My Online Journey:
In my second post, “Getting to Grips with Online Business”, I presented the results of a review I carried out of a variety of ways of making money online. This culminated in a qualitative assessment of 4 of the most popular business models in use by internet marketers at the present time. The conclusions of this appraisal are that the most favourable entry point for aspiring entrepreneurs with little or no business experience online is Affiliate Marketing and that participation in other business sectors, such as Consultancy and eCommerce, should be left off until one has a basic grounding in Affiliate Marketing.
The challenge, then, is how to forge your way into such a wide industry sector as Affiliate Marketing? In this respect, I’ve been fortunate to find Wealthy Affiliate – in fact I wish I’d found it earlier – to guide me through the basic discipline of Affiliate Marketing, its concepts, methodologies and range of resources needed to build a website and get started in online business.
This post is my review of Wealthy Affiliate. In short, what I’ve found is that there’s nothing out there in any way comparable to the range and depth of training, support, resources on offer, and the services provided by WA for registering website domains, building and operating your websites.
My advice is therefore simple, if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur wishing to harness the wide audience of the Internet to do business, then go ahead and get started with Wealthy Affiliate. Although Premium membership is highly recommended, there is a Starter Account where you can assess the training and get going building your website for free. This is truly an open and transparent arrangement, it sets the standard for online training courses and is a great credit to its owners at Niche Marketing, Inc.
What is Wealthy Affiliate?
Wealthy Affiliate (WA) is an online learning platform that provides comprehensive training in affiliate marketing and all the tools and support necessary to register and construct WordPress websites to achieve success online.
You must be aware, however, that WA will not do the work for you and there’s no guarantee of success, as with any business. It’s a hands-on course and you will need to take action to set up and write content for the website yourself.
Neither is it a get-rich-quick scheme; the training requires hard work and commitment to succeed from the student and, for sure, it will not be suited to everyone. Wealthy Affiliate is open and transparent about this and therefore offers a free Starter arrangement so that potential affiliate marketers can access the platform to see what the training involves and carry out a review to determine whether to subscribe to Premium membership, or not.
There’s more on Wealthy Affiliate’s free Starter account later. However, it is unique in the industry, you’ll have 7 days available to establish your web domain and build your own website and, importantly, your credit card is not required to gain access. The free training lessons will remain available to you beyond the 7 days but in order to build out your website to the stage it is fully operational, Premier membership is highly recommended.
The video below shows the online training lessons in affiliate marketing and website development which are available from Wealthy Affiliate’s free Starter arrangement:
Overview of Wealthy Affiliate’s Product
An overview of Wealthy Affiliate’s product and service offering is provided in Table 2 below. This is a list of what’s available on the platform (by Category) and how I rate the features of the Wealthy Affiliate Platform.
In the choice of categories I’ve tried to keep them as broad as possible following the Platform Dashboard. However, in event a sub-category within an item on the Dashboard stands out (for example, if it’s less good), I added the sub-category to the category list in Table 2 below so it gets assessed separately. I then used the 5 star scoring system provided in Table 1 to rate each of the items in Table 2. Having completed the ratings for each element, I then made a qualitative assessment to come up with my overall rating of Wealthy Affiliate.
TABLE 1: Assessment System
- ★★★★★ – Excellent
- ★★★★☆ – Very Good
- ★★★☆☆ – Good
- ★★☆☆☆ – Poor
- ★☆☆☆☆ – Very Poor
TABLE 2: Overview of Wealthy Affiliate
- Wealthy Affiliate Platform – ★★★★★
- Owners (Kyle and Carson) – ★★★★★
- Affiliate Marketing Training – ★★★★☆
- WordPress Website Training – ★★★★☆
- Website Development – ★★★★★
- Site Content Tool – ★★★☆☆
- Site Comments – ★★★★☆
- Research Tools (Keywords) – ★★★★★
- Community and Support – ★★★★★
- Questions and Answers – ★★★☆☆
- Pricing Structure – ★★★★★
- Affiliate Programme – ★★★★★
- My Overall Rating for WA – ★★★★★
As you can see from this, my overall rating of Wealthy Affiliate is excellent, based on my experience using the system. Notwithstanding, there are a few areas where there’s room for improvement but these do not detract from the main aims of learning about affiliate marketing and building out your website.
Before elaborating on the results of the review, however, I’ll explain what affiliate marketing is about and provide a description of the affiliate training process so that you may appreciate the business Wealthy Affiliate is in.
What is Affiliate Marketing About?
Affiliate marketing is simply about promoting other people’s products and gaining commissions in event of any resulting sales. It’s a very simple business model that can best be explained using a well-known example, such as Amazon. This retailer has a website with a vast range of products for sale; you can promote any of those products and get a commission for each lead you send to Amazon that results in a sale.
