Alright so you've heard all the buzz about WA and now you wanna know if it's legit, right??
Well, you've come to the right place.
Here's the deal:
In this detailed, meticulous shakedown of the Wealthy Affiliate program, I keep it real. I've made money with all sorts of online biz models, affiliate marketing being just one of them.
I also did some MLM way back in 2013, and I saw people making some bold claims about what Wealthy Affiliate is and what it can do. Then there are people wondering, is Wealthy Affiliate worth it?
Here's the problem, tho: These days, there's a little too much of the blind leading the blind out here in the online business world. People offering opinions and advice when they don't know the first thing about building a sustainable online business themselves.
So if I were you, I'd probably be wondering, "who is this guy?"
Well, allow me to introduce myself:
Basic outline of my experience:
IMPORTANT REMINDER: I AM NOT AN AFFILIATE
This is something that I really care about you knowing if you're going to read any of my reviews.
You're not going to find any affiliate links for Wealthy Affiliate anywhere in this article.
If you do decide to participate in their program, I'm not going to receive any type of compensation whatsoever. There are way too many people out there writing reviews "just to help people," when really they're trying to get you to make a purchase so that they line their own pockets.
Rest assured that I don't play that game.
Now let's finally get into...
My Wealthy Affiliate Unbiased Review
Here's one of their star players (from a couple years ago.)
Take a look at the screenshot below, and I would like you to notice how long she's worked on her site and how much traffic she's gotten.
Keep this in your back pocket, cuz we'll come back to it later.
As I mentioned earlier, I've been ranking websites on Big Daddy G(oogle) for over 6 years now, so one could say that I know my stuff. And I have some thoughts on this.
Anyway, to write a quality Wealthy Affiliate review in 2021, I had to go through their system.
So I bought their course.
I dove deep into the Wealthy Affiliate training to see if it really is legit and viable for affiliate marketers today in 2021.
Need proof that I bought the program?
That's the welcome email I got when I used my Wealthy Affiliate login:
And yes we got the premium membership.
(if you came here looking for a review of the free version, I can give it you my free wealthy affiliate review plain and simple right now: The free package is pretty much worthless imo)
Now back to the stuff that's actually worth talking about...
So what does buying into the upper tier get you?
You'll get their "robust" training.
(I leave it in quotes because it was obvious that it hadn't been updated in a long time)
But you'll also get access to the community, and honestly, that's the real asset of WA.
Here's how their forum works:
Dashboard: Predictably, the blue house icon brings you to the main "home page," which is basically your portal where you can access all things WA.
Training: When you want to watch WA's edu, hit the green "play" button
Websites: This is where you can buy domains & hosting from WA (this is where they really get your $$$ by the way.) I gotta say, though, I like how they take care of the tech, so WA members don't have to set up the DNS and sh*t like that.
Live Events: The "live events" tab is basically a lotta videos that WA members have made over time. Some provide a few laughs, while others drop some higher-level hacks.
Research: Enter "Jaaxy Lite," WA's affiliate keyword research tool. Def not as robust as Ahrefs, but handy for sure.
Affiliate Programs: They've got a few affiliate offers primed and ready for you, but the biggest offer is to just promote the WA program itself. Personally, I hit up places like JVZoo, the tried and true Clickbank, but not Amz anymore.
Live Chat: This is WA's version of FB messenger, which allows for talk between group members as well as support (but more on that later)
And finally! You'll see the Help Center.
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.
Wealthy Affiliate Course Overview
Course Creator: Kyle Loudoun
For people who like to see how things get started, here's how WA got going:
It pretty much begins with Kyle Loudoun.
He combined his love for travel and his tech prowess when he got into affiliate marketing about 18 years back ('03, I think?)
But anyone who's been around for long enough will notice that the "gurus" out there are making their money from teaching folks (and let's face it, he has a heart, so he probably wanted to help some folks out too) so he made a course with a partner, Carson Lim.
(this is the kind of info people find out when they're searching for Kyle and Carson Wealthy Affiliate reviews.)
A few years later, as they grew, they added a few feature: Jaaxy, their keyword research tool.
And that was the start of WA.
Now let's see what their training is like these days:
Word of advice: Set Your Expectations for WA low for the education...but high for the community
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.
Here's some quick facts about Wealthy Affiliate:
The Meat of the WA Course (All 5 Levels)
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, and if you follow it step by step, you'll get your first website up and running with lightning speed.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bonus 1: Selling WA as an Affiliate
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.
This bonus teaches you how to:
This closely mirrors the first "Getting Started" module. There are 8 videos, for a total of 2 hours and 33 minutes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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 $1,642 in a month.
Going after long tail keywords, which btw is a strategy that really doesn't work well in 2021. "Blogging daily" did work in 2012, but that was 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 $1,642... 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 only $1,642 to show for it tells me that most of those blog posts are not ranking and therefore not generating ANY traffic.
And this, my friends, is why I will go down into the grave proclaiming the superiority of the Lead Generation business model.
