This is the definitive guide to Wealthy Affiliate in 2019.
I recently spent 40+ hours reviewing all the free and premium training materials, so you don’t have to.
If you want to know:
- How much money Wealthy Affiliate makes
- If the training is still effective in 2019 (hint: it’s not)
- The common complaints people have about WA
- If the whole thing is legit or a scam
- What Robert De Niro has got to do with all of this 🤔
Then you’ve come to the right place.
Let’s get started.
About the Author
Hey, I’m Niall Doherty.
I quit my 9-to-5 job almost a decade ago, back in 2010.
Since then, I’ve earned my living online doing a variety of things:
- Web design
- Online courses
At the end of 2018, I decided to focus on affiliate marketing.
Here are my affiliate earnings since:
As you can see, my earnings are trending in the right direction.
But Wealthy Affiliate didn’t have anything to do with that.
Table Of Contents
- How much does Wealthy Affiliate cost?
- How much money can you make with Wealthy Affiliate?
- How much money does Wealthy Affiliate make?
- What is the WA refund policy?
- The Wealthy Affiliate affiliate program
- What does Wealthy Affiliate actually teach?
- What doesn’t Wealthy Affiliate teach?
- Bad advice
- Outdated training
Support + Community
- WA Support
- WA Community
- Rankings and Ambassadors
- Success stories
- The problem with 99% of Wealthy Affiliate reviews
- We both went through the free WA training.
- We paid $19 each for the first month of Premium access.
- We both went through the core Premium training and took notes (320 pages combined!)
- Niall also spent several hours reviewing material outside of the core training (Training HQ, Classrooms, Live Events, etc.)
- Overall, we spent ~50 combined hours reviewing the program.
- We jumped on a call and discussed our impressions of WA, what we liked, what we didn’t like, etc.
- We agreed that the course left a lot to be desired and deserved a low rating.
- We searched online for other reviews of WA to see if there were any key points we missed.
- We wrote a first draft of this review.
- We sent the draft to our Freedom Business Builder community and asked for feedback.
- Niall posted a summary of his main complaints within the WA community and received some responses.
- We made our final edits and published the review.
Note: We earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase through referral links in this review. Read our full disclosure here.
What is Wealthy Affiliate?
Wealthy Affiliate is a course and community that promises to teach you how to make money online with affiliate marketing.
Here’s a nice illustration from their free training showing you how affiliate marketing works.
Wealthy Affiliate is owned by Canadian entrepreneurs Carson Lim and Kyle Loudon.
They have been in business since 2005 under the corporation name Niche Marketing, Inc.
As of 2019, Wealthy Affiliate claims to have helped more than 1.5 million students, making it the most popular affiliate marketing course in the world.
I’d heard about Wealthy Affiliate many times over the years.
But I only joined in August 2019, as part of my mission to review all of the top affiliate marketing courses.
Given its popularity, I had high hopes for Wealthy Affiliate.
And I ended up extremely disappointed ☹️
Why you should NOT join Wealthy Affiliate
Having spent 40+ hours going through the WA training materials, I can’t in good conscience recommend anyone sign up for it.
Simply put, the odds are low that you will succeed as an affiliate marketer with WA alone.
- At best, the training is unhelpful.
- At worst, it will actually reduce your chances of success.
Here’s how my experience with Wealthy Affiliate unfolded:
A quick summary of my main complaints with Wealthy Affiliate (more on each later):
- Much of the core training material hasn’t been updated since 2015.
- Neither of the main trainers – Kyle Loudon and Jay Neill – appear to have had much success with affiliate marketing since 2016.
- The core training is filled with misleading claims.
- The core training is riddled with bad advice.
- The core training is missing crucial info.
- The core training is very poorly organized.
- The internal ranking system is ridiculous.
I cover those seven problems in this video:
As mentioned, I’m on a mission to review all the top affiliate marketing courses.
It’s still early days, but thankfully it looks like there are plenty of alternatives to WA available…
🏆 Best Affiliate Marketing Courses 🏆
|The Authority Site System (Authority Hacker)||in progress|| 4.5/5|
|Clickbank University||in progress||tbd|
|Making Sense Of Affiliate Marketing||in progress||tbd|
|Project 24 (Income School)||in progress||tbd|
|Wealthy Affiliate||Wealthy Affiliate review|| 1/5|
How much does Wealthy Affiliate cost?
