Wealthy Affiliate logoThis 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.

Wealthy Affiliate Review – Key Points
  About

Wealthy Affiliate is a course and community that promises to teach you how to make money online with affiliate marketing.

💰  Price

Some lessons free. $19 first month Premium. $30-49/month thereafter.

😍  Pros

Decent training on the fundamentals.

😩  Cons

Full of outdated, misleading info and bad advice.

  Verdict

The WA training may have been effective several years ago, but it’s essentially useless in 2019.

Overall Rating
1/5

About the Author

Niall DohertyHey, 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:

  • Blogging
  • Web design
  • Advertising
  • Online courses
  • Ebooks

At the end of 2018, I decided to focus on affiliate marketing.

Here are my affiliate earnings since:

eBiz Facts affiliate income as of August 2019

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

This review is a joint effort between Niall Doherty (founder of eBiz Facts) and Conor Monahgan (founder of One Minute English).

Our process:

  1. We both went through the free WA training.
  2. We paid $19 each for the first month of Premium access.
  3. We both went through the core Premium training and took notes (320 pages combined!)
  4. Niall also spent several hours reviewing material outside of the core training (Training HQ, Classrooms, Live Events, etc.)
  5. Overall, we spent ~50 combined hours reviewing the program.
  6. We jumped on a call and discussed our impressions of WA, what we liked, what we didn’t like, etc.
  7. We agreed that the course left a lot to be desired and deserved a low rating.
  8. We searched online for other reviews of WA to see if there were any key points we missed.
  9. We wrote a first draft of this review.
  10. We sent the draft to our Freedom Business Builder community and asked for feedback.
  11. Niall posted a summary of his main complaints within the WA community and received some responses. (Update: that post was allowed stand for a week or two, then was deleted without notice by the WA moderators.)
  12. 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.

How does affiliate marketing work?

Wealthy Affiliate is owned by Canadian entrepreneurs Carson Lim and Kyle Loudon.

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.

No experience necessary
Above: words from the WA website

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:

My impression of Wealthy Affiliate, comic book style.

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 🏆

Course Rating Review
Authority Hacker (TASS) 4.5/5 Authority Hacker review
Income School (Project 24) 4/5 Project 24 review
Affilorama tbd in progress
Clickbank University tbd in progress
Making Sense Of Affiliate Marketing tbd in progress
Wealthy Affiliate 1/5 Wealthy Affiliate review

MONEY

How much does Wealthy Affiliate cost?

There are two membership levels and multiple payment options in WA.

Membership Cost Access
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 💰💰💰

Apparently it takes less than 30 seconds to build a website
Above: screenshot from the free training

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.

Kyle writes
Above: Kyle writes in a Premium-only lesson that “you are dead” if you keep your site on a free SiteRubix domain.

Several Premium members give their opinion of WA’s free SiteRubix hosting in this thread (no login needed).

Among them:

Members of Wealthy Affiliate don't rate the free hosting very highly

Fair enough.

But surely you can earn money with everything they teach you in WA Premium, right?

Well, maybe.

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.

See the “success stories” section below for a full list

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.

1,488,169 followers one week

1,494,172 followers exactly a week later

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…

The WA affiliate page says that 12% of free members upgrade to Premium

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…

Average commission is $121 per sign up

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…

Scrooge McDuck diving into his money pit

What is the Wealthy Affiliate refund policy?

Wealthy Affiliate does not give refunds.

As per the WA Terms of Service:

The WA terms of service page specifies no refunds

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.

Focus on yearly upgrades
Above: Kyle writes in a Premium-only lesson that affiliates should encourage other members to upgrade to yearly.

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:

WA affiliate program details

Additional info:

  • 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.
Automated messages can be sent to your referrals in WA
Above: Sample automated messages within WA, from Phase 2, Lesson 10 of the Affiliate Bootcamp.
  • 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.
Example of an affiliate link on a lesson inside WA
Above: Example of an affiliate link button at the top of a lesson within Wealthy Affiliate.

