Last Updated on by Karl
Hey, Karl here. Welcome to my Wealthy Affiliate review. If you want to know if it’s worth it to sign up or if they’re going to scam you, this is the review for you.
I’m good too. Just a bit tired.
Just finished 40ish hours of researching Wealthy Affiliate training videos, the forums, talking to my friends in the industry, and researching every YouTube video, news article, website, and forum post related to this insanely controversial training program.
I even paid $46 to import a bottle of sugar-free BBQ sauce. That’s how drained I am right now.
So, now that my eyes are heavy and I shake any time I hear the term “affiliate marketing”, I’m going to do what any sane, level-headed internet marketer would do: WRITE 9,000 words on this topic so you get an honest, fair review.
What You’ll Learn
- What is Wealthy Affiliate?
- How it works
- Why so many people think it’s an MLM (but it’s not)
- Who the founders are (and my major issue with them)
- If you can actually make money with it
- Why I don’t like their training, but I see why people do
- How to use it to make money
- Why their SEO advice is bad (and what to do instead)
- Do I recommend Wealthy Affiliate?
What Do I Know About Affiliate Marketing Anyway?…
I’ve been a relatively successful online entrepreneur since I was 12. SEO, affiliate, agency owner, CMO for a big company, I’ve seen a lot of different sides of this industry.
I’ve flipped sites for $100,000, gone broke, moved to London, got the hell out, moved back for some reason (?… dumb-dumb), started a marketing agency, sold that, started from scratch again, got hired as a CMO, built massive authority sites – it’s been a lot of work.
So, when I first heard about Wealthy Affiliate, I was pretty put off. I’m self-made. I’ve put so much work into getting where I am that when I hear others telling people “it’s so easy. All you need is passion and a website”, I immediately label them as spam.
Now that I’m focusing on giving back to the community that helped make me, I felt obligated to set the record straight here. So I dove head on it and actually…
To tell the truth, I was kinda surprised. Wealthy Affiliate wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.
It’s not good, but it’s not the evil corporate ponzi scheme/pyramid scheme/MLM that everyone says. It’s complicated. It has layers like an onion.
After spending all week researching WA. I’ve finally narrowed my list down to the 30 most important things I learned from these past 5 days.
Here are the basics.
What is Wealthy Affiliate?
Wealthy Affiliate is the world’s most popular – and controversial – affiliate marketing training course, community, and ecosystem.
It’s a 1.4-million strong community designed to take complete beginners from 0 to profitable affiliate marketers by offering training, tools, a functioning website, and coaching.
In theory, your membership offers everything you need to earn a good living via affiliate marketing including:
- Training on niche selection
- A website builder
- Training on how to bring free traffic to that site
- Training on how to master paid traffic
- Subscriptions to necessary tools
- An intro to affiliate programs so you can earn money from your traffic
- Coaching and a helpful community so you get it right.
Here are some interesting specs on the community
- 1,800 coaches
- 10,000 + business started
- 1.4 million members
- 23,000 people helped daily
Kyle Loudon and Caron Lim founded Wealthy Affiliate with the goal of helping others achieve the same dreams they had all the way back in 2005 – live a life of freedom while earning money via affiliate sales.
I always knew about them, but I was already earning a living from SEO and affiliate marketing by the time they were hitting it big. So I just “eh”, and moved along.
When all the controversy started picking up steam, I didn’t even bother thinking about it.
I’m not a beginner marketer and I don’t need another training course. But now that I’m actually reviewing other courses and trying to help others, I joined up so I could speak my mind and set the record straight on this course.
I don’t want to say anything too bad about them, but let’s just say I wasn’t too thrilled about what I found either.
I Don’t Recommend Wealthy Affiliate for MOST People
I’m self-made. Not saying I didn’t have help, but I learned all this affiliate marketing stuff all on my own.
So that means I’ve been anti-course since the beginning (though I love them now). I’m just saying that so you know my standards are super high before I let this out.
I dove deep into this ecosystem for a whole week.
I watched the videos, I read through the community, I stalked the founders for a bit (online – not physically obviously), I checked out the tools, I ate some donuts and chicken (not related to Wealthy Affiliate), and I came to this conclusion:
WA definitely has value for beginners. It’ll teach you the basics, give you an actionable direction, and even give you access to valuable tools…
I can’t in good faith recommend this for anyone that’s serious about succeeding at affiliate marketing in 2020. Kyle definitely has succeeded at affiliate business in the past, but his training is outdated at best and detrimental at worst. On top of that, I don’t agree with the marketing tactics or the MLM feeling of the whole shabang.
But who am I to offer advice, anyway? Just an entrepreneur with 10+ years under my belt.
WA definitely has some value, I’ll cover all my gripes and likes in depth throughout this training so you can make that decision for yourself.
Wealthy Affiliate Has Both Pros and Cons
Crazy, isn’t it?
In 2020, something is not either the devil or the greatest thing ever?
I float somewhere in this mysterious ether known as “the middleground”.
It all comes down to your expectations for the service.
Do you need a beginner-friendly service that offers basic advice, access to basic tools, and a community to answer questions?
Then it’s actually OK.
Are you looking for elite training that’s going to help you actually make a lot of money online and be a successful entrepreneur?
WA isn’t that.
To be fair to critics, WA WAY OVERSELLS itself (much more on that below – it’s an interesting read).
It definitely DID NOT live up to the expectations it set. Let me sum up the pros and cons first before listing them.
The good thing – Wealthy Affiliate is a convenient service that helps you understand the basics of making money online through affiliate marketing, and saves you from the hassle of buying different tools and paying for web hosting.
