Product Name: Clickbank University
Product Owners: Matt Hulett, Adam Horwitz, Justin Atlan
Advertised Price: $47 per month
Update 2018: I wrote this original review back in 2014. It's pretty popular, so I wanted to update it this year to reflect any changes. Overall, the program has not changed much. It's still a good way to learn how to build a business publishing your own info products. However, I do want to clear up one piece of confusion before we get started.
Clickbank University has since added a set of trainings for affiliates. It's good training, but not my #1 choice. If you want to be an affiliate and build affiliate websites, then you are better off learning about that stuff from this affiliate training center. They've been around for 12 years, and have produced thousands of success stories (some of which I've personally mentored, since 2012).
Even if you do want to sell your own digital products, CBU is a great choice. However I don't recommend you purchase everything Clickbank wants you to buy, so keep reading for more details.
What Is It?
Clickbank University is a training center and community on how to create your own info products to sell online. You can also learn how to market other people's products via affiliate marketing.
The quality of training is very high, and the community is somewhat active. The price is quite high but not unreasonable for what you get. I think this could be a good product for someone looking to market information via their own info product listed on Clickbank, but not for someone looking to make money in affiliate marketing.
Before You Buy
Usually I have to deal with con artists trying to squeeze every penny out of me on sales pages, so Clickbank's straightforward sales page was a pleasant surprise. They are clear about what you will be doing inside the members area, and what your money will pay for.
There were two things that put me off on their sales page:
- The new, updated version of the sales page emphasizes fear mongering. They have a long dialogue about how Google's Deep Mind robots are going to take our jobs and to stay relevant we need to work at home. Come on guys, you have a legit training center and don't need to play that type of game. Selling info products online is not going to save us from the robot revolution.
- I also dislike that they try to sell me a $600 product before I even access my first purchase!
About The Builder 2.0
This is landing page building software they try to sell you after you purchase your $47/month membership. Why should I pay $600 for this when I could buy Thrive Architect for $67. That's a great landing page builder that integrates with WordPress, meaning you can host your website ANYWHERE. There are plenty of other landing page plugins for WordPress as well. With Builder 2.0, you are required to host at Clickbank, so you're stuck with them for life!
Inside Clickbank University 2.0 Members Area
Inside CBU 2.0, you'll see there are a few tabs. In order to get access to all the lessons, you have to fill out a form and request it. Otherwise, the lessons are drip-fed on a schedule. The main training is going to be the “vendor” training. You'll learn how to create a customer avatar, set up a landing/sales page and funnel, getting your product on Clickbank, then scaling your business. Each section of the training has several videos, and they range for 3-25 minutes long.
There's a ton of content, so Clickbank University is worth the price if your are creating your first product and trying to learn how to sell it online!
You'll also have access to the Clickbank University Forum, where you can get in contact with other members, and exchange ideas. The forum portion of the program has improved dramatically in the past 3 years. It's still not nearly as active as my #1 recommended affiliate training program, but the content is much more focused on product creators, rather than product affiliates. So, my original review of Clickbank U. still remains the same: It's a good place for product creators, but affiliate training is just kind of an add-on bonus.
Are you just starting your first online business and not sure whether you want to be a product creator or affiliate? Personally, I prefer being an affiliate. It's not as glamorous as owning your own product, but I think it gets much closer to the idea of passive income. Check out how affiliate marketing creates passive income better than any other type of business.
What I Liked About Clickbank University (Updated)
The main training center focuses on product creation, which is different from most other “make money” systems that I review. Product creation can be a very lucrative online business if you create a high quality product(s) and can drive traffic to your site. (They did add an affiliate section, which I'm going to cover below. )
You can make even more money if you have a good email sequence for email marketing, and even MORE money if you have good incentives for affiliates to start doing the selling for you.
I didn't watch all the videos available to me, but the ones I saw were very candid, high quality, and provided real insight into how online marketing works. I saw a few about how to think of a product to sell, how to drive traffic to your website, and the basics of how affiliate marketing works on Clickbank.
There is a ton of info to read, so if you join Clickbank University, you'll have plenty to keep you busy. Beginners will definitely benefit from training, as well as low-intermediate to intermediate level online marketers. I think if you have experience and have just not found luck with your previous campaigns, you might find the info pretty standard, and might only benefit from later training modules (which I was unable to view)
Lots of High Quality Lessons
There are weeks and weeks of lessons within CBU. They are a combination of face-to-face video, plus over the shoulder video. There's also a downloadable written portion (green arrow in the image below) where you can see basic highlights from the video portion. Though I love video, written stuff is easier to review. No need to watch a 20 minute video again to just get a refresher!
