53 Comments

  1. Yes I’ve seen those attacks online and I am not getting sucked into it.

    Marcus as you know Wealthy Affiliate has been amazing for me, it has taught me how to make money online and I am so grateful for that.

    Yes I know some people don’t make money when they sign up at Wealthy Affiliate…. but think about it there are also some people that buy a franchise business, with everything laid out for them and they can’t make that work either.

    I have not had any personal experience with SBI so I won’t comment on them.

    I can only say that I don’t doubt Wealthy Affiliate, not even for one minute.

    • Thanks for your comment Lynne. Yes, you are right, a lot of businesses fail anyway. But that’s not the key issue for me here. The key issue here is that they have made a valid point about the approach taken by WA affiliates. Many total beginners do the bootcamp course and end up writing negative reviews of products they have not even tried. I know not everyone takes that approach, but many do. I took that approach for a while, and I’m no longer comfortable with that.

  2. Hi Marcus,

    To understand the importance of The Study, you really have to read it yourself, like you did. You can’t take someone else’s word for it as most WA users have. 

    Thank YOU for taking the time to methodically analyze the results and to find out what they truly mean for both you and a future you’s online success.

    You are a “rare (WA) breed,” indeed.

    It is truly a thorough and honest review. Most striking, though, was the open mind that you brought to the analysis.  The various threads about The Study in WA, of which about half have been deleted, show a near cult-like culture.

    I use that term carefully because that term has been applied to us.  In our case, though, we knew we had a terrific product and that customers could see that every action has always been with their best interests at heart…

    So much so that we have the “anti-circle” system of non-marketing, compared to WA’s “buy make money to sell make money” approach by over 1/3 of their customers.

    Regarding the “open mind,” it’s really refreshing to read passages such as…

    “”””””
    I myself fell into the trap of doing this for a long time. I would churn out loads of reviews of any MMO products I could find and funnel the traffic towards my WA review.
    “”””””

    One small correction – we don’t say (at least I don’t think we do) that their product has not evolved.  We say that it is superficial compared to SBI!, has advice that runs contrary to the best interests of the customer, and is out-of-date in places.  We didn’t go into much detail (such as minimal coverage of something as basic as social media).  Everything evolves – so I don’t think we’d say that. 

    I’m hesitant to point out other small errors, because your article is, overall, a masterpiece in logic and analysis. I suggest you reconsider this sentence, or would like your feedback to it…

    “”””””
    People don’t tend to join Wealthy Affiliate because they want to help people.
    “”””””

    I would hope that they do, Marcus. It’s a key part of building a successful business.

    The core of SBI! is that people do create businesses that DO want to help others. You go on to say that…

    “”””””
    they are looking for a way to make money online
    “”””””

    We find that way of thinking to be limiting. We’ve noticed that conversations in the WA forums seem to stall at that limited way of thinking.

    Business is much more than that. Thinking about it more expansively leads to greater maturation of SBIer thinking.  Diversification of monetization is also a critical concept.

    We started as an affiliate solution, too. However, as we noticed how people were using it, our thinking evolved into a much more comprehensive concept that delivers higher income-per-visitor with less risk.

    Your counter-argument that “it’s all about money” would not be incorrect, in one sense. We spend all of DAYs 4 and 10 on planning and execution of various monetization models as well as adjusting models as you become a more successful, high-traffic site.

    The solopreneur’s GOAL should not be money.

    Money does not keep you going late at night to fix a setback. But “quitting the day job” or “funding the children’s college fund” – goals that connect at a deep emotional level – those DO matter and drive.

    Yes, they tie back ultimately by money, but the difference is more than semantics.

    Regarding traffic and monetization.  You read the reasons that traffic is the ONLY reasonable, documentable, verifiable and reproducible way. 

    It is also fair for both.  The only potential bias is if you believe in the Alexa bias, in which case SBI! sites would do even better (since more than 1/3 of WA sites are related to MMO – i.e., not “Real” niches as defined).

    If anything, SBIers should to a better job of converting traffic into income since we graduate models as a site maxes out on traffic, time frees up for more active, higher-paying models of income generation.

    My own daughter for example started with Adsense, Affiliate programs and finder’s fees.

    Now she has sponsorships and her own product.

    She is now in the market for a small hotel or starting an Anguilla-inspired fashion line.  She not only dominates search, but also Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in her niche. She is strong in Pinterest but puts no time into it.

    She has, in short, built a high-equity site with six-figure income. She has also matured in thinking to realize how leverageable her brand and traffic have become.

    — 

    I note your objections to their Success section, but the biggest problem is that few, if any, include their domains.  Domain inclusion enables YOU to verify big claims – you won’t be making $10,000 per month if your traffic is undetectable at Alexa, Similar Web and SEMrush.  

    NO TRAFFIC (a WA problem) = NO INCOME.

    So yes, your suspicions “Or it could be that the percentage of truly successful websites is so low that it would be embarrassing” turns out to be correct…

    The Study shows that in spades. Only 38 (average of 3 measuring tools) sites could be considered high-traffic (as defined in The Study.  The highlights of The Study…

    1) SBI! sites are 33 times (33X) more likely to achieve “Outstanding – Excellent” levels of traffic than Wealthy Affiliate.

    2) SBI! sites are 10 times (10X) more likely to achieve “Medium” levels of traffic than Wealthy Affiliate.

    3) 87% of Wealthy Affiliate sites are “Invisible.”  This is the only category where Wealthy Affiliate “beats” SBI! (i.e., in the worst level of failure – “Invisible” – they get no detectable traffic).

    For complete, detailed results, please see Part 3 of The Study

    You also picked up on our concept of time.

    The biggest problem of a solopreneur is the lack of time. EVERYTHING in SBI!, therefore is about optimizing the use of time to focus 100% on business.  That does not happen in WA.

    Other insightful WAers have told me the same thing…

    “”””””
    It seems like they are using WA as a paid version of Facebook that just keeps them busy for the sake of being busy.
    “”””””

    It almost seems as if the social interaction distracts them away from their original goal – building a profitable online business.

    We stand by the site feedback.  Folks can come to the SBI! forums and ask for a site review without having to provide 2 of their own (at a time when they are likely not skilled enough to do a good job).  Our honour system of “help and be helped” has worked quite well.

    The 2 for 1 just builds more content for WA. 

    I think you are right – I don’t think that we mention the “Certification Course” BY NAME but we do refer to reviewing the materials of the product itself (meaning WA’s “CC”). We refer to its content as “CTPM light,” that WA suggests to just choose “make money” if you can find a niche in 15-30 minutes. We go to great lengths to help people find NON-make-money niches.

    In short, the CC misses key points of information, does not go keep where it matters, provides wrong information (ex., go into “make money”) that serves the company well, though, and so forth.

    NOTE: I have asked an editor to change the following phrase in Part 1 of The Study from…

    “”””””
    Early in the Wealthy Affiliate process
    “”””””

    to…

    “”””””
    In the first Wealthy Affiliate Certification Course (similar to SBI!’s Action Guide)… 
    “”””””

    Just an oversight.  We have 40 pages of documentation about the CC and 80 for the Affiliate Bootcamp.  The Study is just a distillation.

    But thank you for bringing that up – it needed to be clarified.

    NOTE:  You will find that WA includes info such as “find a niche you know and love.”  We recognized much of that as being “SBI! Light.”

    We don’t mind that they liked our concept and went with it.  No one can patent an idea such as that one.  However, what they have done with that, has resulted in much lower success rate and a significantly high fail rate.

    Our “guesstimate” was the The Study would show SBI! is 4-5X better.  That was based on our review of the materials, which we had not completed by the time we started The Study.

    You, for example, correctly identify their niche information as weak. That’s one of the most important parts of the whole process.

    I am impressed at your evaluation of our conclusions and how you build upon them from your own experience.  

    One point regarding the cultish (inside-outside)…

    “”””””
    I have heard exactly the same thing about SBI.
    “”””””

    We have had two waves of “haters” who organized massive campaigns to create high-volumes of misinformation, much of which persists.  The issues were ridiculous, but many of the myths persist to this day.  

    I refer you to the following for details…

    Link to SiteSell forum thread

    Post suppression does not happen in the forums.  I think you’ll see how that got blown out by “alternate facts” of intractable trolls who never quite got around to revealing their own behaviour.

    Some moderators have, on occasion, made isolated mistakes.  But there has NEVER been a systematic policy of deleting threads such as the one you started…

    https://my.wealthyaffiliate.com/marcus1978/blog/sitesell-posted-a-comment-on-my-website

    Your thread was deleted, like others that approached an even-handed discussion.  We have the PDF.  We monitored the WA forums closely because this program has created a choke-hold on our business.  However, we have not planted a single post to them. 

    However, Attack #3 is totally different – this is about money, about creating illegal (WA does not warn you about that, unless I missed it?), misleading reviews about competing products that, without any proof, convince affiliates to risk both the law and their reputation by repeatedly telling them to recommend an inferior product as the better choice.

    It misleads the very folks we want for SBI! – those who are interested and who do due diligence.  They get misled to WA. And worse…

    They do not appear to try again, per a recent survey in our forums — almost no one had seen a negative review before they purchased.

    NOTE: We do not see how SBI!’s superiority could not be known to WA itself. We provide so much verifiable (i.e., we include domains) proof of success in different ways……

    1) Volume (500 sites in the Top 1M of all active sites — 170M!).
    SiteSell Results

    2) Longevity (case studies that grow the same businesses for as many as 10 years or more, posting their occasional update). 
    SiteSell Case Studies

    NOTE: Two have recently realized the equity in their business by selling some or all of each. There’s little if any equity in “make money.”)

    3) New stories from our blog, with a focus on the human aspect of what it means to build a profitable business based on a subject you love, including real-life takeaway lessons (it angers us to think of what their stories could have been with Wealthy Affiliate). 
    SiteSell Success Posts

    ***From their own database, even our PARTIAL list was more than they had, total.  Yet they were self-identifying as the best, nothing like it, etc.

    There are so many examples where they seem to USE folks, we find it shameful.

    Marcus, I have always had a deep belief in the writings of the American authors from the mid 1800s (Thoreau, Whitman)… self-reliance, individualism.  I also believe that we live at a time when the solopreneur is perhaps even more able to build a profitable business now than 15 years ago, when we started.  

    I’ve written the “why” of that elsewhere, but I’m trying to keep this note (relatively) short – and failing, it seems.  😉

    We all deeply believe in the ability of everyday people to do extraordinary things online IF you clear the road of obstacles.  Some of our current stories are spine-tingling (SiteSell Success Posts).

    I cannot stand the thought that 33 of those success stories would likely become 1 with WA, or even worse that many would have ended up depressed in make-money niches.

    Regarding successful sites who leave WA (and so we don’t count them). This is an excellent example of the unsubstantial statement presented as fact.

    “”””””
    These members are so active that their hosting demands probably exceed the hosting provided by WA.
    “”””””

    SBI!’s domain hosting has no maximum. We have sites that cost us money, yes.  WA does NOT generate the level of traffic that we do.  They have so many sites that get zero or near-zero that it seems to be they could afford to eat the loss and still run to higher margins than us.

    Again, without domains, the various attempts to explain results are feeble, not enough to account for 30X difference in high-traffic sites (i.e. the would not have the numbers that we do). 

    But heres how to get the facts. You do it be getting the domains.

    1) Go to dailychanges.com.
     
    2) Check results for MYWAHOSTING.COM. This link takes you straight to its results.  
     
    3) Click on any day.
     
    4) Click on the “Transferred Out” tab.
     
    5) A list of domains appears. Suppose 70 sites have transferred out.  

    6) Now see the “Transferred to” column (it’s the table below the calendar)? 

    ***The vast majority of the 70 (65-68) have gone to services that host soon-to-die domains that will show ads until the domain expires. So those are all failures.***
     
    Only an occasional domain goes to Hostgator or other actual web hosts.
     
    If you do this exercise across many days, you will find that most of the “transferred to real hosting” sites are themselves also “Invisible,” although you’ll find few “low Mediums” but we’ve never seen a high-traffic transfer out. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen, but if unless they are affiliates, why keep the subscription up?