The bad thing – Wealthy Affiliate is very outdated and a lot of the advice could actually be harmful in 2020. And the whole thing feels like a gimmick to get you to make money by promoting WA to others.
- You get a basic roadmap
- Access to keyword research tools
- Web hosting included
- A helpful community (though I don’t know how much I’d trust some people here)
- Trainings from 2013
- Google’s algorithm is totally different now
- The creators and trainers aren’t even (seemingly) in the space anymore
- Largely text-based
- The dashboard is confusing and people can spam you with offers
- The claims are outlandish and unethical in my opinion
How Much Does Wealthy Affiliate Cost?
Wealthy Affiliate costs either $0 or $49 per month ($19 for the first month) OR $359 per year if you decide to pay yearly.
The Free Plan comes with:
- Access to BASIC training
- Community access (7 days)
- One basic website (more on this below)
- Access to WA’s affiliate program
- 30 free searches for the keyword tool
The Premium Plan offers:
- All trainings
- Community access
- Direct messaging (I suspect so you can convert free users to paid ones for a commission)
- 50 websites
- 2x higher affiliate payout
- Access to coaches and website feedback/support
A free membership lets you dip your toes into the training, getting familiar with affiliate marketing, and start learning keyword research. So what do you have to lose?
The trainings in the free portion are actually somewhat up-to-date, so at least you’ll learn some decent stuff.
Why I don’t like the Free Plan
The Free Plan is not enough to be successful at earning an income online.
That’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with a “freemium” model. But some of the stuff they advertise as a perk for the Free Plan is actually not even usable.
The “free and fully operational” site is actually a SiteRubix website. Ever heard of that? Me neither. That’s because you can’t use it to build a successful website.
SiteRubix makes Wix man’s greatest achievement.
Kyle even admits this. Here’s what he says on WA:
So here he says it’s OK to start off with, but you’re dead if you don’t move to your own domain. That means your site is useless unless you upgrade to Premium.
Anyways, enough of my gripes. I’ll save that for the grip section. But before you go, here’s a good summary of why SiteRubix isn’t worth your time from a thread on WA:
Is Wealthy Affiliate Legit? Is Wealthy Affiliate a Scam?
No, Wealthy Affiliate is not a scam. There’s a lot not to like about them, but it’s definitely not a scam.
They claim to be an affiliate marketing training program that offers training videos, tools, coaching, and a helpful community, and they do actually offer that.
To me, a scam is just something that takes your money and runs off.
The problem with WA aside from their spammy marketing is the quality of training that they offer, and that the whole operation seems designed to funnel you into their affiliate program.
The founders – Kyle and Carson – as well as the lead trainer – Jay – also have a bit of explaining to do about their claims. Again, more on that later.
How Much Money Can You Earn With Wealthy Affiliate?
Wealthy Affiliate claims to give you all the tools and guidance you need to start earning with affiliate marketing, but I guarantee you will make $0 with the Free Plan unless you earn from signing others up.
How much you can earn with the rest of the training is up to interpretation. After watching all of the training videos, there is enough information here to get you started in the right direction.
And with coaching the community, I bet you could earn some money if you really kick ass, hustle, build a brand, build a community, and master paid traffic.
I just don’t think that’s a reality for the vast majority of people. Chances are the best way for you to make money with WA is as an affiliate for WA itself.
How Much Money Can You Earn With Their Affiliate Program?
WA affiliates earn an average of $121 in lifetime sales for recommending another user to the site.
That’s what makes it so appealing. You earn residual commissions, meaning as long as your referral is still paying a monthly subscription, you’ll get paid.
Imagine you refer someone to WA, and they convert to a premium member (WA converts about 12% of free users). You get a percentage of that sales. Now imagine they pay for a full year – you get a percentage of that.
Now, imagine they pay again next year. You get a cut of that pie too! And so on and so on.
That’s what makes it so enticing, actually. And it’s the reason why there are so many people around the web promoting it.
Who Owns Wealthy Affiliate?
Kyle Loudon is the co-founder and face of Wealthy Affiliate, and the guy you’ll see in the most of the training sessions. I get the feeling he’s the real brains behind the operation. Kyle is an affiliate marketer turned instructor and marketing chief.
Carson Lim is the designer and co-founder – Kyle’s right hand man. Apparently, he’s responsible for making ideas come to life…whatever that means.
And the last important person you need to know about is Jay Neil.
Jay is the training chief at Wealthy Affiliate and a well-known affiliate “consultant”.
Wealthy Affiliate Controversies and my Gripes
Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire.
I’m not normally blunt like that, but it’s true.
What I mean is that when there’s a ton of controversy around the web about something, it’s normally at least based in fact. For example, there’s next to 0 controversy surrounding affiliate training like the Affiliate Lab by Matt Diggity or even Authority Hacker.
I want to cover all of the controversy and my personal gripes surrounding the community one-by-one and give some plausible explanations for at least some of them.
Is Wealthy Affiliate an MLM? Is it a Pyramid Scheme?
No, Wealthy Affiliate is not an MLM and Wealthy Affiliate is not a pyramid scheme. At least not in the strict sense of the term.
A pyramid scheme is one where new recruits pay upfront costs to members at the top of the pyramid under the promise of receiving payments when they recruit new members “below” them. Basically, that just means you pay to get in and then make money by enrolling new people – who then pay you.
Wealthy Affiliate IS NOT that…
But it does kind of “smell” like that a bit. You do pay to access legit training, and if you do get the Premium Plan, you get 2x the commission. Still, it’s not a pyramid scheme.
