamentals, but suffer a bit from the “build it and they will come” mentality.
This makes total sense why most of the actual success stories I’ve seen on the WA platform have taken 2-3 years to achieve.
With a good off-page SEO and backlink training, time to success could be cut in half.
If this were added, the over 800,000 affiliate marketers would essentially be weaponized for a dramatically more competitive race to the top 10 spots on Google.
So, it might be intentional?
They don’t seem to have a problem dangling a Pay Per Click advertising strategy in front of the students, even showing them how to set up a campaign…
But paid advertising can get into spending a lot of money in a hurry!
This is borderline very irresponsible considering most of the audience viewing these trainings would be new to online marketing.
13. The Wealthy Affiliate Community Can Be Very Spammy and Distracting
Granted this is only going to be a negative if your goal is to grow an online business and make money…
The Wealthy Affiliate community has been built on a platform designed to be engaged with.
It is it’s own social network, and that can be very distracting.
For the 3.5 million adults who are on social media, we’ve been conditioned and are being conditioned to stay on longer and engage more.
Whenever we hear that notification tone, our emotional tongues salivate like Pavlov’s dogs because we know we’re about to get a little hit of happiness.
That’s not just nice language, that’s science.
You see, we are being conditioned to crave and desire more of the feelings of connection, happiness, joy, and more from the little apps.
This activity and conditioned interactions are directly transferable to the Wealthy Affiliate platform.
You feel nice getting discussion comments on your blog post, that’s a reward.
You get rewarded on the WA platform for being helpful and commenting on blog posts, and that feels nice.
Jumping into live chat sessions with others who are in similar circumstances as you, that’s nice.
You have a chance to express the complaints and share how you’ve had a rough go at it, and that’s nice.
They offer condolences and encouragement to journey onward, and that’s nice.
Before long, you’ve spent more time engaging in the WA community than you actually have on building more blog posts for your affiliate site.
Engagement inside the WA community might feel nice, and that may be what you’re looking for in your life…
If so, I guess $49/mo is cheaper than therapy, and at least you can feel like you're trying to be successful.
But if you’re looking to actually create some relatively passive streams of income with affiliate marketing, then be mindful of the WA platform’s design to keep you engaged.
You can definitely get involved with the community, network, and still build your online business!
14. Do Wealthy Affiliate Students Actually Make Any Money?
Are they successful?
I guess that depends on your definition of success.
For some, they really enjoy climbing the rankings on the platform.
Some of the blogs I went through gave me the impression that there are people who spend a lot of time playing the game to rise in the rankings.
When specifically looking to find accounts of actual, ongoing monetary success… well, that was difficult.
Are they actually making money?
I combed through no less than 500 blog posts, and read the best 100 that gave me the idea that they were showing financial success.
Let me be clear, I know that people can be successful with affiliate marketing, and they have a complete right to not blast that success all over the internet.
According to Job2Joy, 3.2% of affiliate marketers earn over $150,000 per year…
While 48.36% of them make less than $20,000 per year.
So, are the WA members actually successful?
From what I gathered, the stories from the blog posts match the overall theme of affiliate marketing.
Generally, it takes a couple of years of hard work and dedication before monthly earnings start crossing $1,000.
The only exceptions that I saw were when a Wealthy Affiliate member was promoting a really good platform with residual commissions…
Or, more often than not, the success was made up of mostly earnings from promoting the WA platform itself.
From this one example, the breakdown shows an overwhelming difference between WA affiliate commissions and all others.
When there were people sharing their success stories at this “replace your job” range and beyond…
It typically involved WA affiliate commissions.
My concern with some of these WA affiliate success posts is that they are not accurately reflecting a monthly commission.
Rather, they are only posting their proof of the big annual renewal months.
Only the authors of the posts know if it is legit or not.
15. Is Wealthy Affiliates Worth the Money?
Wealthy Affiliate is a really good option for those who are brand new to internet marketing and making money online, especially if they have operating capital set aside.
The free option allows you to get an idea of what affiliate marketing is all about without having to commit to any sort of price.
Plus, if you did want to invest in the premium plan and have access to all of the features, it is only $49/mo.
