Wealthy Affiliate is a popular affiliate marketing training program which supposedly takes you through all the ins and outs of the industry, helping you achieve internet success all from the comfort of your own home.
Does that sound too good to be true to you too?
I thought it did, which is why I decided to review the course on IBuyIReview.
In this Wealthy Affiliate review, you’ll learn everything about Wealthy Affiliate, from an in-depth walkthrough of each module, to more about the owners, the business model, and even some legal dirt that I happened to scout out about Kyle, the course owner, when researching the training course.
Is WA a scam or a legitimate program?
Let’s find out…
Wealthy Affiliate Review - Get Marketing Training for Affiliates
Wealthy Affiliate is a program that is geared towards helping you earn money through affiliate marketing. (1) If you’ve ever dreamed about becoming a digital nomad or working remotely from anywhere in the world, then affiliate marketing is a popular method to doing this.
It works, so long as you put in the effort and stay up-to-date with the most recent trends and techniques.
Table of Contents
When you first dive into the course, you’ll receive a welcome email that helps guide you through the platform. This welcome email is standard that any student receives, but it is helpful in showing you around if you don’t have a lot of free time, or if you’re not one to self-guide yourself through a new platform.
I found it helpful, and I think you would too.
At least, until I started actually going through the material.
First, the platform itself looks like a social media site from 2010. There are lots of icons and colors that might distract you from anything you’re looking at, including a notification icon, and you can also write posts and customize your site experience.
It’s a great user experience feature, I’ll give it that, but it wasn’t until I started going through the material that I realized just how dated the entire platform was. A lot of the course material has been abandoned, and you can’t get to it unless you click the training icon in the forum.
To me, this makes it seem like they’re almost trying to hide their course material. The community forum seems to be the biggest draw of this training so far. If they were focused on their training, it should be front and center, easily accessible from the homepage, rather than hidden in an array of other colorful icons, and perhaps even the main landing page for new students.
After all, this set up is just asking for a lot of questions from new students who are confused and haven’t completely gone through the training. Even while you are watching the training, your notifications continue to pop up, distracting you from the course material.
If you’re like me, when you’re studying, you don’t need a constant distraction keeping you from taking notes and learning the material. I think this was probably the largest detractor when I was going through the course.
Still, every course is bound to have its drawbacks, so its only fair to continue going through the material and provide you with the full overview before I really get into the nitty-gritty, right?
The Full Wealthy Affiliate Course from the Inside Out:
The course offers a lot of great information to students who are looking for a philosophy in affiliate marketing, however, it’s important to keep in mind that they also have an affiliate program, so a lot of the positive reviews you see will be from students who are also selling the program for a kickback.
Now, just because there’s an affiliate program doesn’t mean that their reviews are faked, which is why I want to go through the actual course material with you.
If you see the inside of the course, you will be better equipped to make your own decision about whether it’s the right choice for you.
I have seen students make their money back, making the same amount or more than what they put into the subscription fee in affiliate commissions, but I have yet to see a student raking in 6 figures or more based on the techniques taught in the course.
(The Owner of Wealthy Affiliate) Who Is Kyle Loudon?
Kyle Loudon is the creator of the Wealthy Affiliate program. Kyle claims to have originally gotten his start in affiliate marketing in 2003. He has a love of traveling and found out at the turn of the century that he was fairly tech savvy.
He decided to help some people out here and there, started a blog, starting trying to monetize it, the story is the same for basically every internet guru out there who was online back in 2000.
Kyle is the face of WA and helps keep the forum active, moderated, and has recorded a lot of the training videos. Kyle is also an active writer, having never truly given up on his blogging days, and writes course reviews on other websites outside of Wealthy Affiliate.
After coming up with the idea for WA, including a keyword research tool called Jaaxy he wanted to offer to potential students, he made a deal with a man named Carson Lim who would wind up being his partner in Wealthy Affiliate.
Carson Lim handles a lot of backend development and technical issues to keep Kyle in the spotlight. Sometimes, partnerships just work out well like that.
Overall, Kyle sounds like a decent guy, and he has kept his course running since 2003, so he must be doing something right.
Who Is The Wealthy Affiliate Course For?
If you have recently considered working remotely, or if your employer has requested that you continue to work remotely, then you might also be in the market for a side hustle to make some extra cash in just a few months. (2) While there is a lot of good information in this course for you, it might not give you a fully updated look at the current design trends and features.
If you are looking to make a living online, the program definitely offers a lot of valuable information, however, the affiliate marketing model is one that inherently has a lot of drawbacks.
