TL;DR Update: DO NOT promote Wealthy Affiliate. Sign up for a free trial, engage with the community and learn what you can before your access expires, but DO NOT GO PREMIUM. They are selling a fantasy built on a dying business model which serves only to benefit (no surprise here…) the founders of Wealthy Affiliate. You can glean some value from the trial, but do not invest in their training and by all means do not even consider building out any sites using their proprietary services. If you want to know why, then read on…
October 2020 Update: This article which was written 6 years ago has attracted a lot of attention from Wealthy Affiliate members – past and present – along with a few of their shills who have yet to come to terms. As a result, I’m planning to resurrect this topic in an effort to answer the question: if not Wealthy Affiliate, then what other service or resources do you recommend? I’d very much like to provide answers to that, so in the meantime…if you have questions related to affiliate marketing or WordPress site management, leave them in the comments below. -Craig
The problem with WA is… they don’t put their members through any sort of review process before they let them set off into the world of internet marketing. Sure, they provide some resources and tutorials (albeit a bit outdated in terms of best practices) which cover the basics of internet marketing, but they also do a good job of making it sound so easy. I feel like a lot of folks sign up thinking it’s going to be a convenient way to generate income once they know how to post a blog, install a few plugins in WordPress, and get their affiliate links added. Ha!
Obviously, holding people back until they’ve “graduated” from the program wouldn’t work anyway, but I can tell you honestly that…
99% of the people in the WA Community will make next to no money in affiliate marketing and will likely give up.
I hate to sound like a Downer Donna, but I’m calling it like I see it. I’ve perused many of the sites linked in comments within their community portal and in user profiles, and most of them are pretty awful. Now I know that we’ve all got to start somewhere, but the glaring issue here is that most of these people are wondering why their sites aren’t earning them mad cheddar. They paid their dues, they followed the lessons and did what WA told them would make them abundant cash in no time, so what’s the deal..?! Why haven’t they become rainmakers overnight?
To me, it’s painfully obvious, but to them…they’re confused. WA said that they’d have their money-making site up within seconds, so what the heck..?!
Wealthy Affiliate’s candy-coated sales pitch
Now I imagine there are some highly motivated and disciplined individuals who could utilize the membership training and community resource to build a profitable businesses; however… The main sales page is a bit misleading in that I feel it grossly oversimplifies the process of establishing a profitable site, and it nowhere near emphasizes just how much work will be involved. Not to mention, the several months and hours upon hours of sweat equity you will have to invest before you start seeing any sort of income.
Let me dissect the Wealthy Affiliate sales pitch…
If you’re not yet a Wealthy Affiliate member, you can check out their sales page at wealthy affiliate dot com.
Choose an Interest
They tell you that the first step in the process is to choose a niche. In my opinion, this should be pretty easy for you determine before you even decide to get started. If not, then internet marketing may not be for you. The reason I say this is due to the amount of effort required to build a profitable business from scratch. If you can’t think of one single thing that excites or interests you, then you are going to have an uphill struggle if you plan to make a go of it in affiliate marketing.
Wealthy Affiliate will help you select a good niche, and some of that process is covered within the free membership. However . . . they also quickly position the option of you marketing Wealthy Affiliate itself …if you are at a loss, in terms of deciding upon a vertical.
This is a BAD idea.
NO ONE that is new to internet marketing should pursue a niche solely based on the prospect of money-making. To be successful, you must pursue a niche that you are passionate about.
Think about it…who in their right mind is going to be sold a service that you have yet to make a dime from yourself. If you’re able to make some money as a Wealthy Affiliate member, then you might think about trying the Wealthy Affiliate Bootcamp route, but it’s highly unlikely anyone will ever create a sustainable business marketing Wealthy Affiliate. In order to be a successful affiliate marketer in 2020, you must be an authority on a given niche.
You may be able to convert a few Facebook friends, or your mom, but you will not succeed as a Wealthy Affiliate ‘affiliate’ if you choose their WA Bootcamp as your niche. They’ll lead you to believe that you will, and while you could…maybe… it’s what I consider to be a very advanced (and very bullshit) niche which only
experienced or uber-motivated shady internet marketers should pursue.
Alright, so the ‘choose an interest’ step is pretty self-explanatory, provided you arrive at WA with at least one interest. 😉
Just don’t do the Bootcamp . . . I’m serious. I’ve seen a boatload of abandoned WA affiliate sites where the site owner followed the same cookie cutter methods outlined in the training, worked hard at it for 30-60 days, never to return.
Follow your passion, not the money. Don’t be a soulless Wealthy Affiliate pie-in-the-sky zombie slave who tries to start a business by promoting something you know very little about and have yet to see success with yourself.
That is deceptive and that is lazy.
Instead, seek to provide value. Be informative. Be helpful.
Ok…on to the next step in their ‘how to get started’ sales proposition…
Build a Website
Oh my god…this step is so misleading. I especially love this bit…
In a matter of seconds, you will have your own website up and you can choose a design that appeals to you.
HaHa! If I were new to online business, website administration and WordPress, I would assume they meant you can have your site up and ready within seconds. That’s what it says, right?!
Wealthy Affiliate has an install wizard which can technically have your site themed and online within seconds, but that is just the beginning.
It is going to take you weeks and weeks of online training, loads of content creation and endless tinkering before you’ll have a legitimate web presence. You may think your website is great and you’ll be proud of the fact that you did it yourself, but I’m telling you…to build a competitive and professional web presence requires a great deal of experience and/or resources.