However, I want to stress that affiliate marketing as a whole should be considered solely as a side project until you can consistently replace your income.
Affiliate marketing overall is a really crowded space, and upwards of 95% of all affiliate marketers fail.
Because it often takes years to become a viable source of income.
So, it is certainly not a get rich quick scheme…
It’s not even a smash and grab for cash either.
Affiliate marketing is a very long play, and should be approached with a commitment to hard work for at least 3-5 years before seeing success.
Especially if you are following the Wealthy Affiliate approach to growing your affiliate business.
Since the platform lacks advanced training to help cut through the competition and climb the rankings faster...
You will need to sure up your commitment to the long uphill journey to success in affiliate marketing.
16. Are There Better
(or Cheaper) Alternative to Wealthy Affiliates?
If you are looking for other alternatives to learning affiliate marketing, here are a few recommendations for you to look into…
The first would be a free option to align with the cost of the starter plan with Wealthy Affiliate.
Skillshare offers free affiliate marketing courses.
You can take them at your own convenience, and gain a lot of fundamental knowledge for free.
Obviously, with a free platform, you’re not ensured to get qualified information.
How can information like this be qualified normally?
An abundance of case studies, testimonials, and success proof.
How can you qualify free material, like these skillshare courses?
Weigh the quality of the course against as many other free courses as possible.
Do a lot of research to make sure you’re building your business on good info.
The second recommendation is cheaper than 1 month of the premium version of Wealthy Affiliate.
For $20, you can take an almost 4 hour course on Udemy called Affiliate Marketing & SEO Mastery Course.
The biggest pro that I like with this course is that it includes great SEO tips.
What is desperately lacking in Wealthy Affiliate, Adam Bosch provides with this training.
With the organic ranking tips that Adam shares, you can really outshine your competition.
Plus, he adds some gold nuggets about copywriting that can really help you with any online business.
Overall, he teaches techniques that he’s found some success with, and those techniques are solid.
The third recommendation would cost as much as a couple of months of Wealthy Affiliates.
Savage Affiliates 2.0 by Franklin Hatchett has a lot of solid affiliate marketing information in it.
The standard version is $197 and the premium version is $297.
Frosty Frank always provides a wealth free knowledge on his social media accounts, but this training puts in a lot more value.
He teaches affiliate marketing from the ground up, teaching both methods of free and paid traffic.
He also covers website building in WordPress, email marketing, sales funnel setup, and excellent niche research.
Franklin also covers how to use affiliate platforms Clickbank and Amazon.
The premium version has complete modules on being a ClickFunnels affiliate, web hosting affiliate, and launch jacking.
As well as a lot of pre made sales and affiliate funnels.
The final recommendation is the equivalent of purchasing 2 annual memberships to Wealthy Affiliate.
For $997, The Super Affiliate System PRO by John Crestani is a comprehensive training.
John is a proven 7-figure affiliate marketer, and this training covers a lot.
He’s been featured in Forbes, Affiliate Summit, Yahoo Finance, and Home Business.
This course covers everything you need to start and run a successful affiliate marketing business.
Their stated goal is to have you earning $2k per week or $10k per month.
On top of the great training, they also provide weekly coaching calls and mentor support for those enrolled in their program.
You even get a 1-on-1 call with John Crestani himself!
Among the depth of content, they teach running Facebook and Native ads really well.
You also get proven ads, landing pages, and other proven templates/scripts.
It’s a higher monetary investment, but for those serious about starting and quickly scaling an affiliate marketing business it might be worth looking into.
Parting Thoughts on Wealthy Affiliate
Overall, Wealthy Affiliate is offers a lot of value for the person with a lot of time, patience, and determination to exclusively make money in affiliate marketing.
There are positives and negatives about the platform as a whole, but it's been around for 15 years.
That's ancient in internet age, so that by itself should make it worth looking into... especially since you can get limited access for free.
Most of the sustainable financial success indicated by students on the platform indicated that they were successful WA affiliates.
Want to know how to make $500 in minutes? Tell 5 people that you will teach them how to make $500 in minutes, and charge them $100 to do it.
And that's the magic trick that's been bringing people into the door for over a decade.
Except once you're inside, you actually get to connect with a community of others who are now in on it too.