Even though it has elements of a typical pyramid scheme, it isn’t.
But what about being an MLM?
A multi-level-marketing scheme is similar to a pyramid scheme, but basically it’s just when a company makes money by enticing their members to recruit new members. Typically, recruiting new members – including friends and family – is the only way to make money.
Technically, Wealthy Affiliate is not that either. You can make money by learning about affiliate marketing via its training modules and go make it yourself.
But then I started to dig a little deeper, and eventually I stumbled on some stuff that started ringing some alarm bells. You decide for yourself.
First, Kyle specifically defines an MLM like this in a blog post.
But actually, if you build a website solely dedicated to promoting Wealthy Affiliate, isn’t that technically the same thing? Sure, it’s a website, brand, and a following, but it’s solely for the purpose of recruiting people.
Actually, there’s a whole module on it.
Then he goes on in another post to say how you make money in an MLM.
But a ton of success stories in Wealthy Affiliate are just that – recruiting others into Wealthy Affiliate.
I won’t call them an MLM or a pyramid scheme, because those often force you to pay to recruit others, offer no other way of making money, and force you to recruit people to remain in the scheme.
Wealthy Affiliate isn’t that, but there are definitely some elements that are alarming.
Wealthy Affiliate Makes a lot of Outlandish or Unsubstantiated Claims
I’m a straight shooter, and I’d like to think that’s why I’ve been successful.
With my marketing agency, I always told clients exactly what to expect. SEO, affiliate, eCom, whatever, this S**T is HARD. You don’t make money easily. You get it by working your ass off and outthinking others.
This is actually my main gripe with the company.
At first glance, it seems like they’re selling the dream more than they’re selling substance. That’s what turns a lot of old heads off about them (old in the industry sense – I’m still young).
Let’s check out a few of my least favorites here.
1. You won’t fail
I’m sorry, but this is just patently false. Nothing is ever guaranteed in life.
And you have to define success if you want to define failure. What does it mean? You are guaranteed to make money? You are guaranteed to earn commissions? Either way, I don’t like saying this.
2. It takes 30 seconds to build a website
There’s no way you can have a beautiful, revenue-ready store capable of earning on today’s market in 30 seconds.
It’s just not possible.
You need good design, good copy, fast hosting, SEO work, and a lot of other stuff in place before your site is ready to go. Hell, it might take more than 30 seconds to buy the domain name.
I think within 30 seconds using their site builder you can have a website. Not a revenue-ready one. Just “a website”. Here’s what one forum member had to say.
3. Top Affiliate Marketing Platform of the Year
OK, voted by whom? If you’re going to make a claim like this, at least invent a publication that awards you this distinction. This makes it seem like they only had their own affiliates vote in these polls.
4. Wealthy affiliate members own Google rankings (claimed as fact)
Again, I’m going to need some details here. Is there anything backing this up? What does it even mean to OWN Google rankings and own a huge share of all online traffic? Again it sounds like they’re making some very dubious claims here. If it’s true, I’d like to see some data, because our client-base shows otherwise 🙂
It could be true, but please back it up!
Wealthy Affiliate Sells the Dream More Than the Substance
I’ve been in this business for years, and taken just about every course available.
Compared to the average course, WA’s copy focuses more on selling the dream than it does on the substance of the course itself.
Take a look at some of the copy from The Affiliate Lab’s sales page:
And this one…
Notice how straightforward it is? AND how it reveals what’s actually inside?
Matt details step-by-step what you’re going to get.
WA’s has language like “choose from one million niches easily”, “build a site in 30 seconds”, and “we love people!”. It even says “you can’t fail! Anyone can succeed”.
I prefer details and I’m guessing you do too.
Wealthy Affiliate is Outdated
Wealthy Affiliate would be a really good course IF this were 2012.
Sadly, it’s 2021 (tell me about it… ).
I can’t sugarcoat this one, Wealthy Affiliate’s advice is outdated. Some of the videos are from 2013!
Here are just a few of the issues:
1. They talk a lot about Google+
Google+ was closed in the beginning of 2019. Not the end of the world, but still not smart to have the name up in your ads training.
2. They use the default WordPress editor
Kyle recommends the default editor, which is a pain in every single sensitive part of the body imaginable.
Everyone is using Divi, Thrive Architect, or Elementor these days and it’s been like that for a while.
Take a look at some of Kyle’s blog posts on one of the sites he freely shares:
That’s what you get when you use the default editor. By the way, notice how this is from 2015?
I’ll cover that more down below when I talk about each of the people involved in more detail.
3. Community members complaining about outdated trainings
You don’t have to hear me complain. Look at what members are saying.
4. Facebook from circa 1893
This video is all about how to use Facebook the right way for your website.
In what year did Facebook look like this?
First, good on you Seth for having 180k like all the way back then.
This is what Facebook (and Seth) looks like now:
Quick TL;DR of this section: WA provides the right foundations – niche selection, social media, wordpress, content, etc – but the information is out of date and even conflicting in some places.
Some of the videos even show examples from the early 2010’s, including a website who’s last blog post was posted in 2015.
In a rapidly evolving industry like this, that’s not going to cut it.
Really Bad SEO Advice
SEO used to be easy. I started doing it successfully at 12 years old. That’s how easy it used to be.
The game has changed totally.
You can’t just pick a niche, put up some content, and laugh your way to the bank as your “What is the best pair of boots for a new hiker under $200” article brings in $1,000 a month.
Kyle makes it sound way too easy in his training. He even gives some advice that is outright harmful to getting organic traffic from Google.