There are two membership levels and multiple payment options in WA.
|Starter||Free||20 core lessons *
2 training classrooms *
Access to WA community (first 7 days only)
2 websites hosted at .siterubix.com
30 keyword searches per month in Jaaxy
|Premium First Month †||$19||Everything in WA ‡|
|Premium Monthly||$49 every month
= $588 per year
|Premium 6 Months||$234 every 6 months
= $39 per month / $468 per year
|Premium Yearly||$359 per year
= $29.92 per month
* Accessible without ever signing up for a WA account.
† Special offer for Starter members if they upgrade within 7 days.
‡ You still have to pay WA separately for non .siterubix.com domains, which cost $14-16 each.
The free training in Wealthy Affiliate is a decent introduction to affiliate marketing, and the content is mostly up to date.
But be warned!
It’s nowhere near enough to help you build a successful affiliate site, and everything in there is geared towards converting you to a paid membership.
How much money can you make with Wealthy Affiliate?
You will most likely earn $0 as a Starter member. And upgrading to Premium won’t serve you much better. Wealthy Affiliate members seemed to make decent money until 2016, but there have been fewer and fewer success stories since.
As a Starter member of Wealthy Affiliate, you can build a website on a free SiteRubix domain.
Here are some examples:
These sites are touted as “fully operational,” “profit ready” and capable of generating 💰💰💰
What you aren’t told during the free training is that your website is practically useless until you sign up for WA Premium and move it to your own domain.
Here’s lead trainer Kyle stating explicitly that SiteRubix domains are NOT sufficient for building a successful website.
Several Premium members give their opinion of WA’s free SiteRubix hosting in this thread (no login needed).
But surely you can earn money with everything they teach you in WA Premium, right?
The conclusion I’ve come to is that the Premium training in Wealthy Affiliate was quite effective several years ago, but not so much in 2019.
It’s not hard to find WA members from 2015-2016 sharing screenshots of big affiliate earnings.
But it’s harder to find WA members having that kind of success in the years since.
How much money does Wealthy Affiliate make?
Approximately $10,000,000 in revenue in 2019.
How did I come up with that number?
First I noticed that everyone who signs up for a free WA account automatically “follows” Kyle.
So I checked how many followers he had on two occasions, exactly one week apart.
That works out to 5,303 new members in one week.
The WA affiliates page tells us how many of those folks are likely to sign up for a Premium account…
So that’s about 636 new Premium members each week.
Or 90 every day.
The same page tells us the average affiliate commission per sale…
According to WA, affiliates are paid 22-45% of every sale.
Let’s say the average is 40%.
That would put the lifetime value of each sale at about $300.
90 sales per day = $27,000.
WA’s monthly revenue is therefore $821,250.
Or $9.85 MILLION per year!
Keep in mind:
- 40% might be too high an average. Meaning each sale could be worth more than $300.
- I’ve only counted revenue from memberships. WA also generates $ in other ways (eg domain registrations).
Given that, I feel confident saying that Wealthy Affiliate is generating at least $10 million in revenue in 2019.
Kyle and Carson be like…
What is the Wealthy Affiliate refund policy?
Wealthy Affiliate does not give refunds.
As per the WA Terms of Service:
Given that, if you are tempted to try Wealthy Affiliate for yourself, I recommend you sign up for a monthly membership and test it out for a few weeks.
But be very hesitant to upgrade to the yearly membership option.
The Wealthy Affiliate affiliate program
Wealthy Affiliate has one of the best affiliate programs online, paying out a reported $121 per sale (lifetime commission).
Details of the affiliate program displayed to Premium members inside WA:
- “Commissions are $8 for the first month $19 special offer, then $23.50 thereafter.”
- You only get the above rates if you remain a Premium member of WA. “Starter Members earn $4 for special offer referrals, then $11.75 monthly and $87.50 yearly commissions.”
- WA offers “lifetime commissions and lifetime cookies, which is truly unheard of in the industry. If you refer someone to WA, they are your referral FOREVER.”
- Perhaps the most unique – and some might say genius – part of the WA affiliate program is that Premium members can communicate with their referrals within WA, welcome them to the program, offer support, and encourage them to upgrade to Premium. There’s even an autoresponder functionality that allows you to message your referrals automatically when they take (or neglect to take) specific actions.
- You can create a public training or blog post at my.wealthyaffiliate.com. If anyone discovers WA through that content and signs up, you are credited with the referral.
