I am a Premium Member of Wealthy Affiliate, and from my experience of the platform, I know how good or bad their system is. There are scores of other reviews on Wealthy Affiliate (WA) – many positive ones where the reviewers illustrate all the positive sides of WA and how it had helped them earn a steady income online, and at the same time, there are some scathing reviews on the platform calling it a “proof of failure” and saying WA websites are invisible and get no detectable traffic.
I’m not going to take sides, which I can easily do being its member and having seen the numerous benefits of the WA platform. What I’ll try to do is highlight those weak areas in the system that I feel need to be addressed if WA wants to ensure that there are no disgruntled and frustrated members who defect to other rival platforms and talk ill about it.
Achieving success online is no walk-in-the-park venture, and you need to really work hard but any member who fails to see success should not feel that it was because of the inherent weaknesses in WA and not because of his putting in less effort that led to his failure. In its present avatar, WA is not without its own share of weaknesses.
So, allow me to say some un-positive things about WA. This, I hope will somehow offset all those raving reviews on it and give the readers a more balanced view. I’ll try my best to stop myself from being biased too much in its favour.
In that sense, this is not going to be a review in the real sense of the term.
Wealthy Affiliate’s Love-Hate Relationship with Affiliate Marketers
There are things I haven’t liked in Wealthy Affiliate, and I have even expressed some of them openly in the community. But most of the things I’m going to say today against WA are those I haven’t openly stated in the WA forum (I didn’t like to make too many enemies there). These are a few things about it that leave much to be desired.
These will be things about WA that people don’t see from outside and its members don’t openly state in their reviews when promoting it.
Being a Wealthy Affiliate member myself, I don’t like to sound like a back-stabbing douchebag and talk bad things about it from the outside. In fact, I don’t like the word “bad” being used here because it could have well been a choice between its synonyms like unfavourable, undesirable or inadequate.
If it’s bad, then why am I still there in WA?!
At the risk of sounding undiplomatic, I have used the word bad because that will put things in a better perspective. I’m not going to say the whole system. It is a good system and I still recommend it to all beginners. But the system is so good at the first glance that one may easily be tempted to overlook the gaps.
However, before joining the platform, one needs to take an informed decision so that in the event of not achieving success, he should not feel bitter about it.
As a beginner, you’re surrounded by a community full of raving WA fans and when you are taught to create a WordPress website within the first week of landing upon WA and start seeing your posts on Google search, you naturally turn into a believer.
But eight months down the line, when the initial excitement wanes, you begin to understand a bit of the dynamics of the Internet marketing. That’s when you’re able to see certain inadequacies in the WA system. However, the system is such that despite all the frustration and not seeing the results, people continue to hang on to it. Not because of its training by any stretch of the imagination but because they’re already “trapped”. Or seduced by it. Read on.
Mind you, this is only going to be based on my personal experience of being a WA member, and so some of the things I say here might not be agreeable to other WA members.
I may well be accused of being ungrateful too because it was Wealthy Affiliate, after all, that taught me everything about Internet marketing. Well, almost.
The Wealthy Affiliate System
Wealthy Affiliate is considered to be one of the better affiliate marketing training platforms available on the Internet right now.
There are other competing rivals like the Solo Build It! (SBI) and Affiliorama that I have heard are also great but I cannot say anything good or bad about them for the simple reason that I have never been inside of them.
But of WA, I know everything like the back of my hand – how the training is, their community, their affiliate program, and the whole support system. I have been with them for more than a year now as a Premium member.
There’s no system that’s absolutely 100% good. This is what I’m going to say about Wealthy Affiliate too. I can imagine the same for the other so-called rivals of WA as well. They too must be having some chinks in their system.
But I’m talking about WA. There are some glaring gaps in it that I wish were taken care of by its owners. They are what I call the downers of what could have been a truly amazing and a complete Internet marketing platform.
Perhaps, I’m saying this with the wisdom of hindsight but when I joined (and even many months into the training) the WA platform, I was made to believe that it was the best.
Every day you’re bombarded with hundreds of blog posts from members all going gaga over how great the platform is. I honestly believe that it is still a very good system for newbies who want to have a firm grip on the different concepts of Internet marketing, and to move in the direction of making a good income stream. But I have rarely come across members who are bold enough to take a stand and admit the negative side of WA openly and call a spade a spade.
I have a feeling that if this post reaches the owners of Wealthy Affiliate or some of its staunch supporters, I might well be ostracised from the community, eh!
