I’m publishing this honest Wealthy Affiliate review for a strange reason…
In recent months, I’ve started to get really irritated by how hard certain other home working / making money online sites (i.e. my competitors!) seem to push the Wealthy Affiliate program on their readers
Now I’m not debating that starting blogs and affiliate websites is a fantastic and proven way of making money. Starting an affiliate site can also begin your journey to that elusive Holy Grail of “passive income.”
I’ve been involved in such sites myself for around a decade and, well, you’re reading one of them. But setting up these sites can be really hard work, and they don’t produce fast money.
So I thought it high time I signed up myself, and produced a truly honest Wealthy Affiliate review.
Want a quick TL;DR? If you’d rather not read all the details, just jump straight to the “Is Wealthy Affiliate Worth It?” section, to read my conclusion.
Why do people promote Wealthy Affiliate?
As I said at the start, I’m not a fan of how some of my fellow bloggers promote Wealthy Affiliate.
As just one recent example of what I mean, I’ve seen sites claiming to honestly review survey platforms. However, they brush over the details, and then go on to nudge readers in the direction of signing up to Wealthy Affiliate instead.
Well I’m sorry, but people researching survey sites generally want to earn a few extra bucks here and there. They’re not looking to invest hundreds of hours of work in something that may or may not pay off months down the line.
The same applies to people promoting Wealthy Affiliate as an alternative to getting started with a freelance writing career. At least that’s a little more relevant, but it’s still spurious.
So, what exactly is going on here?
It didn’t take long to work out why bloggers are so keen to promote Wealthy Affiliate. The company pays some pretty hefty commissions to people who promote the program, especially if they are “Premium” members of it themselves.
But this doesn’t, of course, mean there’s anything wrong with Wealthy Affiliate. In fact, the company has some pretty impressive credentials.
What is Wealthy Affiliate?
Wealthy Affiliate is a subscription-based software toolkit and training program for people who wish to make money from affiliate websites. It was established in 2005 and has well over one Million members.
The statistics are undeniably impressive, and it doesn’t take much Google searching to find people who’ve made successes of their affiliate sites.
I personally first heard about Wealthy Affiliate back in 2009, when my main source of income was freelance IT consultancy. One of my clients, herself a very successful freelance corporate project manager, was in the process of jacking that in to become a full-time affiliate marketer, using Wealthy Affiliate as her platform.
Along with the statistics, this does suggest the Wealthy Affiliate has some level of credibility. Whether that’s deserved is something we’ll come onto shortly.
What is Included with Wealthy Affiliate?
Exactly what you get with Wealthy Affiliate depends on whether you opt for a free basic membership, or pay for a premium subscription (more on that in a moment). However, these are the key things that Wealthy Affiliate includes:
- A comprehensive training program, aimed at aspiring bloggers/affiliate marketers.
- A built-in infrastructure for registering domains and establishing, building and growing websites.
- A set of research tools to help find niches and keywords, and to uncover ideas and suitable affiliate programs.
- A busy community to provide support and advice.
- Regular live lessons and events teaching new techniques and skills, along with a large library of past events to refer back to.
- Live chat support.
I’ve personally put together an article about how to start a profitable blog, detailing all the steps, such as registering a domain, choosing a keyword tool and setting up a theme. I’d recommend giving it a read, because it will help you to understand what’s involved in running an affiliate site. I mention that here because what Wealthy Affiliate sets out to do is put all of the things you need in one place, and behind one single subscription.
I’m personally a fan of doing all of these things individually, especially as I’ve already done so for years. However, for those who are more intimidated by the technical side of things, there’s definitely some merit to having everything together, especially when it’s directly connected to a platform providing training and support.
Wealthy Affiliate Pricing
One big tick that I have to give to Wealthy Affiliate is that you can sign up and have a really good look around by grabbing a free basic membership. This doesn’t even involve handing over any credit card details.
Unsurprisingly, however, quite a lot of the features are locked down until you buy a “Premium” membership. This starts at $29.92 per month for those paying annually (a 39% saving), rising to $49 per month for payment on a monthly basis.
There’s also a Wealthy Affiliate special offer for Premium membership, where you can pay $19 for the first month of a premium subscription.
One thing that’s important to note is that you can run your affiliate websites completely within the Wealthy Affiliate platform (they use SiteRubix as a web hosting partner). You can run up to two websites on the free plan and up to 50 on a Premium account, 25 of which can include a domain name of your choice.
This means that you will make a saving on buying separate web hosting and domain registration. You potentially save on other tools you would normally buy separately too.
One thing you can’t deny about Wealthy Affiliate is that the training is comprehensive. At the core, there’s a 50 Lesson “Online Entrepreneur” certification and a 70 lesson “Affiliate Bootcamp,” and there’s plenty more besides. Free members get access to the first phase of each of these training programs, so there’s a significant amount of completely free content here.
The training modules consist of text, graphics, videos and tasks, and there are checklists for each lesson to make sure you’ve covered everything. This IS training you’re going to want to properly concentrate on, because there’s a lot to take in. Some online courses feel rather “passive” nowadays, but you’ll need to do a lot more than put your feet up and watch videos to make a success of this.