Website Builder (Builder 2.0)
Originally I was against the Website Builder because I assumed it was just another CMS like WordPress. Too bad they really didn't make it clear in the main sales video. I skipped all the upsell junk because I really hate the upsell process that most companies force us through. However, after investigating it a bit, I think it could be beneficial for product creators. Having a pre-set funnel strategy and landing page builder could help some newbies stay on track.
It can even help you build your membership area, and other aspects of your business using a cookie-cutter style program. That will save you a lot of time, especially as a newbie!
This is a way to help you create a website for your own product that essentially integrates with Clickbank to make selling this product easier. I think this is a cool idea, and for folks looking to create their own digital product, this would be a worthwhile investment. But remember, you're now paying $47/month for CBU members area ($564 per year), PLUS $594 for the builder. Your yearly cost of business operation just jumped to over $1,000. Also, remember that this might lock your site into their builder, so if you decide to change to outside hosting at some point, I'm not sure how that process goes.
If you are serious about creating and selling your own digital products online, you need to prepare yourself for such an investment. It's still a million times cheaper than a brick and mortar business, but not as cheap as being an affiliate.
More Active Community!
When I first reviewed Clickbank University, I was very critical of their support system and community. Many questions were unanswered, and emails were not responded it. It was a ghost town. However, 3 years later, it looks like things have picked up a bit.
It's still not a thriving community of instant answers and fixes to problems, but it's greatly improved. You can see from screenshots below that there are new questions posted almost daily, and that there are several answers per thread. Some people respond in quite a lot of detail. Experienced members are helping newbies, and people are exchanging information to help improve each others' businesses. Awesome!
Frequency of Questions and Number of Responses
Example of In-Depth Answer
Example of Expert Helping a Newbie
Weekly Q&A Webinars
Now, included with your membership, are weekly webinars for asking questions. I am going to attend one this week to see how it goes, and report back when I have more information.
YouTube Ads Crash Course + Copywriting Course
This is another portion of the training that will teach you how to market your product and/or website with YouTube ads. On top of that, there's a short guide for learning how to write ad copy. These are not extensive, but they are included in your “library”, and can help you get traffic to your landing page.
What Clickbank University Could Improve
More Examples Of Products And Affiliate Sites
The toughest thing for someone getting started is figuring out what to sell, whether they are a product creator or affiliate. It would be great if Clickbank spent some time showing websites and products that are doing a good job. I understand this can be tough, since many product and website creators don't want their hard work copied by a bunch of students! However, examples of successful entrepreneurs doing the same thing you're doing would be good for inspiration.
More Traffic Examples
Traffic is the heart and soul of a business. Without traffic, you simply aren't going to make money online, regardless of what you're selling or what business model you're using. There is a completely separate tab for traffic in the members area, so I had high expectations. However, it's limited to a few videos about Facebook Advertising, then some stuff about Instagram.
- What about Facebook pages?
- What about organic search traffic through Google and Bing?
- What about paid ad spots?
- What about other social media platforms?
- What about content creation? Blogging? Keywords?
They could do a LOT more with the traffic section of their website, although I guess you could ask questions about this stuff in their weekly Q&A Webinars.
More Focused Webinars
The webinars are good, and it's nice that you can ask any question you want. However, they are not very organized. I listened to one from August, which was just an audio recording with a bunch of random questions. I think if they had a weekly topic that was focused on a portion of building an online business, then it would be easier to search through the topics to find things that interest you. How are we supposed to take advantage of these webinar recordings when they are all just random topics from the entire world of online marketing?
At the very least, some kind of transcript and tagging system showing which topics were covered would help, and make these webinars more useful, especially for someone like myself who has a little more experience online.
I also attended a recent webinar (Sept 2017), and much of the content was newbie questions about how to manage time and how to get started. Those will be interesting for a real newbie who's just curious about online marketing, but for someone looking to take action, I saw very little “instruction”. The vast majority of the webinar was just looking at a static screen (CBU members area).
What I didn't Like About CBU
I've greatly reduced the number of things I previously disliked about this product. There used to be multiple issues with upsells, lack of support, and problem with the members area. I've deleted about 1,000 words of content on this page as of late 2017 just because they fixed the problems. No product is perfect though!
Are Locked Modules Really for My Benefit? (Updated)
Apparently a lot of people complained about the locked training, because it seems to be more unlocked now. You can work through weeks 1-3 without any special access. However, to unlock the rest of the training, you have to send them an email.
To me, this seems cumbersome. Previously, they enticed us with a yearly membership in order to unlock all the training, which was a complete insult. So their current setup is a huge improvement. Their thinking is that by locking the training you can keep people on track in the lessons and not skip ahead.
