I've been a Wealthy Affiliate (WA) member for two years, and I have said many times that I would never consider quitting. WA offers premium web hosting, in-depth affiliate marketing courses, coaching and so much more, all rolled into one package! But is that all free? Let's answer that question right away and then take a deeper look at what you get. And, most importantly, is it worth it!
So, is Wealthy Affiliate free? Yes, the Wealthy Affiliate Starter membership is free, forever. There is no expiry or trial period, and no payment details are required. However, if you want all the features the platform has to offer, you will need to pay for Premium membership.
Table of Contents
Free vs Premium?
You can sign up to Wealthy Affiliate and never pay a cent. You will never be asked for your credit card details unless your decide to upgrade to Premium. This picture shows the exact difference between paid and free membership (clicking on it to enlarge). Let's go through each feature, and I'll give you my honest opinion.
Live Help is an instant messenger style forum for the WA community. In Live Help, you can chat with other community members and get advice and feedback on your progress. You'll often find the two founders of WA, Kyle and Carson, hanging out in Live Help responding to questions.
Creating a website and writing all the content by yourself can be daunting. If you are just starting out, it is easy to get despondent. It takes time to start earning revenue from a new site, and all the while you must keep writing content.
It's easy to start doubting yourself. Questioning whether you've picked the right niche, or whether people will find your articles interesting. This is especially hard if your friends and family are not business people themselves, and don't understand your anxiety.
This is where Live Help can really... err, well... help 🙂 The people in the WA community are, or have been, in precisely the same situation. They understand the process. You can use the forum to boost your motivation levels or dispel any doubts or fears that might be creeping in. There are so many success stories within Wealthy Affiliates, it won't be long before you're back on track!
Live Help is only available to free members for the first 7 days after signing up. After that, you'll need to become a premium member. Wealthy Affiliates now have over one million members from all over the world. So, whatever timezone you are in (I'm GMT +10, in Sydney!), you will always find someone online to chat with.
If you would rather discuss something privately with another member or with Kyle or Carson, you can direct message them. This option is only available to Premium members.
This can be useful if you don't want to share something publicly. People can often be quite secretive about their chosen niche or their website, especially if they are doing well. Many people do not want to tell the world, which is understandable.
Personally, I've not found a use for this feature, so I don't think free members will miss out by not having access to it. I don't mind people knowing the niche I'm in or the name of my website.
I would prefer to get the advice of as many members as possible using Live Help. Plus it's an excellent way to increase my page views (that's a little tip for you :).
Personal Affiliate Blog and One-on-One Coaching
These two features are fully 100% open to both Free and Premium members. Every member of WA gets their own blog space.
It's another forum where you can engage with other members and provide inspiration. Many members use their blog space to document their journey, ask questions and provide tips to common problems for the benefit of everyone.
The WA platform is completely searchable allowing you to find any blog posts relating to your search query. You can also find blog entries using Google. If you search "Wealthy Affiliate" and your question, there's a good chance you'll find a member's blog post in the search results.
One-on-one coaching or mentoring is offered by some members to people who have signed up through their affiliate link. This is something I like to provide to Premium members who sign-up using my affiliate link, like this one... 🙂
It's a nice way of thanking people for using your affiliate link and help them begin their journey. If you decide to go Premium using my link, I'll send you a message from within the WA platform, and you can ask me for help at any time.
One-on-one coaching is at the discretion of the WA members wishing to offer their help. As far as I am aware, WA doesn't employ full-time coaches, which is a bit misleading. I might be wrong here, but this is my experience after two years of membership. Let me know in the comments if I'm wrong! But, as I say, I'm happy to help members who sign up through my link.
Summary of WA's Engagement Features
First 7 Days
Number of Websites
With the Starter membership, you can create two websites which Wealthy Affiliate will host for free on their hosting platform, called SiteRubix.
As a free member, you cannot use your own domain names. Your chosen website name will include SiteRubix.com in the URL. It will look something like: www.my-new-website.siterubix.com.
This will limit the professionalism of your website and may negatively affect how Google ranks your articles in its search results. However, I don't believe it to be a deal breaker.
Your domain name is only one of the factors Google uses to rank your articles. If you are on a very tight budget, I would not let this deter you. The key is to get started, and not waste time worrying about small details. It will only hamper your progress.
One benefit of being under the .siterubix.com domain is that traffic to and from your site is encrypted using an SSL certificate. This is the little padlock you see in the address bar of Internet browsers, next to the domain name.