More info on the Wealthy Affiliate affiliate program is available here

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).

But consider:

  • 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.

Member blog post inside Wealthy Affiliate
Member blog post inside Wealthy Affiliate

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:

Kyle's blog post about MLMs

Some excerpts from that article, followed by my comments…

Excerpt from Kyle's article about MLMs

There are two core training series inside Wealthy Affiliate:

Online Entrepreneur Certification
Above: WA’s description of the Online Entrepreneur Certification
Affiliate Bootcamp
Above: WA’s description of the Affiliate Bootcamp

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:

Excerpt from Kyle's article about MLMs

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:

Wealthy Affiliate Ambassador leaderboard
Above: The top of the Ambassador leaderboard inside WA.

Kyle again:

Excerpt from Kyle's article about MLMs

Hmm.

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:

Excerpt from Kyle's article about MLMs

By that definition, anyone who follows the Affiliate Bootcamp training inside WA is part of an MLM scheme.

What else you got, Kyle?

Excerpt from Kyle's article about MLMs

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:

A blog post by TDomena inside Wealthy Affiliate

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.

Moving on…

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.​

Examples…

Highest Success Rate

From the first lesson of the Online Entrepreneur Certification:

WA claiming that their members succeed at a higher rate than any other program online

And how is that measured, exactly?

You Won’t Fail

From the so-called WA Success page:

You Won't Fail. We Promise.

Only quitters fail.

Everyone else simply hasn’t succeeded… yet.

Riiiight.

Flip that around and it’s just as meaningless…

Success is just failure that hasn't happened yet

Dream Research Platform

From the eighth lesson of the Affiliate Bootcamp, referring to WA’s keyword tool:

Jaaxy is described as a dream research platform

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.

Funny that.

WA Cost $15 Million

From Kyle’s welcome message after signing up to WA Premium:

Kyle claiming that they've spent $15 million developing Wealthy Affiliate
Above: Kyle’s words in a blog post entitled, Your Road Ahead is Bright!

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.”

To the contrary, Google themselves have stated that, when it comes to SEO, all TLDs are treated the same, and both SEMRush and Internet.com have found that to be true.

WA Members OWN Google Rankings

From the WA homepage:

Copy from the WA homepage saying that members own Google rankings

No, that is meaningless marketing speak.

Top Affiliate Marketing Platform

Mosey on over to wealthyaffiliate.com/affiliates and you’ll see the following:

The top affiliate marketing platform, apparently.

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.

Examples…

Build a profit ready website in less than 30 seconds

From the free training:

WA says you can build a profit ready website in 30 seconds.

I’ll let a WA member respond to that:

A WA member commenting that the 30-second claim is clearly nonsense.
Above: A member of WA commenting publicly that the 30 second website claim is “clearly nonsense”

WA members benefit from every Google update

From a Premium-only lesson inside WA:

Kyle claiming that WA members benefit from every Google update.
Above: Kyle’s words in Lesson 2 of The Diamond Traffic Program.

Strangely, WA members report otherwise:

You could easily scale a campaign to make over $1 MILLION per year

From a public blog post by Kyle:

Kyle claiming you can easily scale a campaign to $1 million

Easily?

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Install 20,000 plugins on your Starter website

After you sign up for a free (Starter) account, Kyle writes in an email:

Install 20,000 plugins on your WA Starter website.

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.

The most sophisticated platform, apparently.
Above: Screenshot from an automated email from Carson, after joining WA
The most advanced platform, they say.
Above: Screenshot from Lesson 3 of the Affiliate Bootcamp
Powerful hosting, supposedly.
Above: Screenshot from Lesson 4 of the Online Entrepreneur Certification

I picked a random WA SiteRubix site and ran a couple of speed tests (with Google):

Speed test scores of 55 and 51

And a security test (with Sucuri):

Medium security risk

Ouch!

But that’s just a free site for a Standard WA member.