One thing Wealthy Affiliate highlights in its marketing materials is a commitment to keeping this huge library of training content up to date. The site refers to “750+ training updates each year.” This was of interest, as I had seen other Wealthy Affiliate reviews refer to outdated materials.
A browse through the content left me with mixed feelings on this. Affiliate marketing is something where the fundamentals remain constant, but the precise details often shift. This means advice can become quickly out of date.
There were a couple of modules I noticed when I completed my Wealthy Affiliate review that made me feel a little sceptical. For example, Google Plus was still mentioned, when it had recently been closed down. On the other hand, it was reassuring to see subjects like Pinterest promotion covered.
In what I assume is an attempt to bridge the gap between “evergreen” training and more up to the minute content, Wealthy Affiliate also runs weekly live events to teach new skills and complement the other materials.
At the time of my Wealthy Affiliate review, the weekly event was around YouTube promotions, and other recent events had covered topics such as SEO priorities for 2019 and how to use Google’s (recently revamped) Search Console.
Usefully, all past events are accessible, so these units really add to the body of training content. (But are only available to paying Premium members). I have to admit that even as an “experienced” webmaster, I felt I would benefit from these workshops.
Getting involved in these live lessons definitely seems like the kind of thing that will pay dividends to those who put the effort in.
Website Building Tools
Wealthy Affiliate offer considerably more than just a training program. Affiliates can create new websites directly on the platform, making use of the company’s link to the hosting firm, SiteRubix.
Now, I should make quite clear at this point that I would personally have no interest in hosting my own sites within WA’s platform. I’m quite happy to use Dreamhost and deal with all the setup and configuration myself.
BUT…I have to be fair here and say that it’s the fear of all that setup and configuration that seems to stop a lot of people even getting started on their website projects.
I ran through the process of setting up a brand new site via Wealthy Affiliate and – I have to hand it to them – it’s really slick and REALLY easy.
Wealthy Affiliate sites use the WordPress platform along with a wide selection of professional-looking themes. I was pretty sceptical of WA’s claim that I could have a site up and running less than 30 seconds, but they really have made the process straightforward.
I was also impressed that these sites are set up with a good level of attention to detail. For example, I noticed mine was properly configured for secure (HTTPS) communication, and running the latest version of WordPress, complete with a basic selection of plugins. This is the kind of stuff that often sends novice bloggers down time-consuming rabbit holes when they’d be better off creating content.
There’s plenty more you can do, including registering your own domains, even if you’re on the free plan. There’s a content builder, complete with some simple templates for certain types of website pages, a comments platform, a means of getting community feedback on your work, and even technical support for Premium members.
Wealthy Affiliate has managed to do something very clever here: They’ve managed to significantly reduce the incline of a learning curve that often proves too steep for many people.
Wealthy Affiliate Research Tools
Wealthy Affiliate’s research tools primarily revolve around finding keywords to work into your website content. As I’ve personally discussed in my reviews of KWFinder and Long Tail Pro, this is crucial if you want to ensure people actually find the articles you produce!
Wealthy Affiliate comes with a keyword suggestion tool called Jaaxy. You only get a very restricted “Starter” version with WA’s free plan, allowing you to perform 30 searches per day, so you really need to upgrade to Premium to get proper use out of it.
A full review of Jaaxy is beyond the scope of this Wealthy Affiliate review. That said, the key thing here is that you’re GETTING a premium keyword tool as part of your subscription. KWFinder, my own keyword tool of choice, starts at $49 per month, when paid for on a monthly basis. It’s also considered to be more at the budget end of the keyword tool spectrum.
As such, getting Jaxxy included with a Wealthy Affiliate subscription significantly contributes to the subscription’s value – arguably even more than the inclusive web hosting, which typically has a lower ticket price.
There are also brainstorming features, keyword lists, a search database for affiliate programs, and competitor analysis functions. As per the theme we’ve established, these are all things you could get from separate tools and websites, but are instead “baked in” to the Wealthy Affiliate package.
Support and Community
Wealthy Affiliate has a thriving online community, and you’re very much encouraged to get involved.
The central community is akin to a social media timeline, and everything gets hundreds of likes and comments.
Obviously you don’t have to get involved with this side of Wealthy Affiliate, but I’d be inclined to say that those who do probably feel like they get a lot more out of the platform. I’d personally have no inclination to spend my time chatting about what I was doing. However, people just finding their feet in the affiliate marketing industry could find this pre-built social scene fun and motivating.
In addition, for Premium members only, there is live chat support for more specific questions and issues.
The Wealthy Affiliate Affiliate Scheme
Here we arrive at the part of my Wealthy Affiliate review that may prove most controversial: details of the Wealthy Affiliate affiliate scheme.
As I explained at the start, people promoting Wealthy Affiliate stand to earn very good commission if they persuade other people to sign up. There’s even a widely-publicised, all expenses paid annual trip to Las Vegas, for affiliates who sign up more than 300 hundred people.
