There’s a lot of misinformation out there about Wealthy Affiliate, and with so many different sources popping up in search engines it can be difficult to know who to trust. Some may be left wondering if Wealthy Affiliate is just another scam after all the complaints floating around about the company, particularly surrounding some drama in recent years. There’s even been an article about Wealthy Affiliate that claims to have proven the company is a huge sham through research, however, I believe their “proof” to be deeply flawed and inaccurate.
Beyond that, many claim their training teaches members to only promote WA to others and to do so rather shady and unethical ways. I will dig into this information deeper in a minute, but first, you’re probably wondering why you should even trust what I have to say about it.
You can also go ahead and try Wealthy Affiliate for free right now and decide for yourself.
Why should you trust me?
The truth is, I joined Wealthy Affiliate with absolutely no knowledge of affiliate marketing or online business. Back when I joined (in 2012/2013) the program was pretty different than it is today. They definitely have made some great improvements that have made it even easier for people who are completely new (especially those with no technical knowledge) to create a website and get started.
Having been a member since 2012, as well as personally meeting the founders Kyle and Carson (and many other affiliates) at their annual Vegas conference, I have enough experience with the program and founders that I can confidently say that Wealthy Affiliate is absolutely not a scam in any way shape or form. These guys genuinely care about their members and their product and are committed to helping people be successful online.
I wrote a blog about the common complaints about Wealthy Affiliate a few years ago, and while it’s still relevant to today I wanted to write this as an extension and updated version to touch on the programs complaints and scam accusations as we head into 2019.
I also have a review page about Wealthy Affiliate, in which I explain the program and how it works. If you aren’t familiar with WA at all, I encourage you to read it to get a better idea of what it’s all about and how it can work for you
However, for this post, I wanted to do an in-depth look and analysis into the reasons people claim WA is a scam and prove them wrong.
Here are 4 accusations people make against WA and why they think it isn’t a legit program
#1 – Wealthy Affiliate is a pyramid scheme
This is a lie. A pyramid scheme focuses solely on the recruitment of new members with no real product or service being offered. They’re unsustainable because eventually the scheme will run out of new members to recruit, and the majority of people lose money. Sometimes they have products they are selling, but the main focus of the company and its members is to continually focus on bringing in new recruits, rather than the actual product itself.
Not only is Wealthy Affiliate not a pyramid scheme, but they’re also not even a multi-level-marketing company at all. They do operate with a simple affiliate program, in which members can refer others and get commissions. However the commissions stop at that level – there are no commissions for your people your referrals bring in, and so on.
Most programs, products, and services these days have an affiliate program. This is including places like Amazon and Walmart – are they pyramid schemes? No, because they are actual companies that offer real products and this is true of the Wealthy Affiliate program as well.
The point behind this that I’d like to emphasize is that Wealthy Affiliate is not just a program that teaches you to promote the program. Many online systems that claim to teach affiliate marketing and business are solely focused on getting you to recruit others into the program and have many other higher priced products and services within the program you can purchase to earn even higher commissions. Often times these programs have people shell out several thousands of dollars in order to start earning “real” money. (And often times these types of programs go under, take for example MOBE which operated in this way and ended up sued by the FTC) Wealthy Affiliate, on the other hand, has been around since 2005.
While Wealthy Affiliate does not operate this way, people claim this because part of their training does focus on teaching others how to promote WA through their affiliate program, but it is just one aspect of it. They also have a main training component that teaches people how to build a business from any niche they want. This is what is emphasized to all new members, so while promoting WA in an option, it isn’t the focus. (Just take a look at their sales page or main training!)
Furthermore, there are no upsells after the initial join fee. It’s simply a recurring membership either monthly or yearly, and that’s it. The only additional expense that would be recommended upfront is the cost of your domain name. There’s no fancy silver, gold, or platinum packages (or whatever) to buy and make “the real money”.
And all this being said, Wealthy Affiliate is a pretty decent product in and of itself – they offer training, live weekly classes, live support, forums, a keyword tool and even web hosting for 50 domains. So while people (myself included) earn commissions by getting others to join, it’s a simple affiliate commission and it isn’t based on that person recruiting more members. There’s NO emphasis on any member to do so.
Read my full review on Wealthy Affiliate if you want a more in-depth look at how the program works.
#2 – Wealthy Affiliate is a scam because the only way their members make money is by writing reviews of other products and calling them scams, then promoting WA
Wealthy Affiliate members seemed to have infiltrated the make money online product niche by writing reviews of various online programs and then recommending Wealthy Affiliate instead. The claim is that these members are just writing “fake” product reviews and claiming every program is a scam in order to sell Wealthy Affiliate to others, and that this is what WA teaches its members to do.
This is not true. While there might be certain review sites out there that seem to call every program a “scam” (even if it’s not) this is not what the training teaches at all. Wealthy Affiliate isn’t responsible for the actions of individual site owners.
Here is some text I pulled from the bootcamp training (the training that focuses on teaching members how to promote WA) in regard to finding products to review:
“Here is where you can find some more reviews (good databases of products and product information):
The key with all of your reviews is to offer your readers a comprehensive and accurate experience. It is OK to offer your opinion, but it is important that you do not falsify statements within your actual reviews.”
So they’ve provided some resources to find various products within the MMO niche, but also are careful to explain the information within reviews should be factual and accurate. This is not a training course that teaches people to make up whatever they want about other products, in order to just promote WA.