- “If you are a Premium Member here at Wealthy Affiliate […] you also get to take part in our $1 credit program, which allows you to earn from free members you sign-up that set-up their accounts. You also earn money with each domain your referrals buy.”
- As a member, you’ll see an affiliate link button on almost every page of WA, so you can affiliate link directly to anything you want.
WEALTHY AFFILIATE COMPLAINTS
Is Wealthy Affiliate legit? Is it a scam?
WA has offered solid affiliate marketing training for much of its existence. But more people have been calling Wealthy Affiliate a scam in recent years as its teachings have become increasingly outdated and ineffective.
I’m hesitant to declare Wealthy an outright scam, because clearly a few people are still having success with it (examples).
- Much of the core training material hasn’t been updated since 2015 (examples)
- The core training is riddled with bad advice (examples)
- The core training is filled with misleading claims (examples)
- The core training is very poorly organized (examples)
- The lead trainers – Kyle Loudon and Jay Neill – appear to have had little success with their own affiliate sites since 2016 (read more)
- Wealthy Affiliate offers no refunds (read more)
- Members are explicitly encouraged and instructed to recruit other paying members to WA (almost 60% of the core training is devoted to this)
- The most “successful” students of WA seem to earn most of their money from referring other people to WA.
Is Wealthy Affiliate a pyramid scheme? Is it MLM?
Wealthy Affiliate cannot be considered a strict pyramid or Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) scheme, but it does have elements of both.
According to money.howstuffworks.com:
The main characteristic of a pyramid scheme is that participants only make money by recruiting more members.
Investopedia defines MLM like so:
Multilevel marketing is a strategy some direct sales companies use to encourage existing distributors to recruit new distributors who are paid a percentage of their recruits’ sales.
By those definitions, at first glance Wealthy Affiliate would qualify as both a pyramid and MLM scheme.
But let’s try give them the benefit of the doubt.
A WA member named Jerry Huang wrote a post at my.wealthyaffiliate.com explaining why he doesn’t consider Wealthy Affiliate to be multi-level marketing.
To summarize Jerry’s points, WA can’t be considered MLM because:
- WA doesn’t restrict you to only promoting WA itself.
- WA doesn’t require you to recruit your friends or family members.
- WA doesn’t require you to do any face-to-face selling.
- WA has one one level of referrals (ie not multi-level).
- WA members don’t “recruit” people. They “invite” people.
Okay, some fair distinctions.
(Except for the last one. That’s just silly.)
But before we give WA a pass here, let’s see what founder Kyle Loudon had to say about MLM’s in this 2015 blog post:
Some excerpts from that article, followed by my comments…
There are two core training series inside Wealthy Affiliate:
If you choose door number two above – the Affiliate Bootcamp series – you are, in fact, always trying to “suck in that next person to your downline.”
And while you are not required to pay continuously for WA in order to promote it, you do receive double commissions on your referrals as a paying member.
Back to Kyle:
Gee, that’s a little awkward.
Because all WA members are ranked according to their contributions to the WA community (details here), and the top 25 are referred to as “Ambassadors.”
They even have a leaderboard:
Did you see the bit above where I calculated that WA is generating revenues of $10 million this year?
And the bit below where I went through 50+ recent WA “success stories” and discovered that very few of them could actually be considered successful?
Back to Kyle:
By that definition, anyone who follows the Affiliate Bootcamp training inside WA is part of an MLM scheme.
What else you got, Kyle?
And that, my friends, is EXACTLY my impression of Wealthy Affiliate in 2019.
An impression strengthened by a public blog post by WA member TDomena – #8 on the Ambassador leaderboard above, btw – in August 2019:
Did you catch that?
It seems TDomena is finally making good money as an affiliate marketer… by promoting Wealthy Affiliate!
This is what most success stories look like in WA nowadays.
Unsubstantiated claims in Wealthy Affiliate
You’ll find many dubious claims within Wealthy Affiliate. These claims are either impossible to prove, or easily contradicted with a quick Google search.
Highest Success Rate
And how is that measured, exactly?
You Won’t Fail
Only quitters fail.
Everyone else simply hasn’t succeeded… yet.
Flip that around and it’s just as meaningless…
Dream Research Platform
From the eighth lesson of the Affiliate Bootcamp, referring to WA’s keyword tool:
This would seem to contradict the findings of a recent survey of 137 search marketing experts, none of whom mentioned Jaaxy when asked which tool is best for keyword research.
