Is Wealthy Affiliate A Scam Or Not – An Ongoing Case Study!
In this case study, which is now over 15,000 words long, I have created a brand new website using the method taught at Wealthy Affiliate University.
I am going to spend the next 36 months, and then some, building my site and record every step to accurately review whether or not the teachings at Wealthy Affiliate has any merit in the ever-changing world of SEO and ranking in the search engines.
This will a 100% unbiased and honest case study as I am taking years out my own time to create content for this website.
I will record any profits I make along with any difficulties I find along the way.
Hopefully, this will become a success story! Is Wealthy Affiliate a scam? Well, we will find out in the next year or two!
I will also review the training, community and support in this article and how it relates to a real working website. This will be the one article which will show you if you can trust the training and believe in the method taught at Wealthy Affiliate.
If you are a newbie and reading this. Keep working and you WILL make it.
Traffic Progress &
Earnings To Date
(Updated, 18th Jan 2019)
(Next Update, 18th Feb 2019)
I have made this case study as realistic as possible. The progress is slow to simulate a "normal Joe" making a website for the first time.
I did not want to make a website, which made a large amount of money right away, because I want to keep the results realistic.
Essentially, this case study is a worst case scenario!
Website Age: 29 Months
Articles Written To Date : 228
Keywords in Google: 1300+
Sales Made = $18.465
At the moment, my average monthly earnings is $636 p/month.
However, if you look at my earnings for the currents months, you can see I now clearing $2000 per month.
This means I am now approaching a good monthly income from this blog.
The Purpose Of This Case Study?
One of the main purposes of this unbiased review is to dispel the idea that Wealthy Affiliate is a scam or in any way untrustworthy.
It's only natural for people to winder if the training is worth the money and so here we go, let's take a look!
Probably the most common question I hear is “How Long Does It Take To Rank and Make Money??”
On the 13th of August 2016, I created a brand new website in the “make money online” niche and I am recording my statistics so people can see the progress.
The purpose of this case study is to show YOU – the newbie – that you simply need to “hang in there” and keep writing. You will make a success of it!
When you hit that wall at around 1 or 2 months and you have written so much but NO one is coming to your website, do NOT GIVE UP!
I know it is hard to keep writing when there is no one reading your material and no cash being earned but you have to understand it takes a while for Google to find you, index you properly and TRUST you!
All the points below are made with the assumption you have done all the WA training before this point. Do not read this and use it as a training module. I am simply recording the steps I took.
Month 1 – August/September 2016
The first month is simply about getting your structure of your website sorted and filling it with content to give Google something to work with.
What did I do in the first month – AFTER the basic WA training.
- wrote 20 blog posts.
- chose and paid for a premium theme. (make sure you have a lot of content BEFORE buying a premium theme. Makes it easier to set it up)
- spent freaking hours fiddling around trying to work out the layout of the new theme.
- got a premium banner made to look professional
- worked on a menu layout which I believe will give value to the reader
- posted on WA to get as many comments and feedback as possible – it hurts to be told negative things but they do help!
- spent hours simply sitting looking at my website, trying to think from a reader’s point of view – in order to make it better,whilst drinking tea.
- checked my Webmaster stats and Google analytics everyday – bad habit! But I can’t help myself.
- watched Jay’s webinars as much as possible.
- did a tonne of keyword researching for new blog post ideas
- read through all my content to find new article ideas from existing posts
Website Stats From Wealthy Affiliate
- Posts = 20
- Comments = 59
Google Webmaster Tools
- Clicks = 9
- Impressions = 229
- Sessions = 309
- Users = 163
- Pageviews = 1,761
The single most important thing you can learn as a newbie is that you HAVE TO BE PATIENT and keep writing!
It takes at least 3/6 months before you start to see any real reaction in your visitor count, rankings and most importantly – revenue!
Month 2 – September/October 2016
The second month is ALL about writing content!
Write, write and then write some more!
What Did I Do In The Second Month?
- Wrote another 21 articles – bringing total to 41
- Did a lot of reading and researching other websites around my own niche to see what they are writing about.
- I also did a lot of competition research to see if there were any cool ideas out there regarding design, plugins and CTA’s.
- Did a lot of keyword research to find new services to review and products to write about.
- Kept asking for feedback and comments from the Wealthy Affiliate members.
- Watched more of Jay’s webinars!
At this point, my design and layout were already in place so basically, I am now in a position where my only job is writing content, and coming up with new ideas for….. wait for it…. more content!
The research I did was in between articles when I needed a bit of a break from writing!
Google Webmaster Tools
- Clicks = 15 – 66% INCREASE
- Impressions = 747 – 226% INCREASE
- Sessions = 235
- Users = 148
- Pageviews = 548
Important things to remember at this point;
- it is perfectly natural and normal to get fed up at this point. If you find you are becoming less productive because you are frustrated then take a day or two off and change your routine. But make sure you come back!