Given its simplicity, affiliate marketing is a great starting point for newbies. All the rookie marketer has to do is promote. If you have no experience building a business or making money online, you probably have no idea what kind of product or service to offer on your website.
The idea is that you locate products for sale that belong to others and promote these as an affiliate. There’s no particular product expertise needed on your part, all you have to do is send traffic to the product owners’ websites using your affiliate link. The sale is made on the owner’s website, the commercial transaction is handled there, the goods are dispatched to the customer by the product owner, and you as the affiliate marketer will get paid a commission.
Affiliate marketing is therefore a great way to start building your business and make money online. So what’s the craft involved, where and how to get started? Although affiliate marketing is a simple business model, there’s a great deal to learn in getting to terms with doing business online and in developing the range of skills necessary to become a competent and creative digital marketer. In broad terms, there are 7 key components of traditional affiliate marketing, as follows:
- Select a Niche you feel passionate about.
- Design and build an easy-to-use and maintain Website.
- Produce useful and meaningful Content that adds value to your Niche.
- Gain Traffic (or visitors) to your Website.
- Establish your reputation and Brand within your chosen Niche.
- Monetise your Website.
- Develop a Mindset for business, be both consistent and persistent to forge your way to success.
By examination, it’s clear that the 7 components of affiliate marketing centre around you and your website. Ultimately, it will be your website upon which your success online will depend and, as such, most of Wealthy Affiliate’s training is focussed here. In order to keep things simple, for tuition purposes, WA distills these 7 components down to an easy to follow 4-step training process, as described below.
Wealthy Affiliate’s 4 Step Training Process
Although Wealthy Affiliate teaches many ways to earn money online, how its training actually works is presented with the aid of the 4-step diagram below:
The initial two steps in the process relate to selecting your niche and setting up your website. The website will provide you with unparalleled opportunity to attract visitors and communicate with your audience.
When you join, you are given two options. You can either follow your passion, maybe you like helping people who are seeking skin care, weight loss or gaming products, or whatever niche it is you choose. There are unlimited potential directions you can take insofar as you can choose whatever niche it is that you feel most passionate about as your line of business.
This will be your starting point; the initial training course is going to show you how you can take your passion and turn it into a full time business within the online world, attracting visitors to your website and sending them to your affiliated product websites, where you’ll gain commissions on each sale achieved.
However, for those having difficulty selecting a niche, don’t worry as Wealthy Affiliate has an affiliate bootcamp to teach you how to promote its products and you can then build your business around the “making money online” niche. For this training, WA provides a complete walk through the affiliate cycle; it starts from scratch and teaches you how to build out your website to promote its products, no prior experience needed.
So either way, you’re going to learn to create your business online and develop it to generate income. This starts with a niche website and ends with you learning a whole variety of ways to do business in your niche, placing ads or by promoting Wealthy Affiliate’s range of products.
The final step in the process is to open up your website for business. It’s the money part of the operation to generate revenue from your business. It’s not a quick process and depends on how creative you are with content, regular flow of output from your website, how effectively you generate traffic, and the rate at which you can build brand reputation and improve your mindset for business.
WA Training, For Marketers At All Levels
First and foremost, Wealthy Affiliate is about training in affiliate marketing and website development. Although, there’s material available on WA’s Platform to suit all skill levels, this evaluation has been prepared from the viewpoint of a relative beginner. The post should therefore be helpful to aspiring entrepreneurs, or folks wishing to work from home, who are looking for a thorough education in online business.
The core course comprises 50 lessons utilising step by step, walk-through videos, supplemented by written text description and appropriate graphic illustrations to aid understanding. The first 10 lessons are included free in the Starter package; within these you’ll be guided through a simple 4 step training process that includes selecting your niche, building a website, including the need for informative and engaging content, how to attract visitors to your site and earn income.
If you want to choose to promote Wealthy Affiliate as your niche there’s another 70 lessons to teach you how to do that. The first 10 lessons in this course are also included in the free Starter account. However, it should be stated the main thrust of the platform is not to promote Wealthy Affiliate. The core training is to teach you how to become a successful affiliate marketer for a wide range of different products and services in any niche you choose, including “making money online”.
The lessons are step-by-step with tasks to undertake for each lesson. As you progress through the course you’ll realise that each lesson builds upon knowledge gained from earlier classes. It’s therefore better to take your time with the lessons to fully absorb the knowledge and practise it on the assigned tasks. If you rush through or jump about in the course you can quickly become overwhelmed.