The Wealthy Affiliate is a huge community and like most online communities, people make friends and connect outside of it too. I have many WA friends who are there on my Facebook, WhatsApp and Skype friends list. We follow each other and catch up on each other’s normal lives outside of WA.
I can tell you that many members have the same thoughts that I have about WA. But I’m not telling what they have expressed in hushed whispers as every person’s life situation is different.
I know many members who are extending their paid membership and are teaming up on some other projects. They have their own reasons to be at WA. I’ll tell you about that too.
The Training – the Online Entrepreneur Certification and Affiliate Bootcamp
The Online Entrepreneur Certification and Affiliate Bootcamp are basically the same but in the latter, you’re taught to promote Wealthy Affiliate. You build your website and configure everything towards the promotion of their platform. They have an attractive referral program too.
Both the training are pretty much spot-on about how the whole affiliate marketing works.
If you stick to the lessons and go step-by-step, by the end of the training, you are able to create a website, do keywords research, do ads, learn Google Analytics and a bit of SEO. But I think you get all these in most Internet or Digital Marketing courses.
The question is, is the training detailed? Well, that depends on your core objectives.
If it’s a basic knowledge, you’re looking at, then yes, it can be said to be detailed.
But if you’re looking for something that will give you solid knowledge on all aspects of creating an online business, and if you think that you will learn everything here in WA all the different vital components of creating a good online business, I have a feeling that you will be slightly disappointed.
My idea of a complete Internet marketing platform is the one that teaches you everything on how to make money online, and one that will not make you look for other online courses to supplement to what is being taught in WA.
So, let’s see some of the bad things about Wealthy Affiliate.
#1: The Course Content is Old
Some training videos and lessons are very old. A walk-through video is presented in all lessons but when it shows the old interface of the WA platform, it looks a bit weird. The dashboard area of WA in some of these old videos are different from what you see in today’s WA. One might argue that the underlying idea is the same but if I’m shown a walk-through video that is supposed to teach me how to navigate around the system and all its features there and what I see on the actual system is so different, I don’t feel good.
There’re video lessons on keywords research done on Jaaxy’s old version that has a totally different interface than the one we have within WA now.
Also, there are lessons that are outdated. For instance, in one of the training lessons, we are asked to install the Google XML Plugin to generate sitemaps. But this, I came to know later, is unnecessary since we already have been asked to install the ALL-in-One SEO plugin that also generates the same sitemaps.
There’s a serious need to constantly update the training videos and lessons. When you are taught using old and outdated training videos, it gives out a really bad impression of the WA brand.
#2: No Training on Web-Hosting & DNS Settings
WA membership (both Starter and Premium) covers all costs for website hosting. As a beginner, it’s such an easy way to create your own WordPress website using the SiteRubix website builder there. All our sites are hosted on WA. It’s so convenient. But therein lies the problem.
If you set out be an independent online marketer, you need to know how to host your site on different hosting platforms. It’s a pre-requisite. You need to have thorough knowledge on how to work on the DNS settings and the control panel of your website. This technical knowledge is a must to have a better understanding of how a website is hosted and how one can transfer it to a different server. But WA has no lessons on these as they are deemed unnecessary since your sites are hosted on WA itself.
What I feel is that even if our websites on hosted WA, we need to have good knowledge on how to host it on other servers. It is a must. There’s a whole lot of things going on in the back and even though it is convenient for us on WA, the lack of knowledge on hosting and DNS settings is a serious disadvantage.
#3: There’s no Separate Intensive Training on WordPress
Other than the basic things, there’s no intensive training on WordPress. And I don’t mean heavy stuff like coding. What is being taught about in WA is elementary and one might argue that it’s enough for you to build up a business website. But to some of us, good knowledge of WordPress is seen as an advantage. It is necessary to understand the styling elements there to customise things to suit our preferences. I’m sure a majority of the WA members don’t even know how to install a Child Theme.
A more rounded knowledge of WordPress makes the whole adventure exciting and easy. Creating a website that provides easier navigation and one that is user-friendly is possible when we have a good knowledge of WordPress. WA is lacking in this area.
#4: Not Much Emphasis Laid on Website Design
It’s a highly competitive world out there, and your website needs to look good to stand out from the crowd. It’s easy even for a beginner to create stunning websites with the many page-builder plugins available today. But for that to happen, the training needs to stress upon the advantages of a good-looking website.
