12 months at WA. Worth it?

Last Update: June 25, 2018

I've been with WA for 12 months now, and it's been quite the journey.

If nothing else, I've learned a lot about myself, as well as the level of commitment required to build a successful business online.

I've made a couple of fundamental and dumb mistakes along the way, so hopefully this post will be useful for others considering Wealthy Affiliate for building a full time business online.

So, a year on... was it all worth it?

Absolutely YES!

But not for the reasons you might think. You see, I originally joined Wealthy Affiliate to take advantage of their great hosting platform. I mean 50 websites for one low annual fee, including all the site security, support and help one could ever need, was an attractive proposition indeed.

Gains for our existing business...

The first website I built from scratch was for our existing accommodation business and, given that WordPress is such a flexible product, our website fully integrates with our booking engine so guests can book accommodation with us directly (which is much better than having to pay hefty fees to the likes of Expedia and Booking.com). My focus over the next year is going to be to build up the content on this site, to drive even more organic traffic to the site, which in turn relates to those much sought after direct bookings through our website.

In the first quarter of this year (Jan-Mar) only 9% of our total bookings came through our own website; compared to the second quarter which has seen an increase to 14% of bookings coming through the site. This represents a tangible saving of in excess of $1,000 in fees to online travel agencies (booking.com, expedia, AA traveler etc). My goal is to increase our direct bookings to 30% over the next 12 months and again, this is a direct saving to our business.

I have achieved this improvement by following the training at WA ~ proof that the certification training here works. I'm applying all my new-found knowledge about SEO and social marketing to our business. My twelve month goal is to achieve 30% of sales directly through our website (saving us about $7k), using the techniques learned at WA; we are well on the way to making this happen.


But what about affiliate marketing? ... I hear you ask!

Before I share my results with you, let me share all the biggest thing I did wrong.

I bit off way more than I could chew!


You see, I'm the magpie of all magpies, and I love new shiny objects! Being easily distracted means that I now have about 10 domains and about 6 websites that I am trying to maintain. NOT GOOD.

It's very hard to remain focused on one path for online success when you're juggling that many balls. Now I have a couple of niche sites, our business site as well as a Make Money Online site for the WA Bootcamp training.

The worst part of trying to juggle so many sites is that I end up procrastinating about where to prioritize my time and as a result I haven't created anywhere near enough content on any of the sites to really crank up my affiliate marketing business.

This is a terrible feeling. Every time I have a little win on one of my sites, I'm reminded that if ONLY I COULD FOCUS ON ONE SITE, my results would be much better than they are.

I've marked my own score card...

Have you?

There's a great post here at WA about what to expect from your website... to try to answer that all important question - how long does it take to make money at WA... https://my.wealthyaffiliate.com/training/wa-affiliate-bootca...

Sure... across all my sites I've written more than 100 posts: BUT not on any one site. And that's important. If I look at all of my sites, my progress is still sitting in that months 1-3 category:

Imagine if I'd put all that effort into a single site. This is where I could be!...


Spreading myself too thin has been the one thing that has impeded my progress with the affiliate side of my business.

If there's one piece of advice you take from this post, please please don't make the same mistake as me.

Instead, focus on one niche and ONE website!

Even though my approach has been less than ideal, I've still managed to complete the Certification training and am now working my way through the Bootcamp training (as and when time permits).

Believe it or not, despite my haphazard approach (with plenty of stops and starts along the way), I have seen a bit of affiliate income trickle in.

Here's a wee graph showing my results to date;


  • The green line is the total number of posts / pages I've written across three of my websites
  • The red $ line with is the monthly affiliate income earned
  • I have not included any freelance income earned, though it's worth noting that I've picked up a couple of simple web content jobs as a direct result of one of my websites which was worth a couple of grand. Work I probably wouldn't have secured otherwise.

I'm sure my results would look so much better if all 107 posts were on the one site... not split across three websites... but oh well, we all learn by our mistakes, right?

Do the numbers stack up?

