There are many types of affiliate marketing out there, so let's be clear about what I do, and what type of sites I advice people to use. I make very simple blogs, and target them towards a niche audience. Most of the work I do is writing blog posts, though I do some PPC and SEO as well. I also make use of plenty of video for my campaigns.
I don't do any CPA, PPV, media buys, or anything like that. I don't mess with black hat stuff, and even my SEO is tame by comparison (it's certainly not a focus of mine).
I'm very casual in the way I create my marketing campaigns, in the sense that I don't have ONE focus keyword and slam it into Google's face until I rank. I have a broad concept in mind, with a long term time horizon (1 year or more).
Yes, my sites are profitable. Yes, I do this full time. Here are my recommendations for places to get help with affiliate marketing. My personal recommendations are very newbie friendly, and their lessons teach very similar things to how I build my own sites.
One thing you'll notice in this page is that all the “good ones” are not free. This should be obvious. So many people are hungry for that one secret that will turn their website from a boring old blog into a money-generating machine. That's some guru-trash-talk man. It's not gonna happen.
The free forums are full of people asking questions like “how to get to #1 spot” and “how much traffic do I need for full time income”. Anyone that spends their time there giving advice, probably shouldn't be giving it. You can browse these places for tidbits of advice, but the majority is junk.
Naturally, people that are paying for a community, take care of it more. You'll generally find better advice, and a higher caliber of marketer in communities behind a paywall. That's just been my experience.
What about individual blogs? I may add some to this list later on. For now, I don't have any that I really follow on a regular basis. I've just seen too many ditched case studies over the years to think than anyone really knows how to make money online. Most successful people I know just try different things for a while until something works, and they stick with it. That's why I like the forum vibes more than individual websites. You can listen to a bunch of different people and discover something that works for you, rather than try to follow one person's advice down to the last letter.
This is actually my #1 recommendation. I'm still an active, paying member today. I generally refer people to WA so I can provide them with personal support, as I do monitory activity within WA and try to help out where I can.
They have a variety of training available. The main course is targeted towards ultra-beginners, and advances all the way though what you would need for a complete online marketing campaign. They also have another set of training which focuses on how to effectively promote their affiliate program.
There's live chat, weekly video lessons, and a forum-like atmosphere in the classrooms and personal blogs inside the site. It's an awesome place. You can create a free starter account to check it out. Their premium membership is $49 per month with a 61% discount for the first month.
The main thing I like about this place and why I stuck with them over the years is that they focus on creating content that helps people. So many places teach ways to “game the system” to make a quick dollar rather than build a solid foundation to your business and actually earn stable income. Yeah, it takes longer, but it also lasts longer too. If you focus on helping people, you can't go wrong.
I'm not a member of this community, but a couple of my buddies from WA, who's advice I trust have recommended this one as well. In fact, from most of the reviews I've read, and comments, there are quite a few people that are happy with this community. It's supposed to be pretty active, which a lot of members too! Actually, now that I think about it, I should really check it out.
Some downsides include a complex pricing structure, accompanied by a matrix of features that are available in some, but not all packages. Oh, and it can get pretty pricey at $67/month, $97, $197, and $497 for various packages they offer.
They also have a free starter membership, which gives you access to some of the basic training.
I'm kind of luke-warm on IMPho. There are good an bad things about it. The training is very much like that of Wealthy Affiliate, but the non-hype agenda seems to be less moderated. I did a review of IMPho a while back, and just visited again before I wrote this review. The first thing I saw was motivational junk from Tony Robbins and a post recommending you buy Facebook likes.
One of my main criticisms before was the use of PLR content, backlinking, and other outdated techniques. I received an email from the owner saying they had updated this, but I never got the time to go back and check. Also, it kind of seems like this place is a few steps behind WA as far as technology and training goes.
I know that sounds pretty negative, but I'm still putting this place in my “recommended” category because it's a whole lot better than some of the other places below! There's plenty of training, and it's newbie friendly with some intermediate stuff mixed in as well. I'll let you make your own decision, but you are welcome to check this out.
Chris Farrell Membership
This is another place that I did a review of and came away with some positive vibes. I didn't do all the training, so I can't comment on it too much. But I've heard good things from REAL reviewers, not just those guys that crank out fake ones to try to earn commissions.
The forum was pretty sad when I visited, so I wouldn't pay for a regular membership just for the forum. As for the training, you could definitely learn some stuff here as a newbie. They teach a more “traditional” marketing strategy with building email lists, getting links for SEO, buying “aged domains” and that type of stuff. Lots of people like that type of marketing, so there are some fanboys of this community.
For me, I prefer to focus solely on creating content, and am less about “marketing” and “SEO”.
This is actually the only free one (that stays free) that I recommend. Well, this is based off of a recommendation from my co-host from Fresh + Coffee. I was complaining about a couple of the forums below on Google+ the other day and he recommended this one.
Apparently it's very CPA centered, so it's not really my thing, but it might be yours. Anyway, it stands as a recommendation for now. There's no training, but who can say no to free contact with professional marketers that are looking to help you make more money?