Pros & Cons of Wealthy Affiliate
How Does Affiliate Marketing Stand Up To Lead Generation?
18. Wealthy Affiliates Has a Low Barrier of Entry (Meaning Lots of Competition)
One of the biggest downfalls of affiliate marketing is the relatively low barrier to entry.
Why is the barrier to entry important?
That’s exactly why affiliate marketing in 2020 is flooded with competition worldwide.
Anyone with an internet connection and the minimal knowledge necessary to create an affiliate website can get into affiliate marketing.
There isn’t any special knowledge required to get into it, and you don’t really need much startup money.
The barrier to entry is crucial to lowering competition, and sometimes that barrier is money.
For example, look at a few of the franchising opportunities from world recognizable brands.
McDonald’s requires a franchisee to have $500k in non-borrowed personal resources to even be considered.
Thanks to this hefty franchise tag, there are only 38,695 McDonalds worldwide.
To open a 7-Eleven, it would be best to have between $50k and $250k in liquid assets.
There are over 70,000 7-Elevens worldwide.
Subway is one of the cheapest franchise options available among fast food companies with a global brand, and it’s still a $15k franchise fee…
Plus you still have to cover startup costs, which could range from $100k to $400k.
There are 44,758 Subways worldwide.
Affiliate marketing requires less than $50 to get started.
Sure, if you wanted to reduce your time to success (as someone pursuing a franchise business model), then you could invest money.
But your investment would be into skills… either paying someone who already has them, or access to training to obtain them.
Which brings up the second most common barrier to entry, specialized skills/knowledge.
Doctors get paid so well because they have specialized skills and knowledge base.
In fact, it is highly illegal to do what doctors do in the marketplace unless you have the appropriate skills, knowledge, and certifications to prove it.
This barrier to entry is extremely high, taking 12+ years of higher education (and hundreds of thousands of dollars) to achieve the necessary credentials.
To get into the affiliate marketing world, there is not any specialized knowledge or skills required.
The more skills you acquire, the more you can beat your fellow competing affiliate marketers.
But to actually start affiliate marketing today, you simply need to be able to purchase a domain name and build a blog website.
Almost anyone in the world of today could do it.
That’s also why there are over 800,000 members of the Wealthy Affiliate community alone, not to mention the actual number of affiliate marketers worldwide.
There are over 646,547 more affiliate marketers just on the Wealthy Affiliate platform than there are owners of McDonald's, 7-Eleven, and Subway franchises.
If you’re competing with organic traffic from blog posts, as WA teaches, then you’re realistically also competing over 10 spots on page 1 of Google.
That’s why instead of a model like affiliate marketing, local lead generation is much more preferred.
The barrier to entry for local lead generation is developing a skill set, the main focus being search engine optimization (SEO).
Using learned and mastered skills like SEO, you can rank organically against a local competition, instead of competing nationally for affiliate marketing.
In local lead generation, instead of competing with hundreds of thousands of other affiliate marketers over national keyword rankings…
You compete with local businesses over niche-specific keywords.
More often than not, you are trying to outrank people who aren’t really familiar with SEO.
These are small businesses who are great at what they do, but they aren’t internet marketers like affiliate marketers.
This reduces your competition by 99% compared to affiliate marketing!
19. How Much Time Does It Take to Make Money With Wealthy Affiliates?
More than likely, you are looking into affiliate marketing because you want to build an internet business that allows you to have freedom.
Freedom of money, to allow you to no longer have to worry about just barely getting by.
Freedom of location, to be able to live the laptop lifestyle, working from anywhere you’d like.
Freedom of time, to make money without having to trade your time to do it.
Affiliate marketing can work towards helping to accomplish those goals.
However, it is going to take either an incredible financial or time commitment.
Assuming you don’t have several thousand dollars per month to invest in growing your affiliate game, you’ll be investing your time.
Affiliate marketing as a whole takes time, no matter how much money you have to throw at it.
The difference is between months and years to success.
It takes time to grow affiliate websites that have enough strength to give a good payout.
Using the techniques taught by Wealthy Affiliates, it will take years before you start seeing monetary success.
That’s years of constantly grinding out blog posts, with little to no financial return.