I'll let you be the judge. To sum up the last twelve months from a pure financial perspective:

  • $1,000 additional OTA fees saved for accommodation business and on track to save $7k annually
  • $ 388 affiliate earnings
  • $2000 related freelance income
  • $3388 actual value (savings & income) in last twelve months

I also took advantage of the black Friday sale, which means that I pay a much lower annual fee, a further saving worth having.

The next twelve months...

Well, I start my new job tomorrow, so that's going to have an impact on the amount of time I can spend on WA related activities. So the plan is to focus mainly on my niche site as well as our accommodation website. I think it's important to achieve success with my niche site first, before moving into the MMO niche.

So there you have it.

I hope you found this post interesting along with some insights and learning from my journey.

All the very best,

Karen


ps. please leave me a comment below and let me know what you think... would love to hear from you!!

Join the Discussion
Write something…
Recent messages
Schwifty Premium
I am LOOKING FOR GUEST BLOGGERS. I have a general website that has many ranking pages. DA 42 PA 38 on the homepage. I'm looking for people interested in writing quality posts with the opportunity to link back to their own site. Max of two do follow links with no less than 750 words. In some case I may add the topic to an already ranking page. If you are interested please message me with your topic. Thank you
Reply
imthedamo Premium
Hey Karen, we are so much alike as I might imagine all of us are here. I am writing my 1st annual post next week and pretty much will sum up all the same stuff. I am refocusing now on The Educated Affiliate (that is my bootcamp site for WA) and that is it. However, I like you am even more convinced that this community is the place to be and have more passion for it now than I did a year ago. All the best.
Damo
Reply
wendyg53 Premium
Great post, and thanks for highlighting the hazards of spreading yourself too thin. I think it's great that you want to book guests directly. Those booking sites are a rip-off.

Maybe someday you can set up sites for business owners in the food and hospitality niche that don't compete directly with you, like restaurants or spas.

I think it's great that you are narrowing your focus. Focusing in the right places doesn't get enough hype, but it's so important.

Thanks again for sharing your experience so far. :-)
Reply
Nicole62 Premium
Hi Karen,
Just wanted to stop and let you know that your post was very motivating for me today. Thank you for posting. I love seeing what more experienced WA'ers are up to. While you might be a little disappointed by some of your results, they sound awesome to those of us that are working hard but haven't yet seen any monetary fruit. Plus you're demonstrating how important it is to learn and not to be afraid of making mistakes because of the learning opp they present.
Thanks again,
Nicole
Reply
herinnelson Premium
Hey, Karen and congratulations on your accomplishments in the first year! Wow, what a journey you've had, my dear! I, too, have multiple sites that need my attention, but am getting to them all, little by little! I also sell and maintain sites for my clients. These are continued busy, yet exciting times! Keep up the great work!

Erin :)!
Reply
kdforsman Premium
Thanks Erin. I haven't been on here much lately but hows your 12 month challenge going?
Reply
herinnelson Premium
I actually haven't been, either. That is probably why my study is going so well! I've been working diligently on it! I'll be writing another Task post soon! Thanks for asking! Blessings!

Erin :)!
Reply
HuyNLe1989 Premium
That is still amazing results working across multiple sites but hey it happens. I told myself I wouldnt start a new site until my first site reached 50k works and I jumped a bit early and started one at 40k but i’m stil focusing on my main for now.
Reply
kdforsman Premium
that's awesome - keep up the great work. :)
Reply
Texpart Premium
Yes, I too love to take all these ideas and keep adding them to my list of things to do. However, after reviewing the process I came to realize that there is only one good way to do this and that is to make one thing work first, then use that process and repeat. Once you get to be very successful with the first niche, then expand. Remember that your "dumb" mistakes are only learning experiences and ways to move on from there.
Great post! Keep on learning!
Reply
kdforsman Premium
my best ideas have been born out of my 'dumb' mistakes LOL
Reply
Jadatherapy Premium
Hi and thank you for your post, I am so glad I read it today. Because I was going launch another website but in reading this I will stick with my two for now.

I will be sharing this post. Because you are keeping it real. Love it.

Wishing you continued success here.