    Logically these folks can be presumed to have given up on WA.  They keep the site, however, to work on it at another host.
     
    I suppose its possible that these unsuccessful customers may be staying with WA. However, since the hosting is an extra expense and the site is likely generating no income, that’s unlikely.  And…

    ***We have not found a successful site while doing this exercise.***
     
    This exercise shreds the excuse that “loads of successful sites leave” but remain as customers.  

    If anything, it also means that The Study under-reports the failure of WA to deliver success – 87% of all sites were “Invisible” – but many more leave in high numbers every day!
     

    YOUR CONCLUSION

    “I went into this expecting to read a load of nonsense.”

    Marcus, from what I’ve seen personally read in the SBI! research team’s verbatim WA reports, you are rarer than rare. You were stuck in the indoctrination, but you have an unusually strong sense of fair play and open-mindedness, probably a scientific mind that can’t put something down until it finds the truth.

    You should probably…

    1) do some research on astroturfing or misleading online advertising laws — these practices are becoming so widespread that benign neglect will end.

    2) ditto for Google.  Fake reviews are the antithesis of what Google wants to deliver…

    Low-quality content, negative-value recommendations which hurt your chances of success by more than 90%.

    They will, either by refining Panda or through RankBrain, catch up with this.

    You remain “kind” to WA.  After 2.5 years, I suppose that is natural. 

    Traffic and certain practices have remained secret through suppression. So people quit but they don’t seem to be mad about it.

    If they knew what we know about WA, more would likely feel betrayed

    And this is the zinger…

    “”””””
    I’m left with a feeling that Wealthy Affiliate may not have been the best use of my time for the past 2.5 years…
    “”””””

    You are so smart, so thorough, so motivated, that I am confident that if you had been doing SBI! instead, you would be doing something you love, much further ahead in how you think about your business, and closer to reaching goals that really matter to you.

    You COULD stop at affiliate marketing with WA.  But why?  Income and equity shoot way up when you take your monetization models to the next level. 

    There are also certain practices that are dangerous. For example, commenting on each other’s web pages because it will help at Google.  

    One of our core principles is…

    KEEP IT REAL.

    Sooner or later, the search engines work out schemes.  Fake reviews – that’s a matter of time – months or years, impossible to say which.

    Commenting – Google could detect patterns out of the norm within certain IP classes.  

    NEVER underestimate the fury of a search engine when you mess with its core product – search quality.

    The Study shows WA’s gratuitous commenting practices probably have no big benefit in search results, given that the search traffic (SEMrush) is the worst performer of all. But once again it’s a case of “fake it till you make it,” and one that (if there does happen to be any benefit now) can only be taken away in the future, perhaps with penalty.

    I am impressed.  You really belong in SBI!.  We are going to do a small webinar with a few WA users, either one-on-one or as a small webinar, personally with me or Mike our CMO.  If you would like to be part of that, feel free to ask any question you like – anything that you’ve ever read about us in the past that worries you.

    One thing that you didn’t mention, so I assume you believe the results (you don’t actually quote the massive difference in outcome).  If you have any doubt, the reason we go into great detail is so that anyone can do repeat it themselves. I’d be surprised if WA has not repeated The Study themselves.

    It’s a simple study. Simple execution. If you don’t know some basic programming, a freelance programmer can do this for $100 or so.

    Meanwhile, I thank you for a thorough and thoughtful article. If you do try SBI!, you’ll notice a different attitude that permeates SBI!, that we go deeper and have sections that aren’t covered at all, well…

    I don’t want to bias you.

    It’s a little like “compare and contrast a cat and a baby tiger”… 

    They are both feline and, at birth, they look similar at a cursory glance.  But as you age with the baby tiger, you’ll come to understand the power difference.

    The only problem?

    You can’t really just “TRY” it, no more than you could “try” a Harvard MBA.

    Commit to it.

    YOU are the person that makes us so upset about all the fake reviews’ injustice.  Not only have we lost many great people like you, those same folks, per The Study, would be exploring and growing an exciting real business with passion and profits.

    All the best,
    Ken for SiteSell.com
    CEO and Founder

    P.S. Please do let me know if you’d like to touch base off-thread.  Reach me through SiteSell Support.

    • Wow, that’s by far the longest comment I’ve ever received! Over 3,000 words! I think you deserve some kind of award or something.

      Thanks for your comment, Ken. I will certainly consider what you have said. It might take me a while to process it all, but thanks for getting in touch.

      • Elizabeth B. Jamison

        I think I deserve an award for watching the video, reading the post, and then reading all the comments. Wow. I just started WA a couple months ago. Hmm. A lot to think about.

        Elizabeth

  3. BobbyCorno

    A very thought-provoking review, Marcus, I appreciate that you’ve spent a great deal of time on just this post, what with the reading through and summarizing the comparisons that Sitesell makes with Wealthy Affiliate (WA). When I first came across Sitesell during a session of building up my site comment credits on WA, I was at first shocked by their negativity, then intrigued by their claims. I, too, am wondering if WA is the best use of my time. Being very new to the concept of affiliate marketing, my knowledge base is very limited, so the type of review you’re doing here is very helpful. Thanks for a great effort!

    • Marcus

      I’m glad you found it helpful, Bobby. My intention here is to be open-minded and honest. If someone makes claims about Wealthy Affiliate, I want to investigate, and if some of them turn out to be true, then I feel I have no option but to say that. 

      It seems to me that the only way to build a credible reputation online is to be totally honest. 

  4. Anthony Beckles

    Thanks for creating the review, Marcus. I have been a WA member for about 2 years now and thinking back on some things I can actually see where Ken is coming from here.

    When I first joined WA, I had no idea what a niche was and what to even choose. So I made a small WA niche site that of course didn’t succeed.

    In fact, none of my websites has truly succeeded (This is due to my own actions and things happening in my own life though).

    However, I have made some money online. What made me make this comment is when I realised I have two current websites (One targeted towards gaming and the other WA) and the gaming site has been the only site that I have seen a return of some sort.

    I will defend WA’s training because it did give me enough information and actionable tips to get me a small job for a while (Which I loved doing). Like Lynne, however, I haven’t tried SBI so I won’t comment on it.

    Once again thanks for this review, as someone who has been with WA for a while is has opened my eyes a little on things I have noticed but hide away.

    • Thanks for your comment, Anthony. It’s really interesting to hear your take on it all. It’s great that you have had some good success, but it is interesting that some of the issues have struck a chord with you.

      It’s worth pointing out that Ken only wrote what he wrote in defence of all the negative reviews of Solo Build It. In fact, any sane busineness owner would defend their own business. What business owner would just lie down on the floor and let other people say bad things about their business?

  5. Elizabeth

    Okay, I was stunned at the work you did for this post, and thankful as well. What an incredible analysis of the competition’s claims.

    For me, but bottom line is that there are so many different companies, so many niches in the world. Think about it, there is a person out there who has become rich playing the tambourine. There’s someone else who stuck with a protein shake affiliate marketing and eventually made it, or the middle-aged woman who ventures into multi-level Mary Kay and hits it big. In each of these cases, the person who managed to get ahead was willing to work harder than most everyone else.

    There are people who would say that buying a McDonald’s is more lucrative than a Burger King, but if the owner of the McDonald’s doesn’t know how to run a business and/or doesn’t work hard, it’s not going to be a success. Again, work ethic.

    For me, to really be able to compare the two companies logically, you’d have to compare the website owners BEHIND the scenes. Everything would have to be equal, so that what we have a fair comparison. So, how can you really say who is more successful?

    In order to make a huge claim like this, another study must be conducted: you need to first get two samples – one from WA and one from SBI. The members of the sample must be chosen for the time spent writing, writing quality, quality of website design, and any and all other factors involved in the overall traffic and money-making process. When all those factors are equal, then you can start comparing. Until then it is apples to oranges as far as I’m concerned.

    That is not to say that SBI isn’t better than WA in some ways and visa versa. But to make an overall claim that one is totally better than the other isn’t a legitimate claim. There is simply not enough data.

    Elizabeth

    • Marcus

      Well, the writer of the study claims that there is enough data. If you’ve seen the 3-part study, you will know just how long it all is, and Ken has said that the amount of data this was based on is enourmous. They put a lot of time and effort into this study.

      I like your thinking about how to do another study, but unfortunately a study like that would never happen because it would mean that SBI and WA would need to co-operate with each other for the sake of the study. 

    • Ken

      Elizabeth,

      Your question: “For me, to really be able to compare the two companies logically, you’d have to compare the website owners BEHIND the scenes. Everything would have to be equal, so that what we have a fair comparison. So, how can you really say who is more successful?”

      Many SBIers start their journey as willing, excited, but “unformed pieces of clay.” People who start SBI! know very little about online business building. Or if they do know something, much of it is misconception from people who print bad information or misleading information due to things like fake reviews.

      However as they use SBI!, we see that unformed clay take shape. They grow not only in terms of online business success, but as business people. Slowly but steadily, due to the culture and philosophy of SBI! and the forums, they grow into sharper, savvier, and more mature business people with a solid mental construct of how online businesses really work.

      At WA, the same people are there (many of whom were searching for SBI! reviews and were misled by fake ones instead). We have observed them from the “hi I’m new threads” that most arrive willing, excited, and green behind the ears, like SBIers. But from all that we’ve seen of the product and the Affiliate Bootcamp, people seem to pick up a culture and an approach to business that is sad, cynical, and lacking.

      WA users start just like SBIers. Most, 87%, end up with “Invisible” results, doing busy work and chit-chatting. The folks who stick (most leave within months) somehow don’t see what could have been. And the ones who leave, only a few end up at SBI! (none of whom had seen the SBI! review, per the thread on that topic).

      Time for WA users is spent creating a profile, new blog posts, answering questions in order to get folks to answer theirs, etc, when all that does is create new content for WA. That new content increases WA’s search traffic, but does nothing for YOU and YOUR business. Out of 366,000 Wealthy Affiliate indexed pages, only 45 are created by Wealthy Affiliate.

      WA users do not start out differently from SBIers when they first arrive. They are the SAME people. They sure end up differently, though. SBIers grow in motivation, learn to “BUSINESS-think,” go into niches that they know and love (instead of being led into MMO). Here is a direct quote from an 18-month WA user (sorry for the anonymity, it was private correspondence)…

      “You make sure we understand how important it is to get the first step right.”

      HALF of the Action Guide is about getting so many important decisions right, about deeply understanding your BUSINESS, until you are ready to DEVELOP the perfect brandable domain name. That FOUNDATION is a key part of why the SAME people get DIFFERENT results.

      It isn’t about the “website owners BEHIND the scenes” – we don’t somehow “get” better people. It is about what SBI! owners do with the materials. It is also about absorbing a mature, business-focused culture that all SBIers form.

      When you say… “The members of the sample must be chosen for the time spent writing, writing quality, quality of website design, and any and all other factors involved in the overall traffic and money-making process. When all those factors are equal, then you can start comparing. Until then it is apples to oranges as far as I’m concerned.”

      Elizabeth, those factors you listed are what you learn in SBI! and in WA. If those factors were equal that would mean both of the products are the same. As we found in The Study, SBI! and WA’s materials are NOT the same.

      How else could this data be explained?

      -SBI! sites are 33 times (33X) more likely to achieve “Outstanding – Excellent” levels of traffic than Wealthy Affiliate.
      -SBI! sites are 10 times (10X) more likely to achieve “Medium” levels of traffic than Wealthy Affiliate.
      -The only category where Wealthy Affiliate “beats” SBI! is in the worst level of failure, “Invisible” (i.e., they get no detectable traffic). 87% of Wealthy Affiliate sites are “Invisible.”

      Even on the most IMPORTANT step of your ENTIRE online business, Wealthy Affiliate gives you what we believe to be the worst advice possible in the Online Certification Course:

      “Either way, please do not spend a week choosing your niche. Within the next 15-30 minutes (maximum) you
      should have your “starting point” niche chosen. If you are REALLY STUCK at this point and you cannot decide on a niche, perhaps you may be interested in the “make money” niche.”

