If you’re new to affiliate marketing and have been looking around for some information and guidance, it’s quite likely you’ve come across some promotions and recommendations for Wealthy Affiliate, sometimes also referred to as the Wealthy Affiliate University (WA or WAU). WA is a membership site that aims to be a launching platform for Internet marketing, offering lots of learning material, an active community as well as research tools and more.
Does Wealthy Affiliate deliver or is it just a newbie trap? Read this complete review to find out.
||Kyle & Carson (Surnames Unknown)
||$97 / Month
There are three main components to Wealthy Affiliate:
- Training Material
Lots and lots of information about affiliate marketing, setting up websites and monetizing them, Pay-Per-Click advertising etc.
Applications that help you in doing keyword research, finding good products to promote, writing articles etc.
A forum as well as personal blogs every member can create and some facebook-esque community features like adding friends.
Let’s look at the main features in WA in a little more detail.
In the so-called Training Centre of WA, you can find lots of articles, tutorials and videos about many different aspects of online marketing. And when I write “lots” I actually mean “tons and tons”.
Some of the material is made by the WA owners, Kyle and Carson. But every WA member can contribute their own training resources, so it’s not limited to “official” WA material.
The abundance of resources can be a blessing and a curse. While information is invaluable and it’s great to have access to so much of it, I found the training to be unstructured and somewhat chaotic.
As far as I can tell, there used to be an “Eight-Week Action Plan” that people were encouraged to go through, to start out with online marketing. This has been replaced with a more modular training setup and I guess that was a bit of a step back. The greatest problem I see is in the interlinking of training material. If you start out with the official first lesson in Wealthy Affiliate, you’ll find “learn more about X” links all over the documents. So, you’ll be reading along and every time you come across something unfamiliar, linking to a more detailed explanation, you get side-tracked.
If you don’t have good discipline to keep yourself on track, you’ll probably end up confused about what to do (PPC? Article Marketing? Building a List? Squidoo/Blogger/Hubpages?).
The tools available to Wealthy Affiliate are the following:
- Keyword Research Tool
Actually a collection of several KW research applications that pull data from Google, let you sort through them and arrange them by traffic volume, let you expand keywords and search related terms and check on who’s paying for advertising for any given keyword.
Something I really dislike about the research tool is that it displays competition strength, PPC competition and article marketing competition on arbitrary number-scales. The problem is that this teaches you nothing about how competition strength is determined and relying on the tool’s data becomes a crutch. Apart from that, the KW research tools are solid and useful.
- Site Rubix
Site Rubix is a website building tool with an easy to use drag-and-drop interface. You start out with a template, upload images you want to have displayed and then add menu-items, links, text and images in an intuitive interface. Site Rubix is a pretty easy way to create html-websites without programming knowledge, however, I find it to be nowhere as easy or as flexible as using WordPress (but maybe that’s a question of what I’m used to).
NicheQ is a collection of pre-set data and content for a series of niches. You can pick a (broad) niche like dating or weight-loss and you’ll receive a list of keywords, PLR articles, a report on what kind of content and promotion works in that niche, some pre-written promotional e-mails and some website templates.
I have to say that I’m not sure about this component of WA. I’m skeptical of anything pre-made and I’ve never worked with PLR or pre-written mails. On the other hand, I see the usefulness in having something put together, just to see what kind of content an experienced marketer puts together for a niche.
- WA Web Hosting
Wealthy Affiliate offer free web hosting does what it says: You get to host your sites on their servers for free.
Once again, I’m going to be a bit mean here: I’d be wary of making use of this service before I was entirely sure that I wanted to stay with WA on the long run. Also: Hosting isn’t very expensive.
Neat little tool for cloaking and tracking all your affiliate links. Using this, you can keep an overview of all your campaigns from one central location.
- Clickbank Research Tool
Clickbank’s own search function is quite tedious and uninformative, so it’s great that there’s a better solution within WA. It lets you search for trending products (see screenshot above) or do custom searches through the entire Clickbank catalogue.