There’s also space for comments or questions under each lesson. Here you can read other people’s questions and answers they’ve been given. If you have a question that’s not been raised, leave a comment and more often than not it will be answered by a member of WA. It’s an active community so you’re likely to get a quick reply. There’s also Live Chat where old and new members communicate, get to know and help each other.
If your questions are not easily resolved, you can raise a question that gets circulated to the entire community. It’s a great feature but can be somewhat abused; there’s a member ranking system to encourage engagement in the community and the algorithms tend to encourage questions and comments, some of which can easily be resolved by using Search facility and many are of little value.
Finally, if you subscribe as a Premium member, you gain private access to the founders, Kyle and Carson.
Community Contributions to Training
There’s a credit scheme in operation to encourage the community to contribute towards training. Apart from the ‘official’ course materials, there are many tutorials and videos created by members that supplement the formal training. The quality of these contributions is somewhat variable, materials are often contradictory and many are out of date. However, most are generally helpful to plug gaps and convey useful additional knowledge about affiliate marketing.
The outcome of this additional training is also good insofar as it provides a showcase for aspiring trainers to share their work, obtain feedback from the community and generally gain experience that will hold them in good stead when it comes to scaling their businesses into the Consultancy sector.
Weekly Live Video Webinars
There are also weekly live webinars on a range of topics by one of Wealthy Affiliate’s leading Ambassadors. These are very useful but exclusive to Premium members. Each webinar lasts around an hour and there’s a question and answer section at the end. If you miss the live class then you can catch up with the recorded version.
There are many recorded webinar classes in the training library, available to access at any time. Although you lose the live questions and answers session, the recordings can be generally more productive as you gain benefit of the pause button for taking notes or dealing with any interruptions at home!
As previously emphasised your website is the foundation for your success in online business and a large element of the training is about building a WordPress website; writing interesting, engaging, informative content; and making your website attractive to visitors. Within Wealthy Affiliate, as a Premium member you’ll be provided with all you require to build out 50 websites, or 2 websites as a Starter member.
You’ll learn how to build a brand new website in a matter of minutes. Although WA states 30 seconds in the training, this does not include time to choose a name for your website or to look at the range of available themes. It’s going to take a little bit longer, of course, but these are assigned tasks for you to undertake prior to pressing the button on your Site Builder to build your website.
Building a website is merely the start of your journey. You need a website host, technical support, community support and encouragement to build out (adding content) to your website. All these are included in Premium membership while Starter members get to sample some of the Premium features, including the ability to build their own websites, during the first 7 days.
A comparison of the Wealthy Affiliate membership options (Starter versus Premium) is provided in Table 3 below:
It’s worth noting for those willing to pay for WA Premium membership on an annual basis, you can do so at a discount. For annual payment, the normal price is $359.00, although there’s also a special promotional price of $299 per year in November for 4 day period around Black Friday.
Finally, it’s noteworthy to say on pricing that despite 13 years of constant innovation, evolution and development since Wealthy Affiliate was formed in 2005, the price of its annual Premium membership has little changed, in fact for annual payment has gone down from $359.88 per year to the prevailing price of $359.00 per year. This is remarkable given that comparable hosting platforms in the industry are charging $250 per month, just for the quality of hosting alone that Wealthy Affiliate provides its Premium members.
Website Features and Benefits
The resources provided for website development are contained within the Websites section of the Dashboard, as shown in the adjacent SiteRubix diagram.
This is where you’ll spend much of your time constructing your website, from domain registration (Site Domains), building your website (Site Builder), and writing and publishing your blog content (Site Content and/or Site Manager.
Some aspects of domain registration and website development have already been discussed and there is a brief description of the resources provided in the sub-menu of the above Dashboard.
Rather than repeat things, however, I’ll mainly focus on the benefits of the system. In this way, you’ll be able to see what to expect from these features as you progress through the training.
Login to your website from within the Wealthy Affiliate platform is very quick and easy using Site Manager. I like to work within the WA platform but it’s not necessary as website owners can also access their websites via WordPress.
A useful feature, especially when you are beginning, is Site Health; this is a type of progress dashboard which lets you know when more effort is needed building out your website in such areas as publishing frequency, content quality, site engagement, plugins in use, website feedback, Google rankings and overall trust. The rationale is that anything that can be tracked, can be improved upon and SiteHealth assists you do this.
There’s other things you can manage within Site Manager such as SSL (https), Site Speed (caching) and Site Protect (spam blocker).
Websites with SSL installed on them are starting to rank much better than non-SSL websites in search engines! With SiteSSL at Wealthy Affiliate, you can set up SSL certificates for free on any domain that you own, the cost is included in Premium membership for any domain you own. This is another saving since SSL certificates are typically “paid” services elsewhere (typically $50 per year, per domain).