      We steer SBIers AWAY from those niches. They are tough, scammy depressing – near-certain failure niches. WA benefits from anything you may happen to create by becoming an affiliate for them. But you could have done so much more with your life and your online business.

      We won’t get into more analysis of where their material lacks, but it sure makes sense why 87% of their sites are “Invisible.” It’s the product, not the folks who are using it, who are at fault.

      In short – they start the same. They finish miles apart.

      All the best,
      Ken for SiteSell
      CEO and Founder

      • That’s a fair point, actually. The same types of people are going to be drawn to WA and SBI, so the actions they take and the results they get are because of the training and tools they are given.

  6. Ryan Kornegay

    Hey my name is Ryan and it is great to finally see someone that understands the skepticism that goes behind joining an online business.

    I definitely like how you addressed all negative points and used your personal experience to refute all points made wealthy affiliate.

    I’ve seen other websites like yours where they try to sell you on wealthy affiliate first and then argue why its not a bad choice. What made you decide to go with this for your opening page?

  7. Cynthia

    I enjoyed reading your review regarding sitesell and wealthy affiliate.
    I have some experience with sitesell. I joined kept and the membership for one year.
    What happened to me was I got stuck on trying to come up with all the keywords for the niche I picked. I think it was too broad.
    However, for any help there were upsells. I did not get anywhere so after a year I did not renew.
    I know there are people who do make it on sitesell. I guess it was not the right environment for me.

    • Marcus

      Thanks for letting me know of your experience with SiteSell. It’s a shame that there are upsells to get additional help. They definitely don’t mention that in the sales page, but I suppose that is to be expected.

      • Ken Evoy

        Hi Cynthia and Marcus,

        Folks really are way too cynical in this space. They jump to conclusions without facts, and the conclusions imply motives. Sadly, the low level of ethics of the practices in the “online business have led to this sad state of affairs.

        Both the conclusions and the motives are false. “Upselling” implies vultures who start with free or cheap offerings that are inadequate, then upsell people to bronze, then gold and then platinum at escalating prices. It’s a ruthless, vicious practice.

        Here is what Cynthia is referring to…

        We added an offering of Coaching many years ago. SBI! is designed NOT to need it. Let me repeat that…

        SBI! is designed NOT to need it. Lots of folks get help with choosing a niche, finding the best topics to write up, refining their niche, and so forth. It is THE most important part of the entire process. The Action Guide spends a lot of step-by-step time on it.

        Cynthia had figured out that her niche was too broad. DAYs 2, 3 and 4 all suggest cycling back if your investigations hit roadblocks that indicate that the niche, or its monetization (DAY 4) indicate failure.

        It’s a big part of why Solo Build It! has a much better track record than Wealthy Affiliate. And you don’t need coaching to do it…

        However, many years ago some SBIers created and supported a Wish in our Wish List forum for 1-on-1 coaching. They had their own specific reasons for that, privacy at the top of the list. There’s no real need for privacy since no one is going to say “oh what a great niche – I think I’ll do that.” But if they simply PREFER to keep a plan quiet, we have to respect that.

        So, given that, we needed a solution.

        Other reasons included (and this was the best one, in my opinion) “one-of setups” that take a long time to work through, but once set up, the feature is easy to maintain (ex., adding a Shopify store with the same look and feel, or forums). It’s a waste of time to go through those types of setups when you won’t repeat it for years, if ever. By that time, you would have forgotten it anyway.

        So we added 1-on-1 coaching to fulfill this SBIer-requested wish. This is not “upselling.” The 2nd requirement for upselling is also missing…

        It has never been a profit center. My only “business goal” for Coaching is that it not lose us much money! From a purely business point of view, we should terminate it. But a small number of SBIers do use and benefit from it. Feedback is almost unanimously positive.

        The coaches have to have 1) displayed excellence in the forums as willing helpers of others as well as internal interview and 2) be excellent in their performance as coaches. We pay them well, with the minor share covering the administrator/QA who assigns coaches to match the specific request, assess quality of help provided, handle any complaints, etc.

        In other words, this “upsell” provides a service for those who have their own special reasons for wanting 1-on-1 help or who would otherwise pay someone they don’t know (i.e., uncertain quality of service) to perform a setup.

        We could remove this part of SBI! tomorrow without any impact on results or our bottom line, except it would soon appear again on the Wish List.

        Marcus, I do appreciate the way you approach things, but be careful when assessing issues like this. If you need a response, please contact our support team…

        http://earnmoneywithmarcus.com/sitesellsupport

        And let them know about something that you can’t answer. This came to me only because someone happened to spot it. We know you to be fair, so would like a chance to answer something like this.

        Thanks very much.

        All the best,
        Ken Evoy for SiteSell

        • I understand your point about the private coaching, Ken. It’s interesting to compare this to Wealthy Affiliate, which claims to have everything contained within the standard premium membership cost. They even claim that you can contact the owners and get personal 1-on-1 help. Sometimes you can, sometimes you can’t. It varies. Sometimes I have contacted WA’s owners and they have replied with some good advice. Other times I have messaged them and got no response. I’ve also heard from other WA members who have struggled to get help from the owners, especially if their problem is particularly difficult. I think this is because the owners are just so busy they are overwhelmed by far too many messages from members.

          It’s interesting that you hire your coaches from active forum members. Compare this to WA where all WA members have a rank, and the top 25 WA members are given the “Ambassador” title along with the promise of some kind of reward for being an Ambassador. But having been an ambassador several times myself, I can tell you that no rewards ever materialised for me. It’s just a carrot on a stick, so to speak. The WA ranking system and the Ambassador title is just way to encourage members to actively help each other out so that WA’s owners don’t need to pay for extra staff to help members.

          But here lies the problem. If members are all helping each other, who keeps an eye on the advice that the members are giving each other? It could be a case of the blind leading the blind. WA could be full of people all helping each other to NOT earn money.

          And going back to the 1-on-1 coaching issue, many members join WA as a referral of an existing member. In such a situation, the member that referred them will be their mentor. The problem is, how knowledgable will this mentor be? If they are a beginner themselves who has simply done the bootcamp course and is referring new members just by saying how great WA is, how much help can they genuinely give another new member?

          When you really analyse it, the whole WA house of cards has a bunch of weak points that could cause it to collapse if scrutinised too closely:
          1) Negative discussions are hidden, thus hiding the true picture of how the average person actually feels about WA.
          2) Members say WA is great because everyone else seems to be saying WA is great and because the owners of WA told them to say it’s great.
          3) Members compete for high WA rankings, and ultimately the Ambassador title, by being as active as possible.
          4) Although some of the things posted to WA, and some of the help given to members, is good and helpful, a lot of it isn’t. A lot of it is time wasting at best, and bad advice at worst.
          5) The standard niche selection advice seems to be to try it and see what happens.
          6) Personal hep from the owners is not always a guarrantee.

  8. Farid

    Hello Marcus,

    I accidentally found your website and was surprised by the hostile message of “SBI”, if I may compare it with my own Trade, the car industry I may be right and could say: Wealthy Affiliate must be the better one.

    Why?

    In the car industry, when a company is the biggest of the world it will be attacked by “little demons” better known as the simple thinking people and/or competitors, who don’t grant the other one to be successful.

    Every car manufacturer makes mistakes in production. This could be a real mistake or one, which was programmed to be one. For example a few years ago Toyota became the biggest manufacturer worldwide and after a while, suddenly cars of this brand were called back, problems with the brakes. If it was true or not, the brand Toyota got a bad name for a short period and sold less so Volkswagen could overtake with sales and what happened next? We all know.

    So reading the so called study of SBI it remembers me of the stories in my own trade and I think you wrote a great blog about this, showing us, as in the rest of the world and SBI, that there is clearly a gap of knowledge at that company.

    Thanks to your blog I compared Wealthy Affiliate and SBI in the first step. SBI starts with keeping their hands up for money and Wealthy Affiliate gives a person the free choice when to start paying for Premium.

    At the moment I’m searching for an opportunity to start my online business and am always much aware of little wars like this. Could you explain me, why I should choose Wealthy Affiliate Marcus?

    Thank you very much,
    Farid

    • Marcus

      Thanks for your comment, Farid. The example you gave could also work the other way. It could be said that SBI is the big company and WA is the little company needlessly attackign it via fake reviews written by affiliates. In these situations, it can be hard to find out the truth, but that’s what I am trying to do. 

    • Thank you, bigo. I have just finished reading that review and some of the supporting articles. It’s really eye-opening. It just goes to show, everyone has secrets they try to hide.

    • Ken

      Bigo and Marcus,

      No secrets, this was Attack #2, outlined in some detail here…

      http://earnmoneywithmarcus.com/sitesellforumtopic1

      Also, see the P.S. of this thread…

      http://earnmoneywithmarcus.com/sitesellforumtopic2

      We even mentioned it on THIS page right here (including a link to the first forum post above). Do a string search on THIS page for “We have had two waves” and you’ll see it.

      So no secrets.:-)

      If I had the chance to sit in a room with her and go over EVERY one of those arguments, carefully untangling the webs, jumps to conclusions, twistings, etc – precious little would remain. Trying to do so publicly only brought more swarming to bury any point that we made, burying it with more of the same.

      Note that I am not even welcome to reply to her “review.”

      This was, as mentioned in the P.S. of the second forums post above, the closest we have ever come to suing someone.

      They have no idea how well we had documented their original language with court-usable documentation (later expunged by them when they realized what they had done – too late for them though), how our database proved some statements to be lies, etc.

      They even jumped to joyous conclusions when they assumed that we did not know the statute of limitations, or were afraid to sue, etc. They jump to many conclusions without knowing the REAL FACTS.

      Wealthy Affiliate, meanwhile, launched a lawsuit over one solopreneur, Jeff Lenney, who wrote an honest (and strongly worded) insight into Wealthy Affiliate’s practices. We saw that review, and then, 2 days later, it was gone.

      Then a researcher found out why. Please see: http://earnmoneywithmarcus.com/lenneywalawsuit

      The “review” that Bigo refers to is the cleverest and most devious bashing that I have ever read, anywhere. Each and ever point boils down to lies (which we can prove in our database according to her usage of SBI!), brilliant twistings of reality into fantasy, taking half-truths and making them falsehoods, turning molehills into mountains, etc.

      We learned not to reply. We tried at first…

      We would dissect an argument in a forum thread, thoroughly destroying it with FACT. Rather than acknowledging that, 5 more IEDs (the acronym we gave to what was essentially “Irrationally Exuberant Detractors”) would simply swarm with more of the same type of arguments in her “review.”

      The REAL reason for this attack was so trivial (how we positioned ourselves against WordPress, then deleted spamming of identical comments to our FB account, and finally a frustrated reply by us that I would have liked to have taken back). They finally realized that their hatred was so over-the-top that they positioned themselves as “defenders of the public” against SBI!.

      If anything, they should be protecting solopreneurs against fake reviews and WA affiliates.

      This was an unwinnable battle. It was not debate – it was just bait. We finally chose to ignore it and move ahead. Hate and anger eventually abate – and they did.

      Here is the REAL truth of that review. She had previously NOT succeeded. She used SBI! for 36 consecutive months, renewing each month, to grow from 0 to 3000 visitors per day. Then she left. In our very forums, she called SBI! “the best product” while talking to an SBIer who was finding it to be too much work. She talked positively about Brainstorm It! while claiming she never used it in her review (which she toned down later). Anyway…

      She continues to use what she learned to grow a successful business. And finally, I am happy that we did not sue her. Everyone deserves a chance to change their lives, as she has done. To sue her was about “anger,” as the P.S. points out. It would have been, in the bigger picture, hypocritical of us to bankrupt a solopreneur.

      So we lived with it. And it went away. But the bottom line is this…

      Don’t believe everything you read.

      Much worse was to come…

      Attack #3. This attack by WA affiliates is purely about money. So it won’t go away. Worse, it is flat out hurting people by leading them to a product that delivers, as shown by The Study, terrible results from an inferior product.

      There are no lies in their, no complicated arguments. Just logic and data…

      We’re showing data-backed proof that SBI! sites are 33X more likely to gain “Outstanding to Excellent” levels of traffic than WA and you’re replying that we’re “not so amazing” because of an ex-user who had one huge ax to grind.

