12 months at WA. Worth it?
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?
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...
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,
ps. please leave me a comment below and let me know what you think... would love to hear from you!!