Here are a few of the biggest missteps in my opinion.
1. You don’t need backlinks to get traffic
You don’t need what?
You don’t need backlinks?
Backlinks are by far the most important ranking factor. They are literally the backbone of PageRank, which is the foundation of Google’s algorithm itself.
Sure, you might be able to get away with no backlinks IF you’re in an uncompetitive micro niche and you’ve mastered keyword research. But if that were true you probably wouldn’t be signing up for a free plan on a beginner’s affiliate marketing platform.
Nearly every niche you come up with will have competition. Competition that will almost certainly be using backlinks. If you’ve got a new site, you’ll be dead in the water without them.
In more advanced affiliate marketing courses, there are droves of in-depth training videos on how to properly build a killer backlink profile. And it’s all backed by troves of data.
Verdict: You need backlinks.
2. There’s no such thing as the wrong niche
WA encourages people to choose something they’re passionate about rather than something lucrative.
Then it goes on to say there’s no such thing as a wrong niche.
Guess what? All the niches you’re passionate about are probably super competitive. Let’s think of stuff everybody loves:
- Video games
Do you know how competitive those niches are? And you won’t even be getting backlinks?
Affiliate marketing is about making money. Say you want to go into travel, how are going to compete with all the 7-figure travel bloggers, TripAdvisors, and Agodas of the world?
Take me for example.
I’m passionate about supplements and bodybuilding. Maybe I’ll start a site about supplements to help me flex my way into the next Terminator sequel. Cool! Let me check out the competition…
Oh, someone has the entire SERP already…
OK, maybe I’ll try something a little more broad: “Supplements for exercise”. That ought to make it easier.
Hang on. Let me check my bank and see if I can outspend THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES.
There are wrong niches, plain and simple.
If you choose a niche with established big players, high authority sites, and WORLD GOVERNMENTS, you won’t be able to compete. You won’t see results, and you’ll quit.
3. Good content is only about communicating with your audience
Content is a lot more complicated than simply “communicating” with your audience.
To be fair, Kyle does recommend keyword research and planning, so he clearly knows what he’s doing. But this is gross oversimplification.
You can’t just use a keyword tool, find some topics, and write a decent article.
Keywords are how Google knows what to rank you for, and like it or not, you need to also optimize your articles for keywords.
In some niches, you can get away with just writing articles and including your main keyword a few times and naturally allowing related terms to enter the article. But in the vast majority of cases, that’s not going to come even close to helping you rank.
And remember, this is all going to be done without backlinks?
Trust me, I love good content. I am all about writing reader-focused content. But not mentioning optimizing your articles for keywords – and the right keywords at that – is way oversimplifying it.
Again, it just seems like WA wants to make it seem really easy so you sign up. A proper training course like The Lab contains modules on how to write good content for readers and how to optimize it for Google.
4. Aim for 1,000 words as a beginner for your article
Again, this is pretty bad advice.
Kyle does say that there’s no right or wrong word count, but then he does go on to advise students to aim for 1,000 words.
In SEO, you shouldn’t “aim for” anything. You should analyze the competition and see what the word count is that Google prefers for this keyword.
You have to see what’s going on in the top 10 results.
Here’s the thing about Google: It’s smarter than you think. Google has historical data on search terms and they’ve optimized the first page for the best results.
Imagine you have a keyword like “best supplement for men”.
If the first page shows a roundup style post with tons of products and an average word count of 5,000 words, then you’ve got to do something similar. Your 1,000-word article isn’t going to do anything.
My thoughts: I think Kyle knows his audience would be intimidated if they knew the truth and just give up. Having a bunch 1,000-word articles is better than 0, so I understand the logic behind it.
5. Kyle’s keyword research advice is outdated
Keyword research is the #1 skill in SEO.
You could have the best on-page SEO, droolworthy links, and kickass content, but it won’t matter if you target the wrong keywords.
Which is why WA’s advice is alarming to me.
What exactly is wrong with it?
First, Kyle flat out lies about keyword tools in order to promote some random tool I’ve never heard of (Oh, by the way, I do SEO for a living, just saying) included in WA Premium.
He says that none of the tools on the market provided the data he needed. And that they provided useless or inaccurate information.
Then he goes on to say that Jaaxy (what the hell is a Jaaxy?) is an internet marketers dream research platform.
WHAT THE HELL?
First, Jaaxy provides this data:
Keyword, average volume, traffic, competition.
That’s the information you need?
Well, that’s the information THAT ALL THE KEYWORD TOOLS PROVIDE! So how did none of the other tools provide the information you needed?
Second, what’s a Jaaxy? I’ve never heard of this thing. Seems like he’s just promoting because it makes keyword research look easy and it’s included in Premium.
And most importantly, keyword research is NOT THIS EASY. Kyle simplifies the process down to looking for low-competition keywords and writing corresponding articles.
Sure, in 2014 that probably would work in a low competition niche. Guess what? Not anymore.
What should you do instead?
I don’t have time to cover this in a quick review but…
Start by using Ahrefs to see what competitors at a similar level as you are ranking for, because you’ve got a good chance at ranking for those. Start there.
I really can’t go super in-depth on this now, but you absolutely have to be using ahrefs and do thorough keyword research and planning. Then you’ve got to build it brick by brick. Just poking around on Jaaxy isn’t going to cut it.
That’s why I’m so gung ho about other courses like The Affiliate Lab, Authority Hacker, or even Savage Affiliates. They have videos on videos on videos about thorough keyword research.