      Yes, we had a user who was extremely prickly and others who, over a period of 10 years had been banned (or fired with a refund) for being intractable trolls (after many warnings) who SBIers were glad to see go.

      But it does not change the FACT that 87% of WA sites are “Invisible,” nor the 33X high-traffic superiority, 10X Medium-traffic betterment, of SBI! over WA.

      When you go through SBI! Marcus and see the conversations in the forums, you will see a very different reality from both that of WA AND from what Attack #2 painted.

      All the best,
      Ken for SiteSell
      CEO and Founder

      • Hello again Ken,

        What you said about Jeff Lenney really strikes a chord with me. I didn’t realise he was actually sued by Wealthy Affiliate!

        I remember Jeff’s review of WA. He wrote a fake review without knowing the facts, without even looking in Wealthy Affiliate to find out for himself. This was his way to give WA a taste of their own medicine. The irony was funny really. I thought it was kind of justified in order to prove that point.

        But then he took that review down, joined Wealthy Affiliate, and wrote a more balanced review. That too disappeared after a short while. I didn’t know why. I kind of assumed he felt he had made his point and had decided to move on. I had no idea he had actually been sued by WA!

        That’s rather scary, to think that the owners of WA would allow fake reviews of other products to exist to promote WA, but as soon as someone does the same to them they take legal action.

        This is all too crazy really. All this makes me want to get away from affilliate marketing altogether…

        Marcus

        • Jason Turnbough

          Or you could, you know, quit WA since you know how they roll now. Jeff essentially did what they teach their members to do, but better than they do, and against WA. Talk about Irony, that’s what Wealthy Affiliate is being sued by Mobe for.

          This is why I don’t trust any WA reviews I come across online, they can’t be trusted, plain & simple.

          • I don’t think I trust any MMO reviews now. I definitely wouldn’t trust any of Jeff Lenney’s reviews because I know he does launch jacking so he’s essentially just giving trying to make a quick commission out of products when they launch.

            I think I need to have a big think about all of this and what I do next…

          • Jason Turnbough

            Jeff actually tries all of the products though, usually does a video showing the members areas etc too. I’ve bought 2 or 3 products through him before and have never been disapointed.

            Jason

        • Ken Evoy

          Marcus, regarding your comments…

          “I don’t think I trust any MMO reviews now.”

          and

          “”””””
          To think that the owners of WA would allow fake reviews of other products to exist to promote WA, but as soon as someone does the same to them they take legal action.

          This is all too crazy really. All this makes me want to get away from affiliate marketing altogether.
          “”””””

          I write this sadly, having also opened my eyes to the wider-than-WA situation of marketing in the MMO/net marketing/affiliate marketing space.

          We started in the days of real reviews from people who really meant it. Those were people who really dug into a product, who would never recommend anything for the buck.

          Those days appear to be almost 100% gone in the Net marketing space. I think back to our beginning…

          Allan Gardyne was our top affiliate in “the good old days” (roughly 1997-2007) He started with us when he was a huge name and we were unknown, about to publish our first book (“Make Your Site SELL!”).

          The book was full of original thoughts/approaches/strategies based on a successful business that I had rolled out and then terminated, as promised to those customers. They still use that product and write me amazing notes…

          But for me, it was just an experiment. I was trying to answer a question…

          “Was it actually possible to build a business and sell something online?”

          Remember, Amazon was just getting started on losing billions of dollars in those days!

          I was, at the time (and I thought forever), “retired.”

          Anyway…

          I chased Allan with emails that went unanswered. I finally called him at home in Australia (with an embarrassing miscalculation about what time it was). We talked for 2 hours and he sounded interested.

          I was going to send him a free copy the next morning, but guess what?

          He had already bought it himself! That spoke volumes to me.

          He was the foundation, along with folks like Ralph Wilson and others with big names and impeccable reputation. We sold over 150,000 digital copies and went on to grow a huge publishing business based on a branded line of “Make Your _____ Sell!” branded books.

          And then, one fateful survey, one of the questions asked…

          “What business have you built using our books?”

          Talk about depressing. Here was a typical answer…

          “I love them. I learned a lot. But I still can’t figure out how to start or how to USE that information.”

          THAT, Marcus, was the day I decided to stop publishing books. Those books DID launch the 2nd generation of Net marketing gurus (all of them customers of at least one of our books). Sadly, each generation has dropped in ethics while stepping up the hype.

          SBI! was born as a result of that survey. The passion in SiteSell comes from the insistence on enabling others to ACTION and SUCCESS.

          I had no interest in growing a large profitable publishing business if folks were only going to read them as non-fiction. I need to be passionate about what I’m doing.

          SO WHAT HAPPENED WHEN WE LAUNCHED SBI! IN LATE 2001?…

          I expected Allan to dig into it, NOT to actually “do it.” If you really dig into everything, read the AG carefully, check out the forums, etc., etc, you’d be able to understand how radical this product was.

          We didn’t have proof of success yet, of course. But we knew that SBI! was special.

          Now we have loads of proof. You could do the same kind of deep-dive review and ALSO now understand how we achieve the results we get.

          http://earnmoneywithmarcus.com/sitesellproof (every success backed by its domain)

          But we didn’t have that YET, not back then.

          So what did Allan do with this next-level product?

          He hired someone to actually DO it! Two of them, actually.

          6 months later, results were good enough for him to write about. In year, both were doing well. THAT is when he released the domain names (he didn’t want traffic to the sites that were not real, not until he was convinced that SBI! was totally “for real”).

          Allan was one-of-a-kind.

          He could have been making $25,000+ per month right off the bat, from the time of our launch. He had already brought tens of thousands of people to books that people loved.

          He became a friend. And I miss him…

          His perspective on life changed after a life-threatening condition that required a bone marrow transplant. He slowed down working and eventually sold the business (Allan built “equity,” an important concept in SBI!, too).

          Here’s the bottom line…

          In those days, folks did not recommend a product because it had the highest-paying program. They dug, they did REAL reviews. They recommended the BEST program after serious due diligence.

          Why?

          *****Mission #1 is ALWAYS, regardless of niche or product, to serve your visitor as best you can.**** And on that note..

          We have contacted every WA affiliate in the Top 40 about The Study, its results and what they mean – twice. Only ONE had the honor and guts to pull the fake SBI! review down.

          THAT is how sad this space has become.

          Today, SBIers write reviews about Solo Build It! – THOSE mean the most. A sampling…

          http://earnmoneywithmarcus.com/sitesellsbireviews

          They never needed to since their visitors have no interest in the topic. In fact…

          SBIers write at a “Google disadvantage” since their sites are authorities in THEIR niches (ex., Anguilla or exotic turtles), NOT “net marketing” or “make money” or “online business” niches.

          They do NOT write them to make money because they won’t make much, if any. WE TELL THEM THEY WON’T.

          They write to support SBI!, period.

          Ironically, of course, all those WA affiliates who write a review about “Wealthy Affiliate” – they haven’t figured it out. When thousands of people write about the exact same long tail topic (reviews about WA), only 10 can be on page 1 of the SERP.

          It may be the biggest mismatch between search demand and the amount of competition. But new affs keep writing that WA review first.

          All they do is provide depth that prevent poor reviews from penetrating. It’s a valuable service to WA, but one that earns precious little for most.

          An occasional extraordinary talent may manage to get a page 1 ranking, but that pushes another WA affiliate out of the Top 10.

          So most end up earning the same as SBIers. Little-or-nothing.

          The only difference is the promise (we tell folks straight) and the motivation (support, not to “make money”).

          And when it comes to niches – it’s just too depressing, Marcus – as you are beginning to perceive. Sucking folks into various schemes – that’s going to be YOUR business. WA is brilliant conceived by WA users.

          But only a very small number can make money as affiliates (some of whom only buy the product to be eligible to earn 100% fees). And just as few have successful WA businesses of any kind.

          We KNEW that just by examining the materials. You have to go deep to see how well this will work for WA’s business. But not for yours, not even in a non-“make money” niche.

          The quality is just not there. It is good enough to be better than nothing. We’ll be publishing a study to show how it does against folks who just “figure it out.”

          But it’s nowhere close to SBI!.

          And THAT is the sad part of the fake reviews…

          You could be doing something joyous, in a niche that you know and love, building traffic and “Brand of One,” growing and maturing your monetization models as your traffic and brand grows.

          We appreciate that SBIers write REAL reviews out of support for a product that they love and believe in (some don’t even use affiliate links).

          And, thanks to the discovery of WA’s affiliate tactics, we’ve woken up the realization that we need to be marketing in entirely new ways to connect the best product to the huge market that needs it.

          I’ve been negligent when it comes to our own marketing – kind of the “shoemaker’s family” story. This has opened all of our eyes to what needs to be done.

          For that, I’m thankful.

          Back to the good old days…

          Internet marketers took their time. You didn’t have to “DO THE FULL ALLAN.” 🙂

          REAL reviews are honest and provide excellent material that portrays the product accurately. Whether they are written by an actual user or you hire a thorough researcher to actually test it all, your job as a reviewer is to help the visitor answer…

          “What product is most likely going to enable me to succeed.”
          -or-
          “Why is this product THE most likely to enable me to succeed.”

          A REAL review helps the user get close to that answer. If it has to TRY, it’s a pitch, not a review. If a “review” is written as pre-pitch for a different product, and if that other product is demonstrably inferior, that goes beyond fake…

          It may actually incur legal liabilities for the affiliate, especially in the case of SBI! where it’s very clear which gets the results.

          A REAL review, per the law, includes actually having USED the product. It needs to be honest and impartial. It needs to self-identify as being written by an affiliate who earns a commission (which WA affiliates largely do not do, especially not on the already-fake reviews).

          A widely used definition…

          “A fake review can be defined as a positive, neutral or negative review that is not an actual consumer’s honest and impartial opinion or that does not reflect a consumer’s genuine experience of a product, service or business. ”
          – European Parliamentary Research Service, 2015

          So, yes, sadly, when we reach the stage where affiliate training materials result in fake reviews, written by a company that TEACHES affiliate marketing, I feel as you do…

          Those idealistic days are gone.

          The good news?

          There IS some good news, Marcus…

          It’s not as bad in the non-money-making niches, the “REAL” niches that SBI! is all about. We still believe in affiliate marketing, performed ethically, keeping it real, OVERdelivering to the visitor.

          There are still sites (SBI! and not) that DO focus on, say, vacuum cleaners. Some of the pages are product reviews.

          If they actually use and test each vacuum cleaner, write terrific content and if their recommendation truly reflects their belief, IF THE AFFILIATE COMMISSION IS JUST A BYPRODUCT of serving your reader well, that’s real…

          It still happens. A lot.

          Travel sites can still do OK with Booking.com, at least until they are ready to move up t higher-paying, more time-consuming models.

          So I would not discard affiliate marketing. It’s when “affiliate marketing” markets “affiliate marketing” (and round it goes) that matters go south, into a mire of time-wasting and misleading “noise sold to the highest bidder.”

          I had no idea, up until we became aware of WA’s tactics, of how much the net marketing and make money spaces had become cess pools. It was there when we started. Now it’s hard to find a genuine review.

          And when you do find one, you still find yourself wondering.

          We tell folks to stay away from those spaces, so we don’t study them. I had no idea of how much better our advice (to stay away) had become over the years. 😉

          The downside for us, we are realizing…

          It makes it very hard, even with SBI!, the only product that truly elevates the solopreneur, to stand out, break through the resulting cynicism, and be believed.

          The ground has shifted. We knew that, but I only realized by how much by becoming aware of the fake reviews of WA affiliates, and after in-depth review of the WA Bootcamp.

          If no one sees what is wrong with its focus, it’s time to leave this “land of the new normal” to the bad products that need to sell by trickery and refocus our efforts.

          I mean…

          Look at how many WA users see our study. This is a rock-solid original piece of research. It’s an objective study that was a RESPONSE to WA affiliates writing fake reviews about OUR product, reviews that were written only to recommend WA as superior.