WA Cost $15 Million
From Kyle’s welcome message after signing up to WA Premium:
Sure, the WA platform is impressive in some ways.
But $15 million?
Methinks you got ripped off there, Kyle.
The Best Domain Names
In a Premium-only video entitled, How to Become an Expert in Any Niche, Kyle says at the 19:30 mark:
“I recommend a .com or a .org domain name, simply because they rank better. They tend to stick in Google a lot longer too once you do get ranked, so they are definitely the best domain names.”
WA Members OWN Google Rankings
From the WA homepage:
No, that is meaningless marketing speak.
Top Affiliate Marketing Platform
Mosey on over to wealthyaffiliate.com/affiliates and you’ll see the following:
It’s a safe bet that only the WA founders were invited to vote on this.
Misleading claims in Wealthy Affiliate
Peruse the WA training or marketing materials, and you’ll find numerous promises and statements that turn out to be false.
Build a profit ready website in less than 30 seconds
From the free training:
I’ll let a WA member respond to that:
WA members benefit from every Google update
From a Premium-only lesson inside WA:
Strangely, WA members report otherwise:
- Anyone recovering from the June Google Update?
- Getting Back on Track After Google Update
- June Google SEO Update, Dust Has Settled And It Could Have Been Worse
You could easily scale a campaign to make over $1 MILLION per year
Install 20,000 plugins on your Starter website
After you sign up for a free (Starter) account, Kyle writes in an email:
Then, in lesson 5 of the Affiliate Bootcamp, Kyle says at the 1:15 mark of the video:
“I think there are over 45,000 different plugins that you can use within WordPress now. And as a Premium member you’re going to have access to all of these. As a Starter member you’re just going to have access to the first two.”
WA’s website hosting is unbeatable
You’ll hear a variation of this claim dozens of times within WA.
I picked a random WA SiteRubix site and ran a couple of speed tests (with Google):
And a security test (with Sucuri):
But that’s just a free site for a Standard WA member.
Surely a Premium WA site would get better results…
State of the art?
Oh, and should you cancel your Premium account at any point, you’ll receive an email with a ridiculous claim about the value of WA’s hosting:
$250 per month!?
Poorly organized material in Wealthy Affiliate
Within the core WA training, lessons often appear scattered, disjointed, and repetitive. It seems the entire course was not planned out in advance, but rather pieced together haphazardly over the years.
Sign up for Google Adsense…
In Level 3, Lesson 7 of the Online Entrepreneur Certification, Kyle walks you through setting up a Google Adsense account:
Then, in the very next lesson, he tells you that actually Google Adsense is a waste of time and you should focus your efforts on affiliate marketing instead:
Sign up for multiple social media platforms…
In Level 4, Lesson 1 of the Online Entrepreneur Certification, you’re advised to sign up for 3 social media accounts:
Several lessons later – after lots of advice and instruction related to each social media platform – Kyle tells you that actually no, wait, maybe you should be more selective…
Gotcha again, suckers!
How to create a video (twice)
From Level 4, Lesson 9 of the Affiliate Bootcamp:
Five lessons later, Kyle has apparently had a memory lapse because he covers video again as if for the first time:
By the way, you’ve been writing all your articles wrong…
It’s not until the 46th lesson of the Online Entrepreneur Certification that you receive instructions on how to plan out an article before you start writing it…
Which wouldn’t be so bad… if you hadn’t already been advised to write 20+ articles throughout the previous 45 lessons!
Those are all kinda useless now.
Content → Email → Content
Level 2, Lesson 3 of the Online Entrepreneur Certification is about creating content:
The very next lesson is about setting up an email address:
Next lesson, we’re back talking about content again:
Smooth transitions there, Kyle.
Take a break, do what you like
There are a handful of lessons within WA where you are either told to take a break, or to do whatever you like.
Perhaps they’re trying to avoid being a helicopter parent here, but given everything else wrong with Wealthy Affiliate, I’m more inclined to think it’s simply laziness on their part.
WEALTHY AFFILIATE TRAINING
What does Wealthy Affiliate actually teach?
- WA’s Affiliate Bootcamp promises to teach people how to create a website promoting Wealthy Affiliate.
- WA’s Online Entrepreneur Certification promises to teach people how to create an affiliate website in a non-MMO niche. For example, your site could be about dog training, pool cleaning, or website hosting.