I Don’t Think These Guys Are Actually Doing Affiliate Marketing Anymore
My feeling is that Kyle and Carson are too busy yachting around the world with supermodels to keep up with their affiliate sites, because the ones they provide are way out of date, dead, and not even earning much money at all anymore.
Here are two of the sites Kyle reveals:
Let’s check the scams one first:
OK, 2018. Not too bad. Lots of comments too. People love scandals.
But man, that design is prehistoric.
Let's go on to the belly fat one now (looks down at chocolate donut in shame).
2015? You’re conducting affiliate training based on a site that you haven’t updated since 2015?
Not a good look.
Here’s a list of things that have happened since Kyle updated this site:
- The Cubs won the world series
- Pokemon Go
- Amazon bought Whole Foods
- Larry Page and Sergey Brin left Google
5 years is an eternity in affiliate marketing.
Here’s some more food for thought. According to study by a large and well-respected ecommerce site, the 3 sites Kyle revealed are currently bringing in an average of 92 visits per month…
I’m sure these guys are still making money online other than just through Wealthy Affiliate, but it’s definitely not a good look to base your training in 2020 on sites not bringing in any visitors or even being updated in half a decade.
Note – Kyle also uses an exact match domain: Exact match domains are where your domain name exactly matches a keyword you want to rank for. In this case, it’s how to lose belly fat.
This is a no-no these days…
Google penalized these sites a long time ago. Check the results for how to lose belly fat on Google:
He ain’t there.
This Jay Neil Guy …
Jay is the training chief at WA, and his main site is affiliateresources.org. I’m sure he’s a good guy in real life, but business is business as they say.
I decided to scope him out, and immediately I noticed some not-too-encouraging signs.
Natura Brasil? The self-admitted MLM that now owns Avon, the world’s most infamous MLM? I hope he totally bashes it. Normally I’d expect to see “SCAM” in the titles somewhere.
Jay goes on to say that it’s an OK opportunity to earn some side income, but he doesn’t recommend it.
Not really what I was hoping to see, but at least he wasn’t outright recommending it.
And the content itself wasn’t quality either. Not what I want from a guru.
Does this sound like it was written by an affiliate guru? More like a $10 Upwork writer.
One more thing…
Basically, he says in this section that Natura Brasil is an MLM that you can’t make a full-time living with. So that’s at least good – he says kind of the truth. But then he goes on to say only the people at the top of the chain make a full-time income…
Then he promotes Wealthy Affiliate…which basically does the same thing via its affiliate program.
Actually, wait. Another thing.
Jay bases a lot of his training/numbers off of Footballsnackhelmets.com.
If you stare at this enchanting display of M&Ms and nuts inside of a Dallas Cowboys helmet (how appropriate) long enough, you’ll get a pop up like this:
$9,300 a month? That’s a lot of dough for this site.
He also hits you with this screenshot inside of his email series later on:
2016, Jay? First of all, this is from February – Super Bowl time. Of course people are buying helmets. What about the rest of the year?
8% commissions? Try 3% in 2020.
Even if this were legit back in 2016, it doesn’t hold water these days.
So please change it, Jay.
One very respected internet marketing blogger reached out to him for clarification only to be shooed off without an explanation and then ignored.
Seems like Jay had a ton of success around Super Bowl time in 2016, cashed in on it hard, and hasn’t done much to update things since.
Claims You Can Make $1 Million Dollars
This is not kosher with me.
I had to give it its own section rather than include it in the outlandish claims section from before.
He gives a bit of training in wealthy affiliate on audience targeting, then claims you could easily make 1 MILLION per year with this training. And only with ONE NICHE.
Making a million dollars is not easy with anything, and it’s even worse when it’s used as advertising in my opinion. I’d never tell clients “what I’m going to do could make you $1 million dollars”.
This is kinda spammy, guys.
This one irked me a bit, too. I have high standards for something that costs hundreds of dollars per year.
46 lessons into the training, you get this video:
This is dozens of videos after he teaches you about writing content and sets you down the path to writing your 1,000-word masterpieces.
So, why did you wait 45 videos to tell me that I need to plan them properly?
Do I now have to back and redo everything?
This should have been included way earlier.
Let’s Meet the Creators a Bit More
Kyle is the brains behind the operation. He’s the main trainer and face behind the brand.
From what I can see, he seems like a good guy and I feel like he genuinely wants to help people.
He clearly had success as an affiliate marketer in the past, because he knows a lot about marketing (at least as it used to be).
I also like the way he speaks in his videos: Very calm, collected, and clear. Not a lot of wasted words or “ummmm ummmm ummm”s.
Check out this kw research video to get a feel for it.
I already aired my grievances with his sites, so no need to dig up those bones.
As far as I can tell from the forums, he’s active in chat and responsive to members. So it all checks out.
Again, I’m pretty sure Kyle was making good money as an affiliate marketer when he started this. Then, it blew up. Now he just keeps his basic training videos up, has Jay do webinars for updating members, and spends his riches at nightclubs in Monaco.
I don’t blame him.
Carson Lim is Kyle’s partner in Wealthy Affiliate.
He’s the design chief and co-founder of the operation.
There’s not much info about him, and he isn’t nearly as visible as Kyle from what I’ve seen.
His IG is really active though.
Apparently, he’s big into basketball and travel, and he’s a dedicated husband and father, too. Good job, Carson.
They both seem like pretty legit guys.
Wealthy Affiliate Training: What Will You Actually Learn Here?
Lost in all this madness is that Wealthy Affiliate does actually offer training on how to do affiliate marketing, and instead of just telling you a bunch of scary BS about it, I’m going to actually tell you what you’ll learn here and let you make the decision for yourself.