          They know that. They followed the instructions on how to do it.

          And yet they perceive these studies as an “attack” and “negative” etc. NO ONE wants to talk about the staggering results, except to say “I don’t believe it.”

          They could hire a programmer to do the same study for $100. But they prefer to squeeze their eyes even tighter.

          Only in this “land of the new normal” is that type of response possible. That said, there are some folks like you, Marcus, thinkers. They don’t seem to be welcome in WA discussions, though.

          The good news is that, while it has depressed me to find just how low the Net marketing space has sunk, WA’s fake reviews have got me excited about marketing again.

          It’s motivating to market against the immoral and illegal. It’s also reassuring to know that Google and the law will catch up to this.

          Those who create fake SBI! reviews may not care how much they hurt folks who hope to reach an important goal by starting an online business. They may be angry at us for revealing the truth.

          But they’ll only feel truly misled when a Panda improvement or RankBrain catches up to those reviews. Or when the law finally cracks down on this.

          My primary role has long been to watch the evolution of the Internet, the major trends that are coming, figure out which are real and which will burn out, then work out how to position SBIer so that they may best take advantage of that…

          Do we add a new tool? A new feature to the tool? How does it fit with CTPM (http://earnmoneywithmarcus.com/sitesellctpm)? Does it belong in the Action Guide (http://earnmoneywithmarcus.com/sbiactionguide)? Or in one of our “content HQs?”

          I’m lucky to have great teams (Content, Dev, Support), so the same principles filter throughout the company and into the products and the forums.

          Whether it’s content or software, growing The SBI! Advantage by growing SBI! is what has kept me excited. They result in stories that blow my mind…

          http://earnmoneywithmarcus.com/sitesellreallife

          It’s hard to fathom sometimes – I’ve never met them. But those are REAL people. To know that SBI! has been the catalytic enabler keeps everyone here excited.

          To know that other humans, WA affiliates, don’t care about them? That’s motivating.

          So, due to what first seemed like an illegal fake review attack that threatened us, we can see new directions for SBI!. Our eyes are open to a new reality, which opens new directions for marketing SBI!.

          I can’t stay tucked away purely in Product and in our forums (where I have written over 10,000 posts – many as long as this one 😉 ).

          We did not perform The Study for WA users. We needed to respond TO ATTACK. We had no idea that only 38 sites out of 17,000 WA sites achieve high traffic.

          That’s not an attack against WA. It’s a number from a study. It’s staggering to see results like this…

          1) SBI! sites are 33 times (33X) more likely to achieve “Outstanding – Excellent” levels of traffic than Wealthy Affiliate.

          2) SBI! sites are 10 times (10X) more likely to achieve “Medium” levels of traffic than Wealthy Affiliate.

          3) 87% of Wealthy Affiliate sites are “Invisible.” This is the only category where Wealthy Affiliate “beats” SBI! (i.e., in the worst level of failure – “Invisible” – they get no detectable traffic).

          (For complete, detailed results, please see Part 3 of The Study…
          http://earnmoneywithmarcus.com/sitesellwa3)

          But it’s NOT AN ATTACK.

          It just is what it is.

          I’m excited to turn some of my attention to what we need to do – market the only/best product of its kind, in new ways. If you want to help us at any point, Marcus, please reach out to me directly (I’ve left my personal email address).

          You have the spirit of an SBIer. And we need help to get OUR word out, without bribery, tricks or dishonesty.

          THAT seems to resonate with you.

          All the best,
          Ken Evoy for SiteSell

          • Hi Ken,

            Yes, lots of WA members are writing WA reviews targetting the same keyword – “Wealthy Affiliate review”. However, most of them probably know they won’t get much direct search engine traffic to that review. This is why they write reviews of other products and then funnelling the traffic towards their WA review.

            However, even some of those other products can be difficult to rank for if lots of other WA members are also doing the same thing. I found a way round this. For a while, what I was doing was looking on muncheye.com and writing reviews of new products as they were being launched. On some days I would churn out as many as 5 quick fake reviews. It was a scatter bomb approach. You throw enough shit at a wall, some of it’s going to stick, right?

            If you compare this to how long it takes to try a product for real and then write a full genuine review for it, it’s easy to see why so many WA affiliates opt for just quickly churning out loads of fake reviews. In fact, it’s almost guarranteed that it’s going to happen, unless there is some kind of negative consequence for them.

            You can compare this to how lots of internet marketers used to get loads of fake backlinks in order to improve their SEO. They did it because it was easy, it worked, and there were no negative consequences…until Google started clamping down on it.

            For the same reason, if it’s possible to easily churn out loads of fake reviews for competing products and end up referring new members to WA, then that’s what some people are going to do. If there are no actual negative consequences for the WA affiliates that do this, it will always happen.

            You mentioned before about when MOBE suied WA. Well, that was clearly a negative consequence for WA, but it seems that the punishment was not passed on to WA affiliates. This is where the problem is. I us WA members had received an announcement from the WA owners telling us we would have our WA accounts closed if we wrote fake reviews, most of us would have stopped. But instead, the WA owners kept quiet about it, letting us all carry on writing fake reviews. It only became an issue for WA’s affiliates once your research forced it to be an issue.

            But there’s not really an easy answer to this. It’s difficult to keep track of all the fake reviews, prove that they are fake, and punish all those individuals responsible. And simply telling people it’s unethical won’t deter most of them. Years ago when all internet marketers were getting fake backlinks, if you’d have told them it was unethical, most of them probably wouldn’t have cared. Because the truth is a lot of people will do whatever they can get away with in order to get ahead.

            It’s the same reason WA’s owners suppress negative discussions. Personally, I think that’s unethical, but I can totally understand why they do it. They are doing whatever they can to ensure the success of their business.

            As for why WA members dismiss your research, I think there are two main scenarios where this will happen:
            1) They are new members and are still spellbound with overwhelming enthusiasm about WA, so they don’t want to believe anything bad said about it because they really want it to be true that WA is going to finally be the one thing that will help them succeed.
            2) They are super affiliates of WA who have earned a lot of money promoting WA. These are the members who will have gone to Las Vegas. Because they have had so much financial success through promoting WA, and have made friends with the owners and other super affiliates, they don’t even want to entertain the idea that there may be some unethical aspects to WA.

            There’s an interesting discussion on WA that hasn’t been removed yet, which you might find interesting:
            http://earnmoneywithmarcus.com/lynnewascam

            All the best,
            Marcus.

          • Ken Evoy

            Hi Marcus,

            (I don’t see a way to reply to your repy, so I replied to mine. Hope you can connect the dots. 🙂 ).

            Interesting thread that you suggested…

            http://earnmoneywithmarcus.com/lynnewascam

            I keep getting that let’s-all-be self-reassuring, culty vibe in the SBI! discussion threads (the ones that are allowed to stay up). It’s the “true believers” IGNORING the results of The Study, preferring to justify all the actions that they take that boil down to “fake reviews” (the definition is clear on that).

            A common theme, even in your post above, is that “the expeditious way is OK even if it’s wrong.”

            I love how you write…

            You DO see “our” side of it, but you word it very carefully with enough softeners so as not to offend the “true believers.”

            Back to that thread…

            There’s no reason to take down that thread since it’s “all WA-good.” And, as usual, the starter of the thread who claims success does not provide her DOMAIN. Reasons for not providing a domain are bogus.

            And, at this stage, her domain is irrelevant for THIS conversation. Her domain can only be…

            1) 1 of the 38 that falls into the “high-traffic” division- that doesn’t change SBI!’s 33X supremacy at this level

            2) 1 of WA’s Medium-traffic sites – that doesn’t change SBI!’s 10X supremacy at this level

            3) or she’s lying and falls into the 87% of WA’s sites which are “Invisible” (per the Study – undetectable by SimilarWeb, Alexa, SEMrush).

            When someone claims success but doesn’t have it, my experience is that they are lying. You may have to do a lot of hunting, end up finding their Twitter account, use that to follow tweets to get the domain, check ownership of domain, etc. But in the end, it’s rare for people who SAY how well they are doing AND who do not mention their domain to actually have a thriving high-traffic site/web-based business.

            Here is the upper-cased bottom line…

            MMO IS THE “FAILED STATE” OF NICHES. THEREFORE…
            1) ANY CLAIM WITHOUT DOMAIN SHOULD SIMPLY BE IGNORED.
            2) NOTHING SHOULD BE BELIEVED IF NOT PROVED IN A VERIFIABLE MANNER.

            None of that thread really matters, because no one wants to discuss results like this from The Study…

            1) SBI! sites are 33 times (33X) more likely to achieve “Outstanding – Excellent” levels of traffic than Wealthy Affiliate.

            2) SBI! sites are 10 times (10X) more likely to achieve “Medium” levels of traffic than Wealthy Affiliate.

            3) 87% of Wealthy Affiliate sites are “Invisible.” This is the only category where Wealthy Affiliate “beats” SBI! (i.e., in the worst level of failure – “Invisible” – they get no detectable traffic).

            For complete, detailed results, here’s Part 3 of The Study…
            http://earnmoneywithmarcus.com/sitesellwa3

            To test the true tolerance of WA…

            Why don’t you add a post (to the same thread) with the above results and link, and ask them whether results like that give them pause to think.

            In that thread, you said…

            “the fairest way to know for sure which product is the best out of WA and this other product would be if the WA member was to join the other website and test it out as fully as they are testing out WA. It’s fair to say that most people won’t feel they have the time and/or money to do that. ”

            Actually, that’s useless because it does not consider the bias of the user. We have already established the “fake reviews” are the modus operandi of the WA affliate. It’s an inevitable outcome of the training.

            In fact, there have already been a couple of WA users who have bought SBI!, “used” it, and said, “I still prefer WA.”

            I mean – that’s just sad. But it gives WA users the warm and fuzzies and will fool some folks searching for REAL reviews of SBI!. Most folks are honest – it takes a while for a beginner to understand that folks would lie to get their money, their future be damned.

            I hope you call out those who post the “next-gen” reviews of “I tried it and it’s terrible” reviews. The original SBI! “reviews” are all bogus – the next generation are just stunts.

            Back to your comment, therefore…

            Marcus, the only REAL way to find out who is best is not by one-of anecdotes (even if done seriously). It’s just that – an anecdote. A thorough, complete review could legitimately give an honest personal opinion. Short form…

            SBI! does take more work, but you get the type of results that The Study shows. It’s up to the individual to decide if the extra work is worth the results.

            THAT’s a fair review/conclusion, including a link to The Study. A good review includes full usage AND balanced information so that the reader can get closer to the right decision for him/her. But THAT is far from what they learn to do at Bootcamp.

            The best way is to study the results of every active site of WA vs every active site of SBI!. That’s exactly what we did.

            And THIS is what no one at WA wants to specifically address…

            http://earnmoneywithmarcus.com/sitesellwa1

            Typical answers (they would be funny if they weren’t so sad are)…

            “I don’t believe it. They are biased.”
            Answer: We explain what to do in the study in that case -> Do it yourself or hire a programmer to do it. It’s super-simple, woudl cost $100 for a couple of hours work. You will get the same results.

            “Traffic does not mean success.”
            Answer: We provide the answer to that, too, in Part 2 of The Study…
            http://earnmoneywithmarcus.com/sitesellwa2success

            Another good one…

            “Bootcamp never says ‘write fake reviews.”
            Answer: They don’t have to. The totality of the Bootcamp takes the follower to that outcome. All the scattered advice outweighs the disclaimers to “create valuable information.” Finally, all you have to do is search for reviews of the 175(!) products for which they tell folks to write reviews.

            WA users try to say “WA is not responsible for a few bad eggs.” But, as far as we can see, all of the eggs are bad when it comes to writing reviews of SBI! and other competing products. I’m sure someone has a sense of fair play and integrity, but we’ve not actually found one.

            I could go on and on, but folks don’t listen to the answers to feeble objections. They want to distract from the results and disbelieve answers AND The Study way too much.

            NO ONE wants those results in those discussions, let alone address them. And THAT is the most important part.

            Anyway, we do owe WA a debt of gratitude. We know what we need to do now to grow SBI! back up to where it belongs.