It’s quite shocking to know that even the experienced and successful people in WA have their websites created without a favicon even. I’m sure many in WA don’t know what a favicon is! The fault is with the training structure within WA where there’s not a single lesson on how to create and install a visual element as basic as a favicon.
Remember, beautiful and professional-looking websites do convert better, and WA seriously need to cover a lot of grounds in this area.
#5: Lessons on Email Marketing Need More Depth
Any marketer worth his salt knows how crucial the email marketing is for leads and sales. This is one of the most important components of our online adventure. It’s not a small area by any means, and we need a focused look on all its different strategies – creating opt-ins, designing subscriber’s form, creating campaigns, creating email copies that convert, etc. There’s so much to learn. I feel that all Internet marketers should be aware of some of the best practices.
The training lessons on email marketing in WA is too little to really have any far-reaching impact on our learning. I had to enroll myself for courses outside of WA specifically for email marketing because what I learned in WA was not enough.
#6: The Social Media Marketing Lessons Need to be updated
WA has not updated its training lessons on the social media marketing. The Internet marketing field is in a constant state of flux and hence, the lessons on social media marketing need to be in sync with the changing times and trends. Five years ago, the Instagram or rather, the marketing on it was not such a big thing. So much has changed in the last five years on Facebook marketing too. The WA lessons do not cover many of these social media types in good detail. There are lessons in WA on Facebook ads, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest but these are more like giving a walk-through. I think it’s too shallow for a competitive Internet space in today’s context.
#7: The Lessons on Content Writing Need to be More Comprehensive
Of course, it’s not practical to have a separate content–writing course within WA but writing good sales copies is not all about doing keywords research. Keywords are indeed the keys to ranking and your posts finding its way in the search engine results pages of Google. But there’s more to writing good copies than just keywords and following blog templates. I have seen a skewed bias towards keywords research and the low-hanging fruit in WA lessons. It needs to go hand in hand with the constantly-evolving search engine algorithms. Having seen WA from close, I feel that the lessons on content creation (including video creation) are quite thin. The WA lessons are supplemented by its weekly webinars. These webinars are good for beginners but are a bit wanting for the more experienced.
I wish WA had separate in-depth training lessons especially for creating videos and infographics.
#8: There’s no Separate Advanced-Level Course
All the lessons in both its courses are bundled together for both beginners and experienced. I wish there were separate intermediate or advanced-level courses for members who have graduated to a higher level of knowledge.
There’s no end to learning, and there are many things we need to follow on our own with the basic foundation we have with the WA training. But I feel for the platform to remain relevant to the experienced people, there is a need for advanced courses too even if members have to pay extra for them. For instance, a person might want to have a better knowledge of HTML and CSS. If there were lessons inside WA itself without him having to go to a different site to learn, it would have been wonderful.
The lessons in WA are no more relevant for those who have completed both the training. If one wants to learn in-depth knowledge, one needs to enroll for courses outside of WA.
#9: Ugly Looking Banners
I have seen some of the most ugly-looking affiliate banners in WA. They have not been creating new banners too, and whatever banners are there have been in existence for quite a long time. There’s no variety too. We can always create our own banners but that does not mean WA should not be creating beautiful banners for its new members who are yet to learn how to create them on their own. Majority of the beginners use the ready-made WA banners there on their websites, but with such a limited choice, you will see similar banners being used in many websites across the platform.
#9: It isn’t a Truly Global Platform
This is the worst, personally. Maybe that’s because I belong to India.
Wealthy Affiliate has banned some countries from its Free Starter Membership. Meaning, if you’re from one of these banned countries, you cannot try out the Free Starter Membership as people do in other countries. This automatically cuts off another privilege – that of upgrading to the Premium membership at $19 for the first month ($49 for the subsequent months).
I have joined WA as a Premium Member only because the Free Starter was banned in my country. That’s okay because I love the Premium benefits. But the problem comes when trying to convince people from my country to sign up to WA because of the absence of a trial offer. After all, most people would like to see a free trial or a money-back offer.
The owners of WA (and endorsed by many members) justify the ban because of the high-level of frauds and scams happening in these “rogue” countries. Is this the best solution? Maybe it’s because I’m from one of the banned countries and I’m standing on the other side of the fence but I simply don’t like it. I will not go to the extent of saying it’s a discriminatory policy, but their argument in favour of the ban does not hold much water. They have not tried earnestly to seek a more agreeable solution.
