Hello and welcome to this detailed breakdown of the Wealthy Affiliate (WA) program. We'll be going through every single module. By the end of this article you'll know if affiliate marketing is for you.
We also address some controversy which is... why are a lot of people thinking that Wealthy Affiliate might be a MLM or a pyramid scheme?
And why should you listen to me?
First of all, I can give you a truly honest, unbiased review of Wealthy Affiliate because I'm not an affiliate for Wealthy Affiliate, even though I took the course (I'm making money online with lead generation for local businesses since 2014...
Currently making $50K per month with lead generation...
That tree service site above has been making me $2000 per month since 2015, its similar to affiliate marketing but its faster because we're ranking in local searches instead of global keywords. More on this later...
In this review we also take a look at one of Wealthy Affiliate's top success testimonial and compare her results against the lead gen biz model.
I've been doing SEO / ranking sites on first page of Google since 2014, so I know what I'm talking about when it comes to what it takes to make actual legit income with affiliate marketing today, it ain't no picnic let me tell ya.
I dove deep into Wealthy Affiliate's training to see if it really is legit and viable for affiliate marketers today in 2019. Not for 2012.
& Yes I actually bought the program.
this was the welcome email I got.
And yes we got the premium membership.
This basically unlocks other trainings that you'll need either way, unless you plan on figuring things out for yourself.
I wasn't exactly taken aback by the training itself, rather I think the community is more the asset that you're paying for.
I'll explain more in detail what this whole interface is about.
Let's get into it.
So The first of the buttons in your dashboard is basically a "home" button.
Underneath that is the "training" button that takes you to the training that we're about to get into in just a moment.
Next, you'll notice there's a "Websites" button. This is where you can actually purchase your domain within the Wealthy Affiliate platform.
One thing that's pretty cool about this is that you don't have to worry about DNS settings like nameservers and you can also use their builder to get your site up and running.
Below that is the "Live Events" tab.
This is where other WA members can broadcast their own homebrew trainings to the Wealthy Affiliate community. Also, if you are in need of activation keys for microsoft products, you may check this affiliate link of mine.
Then, you see the "Research" button. This is where you get access to Jaaxy lite, which is actually a pretty cool little keyword research tool made specifically for affiliate marketing. (I personally use Ahrefs for this, but that's just me.)
They also have a search platform for affiliate programs, you can see it under the title "Affiliate Programs."
This is pretty cool, but unnecessary since you can use places like JVZoo, ClickBank, and Amazon to find your products.
Next comes the "Live Chat" button. As you can see below, this allows you to post live messages within the community and communicate with the other group members. This is without a doubt the best thing about the Wealthy Affiliate course. (See below.)
And finally! You'll see the Help Center.
This is where you can request help for things like technical support for the domains you've bought within the Wealthy Affiliate platform, ask a question within the community, open up a live chat for quick help, and even private message another Wealthy Affiliate member.
Wix vs wealthy affiliate - it goes without saying that wix is worthless for affiliate marketing because affiliate links are forbidden on their platform. End of discussion. That was easy, huh?
Wealthy Affiliate Course Overview
Ranked #4 out of 4 affiliate marketing courses (See full list here)
160 separate lessons each consisting of a video and about 1,500 words of text.
LOTS of repetitive content, great community.
3.6/5 - The community is what makes this course powerful.
Introduction To Kyle
First off, let's get started by talking a little bit about Kyle Loudoun. His love for travel, interest in business, and love for digital marketing propelled him to success in the realm of affiliate marketing. He and his business partner Carson Lim created Wealthy Affiliate in 2005.
In addition to WA, they own a keyword research tool specifically designed for affiliate marketing called Jaaxy.
They are both very active in the group, and go out of their way to make new members feel very welcome.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN THIS COURSE
So what is Wealthy Affiliate and how does it work? This course is primarily presented by Kyle Loudoun, whereas Carson Lim runs more of the backend of the group. He has a very simple to follow teaching style that makes it easy to ease into the world of understanding more complicated aspects of digital marketing such as Google Webmaster tools.
Level 1- Getting Started
Here you'll learn to navigate the community, complete your account setup, and take a look at what you get from upgrading to a Premium account. You'll learn to:
This first level of the training is fast and furious, allowing you to get your first website up and running with lightning speed.
There are also nine videos, for a whopping total of 2 hours and 51 minutes of tutorials.
Level 2- Getting Traffic
Here you learn to start getting guests to come take a look at your site and what it offers. By the end of this lesson you'll be able to:
This is basically building on the first lesson, sort of repeating some of the points, and simultaneously going into more detail.
