6 years Later & Why I Owe Most of My Success to Wealthy Affiliate

Last Update: May 03, 2018

Hey everyone,

Dev here. I wanted to take a moment and discuss why I truly feel I owe where I am in lfie right now to Wealthy Affiliate- from making money online to establishing a full time career. However before I can do that I need to provide a little bit of context.

I started college in 2010. After scouring through colleges trying to find "the right one" I finally had.

When I applied my junior year in high school I received a "temporary rejection" in that if I continued to apply as a Graphic Design major, I wouldn't get in as my portfolio didn't stack up.

However, if I applied undeclared as a senior in high school, I would get in. So I went in undeclared and transferred to a tech school with a design program for my senior year in order to build my portfolio.

Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time...

If only I knew how big of a mistake this was.

From my freshman to junior year I had worked my tail off and had a 3.7 GPA. My grades weren't perfect, I was no valedictorian - but they were good. Probably good enough for scholarships.

When you transfer high schools you are starting from scratch. You lose your GPA. So i could say goodbye to any possible academic scholarships.

In my mind, if my grades weren't good enough to get into the Design program on their own it didn't really matter if I started over.

Oh young, naive self... Damn you.

After a semester as an "Undeclared" at my college, I transferred to their design program.

I should mention that one of the main reasons I was pushing hard for scholarships (and yes I applied to ALL the 3rd party scholarship programs too) was because the school I was attending cost roughly $43,000 a year.

Money, money, money...

Well after lots of hard work and begging the college president in person I did it. I got a scholarship. For a grand total of $2,000/yr.

Yay.

Now, on the hook for about $41,000 per year, I had a choice to make. Do I transfer out of this school and try my hand somewhere more affordable, or do I stay at this dream school and keep grinding my way through?

I think you all can guess what young, stupid me decided.

I had met my girlfriend, I was in love, I lived in a gorgeous area. I had to find a way to make it work.

My college savings was burned after the first year and a half or so. That left me with about 2 1/2 years at 41K per year to figure out.

So do you know what I did?

LOANS!

Oh, the student loans...

Somehow, my school neglected to teach us what student loan repayment looks like. Which would be pretty nice for a school that puts their students into so much debt.

Are You Ready For the Fun Part? Cuz Here Comes the Fun Part

By my junior year... I knew I didn't want to get a job in design once I graduated.

The design program at my school prepared you for life as a Junior Designer, which is generally just layout design for brochures, pamphlets and the like.

Going into school I was great at surreal art and photoshopping cool designs. Unfortunately this isn't a super relevant part of design so, as far as real graphic design went - I sucked.

Additionally, the school I went to also didn't have your typical General Education classes. They had a proprietary set of classes that taught similar things to GenEd but they were just different enough where if you were to transfer to a new school - they wouldn't count as credits for those normal GenEd classes.

So here I am, a Junior in college already knowing I don't want to work in my major's field upon graduation and sitting on a pile of student loan debt. If i transferred schools I would likely be a sophomore due to credit transfer issues and that just meant even more debt.

What Did I Do?

I began getting creative. I knew there had to be a better way to make money than just working a part time job. Really, I was trying to lessen the blow of my student loans and generate a better income while in college.

I jumped from idea to idea. Mowing lawns, tutoring, online freelancing, you name it. I scoured all those "101 ways to make money" lists you see everywhere. Nothing seemed to be working.

I tried flipping PLR ebooks on Fiverr. This made me some alright money but it was a ton of work and not a great payout.

I tried a bunch of "programs" with promises of online riches. Most of which don't exist anymore (figures).

Then, one day, I was introduced to Wealthy Affiliate by none other than our very own PotPieGirl.

Enter, EliteGuitarReviews

I hit the ground running in the Certification Courses, building up my first website Eliteguitarreviews.com. I stayed up late almost every night working on this site. I did so much custom work to it to get it just the way I wanted it.

Month after month I kept grinding away at this site, adding new posts almost every day. It was incredible watching the traffic slowly grow and to have this website I could say that I built. I made it into what it is.

There are few feelings of pride more gratifying than looking at something you've built and watching it succeed.

Isn't that the "American Dream" in a nutshell, anyway?

Plot Twist...

Anyway, about 11-12 months in I was working on my site, making some updates and starting to build a new site.

When I went to install wordpress onto my new domain for my new site..... I overwrote EliteGuitarReviews and everything was gone. All that work was gone. I had no backups, my web host had no backups. It was just simply gone,

That one mistake led to me being too afraid to sinatll Wordpress myself on new sites. I had my hosts do it for years. And they did it in the messiest way every time. They turned my website's backend file structure into a damn nightmare.

However, if there is one thing I learned from those 11 months of grinding, it's that you don't just throw in the towel over one setback. No matter how catastrophic is may be.