Inside Wealthy Affiliate, the core training series are described as follows.
What doesn’t Wealthy Affiliate teach?
Wealthy Affiliate fails to teach many theories, strategies and tactics that are important for affiliate marketers to know about in 2019.
Going through all 120 core training lessons in WA, I noticed that there was no – or in some cases, grossly insufficient – training on the following topics:
- Building backlinks
- Affiliate disclosures
- Google Adsense
- Alternatives to Google Adsense
- Updating content
- External linking to authority sites
- Citing sources
- Outsourcing content
- Schema markup
- Featured snippets
- Video (no training in OEC series)
- YouTube SEO
- Alternatives to Jaaxy
- Which sources of traffic are best and why
- Email marketing
- WordPress page builders
To be clear: most of these topics are addressed – with varying levels of proficiency – within Wealthy Affiliate.
The issue is that they are not addressed within the core WA training material!
You can use the search bar in WA to find loads of training and blog posts on something like nofollow, for example…
… but to search for nofollow in the first place you’d need to know it’s a thing.
And newbie WA students won’t know it’s a thing because the core training literally never mentions it.
Sure, some of the items in the above list aren’t a big deal.
But many of them are absolutely crucial to affiliate marketing success.
- Not having an affiliate disclosure can get you in trouble with the FTC
- Dofollowing all your affiliate links can get your site penalized by Google
- Regularly updating your content can have a significant impact on rankings
These are big, important things you might never know as a member of WA.
Bad advice in Wealthy Affiliate
At best, the core training in Wealthy Affiliate is unhelpful. At worst, it will actually reduce your chances of success, due to numerous recommendations and instructions that no affiliate marketer should follow.
“There is NO SUCH THING as choosing the wrong niche.”
Lead trainer Kyle hammers on this point several times throughout the core WA training, saying things like:
“You can create a lucrative business within absolutely any niche online.”
And if you fail in a particular niche?
Well, that’s totally your fault, buddy…
Oh, and don’t worry about competition when choosing your niche…
Kyle also says in a video for Premium members:
“Never think that you’re too targeted. More often the case is that you’re too broad with your niche’s starting point.”
I guess I’ll go start my “Tiddlywinks for African American amputees” affiliate site then.
I’m sure that’ll do well.
Despite Kyle’s claims that there’s no such thing as choosing the wrong niche, many WA members end up – you guessed it – choosing the wrong niche…
Use H3 or H4 tags instead of H2 tags
Kyle says an amazing thing at the 7:15 mark of this video within WA:
His exact words:
“If I wanted to make this a heading tag, I would simply go up here and I’d scroll down to the Heading 3 or the Heading 4 tag. I find the Heading 1 and Heading 2 tags a little bit too big, so I usually try to keep it to an H3 or an H4 tag.”
He repeats this horrible advice several more times throughout the core training.
Use the Site Content platform
WA teaches you how to set up a WordPress website and fill it with content.
Unfortunately, instead of adding content directly via the WordPress admin, students are taught to use WA’s “Site Content” platform instead.
This is essentially a layer on top of WordPress, the purpose of which is to simplify the process of creating content.
And that’s great.
Until you realize that you can’t do the following basic things via Site Content:
- Edit posts you’ve already published
- Add tags or categories
- View source / edit the HTML
No, for any of that you need to use the WordPress editor.
Which begs the question:
Why bother using Site Content at all??
Sure, it might make it easier for newbies to get started, and it does have a couple of features – eg grammar check, stock image search – that you’d need plugins for in WordPress.
But here’s what happens:
- WA members have to learn their way around two content editors (SC + WP) instead of one (WP).
- WA members end up confused because it’s never made clear when you should use one editor vs the other.
If you’re reading this and you’re a member of WA, trust me: skip the Site Content thingy and create all your content via the WordPress editor.
You’ll thank me in the long run.
List the price in your Amazon reviews
When I checked 4 months later, the training had yet to be updated, and new students were still being taught to list prices in their Amazon reviews.
Pay writers $5 per post
Premium members have access to Kyle’s “Diamond Traffic Program,” which was last updated in February 2019.
In it, Kyle casually mentions that you can pay writers $5 per post and end up with “a ton of traffic” and “A LOT of revenue”…
Anyone who has ever outsourced content creation knows what $5 will get you.
It ain’t a ton of traffic.
And it ain’t a lot of revenue.