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 $2,000 per month because my clients are happy paying me 10% of closed business, and an average tree removal job goes anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000.
And this site generates 300 phone calls per month, for my client paying me $2,000 is nothing compared to the revenue I'm bringing him.
Here's a key 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.
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 targeting 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. Unfortunately, WA doesn't teach that...so I'm not surprised that after 2 years of grinding her site is at that level of income.
It's 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.
And that's just the beginning.
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 it's the best thing since sliced 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 it's 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
A quick search did show some Wealthy Affiliate reviews with complaints, but 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:
It's probably because of this active resolution of complaints that they've been able to keep a decent BBB rating.
But here's another interesting fact: WA is listed as a HOSTING business, not an educational company.
Reminds me of Ray Crock's McDonalds--everybody thinks that McDonald's is in the burger business (and oooh, those tasty, golden fries...) but in reality, they are in the real estate biz.
That's what makes them absolute geniuses.
Only thing is, WA being seen as a web hosting platform and not an educational platform doesn't seem nearly as genius, if you ask me...
Wealthy Affiliate Reviews on Reddit
I can always count on my peeps at Reddit to tell it like it is.
(I mean, isn't that why everybody loves Reddit?)
Let's dive right in.
This reviewer has nothing but good things to say about Wealthy Affiliate. And it's always nice to hear that someone's gotten some value out of a program that they've invested their hard-earned money in.
I like this guy (or gal.) You can tell that they're a pretty experienced businessperson, because they get that signing up for a platform like this is a huge risk. Let's say you really did strike gold with your affiliate business and you were raking in tens of thousands of dollars every month. If you sign up with a "platform" like Wealthy Affiliate and they go belly up (and let's be real, this happens to businesses all the time for all sorts of reasons) well....there goes your business.
The last thing you want to hear when you're thinking about spending money on a course or a program is the word "scam."
And I'll be honest, I've heard that word a lot in conjunction with WA. This particular complaint has to do with Wealthy Affiliate pricing structure, but I get their beef. They might seem at first like they're just trying to help people gain control of their lives and financial freedom through affiliate marketing, but you really won't get too far before the truth comes out.
And this truth comes in the form of you opening up your wallet again.
The 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.
One guy that's really killing it with affiliate marketing are M. Brownlee
He's got a massive channel on Youtube with a big following, 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.
1. 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.
Short History Lesson:
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.
The here's the biggest issue I see with the wealth affiliate training:
I call it my "best survival knife" revelation
My "Best Survival Knife" Revelation
Check out this example:
I googled "best survival knife"
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 a vote in the eyes of Google and getting to the top is like a popularity contest.
With sites like this now having 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.
Why that Revelation Makes WA Obsolete
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 local lead generation that offers a faster route to real income.
Pros And Cons of WA
The Good and Bad of Wealth Affiliate
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 locally ranked websites over nationwide or worldwide results.
Here's exactly why lead gen is better than affiliate marketing in 2021.
Affiliate Marketing vs Lead Generation
Google presents a huge opportunity in 2021, as it dominates the planet as the largest search engine out there, taking up 95% of the market.
And while you can make a trickle of money being an affiliate, with local lead generation it's way simpler to generate streams of cash.
Here's a few reasons why:
Do You Own Your Topline or does your Supplier?
If you are an affiliate of any product, the producer can choose not to pay you what they want or choose to stop making that product all together, all without your say.
With lead generation, you own the website (it's your online property), no one can take it away from you. It's just that simple.
How Easy is it to Get into Business?
With YouTube affiliate marketing, anyone can get started simply by making videos, recommending their favorite products and posting their links in the video's description.
With Lead Generation, the barrier of entry is much higher, as you must have the skills to build a website and then move that website to the top of the rankings to start getting calls for local businesses.
How Essential are You?
If you are creating video product reviews through which people buy products from amazon or another supplier, at the end of the day, there's a ton of product reviewers out there reviewing similar products.
With local lead generation, your service is needed by the local business to keep a steady stream of customers heading their way, or else they'd go under. #bankruptcy
What's nice about lead generation is that compared to Affiliate Marketing is you can make consistent "mailbox money."
Rather than a few dollars here and there, imagine opening your mailbox each month and having checks inside, written out to you.
$300, $500, $1200, 2000 dollars
Every. Single. Month.
That's how my journey with lead gen ramped up
Don't get me wrong, it takes consistent, focused effort to get started in lead generation.
If it were super easy, then everyone would do it.
But there are 6 main steps for local lead gen.
All things considered, that what I'd call a pretty darn simple business model.
And I can tell you (from experience.)
When I got my first lead with this business model, it was like a switch turned on inside me.
I knew if I was successful in doing it once, I could be successful over and over and over again.
It finally hit me what was truly possible, and then I was more motivated than ever to double down on the lead gen business model.
So even if you want to experiment with Affiliate Marketing, that's all it should be if you're really interested in building a successful online business--an experiment.
The local lead gen business is so passive once its set up, it's worth giving it a try imo.
Click here to get started with lead generation.