Updated February 2018
My experience with Wealthy Affiliate University, or just plain old Wealthy Affiliate has not exactly been an incredible one, but it has been interesting, rewarding and opened many doors to me. Let me tell you about it.
Below, I will tell you how each of my four websites are doing. You will see that I have had varied levels of success.
First of all, being totally illiterate when it came to building websites and any kind of online marketing, I felt very intimidated by everything despite being assured by all those internet gurus telling me how easy it was, as long as I paid $97 for a course that then called for me to pay a further $797 before I would learn anything of use. Sound familiar?
I had been fortunate enough to learn that patience is a virtue and had not jumped into a lot of those “get-rich-quick” schemes, mainly because I couldn’t afford to make many mistakes with my limited funds.
I researched a great deal because this was something I really wanted to do and, being in my fifties, the reality is that I need to find something that I could possibly do, regardless of being judged as too old by some headhunter or HR hiring officer.
When I Joined Wealthy Affiliate
I found Wealthy Affiliate to be the “least dangerous” of all the programs out there in my cautious mind. There was a free trial that doesn’t expire and I didn’t need to leave a credit card that could be charged even if I forgot to “opt out”. Granted, much of the information would only be available on my free trial for seven days but it was still free!
When I started utilizing the materials available to me, to be honest, I was stunned at how much information I could gather, including the ability to build two websites, all absolutely free. I followed the training and after two days I had a pretty nice looking website built, had written content and installed graphics. The quality of this free training, how clearly it was laid out and the sheer volume of it was superior to anything that I imagined.
The most important thing for me was that I made good progress from day one which gave me the motivation I needed. Progress was rapid and I had the feeling of actually accomplishing something. I remind you, I am no computer genius, had no experience of coding (still don’t, you don’t need it), I knew how to send email and surf the net. This old dog did learn new tricks.
After three days, I felt comfortable in signing up for the “Premium Membership”, which cost $19 for the first month and after that, about $50 monthly. I could have just opted to pay annually with a big discount but still wanted to test the waters.
This unleashed the immense amount of resources that I could utilize.By the way, now they put on a “Black Friday Special” each year which works out to be just under $25 per month – that’s what I pay
The training covers everything, advertising, writing, building websites, graphics, YouTube, Facebook, keywords, finding ideas for content; the list goes on and on. In fact, I still haven’t covered it all.
My favorite part was the case studies where you are shown a niche website being built from the absolute beginning, i.e. before you even know what niche you want to build a site around.
What Have I Achieved?
Website # 1
My first ever website, based on language learning which became my training ground, or perhaps crash-test dummy might be more appropriate, in many respects. It is a nice site but I found it to be very hard to monetize. There are lots of products to promote but increasingly there are a great number of free products coming on to the market.
I toyed with images, changed and updated the site “theme”, produced quality content, albeit not enough really. I promoted it on Facebook and lots of people liked the content, complimented me on it, but nobody really seemed interested in buying anything.
The lack of financial reward even left me feelingthat maybe my SEO wasn’t up to standard so I hired an SEO expert to fix whatever was lacking. He did a good job, including a very nice redesign but in reality I could have done most of it myself – I just couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Regardless, the sales still didn’t come.
Summary: Results have been a disappointment as far as revenue is concerned but the lessons learned have paid off elsewhere.
The costs, except for the one-off hiring of an SEO expert / designer for $60 along with some $40-$50 for outsourced content, were limited to the annual domain registration of about $12, plus about $40 in Facebook advertising.
I basically leave this site alone to concentrate on others as the likelihood of it becoming lucrative are slim at the moment. Despite this, the site rank is still very slowly improving and the lack of consistent, new content doesn’t seem to have hurt it much. While I was adding content fairly frequently, the rankings were not really improving.
I am barely maintaining the site now, updating occasionally but it is not a priority. I will keep the expenses to a minimum and watch the rankings. If they continue to improve, I may try adding more content and selling the site.
February 2018 Update: Rankings still improving, more people linking to my site but still negligible sales.
Website # 2
This is a niche site in the book/DVD category using products from Amazon. I have some good content, and finding content is not particularly difficult.
I did everything myself and again have only really played around with it as another building block. I changed the theme twice, added content fairly consistently and kept the SEO up to date, to the best of my ability.
Summary: The major lesson I learned so far is that it can be extremely hard to make money selling books and DVDs via Amazon, especially so called mainstream titles. Most of the commissions are just a few cents, as many customers buy the “Kindle” version of a book. DVDs can be a bit more profitable but with the advent of downloadable material, they are becoming less significant.
The saving grace here has often been the “Amazon Cookie” that means that if people click on your link and then, whether they buy your product or not, carry on shopping and purchase something else. For example, if they go and buy a $3,000 garage kit, you get commission on that as well. OK, they might not want to buy a garage when shopping for books or DVDs but they might look at a box set of another series, or a DVD player, even a couch! Read about what happened to me.
I’ve made a little of money with this site and will keep tinkering. As a site gets older, it gains more traction in rankings so it may be OK. Only expense I have is the annual domain registration fee, about $15.