Amazon, for example, cut its affiliate commissions in half without warning in 2019, causing a lot of affiliate websites to stumble, and many affiliate marketers to quit the industry as it was no longer profitable enough to justify the amount of work that goes into making a good and trustworthy affiliate website.
Step 1: Getting Started
The first module, or level, is focused on foundational skills such as getting your profile set up in the community, navigating the platform, and learning the benefits of upgrading to a premium account. The total course time here is around 3 hours of videos to watch through in total. The screenshot above is one of the best examples of how the training lesson is laid out.
There are four steps to this level. In the first step, you’ll choose and interest. Next, you’ll learn how to build a website. Then, learn how to attract visitors, and finally, profit.
I found this to be a solid foundational setup. They go through the right steps, such as teaching you how to build and optimize your website, create your money goals, research your keywords, and write engaging website content.
Personally, I wasn’t a fan of being pitched on their premium services right in the first module, but it has some benefits to it as well. If their course material was still kept up-to-date, I would consider keeping the subscription around just to poke in and stay in touch with the community.
Unfortunately, between that and my lack of love for how volatile the affiliate marketing business model can be, I’m sticking with a safer bet.
Step 2: Getting Traffic
The second course is all about getting traffic to your new website. This is the main section where the courage material shows its age. For example, you’ll learn how to increase your productivity and produce more blog posts. It will take you a little under two and a half hours to complete these videos.
Unfortunately, today’s algorithm is based largely on user intent, and this has caused a shift in the way Google ranks websites. Now, pages (not whole domains) with a higher trust and relevancy to the user’s query is ranked, and user metrics are carefully measured. This means that quality content now consistently outranks quantity.
I forgot to mention one big detail, too: in this level, they also show you how to sell the Wealthy Affiliate course. Yes, that’s right, the course by affiliate marketers has an affiliate program – but I personally find it very odd to promote this in the second-ever module.
If they waited until the later half of the course at least, I could understand; or even a bonus level. You can mention the fact that students can sell the training, but its in this module that the program starts to smell a little bit more like an MLM company run by affiliate marketers.
While this is not a product that students strictly need to sell, it is still a product that can be advertised to unsuspecting wannabe affiliate marketers, and students are given little choice if they start working on the training blind.
If you ask me, advertising via student lead generation is a smart way to incentivize members to sell a product for you. For it not to be considered an MLM product, WA would need to add it as a feature of their bonus levels, rather than placing it in the training before other content.
What do I mean by that? This is played off as a part of the training material. They’re trying to teach you affiliate marketing, but you can’t move forward unless you have an affiliate product, right?
Step 3: Generating Your Income
The basics of this level: now that you have some traffic coming to your website, it’s time to learn how to start promoting your affiliate programs via memberships with different programs
In this module, you will learn about the customer lifecycle, how to locate affiliate offers, add links to your blog, learn about displaying image ads on your website, and last but my least favorite: learning how to promote Amazon products.
If you know anything about me, then you know I have a strong dislike of promoting Amazon products as they give you a sparse commission for too much work, and they’ve been known to cut commissions by a significant chunk with very little notice, hamstringing a lot of affiliate sites in the past. Essentially, you’re playing somebody else’s ballgame where they get to choose the rules.
These videos will take about an hour and a half to complete, but that doesn’t account for any pausing and taking notes. I feel like this should have come before the module on generating traffic, because until you know what kind of affiliate commissions you will be working with, you won’t know whether a niche is profitable or not.
Likewise, what would your website be about? These steps are reversed, and if you are planning to go through the course, I would recommend watching all of the modules all the way through to get a basic understanding of the material and tips included before you take any action, vs going through it blind.
Step 4: Leveraging Social Media
I cringed inwardly when I saw this module, then I realized that I have indeed been around too many MLMs in the past. Luckily, this module is not asking you to leverage your personal social media, but to leverage a business account that you create for your blog.
You’ll learn how to utilize Facebook, find trending Twitter topics, manage your blog comments and share blog posts to social media.
The other half of the module will be, again, focused on the WA community, teaching you how to utilize their community platform; something that may have been beneficial to include in the foundational module instead.
This section shows its age as well, as blog comments are no longer an effective strategy in helping rank your website, and Google Plus is now a defunct social media platform that is no longer accessible. Thankfully, these videos only take you about an hour to go through completely.
I would argue that, for the sake of simplicity in marketing channels, most of your traffic should ideally come from organic search or Google ads, but that’s only because I’ve seen Google ads work wonders.