- writing a large amount of content when there is no traffic is incredibly hard the first time around because you don’t have the experience to know that the traffic WILL come.
- Just keep writing!
Month 3 – October/November 2016
After month 3, I realised I have made a huge mistake.
I made some very poor keyword choices and I based almost all my initial 40 posts/pages on an area of my niche which is super competitive.
Much more than I thought.
This mistake basically nullifies all my 40 posts so far.
At this point, my website has taken a totally different direction than I first envisaged and I feel like giving up.
All that time wasted and now I am second guessing my choice of entering the "make money online" niche!
This is when 95% of people give up!
The third month was a difficult one for me. However, it serves as a good example of how life can get in the way and why so many people GIVE UP TOO SOON!
I was all set to complete another 20+ article month. But things kept knocking me off my routine.
First, my sister came to visit for a week, which was nice, but it meant I had to spend the evenings with her and my two nieces.
Then I got invited to a 4 different parties on the weekends where I got absolutely wasted and the hangovers were so bad I did not do anything for days after.
In between this I had a lot of social visits and seeing friends. It was just a busy month for me, socially. Not a bad thing at all – I had a wonderful month.
These disruptions knocked me off my routine completely and I lost all eagerness to do anything, the website was the last thing on my mind. I could barely keep up with my laundry!
This is the important point to take from this. At this point is when most new bloggers give up. After the initial excitement of joining WA and the surge of fresh articles and eagerness, things will always naturally fizzle out a little.
Most new bloggers at this point will give up because they lack the motivation to get back on it. Life will always throw you off your routine. Brush yourself off and get back to work. Publishing a few articles per month is better than giving up. Keep writing!
During this month I only added 2 articles and did little else. However, I am getting a few more clicks on the Webmaster Tools and I will soon be out of the Google sandbox!
Google Webmaster Tools
- Clicks = 26
- Impressions = 1410
- Sessions = 201
- Users = 174
- Pageviews = 382
Month 4 – November/December 2016
Another really slow month on the creativity front. Just been so distracted with life and things going on I barely had time to do anything, to be honest. The initial “oomph!” I had when I first started this website has fizzled and I am finding it hard to get back into it.
I only added 3 more articles this month! But I am still here. I am still in the fight! However, the mistake I discovered during my 3rd month has really winded my enthusiasm.
It feels like when I am writing, I am writing for no one because there is no traffic coming to my blog and I can't see any of my news posts ranking in Google.
- Sessions = 285
- Users = 139
- Pageviews = 553
Google Webmaster Tools
- Clicks = 17
- Impressions = 1272
Month 5 – December/January 2017
At this point, I got back on the keyboard! I added another 10 blog posts and tweaked a few visual aspects of my website I wasn’t happy about. Also, I have seen some movement in my “impression” count on Google Webmaster which is really encouraging!
My impressions have doubled in one month and I can see now that Google is taking more notice of my content. This is very encouraging.
Am I finally exiting the dreaded “Google Sandbox”????
I know these figures may seem tiny, and they are! However, you can see now that they are rising and at this point, the aim stays the same… add MORE content!
Keyword research – Content research – Write – Post – REPEAT!
The more quality blog posts, relevant and helpful to your readers needs = more impressions = more visitors!
During this month I also;
Enabled AMP (accelerated mobile pages) which will make my website more mobile friendly.This no longer needed.
- Make my website HTTPS to make it secure. Which is why I have no stats this month because I had to resubmit my sitemap to Google and reset my Analytics stats.
Month 6 – January/February 2017
On the 6th month, it was very clear that my website is building momentum and I got a gust of enthusiasm as I started seeing results in search engines. My impressions are now in the thousands per month and the clicks are starting to come in.
At this point, I am just going to keep writing. I have around 65+ posts and I am going to keep adding to this.
I am at a strange junction here because I am writing with great hope and enthusiasm even though I am still nowhere... BUT... because I can see things slowly increasing I can only imagine what lies ahead and I can't wait to see what happens.
- Sessions = 395
- Users = 319
- Pageviews = 741
Google Webmaster Tools
- Clicks = 72
- Impressions = 3598
Month 7 – February/March 2017
Impressions are rising even more. Things are finally starting to look good. Added 10 more posts in this month.
Since the first couple of months, I have not really changed much. I just keep adding more content and writing as much as I can. I can see now that it is starting to show the results as my clicks are increasing and so is my impressions.
If I go back and compare it to a few months ago there is a drastic increase! At this point, I have 71 published posts!
- Sessions = 274
- Users = 237
- Pageviews = 458
Google Webmaster Tools
- Clicks = 74
- Impressions = 4425
Month 8 – March/April 2017
At this point, I am starting to see a larger increase in traffic and impressions. Over double from the previous 4 weeks in month 7. This is very encouraging.