Surely a Premium WA site would get better results…

Speed test results of 56 and 87
Above: Mixed speed test results for a Premium WA site.
Medium security risk
Above: Medium security risk and outdated PHP on a Premium WA site.

State of the art?

Industry leaders?

Unparalleled?

Hardly.

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:

Wealthy Affiliate hosting comparison

$250 per month!?

Sounds like they plucked that number out of thin air. You can get solid hosting with the likes of Dreamhost and SiteGround for less than $30/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.

Examples…

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:

Sign up for Google Adsense

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:

Forget about Google Adsense

Psych!

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:

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…

Maybe don't sign up for every social media account

Gotcha again, suckers!

How to create a video (twice)

From Level 4, Lesson 9 of the Affiliate Bootcamp:

First lesson in WA about video

Five lessons later, Kyle has apparently had a memory lapse because he covers video again as if for the first time:

Another lesson in WA about video

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…

How to plan your article before you write it

Which wouldn’t be so bad… if you hadn’t already been advised to write 20+ articles throughout the previous 45 lessons!

Sorry, kids.

Those are all kinda useless now.

Content → Email → Content

Level 2, Lesson 3 of the Online Entrepreneur Certification is about creating content:

A lesson in WA about creating content

The very next lesson is about setting up an email address:

A lesson in WA about setting up an email address

Next lesson, we’re back talking about content again:

Another lesson in WA about creating content

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.

Examples…

A "do what you lesson" in WA
Above: Affiliate Bootcamp – Phase 2: Lesson 5
A "do what you lesson" in WA
Above: Affiliate Bootcamp – Phase 2: Lesson 10
A "do what you lesson" in WA
Above: Affiliate Bootcamp – Phase 3: Lesson 10
A "do what you lesson" in WA
Above: Affiliate Bootcamp – Phase 5: Lesson 5

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.

Online Entrepreneur Certification

Affiliate Bootcamp

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:

  • Nofollow
  • Building backlinks
  • Affiliate disclosures
  • Google Adsense
  • Alternatives to Google Adsense
  • Caching
  • 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
  • Instagram
  • 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…

Searching for training on nofollow inside WA

… 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.

For example:

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.

Examples…

“There is NO SUCH THING as choosing the wrong niche.”

WA says there is no such thing as picking the wrong niche
Above: Online Entrepreneur Certification – Level 1: Lesson 3

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…

WA says that you are responsible for making your niche successful

Oh, and don’t worry about competition when choosing your niche…

WA says no niche is too competitive
Above: Screenshot from Kyle’s blog post, A Niche is A Group of People Looking for Stuff

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.”

Okay, great.

I guess I’ll go start my “Tiddlywinks for African American amputees” affiliate site then.

Tiddlywinks + African American + Amputee = totally awesome niche!

I’m sure that’ll do well.

🙄

Also:

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…

Searching for
Above: Searching for “wrong niche” inside WA brings back plenty of results.

Use H3 or H4 tags instead of H2 tags

Kyle says an amazing thing at the 7:15 mark of this video within WA:

Screenshot of the video
Above: Screenshot of the video from Affiliate Bootcamp – Phase 2: Lesson 1

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.

Apparently, he has little understanding of what Yoast refers to as a basic part of SEO, or how to style headings using CSS.

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.

Screenshot from a video of Kyle showing how to use the Site Content platform
Above: Screenshot from a video of Kyle using the Site Content platform in Level 1: Lesson 7 of the OEC.

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

In May 2019, a WA member noted some bad advice within the core training:

Member blog post: outdated WA training could get you banned

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.

smh

Pay writers $5 per post

Premium members have access to Kyle’s “Diamond Traffic Program,” which was last updated in February 2019.

The Diamond Traffic Program

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”…

Screenshot from The Diamond Traffic Program

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.

Simpsons monkey writers
Above: An affiliate marketer checks on his $5 writing team.