            Thanks for some intelligent conversation and a good attempt at balanced coverage. If you ever get tired of MMO and get excited about the idea of building a BUSINESS around a niche that you and love, we’d love to see you at SBI!.

            I can’t see you failing. And you’ll love the winning with integrity philosophy, the additional topics that are absent from WA, the depth of coverage of critical spots such as niche selection and refinement, and the diversified approach to monetization.

            All the best,
            Ken

          • Hi Ken,

            It’s actually against WA’s anti-spam rules for members to link to their own websites within their posts on WA. But members are allowed to list their websites in a special section of their profiles. If you look at Lynne’s WA profile, her websites are listed there.

            You say that it would still be biased if WA members were to properly try SBI because they would still be biased in favour of WA. Yes, that’s probably true. They would have made friends with people on WA and feel attached to it. Perhaps there is no way to completely eliminate the bias, other than to repeat your study?

            The problem is, most people won’t have the time or dedication to repeat your study. You say that other people could hire a programmer for $100 to do the study. People aren’t going to pay that, it’s just not going to happen.

            I agree with your answer about Bootcamp not saying to write fake reviews. It is true that members are taken in that direction. I’ve been saying this for a while, since before your study came out. I started to realise that the bootcamp course leads members towards writing fake reviews without actually explicitly telling them to go and write fake reviews. This enables them to gets the results they want whilst also covering themselves by claiming they don’t actually tell affiliates to write fake reviews.

            I’m not sure exactly how WA would be able to best crack down on the fake reviews, but I can’t help but feel they could do more to prevent this from happening, or to try to fix things when it does happen.

            All the best,
            Marcus.

  9. Jason

    Wow Marcus

    I just read through the comments on that WA thread you linked to – those people really ARE drinking the Kool-Aid, aren’t they?

    Sad how they don’t see a problem with Doing False Reviews, and feel it’s WA’s DUTY to do “reviews” (whether fake or real) of other products in order to send people to WA.

    It’s sad, how many are so blindly dedicated to a program that likely doesn’t help them earn alot of money.

    There really are TONS of better programs out there than WA, where $2-$3k a DAY is quite often achieved – yet that kind of thing gets fasly called a scam by WA’s heard of Lemmings.

    Seems to me you’re finally seeing the light, so props to you for keeping an open mind on things. 🙂

    Jason

    • Hi Jason,

      One thing I have noticed at Wealthy Affiliate is there is a kind of brain washing that does on. The process goes something like this:
      1) A person looking to make money online finds a review saying WA is the best way to make money online.
      2) Because it has the name “Wealthy Affiliate”, and wealthy means rich, they think WA will make them rich. This is a logical conclusion to come to, right? I mean, the clue is in the name! This place is going to make them WEALTHY!
      3) Once at WA, they get told they should not focus on earning money, but focus on helping people instead.
      4) If they complain that they are not successful enough because they haven’t earned enough money, they get told that money isn’t the only way to define success, that each person has their own definition of success. Yeah, whatever, blah blah blah…
      5) If they quit WA before they have achieved success, it’s their own fault. Nice way to shift the blame, right?
      6) Not many posts in the “Success” section of WA actually contain reports of financial success.

      Sure, I can see that it’s important not to ONLY focus on money. It’s important to have other goals, including gaining skills and helping people. But these other goals are really just means to achieve the main goal – earning money. Let’s not forget, this is the reason people join WA. They want to earn money, and they get told that WA is the #1 way to earn money online. So, if WA does not make them WEALTHY through AFFILIATE marketing, it’s not lived up to its promise, right?

      But of course, if someone leaves WA, it’s their own fault for giving up? How convenient!

      All the best,
      Marcus.

  10. Deborah

    Hi Marcus,
    I was a member of WA and an affiliate for SBI. Since I write about scams, I deal in facts. I couldn’t honestly talk down a program just to get money. The thing that bothers me about SBI is there are more affiliates than members and this was pointed out by an ex-member of SBI. I had to dig to find blogs that still exist on WA about SBI but they are from previous customers. Also, when I went digging for the “fake reviews” I only found a couple. because most reviews were written by ex-members and they are very good actually.

    I disassociated myself from both programs for several reasons, I actually finished going through all the material at WA and the platform was getting distracting to me with lots of negativity. Also, I found a free course that I was learning a lot more from. Any interest I had in SBI Evoy killed with his study that focused only on WA but I guess all those fake videos at Youtube are okay with him since most aren’t done by WA and the fake reviews by his own affiliates are also okay even though they never tried the program. I always look at the whole picture. Affiliate marketing does have its dark side and its bright side.

    Last but not least is the Alexa and its accuracy which has been proven to be flawed and not a suggested way to check ranking because it works hand in hand with the toolbar. Many experts in the field explain this in detail. In the end, if you want a true analysis of a program read the disclaimers. Things are always hidden in the disclaimers. To fully understand that study you would have to know exactly what information from both sides was used for the graphs and without that information you won’t be able to duplicate it.

    Well, that’s all I have to say. Your insight was interesting and well worded, but I’m delving even deeper into it.

    Best Regards,
    Deborah

    • Hi Deborah,

      Thank you for your intelligent and thoughtful comment.

      Yes, that is worrying if there are more affiliates of SBI than there are active members using it.

      Apart from the inadequate guidance on niche selection, I really like the main training at WA. I like how it is so step-by-step and with actionable tasks at the end of each lesson. I really miss this when I come across other training that’s not done in this same step-by-step way with tasks to complete along the way.

      But the community aspect of WA really started to irritate me. So much time seems to be waste there. But if you’re not promoting WA itself, once you have gone through all the training you can just move your websites to other hosting and leave WA. That’s unless you want to hang around for the weekly webinars and the member-created training.

      Anyway, I will be interested to hear what your findings are when you delve deeper into this…

      All the best,
      Marcus.

      • Deborah

        Hi Marcus,
        I’ve have delved pretty deep into the SBI rabbit hole to a point that most would never go. The complaints dating way back to before WA even came into being are so numerous I could write a couple of books and still have left overs. You won’t find anything like that with WA.

        Evoy owes WA a massive public apology for the misinformation contained within his study. You may want to Google The Great Debacle of 2009 where you will find an image showing 40,000 members vs 80,000 affiliates. So how are all those affiliates writing a review on a product they have never used?

        You may want to brush up on white hat vs black hat SEO. Do you realize in his study he refers to WA founders and its members as sociopaths? I find that very disturbing. Also, there are numerous ex-SBIers who refer to Evoy as Hitler and SBI as a cult which is even more disturbing.

        If I was to go into everything I found this would be a 5000-word comment so I’ll just do the high lights.
        He uses propaganda which is a persuasion tool to defame a high ranking competitor to save what ex-SBIers call a sinking ship.If you are unfamiliar with the term propaganda there are some excellent YouTube videos on this subject as well as sociopaths.

        Also, there is a personal note in his study that states if he found a superior product he would ship his people over to it. Well, I don’t think WA would want them LOL.

        Yes, WA does have its MINOR problems, but there is no reason not to speak with the founders about any concerns you may have because as you already know, they will get back to you.

        If you go over Evoy’s study with a fine tooth comb I’m sure you will find that it is keyword stuffed for SEO optimization which means its all about rank and the same goes for his comment here on your web page. He’s using you. Kyle warns of this tactic in his courses. Unlike most, I read and watched everything in both courses, it was only the PPC tasks I didn’t do because I’m not ready for that yet.

        My site may be brand new to the internet but I’m not! I’ve been doing internet research for years and I’m good at it. In my last comment to Evoy, I said I wished for both companies that which they truly deserve. Well, WA deserves to be #1 and has the platform to prove it (and don’t think for a second Evoy doesn’t know that lol). Keep an eye on my website for the next story debut! Take care and best wishes,
        Deborah

        • Thank you for your in-depth reply, Deborah.

          I understand Ken’s motivation for commenting on my site. I wanted to approve the comments and reply to them, through, to get a conversation going and see what came from that. I did, however, replce his links with nofollow pretty links, to avoid giving backlinks to him.

          • Deborah

            Hi Marcus,
            You are very welcome for the information and I’m glad to see you took care of the comment problem. You have an excellent site here with good information. Remember that all through the lessons in both courses Kyle says research is crucial to any article and to have your ducks in a row before publishing. When I was in doubt about an article I did ask for Kyles opinion and got feedback so don’t ever be afraid to ask. I wish you much success now and in the future.

            Best Wishes,
            Deborah

  11. Mary O'Donnell

    Marcus, I’m very surprised at what you write here, it is so untrue about wealthy affiliate. I had the opportunity to speak to you about this before and discovered you had not done the sort of research necessary to succeed in the niche you had chosen and this bitterness has spilled over into your attack on WA.

    WA absolutely did not tell people to do negative reviews or any of the things you say, you are just spilling a lot of bitterness out here in a very damaging way and that business person was correct in what they analyzed straight up.

    You also didn’t do you research into sbi too carefully either by your own admission here.

    Being a member of WA does not qualify you to write a review like this. And that aggressive platform owner needn’t reply to this, that is of course if you don’t do the very thing you accuse WA of doing and ban my comment.

    • Hi Mary,

      I don’t think I’ve ever removed comments unless they are actual spam. I welcome comments that disagree with me because they are an opportunity to consider another viewpoint, or clarify my position further if I still disagree with what it said. It’s all good, and it keeps things interesting.

      Regarding niche research, I did actually spend a fair amount of time trying to analyse the electronnic music niche before I committed to building my Synths and Software website. I looked at a lot and products, keywords, and various domain name ideas. I also did ask other people what they thought of the idea, and had a fair amount of discussion about it before I finally decided on it. I’m still not entirely certain why that website didn’t succeed as well as I wanted it to.

      But regarding the niche guidance in general at WA, the standard advice does seem to be to just create a website about whatever you are most interested in. I have seen Kyle respond when people have asked him what niche they should choose, and he has asked them what topic they are most interested in, and when they tell him, he just tells them to start with that. To me, this seems to be a bit too much a case of “hit the ball and see where it lands”. It’s not really taking people by the hand and helping them do a deep investigation into whether a niche is likely to be a good basis for a profitable business or will actually end up just being a hobby site that brings in a small amount of side money.

      And I know from going through early comments I had on my website from fellow WA members, in which I had let them include their website URLs, that many of those websites no longer exist. So the failure rate is high. The same is true from analysing my referral stats. Despite trying my best to help my referrals, most of them end up leaving eventually. I’ve heard the same thing from other WA affiliates. So the claim by SBI that the churn rate at WA is high does seem to be true from what I can tell.

      Interesting that you use the word “bitterness” in a way that makes it seem like I am just a bitter person who happens to be taking it out on WA. I don’t think that paints an accurate picture of the situation. It’s more of a case of I was once very enthuiastic about WA and put in a lot of time, effort, enthusasiam and energy into it all…but then after 2 and a half years I am disappointed that the success I’ve had has been far less than I hoped it would be. That’s a better way to describe what’s happened, rather than saying that I’m just a bitter person who happens to have chosen WA to take my bitterness out on.

      In fact, if someone hasn’t succeeded at something for a while, isn’t it intelligent to start questioning whether you’re on the right path? Otherwise you could just keep going in the wrong direction. It’s not a case of giving up, but more a case of considering changing direction a bit.

      But then there is the other side to all this, the realisation that the way things are taught in the bootcamp course is not really the best way to build a business. I know the bootcamp course does not explicitly state that we should write fake negative reviews of other products. It’s done more subtly than that. It’s done more by suggestion. We’ve already been through this several times, Mary, and I’m genuinely surprised you’re still struggling to understand it.

      The only explanation I can think of right now is that you are so deeply invested in WA that you are unable to look at things objectively. I was the same a couple of years ago too, and probably would have responded to such things in a similar way back then. Sorry if that sounds condescending, but I can’t think of any other way to say it. It also says nothing about you as a person particularly. It is to be expected. It’s just human nature that when we are really into something and excited about it, we don’t see it objectively, and any harsh criticisms of it make us feel uncomfortable.