A New Site Was Born

I decided I wanted to make my niche slightly less narrow, and this was back when keyword rich domains meant something, so I started a new site: thebestguitarlessons.com.

It took notably less time this time around for the site to gain traction and start generating traffic, which was nice.

In just a few months it was earning me good money, getting 1st positions for medium competition keywords and everything was looking good.

I continued to update this site all the way throughout my Senior year in college.

When I graduated it was bringing me in a few hundred extra bucks every month. I wasn't raking in cash, but I was getting a comfortable amount of extra income every month.

Entering the Workforce

As mentioned earlier, I wanted nothing to do with design when I graduated. I figured this website I've built has to be good for something.

Turns out I was right. Right out of college I got a job as an SEM Specialist building out websites and PPC campaigns for a company promoting stock market investments and building email lists.

In a matter of 2 months I was Google AdWords Certified, a Google Partner and I had my own office. It was incredible.

Then I got laid off..

Turns out the company was a bit ambitious and grew too fast. They ended up laying off a bunch of us.

I was down, but not out.

I quickly jumped back online searching for jobs and managed to get an interview at one of the most sought-after companies to work for in my areafor an SEO Analyst position.

In my interview, I walked them through the website I had built through Wealthy Affiliate's training, answered a few quick questions and was out of there. All in all the interview maybe lasted 45 minutes. maybe.

Within an hour or two of that interview I got the call. I start in 2 weeks.

This was in 2014.

My training and work from Wealthy Affiliate earned me money in college and had gotten me 2 jobs.

Know what else? I'm still at that same company. I worked in the SEO department for 3 years before moving up to a new department that focuses on building our client's websites.

And guess what... I used Thebestguitarlessins.com in that interview too!

What Does This All Mean For You?

At the end of the day, you are learning real skills here at Wealthy Affiliate. You're not here to just learn how to "make money online", even if you think you are.

You are being taught a legitimate, employable skillset in a field called internet marketing. As the world we live in continues to go digital everything, there are only going to be more opportunities working in this field.

My Advice to You...

Never get discouraged.

Stick with the training here.

Post multiple times a week onyour website or here.

Ask questions.

Never stop learning.

And once you finish your training here, take your blinders off. By then you will have enough experience to know what you should be doing.

There are so many great resources out there for improving your internet marketing strategies. However concerning yourself with these sites too soon can lead you astray and distract you.

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CarolynCal1 Premium
Excellent advice and your story definitely look like mine in many ways. Deltas and dead end along the way but you always find your way out.
Wealthy affiliate is a gold mine of information. As you mentioned this community, unlike others, is still here improving and adding value.
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ThatGuyDev Premium
Hi Carolyn,
Couldn't agree more! Thanks for the comment. :)
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Stella2 Premium
Loved reading your story, Dev!

You've certainly got a stick-to-it attitude that is inspiring. And, it is a good testimony to the power of WA.

I see you worked in SEO. If I can pester you with a question. What is your take on LSI compared to just targeting a low-comp keyword? These days, does lengthy quality content rank well anyway even if it doesn't target a specific keyword? Because of more weight on LSI.

That might be clear as mud. Hope you can pick out what I'm asking. :-)

Stella
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ThatGuyDev Premium
Hey Stella,

I tend not to worry much about LSI. And aside from the main areas I add my target keyword I really think of my keyword as my topic rather than something to optimize my page for. If you write naturally and produce genuinely helpful quality content on a given topic, those LSIs will happen naturally anyway. And yes, lengthy quality content can rank well even if it doesn't have a specific keyword focus. As long as that content is focused on a specific topic and not just a bunch of ramblings Google will crawl the content and deem it relevant for various topics - just like if you DID have a specific keyword you optimized for. Hope that helps!
- Dev
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Stella2 Premium
Yes, thank you Dev for your perspective. It is helpful! :-)
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ThatGuyDev Premium
Glad I could help :)
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GiuliaB Premium
Deven, if you are not living proof that WA works, I don't know what can be. Really well done, mate!! A few months ago the government authority I work for was looking for somebody to maintain and update their website, and I toyed with the idea of applying for the post. Then I decided against it, as I deemed that, after only being here for nearly 3 years, I may not be ready for it. Lo and behold, they went on to giving the job to somebody else of course, and I was left in my current job... regretting not giving myself a chance. Because I know that the amount of stuff I have learned so far is immense. And, I am sure, I have barely scratched the learning surface!!