Manually backup your WordPress site every week

From Phase 2, Lesson 6 of the Affiliate Bootcamp:

Instructions on how to manually backup your WordPress website each week

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…

Searching for

Here are a few examples.

Google+

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:

An old Google+ lesson inside WA

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…

Google+ mentioned inside WA
Above: Screenshot from Phase 4, Lesson 6 of the Affiliate Bootcamp
Google+ mentioned inside WA
Above: Screenshot from Phase 5, Lesson 1 of the Affiliate Bootcamp
Google+ mentioned inside WA
Above: Screenshot from Level 5, Lesson 3 of the Online Entrepreneur Certification

Search engine market share

From a Premium lesson that was apparently updated in April 2018:

A lesson saying that Bing and Yahoo have a 33% share of all search engine traffic

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…

10 whole lessons on Bing and Yahoo PPC inside Wealthy Affiliate

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:

Kyle saying that there might still be a waiting list for Pinterest

Meanwhile, videos showing Facebook in the core training appear to have been recorded in December 2012.

Video about Facebook that appears to have been recorded in 2012
Above: Screenshot from a video in the Online Entrepreneur Certification entitled, Using Facebook the Right Way

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

Pretty much every video related to creating content in WA was recorded before the rise of WordPress page builders such as Elementor and Thrive Architect.

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 <==

Video showing how to add a basic CTA in the WordPress editor
Above: Screenshot from a video in Level 5, Lesson 7 of the Online Entrepreneur Certification.

The end result is a very bland blog post belonging to the dark ages of the Internet.

The CTA in Kyle's finished blog post

You can see the full blog post here on one of Kyle’s websites

(Don’t say I didn’t warn you!)

MEET THE TRAINERS

Kyle Loudon

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.

Kyle Loudon of Wealthy Affiliate

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:

Organic traffic data for waystoavoidscamsonline.com

Organic traffic data for howtolosebellyfattoday.com

Organic traffic data for mybasketballskills.com

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.

Scarlett Johansson looking shocked

I know, Scarlett.

Unbelievable.

I also found it somewhat incredible that Kyle does a whole lesson inside WA on how to create socially engaging content…

A lesson on how to create socially engaging content

…and demonstrates with an article that didn’t prove very socially engaging at all…

Very few shares on Kyle's article

And I haven’t even mentioned his design skills…

An example of Kyle's design choices
Apparently Kyle’s definition of “cool text” hasn’t changed since 2005.

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

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.

From the Wealthy Affiliate about page:

Jay Neill's bio on the Wealthy Affiliate website

Jay sounds like quite the expert, doesn’t he?

Let’s do a little digging…

AffiliateResources.org

Organic traffic data for AffiliateResources.org
Above: Site data from Ahrefs

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:

Email capture pop up on Jay's website

Or this one:

Email capture pop up on Jay's website

Wow, $300 a day!?

$9,300 a month!?

Let’s take a closer look at the site he’s referring to…

FootballSnackHelmets.com

It’s a fairly simple affiliate site that looks like this:

Football Snack Helmets

Here’s the organic traffic data for that site via Ahrefs:

Organic traffic data for FootballSnackHelmets.com

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)

Football Snack Helmets on Amazon

  • 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”…

Day 9 of Jay's email series
Above: An excerpt from Day 9 of Jay Neill’s email course.

The attached screenshot:

The Amazon earnings for Football Snack Helmets

See anything wrong with that?

I’ll make it more clear…

Highlighted issues with Jay's screenshot

It doesn’t add up, does it?

So I jumped on WA and shot Jay a private message…

My conversation with Jay on Wealthy Affiliate

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…
Jay's Day 9 email
Above: An excerpt from Day 9 of Jay’s email course.
(The case study he links to is from 2015, btw)
  • All those WA referrals are making Jay rich.
  • To the point that he felt compelled to change his Facebook profile photo to this…

Jay's profile photo on Facebook

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:

Kyle responding to a member asking for help in WA

The bad news is that the answer you get might not be great…

Kyle telling a WA member to pick any niche they like.
The very next day, MALXVRM launched his “Ping Pong for Pygmies” niche site.