Some hosting providers will charge extra for this feature. Not having one will affect your search engine results far more than your domain name. So this is a real bonus. Premium members automatically get an SSL certificate for each of their websites.
You can always transfer your website to your own domain (without the .sitesubix.com suffix) at a later date. WA will do this for you, if you decide to become a premium member.
As a premium member Wealthy Affiliate will host 25 of your websites at no extra cost. This site, FacultyofApps.com is hosted with WA on their SiteRubix platform.
My experience with SiteRubix hosting has been excellent. I'm happy with the speed of my site. I like the fact that I don't have to waste time worrying about website backups, malware protection, comments spam and security issues.
I leave that in WA's capable hands and get on with creating content. I have needed to contact their support team on a few occasions and always found them to be polite and quick to respond.
Website Security Package & Website Backups
The Website Security Package is another feature that is not available to free members. Wealthy Affiliate offers full website redundancy or "double hosting" to their premium members. This means running two exact copies of your website. This ensures the website will remain accessible should something happen to either one of the copies.
As mentioned in the previous section, WA also provides protection against malware, hacking attempts and spam emails flooding your inbox and your comments section.
Even though, as a free Starter member, you won't receive the security protection package, your site will be backed up. This means you can revert to the last backup should something happen.
With the need to rely on 3rd party plugins for WordPress, it is not uncommon for a plugin to go 'rogue' or just cause problems with your site. It's comforting knowing that if this happens, you can simply revert to the last backup.
Keyword Research Tool
The final tech feature that free starter members have access to is the Keyword Research Tool. This is an embedded version of Jaaxy, which is also available as a separate product.
If you are new to Keyword Research, it is the process of identifying gaps in Google Search results that you can fill with your own articles. The success of your website is based on the number of page-views your blog posts/articles receive. The easiest way to do this is to have your articles rank in the number one spot for related Google searches.
Keywords are what Google uses to relate your article to a search query. For example, the keywords for this article are 'Wealthy Affiliate Free'. I'm hoping that this article will be the first result in Google if someone searches for, "Is Wealthy Affiliate free?" However, I will have little chance of ranking in the top spot if a more prominent, more well-established website has an article using the same keywords.
Keyword Research Tools like Jaaxy help you identify gaps in Google's search results and assess the chances of your article doing well in the rankings.
As a Starter member, you have 30 free searches to help you identify articles for your website. 30 is actually a useful number. As well as being a member of WA, I am also a member of Project 24. In the P24 course, they have you write 30 articles for your website straight off the bat. It is considered the minimum for a website to be able to call itself a website.
Of course, as a Premium member of WA, you get an unlimited number of searches using Jaaxy.
Summary of WA's Tech Features
Own Domain Name
Beginner Training, Affiliate Bootcamp & Live Video Classes
That's the techie stuff taken care of, but it doesn't end there with the Wealthy Affiliate platform. Let's take a look the training courses available to both Free and Premium members.
Beginner training is exactly as it sounds. It is a non-techie, beginner-friendly walk-through of how to get started as an Affiliate Marketer using over-the-shoulder video tutorials. WA refer to it as the 'Online Entrepreneur Certification'.
There are 5 phases to the 'Online Entrepreneur Certification', and as a Starter member, you have access to Phase 1.
Phase 1 is an in-depth look at the Wealthy Affiliate platform, beyond what you would have seen in the welcome tour. It shows you how to use WA's built-in tools to pick a name for your website, install WordPress and choose a theme or design.
During the WordPress installation, WA also installs a few plugins that will help with the performance of your site. These include All-in-one SEO and an EWWW Image Optimiser. You'll learn why you need these and how to use them.
Finally, you'll learn how to navigate the WordPress dashboard and create pages and posts.
The other 4 phases of the Online Entrepreneur Certification course, which Starter members do not have access to, explain how to attract an audience to your site, how to make money as an affiliate, utilising social media and creating content.
If you find the idea of creating a website daunting, let alone trying to make money. By the end of Phase 1, you will have created a website, successfully overcoming your first hurdle.
The rest of the course is geared towards making money from your website. If you want to continue with the free membership, I can tell you that there's nothing in the other 4 phases of the training that can't be found using Google and YouTube.