Regards
Jennifer
Reply
kdforsman Premium
absolutely - best luck to you as well.
Reply
Jadatherapy Premium
Thank you
Reply
keishalina9 Premium
Appreciate very much your sharing and important points that you've learned along the WA journey -- focus is vital -- for me, being a scatter-bug (procrastinating) is so much easier to do... newbie working through the lessons painfully -- will likely need to repeat, repeat, then maybe rinse... ah well, such as life today.... keep well & all the very best for every success... thanks kindly & cheerio... :)
Reply
kdforsman Premium
absolutely. focus focus focus!
Reply
MojalefaR Premium
Thank you very much for the post, Karen. As I start out, I have been dreaming about setting up all these websites of things I am very interested in or passionate about. I even wrote some down to start on as soon as the Certification Course is over. I now know better!

What excites me, though, is that in the end there is a reward for the hard work one puts in; real rewards from real people. For me, $3 000/month is a huge incentive as it translates into a handsome 39 000 in our currency at today's exchange rate. But, I am even more excited about the gains in learning on the journey to that end! It is incompatible!

Forever Grateful and just ...

Awesomeness!
Mojalefa.
Reply
kdforsman Premium
absolutely. keep on pushing!
Reply
Robwlb1802 Premium
very motivating Karen and I liked your magpie analogy.....I have a collection of domains, mostly German, but a few need to be dropped. Your article shows me that I need to spend more time on the learning process as well as more time doing things too. Some free-lance cancellations during the month of July should provide me with some extra time :)
Thanks for the break down and as already mentioned - motivating too.
Cheers
Rob
Reply
kdforsman Premium
It's hard to say goodbye to domains, but its also a little liberating LOL
Reply
LindaF Premium
you have amazing success so give your self a pat on the back. No many have been able to build there one web site in one year let alone juggle with others. I think you are one smart cookie. You have accomplished much in a very short period of time. It will only get better as you go and you will amaze yourself what you are capable of achieving.
Yes you need to think some things though a bit better but don't kid yourself you are doing amazingly well.

always a better way
Linda
Reply
kdforsman Premium
Thank you so much Linda, I appreciate your kind words! Best wishes, Karen
Reply
CATaylor Premium
I too am a victim of shiny object syndrome! I find it incredibly difficult to stay focused from day-to-day! I only have two websites right now, but my biggest problem is deciding what to write about on them. I'm sure you will pick one and focus on it! Lessons learned but you now have great training and a whole bunch of knowledge. Best of luck!

Cassie
Reply
kdforsman Premium
Thanks Cassie, yes, I've learned a lot - perhaps I'm one of those people that needs to make loads of mistakes to get the lesson? Cheers, Karen
Reply
craigrut Premium
Congratulations, that's wonderful news. Working in corporate marketing I'm always awed at the amount of money OTAs get away with.

That's why you've seen a huge shift lately for major hotel chains to start providing discounted bookings through their own websites. They are tired of the cutthroat fees OTAs charge.

Glad to see you're getting away from it and good luck on your continued success!
Reply
kdforsman Premium
Hi Craig, Yip, we are going to beat those OTAs... one little direct booking at a time. Rome wasn't built in a day! Cheers, Karen
Reply
craigrut Premium
Absolutely. Good luck with it and keep up all the hard work!
Reply
shazzaWA Premium
Thanks for sharing Karen and glad you are saving money where you would normally spend thousands.

I really don't know how people can spend time on more than one site. Perhaps if you are doing this full time you could spread yourself across a couple of sites. I have always maintained though, where you spend your consistent focus is where you will get your results and the reason I have stuck to one site.

All the best for your next year!
Reply
kdforsman Premium
I totally agree with you... and I've learned these lessons the hard way! Hopefully this post may spare someone else the pain. Cheers, Karen
Reply
KMrwashu1 Premium
Hi Karen,

Thank you for sharing your story, it really opened my eyes. I have wanted to start a few sites but again I got sidetracked lately with exams and hectic work schedule, I haven't been maintaining my goals for my site. I think I will continue to work on one site until I have enough time, to explore more sites.