      You are right that I didn’t get round to trying SBI for myself. But that’s not actually a valid criticism of this article, though. This article is not a review of SBI itself, but rather a thorough look into the claims made by SBI’s review of Weatlhy Affiliate. Your line “Being a member of WA does not qualify you to write a review like this” is not true. Of course it does. If I have been a member of WA for 2.5 years, I know enough to be able to judge whether or not many of the claims made by SBI are true.

      I’m a bit unclear on what you meant by one part of your comment, though – “that business person was correct in what they analyzed straight up”. Not sure what that refers to. Could you please clarify?

      All the best,
      Marcus

  12. Ben

    Marcus,

    What you’ve said in your review and in the comments are exactly what I’ve been thinking for several months now, long before Site Sell came out with their three part study.

    I actually left Wealthy Affiliate and transferred my sites elsewhere, and although I returned when they offered a steep discount for ex-members, I’m not very active there anymore.

    No internet marketing training program is perfect. However, Wealthy Affiliate has some serious issues that have been suppressed for a long time. There’s no need for me to go into them, as you’ve done so yourself.

    I think that if Wealthy Affiliate deleted the entire bootcamp (they can keep their affiliate program without it), 99 percent of the problems would disappear and it would be a good place for newbies again.

    Of course, Mr. Loudoun and Mr. Lim won’t do that, because the system they’ve set up basically is a never-ending marketing scheme where they get tons of exposure and new members without doing any work (actually, they have affiliates paying THEM for the privilege of doing this).

    I believe that forcing members to continue paying in order to access the affiliate program is intentional; this way members who set up bootcamp sites will almost never leave WA because of all the work they’d lose.

    Congrats on an honest review man, keep up the good work and much success.

    • Hi Ben,

      Sorry for the delay in approving your comment and replying to it. I was taking some time away from things while family were visiting me.

      You are 100% spot on about the bootcamp. It’s a way for them to get newbies to do their marketing for them. And they nudge them in the direction of saying other products are a scam and WA is #1. And they know that in those circumstances, some people are going to write quick fake reviews just to promote WA. Kyle and Carson must know this, but they can always just say “We have no control over what individual affiliates do”.

      You are right. If the bootcamp didn’t even exist, the vast majority of WA’s problems would disappear. To get rid of the remaining problems, they could probably get rid of the WA ranking system.

      And of course, if lots of people were genuinely successful after doing the cirtification training, they would naturally want to tell the world about how amazing WA is. There would be no need for the bootcamp because successful members would naturally promote WA anyway.

  13. David Webley

    Hi Marcus

    Sorry a bit late to the table here.

    For background info.I have been a premium member of WA in the past (Not for the training though)
    and I am also a current free member of WA, so I can see some of the articles in the WA community.

    I have read Kens detailed analysis of WA along with your comparison and honest analsyis. It’s great that you have been prepared to stand back and view things from the outside in so to speak.I congratulate you for the amount of work that you have put into this for the benefit of your audience and yourself too, I think. I know from your past comments within the WA community that you have had, well some niggles shall we say, on how WA operates but as you have been a member of Wealthy Affiliate for some time on and off it can’t have been easy writing this article.

    I must admit that on the whole I couldn’t find much in the way of fault with Kens write up which I think was extremely measured
    considering some of the negativity being expressed and written by WA members.

    Wealthy Affiliates training is what it is and to be fair some of it is not too bad, especially where it comes to the technical side of doing things. However, there are too many things concerning there business practices that I disagree with which would prevent me from ever promoting them, no matter the reward.

    I think what I find most concerning is what is not included in the training rather than what is.

    The most important element in any business is the customer. They are the ones who are going to get the credit/debit card out to fund your operation
    and hopefully put food on your table. Therefore all any successful business has to do is present the right opportunity, infront of the right audience, at the right time, in the right place and at the right price. Do that and you should have a sale, and hopefully if you have the right business model a loyal customer following.

    I can’t recall any major training on audience appreciation within WA. If you do not know who your audience is (from PM’s I know many think it is everyone) how can you hope to understand them and address there needs and hence make a sale. If you truly know your target audience you’ll now where to find them, the most receptive may not be sitting the other side of Google.The understanding of your target audience and product offering will also have a major part to play in the design of your website and the UX. There is not a standard best design fullstop/period.

    The other training element lacking is having the right mindset ( I think Jay might have done a small piece on this once) many WA members are happy to blindly follow
    what WA teach. OK I appreciate if you are new to this business you have to have a certain amount of trust in your tutors but as you become more experinced in this business you need to branch out and question things after all you should know your niche and audience better than they do. Any quality training should teach you to think and test things out for yourself. Just because a fellow member has had major success with Linkedin or Facebook does not mean you will do too so blindly following the flock could be costly for your business as they might just be lemmings and not sheep.

    So what I am basically saying is that WA lacks fundamental business skills training unless your business is just promoting Wealthy affiliate at any cost.
    I have no inside knowledge at all concerning Sitesell so cannot comment in that respect other than to say that Ken does appear to be making the right noises if that makes sense. (No disrespect Ken)

    Dave

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Dave.

      The main benefit of Wealthy Affiliate is that is contains several essentials all in one place – training, hosting, tools, community. But the truth is, you can find all this and more separately if you take some time to look for it. So Wealthy Affiliate is perhaps a good place to start for beginners.

      Or is it?

      The problem is, WA’s niche guidance is a bit lacking. It essentially says to just try making a website about your main interest and see if it succeeds. Surely there is much more to choosing a niche than just jumping on whatever interests you the most?

      But then if someone is not sure, they are encouraged to do the bootcamp course. Then that’s when things can go a bit wrong. If someone is a complete beginner and they are told to say that WA is the #1 and that everything else is not as good as WA, that’s not really teaching them good business skills is it?

      So in that sense, Wealthy Affiliate is actually not a good choice for a beginner, because they can end up going astray by just saying WA is #1 just because they were told to say WA is #1. Or if they don’t do the bootcamp course and they go with their own niche, they might spend several years trying to make money in a terrible choice of niche just because it was the thing they were most interested in.

      Then there is the thing of the members all helping each other out. The problem with that approach is that often it can seem like the blind leading the blind. So far, it’s been very easy to achieve “Ambassador” status just by being very active withing WA. Then other members will look to those Ambassadors for guidance, even if they don’t actually know much about internet marketing.

      Regarding this review itself, and my brutal honesty in it, let me say this. This has happened because I decided I wanted to be as honest as I possibly could about everything. Surely, if the owners of Wealthy Affiliate say they want us to NOT write fake reviews, if they want us to do HONEST research, and write HONESTLY about things, then that includes being honest about WA.

      When I first heard that SiteSell had done a thorough analysis of Wealthy Affiliate, I fully expected it to be fully of nonsense. This is because of all the negative comments about it by WA members.

      I even told Kyle I was going to read it and write an honest article about my findings. He said he was fine with that. I went into it expecting it to be full of holes, but actually found that Ken made some very valid points.

      But going back to the whole fake reviews issue, I’ve realised it’s bound to happen with the way the bootcamp course was set up. But then if Kyle says that if members write fake reviews that’s their own doing and not Wealthy Affiliate’s fault, that doesn’t really make sense. Of course it’s bound to happen with the way the bootcamp course nudges them in that direction.

      I mean, if Wealthy Affiliate takes credit when WA’s members do wonderful things and have great success, WA must still take credit when their members do bad things. They can’t have it both ways. Either WA is influencing their members’ behaviour or they’re not. They should man up and admit that it all starts with Wealthy Affiliate. All the good and bad things that Wealthy Affiliate’s members do starts with Wealthy Affiliate. If the bootcamp course didn’t exist, the vast majority of fake reviews of WA’s competitors wouldn’t exist.

      • Dave

        Marcus,
        To address a couple of things perhaps the last comment 1st.

        People rightly or wrongly join the likes of Wealthy Affiliate or a similar program in order to generate an income and if they can find what they think can make them money faster with an already laid out strategy like the boot camp they will take it which is just human nature. Wealthy Affiliate takes full advantage of this and even give many examples of ways to promote WA at the cost of other online business programs. Though due to inexperience many do not know that a lot of the programs WA “put down” are relatively unknown programs.

        WA stay clear of other programs that would be serious competition to them. It is a lot easier to put down or promote as scams those programs that are inferior for all sorts of reasons. WA do seem to have redefined the word SCAM though, to meet the own ends. Let’s not forget WA is a business, they are there primarily to make money and are your friends so long as you continue paying your monthly dues.

        Yes, WA in the name of making it easier for their members (A Heavy dose of coughing going on here) Do provide “training, hosting, tools and community” One must ask is this in the true name of supporting their members or for customer retention.

        Training – Yes WA have a reasonable structured training program enough to give people a basic understanding of the various elements and how they fit together. In my opinion, these are more of a practical guide of how to, and not necessarily when to and whether you should or should not implement such within your own niches.

        Hosting -Many existing members would be very uncomfortable having to move their site to another host so they stay by default. I could setup a reseller account with a hosting company for less than $16/ month and sell hosting or offer it “Free” to my subscribers, so not a big deal. They and WA members (without any detailed knowledge) proudly state that WA have one of the most secure hosting environments. As an ex IT professional involved with server and networking infrastructure I have my own opinions on that one ; ).

        Tools – Not sure what tools WA offer that give any major benefit over anything else available, perhaps this has changed since I was a premium member.

        Oh, and yes, the famous “Community” – The blind leading the partially sighted in most cases. If I wanted to learn effective Facebook advertising conversion strategies I would seek out someone who had proven success in this field and not a “neighbour” who mainly posted about their dog rolling around in dung and having various parts of their anatomy removed. In many cases it is this community that holds people back. We all like to have fun and banter but to be a successful “business” person you must encourage a certain mindset and mix with people who share the same mindset or those who have already achieved something in your chosen field. I appreciate there are some successful members at WA but it is obvious they have a very different mindset to the majority and guess they retain membership for the extra rewards they reap from the affiliate program.

        As far as niche selection is concerned, I totally agree with you, the training is somewhat lacking within WA although not “totally” wrong. They encourage you to start by choosing a niche that you are hopefully passionate about or at least interested in. They then get you to start the website building process.

        This they do I guess to start getting their members excited and passionate and most importantly “taking action” in starting their online business adventure as soon as possible. In my opinion if members went through the correct process then many would fall at the first hurdles as it would be too much effort, and drop out of the WA membership.

        As you already understand not all niches are necessarily profitable from an online business perspective. To have a business, any business, you must have buyers. i.e. people who want to buy goods or services from you or via your affiliate links. When choosing a niche you need to choose one that has buyers plain and simple. Now if that niche happens to be one that you are very passionate about then hopefully it should make it that much easier for you to be successful as you will be able to maintain interest and have inside knowledge which you can pass on or even sell to your new-found audience.

        Successful online marketers make most of their income from their existing audience or buyers as I am sure will probably be the case for the physical business world too. Therefore, one needs to choose a niche that offers multiple opportunities for repeat sales. Not so long-ago people promoted things like cures for snoring or tinnitus etc. Ok, you have sold your cure for snoring, let’s say it worked! Why would that person need to visit your site again? They wouldn’t, so you whole business would be about getting new customers to your site. Now that is a lot of challenging work to maintain and be successful at.

        Now let’s say instead you had a niche in the craft area. You could promote large ticket items like machinery occasionally, small tools, craft consumables, training manuals and videos, courses etc. People would always be interested in new products or techniques and developing skills in their craft. You could retain you audience interest with hints and tips delivered to members of your email list pointing them at various reviews, offers on your website thus encouraging repeat visits.

        I don’t recall any training on customer retention at WA.

        WA encourage people to promote using Amazon affiliate links but not how to enlist customer loyalty in doing so. If you promote reasonably high-ticket items people will rarely purchase straight away but will scour the net for additional information and best prices. Now if Amazon did offer the best price the chances are the customer will remember that but not the site that referred them. The potential customer will most likely go direct to Amazon and after the 24-hour cookie has expired.

        Choosing the correct niche is fundamental to success and takes some time and market research up front which puts a lot of people off, it is not difficult, just time consuming. A lot of people already know this but for some reason choose to ignore what they know when starting online. People need to consider what their own purchasing habits are, where do they go for repeat purchases and why. What items do they buy once and then just look for free information on forever after, and why?