Once again, it has been a slow month for me. I have added 16 more articles in this 8th month, bringing my total up to 87 articles.
Ideally, I should have about 160 articles by now. Nevertheless, any progress is good progress. A wise man once said that if you improve by 1% per day, by the end of the year you will be 365% better off than you were one year prior!
Google Webmaster Tools
- Impressions – 8.913
- Clicks – 155
Key things to remember at this point!
My progress is slow because of my own lacklustre attitude towards posting regular content. My personal and professional life has slowed down my posting frequency – this is totally normal in the early life of a blogger before the blog starts to make money so DO NOT let this discourage you.
If you scroll up to the top and have a look at my impressions and clicks from the first few months you can see how much the blog has grown, despite the infrequency of my posting. This is fantastic! Especially in such a highly competitive niche as the “make money online niche”
Month 9 – April/May 2017
Google Webmaster Tools
- Impressions – 12.053
- Clicks – 339
As you can see the traffic is starting to pick up around this point.
I added another 6 or 7 posts to my blog. My clicks in Google Webmasters DOUBLED and things are looking good.
Also, you can see my traffic is picking up on Google Analytics as well. This is because my BING SERP positions are also appearing and starting to bring in a small amount of traffic.
Month 10 – May/June 2017
In month 10, I was very slow at updating my blog. I only wrote another 3 or 4 posts, bringing my total blog post count to 90.
Once again I had a very unproductive month but even so my traffic has increased a small amount – at least it has not decreased!
I can see a definite snowball effect ow building in my stats. My impressions and clicks are increasing at a much faster pace than ever before. Every month is increasing and I have noticed that some of my older posts, which I wrote 4 + months ago are starting to rise in the rankings and get clicks!
Google Webmaster Tools
- Impressions – 10.433
- Clicks – 436
Month 11 – June/July 2017
During month 11 and 12 I did not do too much work – as always! – and I only published some quite loose informational posts at around 1,000 words each. My summer months are hectic due to family commitments and other personal things that come around so I knew this in advance. This is why I decided not to do anything too difficult, I only needed to keep posting on a regular basis.
As you can see my stats continue to grow – albeit on a very slow progression.
Google Webmaster – an extra 3,000 impressions!
Google Analytics – a slow increase!
IMPORTANT NOTE – this is another important point where you have to be able to accept a few slow months of growth. There are always stagnation periods where your analytics do not grow that quickly. Also, I am in the most competitive niche online, you should see these results in half the time I have achieved them.
Month 12 – July/August 2017
The last of my summer months and slow progress. I have some big posts planned for September to kick start my 2nd year of IpoopCash. However I hope you can take some inspiration from this case study so far. Even if you are in the most competitive niche online you can still make an impact.
Google Webmaster – Increasing!
My Plan For The Second Year - 2017/18
For my second year of this case study I am now in a great position. I will try and explain why, and also what my plans are for the second year.
- Domain Authority has increased from 0 to 7
- Page authority has increased from 0 to 21
- I can now rank much easier and quicker for bigger articles.
- Sales are coming in – total about $400 for the whole of 2017. (crap, but it is a start)
I am now solely going to concentrate on longer authority articles - minimum 3,000 words each. I will write reviews and informative guides (“best places to..”) kind of posts based on low hanging fruit keywords which I know I stand an excellent chance of ranking for.
My Aim: to increase my monthly clicks to at least 4,000 over the next 6 months.
Why is it taking so long to make money?
It is taking a long time because I am trying to simulate the “reality” of blogging. Most people will find themselves in this exact position where their blog is doing “ok” but nothing more. Why?
- Most people choose the wrong niche first time around, just like IpoopCash (mega competitive and too broad)
- My posting schedule has been erratic and random at best.
- I have given little thought to my “overall target keyword”, I am just posting about anything vaguely related to “Making money online”
- The reality of writing for no readers is hitting and I want to give up because I am running out of steam.
- I have made poor keyword choices and a lot of my articles have been written as "fluff" and are not as good as I should have made them.
Do these points feel familiar? Then read on…
What is coming up?
Over the next 6 months I will show you how to juice up your old content and to treble your traffic. By February 2018 I will be making at least $400 per month from IpoopCash – ‘touch wood’.
How will I achieve this?
- I will look over my Webmaster keywords that are ranking already and target the top articles which are ranking on page 2 and up. From there I will add additional content on these articles with proper internal linking and additional related videos and some other SEO tricks I have learned.
- I will also publish more videos on YouTube to bring in additional traffic.
- I will reach out to a few blogger to get some guest posting on my website.
Stats so far – see the trend?
Month 13 – August/September 2017
Once again mys tats are increasing each month. I have started to go back to my "fluffy" posts and adding more content.