So, why pay for the additional training? What you will learn in the rest of the training will cut out all time wasted from learning by 'trial and error'. There is as much wrong information on Google and YouTube as there is useful information. By signing up to Premium and completing the course you are, in essence, choosing the express lane to get to your goal of earning money.
Personally, I found the classes to be quite simplistic, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. I have worked with computers all my life, and I am familiar with the different facets of online marketing, so maybe it was to be expected. The training is designed to cater for everyone, at all levels and all ages, and it does.
Affiliate Bootcamp Training
Whether you are a free Starter member or Premium member to Wealthy Affiliate, you can join their own affiliate program. This enables you to recommend their platform to others and receive affiliate commissions for doing so.
This is a very lucrative program, which, unfortunately (and unfairly) leads many to think that the Wealthy Affiliate platform is a scam. Honestly, this is nonsense. I'm not going to waste my energy defending the platform except to say - How can it be a scam when it offers free lifetime membership, allowing you to judge for yourself before having to pay?
The training shows you how to create affiliate links to put on your website. It will also explain how you can advertise the platform and check your progress. As with the Online Entrepreneur Certification course, free members only have access to this initial set of video lessons.
For Premium members there is more in-depth training and the chance to go to the annual Super Affiliate Conference in Vegas. However, most importantly, Premium members get double the commission that free members receive.
Live Video Classes
Each week Jay Neill of Affiliate Resources provides a two-hour live webinar teaching the latest ideas, tips and tricks for Wealthy Affiliate premium members. I find Jay's webinars to be the most useful resource of all the video courses. They are bang up to date and Jay is a fantastic trainer. Jay has a wealth of knowledge that he willingly shares with the group. All his webinars are recorded and kept on the platform so you can go through his entire video back-catalogue.
This is where the Premium membership comes into its own. The live webinars are only available to Premium members and with good reason. They're worth the fee alone. It's the difference between knowing something works and hoping it might work. Jay takes the guess work out of affiliate marketing.
Summary of WA's Training Features
Phase 1 to 5
Phase 1 to 7
Premium Only Features
If you are not a premium member, you won't be able to email the founders, Kyle and Carson, directly but you should rarely need to do this.
A situation occurred once where one member was copying the articles of another member - verbatim. The person raised it with Kyle and Carson, and the issue was resolved. Instances like this are very rare. I'm not aware of a similar situation occurring before or since. As such, I wouldn't be too concerned about not having access to this feature.
You won't have access to the full 24x7 support, 365 days of the year.
Hopefully, you'll need this, but it sure is reassuring to know someone is available at any time, should you do have an issue. I have had to use the support team a couple of times. On each occasion, they were super quick to respond and super helpful.
It's unclear whether you can contact them at all as a Starter member. My feeling would be that you can email them, you just might have to wait longer for a response.
One of the more useful features that you'll miss out on is the ability to have your website reviewed for feedback. There are some very experienced affiliates in the community, who have made a lot of money. Being able to get their advice on your website is a real privilege and can make a massive difference to your earnings potential.
Finally, there is SiteHealth. According to WA, SiteHealth will...
"Monitor the health of your website to ensure you have the best chances of indexing, rankings, and acquiring traffic through Google, Yahoo, and Other major Search Engines."
They don't explicitly say how SiteHealth achieves this, and to be honest, I'm inclined to think it might be a slight marketing gimmick. While it sounds good, the key of a successful website site is producing lots of useful content and adhering to SEO principles. It' more about hard work than magic!
WA's Other Premium Only Features
Email the Founders
Should You Go Premium?
So, there we have it. A complete breakdown of the difference between the free Starter membership and Premium. If you take anything from this article, I hope that you will see that Wealthy Affiliate is not a scam.
What you get for free is more than enough to set you up with your own website and start you on the road to earning a healthy, reliable income.
As I said earlier, I doubt you'll find this kind of value elsewhere.
And, who knows - if you are successful in recruiting others to become Wealthy Affiliate members, you may even find you start making a profit!
That said, I honestly recommend paying for the premium subscription, if you can afford it.
One of your aims should be to build a trustworthy brand that provides informed, reliable information that people can trust. For that you need your own domain name, without the SiteRubix.com suffix.
Moreover, you will find the advice, moral support, hints and tips, offered in LiveHelp, Live webinars and training worth the price of membership alone.
If you want to know my tip for the cheapest way to sign up for Premium membership, have a look at this article.
I wish you all the best and urge you not to waste time, take action now. The sooner you sign up, the faster you can start making real money!