Wealthy Affiliate Free Training
Wealthy Affiliate’s free Affiliate Bootcamp is a 10-lesson crash course in the basics of affiliate marketing.
Theoretically, in one day you can go from “what’s affiliate marketing?” to “I know enough about this to start building my business”.
Yes, the advice is outdated and overly simplistic, but this is meant for complete beginners, so I guess having the very basics is OK.
Here’s a quick glance at what’s included.
You’ll get training on:
- Choosing your direction
- Building your “website”
- Activating plugins
- Keyword research
- Creating content
Wealthy Affiliate Premium
The bootcamp is enough to get your feet wet, but you can’t make money online with it. You’re going to have to get Premium.
On a positive note, Premium does cover all of the basics of earning a living as an affiliate marketer, including:
- Generating free traffic: Getting your own domain, keyword-rich content, breaking down traffic, using visuals, and lessons on productivity.
- Making money: The basics of affiliate marketing, finding affiliate programs, how to leverage product reviews, how to insert Amazon links, and how to capture data.
- Social media: Setting up accounts, engaging with your audience, how to use each platform, posting within WA, and branding.
- Content creation: Overview of the industry, how to get indexed, improving readability, writing within a structure, and goal setting.
So, even if the advice is outdated, you’ll still have a solid base to grow on.
What I Like About Wealthy Affiliate Premium
There are a few good things here:
- All of the bases are covered
- Goal setting and productivity included
- Heavy focus on social media
- Clear and easy-to-digest delivery in videos
What I Don’t Like About Wealthy Affiliate Premium
There’s also plenty to not like:
- Outdated advice
- Not in-depth enough
- Walls of text
- Focusing more on theory and mechanics of getting setup rather than tips, overall strategy, or in-depth how-to’s.
Wealthy Marketer Affiliate Training Bootcamp
“Hmmm, the free and premium training modules were OK. I assume the ones on promoting WA will be the same too…”
There’s so much to learn in promoting the WA affiliate modules than there is in the Premium training!
This is definitely why so many people think it’s an MLM (though it technically isn’t).
Affiliate Training Bootcamp walks you through:
- WA’s huge dashboard
- Writing readable content
- Keywords and selling to customers
- Taking a break for some reason
- How to back up your site
- How to make your site look and function better
- Internal linking
- Writing and sharing reviews
- And bonuses
And each of the training videos is better in my opinion than the Premium ones.
I have one huge gripe here: Why is internal linking NOT included in other training?
Internal linking, keyword research, backlinks, and content are like the wheels on a car. If you don’t have all the wheels on your car, it’s not going to go anywhere.
I’m not sure how they expect you to succeed UNLESS you promote Wealthy Affiliate.
Verdict: This module has more helpful – though still dated information. I just wonder why they don’t include some of this stuff in Premium, since they claim you can use that training to make money online.
What Key Points Does Wealthy Affiliate NOT Teach
In my humble opinion, WA misses out on a lot of key points about SEO. A lot of key points that could boost your rankings, grow your business, and earn you a lot of money.
A lot of them have gained steam in the last 5 years, so maybe that’s why they aren’t here. Also, back when WA started, you didn’t need to tighten all the bolts to keep your business chugging along. Now, you do.
Here are the key points Wealthy Affiliate DOES NOT teach (but you need):
- Having an affiliate disclosure (not having this can get you in serious legal trouble)
- YouTube SEO
- Snippet SEO
- External linking
- Google AdSense
- Outsourcing content
- Outsourcing SEO tasks
- Email marketing
- Any of the popular WordPress page builders.
Without this stuff, you’re at the very least letting low-hanging fruit slip away. And at worst, you’re dooming your site to fail.
Again, that’s why most of the courses I recommend cover all of this in-depth. You’ve got to do all the things, people!
To be fair, a lot of this stuff IS addressed elsewhere on the site (forums, webinars, etc.). Not all of it, but most of it and to varying degrees of proficiency. But this stuff HAS TO BE in the core training or else students won’t even know they need to know it.
Wealthy Affiliate Support, Community, and Misc
How is Wealthy Affiliate Support?
This is a huge plus in my book.
Wealthy Affiliate support is fast and convenient, at least in my experience.
Carson and Kyle are available via private messaging, and are usually quick to respond. Same goes with Jay.
Notice you can contact him privately. I really like how it doesn’t feel like some big conglomerate. That’s why they have such a ravenous community.
There’s also a traditional Contact Us page:
Between Carson, Kyle, Jay, and the rest of the staff, plus the community, support gets a B in the ultimate Karl rating system.
The reason it’s not an A is because some of the advice isn’t always the best, and it even felt a pushy at times. One girl asked how to choose a niche and Kyle responded “a niche can be anything. What are you passionate about?”.
How if the Wealthy Affiliate Community?
WA’s community is off the hook.
It’s an 800,000 + community of members across the world active 24/7. Can’t really argue with that.
According to the company, the average response time is 1.8 minutes, and there are more than 32,000 community interactions daily. Again, unsubstantiated but it looks nice.
WA incentivizes people to contribute in the community through its leaderboard:
You can more “points” based on:
- Responding to questions
- Asking questions
- Welcome new members to the community (errggggg)
The last part is a little bit pyramid scheme-y, but in general I like this idea within communities.
It definitely promotes sharing knowledge and helping others make more money/get problems solved faster.
I noticed in their forum that pretty much all major issues or knowledge gaps (not sure why there are so many), get filled really quickly.
The community might be the best part about WA actually. It gets a Karl rating of B+.