Congratulations on your 1st year, all the best in the coming year:-)
Reply
kdforsman Premium
If you haven't gone down that rabbit hole - don't!!! Focus on one website and make it massive :) Cheers, Karen
Reply
AlexEvans Premium
Hi Karen, that looks like progress to me, if you look at the advances with your business associated website I would say that is huge and some of your industry contemporaries would be looking on, with genuine interest, getting your organic bookings up to 20% is entering the realms of consultancy, many fellow tourist operators would be keen to know the " how to ", just a thought, and be prepared to pay.

We can all get sidetracked, it kind of comes with the territory, living down under folks seem to have hung onto that pioneering spirit why do one when we can do two three or four, and stitch it together with some number eight wire. I think that the important thing is to make the realization that the rubber band on our little airplane is getting stretched a bit thin, the second thing is doing something about it.

Thanks for sharing your experiences, it is this kind of thing that makes WA what it is and it is what we can all relate to and in doing so make our own experiences that much better.

Best wishes for the coming year, keep us posted on your progress.
Reply
kdforsman Premium
I definitely will... and thanks so much for reading. Cheers, Karen
Reply
marycmiller Premium
Hi thanks for sharing, I found your post interesting and it spoke a little to me picking a direction and following it. I am the shiny object person. I only have one website but my problem is getting off track every day. I try to follow the training, then I see a posting that leads me to other training, so I go there, and so on. While I do this, I spend not time writing content. I can see by reading this post, just how much time I am letting slip by and I don't have earnings to show for it. Your post has showed me that staying the course and staying focused it the right path to follow. I will once again try to ignore all shiny objects. Thanks again.
Reply
kdforsman Premium
The most important thing to focus on is writing content and articles... make this your first job each day then add all the other stuff in afterwards. No excuses. Cheers, Karen
Reply
DaveStarr Premium
Wow, I wish I had written this. These could so easily have been my words:

....... Spreading myself too thin has been the one thing that has impeded my progress with the affiliate side of my business.

If there's one piece of advice you take from this post, please please don't make the same mistake as me......

I've been online "juggling" multiple websites for more years than I care to mention right now. Poor to zero results on all of them, mainly because of neglect. It's hard to keep even one plate spinning, folks. Don't sabotage yourself by trying to keep a whole row of plates spinning ... it just results in a lot of broken plates and a really third-rate juggling act.

It's particularly interesting to read about your success with the site for your business. I know the name of this place is "Wealthy Affiliate" and a great many people are only interested in learning and earning affiliate commissions, but there is one heck of a lot more business out there for those who think farther than affiliate links. Here's to a really great second year for you as well.
Reply
kdforsman Premium
Hey Dave, I love your response to my post - especially your comment about the third rate juggling act... are you sure you haven't met me before? LOL
Reply
haroda Premium
Thank you for sharing, Karen!!! Your post rings true to me. It is not an accident that I stumbled across your post. I am too spreading thin and taking on much more than I can chew. I found myself constantly procrastinating as well and at the same time spent many late nights trying to catch up.

Staying focus in is definitely my goal. Thank you again for the reminder and your wonderful perspective.
Reply
kdforsman Premium
Glad it was useful - please don't spread yourself too thin - I have a bad habit of doing this and it never ends well!
Reply
Hollshope Premium
Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m writing consistent content for four sites - one is an affiliate site, two are for businesses I’ve had for years but I wasn’t blogging, and one is a niche site. Maybe I need to rethink what I’m doing. Great post.
Reply
kdforsman Premium
Hiya, yes it's hard though! I couldn't bear the thought of letting any of my sites go... they are all my babies!! Best wishes, Karen
Reply
Hollshope Premium
I feel the same way. We love our sites.
Reply
Kev-dogg Premium
So much of what you said rang very true for me. I also am working multiple sites right out of the gate and it is quite challenging. Little wins keep me going but I also realize if I was focused on just one, I would be making more money overall right now.

Thanks for this.

Kevin
Reply
kdforsman Premium
Hi Kevin... Focus and perseverance are key I thinks!
Reply
newlive Premium
Hi kdforsman, Thank you for the review of your year, puts things in perspective. I know it would be difficult to look after 6 websites,..I do not know how you managed on your own....

Did you have any traffic analysis to compare with your income graph?

I was just wondering about your traffic? did you rely entirely on organic traffic or did you buy any traffic at all?