As the saying goes, if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
Manually backup your WordPress site every week
From Phase 2, Lesson 6 of the Affiliate Bootcamp:
I guess Kyle doesn’t know that there are plugins that can do this for you automatically.
There have been for many years now.
Outdated training in Wealthy Affiliate
The free training in Wealthy Affiliate is mostly up to date, but the deeper you go into the Premium (ie paid) training, the more you encounter lessons that haven’t been updated for several years, rendering many of them confusing and/or useless.
You’ll see many questions and blog posts in WA regarding outdated training…
Here are a few examples.
Google+ was an ill-fated social media network that was shut down in April 2019.
There was a core lesson in WA devoted to Google+, which now appears like so:
I took that screenshot 4 months after the “last update” date shown, so I guess “very soon” doesn’t mean much at WA.
You can still find mention of Google+ in many other parts of the core training…
Search engine market share
From a Premium lesson that was apparently updated in April 2018:
I have no idea where Kyle is pulling that 33% number from.
As per statcounter.com, Google has held a ~90% market share since as far back as 2009.
But Kyle believes so thoroughly in the power of Bing and Yahoo, that he devotes 10 whole lessons of training to such in the Affiliate Bootcamp…
Worse still, those 10 lessons come BEFORE any training on Google PPC.
Everything related to social media
I’ve mentioned the Google+ stuff already, but it’s not a stretch to say that nearly ALL the social media training within WA is outdated.
For example, here’s Kyle talking about Pinterest, which has been around since 2010:
Meanwhile, videos showing Facebook in the core training appear to have been recorded in December 2012.
You’ll also hear Kyle throwing out numbers like 12% for organic reach on Facebook, even though it hasn’t been that high since 2013.
Design your content in the default WordPress editor
Which is why you’ll always see Kyle fumbling around the old WordPress editor, underlining his headings and trying to highlight his CTAs ==> like this <==
The end result is a very bland blog post belonging to the dark ages of the Internet.
(Don’t say I didn’t warn you!)
MEET THE TRAINERS
Kyle Loudon is one of the owners of Wealthy Affiliate and the primary trainer. He’s responsible for the vast majority of the core lessons and videos inside WA.
If you’d like to get a feel for Kyle’s teaching style, check this video:
Kyle seems like a nice guy, and he’s clearly seen success as an affiliate marketer.
The trouble is, that success appears to be far behind him.
Kyle reveals three of his affiliate sites throughout the WA training. Here’s how those sites have fared over time, as per Ahrefs:
That’s a combined 92 visits and $70 traffic value per month, folks.
From the lead trainer of the most popular affiliate marketing course in the world.
I know, Scarlett.
I also found it somewhat incredible that Kyle does a whole lesson inside WA on how to create socially engaging content…
…and demonstrates with an article that didn’t prove very socially engaging at all…
And I haven’t even mentioned his design skills…
Probably what happened is this:
- Kyle knew enough about SEO and affiliate marketing back in 2005-2015 to build some profitable sites.
- He shared his knowledge in WA and students started getting good results, too.
- WA blew up and started earning a ton of money, way more than Kyle ever earned from his affiliate sites.
- Since then, Kyle’s been so busy buying yachts (or whatever) that he’s had to abandon his affiliate sites and can’t find time to update the WA training.
So you see, it’s not like he’s a scammer or anything.
Which is more than I can say for the other lead trainer in WA…
Jay Neill runs the weekly live training webinars for members of WA Premium. A member of the program himself since 2007, Jay describes himself as “The World’s First Wealthy Affiliate Influencer.”
Which is appropriate, since he’s likely earning big $$$ by misleading convincing people to join WA.
Jay sounds like quite the expert, doesn’t he?
Let’s do a little digging…
This appears to be Jay’s primary website.
It was registered in 2010 – three years after he joined Wealthy Affiliate.
Gotta say, the traffic numbers are quite low considering it’s the main site of someone who’s supposed to be an expert affiliate marketer, but Jay is quite likely earning a decent living from that site.
Because the whole thing is essentially a funnel to get visitors signed up to WA as his referral.
Stay on the site long enough and this pop-up will appear:
Or this one:
Wow, $300 a day!?
$9,300 a month!?
Let’s take a closer look at the site he’s referring to…
It’s a fairly simple affiliate site that looks like this:
Here’s the organic traffic data for that site via Ahrefs:
SimilarWeb estimates that the site gets 91% of its traffic from search.