Level 5: Improving Your Content Writing
This section is focused on content writing, and rightfully so. Content is one of the most important aspects of ranking an affiliate marketers site and engaging users. If you don’t have good sales copy, your users are unlikely to convert or even stay on the website.
Some of the training material in this level becomes repetitive, and it begins to show its age again with several recommendations that are no longer good strategies for content curation, such as planning a year’s worth of content in advance.
One or two months in advance is the most I plan my content out. Any further out, and you can no longer plan around trends. What would you do if you got five months out, and your new review series deals with a company that has since gone out of business? Times change quickly! This section will take you a little over two hours to complete.
The bonus levels provide more information about WA’s affiliate program. In a way, this section goes more in-depth into good sales funnel strategies than the rest of the modules, which makes sense since they are actively profiting from good advice here.
It is in this section that they also advise utilizing PPC campaigns, or paid ads.
Hang On... Is The Wealthy Affiliate a Pyramid Scheme or MLM Scam?
There are a lot of people online claiming that Wealthy Affiliate is a pyramid scheme or MLM company in disguise as training for affiliate marketers. At first glance, Wealthy Affiliate looks like an MLM that uses affiliate marketing as its main strategy for success.
Of course, if you ask any member of the WA program, they’ll be quick to inform you that there is no way that WA is an MLM or pyramid scheme because you’re not as restricted on how you can make money, and they don’t require you to recruit people. Instead, they “invite” people.
That’s… an MLM company, though.
Just because you change the terminology doesn’t mean that the method is any less true.
The WA program really skirts the line for a lot of people, so if you don’t like MLMs, I wouldn’t suggest purchasing the course. If you ask me, WA definitely counts as a MLM despite many students’ claims to the contrary.
A few technicalities keep it from being classified as an MLM or pyramid scheme, but that really just means that it’s a hybrid business model that fits somewhere in between these different business models.
Naturally, this is a confusing space because MLMs and pyramid schemes are confusing by themselves. Add a hybrid business model to the mix and you’re asking for a lot of confusion on behalf of both dedicated students and reviewers who only purchased the course to poke around on the inside.
Of course, no one wants to be told that they’re in a pyramid scheme, or an advocate of an MLM, especially with all of the bad rep these companies get nowadays. Once you consider that, it makes sense why the claims to an MLM would be so adamantly refuted by course students.
Fortunately, it can’t be called a pyramid scheme because it doesn’t quite fit the FTC regulations of a pyramid scheme. (3)
If you notice, even though it cannot be called a pyramid scheme, everyone who is a devoted student will refute any claim of it being an MLM, but anyone looking in from the outside, not truly identifying as a WA student, they’ll be the first to tell you that it is a hybrid model or MLM.
Is Wealthy Affiliate Legit?
If this Wealthy Affiliate review should tell you anything, it’s that the Wealthy Affiliate program is a legitimate program that has nuggets of sound advice. If you were taking this course a few years ago, it would have been the perfect course to get you started in affiliate marketing.
Some of the advice has only been a few months out of date, so there is a chance they will update it in upcoming months with new features, if it is updated at all.
The course is well thought out, the forum-style platform is a good idea, and the training itself tries to take you from the very beginning of conceptualizing your affiliate marketers business, all the way to choosing your niche, writing your content, and getting traffic to your website. The training also gives you a good philosophy when thinking about affiliate marketing.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t aged well, and I wouldn’t be able to say that it’s spot on for a lot of current practices, and perhaps it’s the way other websites have evolved, but the UI seems too distracting, where it might not have been a few years ago.
There are still some nuggets of sound advice within the program, however, such as only utilizing one o two call to actions within a funnel. That advice stands true even today where many users will exit a website if they feel overwhelmed visually.
You’ll get a lot of great direction about how to think about affiliate marketing funnels but be wary about any design and color advice given when building the funnels. Design is one of those things that moves almost as fast as technology with constant updates as we learn more about human psychology and test out new ideas.
Overall, the program is legitimate and it might be worth the purchase if you are adamant about pursuing affiliate marketing, but the truth is that there are much better ways to make money online.
If you are interested in learning about how I make money online, then I have a great alternative business model for you to check out at the bottom of this article.
Can You Really Make Money With Wealthy Affiliate?
If you have a foundation in affiliate marketing when you go into the Wealthy Affiliate program, I can see it having a lot of potential to make revenue. If you don’t you’re going to come to a rude awakening when you’re lost in a sea of outdated information.
There are so many reasons why you might want this course to work.