However, I still think I'm smart enough to figure out what to do myself. I'm an adult, not a 5-year-old. Just gimme the lessons man.
Clickbank University started off as very mediocre product. It did not live up to the hype, even though I thought it was decent. There were two particular things that pissed me off, so I want to leave them here.
#1: Their affiliate manager wrote me an email to ask me to remove criticisms from my review, including my comments about support issues and community activity. However, when I responded with some follow up questions, they did not respond. OK, I guess I was right.
#2: I attended an “educational” webinar from Clickbank (March 2, 2015) just to see what they were teaching and if the quality had improved. I was sorely disappointed in what I saw. The webinar was simply a promotional tool to sign up to Clickbank, and nothing was really taught at all.
In fact, they spent about the first 10 minutes of the webinar telling us how it's limited seating and if we leave we can't get back in. It really stank of the ‘false scarcity' that gurus love to use.
The most ridiculous part is that is was about setting goals for 2015, but the date they launched it was in March. Um guys, you're two full months too late. I had received other notifications of webinars in the past, so I don't know if they are just recycling the same webinar every couple of weeks, or what.
The whole thing was really disorganized and uninformative. Horwitz and Atlan bumbled through a powerpoint (showing us their notes, removing some of the movie magic), and spit out a bunch of typical junk about “don't be a slave to the man”, and “live a life of financial freedom”. Some of these tactics were poor attempts as marketing mind control by telling us to say things to ourselves like “I need to take control of my life!”.
Really, really low quality stuff guys. I can't say if this is reflective of the webinars inside the CBU community, but this one was a real turn-off.
Affiliate Marketing Training at CBU
Unfortunately, the affiliate training inside Clickbank University is just not very good. It's probably worth a $97 one-time fee, but not a recurring commission. There's no interaction! Why should I be paying a monthly fee for something static like videos?
Plus, the kicker, is that the videos are at least two years old without updates. They reference a website called Elance, which was merged into Upwork.com at least two years ago. So the videos are old.
Don't get me wrong, most of the info inside the affiliate training is great for newbies. There's lots of details about how affiliate marketing works, what an email list is, and how your “funnel” coordinates with your list, and helps you make sales. There's quite a few videos. Supposedly it's an 8-week course, but I think a motivated person could finish in two weeks.
The main thing this whole section is missing is step-by-step lessons. Yes, we need a list, but how do we sign up to Aweber or Mailchimp? What are the differences? Yes, we need a squeeze page, but can you show me some examples? There's a lot of telling us how stuff works, but I wanted more showing of how stuff works.
I also noticed that they referenced the most “popular” product in Clickbank, a woodworking product which has been outed as a scam. Unfortunately, it seems that Clickbank hasn't really cleaned up their act in terms what type of products they allow on their platform.
Also, be aware that they emphasize creating a squeeze page, then only go over paid traffic methods like Facebook Ads and Instagram Shoutouts. First off, Facebook is very strict about squeeze pages. I had several denied because they were “make money schemes” (their words, not mine), so a simple page talking about how to “make money online” will not pass their moderators. Will the same be true with health/fitness pages?
Overall, this was not a great set of trainings. It was worth a listen, but there are much better affiliate training and traffic generation products out there.
Clickbank University is a good product that's worth the monthly membership cost of $47/month. I think that for someone looking to create and promote their own digital info product through Clickbank, this is probably going to be your best investment. If you are an “expert” in something and want to make money off of your knowledge, now's the time to start!
However, I don't like their marketing strategy of “upsells”, and the affiliate training was lacking compared to similarly priced products.
Alternative Education For Affiliates
CBU has made some major improvements to their product, so I've raised the score! I'm currently going through their new affiliate training, and will update my review when I finish. Today is Sept 1 2017, and I hope to finish my Monday next week. In the meantime, if you are looking for affiliate training, I can give an honest recommendation for my top rated affiliate training center
- A FREE 7 day trial with access to hundreds of training modules and a full 10 beginner lessons
- A THRIVING community of awesome, friendly people, including live chat support
- $49 per month membership price with a 60% discount for your first month
- $359 per year discount available ($29/month!)
- No locked modules – learn at your own pace
- Monthly webinars on diverse topics like email marketing, SEO, ranking, local marketing, and more
All that, plus personal support from me (a full time internet marketer) is available at Wealthy Affiliate. It's where I got started, and it's how I learned to build my first online business. They're currently my #1 rated product because they're inexpensive, effective, and want to see you succeed.
Not sure if you want to make your own product or be an affiliate? Learn the basics of affiliate marketing here.
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