(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.

The website feedback instructions inside WA.

Unfortunately, the first two times I tried to offer feedback – four days apart – I got the same error message…

Website feedback error message.

Oh well.

UPDATE

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 WA member homepage
Above: Screenshot of my WA member homepage, featuring notifications, news feeds, and a friend (network) count.

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.

Welcome messages from other members after signing up for Premium.
Above: 4 of those 18 messages.

Many WA members also like to leave pointless comments after each training…

Pointless comments from WA members

While others reserve their ramblings for blog posts within WA…

Tracy blogs notes to herself.
Note to Tracy: just because it pops into your head doesn’t mean you should blog about it.

Community moderation also appears to be lacking:

A WA member asking for money
The same member posted several other requests for money in his profile comments. Last I checked, his account was still active.

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.

Wealthy Affiliate Ambassador leaderboard
Above: The top of the Ambassador leaderboard inside WA.

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…

A blog post about the intangible benefits Ambassadorship
Above: part of a member blog post entitled, Ambassadorship.

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.

Here she is blogging in 2019:

Cld111's blog post

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

Just wow.

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…

A blog post listing WA member success stories

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

  Report How Long In WA? 1 Earnings 2
1 Officially a Six Figure Business - 2018 Year End Report 2 years, 3 months $110,184 in 2018
2 December 2018 Income Report - 540% increase in revenue Same as #30 below
3 Year End Report, Made $1,000 profit Same as #31 below
4 December 2018 - $1,738 Dollars & Growing! 1 year, 9 months $1,738 in December
5 My 2018 Travel Niche Results and the Year Ahead, Bring on 2019! 2 years, 5 months $8,000 in 2018
6 Blog Income Report 2018 - over 5K Online 3 years, 2 months $345 in 2018 3
7 My Blogs Earned Over $100k Part-Time in 2018 11 years, 7 months $3,745 in 2018
8 First Pay Cheque! 1 year, 8 months $105 in 2018
9 Over 60 and achieving online success! 4 years, 5 months "enough to pay for my WA subscription each year and support my online habit"
10 3 Years at Wealthy Affiliate - paving the way to success Same as #6 above
11 528 People Had a Party on My Site Over the Weekend! 2 years, 6 months $285 in one week
12 $3,700+ in 1 day from Affiliate Earnings 3 years, 9 months $3,700 in one day
13 $3.875 K for the month of January. Life Just Got Better again all Down to Wealthy Affiliate. 2 years, 3 months $3,875 in January
14 Just launched my 2nd ebook. $7,500 in profit in 2 months for the combo 3 months Was blogging and monetizing for years before joining WA
15 5 Years On, I Reached My *Ecstatic* Income Goal! (2x $1.2K Days) 4 years, 11 months $2,338 in one week
16 A Joint Venture, A Christmas Website and $550 in Sales in 3 days! 2 years, 1 month Reported value of sales, not commissions.
17 $1000 + A Month: 8 Things That Have Helped Grow My Success 3 years, 8 months $1,000 per month
18 Yes, I Did It! $1,174.09 In One Day 7 months Post deleted
19 Two years at Wealthy Affiliate! 2 years Not provided
20 My First $3,000 Sale! 4 years, 9 months $1,500 commission on one sale
21 WA Helps Me Make 5 Figure Income in 2019! 4 years, 3 months Earning 5 figures from contract work.
22 I Will Hit My First $1000 month on Amazon in 2019 3 years, 1 month $709 in January
23 Increase Your Earnings By 5000% In One Year! 2 years, 5 months $500 in February
24 6 More Sales. Yes! 6! 1 year, 6 months Reported value of sales, not commissions.
25 Highest Affiliate Commissions - New Record Today! ($6,582+) Same as #12 above
26 Website Sold For $30,000 Same as #51 below
27 I Failed at Affiliate Marketing until I Found Wealthy Affiliate 4 months Not provided
28 Yes I Made it! 6 months in. Hard work Pays off! 6 months Not provided
29 My First $30,000 Month - Well Almost $29,330.68 To Be Exact 1 year, 7 months $29,331 per month (about $3,000/month from blog)
30 $4,197 Deposited in Q1 2019 2 years $4,197 in 3 months
31 My Highest Single Day Commissions on Amazon 3 years, 3 months $28 in one day
32 So YouTube Just Paid Me $2,053.47 2 years Not affiliate income, not related to WA training.
33 Milestone Month: $1000+ commissions (FINALLY!) 2 years, 9 months $1,763 in April
34 $1,170 On One Sale! 2 years, 8 months Reported value of sale, not commission.
35 I Passed The $100 Mark This Month 3 years, 11 months $150 in May
36 Wealthy Affiliate Paid for my LAMBORGHINI ! Same as #5 above. And he only rented the lambo for 24 hours.
37 This Is Real Passive Income 7 months $140 in two weeks
38 A $5,000 Sale Thanks to Wealthy Affiliate Same as #20 above
39 Amazon Sales Update - WA Training Works! 7 months $20 commission on one sale
40 5 Year WA anniversary, a journey that has just started. 5 years Approx $500,000 in sales per year (commissions unknown)
41 My 3rd Year so far and my Regular Income! Same as #16 above
42 My 12 Year Old Son Made His First $190 Online 5 years, 4 months Not related to WA
43 I am officially unemployed. Same as #32 above
44 Random commissions ya gotta love it 5 years, 9 months Reporting commissions earned from promoting WA
45 Making money while I sleep 1 year, 1 month Not provided
46 $2,158.76 In July from (Just) Ad Revenue - Yes It Works! 2 years, 10 months $6,500 in July
47 What an Awesome Coincidence! New Sales Record. Same as #31 above
48 How Shopify and Dropshipping are Making Me Money 2 years, 11 months Not related to WA
49 My Amazon Site Paid for My Trip to Washington DC! (And I Met Nomadic Matt) 3 years, 11 months Not provided
50 What is Freedom to You? WA is Helping Me Achieve Mine! 2 years, 9 months "I am making a full-time income online and I have been for a while."
51 4 Years At Wealthy Affiliate: What A Ride! 4 years "In 4 years at Wealthy Affiliate I nearly made $100,000"