There are ten videos in this part of the training, totaling 2 hours and 27 minutes.
Level 3- Generating An Income
Now that you've got traffic going to your website, You've got to monetize that traffic. These are the ways that you'll achieve just that.
This is basically the most technical and crucial part of the entire training, because it pertains to slapping dollar signs on your web pages.
There are only five videos in this lesson, but they still add up to an hour and 22 minutes.
Level 4- Leverage Social Media
Here you'll learn other ways to maximize the traffic to your site so more eyeballs get glued to your affiliate offers and Google Ads. The training includes the following:
This section is pretty important, though most of your traffic should probably be coming through Google keyword searches.
This is a somewhat shorter lesson than most of the other, and there are 5 videos totaling 50 minutes and 21 seconds.
Level 5- Improve Your Content Writing
Effective content writing is essential to this business model. Product reviews and engaging information are they way to get a loyal fanbase that buys your products.
This level will teach you how to:
Some of this level seems a little bit repetitive, but there are nonetheless some important pieces of training here.
There are nine videos, totaling two hours and 11 minutes.
Bonus- How To Sell wealthy affiliate as an affiliate (Boot Camp)
There are a whopping 7 phases about this aspect of Wealthy Affiliate alone. The focus on selling WA as a new student definitely raises a red flag for me, but either way this is still a good course.
Bizarrely, many very similar lessons are repeated again, with some tweaks to teach you how to push WA's community with your own affiliate offer.
This bonus teaches you how to:
PHASE 1: BUILD YOUR WEBSITE
-This closely mirrors the first "Getting Started" module. There are 8 videos, for a total of 2 hours and 33 minutes.
PHASE 2: GET YOUR CONTENT AND KEYWORDS IN ORDER
-This also is very similar to the 2nd level of the training, but it goes into a little more depth and talk specifically about marketing the WA training itself. It includes 6 videos, totaling 1 hour and 22 hours.
PHASE 3: USE SOCIAL MEDIA
-Almost verbatim the same training that you went through in the 3rd level, there are some tweaks here. Six videos are here, totaling 54 minutes and 14 seconds.
PHASE 4: GET VISUAL
-Here, they talk about the importance of reviews, and how you can improve your reviews specifically about the WA platform. Graphs and charts are also a main feature of this phase. Something pretty cool about this phase is that they teach you how to make simple text-based graphics for your sites.
phase 5: getting more referrals
Content creation is discussed yet again, specifically concerning the "intent" of your writing. He also talks about using a content framework to simplify the process of writing an article. Writing with the idea of promoting engagement and comments is discussed here, as well as getting your commenters to convert into sales.
Kyle also discusses using Youtube as an additional source of traffic, and teaches you how to do your keyword research specifically for this platform. After that, Kyle teaches you to create and upload your video to Youtube in such a way that it gets indexed quickly and shows up on Google for others to click.
phase 6: Bing, Yahoo and ppc
This is actually a very good lesson that teaches you about PPC for Bing Ads, as well as getting indexed quickly on Bing and Yahoo which are known for taking a little more time to identify new content so it can be found by the public. An interesting revelation is that the rankings in Bing and Yahoo are often exactly the same!
Also discussed here is Bing's Webmaster Tools which is the driving force in allowing Bing to access and show your content to the public.
phase 7: scaling up your ppc campaigns
As the name implies, this part of the training teaches you to further use PPC to double down on keywords that are already converting into sales.
They also mention that you can target keywords with too much competition for you to beat with SEO. This feels a little bit like a cop out on SEO techniques, but I can definitely see PPC being used as a temporary stopgap while you get your SEO power pack charged up and ready.
Bonus 2- Customer Purchase Lifecycle
This is actually pretty interesting, as it talks about the three main phases of how people make purchases online. This enables you to target your customers at just the right step in the process so they're ready to buy.
The use of keywords that have big names included is also explained. This enables you to scrape up some of the traffic that might otherwise go directly to the source.
Kyle also talks about putting yourself in the customer's shoes as well as how to make somebody turn into a long-term customer. Overall pretty informative stuff.
Is Wealthy Affiliate a Pyramid Scheme? MLM?
What makes businesses a pyramid scheme?
Pyramid schemes occurs usually in a multi-level marketing company where people are mostly getting paid to recruit people, and those recruits go on to recruit more, while the actual product being sold is not providing any real results.
As the business gets saturated in the marketplace, people that join the MLM later on, end up simply losing money because the recruiting has become exponentially more difficult and the product is sort of bogus.