However sometimes programs ARE scams or just shady in general, and comparing it to Wealthy Affiliate is a good way to steer people towards something of value instead of being scammed out of their money. I don’t see anything wrong with informing people of the facts, sharing your opinion, and then letting them make their own decision based on that.
In fact, digging a little deeper here, here’s some training material in which Kyle explains the vast opportunities for promoting WA to others, tons of which have nothing to do with reviewing other “make money online” products
#3 – Wealthy Affiliate members are all failures and know nothing about making money online (again, a lie)
I’ve seen people saying this around the web, claiming nobody who is a member there actually is successful or knows anything about making money online. While this is definitely not true, I think it is true that there are active members within the community that really aren’t that successful and don’t know that much about making money online, rather they just enjoy socializing within WA and “helping” others. I think most of these people have good intentions, but unfortunately, it can hurt new members if they get bad advice.
Wealthy Affiliate is a pretty big community and there are a lot of different types of people there. Some are successful and some aren’t.
Part of being a new member there is learning how to navigate their system and find the best ways to seek out advice, and who to trust and ask for help.
Beyond this, there was even a report put out by SBI (Solo Build It) founder Ken Evoy that attacks Wealthy Affiliate and claims their members are all unsuccessful and he has “proven” this through an elaborate report he’s put out.
The problem is, there are too many problems with his research (including the tools he uses for data) as well as additional factors going into this that make his “research” uncredible and inaccurate.
Let me summarize why in a few points:
- Traffic tools don’t tell you how much money a website earns – they can only roughly (and I mean very roughly) estimate traffic levels.
- Traffic tools aren’t the best traffic indicators and have many flaws. You need Google Analytics for accurate data and you can only access that if you’re the website owner. I’ve seen data way over (or under) estimated with SEMRush and other tools from my personal sites.
- The quality of traffic MATTERS and traffic tools won’t tell you that type of information. It’s better to have 100 visitors that buy than 10,000 that don’t.
- SBI costs $299 for a year to host ONE website. If you wanted another website with SBI, you would have to pay an ADDITIONAL $299 for a year, so if you had a lot of sites hosted with them it would get quite expensive. Additionally SBI focuses on a proprietary website builder that makes it difficult to move a website away from SBI hosting. If one were invested into SBI, they are probably serious about each website they host there.
- Wealthy Affiliate, on the other hand, includes hosting for up to 50 domains in their membership cost. It doesn’t matter if you have 1 or 50 domains – you’re still only paying their premium membership cost, which is $359 a year. Therefore it’s easy (and tempting) for members to create lots of side project sites that they don’t really focus too much on but would still be under the Wealthy Affiliate domain servers and included in his data.
- It’s also common for Wealthy Affiliate members to move away from their hosting services (or not use them at all) and host elsewhere for a variety of reasons. However, unlike SBI, because they use WordPress sites it isn’t that difficult to do so. These members are often times more experienced and have better sites, so even though they learned their trade at WA, their sites don’t register under his data.
And look, I am not trying to attack SBI – I think they offer a similar service to Wealthy Affiliate and I’m sure they have good training and successful members. I’m just pointing out this guy makes some pretty bold claims about Wealthy Affiliate members that aren’t true in an effort to steer people towards his business. Ironically he’s doing the same thing he gives WA such a hard time about – creating “fake” news and reviews in order to promote his own service.
Meanwhile, you can read about lots of stories within the community of members experiencing all different levels of success. You can take a look at these stories and see for yourself.
#4 – Wealthy Affiliate is NOT free (this one is partly true)
I think this particular complaint stems from a misunderstanding of what their free membership is about.
The free membership is meant to be an opportunity for people to try out the program and see all it has to offer. Not only can you go through their starter training (as well as many other materials within the site), you can actually create your own websites (up to 2) within their site builder platform and access their live chat and community forums.
This is attractive because having the ability to actually join and try out a program without having to put down a credit card is a pretty rare and unique opportunity within the make money online niche. Yes, many other programs offer a “money back guarantee” however every time you are putting down your actual payment details, you are taking a risk that they may not honor and refund your money.
If you let your starter membership go past the 7-day window, you will lose your ability to ask questions in live chat and forums, but you can still read through all the material on the site (that is available for free members). You can still keep your websites, although I think it’s important to mention those sites will be deleted after several months if you never decide to upgrade.
While you can absolutely keep your free starter membership with no expiration, you will be limited as to what you can access within the site.
That being said, I wouldn’t recommend anyone use the free membership to get serious about their online business and make money. That really isn’t the intent of the starter membership, although I think a lot of people try and sell it like that and why many people are misled going in.
Wealthy Affiliate is not any type of pyramid scheme or scam, but I will admit they’re not perfect and not the right program for everyone
Nothing is perfect, and Wealthy Affiliate isn’t an exception. And despite the fact I very much recommend them, I also recognize their program isn’t a good fit for everyone.
The best advice I can give anyone debating whether to give Wealthy Affiliate a try is to be completely informed of what being successful online actually takes before jumping in. The program is an amazing resource, community and training ground for starting an online business and making money through affiliate marketing. However, it isn’t like a regular job and you’re not going to start earning money in _x_ amount of time.
If people looked at Wealthy Affiliate as an educational platform to learn online business and not a “make money” system I think it would produce much less disappointment.