Giulia
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ThatGuyDev Premium
Hi Giulia,

Always take that chance! The worst that can happen is that they say no thank you, but you'll never know if you don't try!
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GiuliaB Premium
You are right Deven. I need to be less scaredy-cat :)
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Zarina Premium
Thank you for sharing your story, Dev! I like reading success stories from people who've been at WA longer than me :)
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ThatGuyDev Premium
Hi Zarina, happy to share!
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Kettei Premium
I really enjoyed reading your inspiring story, Dev.
It was well written and held my interest - I can see why your websites met with such success. You’re clearly a natural copy writer (or you’ve picked up mad skills along the way).
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ThatGuyDev Premium
Haha thanks for the kind words Phil! I definitely don't consider myself that skilled in writing but do appreciate the compliment!
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Robg1 Premium
Incredible story. Your level of determination is more than admirable. Great job!
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ThatGuyDev Premium
Thank you Rob!
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JSharif Premium
Great post. Thanks for sharing.
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ThatGuyDev Premium
Thank you for reading! :)
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MozMary Premium
Awesome! Very inspiring! :)
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ThatGuyDev Premium
Thanks Mary!
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SuzaMarie Premium
What a great post, Deven! Kudos to you to keep pushing forward!
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ThatGuyDev Premium
Thanks Suza!
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mission0ps Premium
Boom Shaka Laka Boom - awesome posts and just love your attitude and drive.
So true about what we learn here. It's far more than just *affiliate Marketing*
I an sooo going to use this to inspire others, especially my daughter who in always dipping in and out of her site.

Respect is due buddy.

I see big things coming your way.

T
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ThatGuyDev Premium
Hey T,
Thanks for the kind words and I do hope this post can serve to motivate and inspire many. I hope your daughter is able to find some inspiration out of it as well!
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RushingBee Premium
Yay, I love these stories! Thank you so much for sharing with us.

I have my own modest success story with WA. It helped me get my first online job as a blog editor with no prior experience. I would never have known how many opportunities are out there without the education provided here.

Sadly your story of struggle in the traditional school system is all too familiar. I just hope more people can begin to discover the benefits of an open education community like this one. The skills we are learning here are so valuable.

And the experience of actually being able to APPLY them in the real world as soon as we learn them, is more valuable than any four year degree available today.
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ThatGuyDev Premium
Hi, thanks for the comment! I agree it is far too common, which is why my latest WA site venture aims to teach college students how to build websites and earn money through affiliate marketing.
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RushingBee Premium
That is awesome!
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nathaniell Premium
This is an incredible story Deven, and I think in a few years, you'll have even more to add to it. It's a great example of how learning what WA teaches isn't just about building an affiliate website. You really can leverage these skills in multiple ways. SEO, writing, or even just how to install WordPress are things you can do to make money online.

Congrats man, and I hope to hear more about what you're doing in the future!
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ThatGuyDev Premium
Thanks Nathaniell!
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Kyle Premium
Amazing, thanks for sharing your story Deven. You never know where your journey is going to be taking you and believe it or not, your story is very similar to what others have done.

I know many folks here operating their online businesses, but also as a result of their understand of online business learned here (and taken action on) at WA, they are also able to get SEO and jobs within the online/affiliate/internet marketing realm without too much difficulty.

That is because you are accomplishing things here with the applied knowledge that you could never get in school, and you are also able to showcase what you are doing if you ever do decide to get an offline job in this space.

Not to mention, that you are going to have insights into the most current education online, and you are getting it from a wide breadth of expertise (millions of online entrepreneurs) versus a teacher in a Uni that isn't practicing what they preach...and more times than not are reading from a text book or an online document that they had no involvement in.

Amazing story Deven and it has been wonderful getting to know you over the years!
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ThatGuyDev Premium
Thanks, Kyle! I may not have come anywhere near hitting my income goals but if nothing else I've landed 2 careers and have 2 websites I am proud of. Thank you for creating such a wonderful resource and community. Hopefully I can add 300 more to that community this year and get to meet you in person. After 6 years of failed attempts, though, I have my doubts - but I'm still going to try damn it! haha
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Norman3J Premium
Thanks so much for sharing, Dev. I'm in this for the long haul no matter what. Thanks for the inspiration.

Cheers,

Norman
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ThatGuyDev Premium
Hey Norman,

I'm glad you found the post helpful. Best of luck to you and always feel free to reach out with questions along the way!
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wendyg53 Premium
What a great story. I'm so glad you found your niche. I'm trying to segue into a second career as a blogger. It's slow going around a full time, hectic teaching career, but your post inspires me to stick with it. Thank you.
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ThatGuyDev Premium
Hi Wendy! That's great - just stay patient and stick with it. It will come with a little bit of time and work :)
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wendyg53 Premium
Thanks, Deven I will. Your website is beautiful - I love the design and simplicity.
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ThatGuyDev Premium
Thank you!
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Loes Premium
Thank you for your story, I simply love your logo on the https://thebestguitarlessons.com/
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ThatGuyDev Premium
Thanks Loes!
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