There is no misinformation outlined in this step, but so much about the process of building an internet marketing site is left out. It’s devoid of actionable and valuable info, and is arguably deceitful. Even if you progress through their free course, you’ll still only possess the basics of the basics. To have any hope of knowing what to do with your site you’ll absolutely have to go premium and be prepared to spend tons of hours learning and asking questions.
They tell you that you need visitors to your site in order to profit from your new business. Shyeah..! Of course you need visitors to make any money.
Good news is, Wealthy Affiliate goes on to say that within the first few lessons you’re going to learn the techniques that will allow you to get an abundance, no wait…ABUNDANCE of relevant customers to your site by way of organic search. Most folks reading this have no idea just how difficult this is. If you know how to do it, then it’s mainly just hard work, but for those of you that don’t understand the process…you’re in for a long education full of trial and error.
If rankings were easy to obtain, everyone would be doing this, am I right..?! No way anyone new to IM is going to learn even a smidgen of what they need to know through those first few lessons. I’ve gone through the lessons. I know.
Once your site is built and gaining relevant traffic, making money from it is entirely possible. It’s all of the stuff leading up to the monetization part that is difficult.
The problem with 90% of those who join Wealthy Affiliate is that they fast-forward right to here. Some of that could be delusions of grandeur, part of it may be impatience or desperation, but I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that Wealthy Affiliate lures people in by having them believe that the process is so easy.
It’s not. It’s really f**king hard!
This is not how IM works.
You’re only seconds away from starting a business…
This is true. Within seconds you could have access to the training and website launcher that will allow you to start a business, but you are months and months (and more likely…years) away from making any money.
Is Wealthy Affiliate a legit service..?
This is a tough one to answer, but I’ll try to be as objective as possible here. On one hand, a very soft yes. They do provide some adequate training in the way of affiliate marketing and WordPress site management, but it’s more than a little self-serving and there are much better resources out there to learn these things. They really tout their platform as a magic bullet solution for IM, but it’s not. They’re also quick to suggest WA as a good affiliate marketing niche, but that is a definite NO. Again…DO NOT even think about starting an affiliate marketing business that’s built upon the model of evangelizing the Cult of WA.
In my opinion, there’s no harm in signing up and peeking behind the curtain for a bit. Go through a few of their tutorials, learn what you can, see for yourself what all the chatter is about, corroborate what I’m telling you in this post. and if affiliate marketing is still of interest to you after a few weeks, then get after it.
However, DO NOT give WA any money and by all means DO NOT host any websites with them.
Do I recommend Wealthy Affiliate?
If you go into it with realistic expectations and are aware of the sacrifices and suffering involved with being successful as an affiliate marketer, then WA can provide you with an easy to follow – albeit very basic – road map.
Do they provide a blueprint for sucecss? F**K NO.
The lessons can be useful to those just starting out, but I think that their service attracts a lot of misled buyers because of how easy they make it all seem. Sure, you could make some money in affiliate marketing if you follow their training and tutorials and put in an ungodly amount of work. I’m sure of this, but . . . most people who arrive at Wealthy Affiliate with thoughts of creating that additional digital entrepreneur revenue stream will be lucky if they make enough money to pay for their membership.
If you’re pursuing affiliate marketing with visions of grandeur – thinking you’re going to crush it as a Wealthy Affiliate ‘affiliate’ – STOP IT. I’m serious. Don’t. You will fail, and the internet is already rife with thin ‘make-money-online’ websites. We don’t need any more of those – especially those created by impostors, opportunists and wannabes.
Since joining Wealthy Affiliate, it’d been my goal to help new and existing members speed up the process for getting results. If you’re someone who’s wanting to try it out and see if affiliate marketing is right for you, go sign up.
If you join through my site, I will personally follow you and provide answers if you get stuck. But that doesn’t mean I’ll do the work for you. I’m here to help facilitate success, but creating a successful business is on you. 😉
Sorry folks, but I’m afraid I jumped ship on Wealthy Affiliate years ago, so I won’t be able to offer any advice or support through that community. Even if I was compelled to drop in from time to time and answer a few questions, I’m unable to do so now unless I renew my premium membership, which is a complete and utter bullshit policy.
So be forewarned…if you upgrade your membership to premium, it must be for life. If you cancel your membership, your access to the site becomes restricted.
This is very shady, Wealthy Affiliate.
I’m not terribly worried about it, however, as I have completely washed my hands of their garbage service. I have no intention of promoting their product, but I did feel compelled to update this post so that others may think twice before committing to the premium membership. Based on this business practice, Wealthy Affiliate is now firmly on my avoid list.
I don’t necessarily regret going with a paid membership, as it satisfied my curiosity about their platform. My intention was to see first-hand if they had any secret sauce to share, but they clearly do not. Wealthy Affiliate is milking a dying business model and I’m willing to bet they are not providing additional value or evolving their ‘curriculum’ to adapt to the ever-changing rules of internet search.
My other motivation was to offer an insightful take on their program – from an experienced developer, SEO and affiliate marketer’s point of view – so as to help others make an informed decision on WA. Based on the amount of people sniffing this post, I hope that I’ve been able to do just that!
If my honest analysis of Wealthy Affiliate’s service and bullshit value proposition has saved a few of you from making a poor investment (which judging by the comments below, it has), then I’d consider my experience a huge win!