Combined with the Ahrefs estimate above, that would mean ~400 people visit the site each month.
But let’s be generous and call it 500.
Let’s be even more generous and say that:
- 100% of those visitors click on an Amazon affiliate link (this never happens)
- 50% of those clickers purchase a football snack helmet on Amazon (also unheard of)
- They all buy the most expensive helmet available ($65.91)
- And Jay earns an 8% commission per sale (actually not possible anymore, but we’ll get to that)
By my (generous) calculations, that works out to $1,318.20 in commissions each month.
Which is pretty good.
But Jay is claiming the site earns 7x that amount!
On Day 9 of his email series, he reveals his “proof”…
The attached screenshot:
See anything wrong with that?
I’ll make it more clear…
It doesn’t add up, does it?
So I jumped on WA and shot Jay a private message…
It seems I was indeed asking for too much, because I never heard back from Jay after that ☹️
Probably what’s happening is this:
- Jay had an amazing 3-day stretch as an Amazon affiliate in February 2016 – you know, back when the WA training was still fairly effective.
- Jay hasn’t been able to replicate that success in all the months and years since.
- But he’s still using – and exaggerating – his February 2016 earnings as “proof” that his tiny niche site earns $9,300 a month.
- And he’s using that “proof” to convince people to sign up for WA as his referral…
- All those WA referrals are making Jay rich.
- To the point that he felt compelled to change his Facebook profile photo to this…
SUPPORT + COMMUNITY
Wealthy Affiliate support
There’s good news and bad news when it comes to the support inside WA.
The good news is that you’re likely to get an answer to whatever question you may have.
Often co-owner Kyle is the one responding:
The bad news is that the answer you get might not be great…
(You can check Kyle’s responses to scores more member questions in the comments of his profile here, no login needed.)
You can also get feedback on your website inside Wealthy Affiliate.
It works on a credit system, so you need to give before you get.
Unfortunately, the first two times I tried to offer feedback – four days apart – I got the same error message…
After I wrote this review, a member of WA contacted me to note that Kyle isn’t always so responsive:
I have emailed Kyle several times with no response, despite the “email me anytime” mantra form letter that everyone gets when they sign up. Very misleading.
Wealthy Affiliate community
Much like WA support, there’s good news and bad news when it comes to the WA community.
The good news is that the community is super active.
Partly because the WA platform is built like a social media network and optimized for engagement.
The bad news is that much of the community activity in WA seems utterly pointless, and will probably just distract you from building a successful affiliate website.
For example, when I signed up for WA Premium, 18 other members saw fit to drop by my profile and leave generic comments welcoming me to the cult club.
Many WA members also like to leave pointless comments after each training…
While others reserve their ramblings for blog posts within WA…
Community moderation also appears to be lacking:
Rankings and Ambassadors
All WA members are ranked according to their contributions to the WA community (details here), and the top 25 are referred to as “Ambassadors.”
This is all completely meaningless.
This explains why you see so many people posting so many generic messages and comments within WA: they’re all trying to improve their ranking!
And what’s the reward for achieving Ambassador status within WA?
You know, intangible stuff…
And yeah, sure, there’s something to all that.
But here’s the thing:
It’s entirely possible to rank high in Wealthy Affiliate and still suck at affiliate marketing!
For example, Cld111 is #12 on the leaderboard above. She’s been a member of WA since 2009.
In case you missed that:
- This lady joined Wealthy Affiliate more than a decade ago
- She’s ranked #12 on the WA leaderboard
- And she’s only getting 30 visits a day to a site she’s been working on for 11 months
Wealthy Affiliate success stories
Most of the success stories you hear from WA students and affiliates are from 2016 or earlier, back when the WA training was still effective. It’s difficult to find students of Wealthy Affiliate who are earning a good living from affiliate marketing in 2019.
There’s a public blog post on the WA website, written by a well-known affiliate of WA…
As the title would suggest, it purports to list proof and examples of successful WA students, particularly those who are not earning money from promoting Wealthy Affiliate itself.
Which sounds great, but let’s take a closer look at the first 50+ examples listed and color code them according to their actual level of success.