There is one downside to this system though…
Since rankings are determined by interaction, this leads to a ton of spam. WA strictly forbids that, but it seems impossible to enforce.
As soon as I signed up got a bunch of welcome spam from other members trying to up their score. And for some reason training videos and webinars have weird comments like “I am watching”.
Wealthy Affiliate Success Stories
WA claims to have a ton of proof that its members are earning a ton of money from its training.
I read through this blog post about it to get a better feel of the whole situation, and it confirmed my suspicions.
First, this guy is a well known affiliate making a ton of money off this stuff, so take it with a grain of salt.
Aside from that, there are a few key issues.
- For one, a lot of the results are not that impressive. There are some good ones for sure, but a bunch are like “my first check!” or “1,000 a month, finally!”.
- A lot of the success stories are based on promoting WA, not running successful niche sites.
- A lot the success stories feel “cultish”. They continually praise the “amazing system” and repeat mantras like “hard work pays off!” and “This changed my life”.
To be fair, there are plenty of interesting success stories. One caught my eye especially. It was about a student who created ebooks and hustled them out on Facebook groups using well known bloggers as affiliates (now THAT’s some good affiliate marketing).
However, a lot of the biggest success stories are pretty outdated.
OK, one last thing. There are a few success stories that are completely unsubstantiated too.
Wealthy Affiliate’s Reputation
OK, so if you’re this far you know that WA’s reputation isn’t exactly sparkling.
Just Google it.
Plenty of one-star reviews floating around too.
On the flip side, there are actually plenty of positive signs out there too. Like this 5-star rating from TrustPilot:
It seems that the web is torn. One faction – mostly professional affiliate marketers and SEOs – HATE it with a passion.
The other side – mostly members of WA – defend it with religious vigor.
So what’s the truth?
The truth is somewhere in between. Wealthy Affiliate has helped a lot of people make a lot of money, and their community has helped a lot of newbies improve at marketing and start earning an affiliate income from scratch.
There are just a few main issues everyone has:
- It feels kind of like a cult: WA members LOVE WA. But not like I love chocolate donuts, or the Affiliate Lab, or my friends and family. They love it like people love a deity. They promote it ruthlessly (because they make money from it?), and anyone who says anything bad is often brigaded. That turns a lot of old heads off.
- Its language is spammy: No other way to put it. All the achieve your dreams, make millions, and find your passion stuff is kind of spammy.
- Its designed to get you to promote itself: Wealthy Affiliate members make a lot of money from promoting it to others. And from the minute you get inside the ecosystem, the company pushes you that way. I think they even purposely neglect other trainings within the community to push you toward the “promote WA” training.
Why Are There so Many Positive Reviews of Wealthy Affiliate Around the Web?
You’ve probably noticed by now that there are a ton of people out there recommending Wealthy Affiliate. Like this guy above, Alex Sol.
I wish I could give them the benefit of the doubt – hey, we all make money recommending products – but this is a bit different in my opinion.
Wealthy Affiliate has entire series of training videos on how to promote their product, pushes promoting their product on you, and then gives a very generous commission if you sign anyone up.
So it’s no surprise that I found this profile on WA after looking this guy up:
He promotes WA hard even within their own forum. “They didn’t promise me millions”? Actually, they did exactly that in the PPC training, but I guess he didn’t get that far.
I’m not trying to pick on this guy. I just think it’s a prime example of why you need to take Wealthy Affiliate reviews with a grain of salt. Actually, you should take all reviews with a grain of salt.
**looks self in mirror**
There are a lot of people out there who are heavily incentivized to recommend WA, and even conditioned from the get go to push it hard.
I take pride in honestly reviewing products that I love, and think will bring value to the community. If I don’t like something, I’m honest about it.
On the flip side, there are a lot of people making money from WA, and the community is gigantic, active, and helpful, so I’m not surprised a lot of people like it.
Just trying to see both sides here.
The Community Might Make it Worth the Price for Some People
Wealthy Affiliate’s forum is thriving.
Post a question, and you’ll have an answer within minutes.
Not all the advice is sound in my opinion, but knowing that help is just an ask away is great for newbies in this business. I wish I’d had that when I started.
I’m sure a lot of people are linking to each other and sharing each other’s content on social media, too. Again, nothing wrong with that. It’s a great hack for accelerating a site/business’ growth, especially in the early stages.
If you know affiliate marketing, you won’t get much value. Most of the people in the community are behind the times. But if you’re new and need some training wheels and hand holding (I don’t mean that be condescending), I actually like the forum.
It might be worth the price alone. Might be…
Wealthy Affiliate is Only for Some Types of People
After going through the training and spending time on the forum, I personally think WA is only for two types of people:
- The “what-the-hell-is-affiliate-marketing people”: If you are so new that you won’t even know where else or how to get help, there’s nothing wrong with poking around WA and getting some free basic knowledge and help from the forum. That will set you in the right direction.
- People who care more about community than knowledge: There are a lot better courses out there than WA, but there aren’t many better communities (except one – more on that below). If you want just some basic affiliate marketing training with the help of a large and thriving community behind you, give WA a try.
Closing Thoughts – Is Wealthy Affiliate Worth it? Can You Make Money With it?
Is WA worth it? Can you make money?
Yes…but no…but yes…kind of.
This is a very complicated question with a long-winded answer. I warned you.
Here’s my opinion…
Wealthy Affiliate is not a scam. They do offer basic affiliate marketing training and support. If you want to learn the basics, and want to meet others doing the same so you can support each other and be part of a thriving community, there’s nothing wrong with WA. Just don’t expect to get high-level training. In fact, you should expect to have to learn a lot on your own and to be funneled into promoting the product rather than your own site.