They do have a paid thing which is available, and sounds pretty legit. In particular it's recommended from a guy named Luke, which has some connections to PeerFly. I know PeerFly is legit (CPA network), so this recommendation has some weight in my book. A lifetime membership to the Dojo is $147.
UPDATE: I saw the guy Jay from Screw95, AKA the “Lazy Ass Stoner” also participates in the forum, and he has a good rep in the industry. However, I've realized that there is no ‘protection' for newbies there. Some people may like this, some not. What I mean is that there are some folks that recommend things that are just plain wrong in my opinion, and you are left to make your decision on what to do. This is good for advanced marketers that will do their own research, bad for newbies that don't know the difference.
Copy Blogger Forum in Authority
Anyone who uses CopyBlogger says the same thing – it's awesome. I haven't signed up for premium but I did read some of the guides that they provide for free, and keep up with their blog. As the name suggests, this place is less about the SEO, stats, and dollars aspects of making money on the internet, and more about writing effective copy. I'm not sure if it fits in the “affiliate marketing” theme really, but it's definitely good for online business owners and content marketers.
It's not just a creative writing course however. Learning how to write effective ad copy, keep your visitors engaged, and create high quality content that can affect how much income you're pulling in each month.
I would pay for it if I thought I would actually read it, but I've got too much on my plate already. If you think you'd be more interested in the “marketing” aspect of affiliate marketing, and less about what Google is doing to change the search engine results, then this forum (and membership) is for you. It's $29 per month, with a 30 day money back guarantee.
Update 1: If you want to create a membership site, this same company has come out with a very awesome program called Rainmaker (review). It's pricey, but good.
Update 2: The forum seems pretty dead. I haven't taken the time to investigate much, but the content doesn't seem fresh.
Bonus1 : G+ Communities
I haven't seen a lot of legit marketers on social media. Most of them are chasing the next dollar or promoting their own products. Two places I visit a lot for social interaction with affiliate marketers is Niche Site Community, and my own community Fresh + Coffee. Activity has kind of died down in both now that Google+ is pretty much dead. They are both mostly about building niche websites, though Fresh + Coffee gets a bit more into social media and the business side of stuff, while Niche Site Community is more SEO focused.
Bonus 2: I've seen the forum Stack That Money grow quite a bit recently. I think they're focused on CPA, and from what I heard on NPR are pretty ruthless, but they're having big conferences with speakers from Facebook present, so they must be doing something right. I haven't looked at the content, but they are worth investigating.
Affiliate Marketing Communities To Avoid
Back in the day WF was the place to be. But back in the day you could spam 1 million links to your site and get the 1st spot in the SERPs. These days, the Warrior Forum is mostly occupied by guys promoting their WSO (internet marketing products), or a bunch of newbies asking if this or that product is legit.
I've never gotten any valuable information from this place except when I do product reviews and need some other opinions to balance (or support) my own review. It may be worth it to have an account there, but I certainly wouldn't pay for their premium membership.
Update: I did pay for a membership, and wrote a more in depth review of The Warrior Forum, including the paid membership. It was worse than expected.
Black Hat World
Do I even need to mention this one? Why the heck would you even base your business on something that violates Google's TOS? But they turn up a lot in search engines, so they must be 1) Popular and 2) Active. How unfortunate.
These guys are mostly about chasing dollars, backlinks, and page rank, which is definitely something I don't recommend. I'd rather have a boring website that doesn't rank but helps people and makes me money that chat with a bunch of guys about how to scrape email addresses and spam-blast out the next hot product to my unsuspecting email list.
Update: To be honest, some of the info on here is legit, but it's still a group of people obsessed with turning a quick dollar and getting free versions of any guide they can get their hand on.
These guys are middle of the road for me. I can see how some people might like this kind of vibe, but I certainly don't. There were lots of guys with boobs for avatars, and there seemed to be a lot of talk about how much money can be made, what products who was promoting, and what “systems” were “working”.
This is exactly the kind of comment spam I get on my blog all the time, so it annoyed me when I saw it on a forum. But these guys seemed a lot more legit than BHW, so although I don't recommend them, they might be worth checking out if you have some spare time.
99% of what's happening here is people asking “How do you get the #1 spot in Google?” Posts are riddled with English spelling errors, and it sounds like a bunch of whiny newbies complaining because they can't make money on the internet. Actually, I haven't spent too much time here, so I can't say it's my “final answer” on this place, but I certainly wouldn't recommend anyone spend the majority of their time there learning how to start a successful online business.
It seems to be a bit of a mixed bag with Digital Point, because I didn't even know it was an internet marketing forum even though I had signed up for an account and was using it to to try and get backlinks on my forum profile and signature (Hey, this was 3 years ago so don't blame me).
I'm sure there are more out there, but these are just a couple that I've run across in my searches online. Obviously I spend most of my time in WA, so it' s my main recommendation.
Do you prefer something else?
Have I misjudged any of the websites/forums here?
Let me know in the comments below. Oh, and feel free to add any recommendations too!