I have crawled through some older posts to find new keyword ideas and using my keyword ranking inside Webmaster Tools to target similar keywords. I use jaaxy to research these ideas to find low hanging fruit keywords.
At this point I try and make every single article I write as long and as valuable as I possibly can. I have noticed now, when I post an article and submit it to Google, I am ranking on Page 1 in a matter of minutes!
- Impressions = 14,192
- Clicks = 623
Month 14 - September/October 2017
Hit 1,000 clicks in a month for the first time! Very exciting. A few commissions have started to come in as well on Clickbank which is nice. Finally seeing confirmation that I am doing the right thing and that my stats and sales will ONLY INCREASE FROM HERE ON IN!
All I am doing at this point is doing keyword research and writing as much content as I can (minimum 1500+ words). I am also making a YouTube video with every single article containing a small description and a link back to my blog post.
I can see there is traffic coming in as a result which is great.
I have also had a few emails from people, and comments on my YouTube videos, from people thanking me for my reviews. They tell me they were about to buy a product I reviews and gave a bad rating to, they thanked me for saving them money!
A very nice feeling.
- Impressions = 21,046
- Total Clicks = 1,115
At this point I have about 133 articles. In this month I did not do much to be honest, I just kept adding more content as best I could and kept writing. Quite a quiet month.
Month 15 - October/November 2017
- Impressions = 27,149
- Clicks = 881
What Did I Do In The 15th Month?
I made a few important changes. I edited my website logo to include a small call to action. Encouraging visitors to click on my mail "sales" page.
This instantly added a few sales and recurring commissions. I have now started going back to older posts and tweaking certain CTAs and trying to make the posts more user friendly.
I have also noticed that many of my older posts, which were ranking nowhere, (page 3/4), have been given a bump. A lot of these articles are now at the bottom of page 1 and started to receive a small amount of traffic.
This does not seem like much but when you have keywords suddenly getting an extra 10/20 clicks per month, it adds up!
Month 16 – November/December 2017
This month has been good. I have purchase a green screen, just like Jay has in his webinars, and I have made some videos of me talking to the camera and posted them in my "About Me" page and on my sales page.
The aim is to make my whole website more personable and try and connect with people. I want them to see I am a normal person and I genuinely do want to help, not just take their money and run!
Making videos is so cringe worthy. I hate the way my voice sounds on camera and it is incredibly hard to get your voice across without stumbling and mumbling. Getting a take correct is tricky because you have to look straight in the camera and try to not say "ummmm" all the time!
It is surprisingly difficult! haha!
I spent 3 days straight, trying to edit and tweak my videos. Writing scripts and trying to make them look at least semi professional. They are ok, but I will redo them in a few months once I have gained some more experience talking to the camera and all that...
My stats in Analytics and Webmaster tools are increasing a lot. I am getting more and more commissions and I can see daily emails coming in about paid leads and small recurring commissions.
I have also started an email list to collect emails. I have 6 people on my list!
- Impressions = 39.681
- Clicks = 1,368
Month 17 – December/January 2017
During the 17th month I have focused on writing article about brand new products. This explains the sudden increase in clicks because I am managing to rank very quickly on Page 1 of Google. I submit my article and 'bang!' it's on page one within a few seconds and the traffic comes in.
I have started making additional YouTube videos as well, to complement my articles. Now every article I write I make a video review version as well which also helps drive more traffic to my website.
The revenue remained the same which I am very happy about. At the moment I have had two consecutive months with $400+ months in revenue. Fingers crossed this continues.
Google Webmaster Tools
Month 18 – January/February 2018
The 18th month of my case study has gone a bit slower. A few personal commitments has lowered my content output but I am still getting frequent commissions.
I added another 10 posts or so and am focusing on brand new Internet Marketing product releases, such as Ecom Profit Sniper and 30 Minute Method which have both ranked well and brought in a lot of traffic.
As you can see from both my Webmaster tools and Analytics, my traffic is increasing steadily. I am also receiving huge spikes in traffic when a new product is launched which receives a lot of attention from email marketers and affiliates.
When a new digital Internet Marketing product is released there is a very brief period where this will get a lot of attention due to thousands of affiliates emailing their email lists saying, "You have to try this new amazing product!"
The revenue wasn't great this month but it is clear that things are now definitely on the rise and my traffic and revenue will only increase from here on.
Month 19 – February/March 2018
Things are really starting to kick off now!
I am starting to get about 10 or 20 new email subscribers every single day. Today my visitor numbers peaked 180 in one day, is in which insane!
I am now getting up to 6 starter members joining Wealthy Affiliate everyday and I am getting more and more premium subscribers. I have 10 premium members so far and 3 of them have become yearly subscribers.
This month I have concentrated on making training videos within Wealthy Affiliate to help my new referrals stay focused, advance with the training, and make the training more digestible.
This will hopefully, in turn, make them stay members longer and actually make money. If they make money they stay a member and