Wealthy Affiliate’s declared aim for the Site Speed feature is to achieve the fastest website load times in the industry as a fast website is a higher ranked website. It is also one that offers a much better visitor experience, leading to more “time on page”, more people reading your content and more conversions.
Website security is becoming more and more important to the overall success of a website. The Site Protect feature at Wealthy Affiliate adds a three-point protection layer on your websites. Comment Spam, Back Office Hacking (passwords), and Website Load Speeds (Botnet Attacks). These are the three ways hackers look to wreak havoc on your business and Wealthy Affiliate protects you from all of these with its Site Protect platform.
I’ve covered the Site Builder facility in the WordPress section above. This is the infamous “build a website in 30 seconds”, which undoubtedly it does, but this excludes niche related factors, selection of your website theme and, of course, domain registration.
You can find and register domain names without leaving the WA platform and you gain access to a range of features that other domain registrars charge for. Included with every domain is WHOIS privacy protection, 24/7 support, next year guarantee pricing, domain security, unlimited email accounts, advanced DNS management and instant set-up.
Also, as a Premium member, you will have access to all these features for no extra cost for all domains registered through Site Domains. Renewals also tend to be cheaper than elsewhere on the Internet.
Firstly, Site Content is the tool that Wealthy Affiliate provides so you may prepare content, such as your blog articles. I tend to work directly in the WordPress editor; this is a choice but in doing so I forego some benefits of the tool, such as grammatical and content duplication checking.
What I do use Site Content for is the built-in image library of over 1,000,000 free and free to use images available from across the Internet. Even though I don’t use Site Content to create posts, I do make use of the readily available supply of free images. This saves time and money setting up stock image arrangements with individual stockists.
Firstly, only websites which are hosted at Wealthy Affiliate can receive comments through this system. Members can give and receive comments to and from each other on individual website posts using an exchange system. For people who are short of time, comments can also be purchased. The value of the Site Comments feature is that comments made on published posts increase engagement and promote ranking on the search engines.
The Site Feedback should not to be confused with Site Comments, which it frequently is. Feedback is when you tell another member what you think of their entire website. It covers things like site layout, design, site navigation (menus). All the things you’d like to know about your website but don’t want published. Site Feedback credits can be used to purchase Site Comments.
WA has a very active community which has attracted over 1,000,000 members over the years. I’m not sure how many members are currently active but from the progression of my ranking in the community since joining it would appear to be well over 200,000, with some being a lot more active than others.
The function of Site Support is to provide technical support for your websites and any web hosting issues. Although Site Support is located in the Websites Menu – see diagram above – you can also access it via the Help Centre.
Although Site Support is a SiteRubix resource, I prefer to present it here within Help Centre as I feel it’s more instructive to do so. The reason is that within Wealthy Affiliate’s platform, peer to peer interaction is high and many issues get clarified either by public or private exchanges between members.
As well as promoting engagement within the Community, this also tends to ease the burden on Site Support that might otherwise occur.
Community Support is therefore an important aspect of the Wealthy Affiliate platform. There’s a first class Search Box where you can type in keywords and locate related training, blogs and questions. If answers cannot be located by search, members have a choice of other avenues via the Ask a Question, Live Chat and Private Message features. Most questions asked of the community get answered very quickly.
It’s only the hosting and important technical matters, therefore, that get channeled via Site Support and generally these issues also tend to get resolved quickly. Indeed, within the Community, there’s more praise for Site Support rather than complaints.
2018 Wealthy Affiliate Review, My Summary
This pretty much completes my review of Wealthy Affiliate. In summary, it’s an excellent training platform for affiliate marketing and one which offers sound training and terrific value, not just in affiliate marketing but in website development also.
I apologise for the length of the review. However, it’s such a comprehensive training platform and remarkable community, I would simply not be able to do it justice otherwise.
Setting up an online business is not a quick fix, time and hard work is required to get your website set up and running. However, everything you will need to get your business established is provided; Wealthy Affiliate is truly a one-stop-shop with nothing comparable on the Internet. In my view, and without question, Wealthy Affiliate is the best there is out there, I only wish I’d found it sooner, so why not join me?
Whilst the Premium package is highly recommended, it’s also appreciated that affiliate marketing may not be for everyone. For this reason Wealthy Affiliate has its comprehensive free trial is available, no credit card required to register.
Finally, and in conclusion, I’d just like to say I’ll be here to help you once you join up. In the meantime, if you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please enter them in the Comments section below and I will respond to you as quickly as possible.
All the very best,