Sorry Kyle and Carson, But I'm VERY Disappointed With WA.
I signed up to Wealthy Affiliate on August 6th and upgraded to Premium a day later.
I had high hopes for the program, given that it’s been around for so long and boasts 1.5 million members, making it (presumably) the most popular affiliate marketing course in the world.
In the 2.5 weeks since joining, I’ve spent 40+ hours going through all 120 core training lessons and a significant amount of the other material in WA.
Along the way I’ve taken over 300 pages of notes. (I know, I’m weird.)
The deeper I’ve gone, the more disappointed and frustrated I’ve become.
As a result, if someone asked me today if they should join WA, I’d have to say absolutely not.
I’ll tell you how I got there in a minute, but first…
I’m sure some folks reading this will write me off as a hater or naysayer, but I believe my intentions for writing this are honorable.
Mainly, I’m hoping to make things better.
I’ll soon be canceling my Premium membership and moving on from WA, but I’m aware that ~5000 new people sign up to this platform each week.
Hundreds of them become paying members.
And I’d like those people – as well as current WA members, of course – to receive much better training than what’s currently available inside WA.
Because the training I see within WA today leaves a lot to be desired, and IMO it’s highly unlikely to produce successful affiliate marketers in 2019.
So hopefully Kyle and Carson will read this and start making some big improvements around here.
Airing my grievances publicly should make the list of complaints below harder to ignore.
It also gives you and others in the community an opportunity to chime in.
One of the things I like most about WA is that members are allowed to voice complaints openly.
This is me voicing mine, and I welcome you to voice yours in the comments.
Whether you agree with me or not.
Allow me to introduce myself
- My name is Niall and I’m from Ireland.
- I’ve been building websites for 20 years.
- I quit my last “real job” in 2010 and have been working online and traveling the world ever since (50+ countries, currently living in Bali).
- Since 2010 I’ve mostly earned a living from freelance web design, but also from blogging, ebooks, online courses, and advertising.
- Over the last 20 months I’ve spent more than $20,000 on conferences, coaching and courses related to online business.
Last December, I decided to focus on affiliate marketing.
Here are my affiliate earnings since:
As you can see, my earnings are trending in the right direction.
But Wealthy Affiliate hasn’t had anything to do with that.
7 Big Problems With Wealthy Affiliate
I’ll be publishing a more detailed review of WA on my own site next week, so I’ll try to keep this short.
1. Outdated Training
I’ve gone through all 120 lessons in the core training (Online Entrepreneur Certification + Affiliate Bootcamp).
Most of the videos I’ve seen in there date from 2015-2016.
Some date from as early as 2012.
Much of the text accompanying those videos clearly hasn’t been updated for years either (despite what the “last updated” dates say).
This wouldn’t be an issue, except we’re talking about affiliate marketing here.
This industry evolves FAST!
What worked in 2016 isn’t nearly as effective today.
To give but one example, there are 10 whole lessons in the Affiliate Bootcamp devoted to Bing and Yahoo PPC.
Those lessons come BEFORE any training on Google PPC, with the justification that “Yahoo and Bing still get around 33% of search traffic online.”
No, they don’t.
As per statcounter.com, Google has held a ~90% market share since as far back as 2009.
No affiliate marketer in their right mind would focus on Bing and Yahoo ahead of Google nowadays.
Furthermore, the core training in WA seems to get more outdated the deeper you go.
Only the free training appears any way recent.
(I have a theory as to why that might be, but it’s probably better left unsaid!)
2. Outdated Credibility
Kyle reveals three of his affiliate sites throughout the WA training.
I checked them all on Ahrefs this month.
The numbers do not look good in 2019.
Here’s the “best” one:
As you can see, that site has been in free fall since 2017.
Kyle was adding content up until March 2018, long after the free fall had begun.
Now the site receives only 54 visitors from Google each month.
Is it too much to ask for an example site in the core training that’s actually thriving in 2019?
Kyle does mention Jay’s Football Snack Helmets site in the free training.
But that one doesn’t look very impressive in Ahrefs either, with an estimated 367 visitors from Google each month:
I’ve seen a screenshot showing more than $1000 in earnings for that site right before the 2016 Super Bowl.
But nothing more recent than that.
I asked Jay via private message, respectfully, if he could share more up-to-date screenshots of his earnings from that site.
Jay did respond, but let’s just say it was not a positive response.
Come on guys!
You are the lead trainers in WA!
How are we supposed to take your training seriously if all you’re showing us are earnings screenshots from 3+ years ago??
This wouldn't matter much if lots of WA students were still getting good results in 2019.
But I'm not seeing it.
I went through all 51 examples listed under "Making Money Online!" and took notes.
- 41 individuals.
- 8 reported what I'd classify as great results.
- 25 reported decent results, or didn't provide enough info to determine their level of success, or were reporting earnings from something other than affiliate marketing.
- 8 reported what I'd classify as poor results (usually very small earnings after many years of trying).
Maybe it’s just me, but with more than 600 people signing up for Premium each week, if the WA training was truly still effective, I'd expect to see way more than 8 people achieving great results in 2019.
3. Misleading Claims
I’ll limit myself to just three examples here.
First, from the free training:
- “It is going to take less than 30 seconds to get a fully operational, profit ready Wordpress website up and running online.”
I’ll let another WA member respond to that (via the comments here):
Second, from Kyle’s Diamond Traffic Program:
- “Wealthy Affiliate members have always noticed notable "boosts" in rankings and traffic with every Google update.”
It’s not hard to find WA members reporting otherwise:
- Anyone recovering from the June Google Update?