- Rapid Writer
This is an article writing program that integrates with some keyword research and lets you check keyword densities. There’s also an article spinning/rewriting functionality that I found to be incredibly clumsy compared to something like CRewriter or even manually using spinning syntax.
- Website Templates
A collection of html/CSS templates you can download and use. The templates are okay, in general and some might be useful for creating simple squeeze-pages. As an avid WordPress user, I once again have to state that I didn’t even consider trying the templates.
- STF Marketing Blueprint
”Blueprint” of a marketing campaign that was apparently very successfully run for a weight-loss product a while back. I’m not sure how useful this is, since there’s already almost too much information in the Training Centre and the NicheQ tool.
As already mentioned, there are several community features inside Wealthy Affiliate. The most frequently used one is perhaps the members forum. You’ll find quite a lot of activity going on in the forum and while it can’t quite hold up to the best Internet marketing forums in terms of expert members and variety of topics and posts, it does have one huge quality: The Wealthy Affiliate forum is the newbie-friendliest forum I’ve ever seen.
There are some extremely helpful members in the WA forums and you’ll find lots and lots of basic questions asked and answered.
Apart from that, you can keep up to date with other’s via their WA blog entries, add people to your buddy-network and send private messages as well as public messages to each other. Another interesting feature is the WA Gold: At the beginning of each month you receive a certain amount of WA Gold, that you can give out to other members, much like “Thanks” or “Rep” in some forums. You can give gold for helpful forum posts, good training resources or any other reason you like. WA Gold can even be traded in for actual money (though you’ll need a lot of it for that to be worthwhile).
The Gold exchange is another interesting feature that helps strengthen the community and I think it’s a nice way of showing appreciation.
The training material in Wealthy Affiliate is focused mainly on article markteing, PPC and e-mail marketing. That covers the basics quite well, so no complaints there.
However, I found that the emphasis among users and in the forum is mostly on article marketing and more specifically, the use of Squidoo. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it just seems to me that there’s almost too much weight put on those two options. It might just be a personal impression, though.
There’s a lot of good, solid and useful information to be found on WA, no doubt about that. However, the information is currently too loosely structured, it’s too easy to get sidetracked while going through the training material and since every member can contribute training resources, it’s quite likely that you’ll come across material that is not useful for you, not very well put together and just distracting overall. For this reason, I can only rate WA as medium on the Fluff-o-Meter scale.
Lots of info, good info, but not enough structure.
The spam-factor is minimal when joining WA. You will get occasional e-mails, but they are very rarely pushing product.
Inbox mostly spared.
Again, no problem at all. There are no hidden fees, no false promises and no agressive upsells. While there are some upsells within WA, they are not pushed on the members at all. Respect to Kyle and Carson for not trying to exploit the WA members a bit more.
No annoying upsales and no member exploitation = very good!
Wealthy Affiliate is not a bad place to start, if you want to learn about Internet marketing. It’s greatest strengths are the community features and the overall beginner-friendliness. There are two things I think WA could do a lot better, though. For one, the information should be more clearly structured. Secondly, I think some of the tools could be vastly improved. The keyword research tools pale in comparison to what something like Market Samurai or Keyword Elite offers and the Rapid Writer could very easily be made a lot easier to use and much more powerful, to name just two examples.
PLEASE NOTE THE UPDATE BELOW!
In short: It’s good, but it could be better.
This is for you if:
- You are new to affiliate marketing
- You want all your resources and tools in one place
- You have enough discipline not to get overwhelmed and sidetracked by lots of information
- You appreciate being part of a community
This is not for you if:
- You are already experienced in Internet marketing
- You are prone to analysis-paralysis
The price for WA has gone up considerably, the tools are getting increasingly outdated and as far as I know, the content is still rather scattered and not particularly streamlined.
Especially considering the new price, there’s no way I can recommend Wealthy Affiliate anymore.[/error]