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6 Signs An Affiliate Marketing Course Sucks

Is that training a scam or legit? Here's how to tell...

You can usually tell if an affiliate marketing program sucks before you buy it. 

If it’s a scam, these six things will tip you off:

  • The success stories aren’t believable
  • You see lots of generic praise but no measurable results
  • The success stories aren’t very impressive
  • The success stories aren’t recent (or can’t be dated)
  • The recommendation is overly positive
  • The whole thing sounds like a pyramid scheme

If the course you’re considering checks most or all of those boxes, don’t sign up for it.

Are the success stories believable?

ClickBank University fails this first test, with obviously fake testimonials attributed to “Ronnie Biggs” and “Joe Bloggs” on the checkout page:

You should also check the success story of whoever’s teaching the course.

Too often, you’ll find that the instructor hasn’t had much success as an affiliate marketer themselves, despite their claims to the contrary.

I found this to be especially true of the courses on Udemy.

Prime example:

Udemy affiliate marketing instructor
Source: Amazon Affiliate Marketing + SEO (udemy.com) … I researched the instructor and found nothing to back up his claims.

In contrast, the guys from Income School – creators of Project 24 (reviewed here) – proudly list the affiliate sites they’ve built over the years:

You can go check those sites and see for yourself that they’re legit.

(I also use a tool like Ahrefs to see if the traffic estimates line up with the claims being made.)

Are the success stories measurable?

These three testimonials from the Wealthy Affiliate homepage are NOT measurable:

Wealthy Affiliate generic testimonials

Those students all offer generic praise about the program, but no specifics about how much affiliate income they’ve earned thanks to the training.

Contrast that to the kind of testimonial you see on the sales page for The Authority Site System, which speaks to actual $$$ earnings:

Authority Hacker testimonial

It’s okay if you see a mix of measurable and non-measurable testimonials for a course: that’s perfectly normal.

But if the vast majority of the testimonials offer generic praise without reporting tangible results, that’s a big red flag.

Are the success stories impressive?

Here’s the instructor of a top-rated course on Udemy showing off (presumably) the best results of his students:

Udemy affiliate marketing course reviews
Source: kctan.asia, website of the same guy who created this Udemy course: ClickBank Success – Affiliate Marketing Without A Website

Nice that he’s helping people get their first sales on ClickBank – albeit back in 2017 – but there’s little indication that he’s helping people earn significant or consistent affiliate income.

More like pocket money.

What you really want to see from an affiliate marketing training are reports of at least a few students absolutely crushing it.

Like this Authority Hacker student:

That’s pretty rare though.

More realistically, you should expect to see reports of students steadily growing their affiliate income.

Authority Hacker has plenty of those, too:

Authority Hacker testimonial: David Pedley
Authority Hacker testimonial: Ajay Verma

Read our full Authority Hacker review here »

Are the success stories recent?

ClickBank University will show you tons of screenshots of student earnings… from 2016 😕

ClickBank university dated testimonials 1

A few dated screenshots is no big deal. But if they’re not showing you ANYTHING from the past year or two, that’s a red flag.

Take it to mean that what they’re teaching no longer works. Or they can’t be bothered to keep their marketing materials up to date.

Either way, not a good sign.

Also, if someone shows you an earnings screenshot that DOESN’T have any date displayed, take it with a grain of salt. 

One guy who promotes Wealthy Affiliate uses this Amazon earnings screenshot as “proof” that WA’s training is legit:

Wealthy Affiliate Amazon earnings screenshot

But as far as I can tell, he’s been using that exact same screenshot since 2016 😕

Nothing I’ve seen from him since convinces me that he’s still earning those kinds of commissions from Amazon.

Is the recommendation overly positive?

No course is perfect. 

And affiliate marketing isn’t the best online business for everyone. (If you’re just getting started working online, you’re likely better off freelancing or finding a remote job.)

So if someone is telling you that a particular course is flawless and even their grandma can make money from it: don’t believe them.

If they’re honest, they’ll tell you where the course falls short, and who shouldn’t buy it.

But watch out for praise masked as criticism, like this:

Wealthy Affiliate fake cons
From a typical Wealthy Affiliate review I found online and have no intention of linking to.

Does it sound like a pyramid scheme?

According to money.howstuffworks.com:

The main characteristic of a pyramid scheme is that participants only make money by recruiting more members.

Courses such as Wealthy Affiliate and Six Figure Mentors fit that description a little too well.

Take this WA member, for example:

She reports that she earned $40,000 in one year from affiliate marketing. 

And at the 4:30 mark of the above video, she shows that a full 75% of those earnings came from referring other people to Wealthy Affiliate.

Now I have nothing against someone earning most of their affiliate income from recommending a particular affiliate marketing program.

(If this article you’re reading ranks well, I could easily end up in that situation myself!)

But Wealthy Affiliate and Six Figure Mentors are exceptional here because the vast majority of their “successful” students appear to be earning the bulk of their affiliate income this way.

And it’s easy to see why:

  • As noted in my WA review, a full 60% of the core Wealthy Affiliate training is devoted to helping you convince other people to join the program.
  • And as noted in my SFM review, the majority of the SFM training seems devoted to teaching students how to sell the course they just bought.

Ideally, what you want to see from an affiliate marketing training program is lots of students having success in many different niches.

And NOT just students having success mainly by recruiting other students.

Quick Recap

This is how you can tell if an affiliate marketing course sucks before you buy it…

  • The success stories aren’t believable
  • You see lots of generic praise but no measurable results
  • The success stories aren’t very impressive
  • The success stories aren’t recent (or can’t be dated)
  • The recommendation is overly positive
  • The whole thing sounds like a pyramid scheme

Again: if the course you’re considering checks most or all of those boxes, don’t sign up for it.

Anything to add?

Are there any other “red flags” you look for when evaluating a course on affiliate marketing?

If so, let me know via the comments below.

What is the best affiliate marketing training?

Below are my picks, based on the 450+ hours I’ve personally spent buying, researching and testing a bunch of AM courses.

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