February 2018 Update: Rankings have slightly improved, I have added some more content and more importantly, sales have increased. For example, during the first 10 days of February I have sold about 80 books, which sounds OK, but is only about $34 in commissions – still better than nothing and with no real expenses, it is fine by me. Again, thanks to the “Amazon Cookie”, of those books only about a third of them were being promoted on my site.
Website # 3
This is a niche review site that sells actual products in the home and kitchen category using the Amazon affiliate program. I had this site for about 10 months now and it is starting to show some promising results.
I started the site with about four posts and have been adding one post a week, with about half being reviews and the other half informative and advice posts. My first couple of sales came after about five months, nothing for the next two but since then, it has started improving.
Recently, I ran a Facebook campaign, costing a total of $77, and followed up with a Google Adwords campaign, which has a maximum budget of $80. My traffic improved greatly with both, but the Adwords has given me more clicks. I had run Adwords campaigns in the past but basically wasted my money as I didn’t research it properly.
I outsourced some content writing as this niche was something I knew very little about, actually I knew nothing about it. The content I outsourced was for “expert advice and tips” kind of articles. I believe it was four articles plus a quick “cheat sheet” list and the writing was of excellent quality. For this I paid about $120 – well worth it as I needed to show some authority on the site, not simply review after review. I used iwriter for this.
My rankings have improved a lot in the last three months, so my organic traffic is increasing, partly due to the fairly regular content and also the fact that there is some quality articles as I mentioned above.
I believe this will be a nice, steady little income stream of a few hundred dollars a month – nothing spectacular, but not too bad.
Summary: Easily my most successful site to date. I was able to learn a lot from experiences with the first two sites without breaking the bank.
So far, I paid out a grand total of about $340 in domain fees, a premium theme, a quality logo (all of $10) and the aforementioned advertising.
I earned just over $500 to date, sales are increasing and I am confident that this site will continue to grow. I plan to outsource some of the writing to give a different perspective and add variety, as I already have about 50 posts, while keeping a close watch of my expenses.
February 2018 Update: This site is still doing well, although there was a dip in December and January. December’s drop in sales surprised me at first, but having analyzed a bit more, this niche doesn’t exactly land in the “nice Christmas gift” category. February seems to be back on track.
Black Friday was pretty good and to get the name out there, I did a few boosted posts on Facebook and a small campaign on Google PPC Adwords – the Google results were much better than Facebook.
Website # 4
This site you are on now. I have been kicking this thing around for nearly a couple of years now. I only started it because I was following the Wealthy Affiliate Bootcamp and initially that’s all it was used for. It’s a bit of a mess as it’s all over the place with the articles I’ve written.
All those of us in this niche soon realize that it is extremely competitive, so you need to be patient here. I recommend doing what I did – use it to complement your training. Don’t do what I did and ignore it for long periods of time because that has put this site about a year behind where it should be.
One thing is that the rankings are finally moving in the right direction with absolutely zero promotion, in what is an extremely competitive niche. I believe that because it is “aged” and still receiving content which, though I say it myself, is of very good quality are two major reasons for that. I intend to work on this one, along with Site # 3.as the basic premise of affiliate marketing, working from home, etc. appeals to me.
As far as work, I changed the theme once, played with a few plugins and added content and a logo.
Summary: I need to get my arse in gear on this one. It can be a long term revenue producer, but, as with any site in this niche, it needs almost constant attention.
February 2018 Update: Actually have seen much better results in relation to number of clicks but rankings are still about the same. I have been adding content slowly and tweaked some of the design. This is an incredibly competitive niche as I mentioned above, so patience is a virtue. The biggest plus is that it has started to make me a little revenue.
Summary Of All My Sites
This is where I am now.
I have four sites now, too many if you are still holding down a day job, but I only really ever work on two at a time.
Sites 1 and 2 will get a little attention but they’re kind of like those booster rockets they use to launch spaceships – after a while, you get rid of them. In a nutshell, I don’t really know how to make good money from them.
Site 3 is going to be OK, although it is heavily reliant on Amazon and who knows what will happen there?
Site 4 is still up in the air – I just need to give it more structure, maybe a better theme and most of all, consistent content.
If possible, I will add another actual physical product / product review site. The problem with digital products/training courses, etc. is that it takes an awfully long time to gain the trust, unless you want to roll the dice and blow a wad of money on advertising. These areas are ultra-competitive and unfortunately overcrowded with scam artists, so for me, physical products are the way to go.
I prefer to build trust first and then try to grow from there; it may be slower but will pay off in the long run.
February 2018 Update: I am experimenting with having a site built for me and it should be ready within a month. It is promoting and discussing physical products, with a 50/50 mix of advice and review articles.
Is Wealthy Affiliate Legit?
Absolutely. I accomplished all the above due to the training I learned at Wealthy Affiliate. It is the best training out there and in my two years since signing up for the Premium Membership with them, they have NEVER tried to upsell me on a new feature, tool or program because there are no upsells.
The materials are added constantly, thereby kept current and valid.
The cost of $300 per year (if you pay annually at Black Friday time, as I do) sounds like a lot, but in reality, it’s worth much more than that. Don’t forget, it includes all your website hosting, SSL certificates, the training, 24/7 support and answers to every question, including what may be thought of as the stupid ones, ever asked about websites and affiliate marketing. Just the hosting alone is worth it if you have a few sites.