Did you consider getting someone else to write your articles ? to cut down on stress and the load on your time.

sorry..lol for all the questions, You have done remarkably for the year congratulations to you, I hope to be here in a years time....as well!...wishing you well KDforsman
Reply
kdforsman Premium
Hi there, thanks for reading. Yes I do have some traffic analysis, I'll do a post about that soon. I'm starting to see an increase in organic traffic but it's been slow going. No, I haven't outsourced any of the content writing yet... Cheers, Karen
Reply
newlive Premium
Hi Karen, you are doing well, many would have dropped off by now. 12 months to stick around and still be enthusiastic is amazing, I wish you well, I have just been here for 3 months now and I am still learning and testing and experimenting so I have a long way to go yet. Thank you for sharing your journey.
Reply
davehayes Premium
Karen, excellent post, great results and thanks for sharing, very inspirational.
Reply
kdforsman Premium
Hi Dave, I don't know about inspirational but thanks! I wrote it more as a way of holding myself accountable for the work I have done and the goals I need to set for the next year :) Best wishes, Karen
Reply
GlenPalo Premium
Karen, I am glad to see evaluating your progress and identifying the need to change. I don't think enough people plan, set goals, evaluate performance, and make changes.
Reply
kdforsman Premium
Absolutely!
Reply
YumaBloggers Premium
You and I have Magpie in common. I too am a collector of domains and have held back my income recovery by focusing attention on too many projects so I gave up all but 3 of which one I am restructuring, one I am putting on hold for 3-6 months and the other will be my flagship site in the elite affiliate marketer niche.

What I found with a whopping 9 sites rolling and no team like I had with our search engine and social media hybrid was that I was earning small amounts all over but nothing great as a cumulative effort. What's more is each site was lucky to get 1-2 post a month because the membership site and advertising program took so much time away from blogging.

Get your schedule down to what is important like I did and the stress will drop immensely. I myself am getting on track to resume blogging after a couple personal matters ate up most of a month but my focus is achievable results.

Thanks for a great post,

Andy Zeus Anderson
Reply
kdforsman Premium
Wow... sounds like you have your hands full as well!!
Reply
Lindann53 Premium
HI Karen..... yes what a journey you have been on over these past 12months,
thank you for sharing the lessons you have experienced and the knowledge you have gained..... I've only just joined today so your post has been inspirational to me.
I so look forward to learning and viewing over the coming months as well.

best wishes, Linda
Reply
kdforsman Premium
Thanks for reading Linda :)
Reply
laparra1 Premium
Good Morning Karen,

That is really amazing! what you are able to do in such a short time and with so many websites, makes me dizzy just to think about it. I personally find it difficult to keep up with 2 sites. Happy for you that your hard work resulted in more bookings and also money saving, well done.

Greetings from the south of Spain, Taetske
Reply
kdforsman Premium
Thank you Taetske
Reply
BSurla Premium
I am learning from this. You are right. I should have focus on one website. I actually have two, and i am having a hard time. I have a busy normal life. There were times last month that i wanna give up. Hopefully everything will be fine for me.

Thanks for sharing this to motivate me.

Bien
Reply
kdforsman Premium
You are most welcome!
Reply
MKearns Premium
You look like you have the passion, Karen. That's all that's necessary!
Reply
kdforsman Premium
Thanks!
Reply
Apoorva7 Premium
Very inspiring article for newcomers. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Wish you great success in coming future!
Reply
kdforsman Premium
Thank you!!
Reply
Kerjackie Premium
Hi, Karen, by reading the journey you achieved, a year later, You have been through a lot of learning process and experienced up and down, you have a goal set up to follow, a great performance you are showing, keep going, you are on the right direction.
Congratulation for your hard work.
Jacqueline
Reply
kdforsman Premium
Thanks! It’s taken me the first year to get really clear about my goals ....
Reply
SachiKashi Premium
Thanks for sharing your experience - it really helps this newbie to keep working on not get so discouraged. I'm giving myself a year to "get this going". Blessings to you and happy you're happy with the results to date. I love the interaction with WA and love how much I've learned so far.
Reply
kdforsman Premium
Thanks for reading. It does take time to see the results. Cheers kaz
Reply