GREEN = great results
ORANGE = decent results / not enough info provided
RED = poor results
Excluding the 10 duplicates, we’re left with:
9 GREEN = great results
24 ORANGE = decent results / not enough info provided
8 RED = poor results
Keep in mind:
- Those are the best results a big-time WA affiliate was able to find in the community
- Wealthy Affiliate is the most popular affiliate marketing course in the world
- 636 people join the Premium training every single week
- All combined, members will pay WA approximately $10 million in 2019 (as calculated here)
Perhaps it’s just me, but if the Wealthy Affiliate training is truly still effective these days, I would expect to see a lot more GREEN in the above table.
The problem with 99% of Wealthy Affiliate reviews
The vast majority of WA reviews are overly positive and optimistic in an attempt to get you signed up via an affiliate link. Each referral is apparently worth $121, so there’s a strong incentive for folks to promote WA by any means necessary.
Only three lessons into the free training at Wealthy Affiliate, you’ll see this:
Combine that with a generous affiliate program, and it’s no wonder the internet is filled with positive reviews of WA.
Plus, there are literally 70 core lessons teaching people how to promote the damn thing. Compared to only 50 lessons for folks who are not interested in the make money/affiliate marketing niche 🤔
Several affiliates show off income reports in their reviews.
These people are literally bragging that they make money from Wealthy Affiliate…
…BY PROMOTING WEALTHY AFFILIATE!
Major chutzpah right there.
Next time you see a WA review, ask yourself two questions:
- Does this person show any proof of affiliate earnings from the past two years?
- Are they earning significant income promoting something other than Wealthy Affiliate?
If the answer is NO to either question, back away slowly.
Positives of Wealthy Affiliate
Wealthy Affiliate is a bit like Tony Soprano: generally not a good human being, but he does have some redeeming qualities.
Here are five things I actually like about WA…
Decent training on the fundamentals
If you’re completely new to affiliate marketing or online business, you will learn some worthwhile things going through the free WA training.
- What affiliate marketing is and how it works
- The basics of WordPress
- Basic keyword research
Just be warned that the further you go into the core training, the worse it gets.
(It’s almost like they made the free stuff good enough to convince folks to sign up for Premium… and stopped caring after that 🤔)
Sense of progress
The WA training is broken up into bite-size chunks and you are given manageable tasks at the end of each lesson.
With that, it’s easy to feel a sense of progress and stay motivated, even if you’re not actually accomplishing much.
Write honest reviews
Lead trainer Kyle repeatedly advises students to write honest reviews of whatever products or services they choose to promote.
One such example:
It’s just unfortunate that most WA affiliates don’t follow this advice 😕
White hat throughout
I didn’t see any grey or black hat SEO techniques promoted in the 120 core lessons of Wealthy Affiliate, and Kyle states explicitly in a (rare) 2019 update that it’s best to play by the rules:
Text + video content
Almost every core training lesson in WA comes with video and text, so it’s quite easy to find and refer back to material later on.
Is Wealthy Affiliate worth it?
Despite the few positives listed above, Wealthy Affiliate is definitely not worth your time or money.
Sure, you can go through 20 training lessons for free, then sign up for the $19 special offer, slog through all the Premium material in a month, and then cancel your account before you get charged again.
As a newbie doing that, you’ll learn a lot in a few short weeks.
But, as you’ve seen throughout this review, the majority of what you learn in WA is either outdated, misleading, or flat-out wrong.
If your goal is to become a successful affiliate marketer, you’d be much better off spending your time and money on a better alternative.
If Wealthy Affiliate is so bad, why is it so popular?
For the same reason you’ll probably watch that new Robert De Niro movie.
Here’s what Robert De Niro’s career looks like (via Reddit):
As you can see, early on in his career, he mostly made great movies and people enjoyed watching them.
Then, at a certain point, Bob stopped caring and people quit enjoying.
And yet many of those same people will still give a new De Niro movie a chance.
Even though the man’s been laying turds for years, he keeps cashing in on his early success and reputation.
The same can be said of Wealthy Affiliate.
Better alternatives to Wealthy Affiliate
I’m on a mission to review all the top affiliate marketing courses before the end of 2019.
Here’s my progress…
🏆 Best Affiliate Marketing Courses 🏆
|The Authority Site System (Authority Hacker)||in progress|| 4.5/5|
|Clickbank University||in progress||tbd|
|Making Sense Of Affiliate Marketing||in progress||tbd|
|Project 24 (Income School)||in progress||tbd|
|Wealthy Affiliate||Wealthy Affiliate review|| 1/5|
Your Wealthy Affiliate review
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