This is why all of the affiliate marketing teachers emphasize the importance of picking a niche you enjoy learning about or are already passionate about.
To succeed in affiliate marketing, you have to have a substantial amount of traffic driven to a really well crafted affiliate funnel.
Getting traffic takes either using ad spend or growing a massive site that is highly trusted by Google.
Once you have a substantial amount of traffic, that traffic needs to be taken through an intentional process, aka “affiliate funnel.”
This could be as simple as a review blog post with affiliate links embedded in the post…
Or as in-depth as an informational piece with a freebie giveaway in exchange for an email address, with a multi-week email sequence planned out.
Regardless of how simple or complex your process is, that’s what it takes to monetize traffic in affiliate marketing.
That’s why it takes time to actually make money online with affiliate marketing, and often it takes years before you're making $1k per month.
Local lead generation is the more preferred option, and could be much faster…
And more profitable considering you could charge local businesses to promote their products/services online.
There are local businesses who see the value in paying for digital marketing services like SEO, social media management, etc.
Even if you charged a low monthly amount, like $500, with just 2 clients, you could be making $1k per month now…
Instead of 2-3 years from now with an affiliate site.
That’s a minimum of a $24,000 - $36,000 difference that time makes.
Wealthy Affiliate is undoubtedly one of the most popular (and most persistent) affiliate marketing courses available on the internet.
The world of affiliate marketing is constantly evolving. Algorithms and advertising platforms change - as do the methods in which marketers choose to advertise. However, I do believe that Kyle and Carson do a relatively good job at keeping up with the changes and keeping their course up to date.
I am a part of the 1% who found real success with the business model, but after years of grinding - and sacrificing more than I care to divulge at the moment - I came to find that affiliate marketing does not hold up in the long-term.
Why? Competition. When I started, it was a relatively fresh business model. In 2021, you could argue that tens of millions of people around the globe are actively advertising their affiliate programs. New courses are popping up every day - and with the appeal of being able to work from your laptop, there's no question as to why so many people are jumping ship.
It is, however, not the money maker that it used to be. You have to outwork your competition and that could mean an investment of 60+ hours a week. You're also dealing with platforms, like Facebook and Google, which you have no control over. When a platform makes changes, you have to change with it. This means more time and more money are required to stay afloat. It is not a fun game to play.
Expect 2-3 years before you can plan on making a profit. Expect to spend a lot of money up front. Expect to fail. Expect that a partnership, a product, a program that you're advertising simply doesn't sell. There is a ton of luck involved and it can take years to finally find something that works.
These are just a few of the reasons I have lessened my involvement with affiliate marketing in favor of lead gen, which presents an open playing field.
There is also real potential to earn passive income and the model is infinitely scalable. In three months, you can easily be making $3000/mo.
We'll discuss how the Lead Generation business model works, up next.
We give Wealthy Affiliate 1.5 stars out of 5. Save your time and money and focus on something that will actually make you money.
MARKET SATURATION & COMPETITION
There are tens of millions of ad accounts - and more independent FB ad agencies are popping up every day, all of whom are fighting for the same attention. In 2021, getting your advertisements seen is a matter of outspending your competition.
Ad prices have doubled in price over the last year. When you factor in ad development, split testing, and monitoring, a single ad campaign can easily cost thousands of dollars.
Effective ads are easily copied - and Facebook has little to no protection against plagiarism.
The key to long term wealth is in building and owning valuable assets, but with Facebook advertising, you own nothing. You're bound to the confines of an aging social media platform with an advertising system that is increasingly ineffective.
Facebook is quick to shut down advertising accounts - and their terms of service are ever changing. If 2 people report a single ad (for every 5000 impressions), it is likely your account will be suspended.
Facebook advertising does not provide passive income. You will work for every penny.
Facebook ads have grown increasingly ineffective, especially with Gen X, Gen Y, and Millennials. Ad blockers are becoming a standard feature of web browsers, too. Ask yourself: When was the last time you clicked on a Facebook ad?
Apple users will no longer see Facebook ads. They also can no longer be re-targeted by Facebook Pixel. To advertisers, this means that their potential reach has been cut by nearly 60% (Apple's mobile market share).
Local Lead Generation
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