Now Wealthy Affiliate is not multi-tier commission structure like a traditional MLM, it does offer commission (affiliate) opportunities, and because the training focuses a lot on dated affiliate marketing tactics like creating Facebook pages & commenting on other posts, what ends up happening is that the best opportunity in WA is to actually turn around and promote WA.
That gets a lil' hairy because who's ultimately benefiting in that structure the most is simply the course creators, and of course they want everyone inside WA to promote WA.
Some tough questions...
WA has been around for a while...
Why isn't there any high-level SEO training?
Why isn't there any training on backlinking? It is impossible to rank in Google today without backlinks. And that's just Facts.
When the program's best money making opportunity is to promote the program itself, it becomes closer and closer to simply a referral / recruit business like a MLM.
Fortunately, they make is easy to cancel your membership.
Wealthy Affiliate Top Success Case Study
(why lead generation out performs affiliate marketing)
Here's the top ranked success testimonial inside their platform, with 465 comments.
When she says 358 referrals, that's selling Wealthy Affiliate and as you can see by the breakdown she provided, its her main money maker.
I'm happy for her success but here's my issue with these statistics.
She spent 20 months, almost 2 years of grinding 420 blog posts for a site to make $1642 in a month.
Going after longtail keywords, which btw is a strategy that really doesn't work well in 2019, "blogging daily" worked in 2012, before the Penguin algorithm update.
The crazy thing is that this seems like the best route when considering how to make money with wealthy affiliate.
420 blog posts to make $1642... is exactly the reason why I do not recommend affiliate marketing today for anybody starting out online.
It is just way too saturated.
To have 420 blog posts, and a site's only making $1642 shows that most of those blog posts are not ranking and not generating ANY traffic.
This is why local lead generation works so much better, because local is much easier to rank and providing leads for small businesses will actually get you paid good money versus the small commission from being an affiliate marketer.
For example this tree service site of mine:: https://www.grandrapidstree.com/
Makes me $2000 per month because my clients are happy paying me 10% of closed business, and an average tree removal job goes anywhere from $5000 to $20,000.
And this site generates 300 phone calls per month, for my client paying me $2000 is nothing compared to the revenue I'm bringing him.
Here's the big difference between the lead generation business and affiliate marketing. And it should begin to become more and more clear why I recommend this lead generation coaching program over WA.
I made this site in 2015. Only took me 6 hours to build.
Maybe another 15 hours spread out over 4 months to get it to page 1 of Google for "tree service Grand Rapids" (you can Google it yourself)
That site was already making me $1000 per month.
3 months later it got to the top of page 1, and the site has been making me $2000 per month since. (from 2015 to now 2019)
I'm still building & ranking lead-gen sites like these all over the world to increase my passive income.
Here's Why Affiliate Marketing is not feasible for a beginner
To play affiliate marketing today and actually make decent income ($10K per month or more), you need to invest so much money to create a massive authority site like mine (ippei.com) on top of that it will take 2-3 years.
I was able to do it, because I have passive income from my lead-gen sites that's funding this project.
AND I only did ippei.com because I'm not an affiliate for our lead generation coaching program, I'm actually Dan's partner now so its not a small affiliate commission.
Blogging daily and targetting long-tail keywords ain't gonna make u whole lot of cash today, it just isn't. You need massive amounts of backlinks which costs money. Unfortunatley WA doesn't teach that... so I'm not surprised that after 2 years of grinding her site is at that level of income.
Its just not feasible for a beginner.
With local lead generation, you can build & rank much faster (3-6 months) and get these sites to crank $500 to $2000 per month of profits.
Local is easier to rank. So many cities you can get into so its not saturated. And leads for small businesses are far more lucrative than affiliate commissions.
Since 2014, while I'm building my lead generation business, I've started several affiliate sites just because I like trying different biz models, and all those sites took at least 1 year to see any traffic and still under performed against lead gen sites that ranked in half the time or less.
Kudos to lilmama for her dedication & grind, but I also feel for her in a way, because with her work ethic I know in my heart she would be earning six figures in lead gen income by now.
Selling WA (or getting referrals) is becoming mostly too difficult for beginners now.
Only legit way to continually promote WA is through ranking in Google for "Wealthy Affiliate Review" or on Youtube. Problem is there's only 10 spots on the first page of Google.
Once those 10 spots are filled with savy SEO's.
Then the new members are not able to get the life changing results they desire.
You are not going to make real income by promoting FB pages manually by commenting, I'm sorry its just not gonna work today. Maybe back in 2012.
While affiliates of WA are promoting this program like its the best thing since slice bread. That's the problem of creating a coaching program with affiliate options, you get a lot of misleading advertising by inexperienced affiliates.