Maybe you are looking for a way to make some extra pocket change, or completely replace your income so you can work remotely. (4) There are so many benefits to working from home that it is rising in popularity with every year. Productivity levels are higher, overall happiness is higher, and stress is down based on commuting to the office every day.
But you need to make sure that the work you have lined up remotely can sustain your current needs.
In the WA program, it looks promising at the start. A lot of the community is helpful, if you are able to sift through the questions from beginning students who are just as confused as you.
Of course, any training course with a community of students that allows free reign of the forum will get bombarded with questions, so I can’t say that is a drawback specific to the WA program.
For most people, it feels easier to ask a question in a form and have people tell you the answer, rather than go back through the training material to find the answer they are looking for.
Personally, I think the WA program has a lot of great principles for somebody who is already familiar with the business model, but it needs to be updated with new features and training before any new students could reliably make a livable income off of the program.
Lawsuit Between Wealthy Affiliate and MOBE
Chances are, if you’ve done any digging, then you know that MOBE handed Wealthy Affiliate a lawsuit because of an article written by the main man Kyle in 2014.
This lawsuit happened days before Christmas in 2015. The article in question was titled “My Online Business Empire – Another Obvious Scam” where the author gave his personal opinion about what he claimed were the course’s many drawbacks.
Kyle insisted that these drawbacks were made with careful analysis and assessment to provide with a clear picture of the program.
MOBE., ltd, short for My Online Business Education was a competing business in the same space as WA. The lawsuit was served to Kyle Loudon as an attempt to get him to take down the article, as they claimed that the negative press kept many people from purchasing their program.
Unfortunately, this is the way things are in this generation of online marketing, and this very well could have impacted their business by turning away a lead. Of course, they were in the right to pursue legal action, but in the end, Wealthy Affiliate prevailed, and the article was left up for the world to see.
According to an update in Kyle’s article, and further backed up by documents from the Federal Trade Commission, MOBE. Ltd., was later served a federal injunction for fraudulent activity. The case was last updated in 2018.
This injunction could have affected how Kyle won the lawsuit against his article, but there’s no evidence that it did play any significant role.
A lot of reviewers will jump on this lawsuit as a way to bash Wealthy Affiliate, and looking at the facts, I don’t see any reason why this should affect your opinion of the company either way.
Just because a company is served a lawsuit doesn’t mean that it had anything to do with their course material or claims. It sounds bad on paper, and apparently that’s enough for a lot of people to call it a scam in their headlines.
While my Wealthy Affiliate review isn’t exactly positive, I can’t call it a scam. On the same token, I can’t recommend the Wealthy Affiliate program unless they make some significant improvements to their course material; namely updating it so that it’s more recent than 2017.
I would be worried that some browsers would not be able to play the core training, but luckily, they don’t run the membership on Flash player.
Each lesson has its nuggets of information and key tips that are valuable, and if you want to get started with core SEO training techniques in a few months, it is something I could see being useful.
Bottom Line: There's Better Alternatives for You
If you’ve followed me this far, then you know that I’ve got a better alternative for you than this program.
This training is more than a program, and it doesn’t require you to recruit – or, in the words of a WA student, “invite” – any of your friends and family into the program for success.
It’s a real, legitimate business model that doesn’t need any fake reviews or forced testimonials to show any social proof. The proof will come once you finish the course material and land your client – you’ll be surprised at how quickly clients come once you get the techniques right.
Best of all, they don’t make you guess at any step – everything, right down to a done-for-you funnel is already provided as a part of the training.
If you do get stuck, they have a thriving community that is still growing and active years later where the owners of the course personally host livestreams weekly to ensure all of their students are seeing the kind of success they need for their personal goals.
Well, you have to work at it, like any other legitimate business.
If you’re willing to do that, then this course will help you achieve your financial goals. In fact, its how I made most of my money, despite buying, trying, and reviewing hundreds of courses over my time writing for this blog!
- Anjali Sareen, How to Make Money While Traveling The World, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/how-to-make-money-while-t_b_10745248
- Matthew Haag, Remote Work Is Here to Stay, Manhattan May Never Be the Same, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/29/nyregion/remote-work-coronavirus-pandemic.html
- Federal Trade Commission, Multi-Level Marketing Businesses and Pyramid Schemes, https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0065-multi-level-marketing-businesses-and-pyramid-schemes
- Jeffery Hartman, The Benefits of Transitioning to Remote Work Permanently, https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesfinancecouncil/2020/05/28/the-benefits-of-transitioning-to-remote-work-permanently/?sh=56e79e5b28bb