However, I don’t think you can make a good living with Wealthy Affiliate UNLESS you promote WA itself and make your living via enrolling new members. The information is outdated, and some of the advice is outright detrimental to a website in the long-term. There’s good stuff there for sure, but there’s a lot that doesn’t sit right with me – the misleading marketing, the bad SEO advice, and the smell of a pyramid scheme are too much for my taste.
If you’re OK with the basics, sign up and give it a try. If you’re serious about making money online with real affiliate training, then you need a complete affiliate marketing course that teaches you every from the ground up or else you might as well quit now.
And the only one I recommend is…
Matt Diggity’s Affiliate Lab – The Best Affiliate Marketing Course in 2021
Wealthy Affiliate preaches about following your passion and making a little niche site.
The Lab teaches you to find lucrative niches, grow a brandable asset, scale it fast, and flip it for six figures. And it does it all brick-by-brick in plain English with easy-to-follow tutorials.
WA mostly teaches surface-level stuff like “write 1,000 word articles” or “help your reader”.
The Lab teaches like this:
- This is how you determine optimal word count, create the best piece of content on the topic, and take over a top 3 spot
- This is how you do keyword research that works in modern SEO, and structure the optimal way for Google to rank you
- Build exactly these types of links at this stage and in this quantity. After you’ve done that, move along and do this
See what I mean? Here’s the biggest difference I see.
Wealthy Affiliate teaches you the basic theory and structure of affiliate marketing as it was in 2013, then plugs you into their community so you can grow on your own.
Matt Diggity gives you an exact, step-by-step blueprint for selecting a niche, growing a site, and flipping it for a nice exit. And unlike WA, Matt’s course is based on modern data. You know, like the way Google actually operates today. Half the stuff WA teaches is outdated, and some of it might even get you a Google penalty or in trouble with the FTC!
Let me run you through Matt’s course real quick so you can see the difference.
What is the Affiliate Lab?
The Affiliate Lab is a blueprint for building, ranking, scaling, and flipping websites in lucrative niches for 30 -35x its monthly profit, and it’s all based on data from hundreds of tests conducted in Matt’s evil SEO laboratory.
Topics include content, keyword research, on-page SEO, link building, social media, and monetization just to name a few. And it even comes with its own thriving community of successful entrepreneurs. So you get the same community benefits of WA plus real SEO knowledge for 2020.
Why I Prefer The Affiliate Lab to Wealthy Affiliate
Let me give you the 10,000-foot reason first, then break down a bit more. The Lab has more in-depth, actionable advice and it’s all based on data rather than just surface level stuff like WA. WA basically says “find your passion -> build a site -> help your audience -> $$”. That’s not going to cut it. That, and WA is based on affiliate marketing in prehistory, not modern times.
Here are a few key differences:
- Matt and Jay are continuously running tests to see what’s really working and they’re feeding this info to their community. WA hasn’t been updated in years.
- The Lab is a step-by-step blueprint. WA is just a birds eye view of strategy.
- 2020 SEO vs 2013 SEO. Nuff’ said.
- Matt and Jay are still doing affiliate marketing and continuously show real reports. Kyle’s sites are from 2015…
- Matt doesn’t push you to promote his course to friends and family.
- There aren’t any gaps in the Affiliate Lab. It literally has everything. WA students need to read dozens of blog posts or view webinars to fill in knowledge gaps. This is purposely done to keep you within the subscription system and push you to an easier way to make money: Promoting WA!
What’s Included in The Lab?
The Affiliate Lab covers everything WA affiliate covers plus a ton that WA isn’t even aware of in 2020.
- Content creation: Not just writing to help your audience, but how to actually plan, structure, outline, and even outsource your content so you can write great articles as well as scale quickly.
- Keyword research: Matt and his business partner Jay are expert at kw research. Their module on the recursive kw project is excellent. They don’t just teach you how to do it, they show you. Jay literally does it for a new niche while you watch over his shoulder, so can repeat the same steps on your niche site too.
- On-page: WA neglects this almost entirely. The Lab walks you through site speed, search intent, URL hacks, and a ton of other important tips for making sure your site appeals to Google and readers.
- Link building: WA says you don’t even need links. Not true. Matt shows you how to build real, natural links in the optimal way so you grow faster without risking a penalty.
- Bonuses: You’ll get templates, access to the community, a mastermind invite, how to negotiate with buyers, and even a cool video on stealing snippets (not mentioned in WA).
If you’re serious about growing a niche site, The Affiliate Lab is the #1 course I recommend.
Wealthy Affiliate F.A.Q
Q: Is Wealthy Affiliate legit?
A: Yes, Wealthy Affiliate is legit. Kind of. They do offer basic training and a helpful community, but the training is outdated. It exists mostly to get you to promote the community to others.
Q: Can you really make money with Wealthy Affiliate?
A: Yes, you can make money with Wealthy Affiliate, but don’t expect to make a lot of money unless you promote WA to others. Most of the success stories are from students who earn a lot of money in commissions from enrolling other members.
Q: Who owns Wealthy Affiliate?
A: Kyle Loudon and Caron Lim own Wealthy Affiliate.
Q: Is Wealthy Affiliate a beginner program?
A: Yes, Wealthy Affiliate is 100% for beginners and beginners only. Don’t listen to what their home page says. It’s not for every type of marketer. They only teach the absolute basics unless you get a Premium members. And then they only teach you some outdated SEO techniques that might still work but probably won’t.