You're gonna flood the market with disingenuous reviews and members that promote the program for the sake of getting that commission not necessarily because they believe that the program actually teaches highly effective skills.
But I will say that I do not think Wealthy Affiliate can be classified as a pyramid scheme.
Because you do get some real training on setting up sites, hosting, finding affiliate offers, and some traffic tactics, although in my opinion its not the best out there but the training is still there.
Wealthy Affiliate Lawsuit with MOBE
Back in 2015, Wealthy Affiliate was served with a lawsuit by a MLM company called MOBE, because the creator of WA, Kyle wrote an article claiming MOBE to be a Scam in 2014. This article was backed with research and facts.
MOBE came after them aggressively with lawsuits claiming Kyle's article defamed their company leading to loss in revenue.
Well, this was nothing more than MOBE's attempt to use lawsuits to bankrupt Wealthy Affiliate with court fees it would take to defend against the claims. It costed WA, half a million dollars to defend against the lawsuits.
They did and they prevailed.
Ya see, MOBE was like a wolf backed into a corner, desperate and aggressive because they knew their days were numbered.
MOBE was facing serious allegations from the FTC that they were running a fraudulent business of a real pyramid scheme, duping members into joining an opportunity that provided no real tangible value for spending the money to join the opportunity, resulting in only people losing money and people higher in the pyramid profiting off of recruits.
So MOBE was shut down by the FTC, meaning they didn't proceed with their accusations against WA. And the lawsuit was over.
I admire WA's strong stance on protecting freedom of speech as they were getting accused of not just their content but the content put out by WA members, which is crazy.
This thorough review should provide enough evidence that WA is not a pyramid scheme because there's actual valuable training inside WA that you get for joining. This company is not a ponzi scheme that prays on recruiting people without giving any value.
In this way, we don't have to look at WA in terms of it being a MLM or not, let's simply look at the training inside it, if its relevant for affiliate marketing today and if affiliate marketing really is right for you or not?
Wealthy Affiliate BBB Rating
While a quick search did show some complaints, they all seemed to have been resolved so I definitely give respect to them for that.
Something about business is that you're inevitably going to run into somebody that isn't happy with your service, especially when you're dealing with a product as cheap as this.
Here's a screenshot of what I found:
My Biggest Issue I have with Wealthy Affiliate Training
Listen, I've made money with affiliate marketing not 10 years ago, but from 2017. So I know just how difficult it is, especially consistent income with affiliate marketing requires tons of consistent traffic.
Traffic is the hardest thing to get consistently on the internet, and its only getting harder year after year.
I hate to sound like a hater here, but I feel a lot of Wealthy Affiliate training on traffic generation is very basic and just plain outdated.
Let me explain.
Affiliate marketing is the most saturated online business model out there because even people in the Philippines or India can compete with you since there's no client work.
And the business model has been around the longest, since as far back as I can remember honestly, so there's so many giants now that are dominating niches with their HUMONGOUS websites.
A lot of what's taught in Wealthy Affiliate is creating fan pages in Facebook and promoting the page by commenting on other pages.... really?
So you're taught to be a spammer?
To me this is not a real business model, this is digital ditch digging.
Sure you might make a sale here & there, but this is not gonna allow you to create the lifestyle of your dreams. The only way to do that is to actually develop high-level skills that solve big problems like lead generation, not spam commenting on Facebook which anyone can do.
As far as Wealthy Affiliate alternatives, that's what I recommend.
You also need tons of traffic to make decent income with affiliate marketing because commissions are not that high 8-10% in most cases, high-paying affiliate offers are few and far between.
Where to get big traffic?
Well only few places really where majority of people visit on the internet: Google, Facebook, Youtube & now emerging Instagram
Only way to really get massive attention on Facebook is to actually spend some $$$ and run paid ads.
But the problem...
Paid ads are almost impossible to consistently make decent money with affiliate offers, and trust me I've tried for almost 2 years to figure this out.
Above was the ad that produced some results but in the end, paid traffic is way too expensive for affiliate marketing.
Remember when you're paying for every click and your commission is only a certain percentage, you're playing a very risky game. You just don't have enough room to work with.
Ad costs fluctuate greatly even from day to day, so when you're paying out the ass for ads and the margin is so slim, you can be running ads but losing money at the same time.
The only way to make affiliate offer ads work really is to create an ad that's more on the inflamatory side, that dig into people's negative emotions.
And a large enough niche, which is weight loss & romance.
And sell products you don't really believe in.
It just felt scuzzy for me.