        There really is no secret, just build a FOLLOWING of REPEAT buyers by providing helpful honest advice and quality products either your own or those you are affiliated with.

        • In a way, I wonder if Wealthy Affiliate ultimately does more harm than good by trying to provide everything all in one place. They make it all too easy, and make the members too reliant on WA.

          Building a website on WA is super easy, but this means that members don’t learn how to set up a website on other hosting. There are limits to the WA hosting, which is why most of the very successful members at WA actually host their websites elsewhere. But WA doesn’t teach you how to set up web hosting elsewhere.

          When new members arrive, Kyle says that Wealthy Affilliate contains absolutely everything you need, but this is not quite true. It doesn’t contain an autoresponder system. Many successful internet marketers will tell you that email marketing is a critical part of their success. But it’s not part of the main training at WA, and an autoresponder is not provided. So WA is trying to provide everything, but not quite doing so.

          And with WA trying to provide so much all in one place, it means there are so many elements to it that need constant maintenance and development. So where in their busy week do Kyle and Carson ever get time to actually “walk the walk” rather than just “talk the talk”? How do we know they are really the best affiliate marketing experts to follow if they spend most of their time running Wealthy Affiliate rather than actually being affilliate marketers themselves?

          Take Kyle’s two example websites, Ways to Avoid Scams Online and How to Lose Belly Fat Today. The scams website has only had two blog posts this year, and the belly fat website was last updated over 2 years ago! Sure, he must have lots of other websites too, but when does he find the time to post to them? But these two websites are the ones that he used in the two courses to demonstrate how to do affiliate marketing, and it’s not setting a very good example if he’s now abandoned these sites, is it?

          I mean, people should be following someone who is earning a full-time income from affiliate marketing, not someone who is earning their income mainly from running a website about affiliate marketing.

          This then comes down to the whole thing of them getting other members to do most of the work to help each other out. But I never really got the sense that I was surrounded by lots of experts. It’s full of people at all stages really, but the really successful people are definitely in the minority, which means either not many people are successful or that most of the successful people don’t stick around once they are successful.

          But there is a lot of time wasted at WA, there really is. If you subscribe to email updates and follow lots of people, you could almost spend all your time just reading and responding to posts on WA, many of which won’t actually contain much useful information. Some will, but many won’t.

          You’re right that many people would be put off if they had to spend too long doing too much research into niche selection. The problem is, many people do give up later anyway, once they realise their passion isn’t a profitable business. So they waste time and money, but WA earns money while they are at WA. But negativity gets supporessed at WA so you won’t hear from most of the frustrated/disappointed members.

          It’s a wonderful idea, being able to create a full-time business out of a passion, but I just think it doesn’t often work out that way for many people. But if a person gives up, the attitude of WA will be that they gave up too soon. But surely people need to know when to give up, right? Otherwise you could spend your whole life trying to make a bad business idea generate profit.

          • Dave

            Marcus

            You may not want to publish all but these are my honest thoughts.

            To start with Wealthy Affiliate is a business! They provide everything that their customers THINK they need to help get them off the ground all in one easy to purchase package.
            Excellent marketing or….

            The trouble is if you are a total beginner to the idea of making money online you really have no idea of what it entails or what you might need. I think such a structured training program can be quite a good opportunity to learn a lot of what sort of things are involved and whether you will have the ability to absorb the training and implement the necessary actions.

            Will people enjoy doing this activity “work”? You can at least try things out without committing yourself to multiple contracts with different suppliers.

            I also think it is quite a good idea to start out choosing a niche or a subject that you are passionate about as this will make it more enjoyable in the beginning and therefore easier to get started. Despite what a lot of marketing hype might say running an online business of this type is quite complex and I can understand why many might have difficulties.

            All I am saying is that I think that this can be a good way to learn the basic ropes of this business, a sort of initiation if you like. I do not think anyone should expect their first endeavours to free them from their shackles of a 9-5 or whatever.

            I would say that most people earning an income online had “failures” with their first sites. I know I did. I started off with a site about growing orchids (seemed a good idea at the time, though not exactly a passion of mine) and included a short course delivered by autoresponder in multiple parts. My profits at the end of the day were less than $50 not exactly a commercial success but I learnt an awful lot along the way.

            I am not too sure what the answer is to be honest as I think many would find it hard to know in advance that they might not succeed at their first attempt, but it is just par for the course I am afraid, and everything about this business is a learning opportunity.

            I think that many people will fail, not because they have not chosen a good niche or they can’t master the technical skills necessary but purely because they do not have the right mindset. I think can be developed to some extent with good training as you really need to be able to think for yourself in this business. There are many however, who just like to follow, waiting for the next instruction from their Guru. These folks will either fall by the wayside or just continually line the pockets of others.

            These generalised coaching programs can only do so much and it would need real one on one mentoring to move some people forward to get them over their personal sticking points. It is harsh I know but some people are not cut out for this kind of work despite marketing claims that anyone can do this.

            When I was starting out or starting out again 😉 I got together with a group of 6 others to form a sort of mutual support group where we would get together on Skype (just messaging) on a weekly basis and share our work and thoughts, support and harsh critique if necessary too. It really helped and I think there could be groups within WA who would benefit from this but alas not something one could promote within the community.

            The 2 websites of Kyle’s that you mention I guess were set up purely as sites to be used and shown as part of the training. Does Kyle have other websites? Who knows, would he actually need them to increase his income?

            I do agree that people should follow people who have a proven track record in successful affiliate marketing but it is very difficult to find that information out as many coaches would never reveal their operation for fear of 100’s of students copying their niches.

            I know of one or two coaches who have demonstrated that they operate in markets other than the make money on-line niche but these seem few and far between.

            If someone has followed a training program like WA’s they could have learnt about all the basic elements necessary and unless they have a successful business as a WA Affiliate then I see no reason to stay with them once this basic information has been learnt.

            I would break down the various elements and analyse them individually

            What Infrastructure do I need? Hosting, Autoresponders etc?
            Do I have a good profitable Niche? Are others making money in this niche (A good indicator)?
            Who are my target audience? What information do they want and what products or services do they buy?
            Where do they hangout on-line? There is no point spending your time on a social network if your target audience use a different one etc. etc.

            This business is about continually testing diverse options and methodology and ongoing split testing as not all niches and most importantly their audiences respond in the same ways.
            I would then concentrate on seeking training in those areas where I felt I lacked the skills and knowledge. The majority of this could be done for free and only then paying for specialised knowledge should it be needed.

            People often get so involved with the technical site of things and forget the most important factors which are understanding your audience and marketing! which should always be an ongoing area for study

            It can seem a lonely world out there but sometimes you just need to know when to break free and find your own support network.

            Dave

          • Yes, I see what you mean about the first website being a way to learn the ropes. And it’s true that you’re more likely to be motivated to work at something if you are interested in it. But I still think that simply choosing whatever you are MOST interested in is not the best approach. Rather, it’s better to write down a list of all your interests, then analyse each interest for its business potential.

            And there is the thing that our interests change over time, so what you are most passionate about now will likely not be what you are most passionate about in 5 years time.

            Sometimes turning an enjoyable hobby into a business can ruin your enjoyment of that hobby. This happened to me. I enjoy making electronic music, so I built a website all about it. I wrote about music making techniques and reviews electronic musical equipment. The problem was, over time I got rather bored with writing about it all, and for a while it actually put me off making music. So it turns out I just enjoy making music, but don’t really enjoy writing about it.

            Also, maybe it’s not possible for most people to have jobs that are in an area they are passionately interested in. I mean, business is about earning money, whereas hobbies are where we have fun. Sure, if the two can be combined, that could be great. But I think that’s very rare isn’t it?

            Actually, here is a really interesting TEDx talk where he says that to find work you love, you shouldn’t follow your passion:
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKlx1DLa9EA

            To bring it back to the music thing, the type of music I enjoy making and the type of music people are prepared to buy could be two different things. There’s a reason why the music business is called the “music business”, because it’s the business of selling music, and to make lots of money selling music you have to sell what lots of people want to buy, even if artistically it’s not really that interesting or revolutionary.

            And to bring it back to Wealthy Affiliate, when I was first a member in 2009, they actually had a thing called NicheQ. It contained niche packs for known profitable niches, and I think each month you could get one new niche pack. So even 8 years ago they knew full well that some niches were much better foundations for businesses than others. But somewhere along the line they abadoned this for the approach of saying you can build a business about whatever you are interested in.

            Why? I think you hit the nail on the head with your second sentence. Wealthy Affiliate is a business. Many more people are going to sign up if you tell them that they can create a business about whatever they are most interested in.

            And then the WA training tells you not to spend too long choosing a niche. They say don’t spend a week choosing a niche. Why not? Seems totally reasonable to me to spend a week or two doing some in-depth research into your list of interests to see which has the most business potential.

            The reason they don’t want you to spend too long choosing a niche is because if you can’t think of one straight away they want you to do the bootcamp course, where you will be taught to promote WA by saying it’s better than everything else.

            And the thing is, if WA was so great at training people up to create successful businesses in their own niches, the bootcamp course wouldn’t even be necessary. If a high percentage of people were successful with their chosen niche, they would be so thrilled they would naturally want to tell the world about it. It shouldn’t even be necessary for WA to tell people to say that WA is the best before they’ve even had a chance to get to know WA properly. And that’s the problem – many total beginners who can’t decide on a niche are just opting for the easy option of saying WA is the best, when they have no idea whether WA actually is the best.

  14. Figueroa

    Ugh, Ken Evoy’s loooong winded posts are so off putting! Honestly, the guy must spend 99% of his time writing and whining about WA, what about putting that time into actually running and improving his business that he is so scared of “losing”.
    Instead of focusing on swamping so-called “fake reviews” with more fake reviews of his own (yes I say fake because most SBI reviews are from websites that aren’t actually “successful” in the term that people looking to run a web business need to know about – AKA they actually EARN MONEY)….. he should focus on keeping his current customers happy by:

    IMPROVING the platform.
    Not going on and on about writing reviews and actually making it an obligation.
    Yes i am an SBI member and am seriously put off by the insistence that every SBI member “owes” Ken and therefore must write a review – get this – on their own website. Ugh.

    SBI members pay monthly fees. I for one hate feeling obligated to write a review about a product I pay for. I get a lot of value out of my local gym too – why? Because I turn up and work hard. If my gym talked at me for hours about how I owed them a positive review, well then I would go somewhere else.

    The term “cult” is a bit extreme, however just reading the forums you will see that all members are on the “hail Ken” bandwagon. And the rest of the forum posts are confused questions from newbies.

    There is however some talk (I didn’t read the thousand words that Ken wrote about it) about some SBI Island… some exclusive success club. Come to think of it, it reminds me of Jim Jones and his escape to South America.

    There are thinly veiled threats from Ken in the forums about having to close down SBI or reduce it to a “bare bones” skeleton service if not enough reviews are written! If you need reviews to save your business, something is wrong.

    I have no experience with WA so can’t comment. But I do think this entire craziness is just that. Crazy.

    I wouldn’t recommend SBI to anyone any more sadly. I feel it really is a sinking ship. Even the so-called “business training” really is not worth it. The Action Guide is a million words and the process is actually confusing and overwhelming.

    I better stop as I’m running the risk of creating a Ken-Like novel.

    • Thank you for your honest comment, Figueroa. I have a similar view about all the reviews of Wealthy Affilliate. Of course, members of WA are not obliged to write reviews of WA. However, if a member decides to do the affiliate bootcamp course to learn how to promote WA, the main tactic seems to be to write an overly positive review of WA and then go and write reviews of other products in comparison, favouring WA in the concclusions of those reviews. And this is all before the new member has even been at WA long enough to know for sure whether it is the best way to make money online.

      If you think about it, if the product was as good as they say it is, there would be no need to encourage members to write positive reviews. Those reviews would happen naturally. If a website really did help loads of people build up full-time online businesses, those members would be so delighted they would naturally want to shout about it from the rooftops.

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