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.

Jennifer Love Hewitt: I'm just sayin!

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:

WA tells you what to do if you're stuck
Above: Screenshot from Level 1, Lesson 3 of the Online Entrepreneur Certification.

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.

Like this:

Earnings screenshot from another Wealthy Affiliate review
Above: Screenshot of WA earnings from another Wealthy Affiliate review.

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.

WRAP UP

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.

Tony Soprano: bad bing bada boom

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.

Such as:

  • 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.

Tasks at the end of a lesson in WA
Above: Tasks for Level 1, Lesson 5 of the Online Entrepreneur Certification

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:

No false statements
Above: Screenshot from Phase 2, Lesson 4 of the Affiliate Bootcamp

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:

An example of Kyle advocating white hat SEO in Wealthy Affiliate.

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.

Almost every lesson in WA has text and video content.
Above: You’ll find text and video instruction in nearly every core lesson within WA.

Is Wealthy Affiliate worth it?

No.

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.

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):

Robert De Niro's career plotted on a graph

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.

Robert De Niro saying

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 🏆

Course Rating Review
Authority Hacker (TASS) 4.5/5 Authority Hacker review
Income School (Project 24) 4/5 Project 24 review
Affilorama tbd in progress
Clickbank University tbd in progress
Making Sense Of Affiliate Marketing tbd in progress
Wealthy Affiliate 1/5 Wealthy Affiliate review

Your Wealthy Affiliate review

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Please consider leaving a review below – good or bad – doesn’t matter so long as it’s helpful to our visitors.

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