Even then Facebook doesn't really like affiliate offers like weight loss being promoted especially an ad that's a bit inflamatory so get ready to get your FB ad accounts shut down over and over again.
Anyway, this means in affiliate marketing, the only way to really make it work is by being able to generate high volume of consistent organic, free traffic.
The people that are really killing it with affiliate marketing are the following:
- They got a massive channel on Youtube with a big following, maybe not as insane as MKBHD but still u need decent amount of clout, btw MKBHD makes a killing because as he reviews tech products, he can send people to his affiliate links. but he's been making videos since he was a lil' kid. Becoming big enough on youtube to make decent income takes 2-3 years of hard work & dedication, which means you really have to be passionate about the subject or you won't last.
2. You need to be a gangster at SEO and create a powerful site that ranks organically in Google. The problem with this is that in 2019, there's already 1000's of affiliate marketers that have already tried to rank sites before you for every affiliate marketing niche you can think of.
Back in 2012, you could still make small niche sites that rank for as many long-tail keywords as possible, but ever since the Penguin update and other Google algorithm updates since then when it comes to national / global level keywords Google is now preferring big authority sites, for example.
I googled "best kitchen knives"
To see what kind of affiliate sites you have to compete with, what's in the red box (RD) stands for Referring Domains, that's how many different sites are linking to these sites. Anytime another site links to your site, its called a backlink, think of each backlink as votes in the eyes of Google and getting to the top is like popularity contest.
With sites like this now that have hundreds of backlinks, those days of creating new wordpress blog sites and just writing blog post after blog post, crossing your fingers and hoping to rank? yea those days are over.
You need some serious skills to do real SEO, which is the art of acquiring high quality backlinks.
And guess what.
Wealthy Affiliate offers no training on backlinking.
What Wealthy Affiliate appears to me to be 100% honest is a program that continues on the back of WA affiliates continuing to promote it for that commission.
Not necessarily because the training is stellar and producing results for real affiliate marketers today.
I just have yet to see someone earning mid 6 figures as a real affiliate marketer using the tactics taught in WA, without selling WA.
The problem lies in the business model of affiliate marketing as well, in 2019 it has become far harder than what WA makes it seem.
Therefore I'm not crazy about recommending affiliate marketing in general to newbies that are still working a job.
The good news is there's lead generation that offers a faster route to real income.
Pros And Cons
What we liked
What we didn't like
It seems that the best opportunity in WA is to promote WA as an affiliate, which sets up a model that's most beneficial for WA creators but not as favorable for thousands joining WA.
Traffic is the most important thing for an online business, and with affiliate marketing you need tons of it.
Traffic for affiliate marketing is also the most hardest traffic to generate on the internet, because affiliate marketing is a business model that's been around the longest and at this point in 2019 most niches are dominated by big players already.
You need some seriously legit SEO skills to really make it in affiliate marketing today and WA does not offer that unfortunately.
You need to be a personality that can blow up on YouTube or Instagram.
WA tactics of commenting on Facebook and creating a free fan page only works to a certain point, maybe some side money here and there but definitely not laptop lifestyle status or even 6 figure income.
At $50 per month joining WA and deciding its not for you for yourself is not the end of the world, you might even learn a thing or two about internet marketing.
Conclusion: Why Lead Generation is Better Than Affiliate Marketing
Local lead generation still provides the best opportunity for newbies to make real 6 figure incomes online and be able to quit your job for good.
The BIG reason that makes local lead generation so much better than affiliate marketing is that you're only competing with 15 car mechanics (or plumbers, etc.) in a space instead of having to compete against 15,000 affiliate marketers going for the same niches.
This is because Google emphasizes local results over nationwide or worldwide rankings.
Affiliate marketing can definitely bring you some money, but for most newbies that hill is too steep to climb today.
It's better to be a big fish in a lil' pond.
At least until you can quit your job. You want a vehicle that's gonna get you to 6 figure income online as quickly as possible.
So what makes local lead generation so much better than affiliate marketing?
There are so many niches and cities out here in the world that market saturation is NOT even close.
This is an evergreen business model that WILL NOT go away anytime this century. Business owners will always exist, & they will always need leads.
Once you get a lead gen site ranked, you're basically DONE with that project, it'll run on autopilot. You just shoot the leads to a business owner and collect a monthly check!
Basically every dollar of what you make is profit because your leads are YOUR product, costs and overhead are not that much relative to what these sites will generate per month. Your not promoting someone else's product and earning a measily commission.
The traffic and leads you get are FREE because you rank organically. Getting sites on page 1 of Google is the key to true passive income online.