- Getting Back on Track After Google Update
- June Google SEO Update, Dust Has Settled And It Could Have Been Worse
And third, this gem from the free training:
- “With what we have already given you, you could easily scale a campaign to make over $1 MILLION per year...in fact, if you put your effort into just one of these target audiences, you could likely make that with just one.”
4. Bad Advice
Limiting myself to three examples here, too.
First, from the free training:
- “There is NO SUCH THING as choosing the wrong niche.”
I’ve seen a variation of this mentioned several times throughout the core WA training.
Of course, there IS such a thing as choosing the wrong niche.
Search within WA and you’ll see that many members have found that out the hard way…
- List the price in your Amazon reviews
When I checked earlier this week – more than 4 months AFTER MoneyMech’s blog post – the training still hadn’t been updated.
Which means new Premium members are still being taught to list prices in their Amazon reviews, and risk getting banned by Amazon as a result.
- Manually backup your WordPress site every week
This is advised in Phase 2, Lesson 6 of the Affiliate Bootcamp:
Don’t do this.
There are free WordPress plugins you can use to automate your website backups, and there have been for years.
(I use the free version of UpdraftPlus.)
5. Missing Crucial Info
Going through all 120 core training lessons in WA, I noticed that there was no – or in some cases, grossly insufficient – training on the following topics:
- Building backlinks
- Affiliate disclosures
- Google Adsense
- Alternatives to Google Adsense
- Updating content
- External linking to authority sites
- Citing sources
- Outsourcing content
- Schema markup
- Featured snippets
- Video (no training in OEC series)
- YouTube SEO
- Alternatives to Jaaxy
- Which sources of traffic are best and why
- Email marketing
- WordPress page builders
To be clear: most of these topics are addressed – with varying levels of proficiency – within Wealthy Affiliate.
The issue is that they are not addressed within the core WA training material!
And many of them are absolutely crucial to affiliate marketing success.
- Not having an affiliate disclosure can get you in trouble with the FTC
- Dofollowing all your affiliate links can get your site penalized by Google
- Regularly updating your content can have a significant impact on rankings
These are big, important things you might never know as a member of WA.
6. Poorly Organized
Within the core WA training, lessons often appear scattered, disjointed, and repetitive.
I get the distinct impression that the entire course was not planned out in advance, but rather pieced together haphazardly over the years.
- It’s not until the 46th lesson of the OEC that you receive instructions on how to plan out an article before you start writing it. Which wouldn’t be so bad, if you hadn’t already been advised to write 20+ articles throughout the previous 45 lessons!
- In Level 3, Lesson 7 of the OEC you’re advised to set up a Google Adsense account. Then, in the very next lesson, you’re told that actually Google Adsense is a waste of time and you should focus your efforts on affiliate marketing instead.
- Level 4, Lesson 9 of the Affiliate Bootcamp is about creating your own videos. Five lessons later, the same topic is covered again as if for the first time.
7. Broken Ranking System
The community here in WA is great in many ways, but I’ve been amazed at how much time and effort some members seem to devote to writing comments and blog posts that add very little value.
For example, I received 18 welcome messages from other members when I upgraded to Premium, the majority of which seemed very generic, as if copied and pasted from a template.
And I’ve seen countless more comments throughout WA that felt like a complete waste of time.
Someone might post a question, for example, and get a response like this:
- “I don’t know the answer but hopefully someone else does! Good luck!”
This baffled me for a while, but then I learned about the Wealthy Affiliate ranking system.
If you’re not familiar, all WA members are ranked according to their contributions to the WA community (details here), and the top 25 are referred to as “ambassadors.”
This explains why you see so many people posting so many generic messages and comments within WA: everyone’s trying to improve their ranking!
But here’s the thing:
It’s entirely possible to achieve a high ranking in Wealthy Affiliate... and still suck at affiliate marketing!
I’ve gone through the leaderboard and found several examples of folks ranking in the top 50 while simultaneously reporting that they’re struggling to earn money from affiliate sites they’ve been working on for years!
This is madness.
Presumably the WA ranking system was intended to get more members contributing thoughtful content and helpful comments.
But mostly it just serves as a distraction.
Many folks seem to be so caught up in improving their WA ranking that they’re devoting little time to building successful affiliate sites.
To summarize, the 7 big problems I see with Wealthy Affiliate are:
- Outdated Training
- Outdated Credibility
- Misleading Claims
- Bad Advice
- Missing Crucial Info
- Poorly Organized
- Broken Ranking System
All of these issues are especially inexcusable for 2 reasons
I think it’s safe to say that Wealthy Affiliate is the most popular affiliate marketing course in the world.
More than 1.5 million members to date.
And by my calculations – based on numbers I’ve seen inside WA – another 750 or so sign up for a free account every single day.
That’s a lot of people who rely on the WA training to build a successful online business.
And I’m sorry, but I believe that training is failing those people miserably.
About 90 of those 750 daily new members eventually upgrade to Premium.
By my calculations – again, all based on numbers I’ve seen inside WA – each paying member is worth about $300.
Multiply 90 x 300 x 365 and you get a very big number.
That’s approximately how much revenue WA is now generating per year.
(Probably an underestimation, actually.)
Granted, WA surely has some big expenses – their hosting costs must be astronomical, for one thing.
But unless my calculations are way off, there should still be plenty of money available to hire a small team of professionals to resolve all the issues outlined above.
Find some people who are earning $5k/month consistently from their own affiliate sites – 2019 screenshots only please! – and pay them another $5k/month each to nurse WA back to health.
Because it sounds like WA was once a great place to learn affiliate marketing.
Unfortunately, in 2019, that’s no longer the case.
Kyle and Carson, you seem like good people.
Please make this right.
The WA community deserves better.