Including India, there are at present 10 countries banned by WA for its Starter Membership. Among these countries, Nigeria is completely banned for both the Starter and Premium Membership. So, Wealthy Affiliate is NOT a truly global platform. Period.
#10: It Does Not Teach You to Safeguard Against Failures
The training in WA does not equip a member to safeguard against failures. The lessons do not highlight failure-prone areas. But I feel that with such a high failure rate in online business, it can be safely assumed that the failure rate of the WA members is also high. This can make many members and ex-members disappointed with the possibility that they can express their bitterness on other non-WA platforms. I have seen many ex-WA members talking really bad things about WA. One could dismiss their rants and disappointments with “not working hard enough” arguments, but I feel that it’s mostly because they have been blindly led into following a dream without letting them know about the dark side of the business.
#11: Less Tolerant Towards Dissenting Voices
I feel that WA is less tolerant towards dissenting voices. I have seen members getting banned or their posts removed when they are vocal about things that are bad about Wealthy Affiliate. And with lots of members that do not like views expressed against WA, there’s always an undercurrent of conflict among its members.
I can never forget a particular incident relating to a post I wrote in WA about WA’s ban against my country for the Starter Membership. There were members who felt that I was making a political statement! In fact, I had members asking me via private messages to either remove the post or to tone it down. It was disappointing, to say the least.
#12: There’s no Discount on Renewal for Existing Premium Members
This is not really a big deal but I wish the WA owners do something about it. At present, there’s no discount on the renewal of Premium membership by an already existing member. This means you have to pay the same amount that other newcomers pay for the membership even if you had been with WA for more than three years. I wish there was a Premium member benefit of availing for a discount when he extends his membership.
#13: Quality of Help Provided by WA Members is Not Always Good
One of the USPs of WA is its community. The community has members from different backgrounds, cultures, experiences and knowledge level and is very active too. You can post questions or shoot your queries in the Live Chat for an instant reply. But I have seen that the quality of help provided in such instances is not always good. In fact, I have seen some of the most atrocious replies to simple queries being answered in the community.
#14: WA Members Trashing Other Products
This is one serious issue. Actually, this is not WA’s fault as nowhere in the training are we encouraged to write “fake reviews”. But many members (including the successful ones) write reviews in which they trash other products and call them scams. And when these reviews are employed as a bait-and-catch technique to push in your recommended product (Wealthy Affiliate, in this case) by comparing with a rival product only to label them as an inferior product or scam, then naturally, you’re inviting criticisms and ridicules from all around. WA’s brand value takes a beating because it is made to look like WA is encouraging people to write fake reviews. The owners of WA must step in to curb this practice, otherwise, the number of detractors are only going to increase.
#15: You Pay to Earn
The WA members (both Free Starter and Premium) are able to earn referral credits for each WA sign up they get. But this is as long as you are its member. There’s no such thing as an ex-member benefit where you can earn referral credits when you opt out of WA after your membership ends. This means if you had created a Bootcamp website as taught in the training exclusively for the promotion of WA, and when your membership ends, your site becomes a ghost site. Your WA affiliate links, banners, and CTAs that you so laboriously created for promoting WA come to a naught the day your membership ends. You get no credit even if people sign up through your website because you’re no more a member. In short, if you want to make money by promoting WA, you do so by extending your membership by paying the full amount.
Even if all the training and resources are no longer relevant for you because you have finished both the courses, and you want to turn your Bootcamp site into a make-money-online (MMO) site or a site in the Internet Marketing niche, you are compelled to extend your Premium membership because you have already invested an insane amount of time in creating many posts on your site already and don’t to see all your efforts go down the drain. Seduced? Trapped?
Would I Recommend Wealthy Affiliate to the Beginners?
Yes, I will definitely recommend it to the beginners.
For all its faults, Wealthy Affiliate is still a great platform to learn all the basics of Internet Marketing.
At the Premium Membership fee, you get so many features bundled that it’s more than good value for money.
I have listed the fifteen negative points of WA but I hope they will change for the better as the platform evolves. I’m continuing to remain its member because it has already become a part of me and the WA community has become my extended family. It is also one way to connect with like-minded people from all over the world. Plus, being a big Internet community, this is a great place to get myself connected to the latest happenings in the Internet marketing world. WA is one of the first places to get the buzz of any new happening and updates. It’s a privilege to be its member. The reasons I have stated above for disliking it are not enough to disown it immediately. And so my journey in Wealthy Affiliate continues.