Affiliate programs make the online world go around, so there’s nothing unusual in the fact that Wealthy Affiliate has one. However, one specific detail is that those who pay for premium membership themselves get twice as much commission as affiliates who don’t.
This leads to an inevitable question:
Is Wealthy Affiliate a Scam? Or a Pyramid Scheme?
Wealthy Affiliate isn’t a scam or a pyramid scheme. Members gain access to a huge training program, and commercial website hosting and SEO tools are all included with the membership.
However, Wealthy Affiliate is marketed in a way that encourages affiliates to push it onto as many people as possible. In some cases, they may be doing so in the hope they get a free trip to Las Vegas!
This takes us right back to the start of this Wealthy Affiliate review, where I said that I’d noticed people promoting Wealthy Affiliate in markets that seemed inappropriate.
I then read this very polarised Quora thread about Wealthy Affiliate’s business methods. Essentially, it seems that the business model encourages many aspiring “wealthy affiliates” to concentrate all of their marketing efforts on selling Wealthy Affiliate itself, rather than using the techniques to set up blogs in other niches.
When you then delve back into the training materials, armed with a bit more cynicism, you realise that a lot of them are based around starting sites in the internet marketing space.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t do much to defend against the theory that the people who make the most money from the “make money online” industry are those selling the “make money online” advice!
Based on what I’ve seen, some Wealthy Affiliate members are trying to take this too far, and the Quora thread backs that up.
What they do is review other online products, say they’re rubbish, and then go on to promote Wealthy Affiliate instead. And that’s exactly what I noticed, and what triggered me to investigate and produce a Wealthy Affiliate review.
But should this put you off? Perhaps you just think that all is fair in love and marketing? Or perhaps you’re more than happy to follow that EXACT model yourself?! It doesn’t suit MY moral code, but I know that plenty of people find my level of integrity high to the point of crazy…
So let’s look at whether Wealthy Affiliate IS worth the money, and who it could be a good fit for.
Is Wealthy Affiliate Worth It?
At under $30 per month for a Premium subscription, Wealthy Affiliate DOES deliver a lot for the money. That’s especially true when you consider the fact you’re getting web hosting and SEO tools included, as well as masses of training and a huge support network.
However, I don’t think Wealthy Affiliate is for everyone. It wouldn’t appeal to me, for example, because I’m already an experienced blogger. I don’t need all the training, and I already have favoured companies and tools that I use for every part of my website creation process.
But if you’re just starting out, and you’re ready to put your heart and soul into one or more affiliate websites, Wealthy Affiliate is a pretty exciting package. It does a very good job of making some of the more difficult and time-consuming parts of the journey far easier and less intimidating.
The free basic tier, complemented with the special offer on month one of premium membership, also means you can get a really good feel for what’s on offer without handing over ANYTHING, and complete access to absolutely everything for less than 20 bucks.
With all that in mind:
Wealthy Affiliate is Good For:
- Novice affiliate marketers who want to get a project off the ground quickly.
- Less technical bloggers who want lots of hand-holding and support.
- People testing the water of website ownership (you can build your first site without handing over any money at all).
- Keen aspiring webmasters willing to invest the time in training and live lessons.
Wealthy Affiliate is Less Good For:
- Bloggers who already have experience and established ways of doing things.
- People without the time or willingness to work through the training.
- Affiliate marketers who want complete control and ownership of every last technical detail.
Wealthy Affiliate Review Conclusion
Completing this Wealthy Affiliate review was certainly an education. Not only did I find out why the platform is so widely promoted, I discovered that some reviewers’ rather sly tactic of recommending it in place of other online products is actually more contrived than I ever suspected!
As with so many things in the online world, the conclusion you draw will likely be as much about your own personal views as what I’ve specifically told you. WA isn’t a scam, and the company is actually incredibly open and up-front about what get for your money. There’s a free “Basic” membership available that will show you what’s on offer, even without handing over any credit card details.
As such, you have absolutely nothing to lose in trying it out if you’re thinking about getting involved in online marketing and affiliate sites.
What you’ll quickly find is something I’ll also happily tell you for free: This is an industry that gives back very much based on what you put in. You still have to have the ideas, do the research, write the content and attract the readers – and that’s a long and constant job. What Wealthy Affiliate does do is guide you through it all step by step, even if you’ve never done anything like it before.
As such, I do cautiously recommend Wealthy Affiliate to the types of people I listed above. Even though I offer one on one blog coaching myself, not everyone can afford that. Some might prefer self-guided training over a long period – so it’s certainly worth grabbing a free trial and having a look.
Pros and Cons of Wealthy Affiliate
- A lot included for the money.
- Weekly live events add regularly to the content.
- Eases the learning curve for new bloggers.
- A supportive environment for novices.
- The structure of the affiliate scheme may leave a bad taste.
- Some of the core training materials could do with an update.
- While I completed my Wealthy Affiliate review I received rather a lot of automated emails from them!